disclaimer: i don't own transformers -- if i did, obviously scorponok would have had a bigger part in the movie. also, i'm not sure but i think i stole part of ironhide's characterization from one of casusfere's fics. apologies and thanks.
warnings: bits of transformer cussing -- ratchet and ironhide have potty mouthes.
This song didn't have any humans singing. Curious about that, he roused his processors enough to access the Internet long enough to find the instrument and the song. A piano, playing "Oh, Holy Night", a Christmas song -- not that that mattered to him. Curiosity satisfied, he settled his processors again, but didn't fall back into full recharge. They were moving, but that didn't matter to him. He computed that as long as he stayed right where he was he was safe.
This was nice. Blackout had never let him listen to the humans' music. Of course his new master wouldn't be nearly as amused at playing hunting games with the humans as Blackout had been, but that was alright. He was safe -- that was what mattered.
Curled up in Optimus Prime's interior, Scorponok tried again to establish a connection between his command links and the truck's communication system. He'd been trying this for a while, but so far hadn't let refusal bother him overmuch -- he'd been recharging, allowing an automated system handle it. Again Prime shied away from the connection. This time Scorponok let out a metal-on-metal screech of frustration. Prime nearly stalled out in surprise.
Scorponok's peaceful mood was shattered. Sure the music was nice. And Prime's cabin was safe. But it would be so much better if his command links didn't hurt -- if Prime would be his master, and not just a safe haven.
He'd been a good pet to Blackout. He could be a good pet to Prime. Why wouldn't Prime just let him establish the link?
He let out another screech and felt Prime swerve off the road and stop. The other Autobot pulled up next to them.
"What's wrong, Prime? Besides the obvious."
"This Decepticon (Not a Decepticon, Scorponok thought, sulking) is shrieking like you just shot him. I am contacting Ratchet."
Don't need your medic, Master, Scorponok transmitted through the broken link, just need you to accept the link. No one heard him. For the first time he cursed his creator for not giving him a communication system other than the command links. Any of the Decepticons would have known that with Blackout dead, Scorponok would be looking for a new master and accepted gladly. But Prime wasn't a Decepticon. Maybe he didn't know what Scorponok wanted.
"Careful Captain Lennox. Scorponok is docile now, but there is no guarantee he will remain that way. And Blackout's last order was to kill you and your team -- he may still be bound to do so."
Blackout's dead, Scorponok thought, I can play nice with the human. He could prove it too. Quickly he scanned the Internet for something appropriate, missing the human's response in the process. The human -- Captain Lennox, Prime wasn't a Decepticon, Scorponok couldn't anger Prime by thinking of an ally as just "human" -- was looking at him through Prime's window.
Before he could try anything though, a siren announced the arrival of the Autobot medic. The human -- Captain Lennox left. Scorponok whirred several gears in his claw-cannons in frustration and sulked.
While Scorponok sulked, Ratchet had come to a stop and transformed. Prime's door popped open and the medic knelt to look in. Still sulking, Scorponok glared sullenly back. Ratchet's optics flickered as he reset them.
Then static hissed out of his vocalizer and he nearly fell over laughing. Prime's engine growled in annoyance. "Oh, Primus," the medic managed through the static of laughter, "that's funny."
"Hilarious." Any other mech would have shut up at that tone.
"How'd the little slagger manage to get in there?"
"Does it matter? Just help Ironhide get him out."
No, no, no. Prime might not have accepted the command link, but this was still the safest place for Scorponok to be. He was not going out where the Autobots would shoot him.
He backed away from the open door as much as he could -- not far, only a couple of inches; Scorponok barely fit in Prime's cab and there wasn't any extra space at all -- and brandished a claw-cannon.
Prime's other door was open and the other Autobot had Scorponok's tail before he could react. Scorponok screeched and scrambled to stay inside Prime, but it was no use. Prime began transforming the second the scorpion was clear. The Autobot -- Iron-something? -- activated the cannon in the arm not holding the scorpion's tail and pressed it against Scorponok.
"Gotcha, Decepticon scum."
Scorponok curled up as best he could and shook. He reached for Prime's communication system again and was rebuffed.
"Stand down, Ironhide."
"But Optimus --"
"No. Scorponok did not harm me, though he could not have found a better position to do so from, had that been his intention."
Did that mean he wasn't going to be shot? Scorponok uncurled and twisted so that he was looking at Prime and churred. Prime looked back and hopeful he tried connecting. The Autobot flinched and looked away. Scorponok screeched.
Prime addressed the medic. "Ratchet, I'd like for you to check Scorponok for damage and disable what weapons you can. Also, he has been trying to establish some sort of upload connection; see if you can't find out why."
"Of course, Optimus."
So Prime really didn't know about the command link. Maybe Autobots didn't have linked drones. That meant Prime would accept the link once the medic identified what it was. Thrilled by that thought, Scorponok shut off his exoskeletal force field so the medic could scan for damage -- there wasn't any and Ratchet reported as much -- then released the latches on his cannon armor so the firing mechanisms could be disabled. The three Autobots nearly goggled at how cooperative he was being. Ironhide growled. Scorponok ignored him.
"Well," Ratchet addressed the captive, still hanging by his tail from Ironhide's fist, "since you're being so cooperative, I don't suppose you'll --"
"Shut the frag up and let me concentrate. I'm analyzing the signal."
Stupid Autobot medic, It's a simple signal. It shouldn't take that long. Scorponok twisted up to reach the hand holding his tail and bit. The hand dropped him.
"Little fragger," Ironhide cursed. Scorponok chittered insultingly at him and hid behind on of Prime's feet when the big mech brought his cannons to bear. Ironhide cursed again.
"Ironhide, are you damaged?"
"Fragger bit me."
"Are you damaged?"
"No." The big, black mech obeyed the implied 'then stand down'.
"Slagging impatient is what you are. It looks like a drone initialization program. It's pretty complex, but I'd say he's trying to replace Blackout."
Hopeful that Prime would accept now that he knew, Scorponok tried again to establish a connection. He was denied again. He shrieked again, trying to convey that he was not amused by the repeated denials.
"How often has he been trying to connect?"
"Just step on him, Prime." Scorponok glared at Ironhide from behind one of Prime's feet.
"No, Ironhide. About three times every breem, Ratchet, since I stopped yelling at him for crawling into my cab."
"Which you'll have to tell us how he managed one of these days. But it seems like he's determined. He'll probably keep trying until you accept."
"Or until you squish him."
"No, Ironhide. Why me?"
"I can't tell you, Optimus. There's no parameters in the signal -- he could link with any transformer. There's no reason he couldn't have gone to Barricade."
Don't like Barricade. Scorponok scraped two plates of armor together to make a disgusted sound.
"Maybe he doesn't like Barricade." All optics turned to the human, standing far enough away not to be trampled is a mech moved. "That was certainly not a happy noise."
"Barricade would at least be another Decepticon."
Scorponok made the same scrape-buzz noise -- the human had understood that. It -- he wasn't as stupid as the Decepticons had implied. And Captain Lennox wasn't being as dense as the three Autobots were being.
Though it seemed the medic was catching on. "Care to guess again, Optimus?"
Prime looked aggrieved. "It doesn't matter. Freedom is the right of all sentient beings. I will not become a master of a slave -- not even over a Decepticon."
No. No. No! Prime wasn't supposed to refuse. He couldn't refuse. Scorponok needed him. He sent the link request again, more insistently, and was denied. Then again, and felt Prime simply shut off his receiver. Scorponok's screech was his loudest yet -- all three mechs flinched noticeably; the human covered his ears.
Anger spent, Scorponok collapsed across Prime's foot, mewl-clicking in pure despair.
"Poor guy. He almost looks like he's in pain."
Prime regarded the scorpion on his foot. "Ratchet, does the broken link cause him pain?"
"Likely. But he's functional and there isn't enough stress on his systems for any pain to be debilitating."
Slowly Lennox approached Scorponok. Trusting that Ironhide or Ratchet would protect him if the drone tried to kill him. Scorponok didn't move, just watched, but ceased the mewl-clicking. "Why Optimus?"
"There's a reason he chose you, Optimus. Ratchet said he could link to any transformer. If all he needed was a link he wouldn't be so focused on you -- he'd be transmitting to all three of you. So why Optimus?"
Scorponok considered the question and the human -- Captain Lennox! -- for a long moment. Then whirred several gears in frustration. The answer was too complex to express in clicks and screeches.
He needed the link. His command links hurt and he could only communicate intelligibly to his master. But beyond that. When other Decepticons came, Scorponok would be denied the choice of his master. Before he'd always chosen his master, up through Blackout. But he'd always been aware that any Decepticon could forcibly fill the empty link. He knew he needed to choose a master before one was forced on him.
He'd chosen Prime because Prime could protect him -- from the Decepticons, from the other Autobots, from the humans who'd managed to hurt him badly before. Prime had let him listen to music. Prime would allow him as much freedom as the link was capable of allowing. Scorponok needed Prime for those morals that were causing him to reject the link.
And whatever his reasons -- beyond his reasons -- Prime was Scorponok's choice; the choice of who would be his master had been the only decision Scorponok had ever been allowed.
But he was unable to tell the human any of that -- though he would have if he could have. He would have said anything that might get Prime to accept the link. He couldn't, so he just whirred in gears in frustration.
Captain Lennox was giving Scorponok a peculiar look.
"Is it because he's big?"
Scorponok didn't move, but inside he was thrilled. He could answer that question. He scraped his armor plates to make the scrape-buzz noise for a negative answer.
"Will you remain functional without the link?"
He let out an unhappy chirr. There was no use lying about it, but he rather thought that if he would die without it, Prime would have accepted the link.
"Is there a reason you can't wait for other Decepticons to come?"
"Does it have to do with the Decepticons coming?"
"Do you know which Decepticons are coming?"
"Does that reason have something to do with why you chose Optimus?"
"Captain Lennox, I see what you are trying to do, but I doubt Scorponok's motivations can be ascertained through a yes or no format."
"Probably not, But we can figure our some pieces. Like what would the Decepticons do if they found him like this?"
The three mechs looked at each other. It was obvious this line of thought hadn't occurred to them. Scorponok nearly vibrated with glee -- the human wasn't stupid at all.
Finally Ironhide answered the question. "Scorponok is an accomplished scout and assassin -- a weapon that cannot be turned against his master. There are few 'Cons that wouldn't desire that."
"And would they take 'no' for an answer?"
"No." Optimus nearly whispered sorrowfully, even as Scorponok made the scrape-buzz noise again.
Scorponok transmitted the link request again. Prime's receiver was on again, at least.
"No, Scorponok." This time a vocal denial accompanied the refusal. Prime shifted and the scorpion scrambled off his foot. Prime knelt so he could look at Scorponok optic to optic. "I'll protect you from the Decepticons, but I won't be your slave master."
It wasn't what Scorponok wanted, but he'd be protected. It'd work for now.
"Is that smart, Prime?"
"Perhaps not, Ironhide," the Autobot replied as he stood back up, "but it is what I am doing. Let's return to Tranquility."
All three Autobots transformed into their vehicle modes. Captain Lennox took the offered seat in Ironhide. Scorponok went to crawl back into Prime's interior. Prime shut his doors. Scorponok whirred. Ratchet laughed.
"No, you are too big for that to be comfortable for either of us. You will ride behind the cab. I will play the radio so that you can hear it, if you wish."
Chirring, he climbed up behind Prime's cab for the ride to...wherever Prime was going -- it didn't matter to him. The upbeat strains of another Christmas song floated over the roar of the engines of three Autobots.
notes: when i wrote it i was intending to leave "replacement" as a oneshot. i was! then this thing went and wrote itself. and now there are more vicious little plot bunnies gnawing on my brain. i'm supposed to be studying for finals! sheesh...
sorry this isn't a funny cutefic. i'm hoping that some of the bunnies have something cracktasticly amusing and/or exceedingly cute, but for now the most insistent are all serious.
oh! and a breem is a transformer second and a bit longer than eight minutes. so when scorponok is making his link request three times in a breem, that's about once every 2 minutes and 40 seconds. For an analogy of how annoying he's being, imagine someone poking you three times a second. my mental optimus is disgustingly moralistic and patient.
and of course after all that, i still don't know how scorponok managed to climb in optimus's cab. grr...