Decisions

Chapter 7

"Alright, the guards have to go. You distract them, get me a damned good rifle and a jet pack, I'll shoot my way through everything and take off with Optimus." Elita One's words were flat. Even speaking to this whore of a femme was more of an effort than her exhausted body could handle. Strafe had just about frog-marched her back to Strafe's own quarters, shoving her in the door and sticking her finger up at Astrotrain who'd seen her pushing the new Decep femme around and had made a very lewd suggestion as to why.

"Oh yes, and what army is going to save you when the entire Decepticon squadron comes spanking fast flying after you? You do remember Autobots can't fly very well, don't you….?" Strafe spoke sweetly, enjoying pulling her former femme commander's plan apart. Elita frowned, head drooping forward. Strafe scowled, suddenly tired of keeping up the goody-goody 'lets work together' facade.

"Go to sleep," she ordered. Elita's optics looked guardedly at her, "No."

"No? You don't have the energy or guile to give even Megatron a supercharge flush right now. And I'm tired of looking at you," Strafe scowled, looking around her quarters, "go recharge in the cleaning unit."

"What?!" Elita's hoarse cry was more of a croak.

"Go on, you'll be safe in there. No one will charge in and find you here, and I'll lock the door so I'll know I'm safe from YOU." The Decep femme sat back on her bed and crossed her arms, optics flickering. "We'll discuss freeing the Autobot head stud when you're more coherent."

Elita pushed the heel of her hands into her forehead, sighed, and decided to fight back tomorrow. Megatron didn't seem to want Optimus dead, so he should be safe while she took some time out. She shuffled over to the cleaning unit and stepped inside, noting the tininess of the room. She wouldn't be able to stretch out but who the hell cared - she'd be safe to sleep. Strafe dropped a blanket on her head and slammed the door.

Elita pulled the blanket up to her shoulders and sat leaning back against the cupboard. She was in recharge soon enough.

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

"C'mon, move it." Strafe's foot pushed her hard and Elita blinked awake. Morning already? But she'd just gone off-line…

"Lita! Get out, will ya?! I want to shower!" Strafe's edgy words made Elita stumble awkwardly out of the closet on stiff creaking legs. The Decepticon femme watched her aching movements and frowned. Her former femme friend seemed to be in bad condition. Exhaustion would count for some of it, but it was more likely to be living like an outcast on meagre energon and no supplies to keep up with regular maintenance – on top of all the poorly tended to injuries she must be carrying. Strafe realised she'd be doing most of the rescuing of Optimus. She kept strictly to the explanation that it was for his sake only, and not for the Autobot 'agenda'. Or even for Elita's benefit.

Elita sat glumly on the edge of Strafe's bed. She didn't feel at all like she'd just recharged. Strafe came striding out of the cleaning unit moments later, swiping a polishing cloth down her body to remove solvent drops and sheen her metal. The Decepticon femme didn't offer the facilities for Elita to use.

"Right then," Strafe plopped the cloth on her desk and looked expectantly at Elita, "lets get Optimus out of here."

Elita stared listlessly at her. If she'd been back in her own base with her warriors helping with planning and her computer systems to utilise, Elita was sure she could've popped out a plan instantly – but here, exhausted, in the enemy compound; she couldn't grasp any escape concept.

"That mess you've done for a paint job is disgusting. We'll need to change it." Strafe curled a lip as she looked over Elita's scabbing purple paint.

"How do you feel about black?" she asked. "And have you ever felt any religious yearnings? Ever heard of the Telarians?"

Elita scowled back at her.

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Optimus sat slumped in his 'cage', knees scrunched up to his flat chest. It was so dark he could barely see the disgusting insectoids dashing along the cell floor for energon scraps. His active energon levels were extremely low; just like his mood. He knew he was getting close to one of two things – being slaughtered or getting rescued. He used to be fairly certain Megatron wouldn't want him dead soon. Its no fun to finally capture your greatest enemy and then snuff him straight away.

His head drooped down and he started to slumber, when his forearm message screen blinked on and tingled as it warmed up. Slowly he tilted his arm inwards to see the tiny screen more clearly, wondering who on Cybertron would be able to get a simple text message through the blocking shields surrounding the Decepticon fortress. His optics narrowed as he struggled to read the small lit words;

- PLAY DEAD -

What? He read it over and over, until a trisec later when the words blinked out and a new phrase replaced it.

- RESCUEBOTS ON THE WAY. SHUTDOWN SYSTEMS TO TERMINAL LOCK -

Terminal lock?! That was crazy! No one ever did that! It wasn't playing dead; it was dead. Stasis lock was dangerous, but reversible. Terminal lock was bye-bye world. No coming out of it. Was this Megatron playing a cruel trick? He watched the screen, seeing the phrase dissipate. No new words replaced them and the screen finally powered down.

His head was so fogged up it was a while before Elita's name popped to the surface, followed by Strafe's. Of course. Either of the femmes could've sent the messages. They had both visited him in their own ways and secretly expressed the idea of helping him out. He was so caught up in himself and his sad situation that he had stopped worrying about Elita being here too.

He tried to think of any reason why Megatron would send him a message. To confuse him? Possibly. But if he did put himself in Terminal Lock, what good would it do Megatron? Perhaps the Decepticon leader was merely trying to inflict some strange sort of 'self-torture' on him. Terminal Lock didn't hurt though. It took a hell of a lot of initiating but it was painless. Emotionally it hurt a lot more knowing it was the end. Death. The mind would never return to consciousness again, and the body would be running on such a minimal energon level the internal systems would be crippled beyond restoration. The body would cease functioning in a few days, then that would REALLY be the end. And there was no way back.

His finger strayed to his tortured side, gently feeling the rivulets of dried energon which had leaked from the vicious wound. His movements were restricted by how much the wound would crack open and bleed when he bent at the waist. It was the worst of his injuries. He was so used to the pain he had to remind himself of how bad it actually was. The wound was sliced through his midsection to his spinal structure and was compounded by the bashing dealt out during his Decepticon 'interview'. It was deep, wide and crumpled.

His fingers froze in their exploration. The Telarian Sect. He'd forgotten about them. The weirdo religious sect which preached death as a true life. They collected dead (or mostly dead) bots. Elita had been particulary scathing towards them, helping to find their members and kick them off Cybertron.

Optimus knew members of the crazy clan were regular visitors to the fortress. They had allied themselves to the Decepticons as a way of picking up new victims. The Telarians had long ago been banned from Cybertron for their crazy beliefs after a rash of murders which the Telarians had called 'spiritual happenings'.

Maybe...maybe Elita had sent that message. If he was truly dead, the Telarians would come for his body. It was the ticket to freedom, if he didn't mind being free AND dead. He wasn't sure if Megatron would stop them removing his body. Probably not.

He made the call. He'd do it. After all, he couldn't free himself and the hope of Autobots on the outside getting in to help him was close enough to zero to not think about it. He opened his hip compartment and retrieved a tiny concealed blue vial which he fitted neatly into one of his injection ports on his wrist. It contained an overdose of anamorphine. Enough to kill. He dedicated himself to spending the next 20 minutes overriding his protective systems which desperately tried to stop him entering the Terminal Stasis. The Matrix also struggled against him briefly, but after what seemed like an annoyed and very disgruntled 'screech' of disappointment, it gave in and went quiet.

Finally it was done. The guards still had not appeared as he lay still and drifted off into the beginning of the Terminal Stasis effects. A small part of his CPU screamed to stop it, but another part was intensely interested in experiencing the strange sensations of 'dying'...

He would not fully die until the last active particles in his energonstream which were drifting under their own momentum, came to a final halt in a day or two (earth time).

His fuel pump slowed and stopped minutes later...

TO BE CONTINUED IN – Decisions 8, "Get your hands off my corpse!"