By Dreaming of Everything
Disclaimer: I do not own Transformers, in any of its various permutations, in any way, shape or form.
Author's Notes: This took for-frikkin'-ever to write.
That said, I have the bad feeling that it's going to be hell to read. I'm sorry? It's hard to get a sense of 'total fractured crazy' across sometimes…
No-one. Emptiness. Sand half-covering him and the heat of the sun above him and the slight vibrations of the few desert creatures that stirred during the day.
he followed that pattern now— it was right—it spoke to some part of him that did not think, more than he already did not think—it was not his purpose, his duty
Scorponok's always—his constant—was not there. His 'mother,' in the strange, inferior, language his other had been learning. He'd never learned what he didn't consider important, so he knew only a few words. Mother, noun. Mother, definition: a female that has borne an offspring. Mother, definition: a female who has adopted a child or otherwise established a maternal relationship with another person. Mother, definition: qualities attributed to a mother, such as a capacity to love. Mother, definition: derived from or as if from one's mother; native.
And then pain—
—nothing nothing no one there was no one his link, his other, was gone, he was rootless, abandoned, nothing and no one nothing no orders so nothing, do nothing, wait to do as you're told, Scorponok, wait but no one would say anything ever again, his other was gone, deactivated
Pain exploded across his receptors and he shrilled until his vocal cavities filled with sand, flailed and shivered deep under the sand until he'd almost floated back to the surface of the desert.
no—pain—not there—there would be no other, no progenitor, protector, guardian, no mother, there for him—stay here, in the dark, and simply exist—wait
He could feel the sun's passage, feel it in the slow temperature change, the radiation levels, as the sun reached its zenith then dropped. It rose, fell, rose, fell, sixty times and then another thirty.
wait for the mother to make us whole again—wait for the mother to think
No one would come.
He slunk to the surface, half-blind and crazed. His body ached with the delicate pain of loss.
nothing there was nothing no one nothing—would never be someone again
no orders to follow—
harmless, weak, useless. little. childchildren.
one dead. image recorded; reference. long dead. threat analysis: threat absent..
pain; pain; pain;…
analysis: dying. becoming no-more. negating. failing. threat, risk: minimal. projected time to ending: four days at current failure rate. —they are dying—
wrong. kill. also wrong—
status of human creature alpha: plus adrenaline; heart rate: accelerated; scan: thought waves irregular: inconclusive. conclusion: medical disorder, 'shock.' conclusion: fear.
subject 1, status: previous diagnosis holds. dehydration. preliminary malnutrition. weakened state. young. age: development matches data for three human months of existence. Translate: 90 solar rotations. conclusion: born slightly before or slightly after his mother-protector's death. (pain, but no time for it) subject 2, status: physical state similar. older. two years. 730 solar rotations. two complete solar cycles. subject 3, status: five years. 1825 solar rotations, five solar cycles. subject 4, status: same. subject 5, status: oldest, eight solar cycles, 2920 solar rotations, protective. not-mother.
--preliminary genetic imaging implies close genetic relationship to not-threat (dead human; permanently deactivated; sparkless) such as mother-child. age confirms hypothesis. conclusion: definitively inconclusive, most probable situation.
kill; can't kill; wait and do as you're told.
no other, no mother, to tell him what to do, to make him have purpose, to give reason to, nothing to do and no reason for anything and pain, nothing and no-one but the weak vibrations of stupid rodents who can't feel him, don't know he's waiting for them or would be if he was moving with purpose but he isn't so no one but now there are human children, weak and dying and helpless, and a dead grown human, a dead mother and her dying children, weak and human and he has nothing to do, he is nothing without instruction, without purpose—
—error, do what, do what?—
be mother to what you can be
so protect. help. heal. protect from harm. weak humans, kill, kill, protect— status: shock. treatment: unavailable, inconclusive. remove cause of stress. can't leave. status: dehydration, malnutrition. fixable. do what you can. water: nearest concentration is located approximately 950 body-lengths away. unsuitable for organic consumption, pitiful weaklings need help—locate, locate. human settlement. abandoned. yes. Good.
He pivoted and scuttled away from the children a few feet before slipping under the surface of the loose sand, nothing but a light ripple, slowly disappearing but reappearing a hundred feet further on, to show his trail.
He returned before the sky was beginning to lighten.
water. provided. accept—accept—
too much fear. leave them. don't leave them let them think you've left— kill them, kill them
watch. accepted. good. Hydration is necessary for human health. Water makes up 60 percent or more of their body total. next problem: malnutrition. food. energy. human source: varied. human sources: differing by age. strange. unnatural. leave them, leave the bother. can't, their mother's left. I am alone. a singular existence.
locate: best source: other humans. search: scanning—
find. search. Save. Protect.
child, mother, alone, death.
bring food. offer. make available. leave. don't leave. pretend to leave, lie to the filthy organic creatures, let them eat. leave
good. eating. the little one has stopped crying. littlest one. all little. the other was big. he is big. the oldest is bigger, but not-big, so not good, not right, not Decepticon. existence is not anything without the mother, the protector, to make. define. definitionless.
so protect. watch.
--do nothing until you are ordered to…
--do nothing until you are ordered to…
--do nothing until you are ordered to…
--do nothing until you are ordered to…
movement! follow; follow; follow—protect—make sure they are safe
--do nothing until you are ordered to…
—no orders will come—
running. they are leaving. status: healthier. recovering. have eaten. have drank. physical indications seem to show fear. fear. afraid. of him. good. human scum, should fear their lord, their deserving ruler—
…should not fear the one who is protecting, who is caring… he should not be caring…
--no other, no protector, no direction, never ever again--
follow. watch. observe. do not kill. just watch.
they collapse. heat—no water—no food. helpless. so needing. not his duty. not his right. not what he should be doing.
need water. need protection. no shelter.
Scorponok slithered back to the surface of the desert, scuttled over to where the five children lay, unconscious and weak with exhaustion and dehydration and too-hot temperatures. He chittered to himself, quietly, for a few brief seconds, then nudged one a little with a leg, shifted another in a little more, then turned against the sun, so the five bodies lay bathed in shadow.
He stood stock-still, only shifting to follow the sun, for four hours, until the sun had fully set and the sky had begun to darken. When one stirred, he shivered until a previously-hidden cavity shifted open, bottles of water falling to lie next to the prone bodies spread out on the desert ground.
And then he was gone, burrowing back under the desert.
The girl twitched as she woke up. What had happened? Had that been the monster, standing over them? Why had it brought more water? Again.
Scorponok. It was the name his other had given him, on their voyage to the disgusting organic-polluted planet that was earth. It had been based off of an organic earth creature that was widely feared, despite its small size.
It was—wrong, that the children feared him so much. Not the others—those weren't his—but the children. The ones he was watching, helping, protecting.
"Of course," one of the other Decepticons had said to his other, before everything had gone wrong, "Even the goody two-shoes Autobots are likely to be feared here."
He set his sensors to alert him, then slipped into numbness. It was easier. Previous patterns indicated the children would not move for 2.16 days, and he would be alerted if they did.
sleep—do nothing—it is easier—it is right—wait for the other who will not return—no! something's wrong. wake. wake! there. the children. movement. not them—identify: human. Male. 20 to 30 earth-years old.
One of the children was screaming. "No! No! Don't take her, you can't take her, she's still little! No!"
He exploded out of the sand, the spatter blinding the men nearest to him. His tail caught one of them, a glancing blow to the chest, and he stabbed through another two. He turned and bridled at the two remaining men, legs stiff and tail held tall. They cowered away from him, finally broke and ran for their truck, one of them turning at the last minute to bring up the gun he was holding towards him—
—and the man began to shoot. Scorponok was in front of the children faster than the weak human eyes could follow, fast enough that it surprised even him. He allowed his feet to sink into the sand, shrugging himself low to the ground, so the children were safe behind him.
Finally, the men were gone. Slowly, he backed away from the huddle of small human bodies he had protected; fast movement was likely to startle them, chirruped one of his logic programs, the one he had set to human matters.
safe. they were safe. they would live. Yes. they would live.
Their eyes were wide, fixated on him. He shivered, half-nervous, and the movement was noisy with the scrape of metal plates against each other. The children who were old enough flinched back at the movement.
He took another step back, then another, then turned to leave, sinking back into the desert as he went.
they were safe would not die would live would live
—could not leave, too defenseless, too weak, too frail, too human. he could not leave them unprotected.
turn back and follow from a distance. protect but do not let them see, for they fear.
The night was cold, and the five children huddled together for warmth and comfort. None of them spoke of the giant metallic scorpion that had come out of the desert sand and saved them all, killed the men who had been attacking them within two minutes and chased the others away, not even when one of the 5-year-old twins woke up whimpering loud enough to wake the baby. The baby cried for hours, high and thin and sad.
The day was hot even before the sun had fully cleared the horizon. The children walked a little in the very early morning, but stopped soon. The world grew still and dead under the hot sky.
The sand storm came out of nowhere, moving fast.
They huddled in a small depression as the wind and grit whipped past them, filled their mouth and blocked their noses and whipped their skin raw.
The oldest began to cry first, this time, but the second-youngest, the 2-year-old, was the first to see the metallic scorpion through the choking sand that covered and surrounded them.
He edged closer slowly, cautious, ready to still his motion or leave at any moment. The children stayed frozen until he was right next to them, then as he shifted himself in-between them and the brunt of the wind.
They were so close that one was almost jostled into the armor-plated surface, and all five froze at the near-miss of contact; the figure stayed unresponsive, totally still.
The duration of the storm seemed to be eternity.
Scorponok wanted to shiver away from the children, his sensors set too high, taking in so much information, too much information, trying to monitor the children—their physical state, yes, but also mental, not that he could see into their heads, not that he could understand their illogical, simplistic, organic impulses and instincts and reactions. Not that he could do anything to change them.
Finally, the winds dropped. The sand began to fall out of the air, and finally only faint dust was left blowing on the breeze.
The six of them stood frozen, the five weak and motherless and frightened human children and the half-crazed Decepticon who'd lost everything when his partner, his host, had died a continent and an ocean away.
movement… likely to startle them… no fear, they shouldn't fear, it isn't right but they fear me they need me they need someone to protect them and there's only me, there's only me…
—I'm all alone—
Error. Input: logic processes: other beings. Cannot be alone.
When there's nobody else, you're not really there.
Others, so he must exist. They could tell. they feared— feared— feared—
feared him, even though he was protecting, and that was wrong but he couldn't fix that, couldn't fix anything, should wait for instructions but couldn't because there were none, was nobody to give the orders so no orders to follow, nobody so he couldn't exist but the children so he must exist but they gave no orders so he should sit and wait but the children, the children! weak and human and useless and he should kill them, but then he would be all alone again, and they had nobody, nothing, would die without him so he couldn't kill them, so he would protect them—
Scorponok couldn't move. It would mean—upsetting whatever tenuous balance the six beings had managed, a state of grace.
Face solemn, one of the twin five-year-olds, the shorter of the two, reached forward, unbalancing as he leaned too far over, not taking a single step, to half-fall, half-lean against the warm metal of Scorponok's side. He shivered, metal plates buzzing against each other shortly, and the oldest child—still so young!—flinched. He stilled. After a minute longer, the Transformer shifted slightly, leaned inwards slightly to take some of the strain off the trembling arms of the child. None of the children backed further away.
Deep inside him, something seemed to thrum and spark with happiness, with contentment, with acknowledgement of contact, of touch—of acceptance?
And then scanners alerted him, different ones from the ones he had been watching so closely, not the ones still focused on the children; they were almost half-forgotten, left over from before.
Helicopter, his sensors told him, tied to the American government, and it sent a lonely shiver of vague familiarity down his back. He didn't dart away from here, didn't even shiver into the sand—there were still hands on him, and the sliding metal plates of his armor would crush them if he moved too fast, in the wrong ways. Somehow, that had become unthinkable.
So he stood, still frozen. The warnings flashing in his head were hard to ignore. His protector, his other, had always been careful to make sure he understood what revealing himself would mean, when it came to jeopardizing his current mission, and the Decepticon cause as a whole, but also what it might do to him. He had always taken good care of his dependants.
"What is it?" said the other five-year-old, voice just as curious as afraid, to his oldest sibling as the helicopter drew close enough that they could hear.
"Helicopter. I don't know," said the oldest, her voice shivering with fear, and Scorponok bit back another hissing buzz. They wouldn't understand. Didn't. It would merely frighten them.
The helicopter was drawing nearer, close enough to be seen even by the children. The second-smallest was looking up at the sky with confusion. The alarms were filling his mind, overwhelming everything, not leaving room for any thought—
but he couldn't move now, with the small hand, not right but somehow right enough, over one of his strips of armor, close to a join and close enough and small enough to slip inside it if he moved, and then be torn and ripped and crushed by the complex parts that let him move the way he did, that would let him get away if only he could move but he can't, it's essential that he doesn't, he can't not now not now—
The child on him shifted, pushed himself off of the gleaming metal of Scorponok's shell, made as if to move forward again, to explore some other part of him, and he darted away—fast even for him, faster than he had meant to, some part of him shivering in fear and some part of him craving touch too much, too much—and he ignored how badly that must have frightened the children, even though he didn't touch them, didn't hurt them, had kept them from that, was protecting them as he left because the helicopter was probably for him, was probably searching for what they had tried to kill and hadn't, following the rumors the weak humans he'd chased away (should have killed them) had spread—
He didn't go far. It still wasn't safe for them. He waited until the stupid human aircraft had moved on, and then waited an hour, two, three hours longer, until everything had settled, until he was calmer. It was cool and dark, and heavy with the weight of the sand pressing down on him.
The moon had risen by the time he came back up and its light was thrown liberally across the desert, silvering the sand dunes and the few stunted trees and scraggly bushes that had managed to survive.
The children were sleeping.
Carefully, cautiously, he drew closer, ran whatever diagnostic scans he could on them, but he didn't have much. The ones made for Transformers told him nothing except how much was wrong—
But it was right. It was right
He half-covered himself in sand, only the ridges of his back and tail and the upper half of his limbs sticking out of the desert. He let himself slip into careful recharge, and when he awoke the children were watching him, carefully, solemnly, but they hadn't left. They were still there.
A message from another Decepticon shivered across his sensors, asking for anyone—anyone—to report back, but he didn't respond.
It might mean he would have to leave. That someone bigger, stronger, someone not understanding, would hurt them, deactivate them, like the body he'd found them clustered around on the sand.
The youngest one was sick. He could hear it in her breath, too shallow and gasping. She cried at night, high and thin, and even huddled together with the others against Scorponok's side, his own internal engines purposefully running hot to give them all the warmth he could, she was too cold. She slept fitfully during the day.
There was nothing he could do—useless worthless helpless she was going to die because he couldn't do anything, didn't understand the strange malformed problematic systems she ran on but she couldn't help that, could she? and he needed to protect her because without that he was nothing but there was nothing he could do, nothing to attack and fight and drive away and she was going to die.
The children knew it, too. The bolder of the twin five-year-olds, the louder one, awoke crying at night, and the shyer never left his side, always close and shadowing him. Scorponok had learned to be careful. He'd nearly gutted the child, left his corpse bleeding out on the sands, cut through, the first night he'd carefully huddled against him. The others had slowly followed, until he'd come to expect it.
He'd disappeared for a day, too afraid to come out, after he'd nearly killed his child.
Scorponok was steering them in the direction of a town, a small one. He couldn't—
He left them in the town, and then he shivered, alone, too suddenly frightened to even bother sinking underground to hide himself for hours, despite the danger, despite where he was—not after he'd shut down the programs he'd had running to monitor the children for so long they'd become part of him, leaving him empty, now. It was too deathly quiet, too empty, without the constant stream of information: temperature, heart rate, cerebral activity and a slew of unmeasurables he could only guess at: mood, level of fear, hunger, thoughts.
He sat for days, blank and empty, and shut down every program and system he could, leaving only the ones he had no control over, the ones that kept him alive, and the ones—basic scans—Blackout had programmed into him, long ago. The ones that jolted him into sudden awareness at the slight thud of footprints above him, vibrating down through the sand.
He burst out of the sand menacing, skidding and turning to wait just briefly (for the fear) before he would rush the stupid, unlucky organic—
and he froze, and nearly turned and ran, but stopped. He dropped out the attack position, hunkered down against the sand as inoffensively as he could, tucked in on himself as much as he could to help make himself smaller, less menacing, less threatening, less like he'd just tried to kill the five children standing in front of him.
Carefully, the small huddle of children drew closer, until they were near close enough to touch. The shy twin reached out a hand, stopped just short of him, hesitated a moment so close he could feel the slight heat radiating off of him without anything other than the sensors built into his outer shell, then placed it carefully on him, touching as if he needed to be assured that this was real, that this was safe.
The other children followed his lead, and Scorponok shuddered with relief, careful to keep the movements small enough that the children wouldn't startle and wouldn't get caught between sliding plates of armor. Slowly, he relaxed.
He waited there three days, but the children didn't leave him. They all left before the dawn of the fourth day, the children moving slowly and Skorponok slowing himself to their pace, circling them as he went, half sheepherding and half protecting.
And he wasn't alone.