Disclaimer: 'Transformers' does not belong to me. It belongs to ye olde Hasbro. The title 'Soldier's Things' is taken from a song by Tom Waits, I take no credit for it.
It's been a long time since I've updated this, and wrote anything anything in general. I believe it's been half a year since I last wrote something, so hopefully this has come out okay. I apologize to anyone who's been waiting on anything, I know I have commitment problems. I'll be quiet now.
"There's a frame I can't change
That I just have to watch again
Reminder repressed inside me
It keeps repeating" - Lacuna Coil - To the Edge
War. Who really wants it. You might be surprised, but I actually know a few 'bots who live for it, who love nothing better than fighting, like Sunstreaker and Roadbuster. Let me tell you though, when you see your whole city crumble before your optics, the whole populace wiped out- except for you- you really see the true meaning of war. Mindless destruction. A timeless evil.
I never wanted to fight in a war.
However, long since that day, I've carried contradictory thoughts on the matter. On one hand, shouldn't I be glad to be fighting the twisted evil that destroyed my home? Preventing them from causing the same pain I suffered to others, and avenging all the lost innocents of Praxus? On the other hand, does fighting, doing what the enemy do, make me any better than them? Fighting in a war, where innocents are always casualties, and destruction and carnage are all part of the package?
I still don't know exactly where I stand on the matter, but as I experience the current situation before my very alert optics, I'd say I'm leaning more towards the latter,
I can't recall the name of this planet, that being one of the furthest things on my central processor at the moment, but it's not much different from a desert wasteland. Except for the local fauna that likes to sample anything that moves, though the Decepticons seem to have developed an 'appropriate' way of dealing with it (namely, blowing them to slag). We, however, are under orders to leave the fauna be, and just stay out of its way. After all, we protect life, not blow it to The Pit.
Cautiously looking over the clump of rocks we have taken cover behind, I scan the mass of Decepticons in the distance, who, unsurprisingly, outnumber us. You see, in general, we are stretched thin right now. If Central Command is in a bit of a flurry about this (which I bet they are), they're sure keeping quiet about it. But then, they have to maintain an image of professionalism, no matter what the case, you know. It can't be easy at times like this. What the Decepticons are doing here is a complete mystery, but all we know is this: They ain't moving from that spot. They're up to something. Or they've found something.
Having been sent to deal with them, I hate to say we're not doing to good. We've got a number of Autobots who have been injured or maimed from Decepticon fliers who have been running strafing rounds on our position. We also have a few dead.
"They're just playing with us at the moment," Mirage knocks me out of my thoughts, just a few metres to my left.
Leaning with his back to a rock, he is busy reloading his shoulder missile launcher, in preparation for the next Decepticon flier that comes our way. Even further to my left, Sideswipe adds, for all to hear,
"The next Deceptiscum that heads this way is gonna get a kiss from my FIST!"
He sounds like he's enjoying this a little more than he should be, but I haven't come to expect any less from Sideswipe.
"But Sides," I shout to him, "Your jet packs been dried out for…forever."
"Details, details," He just sings, absent-mindedly.
I worry about him. He can be such a stressful friend to have, with all the danger he willingly throws himself into. I can't imagine how the twins deal with each other, BOTH being like that…
All of a sudden, out of the relative hush, a loud whistle-like sound is heard, getting closer and closer…
"MORTAR!" Hounds shouts, nano-kliks before it impacts the ground, metres behind our position. Diving so quickly to the floor that I feel energon jump up my throat, I throw my arms over my head and hope for the best.
This is followed by the feeling of hot metal powerfully speckling parts of my body, and bitter energon flooding my mouth. Then the sound of screaming.
Not my screaming. The screaming of other Autobots not as fortunate as me.
Pushing myself back up onto my knees, I swallow nervously and observe the damage. Despite my audio sensors still ringing painfully from the blast, the sounds of the screams of the injured do not fail to make me feel physically sick. The crippling agony of these screams…you can never forget them.
One Autobot who was metres away from the sight of impact, has such a badly melted face and body, that I can't even recognise who he is. I put a hand over my mouth, staring in horror as his screaming stops when his mouth component melts away…he topples to the ground. I feel all the energon in my fuel tank attempting to make its way up my throat and escape through my mouth, but with great effort, suppress it.
Slowly turning my head, I see a number of dead scattered on the dusty ground. All of whom, nano-kliks ago, were alive and functioning, talking or thinking. Now they are just empty husks.
"They're just softening us up for a strafing round- gunners, have missiles at the ready!" Hound shouts, supporting a young Autobot who is crying, with half an arm missing. The poor kid has obviously cracked under the pressure and pain. Those that crack are just as much casualties as the injured. I suddenly feel a great rush of admiration for Hound, as I notice how composed and serious he's keeping himself- a good officer never panics his soldiers.
"Hey, Blue, that means you," Mirage reminds me as I'm still watching Hound.
"Sure, I know, already on it" I answer, turning around and prepping myself.
As sure as Primus, in the distance, a jet is approaching. A Seeker. Skywarp.
"Slag," Mirage curses beside me, the Seekers often being problematic, to say the least. That probably explains partly why the twins enjoy scrapping with them so much.
"Everyone, lock onto the target," Hound instructs, voice steady. He then says something under his breath that I can't make out.
Focusing forward, I feel my energon pumping, working hard to support my heightened senses- if I get out of this alive, I will be seriously burned out for a while, I'm talking megacycles. Actually, that doesn't sound to bad if it means surviving this.
"BRING IT, YOU OVERRATED SLAG PILE!" Sideswipe rallies, sticking a finger in the air.
Immediately after he says this, a number of us- including myself- gasp, as Skywarp suddenly disappears in plain sight with a flash. Locking systems mysteriously loose their target.
"Uh oh," Sideswipe says flatly.
In a cracking flash, warping the area around him, Skywarp reappears directly to the side of us, weapons blazing,
"DIE AUTOBOT SCUM!"
"TELEPORTING MOTHERFRAGGER!" Roadrocket shouts from somewhere behind me.
In a frenzy, I try to get my missiles locked on him, which, let me tell you, isn't an easy job for someone that moves as fast as him.
"Come on, come on," I urge myself, as I watch Skywarp swoop down and begin his strafing run on our position.
Autobots topple like toy soldiers. My audio receptors are again flooded with the screams and cries of the injured and dieing. And the unmistakable cackle of that twisted slag heap, Skywarp. Laughter and crying. It's deeply unsettling.
Suddenly beside me, with a cry of anguish, Mirage fires his missile, and I literally feel the 'whoosh' of it. I watch it speeding towards its destination (Skywarp's aft) in desperation. It hits one of the retreating Seeker's thrusters. It's the only one to reach its goal, as all other attempts failed hopelessly. I couldn't even get a target. Mirage timed it just right.
I hear cheering by the uninjured, as they witness black smoke gushing from the Decepticon as he attempts to head back from where he came and crash land. The cheering quickly subsides however, as if everyone suddenly remembers all at the same time what damage he's left us with. There's an uneasiness to the fast mood change I can't explain.
"Looks like we got lucky," Mirage says calmly, but I notice his shaking, "He didn't even touch the edges, most of the middle took it."
I nod anxiously, turning to look behind me, where most of the damage was dealt. It's chaos.
"Slag this for a game of toy soldiers…" Sideswipe says, shaking his head as he regards the carnage.
I watch as Ratchet and First Aid move around quickly, yet professionally, trying to sort out the injured by level of severity. The dead are quickly looked over and left. As cold as it seems, nothing can be done for them now.
Some of the injured wail in agony, clutching severed limbs, or gaping holes and torn circuits within themselves. Others sit in shock, unable to make a sound, looking into nothing…I find these to be the most disturbing…
"Everyone, hold your positions," Hound addresses us all steadily, though not quite as steady as before, "Central Command have a shuttle incoming for our retreat. We're outnumbered and outgunned. There's nothing we can do here…" Hound finishes, slightly dejectedly.
I can tell Hound didn't enjoy telling us that. And Sideswipe didn't enjoy hearing it…
"So what, we leave the Decepticreeps to do as they like here? What about all our injured? And dead? Are you telling me they died for nothing?" He fumes.
I can completely relate to what Sideswipe is saying, but also know that, ultimately, this isn't Hound's choice. Wiping soot off of my face with the back of my hand, I look over at Sideswipe,
"Side's, I know what your saying, but this isn't up to Hound,"
He looks at me briefly, before Hound speaks up,
"Listen Sideswipe," Hound says quietly, stepping closer to him, "I'm giving you the orders that I've been given. I'm just as unhappy about this as you. But if we stay, we'll just end up with more injured and more dead. No one wants that. We may have lost this battle, but that doesn't mean we've lost the war. We're just stretched too thin right now, and don't have the required backup." He finishes looking at Sideswipe sincerely.
Sideswipe frowns, turning away defeated,
"This is a slagging joke. Central Command needs a kick up the aft…"
I know how much Sideswipe hates losing. Especially losing comrades. I know him well enough to know that he probably feels crushed right about now, but he'll hide it behind his childish temper…just like how I hide my problems behind all my talking.
I turn to the closest mech to me, in need of conversation,
Staring at his pistol and examining it closely in a dazed like state, he doesn't seem to hear me.
"Mirage?" I ask, becoming somewhat worried.
"Yeah?" He finally looks up a few nano-kliks later. As odd as this sounds, it just doesn't seem to completely be Mirage looking at me right now.
"You…you okay?" I asked.
He ignores my question and goes back to staring at his rifle again.
"Blue, did you hear about the Decepticons executing that group of neutrals recently? Then those two Autobots that tried to stop them…seems to be getting out of hand lately…"
Suddenly I feel my circuits heating up at an alarming rate, my hands starting to twitch. I see Mirage's mouth moving, but I'm not hearing him.
All of a sudden, I'm back in Praxus.
Black smoke floods my olfactory sensors and mouth, its thick tendrils curling all around me, choking me. My sight is limited through all of it, as it billows around like a menacing entity. However, it's not enough to stop me witnessing the slaughter all around me. Not even the slaughter of Autobots: the slaughter of innocent city mechs, who less than a cycle ago, were going about their everyday life. Now, the spectacular shining towers of Praxus are no more than flaming rubble heaps. The Assembly- a massive dome structure that served as a place of education and enjoyment, in subjects such as science, art and teachnology- is no more than a smouldering pile of scrap. The Decepticons blitzed it, and those inside it, so much, that a vicious red heat emanates from it.
Dead mechs litter the floor like a carpet, some on fire, some blown to so many pieces, as if to insure that there would be no hope of survival. I remain frozen where I am, unable to do anything but observe. The familiar memory of feeling paralyzed begins to flood my memory banks…
Then, mere metres away from me, I see a Decepticon aim his rifle at the head of a terrified mech, who doesn't even have time to plead for mercy before his head is blown to the tiniest of pieces The pure brutality of it causes my knees to give way beneath me. I cry out at the horror of this mass execution, for the death of innocents, for the insanity of it all, for my burning home…
The sky over Praxus is red,
"…Blue, answer me already, are you okay?" I hear Mirage asking as I blink my optics, realizing where I am once again. It takes me a few nano-kliks to orientate myself completely. Even so, my head still feels a little cloudy. I suddenly feel bad for Mirage, wondering how long he's been trying to get through to me.
"Blue, you okay?"
"Are any of us really okay?" I hear Sideswipe ask sarcastically, though I detect a hint of seriousness in that…
"Yeah, I'm fine. As fine as can be, given the situation, you know," I answer a bit faster than I intended, just wanting to reassure him, though I am not fine "Sorry."
"Stop being so sorry all the time, just keep yourself alive," Mirage says dully.
Not quite knowing what to say to that, I just nod. I quickly look Mirage over, who is now staring out blankly across the distance, and realize how worn he is. Worn and no doubt mentally fragile. I take this lull in action to take a look around at all the other functioning mechs, and realize that that description could probably be applied to nearly every one of them. Some mechs look completely downtrodden and lifeless. Others look frighteningly alert and restless. One mech that catches my optic, is sitting with his head in his hands, swaying gently side to side…I can't help but think how many of them secretly want to just break down and cry now, or just completely loose their minds.
Hound's voice pulls me away from my observations,
"Okay, the shuttle is landing a klick behind our position, it's as close as it can safely get. We're gonna have to watch our backs as best as possible whilst retreating, as we will be extremely vulnerable. We're going to adopt the leapfrog strategy for our retreat. Starting with the front liners retreating first, up to-"
Hound's instructions are cut short by the all-to familiar sound of a mortar shrieking towards us.
"TAKE COVER!" He shouts, as everyone automatically hits the ground, in anticipation for…
After waiting a little while, I wearily lift my head. Looking around, I notice many others doing the same.
"No boom?" Sideswipe asks curiously
"Maybe it's a dud," Someone shouts out.
Suddenly the eerie silence is filled with hushed chatter. Watching other mechs slowly get back on their feet, I cautiously follow suit, relieved that I'm not hearing the sounds of shredded and melting mechs, but at the same time, confused as to why I'm not.
"Everyone stay away from it," Hound instructs.
Rotating my shoulder, I wince, having slammed it into the ground pretty hard. I see some mechs laughing with each other about the Decepticons failed mortar attack. I don't know how they can be laughing at a time like this, perhaps it's from nervousness. I turn to Mirage, when suddenly I hear screaming,
"ITS NOT A DUD! ITS NOT A DUD!"
I spin around and watch in confusion as a mech I'm unfamiliar with, runs to where smoke is sifting from the ground- where the mortar landed- and throws himself on top of it, smothering it. Nano-kliks after he does so, the mortar blows.
We all hit the ground again. However, the explosion is nothing like the last. Rather than being blasted with searing pieces of scrap, and having the energon sucked out from inside us, we are instead hit by a smaller amount of scrap and, horrifically, pieces of the Autobot who sacrificed himself for all of us.
Unable to move, I lay still on the ground, gasping. Completely shocked by what I have just witnessed. Scared…
"Holy…" Hound breathes, standing up. I've never seen him look as stunned as he does now. Slowly, he walks over to where the mortar exploded. Pushing myself up, I find myself uncontrollably following him.
Standing besides Hound, trying to contain my shaking, I look down at the scene. All that remains is a black hole in the ground, and very few pieces of singed metal. I feel strangely...numb as I look at it.
"What an Autobot…"
I can't say anything, I just stare blankly at what remains of the Autobot. I don't even notice until I look up that a crowd has gathered.
After a few moments of silence, Hound turns away, and hesitantly speaks.
"He will be honoured in death for what he did. This will never be forgotten," He pauses for a moment, "However, we must now continued with our retreat. We cannot risk anymore casualties."
"But we can't just leave them all here!" I blurt out, losing control over my vocaliser, "We can't just leave them alone!"
I know what the Decepticons do to dead Autobots.
"Bluestreak, you know we will retireve the bodies when we're able to," Hound tell's me quietly, walking away. Everyone else slowly begins to disappear.
Suddenly, I feel myself crumbling, and everything hits me right there. Everything that I have seen, all the awful things of war, suddenly seem to be flooding back to me all at once. I stare back at the black hole, feeling my emotions engulf me. I suddenly feel overwhelming pain for the Autobot, feeling incapable of just leaving him here, regardless of the thousands of pieces he's in. And the rest of our dead, they'll just be left here alone, like ghosts in the desert. I know what it's like to be left alone. As much as I want to protest to anyone that will listen to me, for once, I feel myself unable to speak. I feel completely hopeless as I realize there's nothing I can do. I want this all to just stop, to end. I don't want to fight anymore, I don't want anyone to have to fight anymore. I don't want anyone else to die meaninglessly in this war.
I never wanted to fight in a war.
A/N: Thank you for reading, and reviews are always appreciated.