Disclaimer: I, in no way, shape, or form, own the Transformers© franchise or the characters it contains. All publicly recognizable characters are copyrighted to Hasbro, and the respective artists/writers/et cetera. No infringement intended.
Continuity: TF2K7 (Transformers 2007 Movie-verse)
Characters: Barricade, Frenzy
Warnings: War-time violence.
Author's Note: Criticism encouraged, technical points preferable.
It is generally of the mindset among most species across the galaxies that, because something is smaller, it must not be a threat. Perhaps it is a reasonable assumption; after all, with larger, more voracious beings lurking nearby, a slender-built, seemingly scatter-minded creature must not seem much a problem. His limbs were too small to generate crushing force. His armaments were not set to penetrate the thick armor of his enemies. He could be easily and simply destroyed with only minimal force applied.
But to say he was not dangerous? The height of folly.
It was true; he was not as strong, and plating would not buckle beneath his hands. But delicate circuitry was so much more susceptible to a stray claw and nimble fingers. His weapons were not armor-piercing grade, but not all places were so well-protected. And, in truth, his size worked toward his advantage. Unnoted and overlooked, he skittered between the forest of legs that were his larger compatriots, slicing a fuel line here, breaking an array there. Was he not just as deadly as his larger companions? Could not this spastic life form also bring a heavy toll?
The war-builds, they roared and rumbled and raised a great fuss, and thought themselves true warriors for that virtue alone. They were adequate distractions, at the very least.
Ah, but his battlefront – endless lines of passcodes and firewalls, reroutes and subtexts. His was a world they were not equipped to handle – and nor should they. It was not their function to be subliminal. Theirs was the blunt fury; his was the intricacy.
His multiple processors ran at a different level entirely, one that grated on his comrades' nerves. And, as his programming dictated, he processed at such a speed that he often surpassed even the most advanced forms of viruses and artificial sentience. It was difficult to maintain such speeds, causing frequent short outs and feedback loops, but he had long ago grown used to such trivialities. He stuttered, he twitched, he yammered, but he was invaluable to his ilk. Who else could enter this virtual realm, this boundless expanse of theory and logic, and come out intact? Who else had the processing capacity to handle such feats?
None of them. Not even Megatron could boast such.
That was why, he thought, Barricade tolerated him so, while others thought him only a pet pest.
Barricade, yes, the scout, the liar, the trickster – who wore a form not unlike an Autobot's, but a Decepticon to his very core. He appreciated Frenzy's duality. And Frenzy, in turn, appreciated his brute strength, for not always could he rely on speed alone.
What a pair they made.
Frenzy dropped down from the ceiling panel he had clung to, his body compressing into a tight little huddle of struts and gears. His quartet of optics flicked in several directions at once, streaming the information into a complete three hundred sixty degree view of the corridor. Pipe, hall, wall, floor, opposite hall, corner, grate, pipe.
He more undulated than rose to his feet, snapping his miniature rail gun back into place. One last, quick
sweep, and he was off down the hall, skulking along the pipe wall.
A light flickered.
It burst in a burst of sparks and fiber glass.
Frenzy twitched, whining meaninglessly in the back of his manifold vocalizers. He sheepishly withdrew his primary weaponry again, and diverted seventy percent of his immediate attention on his aural net and vibration sensors located in his lesser hands. When the impulses failed to fire, he allowed his concentration to drift again, skittering over and under and around whatever caught his mental gaze.
He cautiously flicked an optic out, checking the hall from around the corner. Pipe, grate, grate, weld mark, wall, wall, grate, scorch damage.
Two bounds and he was airborne, hooking his dexterous fingers into the ample space between the grates. He swung up, hooked his feet beside his hands, and released his original hold, more than able to hold the position as long as necessary. His head swiveled back and forth, taking in both possible points of exit. Confirmed in his solitude, the infiltrator looked again to his handiwork, sliding the miniscule device out from its slot. He checked the wires, the connection, and the settings. Of course, he had checked and re-checked it before he had set out, but had long ago found that it was best to be redundant rather than fast and in tiny, kibble-sized pieces.
Carefully, he set its flat half on the inside of the grate hole, waited for the small click of its adhesive being released, and swung back down to land in his crouch once more.
Three down. One more to go.
Frenzy basked for a moment in his pleasure. Oh, yes, something none of his companions could ever hope to—
His whole body convulsed with the need to do quite the opposite, but he managed to keep his position. There was a reason, after all, he had taken on the disgusting camouflage.
Frenzy sighed as if greatly put upon, and rotated his head to stare up at the mechanism so far above him. A light tank-build, he could see. A fat, short-distance pulse launcher set atop the left side, though he led with his right hand-held; most likely because the resulting explosion from using the launcher in such narrow confines did not appeal. Wide set feet, short legs, a standing fighter. Modeled after the Decepticon style, but lacking the mass and sense of menace.
Not to say he couldn't squish Frenzy like so many microchips at the slightest whim.
"W-w-what's your, tck, pro-oblem, wide load?" Asked the Decepticon, with deliberate prickliness. "C-c-c-c-can't a mech go aaaanywhere without some bulk throwing his m-m-mass aro-und?"
The tank-build frowned, arm lowering only marginally. "What's wrong with your vocalizer?" He asked, albeit uncertainly.
"Virus," Frenzy lied, the word falling from his vocalizer as easily as oil from a ruptured line. Inwardly, he chittered. As if a virus could make it past his firewall or safety net. A whistle-croon broke free of his control, sharp and shrill as fallen rivets striking dead metal.
The Autobot took an involuntary step backward, his body moving out of attack mode. Trusting idiot. "What kind? From where?"
"T-t-t-ake a look, b-b-brassy," Frenzy offered, restraining himself from succumbing to the urge to flail.
"Just… just stay out of my way," the tank-build rumbled, hurrying around the small Decepticon.
Pulp-for-processors tread-headed bulk. Such gullible creatures; tricked by a simple change in optic-hue, and the fool's faith that the bunker was impregnable.
The heavy cla-thud of the Autobot's footfalls faded, swallowed by the narrow corridor. Frenzy diverted a fraction of his mind to his feet, checking for residual vibrations that would warn of another approaching Autobot. It was close enough once over; he doubted his inconspicuously blue optics would save him twice.
Chattering inanely to himself to keep his vocalizer occupied, Frenzy went galumphing down his original itinerary, fingers wriggling with anticipation. Next time, he would not be caught unawares. He would slip up behind any further intruders – no one minded their feet, which was both a blessing and a curse to the miniature Decepticon – and first disable the nearest leg. Using that as a ladder as the mechanism in question would, inevitably, stumble, he would clamber up and sever the impulse-generator. Of course, if he was confronted with a fortress-build, after disabling the knee joint – everyone knew that was a weak point – he would move up and over, to under the shoulder. From there, the circuitry was thin and delicate, protected by the heavy arm armor for the most part from damage. But, if he could but slip one hand inside, he could then—
Corner. One optic was directed toward the next hall in question. Pipe, grate, grate, wall, wall, grate, box.
Frenzy slithered out his primary armament, and palmed a few hand-thrown projectiles for good measure. Cautiously, he extroverted his sensor array, checking for electrical residuals. Minor. Repetitive. Possibly drone machinery, but with near-equal probability such a pattern could be generated by Spark-pulses.
With his free hands, he reached up and touched the wall. His claws flexed, digging into the senseless metal, and he heaved himself up, his feet already reaching up past his locked hand to snag upon the so-conveniently placed pipe. Releasing his dogged hold, he lurched up, grabbed an indentation where a light would have once rested, and pulled himself up into the cranny, hidden from the average-build-height's view.
It really was so kind of the Autobots to leave their bunkers in such disrepair.
Gathering his scattered wits, Frenzy inched forward, crawling toward the lone box. Fairly large. A build type on the smaller side could comfortably hunch behind such cover. As well, a turret could go well there. The position limited its range, perhaps, but could effectively heighten its effectiveness. An unexpected burst of weapons' would rouse the base, even if it was but for a moment.
And, of course, who expected attack from below in this war of the titans?
Frenzy grunted as his face smacked into the end of the indentation. His cover had run out.
Unfolding himself one limb at a time, the saboteur gingerly climbed out, clever claws finding finger-and-toe-holds no other creature would have noted. He climbed silently, effectively, his primary firearm free and pointed at the too-innocuous box the whole while. No war-build could be so foolish as to leave such a thing out by accident, he reasoned. It had to be a trap.
Preparing himself, Frenzy tensed, bunched, and leapt.
And promptly rolled across the floor into the opposing wall when his wild dive met nothing but unresisting air.
Catching himself, he flexed back into an upright position, optics swiveling madly. No drone, no Autobot trap. Nothing.
No wonder those glorified frag-drones were losing this war.
Frenzy again got to his feet, leaving the could-have-been trap behind. Decepticons would not have let a ploy – even one so obvious – slide by. True, it would not have gotten a crafty mechanism, but at least they could have made the attempt to be prepared. One never knew when a gear-head would happen by.
Slipping his jagged projectiles back into their various compartments, Frenzy took the last four corners with no further interruptions. Occasionally, a light would gutter, but that was to be expected. The so-called
'bunker' (with the defensive protocol of a ware house, honestly) was running on self-generated energy, after the lines had been cut to the city. No doubt they thought themselves safe, as their base could hold its own against a threat indefinitely, so long as the walls held. The Decepticons could not hope to breach such defenses alone, and certainly not before reinforcements could come.
He wondered what they would do if they knew a host of Decepticons waited outside, for only a flick of his finger to let them in.
Barricade idled beside the ransacked building, keeping a sensor trained on the emptiness that laid so invitingly between himself and the bunker. It had been ironic, he had thought, when the Autobots had turned on their own precious city, detonating the well-placed explosives before the Decepticons had even breached their perimeter. The explosion had been charming enough, from a distance. He wondered what those poor fools still huddled inside their homes had thought of it.
It was a clever strategy, he would give them that; no one could hope to make it across the flat expanse of nothingness alive, not with the turrets, and the constant snipers. A few refugees had tried, at first, brave idiots all. Out of boredom, the Decepticons allowed the breach of their lines. When the so-called neutrals had decided that it was too much risk to run out toward the base so, the one-time protectors deliberately… persuaded them otherwise, compelling the unfortunates to run across the gap. They ran, screaming out variations of the same plea, and were subsequently shot down by their own kin while the Decepticons looked on. It made the waiting more tolerable, being able to stare out and watch the garish paint of the city-bots rust and fade by time and elements. But, ultimately, it was a futile gesture.
What misguided hero would dare such peril only to pound ineffectively at the thick, high walls, unable to get beyond and into the heart of the compound? Truly, it was unbreakable by any show of power.
But that was where the Autobots had proven their foolishness. They were Decepticons, and brute force was by no means their only method of entry.
His engine purred, and he slowly wheeled backward from his perch, cruising around for another angle. A passing round of ammunition went pathetically wide of his form, no doubt triggered by the unexpected movement before the Autobot had had time to properly align his targeting system. Barricade had great doubt that they would be able to peg him at such a range, and often taunted the snipers at the borderline of wasteland, betrayed only by the play of light across his glossy coating.
As he picked his way through ruined streets, dim optics turned to track his progress, the only evidence of the occupation of the city. They were all under strict orders; nothing overt, nothing to give away their numbers or relative strength. Fear – especially the fear of the unknown – was such an effective tool, and one the former Guardians were more than well-acquainted with.
They had done nothing yet, and already the Autobots had leveled more than half their own home base, used more ammunition than was practical against targets too far away to confirm the hit's success, and had effectively been cut off from the rest of their forces.
It was a beautiful thing, this self-destruction. His role had been no small part, and for that, the Autobots would hate him. Well, would hate him specifically, if, of course, any of them were lucky enough to survive the coming purge.
Barricade drew to a halt, staring out from the shadow of a partially collapsed wall. A skirl of pride went through him as he again beheld the lonely ruin that had once been the most industrious district of the city. In the center, its squat, ugly form like a lesion of disease, the bunker waited, glaring out and bristling as it waited for an attack that, frankly, would not come.
Why bother to strike the beast that was perfectly willing to destroy itself?
The single pulse signal ran like an idle claw down his servos. It was low, quiet, and well beyond any Autobot's capability of understanding.
Barricade focused all his attention on the bunker, at the imminent culmination of all his long work. His body quivered in anticipation—
And the skyline was alight with fire.
It rose in a great blossom from the heart of the bunker, in shades of orange and Decepticon-red, the flag of chaos calling her children to slaughter. Roiling, boiling blackness flared upward and outward, endeavoring to devour the very stars. Streaking tails of liquid fire trailed across the seething, oily smoke, disappearing into the rubble far beyond the bunker, screams trailing in their wake.
Bathed in flickering death-light, Barricade trembled, gratified beyond measure.
And below the glorious display, the far-flung arms and tongues of flame, a colder death surged forward. Decepticons poured out from their temporary haunt, their roars of defiance lost beneath the scream of tortured metal. The first wave of Autobots – those luckless wretches not immediately catapulted free of their prison-home – staggered from the chasm that had once been a wall. The Decepticons took them in a wave, the smaller forms disappearing amongst the mass of giants.
Barricade edged forward, almost taken by the urge to join in the fray. His core programming pushed him on, his Decepticon Spark screaming for clatter and clash and death.
But he asserted himself. He was Barricade. He was the infiltrator. Not a combatant. It was not his primary function.
Reluctantly looking away from the tempting opening, the sleek Decepticon crept free of his refuge, making his way toward the largely undamaged half of the bunker. His scanners swept every dark corner, every nook and cranny for the barest trace of life.
\Frenzy,\ Barricade called via communication link, not bothering to test his vocalizer against the music of combat.
The spy slid free of the gap that, by rights, should not have been sufficient to hide his body mass. Casting wary optics in both directions, the small Decepticon trotted toward his compatriot, hunched low to the ground. He vaulted the last few meters, diving into Barricade's open door.
Pleasure radiated from him in a palpable wave as Barricade turned his bumper to the burning husk, heading back for the freshly emptied collection of structures. Could it be called a city any longer if it held no more inhabitants? It was a question he often pondered after each target was eliminated, a fancy he indulged from time to time.
"D-d-did you miss mmmmme?" Frenzy asked, at liberty to give in to all the spasms and twitches that had to be quelled for the sake of his missions.
"You were late," Barricade replied. "Nearly ninety-two nanokliks."
"Bah, s-s-s-some innnnterfereeeence, tck, dealt w-with," Frenzy yammered, head bobbling back and forth as he kept his gaze trained between his diminishing handiwork and the windshield. "Tank build, wannaaaa-be. Tck.
"Did you retrieve the data files?"
Frenzy graced him with an affronted look.
"Of course," Barricade allowed, flipping out his screen and keyboard for Frenzy's manipulation. The infiltrator set to work, one set of hands hardwiring him into the network while his other two prepared it for upload. Barricade watched with interest, taking in the scrolling information. "Not much worth the effort."
"Tck. All t-t-they had."
"All you found," Barricade corrected.
"N-n-no fun. W-w-w-what's next?" Data deposited, Frenzy pulled his various wires and taps free, and settled back into a comfortable position, hands folded above his wire-thin midsection.
If Barricade had been capable, he would have smiled. Despite the lack of facial or body cues, he knew Frenzy would pick up upon his aural delight. "Iacon," He said, savoring the word, its echoes tingling along every fiber of his being. Home that was not home, their station and their prison for so long.
Frenzy hesitated, hardly daring to believe their luck. "I-I-Iacon? We-we're taking, tck, Iacon?"
Barricade rumbled his engine in confirmation.
His minute counterpart cackled and jittered with glee, rolling about in his seat. "I-Iacon will burn soooo pretty. Data – so much data," he chortled, a quick, razor-sharp sound.
"They won't destroy the capital, even if we're right at their gates." Barricade said, divulging the information with only the slightest bit grudgingly. Information was their sustenance, their life, after all; too much given away, or too little gleaned, and they put their very beings at risk.
But this was a comfortable situation for both long-time partners. Frenzy could damage him, perhaps, if he so wanted. But Barricade could crush him into convenient parts with a transformation, should he wish it.
With the mutual threat overhanging, and neither in a position to change the play of power, they were at liberty to be somewhat accommodating. Until, eventually, the partnership became stale.
Then, of course, anything was fair game.
Frenzy giggled, fingers waggling until they were blurs of silver. "So much, so much, so much!" He said, almost faster than Barricade could follow. His blue optics, incongruous to his true nature, turned toward the north, where the capital remained above and apart, untouched by the war that had so ravaged Cybertron's surface.
"I think, Frenzy," Said Barricade, at last breaking into a free, clear road. His peeled forward, leaving behind the desolate expanse that had once been Praxus, his mind already far away, to streets of shining light.
"I think it's time we welcomed our friends home."