Primus Guard You
Author's Note: Totally hit inspiration upon the day before moving . . . A pain, since I shouldn't be writing this at all, but I have to get it outta my system before I explode. One-shot, hopefully not as terrible as a lotta the other one-shot stories I've spewed out . . . Thanks for reading it!
Torture is defined as the infliction of severe physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion, or the experience of it. Or it's something causing pain or anguish. Or mental anguish.
"C'moooon, will ya? It's slaggin' hard ta get home if ya're porkin' like dat!"
"It's slagging hard to breathe downwind of you. Thus, my hesitation to draw abreast."
"Hey! I'm a rat, gimme a break . . ."
"Aah, a break." A smirk spread over reptilian features. "How appropriate of a solution. I break your neck, the stench stops."
"What! Hey, back off!"
Rattrap awoke with a start, panting. Rolling onto his side, he buried his face into his pillow, breathing deeply, trying not to remember any more of the dream. It wasn't disturbing . . . Okay, it was disturbing, but in a way that was unsettling. He never had good days after he dreamt of Dinobot.
The name drew forth a shaky sigh. Has it been two weeks already? Fourteen days. Three-hundred-thirty-six hours. Two-thousand-one-hundred-sixty minutes. One-million-two-oh-nine-thousand-six hundred seconds.
Since his death.
Rattrap sat up, rubbing at his head and optics, trying to clear from it their final meeting. It didn't work. Still the words, the admonition, the pleading request rang through his head . . .
"Tell my tale to those who ask, the good with the bad, and let it be judged accordingly. The rest . . . is silence . . ."
What tale? Who would ask of it? Why?
Those, among many other questions, had been plaguing him for every waking moment. How would Rattrap find the answers he sought? And not just those that related to Dinobot and the "tale" he was supposed to relay to others. There wasn't much that he knew about himself, nevermind those whom he lived with in this war.
Standing, the Transmetal pressed a button, nullifying the polarizer upon the window in his quarters, revealing the day to be almost half-way through its cycle. He slouched his lean frame against the wall beside the portal, staring blankly over ruined landscape, rock charred by the quantum surge.
Not looking away from the depressing scene before him, he muttered, "Yeah, Rhinox?"
"I think . . . he would have wanted you to have this."
This time, the rodent looked at his old friend, seeing a laptop held within the large hand. Walking over, he took it, opening it. "Thanks, Big Green."
The large hand rested upon the small shoulder, squeezing once in comfort. "I think . . . we'll see him again."
"On the other side."
"He was a good bot, deep down, Rattrap."
"Yeah. An' I was too stubborn and thick-headed to see it."
"No, you saw it," Rhinox said with a smile. "But you didn't want to. You and he were a lot alike."
Rattrap sighed and didn't say any more. Rhinox left, understanding, the door closing with a soft "woosh" behind him.
The laptop was filled with schematics of the Predacon base, angles of attack from before and after the Surge, maps of where different battles had been and reasons why there had been battles. Dinobot's defection back to the Predacons. The disks, and what was found upon them. His speculation about what was contained by them. What the alien disk did. The full message from the Decepticon Megatron decoded, each word analyzed and cross-referenced with other such messages from not only that Megatron, but Optimus Prime. And a third source that was only labeled with "CP," followed by an odd number that would look like "4.12.6" or "7.3.36-42".
Everything that had happened from the beginning of the war up to the day before the Valley was logged.
Rattrap didn't enter it in.
He set it aside, determined to get more sleep so that the night shift would be spent without a nightmare, a dream of the ex-Predacon, ex-living Dinobot. Fifteen minutes later he was up again, curiosity insatiable and demanding to be quenched.
Once a spy . . . he thought, digging around in the memory of the laptop, managing to trigger three safeguards, instantly sending the computer into a memory lockdown. Sighing, Rattrap pulled his hands away from the keyboard, remembering move-for-move of how he had triggered them. After an excruciating half-hour of backtracking, he started over, managing to trip only one safeguard this time. He undid his moves, then maneuvered around all of the traps.
With a groan, he rested his head in his hands, rubbing at his face. "Primus, but you were one slagging paranoid goon, Scale-belly."
Thus began the search.
"Hey, still reading that?"
"Huh? Oh, yeah, Kiddo."
"What is it?"
"Just . . . somethin' dat I shoulda read a long while back."
"Like . . . ?"
"Spots, just mind yer own business once in a while."
"C'mon, Rattrap, tell me what it is."
Rattrap turned to face Cheetor, mouth opening in a grand tell-off, just in time to see Rhinox picking the kid up and standing him upon the lift. "You're on patrol."
"Aw, Rhinox . . ."
"Fine, fine . . ."
Once the kid was gone, his energy-signature moving through the air at his alarmingly-fast pace, Rattrap sighed, relaxing and looking back at the laptop. The larger and elder Maximal sat in an adjoining control bay, not reading over Rattrap's shoulder, but watching the rodent's movements. "You haven't said anything about this to anyone yet. Optimus included."
"He was an assassin."
"Ol' Choppuhface was a fationless ex-assassin-slash-bounty-hunter. At least, to da public, he was. Really, though, he was da guy dat bots went to for 'gettin' rid o' pesky problems.' He recorded here dat he accepted one last job, one last hit. It was a political and public safety problem."
"Yep." Looking over his shoulder, Rattrap smirked. "Guess who he was contacted by?"
"Nope. Our own. Da Maximal Elders. High Council Elders, not da entire parliament o' dem. Just da top five."
Rhinox released a sigh with a whoosh. "What else is there to know about him?"
"Dat he had been raised in . . ." Rattrap looked back at the notes he had taken in a spare file. "Ah, two, three different places. On Earth, he had been brought up in some Massachusetts suburb, on a research base as da son o' da Guardian. His pop died, leavin' him as da interim-Guardian f'r about a year. Den he had spent three years on base Omicron, of all places, before settlin' f'r da rest of 'is adult life in Cybertropolis."
"Some mass of . . . what? Where's that?"
"Ya're kiddin' me. I know somethin' dat you don't?"
"I'm a medic-technician, not a geography and human-studies professor!" Rhinox said, teasingly getting "angry," with his small friend.
"Okay, okay . . . you know North America? Where a lotta da Great War took place?"
"In da United States."
"Keep going, I'm following you so far . . ."
"North-east coastline, almost all da way up, dere's a state dat has a 'hook' kinda peninsula. Dey call it Cape Cod, an' it's a gorgeous place ta vacation in da summer. Babes galore."
"Putting the femmes aside, how do you know this?"
Rattrap gave him a look that clearly read "are you kiddin' me?" before answering. "My accent, Oh Jolly Green Giant, is from where, now?"
"Matrix, you lived in the same area as Dinobot had?"
"Within two, three hundred miles, yeah. He had been from da Boston area, da capital o' Massachusetts, an' I'm from Brooklyn."
" . . . which is where?"
Rattrap gave the impression of rolling his optics. "New York City, maybe?"
Shaking his head again, Rattrap looked back at the computer. "Dinobot had a family."
This took Rhinox completely by surprise, shocking him into silence. Rattrap continued. "An' he loved dem, from what I'm seein'."
"Who . . . how many were there?"
"Him, his wife, three kids . . . a fourth on da way."
"They're not dead . . . are they?"
"Not that I know of," Rattrap said with a sad sigh. "If we ever make it home, I ain't lookin' forward ta lettin' dem know of our dearly departed."
"Me neither." Rhinox leaned around to look at Rattrap's face. "He stopped taking jobs so that his family wouldn't be worried."
All this information was swimming around in Rhinox's head. Truly, it was almost too much to take in. It was, by far, too much to take in at one sitting. Rhinox didn't know how Rattrap could keep reading it without having to take breaks every fifteen minutes. "Rattrap, how can you keep reading this?" he asked slowly, his voice low and concerned.
"'Cause 'e needs someone ta keep track of who 'e was. He told us ta tell others his story, no omittin' a single detail, an' dis computer's telling me everythin' about 'im. Dis is tellin' me who dis guy really was, how 'e really felt about things, an' why he acted da way dat 'e did."
"He saved the humans because he grew up among them."
"Fer 'is entire childhood, up until 'e was almost twenny-four."
"Yeah, ol' buddy. It's no wonder dat he did what 'e did. Not anymore."
The large hands rested upon Rattrap's shaking shoulders, comforting him in his grief. Rattrap rubbed at the tears upon his face angrily, then peered through them to read the next few lines of the tale.
It has come to my attention that this planet is indeed Earth, the planet of my upbringing and childhood. I had dreaded this. Time is in flux . . . or soon shall be, if Megatron continues along the path he has chosen. I do not want time to be disrupted. I will choose my own fate, veer from the fate that may have been preordained for me, and I will not allow the human species to be destroyed. They raised me when I had been orphaned. They befriended me when the world and my own people betrayed me. They deserve the chance.
Primus guard my Spark when the shadows and mists fall away from what lies within the future for me.
Primus guard my wife's Spark, that she will see the choice I have made, and accept it for what it is.
Primus guard my children, as they're raised by that strong femme who bested me in everything.
Primus guard the reader of this tale, that when they are asked of it, the will not hesitate, but speak.
Primus guard us all, if I am right and time is not concrete.
Primus guard you.
Rattrap closed the laptop, pushing it aside to weep without shame into his hands. He felt Rhinox's presence stand behind him without moving, hands still rested upon the small shoulders, vocoder silent. Finally shedding the last of his tears, he looked up out at the stars, seeing their light combined with the reflected light from the full moon shine down upon the mangled landscape. Hints of green seeped around rocks, showing new life, rebirth of what he knew would become a jungle.
This was central Africa.
This was the birthplace of human life, and the graveyard of too many Cybertronians.
Their time would pass soon.
Swallowing, Rattrap drafted in a long, shaky sigh, exhaling it completely, feeling the stress and pain from the last several weeks draining and seeping away with the motion. His voice cracked and stumbled over the syllables, but he spoke anyway.
"Primus guarded you, Dinobot. Primus always guarded you."
It was many months later when Rattrap's courage was up for the final entry of the journal part of the laptop, he found out what CP meant. What the numbers meant. He needed to be alone with this last connection with what had been Dinobot's innermost thoughts.
Staring in shock, he read.
The Volume spoke of a Time before Time and between Time of Assassins becoming Protectors. Of Guardians becoming Hunters becoming Guardians. These two "Guardians" who took their own lives within their hands didn't hesitate to act. Am I wrong about every train of thought I have had? Was I ever right? If not the master of my own fate . . . I do not wish that I had read the Covenant of Primus, now. I wish that I had never heard of it, sometimes. For that has started my thinking upon if I was truly living my life as I wanted to or if it had been decreed those uncountable eons before my conception. I do not like this train of thought.
And yet I am intrigued. Especially by this passage:
"For there came a time when the Assassin knew his fate and there came a time when he knew of how his choice was not a choice at all. And from his conclusion he chose the virtuous footpath and walked upon it. It was not an easy footpath to walk along, for many sharp stones cut into his feet and pained him. Their words were ill upon his Spark, yet at the end he understood that they were traversing along trails just as difficult as his own. And at his end, he knew that his choice was right and honorable. Thus the Assassin became a Protector, and he became a legend onto many, setting a standard for those who loved him yet had not met him." Covenant of Primus, Book 24, Chapter 26, Verses 7 through 10
This thoroughly unnerves me, but honor will not allow me to let my alarm go unsaid. My past, as a bounty-hunter and what I am now, what I know that I have to do . . . it makes me feel somewhat timid about what I consider true anymore. These passages have long been associated with forgiving others who have no knowing of the burdens of others yet speak hatefully and caustically with them. I confess that has been one of my faults. I wish that speech was easy between myself and those of the Maximal team, however . . . there is far too much to be explained, and I find time growing short.
Rattrap let this settle in, sinking into his subconsciousness for reasoning behind why Dinobot behaved as he had. Why he couldn't bring himself to speak of his emotional and mental confusion. Rattrap would have only pushed him away. He would have sneered and spat out what a coward Dinobot really was.
More than ever, he was almost glad of Dinobot's loner personality. At least the raptor had sense enough to know when some things were to be left unsaid.
Unlike his own, stupid self.
Rattrap returned his attention back to the laptop, beginning to read the next and final entry. He didn't want to read it, but he knew that he had to.
I have decided that Rattrap would be the best one to tell things as they are. He hardly shuts up about the realities of this lunacy-filled war as it is, and I trust his judgement. I will leave a program up for whomever finds this laptop to hand it off to him as soon as possible. The program will terminate within seven cycles of being opened, and self-delete.
Rattrap, I now speak directly to you. I hope that by the time you read this, you have forgiven me. Now you know my story. You know what I am, who I have been, and why I had to do what I did. I realize that it is terribly unfair to ask you to pass on my words to others. But I have no choice. I'm beginning to realize that I haven't had a choice in a very long time, and all of my other decisions were pointing in this direction anyway. Know that my actions were not only in the interest–
A knock upon the door interrupted him. He looked over his shoulder, seeing the Transmetal Two Cheetor standing there. "Hey, you up for a game of cards? I managed to rope Rhinox into it."
"Naah, sorry kiddo."
The youngest Maximal wasn't as airheaded as he appeared to be. "Finishing off Dinobot's tale?"
Chuckling, Rattrap nodded, a sad smile upon his metal lips. "Yeah. I figured dat if we're gonna be fightin' against 'im again, I'd might as well have some kinda weaponry dat'll leave dat clone thinkin'."
"I'll tell the others that you're working upon a new program to harass Blackarachnia with."
The door closed, and Rattrap continued reading.
–of the humans, but also were for your future. I would hate to not have met you, for while within your often-caustic presence, I was forced to learn a great many things about myself.
There is far too much I wish I could say, but time is growing too short for me to say them. I ask you, Rattrap, please forgive my bitter words. Your path is as weary as my own, and it was not my intention to make it harder for you . . . all the time, that is. I certainly did mean some of the promises that I had made to you about various forms of dismemberment until you silenced yourself at the time, but now . . . I find those threats meaningless. For you were a true friend, but I had never realized it until now.
Tears threatened to wash Rattrap's cheeks again. "Why you blasted . . ."
One last riddle is what I will leave you.
There is another passage regarding a Guardian. I do not know what it has do to with anything save for that I know of the identity of the "Demon," but perhaps it may mean something more to you, as it sounds to be after my time in the Wars:
"And there came a great Evil upon the earth, a Demon which had no death, no passing from this plane to the next in store for him. And he had slain Primus' people, save for one. One who became a fallen guardian. One who threw his oaths of Guardianship into the fire to hunt the Demon. The Guardian prevailed, yet trickery once again set the Demon free, and they fell into a Time before Time; the Time between Time, to continue their battle for Primus' justice and the Smelter's evil. Days, weeks, months, no measurement of time held them fast. Locked within endless battle they were, and locked within that endless battle they would remain had the Fallen Guardian not been given a chance from Primus Himself. Within his final moments the Once-Guardian became a Guardian once more, Protecting Time from the Demon's lustful destruction. There was a great sorrow for the passing of the Guardian, for his time was not meant to be that short. A great lament rose up for the loss of his Spark, and the Universe wept. Thus Primus decreed that whenever a Guardian become one of His Own, their names would be inscribed within a special place close to His Spark, so that each one that passes would not Perish, but return to His bosom, no longer to Guard, but to be Guarded, joining with the Once-Guardian-who-became-Guardian from the deep." Covenant of Primus, Book 24, Chapter 25, Verses 6 through 8
Rattrap, I entrust this all within your hands. I thank you for what you have caused me to realize. And I will ask Primus every day for your admittance, but I have no doubt that you do not deserve it. After all. You are a sneaking, garbage-eating spy who is dead certain that "once a Pred, always a Pred" is a motto swear by.
You know what, Vermin?
You're absolutely correct.
(Interim Guardian of Gamma Base; Quincy/Braintree/Weymouth, Massachusetts; USA; Earth)
Rattrap rubbed at his face, then sighed, walking out to talk with Optimus. The leader had to be warned that the Covenant of Primus that he had been quoting from in description of Tigerhawk had descriptions of the final battle between Depth Charge and Rampage.
And he knew that the Boss Monkey wouldn't like it.
At least Choppuhface would have some decent company, up in Primus' bosom.
If only one that could (and would) argue him into a corner.
Pah. Stupid pseudo-Pred deserved it.
"Hey, yo! Ape-Boy! I got something ta say about dat datatrack dat you're huggin' like a teddy-bear! What happened? Didja finally lose your baby blanket? Y'know, dat pink an' purple one dat ya used ta curl up with while dreamin' o' yer honey back home?"
"Rattrap . . ." the leader said warningly.
"Nah, not your honey . . . Your mummie."
Depth Charge left the cavern in a fit of snickering. He always enjoyed seeing Primal chewed out, and this was hardly an exception. The Once-Guardian would have stayed longer, but patrol called. At least he was out of the base and away from the losers.
Smirking at the retreating Transmetal, Rattrap shook his head. "Sorry, Pop Ops, but I had ta get him gone."
Rattrap snagged the Covenant of Primus from his leader's hands, and found the passage, holding it back up for Primal to see. "Dis."
Looking at it, Optimus shut off his optics, sighing. "I . . . Rattrap, why show this to me?"
"So you get it?"
"I'm not stupid, Rattrap."
"I'd bet against that."
"That sounded almost Dinobot-like."
Rattrap almost smirked, just as Dinobot would have, but turned away, making a rude noise. Optimus' watchful optics followed the short Transmetal, and he looked back down at the Covenant of Primus within his hands. "'Within his final moments the Once-Guardian became a Guardian once more, Protecting Time from the Demon's lustful destruction.'" Heaving a massive sigh well worthy of his size, he closed the databank and turned his gaze inwards. He had to be ready. He had to be strong.
Rattrap watched, then left silently, leaving the base and skimming over the rocks and landscape to see first the valley, watching from the rim as the shadows claimed the patch of dirt that Dinobot had never risen from. Turning, following the sun to the ocean, he watched as it threw its light across the water, sending reflected reds, blues, purples and oranges skimming around him, warming him with the last rays.
And the darkness of night claimed him.