I always found the idea of beings living in Unicron fascinating. I don't know why, but something about people going about their lives - however dreary they might be - in the bowels of the Chaosbringer makes me giddy with plot bunnies. What the workers are here? I've no idea. They might be brainwashed Transformers, they might be fully Unicronian, I don't know.
SD-24601 walked the halls of Unicron with purpose. He had a place to go, a place to be, a task to fulfill. He passed others of his kind, paying them little heed. They were, like him, designed for purpose. Bullet-like head with an eyeslit, shimmering with soft yellow light, and arms and legs like pistons. He did not know if they were all red and orange, or if it was merely the light of the firey globes and furnaces that made up Unicron's interior. He thought he might have once wondered if they were grey, but then that thought was gone in the sweltering air and deafening pounding.
He thought he might also have wondered once if they all thought the same way he did, or if he had anything to call his own. It brought forth a spark in his mind, and he slowed, turning it over in his head. The pounding increased and the Voice shot through them.
Wherefore need thou face? Wherefore need thou identity?
SD-24601 walked the halls of Unicron, thoughtless, and made it to the massive smelting pits - SD-24601, for which he had been named now, like all the others with him - to which he had been assigned this day. He thought he might have been assigned to something else before, but he did not know. The heat made the air shimmer and weaker metals boil. Unicron's workers did not boil, for they were not weak metal.
He wondered briefly if he had ever been, but then the thought was gone and regaining it seemed to be more effort than he should expend. He stopped suddenly when all memory left him, and looked about, dumbfounded.
Why was he here? What did he need to do?
He turned obidiently to the Arbiter, as did all others. A massive, lopsided creature, with horns jutting from random points and green optics shining balefully from a too-long face. There was little symmetry in him, and parts of him were covered in patches of organic material. SD-24601 might have found him repulsive if he knew what that was.
The Arbiter stepped up to him - him! - and he stared at the ugly creature in confusion. The others turned away.
"Stop standing there," said the Arbiter, leaning down to face him, long, black strands of organic pelt falling from his helmet. SD-24601 thought he might have wondered about helmets once, but then he turned off all thought and stared at the Arbiter.
"Kettle 57-a," said the creature. "Move!"
SD-24601 stared at him, uncomprehending. He did not recall where he was to go.
The Arbiter straightened, a sneer of disgust flickering across his face. "Splendid. Another memory failure." His clawed hand raised to touch something on SD-24601's neck, and pain rivetted him. He fell to his knees and wished to scream at the Arbiter, wished to curse and yell. He thought he might once have been able to, but then the Voice shot through them.
Wherefore need thou voice?
SD-24601 stood by kettle 57-a and helped those around him see to it that the temperature did not change. Material from Unicron's outer levels rolled by, suspended on squeaking conveyor lines in the ceiling.
He did not move, nor did any of the others, when the large chunks fell into the churning furnace and splattered them with molten rock and metal. Some of the chunks screamed as they fell in, and briefly he regarded them with interest. Some of them started burning before they even hit the surface.
He might have thought them weak if he knew what that was. A part of him thought he might have once felt pity for them, but pity was not in him, and so he dismissed it.
The small alarm on his console sounded, and he looked down to turn the dials and flip the switches. He did so on instinct, as if he had done it a million times before. He might have. He did not know or care. Three-fingered hands moved with robotic efficiency across the console, opening and closing, tapping the digital displays briefly once or twice. Then he stopped, confused. It was an unnecesary action. Why had he done it?
He caught sight of himself in the blank surface of the console, and through the shimmering air he reached to touch his reflection, leaving stains of claws behind on the softened metal. A face like he saw on everyone else. Empty and practical.
He felt panic begin to pull at him and stepped back suddenly from the console. Looking around he saw empty faces looking back. He wanted to tear at them, at him, at Unicron, and the Voice shot through them.
Wherefore need thou face?
SD-24601 was on his knees, tearing at his smooth head. He did not know why, but he thought he might have once meant something was hiding there.
He had to free it.
He had to.
He had to.
The Voice ripped through him, ferally, angrily.
Wherefore need thou identity?
SD-24601 stood on the rim of the kettle, watching chunks dropping in, some screaming, some burning. He might have thought them weak if he knew what that was. A part of him thought he might have once felt pity for them, but pity was not in him, and so he dismissed it.
The console bleeped contently beneath his hands, reporting all in order, and he absently looked down. A mark from a three-fingered hand marred the smooth metal, and he thought he might have known the cause, but then the thought was gone, and he looked into the sweltering furnace again.
All the others, he could see through the haze, did the same, and the Voice caressed them soothingly.
Wherefore need thou freedom?