LOL! I can has update! LOL!
(ahem) Er, sorry… Anyway, finally updating here. Apologies for the big delay. My brain was completely eaten by art, such as my "art" is. But over the last couple of days, the art muse has become more willing to share brainspace with the writing muse, so I've been poking at this while eating lunch at work.
Also? I have to say that writing sequentially totally sucks. I have all these ideas for later on in this story, BUT I HAVE TO GET THERE FIRST! ARRRRGH! Brain no like thinking linearly.
But anyway…This chapter introduces Frenzy, who I have discovered does not come easily to me. At all. Which means that I will probably write him badly all the way through this, so my apologies in advance. But hey, at least I came up with an explanation as to why he's so spastic. I felt compelled to do this because this story is kinda-sorta-maybe in the novels-to-movie continuum, and in the prequel novel Frenzy isn't nearly so spazzy as he is portrayed in the movie. In fact, he acts and speaks about as normally as any Decepticon can get. (Granted, he's portrayed not-spazzy in the movie novelization, too, but…HUSH:) ) So, I felt that providing a reason for that sort of drastic behavioral change was necessary… In the novels, Frenzy's also not described as a symbiote, like Scorponok is, so I am forced to conclude that he is actually his own man, so to speak, not really dependent on Barricade for anything. So, that's how I write him and see him. With that, off we go…
Sunday, December 17th, 2006, 7:17 PM
US Highway 250, near Bartow, West Virginia
Prior to his arrival on Earth, Barricade had performed what he had thought was an impressively thorough degree of research about the planet, at least in terms of the continent that he knew was he going to be inhabiting for however long his mission lasted. In the three days that had passed since his unceremonious and unplanned arrival in Oklahoma, he'd been continuing his research, monitoring television, radio, and police channels as well as the Internet, gleaning and filing away whatever information he could from those sources, regardless of whether or not he thought the information would ultimately be at all useful to him.
There was one aspect of Earth, though, that had somehow managed to escape his scrutiny. In retrospect, Barricade couldn't imagine how he'd missed it, but missed it he had. Perhaps it was just that he had thought it to be insignificant, and so he had decided to ignore gathering data about this one little aspect of life on Earth. If that was the case…Well, if that was the case then at the moment, Barricade was regretting that decision. Mightily regretting it.
Earth had an atmosphere. Atmosphere meant weather. Barricade was well aware of that general fact, of course, but he hadn't thought too much about it. He had figured that whatever Earth threw at him, it could not possibly be worse than Mars's continual and seemingly-eternal dust storms.
He'd been wrong. Dead wrong. Where Mars had dust storms, Earth had charming little things known as blizzards. The dust storms, while monumentally annoying, were in the end mere nuisances. Blizzards, though…Blizzards, Barricade was quickly and unwelcomingly discovering, could be downright dangerous, even to one such as himself.
Part of the problem was the vehicular disguise he had chosen for himself. It had its advantages, certainly. All he had to do to coerce humans to move out of his way, for instance, was to flash the lights and squawk the siren, after which they scattered like the sheep they were. Even when he was at rest, the humans tended to give him a blessedly wide berth, sometimes rushing by him while casting what they thought were furtive glances in his direction. When he'd been initially observing the behavior, Barricade had harbored the ridiculous suspicion that they had somehow pegged him as an alien amongst them, that perhaps certain humans had some sort of unusual perceptual abilities that allowed them to see him for what he really was. Further contemplation and observation, though, bore out his subsequent hypothesis that some humans were simply afraid of the police. No doubt, these particular humans had as much to hide as Barricade himself had; they were just far less competent at disguising this fact than he was.
So, Barricade's chosen alternate form had the unexpected benefit of keeping humans away from him and out of his way, which had allowed him to traverse the fifteen hundred or so miles between northeastern Oklahoma and eastern West Virginia in a little less than the twelve hours that had elapsed since he'd figured out where Frenzy was. He'd managed that feat by piecing together various news reports and then factoring in the babbled online ravings of an Appalachian conspiracy theorist who had apparently seen Frenzy, given that on the creature's webpage he had recounted a remarkably accurate description of Barricade's diminutive partner. No sane human gave his ravings any credence whatsoever, of course…or so Barricade hoped, anyway. In the back of his mind was the knowledge that Sector 7, the government organization of humans who were aware of his kind's existence, was headquartered in Virginia, just outside of Washington D.C and uncomfortably close to where Frenzy had made Earthfall. That knowledge had propelled Barricade at all possible speed toward West Virginia to collect his wayward partner before someone else could manage to do so.
Barricade had no idea how Frenzy had ended up in West Virginia, given that his target, like Barricade's, had been California. He could only assume that Frenzy had encountered a meteor, just as he had, only the resulting disruption of Frenzy's course had been far worse than Barricade's had been. However his partner had ended up three thousand miles from where he was supposed to be, though, the verylast thing Barricade needed was to have to stage a rescue operation before proceeding with his real mission. The stark fact was that he needed Frenzy in order to accomplish his mission successfully.
Now that Barricade was within approximately twenty miles of Frenzy's location, he knew precisely where his partner was; his locator signal shone brightly, like a beacon, on Barricade's sensors. He'd tried to communicate with the other Decepticon, even, although Frenzy hadn't seen fit to answer him. The problem, of course, was getting to him. And in trying to do that, Barricade had run full-speed-ahead into the single disadvantage – so far, at least – of his new alternate form.
The special-edition Mustang, Barricade was forced to conclude, was not designed for driving in snow. Its meager amount of ground clearance did not mesh well with the fact that the snow was falling and piling up and quickly refreezing into a deeply-rutted, inches-thick layer of sheer ice. The Mustang's overpowered engine and the fact that it was propelled by its rear wheels did not allow for much in the way of traction on slippery, snow-and-ice-encrusted roads. Barricade's own inexperience at navigating in such conditions had caused him to make critical mistakes that, twice now, had sent him spinning and careening off the side of the road. After one of those helpless, out-of-control slides, he'd had to resort to hastily transforming and then clinging to a large tree in order to prevent himself from hurtling off of a rather steep precipice. Luckily for Barricade, no one had been around to see this happen, for which he was thankful mostly because the predicament had been monumentally embarrassingwhile it had lasted.
So now Barricade was reduced to creeping along at a ridiculously slow pace. He'd learned through almost-painful experience to carefully downshift instead of brake in order to slow himself down when necessary and afterwards to only very carefully accelerate, ever mindful of the excessive amount of horsepower caged and straining under his hood. At this rate, he'd traverse the twenty miles that lay between him and Frenzy in approximately six days.
Assuming, of course, that the roads didn't eventually become completely impassable before then. Barricade was trying to balance his growing sense of urgency against the realities of the weather, moving as quickly as possible under the circumstances, but he knew that he wasn't succeeding very well. The weather, he knew, was going to defeat him if it didn't miraculously moderate in the very near future. He simply couldn't move fast enough to outrun the steadily-accumulating blanket of icy snow on the road. He supposed that if all else failed he could transform and walk…but given the fact that the immediate area was already fired up with conspiracy theories and wild stories about deranged government-experiment robots rampaging through the local state forest that Frenzy currently inhabited – stories which were sure to reach the ears of Sector 7 if they hadn't already done so – he'd use that as only a very last resort. In the meantime, he would simply keep advancing on his four wheels, hoping that that would be enough...
Three hours later, after several…interesting…adventures, one of which involved sliding backwards down a long and fairly steep hill, Barricade arrived at Frenzy's general location. He came to a slow, careful halt and took stock of the situation. His sensors told him that the road upon which he was sitting – a small state forest access road, the condition of which was far more treacherous than the highway had been – rimmed a rather steep ravine that likely would have been quite picturesque if it wasn't ten-o-clock at night in the middle of a snowstorm. As it was, Barricade could see nothing on the normal visual spectrum, given the combination of near-winter-solstice darkness, the lack of moonlight, and the disorienting effects of the now-gently-falling snow, but Frenzy's signal was still eminently clear. He was down in the ravine. Barricade could pinpoint his exact location, even. Again, the problem was simply getting to him; Barricade was not particularly sanguine about the prospect of transforming and tromping blindly down into a steep ravine. Perhaps he could convince Frenzy to come to him instead…
"Frenzy," Barricade hissed over his comm after opening up the appropriate frequency. When no one answered, be added, "Frenzy, this Is Barricade. Respond."
The other end of the communication crackled abruptly to life. There was static, random white noise – unusual, given that only a few hundred meters separated the two Decepticons – and then a voice that was recognizably Frenzy's said…something. For the life of him, Barricade did not understand a word that his partner uttered, however.
"I…didn't quite get that," Barricade replied uncertainly after a moment of bewilderment. "Repeat."
Another stream of gibberish, louder and far more urgent this time, erupted over the comm frequency, except that this time two words were recognizable, at the very end of the stream.
The words were, "Need help."
Barricade sighed. He'd almost figured as much. So much for Frenzy coming up to the access road, then. To Frenzy he ordered simply, resignedly, "Stay where you are. I'm coming down."
Which, of course, was much easier said than done. Barricade transformed, leaving his headlights on just for the principle of the thing, and began to clamber down the steep incline that was the wall of the ravine. Not even a quarter of the way down, he lost his footing and ended up sliding, out of control, the rest of the way. He smashed through stands of bare winter trees and ricocheted off boulders concealed by a thin layer of camouflaging snow. Down he slid, accelerating all the while, until finally he reached the bottom of the ravine…which, of course, had been carved over millennia by the rapidly-running but relatively shallow river in which he eventually landed, somehow face-first.
Raising his head from the frigid water, Barricade spat water our of his mouth and, completely heedless of the possibility that he might be heard, he immediately launched into a loud stream of the vilest Cybertronian curses and insults he knew, creatively denouncing Earth, its weather, and its water for all he was worth. When he had run through his entire repertoire of curses and insults and had subsequently descended into an irritated silence, he found that he somehow felt better. And so, he was able to return his focus to the job at hand.
Rising to his feet, pulling himself out of the river, he consulted his scanners again, only to find that Frenzy was now above him and off to his right. Sighing, Barricade trudged off, taking advantage of the relatively flat and easily-navigable riverbank terrain until he had to divert and climb up to the spot where Frenzy sat, waiting for him as ordered. Thankfully, Barricade accomplished the climb without any undue problems.
He found that Frenzy had taken shelter on the lee side of a large, recently-downed tree. He huddled there miserably, although he seemed unable to sit entirely still. If his body wasn't actually moving, shifting slightly to the left or to the right, at least one of his appendages was twitching, if not outrightly jerking. Frenzy stared blankly at Barricade for a moment, as if he had no idea who or what Barricade was. He continued to stare until Barricade went down on his knees in front of him, in order to get a better look at the infiltrator.
"B-b-b-b-Barricade!" Frenzy stuttered then, his entire body jerking as if Barricade's arrival had roused him all unexpectedly from some sort of oblivious stupor. Frenzy said many other things as well, and at a dizzying speed, but only about one word out of ten was intelligible. From them, though, Barricade could gather that he was being berated for his stupid plan to arrive on Earth during a meteor shower. The last bit of Frenzy's apparent tirade, though, ended with the tone of his voice rising, and then Frenzy regarded Barricade expectantly. He'd asked a question, obviously.
"I have no idea what you're trying to say, Frenzy," Barricade told Frenzy. "Try to sit still for a moment," he added as he initiated a scan of his small partner, trying to find whatever damage it was that was scrambling his words and, apparently, his motor pathways. Barricade had a sinking suspicion that he'd be able to do nothing about whatever damage he found; he was no medic. But…at least it would be nice to know what was wrong.
The smaller Decepticon had obviously suffered far worse effects from his collision with a meteor than Barricade had in his. Barricade's detailed scan detected everything from superficial armor dents to damaged deep circuit pathways, no doubt the cause of Frenzy's inability to sit still for more than thirty seconds. His vocal processor was damaged as well, no doubt the cause of his inability to speak in any coherent way.
Tersely, Barricade relayed his findings to his diminutive partner, mercilessly adding that there was nothing that he could do to repair the damage that was causing Frenzy's…disabilities. He would require a qualified medic or, at the very least, a good long stretch of time to heal. Unfortunately, time was not a commodity of which they had much to spare.
"You will just have to wait for your repair systems to take care of the damage," Barricade finished. If they can…he silently added. Barricade had his doubts about that.
Frenzy, meanwhile, nodded jerkily, stood up unsteadily, and then proceeded to bounce nervously from one foot to the other.
"Can you complete our mission?" Barricade asked as he rose to his own feet and as he watched the other Decepticon shift restlessly, back and forth, back and forth. It was, of course, the uppermost question in his mind.
Frenzy stilled for a second or two, apparently considering Barricade's question. After a few seconds of contemplation, he looked up at the much-taller Decepticon, his head twitching randomly on his thin neck. Then he answered solemnly, "Can. M-m-m-must regenerate more and recharge first. But c-c-c-can."
And then Frenzy's relative stillness was abruptly ripped apart by a round of frenetic movement. It could almost be considered dancing, in fact.
"Hear the music! Hear the music!" Frenzy bizarrely crowed as he "danced," before his words devolved into gibberish again. There was a definite rhythm to the gibberish, though, and almost a melody as well. In fact, it was almost as if Frenzy was singing...
Watching him for a few flabbergasted moments, Barricade had serious doubts about Frenzy's apparent certainty that he could accomplish his part of the mission. And after a few more moments spent watching Frenzy in bewildered and uncomprehending exasperation, Barricade had had enough.
"Frenzy!" he bellowed, his deep voice ricocheting off the walls of the ravine. "Stop!"
Frenzy froze in mid-"dance," one leg raised slightly to the side and one arm lifted above his head. He regarded Barricade dully, as if he'd forgotten that the other Decepticon was there. In fact, it wouldn't have surprised Barricade in the least if he had been forgotten. Frenzy, after all, had seemed completely lost in his own little world.
"Hear the music?" Frenzy asked brightly, innocently of Barricade.
"No!" Barricade shot back, irritated. "I don't hear the music. And in case you are not aware of the fact, we are currently on the wrong side of the continent," Barricade tersely added. "We do not havetime for this. We need to get out of here."
Chastened, disappointed, but nodding jerkily, Frenzy began to head unsteadily off, toward the bottom of the ravine, until Barricade made a wordless noise that stopped the little infiltrator in his tracks. Frenzy glanced uncertainly up and over his shoulder at Barricade, who gestured pointedly up the wall of the ravine.
"That way," he said.
Frenzy blinked at the dark, steep incline of the ravine wall and unleashed a stream of indignant gibberish at it. But then, that done, he staggered toward it willingly enough, without argument.
Barricade, for his part, was thankful for small favors.
As it turned out, Frenzy, for all of his lack of coordination at the moment, was able to easily clamber monkey-like, on all fours, up the wall of the ravine. He was, in fact, far more adept than Barricade was at the task, which was vastly annoying to the scout. His irritation was only slightly mitigated by the fact that the clouds had begun to clear and thin wisps of moonlight filtered through them and reflected off the ice-glazed surface of the snow, helping him to more easily find footing this time. So, in a relatively short period of time, both Decepticons reached the access road.
Wordlessly, Barricade transformed and opened his passenger-side door. Frenzy, equally silently, hopped in. Once inside, though, his silence disappeared.
"Road trip! Road trip! Road trip!" Frenzy began to hoot over and over again while spasmodically bouncing around in Barricade's back seat, thus occasionally whacking his already-damaged head on the roof with a rather alarming amount of force. It didn't seem to faze him in the least, though, for he simply kept bouncing, still dancing to some strange tune that only he could hear. Shortly thereafter, the "singing" started again.
Barricade heaved a long internal sigh as he fired up the Mustang's engine and then three-point-turned across the narrow width of the treacherous, snow-covered road.
It was, he wearily reflected, going to be a very long three thousand miles…