The Medics Fatigue

Discussion in 'Transformers Fan Fiction' started by DaraRex2.0, Dec 1, 2007.

  1. DaraRex2.0

    DaraRex2.0 I'd totally eat the leaf

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    This fic came as a sort of aftermath to Lasting Imprisons, I recommend as you are reading this you should go take a look at that first story (if it still exists) as it is short and will sort of explain any of the fall out in this chopped up story.

    I had planned to spend my Thanksgiving holiday working on Decepticon Campaign but thought this would be a better toil of my time, and I had been wanting to write this one. This was inspired by a series of odd events I had noted when…well, I’ll let you read and figure it out on your own.




    The Medics Fatigues



    ~ 1`

    A bright flash came before nothing. Then there was just the eternal dark void of nihility bliss extending beyond the conception of reality, no noise, no sound, no sight. Nothing.

    And still nothing.

    For however long it lasted was beyond cognizance, system slowly activated one after the other. Outer environment began logging, mandatory sensors registered to core processor, everything looked to check out clear from this level. Coded figures and calculations flashed across the internal optical view, preceding actual view audio transmissons exchanged in the fore ground. Visual perception began with a brief flicker then the snow of static until the internal wiring recorded the information, sight of a flat plain far away was the first article to his range.

    “Has he activated yet?” A frame skipped through his view twisting to a figure out of sight, though not unheard. “If he’s not out in the next solar take a scan of his energon conduits.”

    “What about the other mech?” Another beyond vision inquired.

    “Keep him out until he’s activated. We don’t have room in here for the wounded as it is.” He returned to the view range staring down at his patient with condolence. “I received it was terrible, the entire unit dismantled. They even gave up the cargo to prevent casualties, but that pack of heretical rust sprockets—” He buzzed suddenly when he looked at the viewer. “He’s active.”

    Carefully he pushed himself up on his arms, numerous wires and plugs had been attached to his armor across his torso and legs. “What…happened?” His vocal net was a bit slurred but he could at least communicate.

    The technician, broad through the torso but lean in thorax and legs tinted by opaque and yellow schemes moved to his side. “That’s not important at this time. Please, tell me if all your functions fill satisfactory to—” His attention was directed away toward the entrance portal.

    “Ripper? Ripper?” The newly arrived swept around the counters of wounded frames to the mech and technician. “When confirmation hit the stream that your squad was attacked I thought immediately you were dead.” He gave Ripper another look over. “My impression wasn’t too far off.”

    “We were…attacked? Serrate?” He reached up to touch his seething helmet, drawing his arm away when he locked on the pigments of the gauntlet. “What the?”

    Armor once tinted by sky blue and chrome made up his frame, but as he took time to examine his body he found his coloration had been replaced by white. Custom red markings were printed into his left arm and shoulder in a form he failed to recognize, only the materials of his right arm had been left intact, including the spike on his gauntlet that earned him his title.

    “W-what happened…me?” Sensory readings flooded his processing cerebral, he reached his hands up touching the sides of his helmet featureless from their originality of his sensory array. Aside from the dials molded against his audio receivers and the prominent red crest across his brow, there was nothing left. Immediately he felt partially blind and numb to his outer world. “My body—”

    “Take it easy,” the medic rumbled, in a stiff but gentle tone. “This comes as a great shock to your digit relays, I understand. You’re fine, bottom cortex, don’t be alarmed by your appearance. It’s only temporary.”

    Ripper stared up at him with shimmering optics. “But…what happened – we were attacked?” He looked to Serrate beside him, rather lock lenses with his comrade the other ‘bot turned away. “Someone, communicate, relate to me what happened…‘cause – because if not then I’ll be glitched by grief from not knowing.”

    He considered a moment, he looked to the other medic and indicated him to return to the patients, then placed his full attention to Ripper and moved beside his counter. “Yes, you were attacked. The higher ups didn’t want anyone telling you anything now for fear you would go into lock, but…I do believe the unknown will hinder your recovery.

    “To make it short, you were the only survivor. When your squad failed to report in, a patrol was sent out to locate what remains were forgotten if it were the Decepticons guerrilla units.” He shook his head slowly. “What was left of you was shipped in, but we didn’t have any of the parts that you needed, and your outer armor was too damaged to repair. Notwithstanding, someone recalled a frame had arrived not long ago prepped for cannibalization. Your,” he gestured his arm, “right limb was satisfactory for repairs.”

    The remainder of the recollection had been fairly grim, all that the medic was unwilling to relate was the title of the donor but hinted that this frame had previously been that of a healer as himself due to the markings on his frontal shoulder peg. He also assured his patient that he should be thankful of the new segments substituted to him, that it was a brave thing for any Autobot to sign his frame down as scrap metal for civilians and that it was only because of this Ripper had lived.

    ***

    “How long was I out for?” Ripper asked one solar when Serrate returned to visit him.

    He made a shrug as he stepped over to the counter his friend was stationed upon. “Two, three orn maybe. Considering the condition you arrived in I think that was pretty good, you needed the rest anyway. You work to hard.”

    “Thanks for reminding me I have to return to it.” For a moment he stopped to recall that all his friends from his squad wouldn’t be joining him, he wasn’t going back to that small clutch that had been with him. They were gone, all of them, and he would never see them again.

    Ignoring his friends melancholy, Serrate looked away pretending to search for the head medic. “Speaking of work, your leave has almost expired. I talked to Bluetooth and he says your ready to get out of here. In fact, he says your last day was five solars ago and that you need to make room for the other patients due to flood in.”

    “Any particular reason?” He raised his head to check those still remaining. In the entirety of the medical ward there were thirty berths for the patients to lie on, more than half were occupied. The top of each counter was detachable allowing the patient to be carried by attendants to a private back room for emergency repairs, that same area is where spare parts were kept and where Ripper was fitted for his temporary armor. That verbalization was repeated to him constantly by the head medic while he was at his recovery stages.

    Serrate hopped up onto the edge of the counter and shrugged. “It’s not official, but rumors on the stream circulate that the new Prime got wind of a potential attack from the South hemisphere boarder. Cybercity and Iacon are already filled to the brink with the severely wounded, there’s just not enough hospitals to go around for them.”

    Ripper wasn’t listening. “The Decepticons.”

    They were silent a long moment. After a while Serrate reached over clapping Ripper in his shoulder and gave him a faint sway by pushing on him. “Lets get you checked and logged out.” He hopped off the berth and walked away.

    Ripper slipped off slowly allowing his servos to grow accustomed to his lighter weight, he had taken the appropriate rehabilitation courses but the armor he brandished was not his own. A little wobbly but not so much that he would stumble or fall, he walked with Serrate out from the medical facilities many rooms and into the primary hall.

    Iacon, or what was left of it, was one of the few remaining city-states gripped by the Autobot rule. It had since been expelled most of its colleges from enlightenment to galleries of illustration, the classical pieces from earlier dawn Cybertron were hidden away to the forgotten ends of the world in order to protect them from the invading forces. There were still models on show to view but in obscure locations that would hopefully save the original from certain doom. Many of the grand halls that showed these masterful arts were reduced to the most implacable of functions, retooled to form the weapons to protect the civilians, construct the turrets that would defend the city-capitals, manufacture warriors to die in battle.

    “It’s hard to compute sometimes,” mentioned Serrate, as he cast his visor toward the plunging destruction of the metropolitan, “that the enemy recharges not far from us.”

    The burnt out collapse of the towers had distracted Ripper’s view more than once, he couldn’t stop himself from peeking the damage that had been done during the Polar Sigma’s fall. “Yeah. Hard to believe.”

    As the only ‘safe zone’ remaining that was well fortified by weapons and security most civilians flocked to the location seeking refuge and fuel. Across the Wasteland or Bad Lands energon was hard to come across in a safe state, and the seeping untamed territory was a haven for bandits, outcasts, and exiled. Even the Mini-Cons there congregated in small gangs were the tougher than some of the former Autobot warriors and were reported to attack and kill the larger mechanoids for their hover drive alone. Understandably, living conditions in Iacon were somewhat cramped through the lower strut of society, this made employment difficult to acquire without former reference and more so to maintain.

    At this cycle of the solar traffic was packed bumper to bumper, it was almost faster to walk among destinations.

    Almost.

    “Did you see Turnpike while I was at the hospice?”

    Serrate gave an uncomfortable chuckle as they walked. “No. You think I’d dance that close to enemy lines, even with my moves?”

    “They got that close?” He looked down at the walkway as they went, they were near shoulder to elbow with every Cybertronian in Iacon. Though, he noted along their pace a small veil of mechs parting just for him. “I didn’t know….”

    “Maybe you were luckier getting your hull beaten wide open on that run,” Serrate broke in. “Saved you a lot of spark ache.” His vocal took down a lower tone as he leaned closer to his companion. “A bunch of laborers were laid off after the attack, and I’m talkin’ about the ones that got out when they did or weren’t there, end line. And it’s not over. We’re in a stalemate with the ‘cons, either they’ll attack and we’ll wipe them out or we’ll attack and they’ll wipe us out. But, you know how the ‘new’ Prime is. Doesn’t like to attack without provocation.” His visor lifted slightly as he leaned away. “But none of us can blame him, against those kind of odds, who’d want to go at it? I know I wouldn’t.”

    “What if you get drafted?” Ripper raised his head to look on level with the others visor.

    “What if?”

    Across the congested road pass he locked optics with another mech, who briskly looked away when Ripper spied him. “What if? You don’t look warrior to me, and you spare hardly of any faith in the new Prime. If your notice came in that your serial code came up for drafting, would you assemble into the masses of civilians to reformat for warrior class alterations, or would you rather become an outcast?” He shook his head pretending chide. “Both seem treacherous decisions to me.”

    Slipping away Serrate began making a beeline for a group of mechs surrounding the access portal of an elevator shaft. “Decisions like that you only make in the moment.” He nodded as the light above the luminous flashed yellow over the arch. “C’mon, I’ll buy you something better than that gunk they gave you at the hospice.”

    Fuel tanks burned in Ripper’s torso chamber, there was no defending the energon that had kept him going for the remaining orn. It had been terrible, bottom of the drum truth. In the least it had brightened his optics in the appreciation that was for the refueling stations Serrate was fond of.

    The station was full, it was always full of customers no matter what the cycle noted. Fuel was to be acquired at whenever it was most convenient to the buyer, in which case whenever he was not working or running mandatory courier transponds.

    It took two full astro-whirls for Serrate and Ripper to get through the line to the front and exchange the pay for their orders, they were fortunate as they were walking through the crowded station that three mechs got up from a seat right as they passed. They seized the booth at the instant, another trio of off duty Autobots were coming from the rail to put their strength for merits but backed off when Serrate pulled Ripper into a seat across from him.

    Most mechs whom had no place to be just stood around while they reenergized, to mingle with the buyers, outside the shop was a large mass of robots trying to get in through the throng of those that had already purchased a daily supplement.

    One of the smaller Mini-Con robots passed the table on his way to the front. Serrate sighed as he watched him. “Maybe we should have gotten this to go.”

    Ripper looked at his slat of half taken energon. “I don’t know, I sorta like it after those quantums sitting in the hospice. It was as quiet as a crypt and just as creepy sometimes.” He continued to take in his energon.

    “I guess that’s good, at least.”

    He gave Serrate a curious expression. “Why would that be?”

    For a moment Serrate didn’t respond, he tapped his digits to the countertop and rubbed the ridges in his audio filter on his helmet. “Uh, y’know? Nevermind.” He scrapped his knuckles along his overhanging brow and swiped up some more energon. “It’s not so bad, this solar.”

    “Not so bad,” muttered Ripper. “Someone probably reported this place.” He cast his view over the room slyly to count at least three in his peripheral view just staring at him. “Serrate?”

    “Hmm?”

    “Never mind.” He removed a container from his back section and placed his unused energon into it carefully. “You about ready?”

    “Just.” He cocked his helm at his friend. “What’s with you? You hardly ever horde your fuel.”

    “I feel like it.”

    The snap Ripper delivered spurred confusion from Serrate, but the laborer had been in a pretty bad mess and would give him the according distance for the cycle.

    As they left the refueling station Ripper noted a few of the civilians at the entrance portal watch him as he passed. It was nothing, just a fleeting glimpse and usually he didn’t need to scrutinize the peeper with his own stare to ward him off, but it was beginning to freak him out.

    “Serrate?”

    “Yeah?”

    “Never mind.” There weren’t too many ‘bots on their way up the escalators to the higher levels of the sub structure, most would be on duty or refueling and aside from the messengers the roads would be clear of heavy traffic. It always made Ripper long for a flight capable frame. On normal cycles mechs would pack into the lift shafts, it wasn’t so bad for what it could be.

    Halfway to the surface level Serrate turned back to him. “Mind if we hit The Vaults before we split up? You know I hate going there alone.”

    Ripper hissed. “Didn’t stop you before. What do you want me around for?”

    “Oh, you know.” He tilted back and folded in the sections of his vehicular mode. “Things are a bit loony since they lost one of their architects, and misery loves company.”

    Needless of the response, Ripper smirked under the red crest at his forehead.

    With a small group they took the elevator shaft the remainder of the way to the surface, along the rise one of them spied hotrod racers burning their exhausts out in the age-old Autobot tradition of illegal drag. Hot in their pursuit were the adequate traffic enforcers.

    “Someday, I’ll do that,” mentioned Ripper, to no one in particular. It didn’t matter if he was recognized. Every Autobot, even civilian, had gone on his joy ride just to win a race and say he did it, some more than others. If one was good enough he could get a little extra pay, perhaps publicity in the stunt. At the solars end it was just something they did.

    Serrate looked at his friend with amusement in his visor. “Yeah. If you can still transform.”

    Ripper gave him a hot glare and looked away, focusing on the racers disengaging to confuse the constabulary.

    Realizing what he said and it’s meaning Serrate loosened up for his friends sake. “Hey, ‘bot, y’know I didn’t mean—”

    “Yeah, whatever.” Others on the lift had taken a peek at him. ‘What’s with them?’ he wondered, but no one could answer. “Serrate?”

    “Huh?”

    “Did…uh, have you….” He dithered too long. “Never mind.”

    Serrate glared at him. “Seriously, what is with you?”

    “It’s nothing.” The lift reached the surface, the luminous at the arch indicated they should exit. “Let it go.”

    About to press Ripper on it further he decided against it, after his earlier stumble. He moved with the other mechs off the lift. Afterwards he found out that Ripper could still transform…into a bizarre alien vessel he had never before encountered. The only section out of place was a portion of armor along the further back of its top where his one arm could be salvaged.

    ***

    “Come in.” He closed his digits against his palm and pulled from his wrist a small chip pad, at the end of the room the access way slide aside to allow the entrance of a lean white mech with pallid blue body and red visor. “Red Alert,” he sighed, “I bear you greetings.”

    “Well, don’t get over emotional,” he jabbed, while the other medic seemed unwilling to offer any more of a welcome.

    He smiled a little. “Where are my manners? Can I offer you a seat?” When Red Alert had himself set across the desk from him he gave him his full attention. “What brings you by my office?”

    Red Alert scanned across his desk and the items in view, the computer terminal, some parts needing a steady hand in repairs, a used up container of energon. “Actually, I came to see you.”

    “Oh?” No surprise included.

    He leaned forward more. “How ‘are’ you feeling?”

    The medic leaned back coolly. “As well as can be expected.” He gestured Red Alert with an open hand. “And you?”

    “You know what I mean.” He poked the desk with his trigger digit. “None of us…would,” he gestured with his hand seeking the vocal track, “take anything on you if you took a cyclone off. It….it came as a shock to us all,” he spoke softly.

    An excruciating amount of time passed as he starred at the Autobot, then stood and went to one of the view slabs. “And what in the mean time? Hmm? An Autobot comes in with wounds none of you have ever seen – a commander is brought in while I’m out taking a break – a team is brought in when in one moment of history we are shorthanded. The warriors take no breaks in ensuring our safety, why should I?” His voice had risen from a soft rasp to a bark. “They bring in a Decepticon and instead of doing their duty as healers, they let the security force drag him…down to…the brrrriig….” His vocal trailed off as he looked down wondering. “I was the head mechanic to transfer the armor. If I could do it then, I surely could function now. I—” He lifted his hand and placed it beside the view port overlooking patients and the technicians caring for them. “I can’t stop for his sake. He…he wouldn’t want me to.”

    Red Alert bided the moment, allowing the older technician to have his time before he intruded. “You miss him a lot, don’t you? Ratchet?”

    He grumbled and looked at the corner searching for something of importance.

    “Most of us…we’ll never know what you’re going through. I can’t even say how sorry I—”

    “Was it me?” he asked, rubbing his hand against his chrome face and red crest. “Was it something in me that made him do it? Some kind of…flaw?”

    Horrorstruck he gawked at the old medic. “NO! No-no-no!” He shook his head vigorously. “No Ratchet, it was nothing from you. I—you know the witness reports, what happened to Magnus’ team. There was nothing from you that could have made him less of a warrior.” He stood and hurried over to Ratchet. “That fragging son of Unicron, you don’t need me to remind you what he did. But you do remember, you remember every solar because you won’t let yourself forget! There was nothing you, I, Primus could prevent. These things—for the love of Cybertron, we’re at war. You remember war, right? They just happen!” He found himself starring at Ratchet’s faceplate.

    He directed a finger to his translucent portion of his chest. “I. Could have prevented it.”

    Red Alert saddened, shook his head. “Two warriors linked to Mini-Cons couldn’t even wound him, and you, everyone knows you can’t synchronize with them. All you would have managed was getting yourself killed with him.”

    With calm resolve he acknowledged Red Alert’s vocal, but looked him a little more closely to the optic. “In the least, I would have been there for him.”


    (Author’s comment: Ripper was the name of a Decepticon that is also shared by this fan made character. Y’know, like there’s ‘Stan’ Winston and ‘Stan’ Bush?

    Kudos go to Petey, in one of his chapters Springer brought in armor and the medic, Sawbone (damn hope I got the name right) commented they didn’t need to cannibalize armor. Though I doubt they’d let one of their guys resemble the deceased, it just happened that Ripper was a mini-bot that could fit in the fatigues little was done to the armor. That and the procedure was an emergency.

    Thanks for reading C:< )
     
  2. DaraRex2.0

    DaraRex2.0 I'd totally eat the leaf

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    This story kind of leaks into another one I’m working on, thus there are some things in here between Autobot and Decepticon occurrences that can be picked out as, I don’t know, weird?

    As I sit here writing stories that are for nothing but a hobby I have to work a damn hard time at, I sit and wonder if it’s all worth it. Then I look up at the poster of Megs over my puter and decide to type in one more sentence before I go to bed C:<



    ~ 2`

    The luminous dulled across the spires, from the lampposts clogged by the corrosive air, mechs in this contisphere required intricate filter congruities within their frames in order to survive the lethal atmosphere alone, it was a perk insuring no stranger from the other contisphere strayed long a visit. It also insured the strongest survived to fly the skies, the most intelligent located means to extend their own warranties. If a mech couldn’t make it through the solar (whenever if ever it came) then that mech was damaged goods and not a part of the glorious conquest of the rightful controllers thereon Cybertron.

    Or that’s how Megatron made everyone else visualize it. Those that followed him, of course.

    A deep fog of impermeable smog hung heavy over Allaion where factories forged the weapons of destruction, one needed strong optics to sight the bullet that would kill him.

    “—And the situation of Polar Sigma? How is Thrust handling the task at his disposal?”

    Exiting the primary entrance to the factory was a large navy sapphire mech with black body and silver tones across his wings, his design was elegant indicating his high class among commanders. Following him was a dark green and maroon ‘con rather bulky in form, at his palm he read off the data stream as he saw it overlaying his optical readings.

    “Well enough, apparently. Megatron seems to like his methods.”

    “Ah, Megatron.” The surface beneath his boots seemed comprised of nothing more than metal flints shaved off from the bellowing stacks of brimstone, the embers flowing forth were molten white and blue. Upon hitting the ‘cooler’ air around them they solidified and dropped, along the extent of the perimeter metal taps were common. They covered everything from the carts shipping materials out to the construct itself, and its laborers. “One would presuppose he would care more of those that built his weapons of mass destruction rather those comprised from them.”

    Beside an edge one of the workers had fallen from over heating due to flints caught in his joints, it slowed his reponses down enough that he could not vent out steam. That logic explained the huge scald mark in his lower mid side at a vent where the metal had curled outward. The large mech kicked his boot lightly before he rounded the bend, he did nothing concerning the corpse as it was dragged aside as an example to those shackled here.

    Around the corner the nameless frames as result of the factories were lined up receiving identification preferences to tie with their functions, a lot would head straight for the front line and never return. “They can always be replaced.”

    “Yes sir.” The mechs small cap head nodded. “Thundercracker?” He removed one data disk and inserted another.

    He turned back. “And what of city-state Alpha? Spies inform us that the fortification is too sturdy, unless a means to weaken it come into computation?” His black helmet tilted back as he approached the commander.

    “True, by all appearances even. There may be a weak point, it only needs careful manipulation for the desired affect to be achieved. Then, the Autobots last standing provenience will fall.” His red optics caught sight of a large aircraft flying in, he turned to it as it transformed into a powerhouse larger than he and Thundercracker. “Hail Megatron.” He knelt.

    Thundercracker repeated the same greeting but performed the honored salute.

    In pursuit for power Megatron spared no expense to his frame, his had little competition in offensive and defensive capabilities, the heavy fortification made him a bit more sluggish than the faster Autobots but what he lacked in speed he made up in sheer onslaught. Before any unit could bring him down he had incapacitated the lot, that went for saying on commanding units. The coal and mauve colorings clashed with his shady white, but it was tactically smart for stealth attacks, one which he rarely if ever implemented.

    “Report Thundercracker,” he grumbled as he whisked around the edifices edge.

    The two commanders hurried to keep pace. “Assembly is ahead of schedule – an unlock in technology combining the Mini-Cons weaponry with our own has yielded surprising results, every commander will be equipped with the resulted arms and every sub-captain as well – evidence provides insight into a new weapon the Autobots may be using shortly against your forces. Is there anything else that may take your cortex?”

    “No,” he answered, stopping short the new units. “You have satisfied my inquiries, and hitherto. Hmm? All of these clone units, they are equipped with fusing technology?”

    “Yes sire,” answered the bulky mech. “And customary weapons. They should break the fore line and second bases before voiding their warranties.” He stepped ahead of Megatron to address the organized warriors. “You comprehend the meaning of your creation to serve only your sole leader and those that answer to him?”

    The entire row clack into formal salute and speak in unison, “Yes sir!”

    “Very good.” His head tilt as he turned to that leader. “In the beginning they are nothing but obedient, until they begin warfare and fighting, then the individual AI begin to manifest thereupon in the most astonishing of guise.”

    “Does that make you proud?” huffed Megatron, his ember lenses narrowing.

    Taken aback the mech stumbles to answer. “Uh…well, if it makes for—the unit known as Starscream. It can benefit the legion as well as strengthen the cause.”

    “Does that make you proud?” he posed again, his mood darkening ever more.

    “I just said—” He didn’t have a moment to finish, Megatron slapped his sharp crown with his left palm, thereafter injecting a weapon from a hidden slot into the robots skull. A single sputter, embers eject a spray from his face guard, the optics dim. He withdraws his hand and the weapon allowing the machine to fall in a heap of used metal.

    Megatron swept his head out, his heavy horned audio array tracking every invisible shudder of awe. “Let this be a lesson to you all: Answer when spoken to in a clean, clear, response. Discipline comes to less of an infraction than what you have witnessed.” He turned marching away.

    Lingering behind Thundercracker checked the rows as two other workers came to set this body out somewhere. “Anyone catch his title?”

    The newborns shook their heads slowly. They knew little of nothing, only that Autobots were their enemies, Decepticons were allies not to be trusted, and the world was indeed round. Very important knowledge there.

    He had to run to catch up with Megatron on the next road headed across to the sulfur works, a smelting pool where liquid ore was poured into the slabs that would contribute to new weapons, new frames, everything was sent to these pools. His leader was in conversation with another mech arbiter of the refinery sequence, taking the usual download from his rounds of the steelworks. It appeared Megatron was in some form of distress from whatever the chief had said, as he neared the commander a deep roar echoed forth. A name was imbedded within.

    “REAPER!”

    The sulfur pools were noisy pits gurgling bubbles and gas, the workers about stirring the refinery gave a symphony of catch-rolling joints and stamping feet, beside all of this was the machinery lifting massive alembics of molten steel to pour. Whenever one needed to speak he must shout or transmit through satellite waves, but the heat usually malfunctioned such privileges through time. In all this Megatron’s vocal carried, but it didn’t halt the workers movement of the dropping barrels.

    A large helicopter lifted up onto the overhang catwalk the two commander units stood with the chief laborer, it dropped down short the rail as it converted from Cybertronian transport to Cybertronian. As he hopped off the rail the last segments of his armor shifted into place, the helicopter tail snapping into his lower back and the chopper blades onto his high shoulder bristling with power. In defiance on his size the luminous pools cast a foreboding glower across his dark brow and his contrast pigments.

    “Whatever it is, I swear I didn’t do it.” He gestured to Thundercracker now beside Megatron. “Hey Thunder.”

    Megatron continued toward the smaller machine. “It has been brought to my attention that a frame located here was pulled aside, one matching the characteristics of Dyatron, and that Dytron has gone missing.”

    He buzzed annoyed. “Those two?”

    “They’re this way, sir.” The mech led Megatron and Thundercracker toward an elevator shaft. Curious to the dilemma Reaper followed, but missed the elevator so was forced to waste energon by flying down the extra levels.

    It was the lower Cybertron sub level, conveyer belts carted the pieces of recess brought in by transporters to be sorted from materials useful enough to be salvaged and the pieces that could be held off till later. Sometimes the broken frames of mechs were brought in and the scavengers hadn’t gotten to the good parts such as mounted rifles, sometimes the mech was still alive.

    One of the tables looked to have been cleared by a simple swipe of the arm, materials lay in pieces on the surface surrounding it. On it lay the inert body of a precariously designed Decepticon with a broad torso section, multiple portions of armor overlapping his frame in perplexing slants, and an odd sort of antenna dropped from his brow frame. His left hand had been removed, whether by his assailant or by those working the conveyors whom wanted a souvenir.

    “The obvious cause of deactivation was the blast wound to his chest, then the extraction of the spark core.” The mech, smelty colors matching his station of duty, indicated the scorch marks of Dyatron’s chest gutted torso section. “He’s a lot more banged up than when he got here, no ones certain which craft he came off of.” He looked back over to the constant hum of the drones as they sorted out useful arms of the abandoned.

    Megatron turned from Dyatron to Reaper, who recoiled defensively. “What?”

    “They have yet to locate Dytron’s body. I believe an explanation is in order.” His hand went towards the cannon turret attached to his arm.

    Reaper held his hand toward the Twin-sword on his back but resisted reaching for it, he backed up towards a furnace drain and perhaps an escape. “I told you Megatron, I had nothing to do with this. I kill Decepticons, not gyn.” Though he gave credit to his own computation, ‘Isn’t such a bad tactic.’ “It’s the truth.”

    Megatron frowned and took a step forward. “Let’s find out how deep that truth goes, shall we?”

    A small black figure dropped between the two warriors, it drew its head up and emitted a deep crackle of a reply.

    “Never far from his master, eeh?” Megatron smiled in his most cruel way.

    “Grave Digger, stand down.” While the Mini-Con completely ignored his master in peril, he looked up to Decepticon lord waiting to strike.



    “Uh, I don’t think this ones Dyatron.” The navy blue sky scrapper studied the corpse mech intricately. “I’m no expert, but recall those two switched titles so members of their squad wouldn’t confuse them.”

    Megatron rubbed his faceplate roughly. “That was almost as bad as that Rumble-Frenzy paradox. How was switching their names in the first place to clear up confusion?”

    “Either way, what does it matter?” growled Reaper. “It still doesn’t direct us to who would do this.”

    “Which supports the fact that it was your doing.” Megatron returned his attention to the small mech.

    After a moments thought Thundercracker stepped past the chief worker and moved to his leaders right. “You know sir, it would be a waste to dismember him now. What would you gain?”

    “Some margin of satisfaction.” Offering his soldier the benefit of the doubt he lowered his arm and turned to him. “And what do you suggest, as you are hinting.” He hated hinting.

    Thundercracker bowed slightly. “Reaper’s a decent assassin, a bit uncontrolled as the lunar storms, but hasn’t failed you yet. It would be a waste of materials and energy, don’t you agree?”

    “Painfully, I find I must.” He glared over at Reaper and his returning minion.

    “My preposition, allow him a chance to hunt down and kill this one that would eliminate one of your precious Gyn. He should have no trouble at that, with the aid of his minions.”

    In answer Grave Digger emitted a deep gurgle and snort, he turned away to stand behind Reaper’s leg.

    “And what do you say to this, scraplet?” Megatron raised his lenses to the small mech a near image of himself. “If you fail, I must take it that you were the murderer and must punish you as according.” His fused arm indicated the rifle on his backside. “And don’t endeavor to pit the blame on some victim you had in mind. I will have coroners examine the frame to the last molecule, if you lie I shall know.”

    He nodded understanding this, his frame black with soot after spending so many whirls in this area. “All I require is Grave Digger-Con to examine the body himself. He is my aid, the information he can gather from it will be essential to my search.”

    Hesitating, Megatron looked from Grave Digger to the body on the table, he took his time answering. “Go ahead.”

    With the affirmation, Reaper set his minion to the frame. The vicious quadruped hopped onto the body and scanned it up and down, his deep red optics burned bright as he snuffed at the raw wound in the mechs chest and listened to the hollow sounds within the body as he paced down it. When he was finished he returned to Reaper and clicked his application.

    “Reaper.” He turned back to Megatron just as he reached the lift access way. “If you return nothing gained of your mission, you are well aware of the fate awaiting you.”

    He glared through the haze, even in the super heated chamber Megatron’s optics burned brighter than the glowing tubes. He nodded. “Yes Megatron, I perceive your patience.” He took the next lift to the top.

    With him gone Thundercracker turned to commander. “Do you have some doubt that he was telling the truth.”

    Laughing lightly he turned his attention to Dy-tron. “None.”

    Thundercracker was confused and couldn’t hide it, he inquired as to why his lord would send a fledgling into Autobot territory only to prove what he already knew. “If in some way he is captured he can be hacked and all our information will be known. The remainder of your Gyn will be in jeopardy.” He silenced when Megatron held up a hand.

    “He won’t allow himself to be captured.” The shaft was returning down, he made for it assured his chief lieutenant would follow closely. “Besides, I have an idea who it was that slayed the twin.”

    ***

    Everywhere he went he noted the uneasy glimpses from other mechs as he passed, something he was unaccustomed to before the attack. It was never more than a short look but it was in ‘that’ look nonetheless that made him uneasy. None of them had made a problem about it but he was growing more aware of the sifting swarms of pedestrian traffic part for him.

    They were on the road now and away from the faceplates but the moment he reverted to robotic form there would be more.

    “Serrate?”

    “Yeah?” The sleek compact hoovercraft beside him drifted beside the odd quad wheel cart.

    “You…uh, seen….” He paused. “Did you notice yet…the stares I’ve been getting?”

    “Stares?” A moment went into his quiet deliberation. “I don’t scan anyone of the current staring at you know.”

    “Just when I’m…in biped form.” He wasn’t used to these circular devices that were transporting him. Before his frame was carried by sturdy tank treads mandatory for his work at the mill plant, the agility was new to his systems. “Mechs have been looking at me funny since I got out of the hospice, anywhere I go they give me that same stare. Even the large units.”

    A shrug entered the hovercrafts vocal. “They’re probably just curious as to why your right arm doesn’t match the rest of you. Slag, I’m curious to know other aspects but for your sake I’m keeping inquiring CPUs to myself. We good on that?”

    “It’s not just that,” Ripper urged. “The looks are one thing, but I’ve…well, been treated differently since getting out. Uh, in The Vaults while you were giving your mandatory input I went to the lower levels to wait. There was this team of Mini-Cons running back and forth to drop off read back threads at the chutes, one of them tripped over my feet as they went. He got up and went on his way, but this mech came right up to me – and he was a big ‘bot at that – put his hand on my shoulder and in his most generous tone said, “I’m sorry,” like he stepped on my feet, and continued after the Mini-Cons. I tell you, it freaked me out.”

    They stopped at the intersection cross to allow transporters to pass.

    “I think you just mis imaging the scenario,” Serrate answered. “It was just one case—”

    “What about the Autobots from the station? When I sat down they backed off, I was certain they were going to request politely if they could have the seat.”

    The entire conversation was getting on Serrate’s nodes, he wanted to shout at Ripper but knew that wouldn’t solve anything. Besides, his comrade had been through a lot. “Autobots are not Decepticons, they wouldn’t have forced us up if we said no. And you’re not a Decepticon, you seem to have this hidden sense that that is what others are believing of you in your borrowed armor.”

    Once the interlocked alternated it was their turn to go, in silence they continued on for a cycle longer.

    “It’s not uncommon for mechs just out of the hospice to fell a little distanced from society,” Serrate began. “You’ve endured a slaggen deal of trauma, I understand, but it’s over now. Time to move on. Besides,” the wing of the craft nudged the boxy vehicle in playfulness, “you’re not that different from the other mechs that have transferred armor. You’re alive, that’s all that matters. Ignore the stares and this ‘treatment’ you seem to believe has been yours.”

    After a moment Ripper emitted a faint hiss. “You might be right. I can’t help it anyways, right?” Though he felt certain Serrate was wrong, he offered him the benefit of the doubt in order to resume their day. And to his dismay, he found they had reached their destination and so converted to his commercial shape.

    Sure enough as his crest was red, a nearby pedestrian regarded his new form with the questioning optic. Indifferent to it Ripper continued up the steps.

    The fastest way to cross Iacon was by the shuttlecraft routes, tickets for these routes were hard to come by as most Cybertronians were permitted as ground based units and the metropolis had been overcrowded once the attacks began. Omitting those that had apartments in the high spires overlooking the city, who in effect were given free passage and had a separate cart from the other passengers, one needed to have a colleague in the steel work or be very lucky this cycle of the solar.

    Without any colleague at the service Serrate regularly relied on his good fortune to score tickets for himself and Ripper, or sometimes just himself and ditch Ripper at a refueling station. Ah, friendship. He had originally planned to locate one ticket going to the Alpha Northwest edge of the city where Ripper worked, just this once, and walk alone to his own task area. The case of his selflessness rewarded them both an easy ride cross Iacon express.

    “Ever think I might work here?” chimed Serrate, changing the subject for easy traveling.

    Ripper still seemed in his own process of computation, after a light push by his friend he snapped out of it. “Huh—whu—?”

    “I know these schedules better than any other ‘bot, you think they’d ever employ me?” He grinned.

    Ripper hissed. “I think they’re looking for something more than a crate lifter?” The door opened and he stepped through, colliding with another mech that was in conversation with someone at the shaft. “Ah, ‘xuse me. I’m—”

    “No-no, It’s all right. I—”

    Had he finally shipped off the deep end? Here he stood staring at a mech identical to him aside from being a medium unit, the only differences he could see was the right arm, matching his left arm, and the silver tone faceplate, while his had remained a darker contrast to his actual features.

    “—Sorry,” Ripper whispered.

    Ratchet studied the mech slowly from his emerald optics to his thin boots, he reflected how Pawl was short enough to be fitted on the small unit. After a tense moment he straightened his shoulders up and focused on the stunned robots lenses. “I take it you are Ripper?”

    “I…hhn, yes. Yes sir, that’s me.” He bowed respectfully to the physician.

    “It’s good to see you about. I didn’t expect to run into you. Ever.” He lifted his hand but stopped, as though he had thought to pat his patient on the shoulder but couldn’t bring himself to touch the metal covering his endostructure. Instead, he shook his head and moved on. “Take better care of yourself, now.”

    On the road he converted into a near familiar alien vehicle to that of Ripper and drove away.

    When Ratchet had gone Serrate came out from his hiding place behind the steps and walked up to Ripper. “That was Sentient’s personal medic, or…he was until….”

    “Why’d I look just like him?”

    Serrate remained with the silence as Ripper waited for an answer he apparently had. “Well, not all Cybertronian’s have differed frames, some even—”

    “Forget it. Let’s just get to the balcony before we miss our shuttle.” He stormed through the open door with Serrate dashing after him trying to get a word in.

    ***

    Several core computers were buried deep in Kaon’s territory to monitor the casualty aggregate of the warrior class mechs that fell during battle, commanders that were assassined, and laborers that were killed in the meantime. The sub task of these cores was to keep recorded datum from the alleys and streets with the slight abnormalities of small business that shouldn’t have a spike in sells. The whole responsibility of these super terminals was to identify and mark in inventory which class of Decepticon requisite production to maintain order and the implacable security of the growing-consuming Decepticon territory.

    Security was difficult to get through unless one was already assigned to the routine check up and clean up of the main frames, the data contained through the ever lowly worker was valueless to the Decepticons, there was also a lot of it.

    Which was why Reaper was here scanning through any detail available, which wasn’t a whole lot. A healthy solar and a half had gone on its way neglecting any hint to the murder of the Dy-tron twins. “By the source, what does a ‘con have to do for some lead here?” He leaned back in his chair and starred at the screen as his recycled response analysis continued to yield no insight of the intriguing matter.

    A few of the computer terminals down Grave Digger was upon the console using his own methods to increase the search. Of it all he had come across seventeen scenarios that might’ve been the suspect slayer but all of each had proved minuscule detail that had saved at least seventeen of these unsuspecting mechs. “A view of details tends to dictate that the young twins were last viewed quibbling outside Plasma Trend, one observer admits the two proceeded into a check facility, and that is where the spoor ends.”

    “I already know that,” muttered Reaper as he fussed over his sharp thumb. “But we have yet to locate a frame.”

    “By all continuities that infers to us much of little gained in questing.” He buzz-gurgled for added emphases.

    He tapped his digits across the console drawing up information to much of his neglect in comprehension until only five of the thirty-two screens scrolled with captain data and the others focused on his retrieval. “A specific Mini-Con series in all the villages of Cybertron. Alley ways, abandoned garages, dark corners.”

    “Five thousand forty-two hundred alleys, nine hundred fifty-five garages, two million four thousand sixty-nine hundred unkempt corners, and twenty-five thousand five hundred seventy-four sub levels.” The GD Mini-Con weaved his bladed digits as he purred terrible noises to his master. “Messiah Reaper-tron, your chances of locating this killer are nine billion to one. Dragging in one that could slay yourself would be five thousand point forty-three to one.”

    Reaper chuckled as his merciless searching drew up a visual he would found most pleasing to his ember optics. “Ah, just figures and angles my dear Grave Digger. You must learn not to rely so much on your analysis functions and more on your instincts.” He offered the midnight black machine a snide smirk. “Contact Omega, he is patrolling near this area. Give him these coordinates and see what he replies to you.”

    Cautiously, Grave Digger stepped across the consoles keypads to his master and looked at the screen. He gave a inquisitive contemplation into the command of his host, as leaving him out to fend for himself in the territory was enough an answer of aid would be beyond the question. Once he made the silent query his attention returned to the view screen. “What is it you see, my optics reveal little to me,” he frazzled.

    “Wait until Omega replies, then maybe you will sight more than your optics alone will heed.”

    Little cycle transpired before Omega replied to Grave Digger’s command, and he in turn related it to his master no more fluent it Mini-Con than an Autobot was to it. “Markings beneath a restricted soot shaft have indicated a struggle, and blast scores implement a radius of ten score, to a Mini-Con, of course,” Grave Digger hummed. “Tests would be necessary to ascertain if this was done by either twin or his attacker, but the dimensions alone are enough to prompt reliable conclusions.” He hissed lightly over the last vocal and turned his sharp helm towards Reaper.

    The optics beneath the dark brow brightens well with humor. “And now it is your task to venery, mar of graves.”

    Antenna spites jutting from Grave Digger’s audio receivers turn back involuntarily. “If I may query, messiah, what of the image did you descry that conveyed you to the synopsis that the evidence you sought was there?” Looking at it still his optics, the most finalized of his kind, could not discern indication that a struggle took route in the shaft beneath the dark border of the image.

    “Very easy,” he replied, as his minion locked his blades to his arm. “Common sense tells me to seek evidence where it can be found, but evidence found is typically erased by clean up crews. Thus, seek it where no ‘con is willing to search for it.” Reaper didn’t bother to reset the screens to the original data square, he knew the information was still logged for historical accounts. The hall along his passage rendered one dead Decepticon after the next, each of which with small tears through their necks and torso casings.

    ***

    Midway through the shuttlecrafts full route Serrate always disembarked, it was still a distance from his drudgery and a waste of pay but he liked to hit a refueling station along the way and meet with company of his before they returned to their shift. This time he rather stay with Ripper and notified those he usually met that he was going to do so, they understood perfectly, if they didn’t then they were no friend of his.

    “Serrate,” Ripper hissed.

    Mentally he regretted having to answer that. “What?” tone equally low.

    “Reflection ahead of us, aqua orange Femme to the right of the farthest view port two helms over.” He stared forward.

    Silently, Serrate counted two mechs over and saw the powerhouse Ripper had indicated. To himself he barely admitted that indeed this stranger was staring diagonally toward the white cap that was the other mechs helmet. For the sake of him he denied the facts. “So far, nineteen mechs have been staring at you on the transit.”

    “Her optics are right on me.”

    He gave a strange sort of shrug. “Maybe you’re mistaken, maybe she has the hots for my fram.” Serrate sat up a little straighter and stuck his sharp edged chest out.

    “Or maybe she’s staring at me cause she has the hots for, aw forget it.” He hissed and leaned against the brace that segregated his seat from the next pair.

    Serrate sat his palm of Ripper’s head to pat the pale chrome metal. “Give me a break, really. You compute for the rest of your warranty mechs are gonna be staring at you?”

    “Something like that.”

    Serrate knocked his red crest with his elbow. “Don’t get all melancholy on me, ‘bot.” The craft eased to a stop and the luminous at the upper arch came on, this signaled Serrate to get up with other passengers. “Lighten up, Ripper. You’ll be just fine.” That said he gave his favored friend a reassuring smile before he shuffled after the other passengers to the exit.

    ‘I’ll be just fine,’ he mused in silence. ‘Easy for him to say. He’s not wearing the armor of a dead mech.’ With an ill sensation creeping up his vertebra brace he held his left arm out before him and contorted his face. “Frame of…a-a dea-dead mech-ch,” he glitched. “No wonder Ratchet gave me ‘that’ look. I’d stare at someone I knew got a transfer, with armor just like mine!”

    A number of the passengers turn when he shrieked and stare at him with a range of bafflement to angry glowers.

    Feeling even worse Ripper lowered his head down as he scrunched down into his seat. Through the remainder of the ride the thought kept bombarding the privacy of his inner sanity. ‘Frame of a dead mech. Frame of a dead mech.’ He tried not to let his right arm touch any part of him that was chrome metal, which was all of him. Frequently his hand reached up to rub the darker contour of his own face. ‘What if my face had to be replaced?’ But some shred of his sanity did inform him gently that they wouldn’t be that cruel, and no matter the condition of his faceplate they would have replaced it with at least a face guard and visor. It would fool any one, even Serrate, but he would know inside his computation that nothing was behind the window and guard but his functioning retina cameras.

    The stares still came, even when he reached his appoint of drudgery at the bailer factory. It grew even worse. As he walked toward the office of the facility, located at the edge of a bridge at the base of a high spire, he caught the low vocals of his own associates.

    “Entire squad dead.” “Only survivor.” “Rebuilt him.” “Have I seen that frame before?”

    Leaving the twin doors of the office was Maxibot, a large worker and strongest of them all he imagined. An accident of the facility had shattered his right arm resulting in its replacement with one from donor. As he stepped out he noted the smaller machine in his path, stepped aside and gave him a respectful nod.

    This made Ripper feel ill still and he entered briskly into the wide expanse of ‘the office’.

    The factories primary work was within this location, machines lifted and moved metal to be cut and distributed into the required fields. Dozens of workers were necessary to maintain the massive guts soldering, moving, carting the slabs, but a smaller force was responsible for strapping the slivered chunks together for shipment. That was his job, better than the range of workers but more dangerous, the bars holding the slabs needed to be massive and thick but if a miscalculation occurred that the correct density wasn’t utilized to hold them and they snapped, one had enough power to crush the larger mechs. It was the reason laborers traveled with them and cut them for the factories to use the materials, why Ripper was….

    A shaft took him down into the lower levels where the actual office was, he let the familiar senses of the factory reach him through the open bars of the burnt steel, hot metal, even the thunderous clamping of the grips that he once ago believed to be crumbling his audio receivers. It was good to be among something familiar even if he was going to get stared at for the next few orns, maybe even cause an accident. ‘An amusing process,’ he chided himself lightly on it.

    He changed his process right when he stepped into the office.

    The hulking chief of labor looked up from his computer terminal and immediately ceased laughing to some joke. “Ripper? Ah, I didn’t know you were coming back!” His optics flicked towards a mech standing against the wall, not so much bigger than Ripper but with an odd elegance to his size.

    He hissed and stepped in over the pieces of components his boss failed, if not avoided, to repair. The shock of the mech was no surprise to him, he was quite use to it. Sort of. “I thought I was logged under leave due to my accident.” Now he looked at the other mech indicating he wanted to at least have some bit of explanation.

    The older mech avoided the trail of Ripper’s optics. “Yes, in fact you were. But…you know how the unemployment rate of Iacon has skyrocketed. If the drudgery has a position open, even one withheld, I have no choice but to give it to another ‘bot.” Again his optics flicked to his patiently waiting guest. “However, I can offer you a place among the fold class maintaining the engines. The pays not as good, but—”

    “Who’s he?”

    Both he and the mech were staring at the stranger. “I…ghh, hired him in your absence Ripper, but…he’s proved more economically sound so I decided to keep him.” He entwined his digits and sat them on the counter before him. “That position in the factory still stands for you, however.”

    Replaced.

    “With ado respect, Scathecrush.” He stepped forward and looked up at the chief laborer, it was as far as he could reach. “I know the system that this facility works under. You’re always hiring the mechanics because they are easiest to train, and if an accident occurs, such as what happened to me, you replace them. Right?”

    Scathecrush furrowed his brow at the small unit. “Is that a ‘no,’ Ripper? The position is still open to you, if one of the other strappers fails to—”

    “Is injured,” he placed quietly. “If another squad of Decepticons attacks and steals their cargo, neutralizes everyone. You must have had plenty of mechs to fill those position, right?”

    “I’m going to ask you to leave now, Ripper. Whatever happened to you, they didn’t fix it.”

    “Do you even know what happened to me?” He turned to the new mech, he was a little taller than himself with a precarious design of broad torso section, multiple portions of armor overlapping his frame in perplexing slants, and an odd sort of antenna extended from his brow frame, his armor tint tan and gray did not flatter him well. “You new here?”

    His antenna lift surprised. “Somewhat. Labor has locked, no one can get work elsewhere. This is all I got.”

    Ripper scoffed lightly. “Grieve you and I, fearless laborers.” He turned his attention back to Scathecrush who silenced his cursing for a moment. “Can I still have the mechanics position?”

    He glared at the small mech with seething but gave a second scan over with his optics, the red crest, the gray boots. “Yes, it is. You know Domino, she has the locker disks. You know the drill. And take Hustler with you, he’s still new to the higher levels.”

    Mischievous processes aside he managed a “Yes sir” as he turned to the exit access. Before he reached the signature reader that opened the slider, Scathecrush called him back.

    “Ripper, it is good to have you back. I’m sure in little cycling you’ll have your old position back and your normal pay, but…” he lifted his palms up referring to his lack of freedoms, “as the forces that be, my hand is forced. You do understand, don’t you?”

    He didn’t respond at first but slipped his foot forward to be registered by the access. “Yes sir.”

    Up the shaft five levels and along the walkway, Domino would be located in the inventory class making arrangements for shipments going out and the more important payment of material coming in.

    “I honestly have no conception how I received my position. Ever since I started drudgery here I’ve been late for my shift, late reporting after refueling, taking early leave off before my shift was done.”

    “Sounds like bragging to me,” muttered Ripper as they went. To his amazement, Hustler registered him.

    “No no-no-no-no. I’m just amazed.” He hopped over to walk beside the smaller mech. “Scathecrush, he seems to like you.”

    “Please.” But he couldn’t help a smirk. “The only functions he likes is femmes and profit. He likes profit more than he likes the femmes cause he can get more with it.” That was the circulating joke.” With a wretch he suddenly wondered if Hustler was a spy for his boss, the name was a dead giveaway if he was.

    “By the way, what’s a soldier like you doing working here? Get tired of the war?”

    And he was already tired of the circulating drag pumping from this mechs processor. “I’m not a soldier, what’d give you a computation like that?” He spun around to follow the mechs movement as he returned to his other shoulder.

    “I was referring to your badge.” In reference he tapped his own shoulder joint. “That badge, it’s standard Autobot soldier issue. I can tell by the way it shines, and the fact it’s fitted over your standard brand.”

    Ripper found himself shaking his helmet in disbelief, that he didn’t fathom in all the solar. “I might live under their rule but it doesn’t mean I’m their soldier. And no one calls it brand, it’s not respectful to the Autobot way.”

    Halting short Hustler cocked his crown. “Says who?”

    “No one, actually.” He kept walking. “It’s just looked down upon by most citizens. Hmm. Why didn’t you know this?”

    He crossed his arms and grinned. “I’m not from this city-state.”

    Ripper stared at the mutilated left hand he bore, he had never seen such a ghastly attachment on even a warrior unit. ‘Serrate was right, I’m not the only survivor out there.’ Casually he walked along with Hustler a while, the ‘bot had finally shut up enough that he could utter a faint question. “Is it in the Bad Lands you lost your hand?”

    Needless to say, he seemed perplexed. “Huh?”

    Ripper gestured his left side.

    Finally he seemed to get it. “Uh, yeah, mmm—no, actually…it was….” His antenna splayed out as he struggled for an explanation.

    “S’okay,” Ripper mumbled as he walked on. “Least you’re not as bad as me.”

    Hustler frowned and hurried to catch up. “Not as bad? What’s that mean? Is that an insult? You think you’re worse off than I?” He actually thumped his chest. “I could be worse off, mind you.”

    “‘Bot, reboot.” He pushed the imposing Hustler back with his right hand. “I just meant, y’know, at least you’re not carting around the left over hull of some dead Autobot.” He walked away, thankfully he could see the diagonal shaft that would deposit near Domino’s workstation. “I know he was a soldier now, at least. Thanks for that much.”

    Still baffled Hustler continued after his escort.

    In the next steps everything that Ripper knew once again wrenched inside out. Either side of his walk two laborers fell by, one struck the platform and managed enough leverage to grab the rail before his thin frame slipped through. Accidents like this were common so he instinctively went forward to help his fellow crew mate. He grabbed his elbow and heaved him up, the robot frantically groped his shoulder until he clambered up enough to stutter in his audio. “Attack-ted.”

    A beam of mauve caught the wide crack in his sparking hide, the mingling energies ignited a short burst causing Ripper to shriek and stumble backwards a step to far and tumble off the walkway. “Domino,” he called, before hitting the turning gear below. It had saved his life but dwelling long upon it would counteract its purpose, but as he began to rise he looked up and sighted an actual Decepticon attacking his beloved Domino. “That…FRAGGER!”

    Being a small mech Reaper did a lot of Grave Digger style attacks, which meant jumping up against his victim to propel them backwards by the force. At least with him it made sense, he launched up at the slim Femme and clamped her pretty helmet with his right hand, as she fell backwards he locked his gaunt left hand through the throat bundles and tore out the main conduit cable. He holed himself back and looked across to the other mech standing there, horrified. “Amass me in a maze why don’t you?” His left hand drenched by hydraulic fluids clenched and unclenched.

    Hustler narrowed his bright optics, his left hand remained motionless. “Catch me if you can, roflcopter.” He jumped back and took flight—something small and fast crashed against his back side, it seemed to explode ripping at his vertebra brace until the pain itself sent him skidding a few strides closer to his enemy. Pushing himself up on his arms he caught an optic of Grave Digger trotting closer to his caller, he glared back with his dark red optics and crackled with agitation.

    “Get into the air, he’ll clip you every time.” He grinned as he moved forward, reaching up for the Twin-sword.

    There was no time like the present, Hustler raised and lowered the heavy cannons over his shoulders, in that same instant Reaper had dashed forward and pressed both weapons up, out of his range with the blade stretched under them. Hustler shoved him back, the stronger Reaper shoved him backwards, his arm twisting and tilting until his victims helmet was lined up with the satellite disk on his arm.

    To his horror the core of that dish was burning with blue fire, he forced his body sideways to avoid the beam of ion charges from it. One antenna was incinerated by it but at least that wasn’t his optics. While Reaper was busy trying to realign sword to his chest, his hand locked the hilt of the blade and he used his sharp shoulder to propel the larger ‘con aside. Free of the hold he jumped off the walkway and transformed, his jet form swaying sideways violently as he tilt back to rise.

    Reaper launched to his feet and directed to the jet. “Get him, Grave Digger!”

    Below Ripper had relocated himself from the perilous turning gear to a stretching cord of cables that barely bent under his weight. He watched above as Hustler converted to a fighter jet and took off, tilting back but swaying badly from some wound. In his exhaust trail pursued a lethal creature of any sort. Grave Digger spun over and clamped down on the jets back, he spun over striving to shake the passenger but failed some dire bit. It tore into the jets power packet and burned plasma into the vents, when all was done it jumped back as an explosion rocketed Hustler. He converted to robot form still moving without control, his shoulder shattered against a turning component of machinery, his backside slammed against a support beam, but he finally crashed to a landing against the surface and slid nearly to the open section of the lower levels. The smoking frame failed to reactivate.

    “Not much for a fight, but at least it’s done. Grave Digger.” He looked around. The Mini-Con failed to return. “Where are you?” His sensors indicated his target of choice was still below, doing what he wondered? Were there Mini-Cons in this factory?

    He was about to find out for himself if this would be worth it, he gazed over the edge and, lo and behold an Autobot back from the dead! On the cable this ‘bot hung at his arms, the vicious Grave Digger was buzzing and frazzing a fuss rather heed his vocal as he hollered at him to go away.

    “Bad! Bad whatever you are!” He grumbled. “Away now or I’ll crush you!” His retina cameras drifted past the beast machine to the Decepticon staring down at him with the most vaguest of expressions.

    “Didn’t you already self-terminate?” He stepped off and glides down on his whirling blades to the cables Ripper hung from, he perched on them the other side from his minion. “They put your faceplate back together?” He noted the odd out right arm and smiled evilly. “Oh ho, no. You’re just wearing the mettle of that mech. I processed that they’d just go ahead and smelt that armor after what he did.”

    “Did?” Ripper choked, dead fear. Autobot badges dabbed the mechs boots up and down. “W-what did he…d-do?”

    Regardless his wobble on the cables Reaper removed his blades from his back and lowered the sword to the cable. “The mech whom wore the armor they thought to deck you in was no more heroic than a Decepticon.” He began cutting the dense cables one at a time. “Last I registered of the stream he committed self-termination on account he couldn’t deal with the fact he missed his opportunity to execute me and instead of ending one life, he lost his chargers. Some Mini-Cons and an Autobot soldier, all of which could not stand against my weapons.

    “A real warrior would not stand for that,” he continued, cutting as he went. “A real warrior would get it done, regardless of trauma, regardless of what might be. He did not and couldn’t stand it, thus instead of pulling the trigger on me he pulled it on himself.” He leaned down and peered into the darker coloration of Ripper’s faceplate masked by the helm he watched erupt. “Seeing you the way you are brings much pleasure into my solar. It’s like I get to murder the same ‘bot, twice.”

    “No…” Ripper mumbled, but he felt some part of him dying the way he did that solar. On the plain, with his comrades, transporting the materials through Waste Land. It was like reality made true for them, the fire, the burning corpses, that screeching sensation as your armor was pulled from the sensory nodes. Every little millosecond made true to your dwindling flame. The Decepticons did it to him, this Decepticon did it to his frame bearer, he was alive for the sake of his death, and the same fate beheld to the soldier before him was his now. A civilian. He didn’t deserve that right, not because it was wrong. It was because he didn’t fight for that title. “No. No-No-NO!” He shook his head trying to block the recollections, a friend screaming, his rifle misfiring. Those hot red optics of his killer as he shredded his armor one panel at a time. “NO!”

    Reaper smiled with delight. “Yes.” The gnarled left hand lashed down clamping hard over his red sensory crest to lift him partially from his hold, the sharp digits cut deep as he stared unseeing into those ember optics. “Mark my vocals before the lunar cycle, every mech of this facility will be dead and a new set of frames be rendered to those of this city-state. But it won’t do any of the denizens much good.” His grip tightened for emphases, the Twin-sword heaved through the final cable cutting the last sections, it came apart tearing Ripper’s brow portion from his red crest now sputtering severed lines. As for the destroyer’s, when the cable fell away Reaper replaced the copter blades to his back and his minion provided his own means of self-propulsion.

    The same could not be said for Ripper, but in the least he had some hope. He grabbed the twines of cable that would fit in his hands and rode the half as it swung down at mach one. In his path was a clamp revolving for another slab of molten metal, he turned his helm away as he collided part way with the sweeping end and was near knocked off. He continued on the drop as the cables path nearly sliced him in two, crushed him, it finally got hung up by a walkway, the impact knocked several confused laborers off. Below his grip lost allowed him to collide with a sharp beam of steel, processing fast he jammed the blade from his right arm into the metal thus rather fall he coasted down on his weapon, in the least he didn’t shatter against the surface or fall into a pit of hot bars.

    Through the thundering machinery of the facility his audio receptors picked up the wails of his colleagues as the Decepticon hunted them down.

    Did he deserve to bare this armor now?


    (Author’s comment: Time back I asked for references between human chronology and Cybertronian, the lists I got were copy pasted. I’ve been experimenting with a total alien environment on Cybertron with as little human influence as my sanity could afford in these stories, but the mention of Ripper’s alien form is a give away there was some leaking. I can explain that, but I don’t want to.

    I screwed up, because my computer was screwed up, so the title's screwed up. But it isn't that bad, I guesstimate. >SigH<
     
  3. DaraRex2.0

    DaraRex2.0 I'd totally eat the leaf

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    Oh boy, Christmas is coming up fast and I have been busy. I actually forgot a thing like the Internet existed there for a bit but I recalled when all my chores were done and decided to go ahead and finish this story.

    I wrote some of this awhile back and some points of a conversation get sort of weird, the characters begin talking about stuff they know about which the readers, and even the author are not aware of. For the author to be out of the woods, that’s sort of a scary thing. Hilarious, but scary. S:<


    ~ 3`

    Refueling was always the big hit of any mechs solar no matter what point of the cycle you took to do it. The lower levels were always packed tight like chip clusters, but the spires serving always had plenty of room and a view to look out at, it might’ve been a little pricy and not much better but at least he could get the right grade without someone stealing his order. That saved more time, as he wouldn’t surrender till he hunted the mech down and roughed him up just enough that he could get compensation for his expense.

    This place also served Mini-Cons. It didn’t always but after he spoke with the manager - and served his sentence - they saw his way of thinking and did the city-state a kindness. In the end it had cost them more than him.

    He always ignored the stares from civilians, it was indifferent to him after an unconsidered amount of vorns that passed without heed. It was the other portion of the figure eight this chamber was designed after he was headed for, a large arch separated the two sections but he wasn’t much for the extravagant view as he was refueling and getting back to his shift. It was just easier this way.

    “Okay everyone, settle down.” An entire Mini-Con team stood on the counter, two conversing as the other ran back and forth across the surface to catch a glimpse over the side at two others apart of the Race team. “It took a little longer than usual so get your skidplates refueled and we’ll get out of here.” He handed each mech his unit and sat down with his own.

    “We had a bet going,” mentioned one, his sky blue lenses flicked over to his comrade as he joined them.

    “Oh?” He was still shaky in the Mini-Con code but had learned faster than most of his fellow soldiers, most likely due to the factor they were always conversing and he had picked up on it well without any exceptional deciphering skills. “It had better not be about the new—”

    “No,” answered the smaller of the trio quickly. “You mentioned you were a Decepticon at one point.”

    To that he nodded, it had been a long time ago before this segregation, Decepticons had come from a natural stem of war units designed to protect Cybertron – or that’s how the myth was told. No one would ever recall as most the records were destroyed in the destruction of the High Council Pavilion. “But once Megatron made his intentions known I was soon to fall out from that line.” He peered down at the Mini-Cons quietly refueling with his intense glower. “What was this bet about?”

    Everyone knew he was the roughest of the Autobots, a Guardian and Turnkey, apart to the Security Patrols, but the Mini-Cons secretly kept to themselves their commiseration this was only a stern font in the face of persecution. Even if he did get into a nasty brawl over nothing, he was one of the most disciplined Autobots any mech would ever come across.

    “Not much,” clicked the larger of the three.

    “Out with it.”

    The medium ‘bot closer to him shoved the larger one away before he looked up at their ally. “That if, uh, you got specs to go undercover you’d do it in a clip.”

    He sat back considering this phantom proposal, he took some more energon before his attention returned to the small robots. “What brought this on?”

    The smaller one ignored his two comrades as they shoved each other back and forth in argument. “The spy systems. We remembered Landmine approached The Prime about this new issue during the last training session. Rodimus was for pulling out units for intergalactic travel, which would make positions open to be filled, but The Prime wants to further research with the seasoned units. I can understand Rodimus’ angle, a lot of ‘bots have been MIA in space, but the spies are our only lead on the ‘cons, and pulling and replacing units is risky.” He gestured back to the medium mech. “Dirtboss agrees with me, but Downshift—”

    “Doesn’t,” he buzzed irritated. “And that’s why I’d vocalize you wouldn’t be a spy.”

    “And I think he would.” Dirtboss pushed him aside. “He’s already got the modd, he’d scare those witless scrap frags out of their CPUs just staring at them. Am I right?” He didn’t see Downshift rise and turn to him, he knocked his capped helmet with his elbow gear.

    He hissed and rubbed his brow. “Would you two stop. This isn’t an issue I would answer for the sake of a bet. Besides, what—” The communicator in his wrist hummed silently in his audio piece, he snapped the view screen open and listened.

    “—Repeat, the Steel Bailer is under attack by Decepticon forces, Security Patrol in the immediate local are to report and nullify hostilities, Autobot warriors on shift assist their forces. I repeat….” The message continued to replay.

    United on the audio commune link the Mini-Cons had silenced to register the mechanical voice peeling through in urgency.

    “Slaggers,” uttered the small android. “Solar and lunar, don’t they ever give it a rest?”

    The Autobot began to rise while polishing off the last of his energon. “They’re calling us to that area.”

    They looked up at him and at the containers of energon rods they had. “But…we’re off duty,” squeaked Downshift.

    Dirtboss gave his crown a shake and looked at his fellow unit members. “Doesn’t matter. Like Mirage said, solar and lunar they never rest. They even energize as they fight.”

    Mirage hissed. “There’s a comforting process.” He took in as much energon as he could before tossing the container and dropping off the counter. Quick after him was Dirtboss and Downshift stumbling to catch up.

    As they pursued the long strides of their ally to war, Dirtboss spun about and gave a high whistle. “Hollow, you coming?”

    In no hurry to catch up was a black and gray Mini-Con, the second of his unit was in the same pace to follow him without emergency.

    ***

    Somewhere along the way he must have blacked out, that was a bad condition to be in he realized and soon thereafter reactivated. Right away he understood he was not in the same location he remembered deactivating, and second to that someone was nearby…hissing.

    “No. I told you, it’s not a Decepticon fleet, it’s a single unit.” He silenced as the other communicator answered in private audio contact through his helm module. “I know what they’re saying, I’m right smack dab in the middle of it…” He paused as another reply came over, in the interlay he popped his white crown over crushed pieces of metal and other ruble that resembled once mobile machinery. “I said cancel Security Patrol, they’re not equipped to handle this—frag protocol, you’ll end up killing more mechs going by rules this-this…it doesn’t give a smelt about! You have the reports, improvise! I can’t handle him solo.”

    “Did you tell them it was…Reaper?”

    He jerked to the mech behind him, Ripper, his helmet torn open in a bad way. The question was hard to answer but lying was worse, not to that face. “No.” He looked away.

    Ripper stared at him between anger and loss. “But…w-wh—”

    Ratchet took his helmet and checked the damage over, it looked worse than it was actually, the blades pierced the outer epidermis but didn’t get through the under layer where what remained of his true helmet lay or that of his cerebral module. “You’re lucky to be alive.”

    He brushed the medic away and stared at him, more angry this time. “Why didn’t you tell them.”

    Emerald optics, not cobalt as his were, as his had been. Had. “I can’t explicate it. Not to you, anyway. It’s nothing about you, understand, but—”

    A distant cry of agony cut him off, it was elevated by the loss of half the factory force but still low and far.

    Jerking his right arm out Ripper snarled on him. “My comrades, friends, your people, they are dying out there. Not one of them’s gotten out word who this is ‘cause all of them is killed before they realize what’s really happening. And you, alive, able! Won’t say! I, in the least, deserve some sort…OF…ANSWER.” His footing unstable cast him against a hot machine, his cooler metal hissed and bubbled against the surface before he recoiled. If his sensory had been functioning that wouldn’t have happened, he didn’t know if it was due to Reaper tearing the array system off or if he was still not accustomed to the sensory.

    A long span of silence existed through the churning turbines of lowly the laborer always working, groans from the brutally assaulted bawling for an aid, or death. In all this the healer could still not answer his accuser.

    Finally he locked his lenses with the emerald set. “I’ve warned them what awaits them, I sent away the Patrols, but I cannot tell them whom is here. I—it’s impossible.” He buried his head in his hands, a response totally alien to Ripper.

    Heedless to say, his rage was fueled enough he caught the larger robot by his neck with his own arm and looped the acute of his blade under his throat bundle. “You do something productive or I’ll…I’ll—YOU KNOW I CAN DO IT!”

    Without a sound process Ratchet looked away from a potential threat, afterwards he shoved Ripper away and covered his vocal module with a hand and pressed him into a deep steam rift that was hotter than his processors cared to register. All in order to extend their lives that much more.

    Through gaps in the ruble a silent figure no more the size of a pistol crept along, the jagged snout swept back and forth searching, scanning, maybe even possible sniffing. The red optics never brightened through that dark mask of void obscuring whatever sight was to be made beyond that horrid mask.

    “Listen to me carefully,” whispered Ratchet. “A lot more mechs will die if he leaves here, I’ll try and keep him busy until reinforcement arrive.”

    “What are you vocalizing?” whimpered Ripper.

    “Don’t let that little monster see you. Get out, never scan back, run, drive if you can. But, I repeat, do not let that little monster ‘see you.’” At that instant he shoved Ripper away and bound out from the hiding pit, he dove and weaved through the machinery making a great commotion of sound.

    Ripper confused beyond compare was about to follow his advice and bolt out of that place…but those words came back to him. Don’t be seen. He stumbled backwards and silenced as the tapping weight of that vicious brute paraded by his location…and stopped. In a fit of fear he dragged his body back towards the exhaust vent and wedged himself among broken pipes and scorching tubes, he felt the pain but couldn’t read the danger from his ocular view. He forced his whimpering short as Grave Digger Mini-Con slipped through gaps in the ruble and made way over to the location where Ripper had fallen.

    ‘The heat masks his sensors,” he realized. ‘Or he doesn’t figure I’m dumb enough to hide here.’

    The Grave Digger moved slowly over the wire grate, his audio extenders tilt forward listening to every vibration that hit them. He passed the metal cables obscuring the ruined portion of Ripper’s shoulder and continued moving past his head and continued, scanning but receiving nothing, pursuing in hopes his presence alone would frighten a fool into action.

    It was this sort of action Ripper was ready to take. He rolled out of his wedge and raised his arms over his head prepared to pierce this monster with his only weapon, to kill it—what if that didn’t work? Doubt set in. It could fight Autobot soldiers’ head on, that’s what it did, wouldn’t they have had ample opportunity, shots that should have killed it? Maybe this was a mistake. Ratchet said—

    Grave Digger reared his head back. Something was amiss.

    With growing horror Ripper conceived that he was not the one hunting the hunter. He was baited.

    His snout swung around to face—nothing, the steam still masked his sensors but for his optical view there was not of interest. This was always the worst part of a mission, hunting out the survivors. It became old fast. With a last rumble fraz he left the pit, squeezing through the cavities in the debris and going on his way without a glance back.

    After too much time for his poor gears exerted, Ripper let his body collapse out from his hiding space. “Thank Primus,” he mumbled into the grate, and tensed realizing he was still being hunted. But in the end of it hadn’t seen him as Ratchet had wished.

    ***

    It was a mech half his size, how could this happen? He had beaten Decepticons twice his ‘own’ size, it had been a tough bout but he had done it and had bragging rights. Where did this smelt slag get off—

    The Twin-sword shot into his chest, the force propelled Maxibot’s body off his feet down the last section of walkway and to the shattered pieces of rollers. Death would not come soon enough, it would not come pleasantly, that short mech crunched his sharp boots to his shattered torso plate and twisted the blade up along the hemoglobus vats, where energon was diffused into his system. It bubbled up through his face guard, but he couldn’t help staring at that face now at his, a warm smile fixed to his modules.

    “Would you like to confess your sins before you meet your maker?”

    Speaking was impossible, every time his vocal foam activated it filled with fluid causing a spontaneous fit of hacking.

    Reaper frowned. “Good enough.” He punched his normal fist into the chest and wrenched around the robots internal workings till he located a means of permanent deactivation. A simple crack issued and Maxibot convulsed his last.

    “Sparkling!”

    He wrenched his wrist free and rubbed the side of his duel swords against the digits striking up a screen of red sparks. “Whom still functions with the audacity to refer to I that term?” His optics caught on the powerhouse headed towards him and smiled in his gentle way. “Ah, it is you is it? Can’t find the nerve to pull that trigger? You implore my assistance?”

    Ratchet understood his own motivation about as much as a Decepticon understood compassion. There was no reason but for what his very optics beheld him alone. His curse, his compassion, his loss, his yearn to do what he was crafted to do. Heal. ‘But this is what war rewards us with? Sending our children to fight and die, learn to kill thy enemy, make craters of our home, compose better weapons. Defile the weak! Mark death where life could exist. There’s alone. There’s alone! And this is what they do with it. This is the product of their glorious research? Wince from life came baron destruction and perpetual dusk.’

    “Answer me!”

    “You killed my son!”

    There came and went a brief set silence, not even the machines dare speak at this moment. It was broken abruptly by Reaper’s sudden hoot of laughter.

    “Killed him?” he howled. “I didn’t do such a thing!” His features suddenly grew dark as he stomped towards the medic. “I gave him a message to deliver, and he couldn’t do that! Damaged goods, couldn’t take war so self terminated. Look at the source from which it came and forget it! But you’re the only one that fathoms what I mean.”

    “I am blessed to,” he replied softly, “but also damned.” He scanned over Reaper where he stood, his stance and frame structure near identical to Megatron’s. They made a mistake before, one that cost them, such a frail beginning of spark energy required the smaller frame. Some buried sense within him registered this, it wasn’t from his sharing of a spark but from a ageless time ago, from before his hibernation. “I know what you are.”

    Reaper gave a crooked smirk. “Not a clone, a duplicate, not a fanatic. I’m the general material.” He gripped his sword two handed and guided it near his shoulder. “You know too much, your way makes you too dangerous to me. I think you should join your kid.”

    “I can’t tell.” He shook his head sadly.

    “Well, that’s mighty considerate of you.” He charged forward swinging the sword high. Benigning his ill sorrow Ratchet snapped the blade away as it came and took the shoulder of the smaller mech, his arm contorted into a flame throwing which he thrust into the helmet and torso of his enemy. Reaper screeched before he had loosened the grip enough he tore around Ratchet’s backside, the sword carved up removing the hanging portion of armor, Ratchet shouted and twisted away losing his balance on the uneven ruble and fell. When he looked up Reaper was falling with the blade thrust down, he coiled his lower half upwards as he crashed down onto broken pipes, the sword cut deep. With a twist a yank Reaper pulled the weapon free and raised to strike again, but his foe kicked out and knocked him backwards a healthy distance.

    “You don’t need to fight,” Ratchet reasoned as he gained footing. “You can choose your own way.”

    “Pff, like what’s his face?” He spun the sword over his arm and sped in again, thrusters in his back spew white flame to put his momentum against the Autobot.

    Ratchet ducked low and grabbed the mech as he passed over, without slowing the pace he wrenched backwards to slam his horned crown against the surface of cooling pipes. “Not wishing to harm you doesn’t prevent me from doing so.”

    The Decepticon picked himself up on his arms thus his feet were in the air, he twisted kicking the medic aside. “Don’t be so high and mighty humble medic, I promise this solar you fall or my title isn’t Reaper.” As he dropped to his feet he emitted a high pitched whistle.

    Ratchet forced himself up and armed his flamethrower on Reaper, his foe spun his sword to repeal the orange blaze but not enough to harm the medic just yet. He registered a sound, something booming behind him, he spun to face it aiming his arm but the force took him by surprise and knocked him backwards. He tried to sit up but he had fallen part way onto a slope of tangled metal that bunched up into his carved backside, that was before this thing latched onto his throat cables and dug deep with blades and jaws. He choked sputtering hydraulic fluids as the main pump was breached near his vocal foam, his hand groped the jagged body but he cannot pry it away at expense of his own grief. Before he could endeavor with his flamethrower Reaper stepped on his arm and held him pinned, a blade pressed to his chest. His blue optics stare up into those killer lenses that knew nothing but murder, inferno, and punishment. Innocence had been stifled out before it bloomed and therefor was always consumed by those scorching fumes of passion for that one escape. Through the death of others.

    “You…don’t understand,” he hissed. “You’d never understand. It’s what you have to do to make him happy, if you can even do that. He’s never happy. You can’t make him happy. The only thing that makes him happy is himself, and that’s if you can make his self…happy. I…wouldn’t have been conceived if he knew, if there was any doubt in his processor I couldn’t do it. The things he does. He shows me.”

    Ratchet starred at Reaper just glaring at him.

    “If I show any…weakness, I can’t exist. If I can’t kill, if I am any less than him, he’ll hurt me – he’ll hurt me if it can kill me then maybe stop, he might not. I never know if he’ll stop. Sometimes I don’t understand, but I ‘do’ know. And I can learn. My life depends on it, everything I’ve been given, it’s mine. I have to get everything else. I have to steal, kill, deceive, whatever it means. Only if I survive. It’s only if I survive and can do it, if—

    He seemed to recall something, his optics glazed but it only happened for a moment, then he was back. “If I stop I’m terminated! Understand! If I let up I’ll be consumed, see? Don’t you see it now? You wanted to know, right? Now you know! And I’ll kill you, not because you do comprehend this madhouse, but you’ve lived it! You feel it, right here….” He touched the center of his chest. “—Just like he does! Severed! But you’re different. Why are you different, you slagger! What gave you that right? What made it okay for you to say those things!” He stabbed the Twin sword down into Ratchet’s chest, the Autobot screamed in agony but the blade wasn’t near enough to prove fatal. Good or bad he couldn’t judge, but figured he’d know soon enough. He lifted with the sword as it was jerked up, a fresh surge of sparks move up and down it. “You’ll regret—”

    A sudden white blur threw the killer and weapon aside, at Ratchet’s throat Grave Digger unlocked his teeth and raised his head, his vocals generating surging static. Seizing the opportunity Ratchet took his captor by his torso and scalded his chest section with the searing flames at a near micro point. When Grave Digger was shrieking with pain he threw it aside and staggered to his feet.

    Behind him Ripper lunged at the numbed Reaper to bury the weapon at his arm into his curved torso, when Reaper evaded the swing he brought his own weapon up but the mech deflected it with his right arm and lost a nick to it. While Reaper was busy drawing back for another swing he lunged out once more with his entire frame and put all his strength to jabbing his arm out. The blade struck the metal and sank awkwardly into the Decepticon near the very boundaries of his core, he began screaming and wrenching from the white robot fanatically. Eventually the rough tactic ripped the blade off Ripper’s arm, it didn’t matter much to him though as Reaper was struggling to figure a way in attacking and removing the weapon all at once from the platted portion of his midsection.

    After recoiling a pace away he baited Ripper into an attack, which he failed with but delivered a severe upper cut that threw the white robot backwards. Ratchet caught him before he struck the ground and set him down, he turned to face the smaller mech as he came up to him with the sword drawn. Behind him he registered a low bustle of angry chatter from Grave Digger moving towards the wounded mech.

    “I told you,” whispered Ratchet, “to get out of here.”

    Beneath his view Ripper smiled. “I tried. B-but…I brought help.”

    Grave Digger turned his head far up and shrieked.

    Knowing better Reaper spun around armed with his weapon low out from his body, he didn’t expect to be slammed by a large armored disk that sent him spiraling sideways. “Kah! Grave Digger!” When his minion gave the affirming click that he had repositioned, he moved to his feet and glared up at the large unit. “I don’t know who you are, but you made a fatal error.”

    “No, my young friend,” he responded in Decepticon dialect. “You made the error.” He stepped between Ratchet and Ripper and lowered the shield that was now positioned in front of him, completely ignoring the Grave Digger-Con behind them.

    Reaper reached up and snapped away the shattered portion of his sharp horn, his sensory would be down for forty-five percent at least. “Grave Digger, dismantle that shield.” He picked his sword up and started forward.

    “I wouldn’t do that.” A chrome and amber in near form to Grave Digger sprang from a panel that opened on his shoulder, he lands on his enemy as he approached and flung him aside with a sharp throw. Grave Digger rises buzzing at him, he moves around the other generating crackling surges. “He doesn’t take kindly to those that would harm his friends.” As he spoke, the two Mini-Con beasts collide in a brawl that ends in them rolling away. “I trust you know what bonding is?”

    Reaper hesitated, he looked to his arm where the satellite dish still waited for his orders.

    “While you’re calculating these shabby odds, I’ll take the liberty to make this as simple as possible.” He made his way forward, as he approached Reaper leapt at him cleaving his sword down. Before he hit the shield, the Autobot snared the helicopter tail at his back and slammed him down, he swung him around and threw him aside. Irritated, Reaper removed that tail from his back and armed the rifle, he fired from his arm on his attacker but he blocked with the shield, it seemed to absorb the bullets and glow.

    Burning power into his thrusters upon landing Reaper shot off at his target again, in his vapor trail the flint of ruined catwalks turn to ash in his exhaust ports. This time when he neared the shield he swerved aside and skid on his heels beside his foe, he swung the blade down slicing, but the lime armor was too dense, his blade nearly snapped off. And without it he couldn’t fly.

    The Autobot took a sturdy bar from the mass of ruble and swung it, he struck the Decepticon with enough force he flew aside against a twisting component of the factory that had long before ceased functioning and clicked neurotically. He dropped to his knees and fought to his feet, he looked up as the Autobot was rushing for him, left exposed was Ratchet checking on the wounds Ripper had received. It was enough.

    “Grave Digger!” He snapped the chopter blade to his back and activated the whirling rotors.

    On the ground the hostile Mini-Con accepted a pounce from his other foe in order to catch his chest, whirl around and throw him away. Immediately he answered the call of his master and took off, the other Grave Digger recovered and gave chase but would be too late.

    As Grave Digger reached Reaper he tore from his gauntlet the satellite and tossed the transforming mini-computer to the spreading bounds of Grave Diggers chest cavity, once they closed over him, the midnight black robot attached to his arm in a duel cannon form. With the cannon tank active he used it right away to shoot down the other Autobots Mini-Con beast then snapped his palms together rubbing the chapped chrome for sparks. One burst began against his palms, from it he conjured forth energon from his spark core into a shimmering orb of scorching red. “Under any circumstances, I will have you.” He aimed for Ratchet below as he leveled out high, took the orb in one hand and threw it as a burning beam shrieking with unfair power.

    The only action Ratchet could take was shield Ripper as best as his frame would allow from the nova murder.

    Halfway on impact the shield whirled out catching the blast dead on, the energon from the weapon charged its core reactor and unleashed an explosive backfire upward into the assaulting mech. It took mercy and struck Reaper’s shoulder tearing out the gyro and half his steel, he crashed in a steaming heap behind some turbine rotors reverberating heavy sounds through the extent of the near empty bailer plant. Fortunate for Reaper the healing in his body had not completed, it was preceding slowly but fortune smiled on him, he had survived to sulk off with his wounds. “I p-prrrroommmiissssee…I-I will-ill hav-ve my…rrr-rrrevveennngge.” It would not come for him soon but eventually, it would come to him.

    ***

    “Skyboom shield, disengage.” As he watched the Mini-Cons that formed the shield disconnected and reform their natural robotic bodies, each exuberant to have had done a service. It wasn’t often they united against such an attack, the fact he wasn’t certain they would survive it had unsettled him but they had seemed certain if not a bit shaken themselves. It turned out well in the end anyway, maybe better. He looked over at Ratchet and Ripper, the two were silent. Maybe not.

    The chrome and amber Mini-Con creature returned, he separated into two units, the normal robot Hollow and the Grave Digger with a scar on the left portion of his mask and that audio extender torn. It refused to regenerate.

    “You two okay? Pyro-con?” The Grave Digger hummed at the mention of his name. “Good. Listen, wait with the Racers, I won’t be long.” He stepped by past them, both looked at him quizzically. ‘Or so I hope.’

    The dagger on Ripper’s right arm could be replaced, he was in overall good condition considering everything they had been through. Of course, not a lot of the mechs from the factory were either deactivated of on route. “Why didn’t you get out, like I told you?”

    He frowned at the medic. “Why won’t you tell me what’s with you and that psycho ‘con? Whatever it is, I wanted no part of it.”

    “This—” He turned to the Autobot that demanded their attention with a faint ruffle through his audios. “Scavenger. Thank you for your aid, erm—I only wish he could have been captured.”

    Silently, he nodded to that and motioned Ratchet with a purple digit. “Speaking of which, can we have a little chat?” When Ratchet came over to him he put a hand on his back and led him away from Ripper and the Mini-Cons. They were far enough but still the large Autobot wouldn’t speak, it was upsetting to Ratchet whom wanted to get out and search for potential survivors.

    “Scavenger—”

    “Red Alert talked to you.”

    “Yes, and—”

    “This is upsetting for you.”

    “No! I—”

    “You have no problem wounding a Decepticon, but when he’s down you got to help him.”

    “I’m a—!”

    “You risk your life.”

    “I—” This time Scavenger didn’t get the chance to interrupt him, he fell into violent hacks due to fluids leaking into his audio foam. “Ack—I did—”

    “Why did you come here?”

    “I was in the area! They needed units!”

    He shook his head slowly. “You came for him.” He directed a digit towards Ripper staring their way. “He wears Pawl’s armor, but…he’s not Pawl. You understand this, don’t you?”

    Ratchet was disgusted and insulted. “Of course I know that! I performed the operation myself! I—” He frowned and looked away. “Pawl ‘is’ among the Matrix. I will never see him again, I can…no longer teach him. I’ll…I’ll never see what he was meant to be. What he was meant to be.” He crossed his arms across the translucent portion of his chest. “I wasn’t there when he needed me, but…I just wanted….” He fell to silence for a long moment. Scavenger stood by him waiting patiently to hear him. “I wanted a second chance. Pawl…killed himself, but his armor was in good enough condition to save another life. I don’t want to see that life I struggled to save be taken away by the one who stole the original owner. I wanted…control over something.”

    Scavenger tilts his head. “Control over life?”

    “No. I…wanted to save ‘his’ life. I understand it’s a lost cause, but if it’s possible, if I can influence him some way.” He shook his head. “Then maybe Pawl’s death would not have been in vain. Like this war.”

    Scavenger hissed. “Pawl, he was a juvenile. He wasn’t built for war, he was created to heal. Isn’t that right? He should have never been in charge of that escort, his skills entitled the ruling but…he couldn’t do what he was assigned for.” He set a reassuring hand on Ratchet’s shoulder. “I cannot ask for forgiveness for the role I played. I should have reconsidered."

    Ratchet looked up at him. “I can’t accept forgiveness where it is not required.” He nodded towards Ripper. “Where are the others?”

    He shrugged. “Probably at the entrance carting out the severely wounded, working to get hover carts in here.” He looked up at the factory ceiling, some of the luminous still functioned. “What a waste of life.”

    “I thought that was what war was all about.” Ratchet walked the entire way back to Ripper, when he arrived he was not disappointed.

    “How long do I have to wear this armor?” The Mini-Cons had joined him and were relentless in their mocking of his missing red crest, but thankfully Ripper couldn’t understand their language.

    “Until materials come in to fashion you a new hull, in which case your body needs to recuperate from its trauma.”

    He looked away considering, his dark hand fiddled with the remains of a wire and it reminded him of Domino. “Is it why I’m stared at because…because I look like an Autobot soldier?” He looked at Ratchet’s surprised stare.

    “I imagine so. Come on, you need medical attention and I need to locate anyone that might still be alive.” It was possible but the condition anyone they located was in would be questionable. A little lost hope.

    Ripper stood up and left the Mini-Cons. “I don’t like it. Whenever I go someplace they stare at me. Everyone.”

    “It’s only temporary,” Ratchet hissed. “Besides, you wear it, it saved your life. You can also think of it as saving the life of the Autobot who lost it.”

    He hummed softly as he hurried after Ratchet. “W-what d’you mean?”

    “In a way the Autobot is still alive, or some part of him is. You keep him alive.” He looked at Ripper and wished he could say how proud he was of his son, but the fact was Pawl took his own life. It was never an option as a healer in the practice of preserving life, all was precious. “You’re left limbed?”

    Ripper looked to him dubiously. “Y-yeah. How’d you know?”

    He directed to his right arm. “Your only preserved limb. Usually when a mech protects himself he uses his most common limb to block, in your case your left arm, which resulted in its destruction. Pawl was right limbed.”

    He frowned and clarified the name as he climbed up after Ratchet. “It was Pawl, right?”

    “Affirmative.” He took Ripper’s hand and helped him up the climb. “The soldier who’s armor you bear, that was his title. It’s another term for sprocket wrench, or ratchet.”


    (Author’s comment: The thing with the Mini-Cons and the Autobot apologizing to Ripper, the whole hand on his shoulder and everything. That happened to me. But the kid didn’t trip over my feet, she just ran in front of me, so I wasn’t assaulted or anything. But the guy acted like she was spitting in my face. Maybe it’s just me.

    All the stuff where Ripper’s getting stared at did happen to me. I considered the reason was I was wearing one of the real over shirts from a soldier and people were staring at me for this reason alone. People have even avoided me or sort of leapt out of my way (this all happened to me) like I was dangerous. It’s unsettling. And a true story, aside from Cybertron and alien robots.)
     

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