Disclaimer: Transformers © Hasbro/Takara. Any and all creative liberties are by the author, and in no way are connected to The Powers That Be.

Inspired by the LJ prompts.

The Second Set : The Theory of Everything

Log Entry #18: Whispers in the Night – Not all of them see eye to eye.

Almost the entire patrol was in stasis, and he knew it had nothing to do with their energy levels. They were doing this out of spite, and who could blame them? After all they were the ones stuck with the young contradictory Decepticon commander, the one they mocked for being so small, the one they derisively called "Autobot" behind his back…and in his faceplates. Then he'd sink his long fingers in through the cracks and wedges, and tear off their armor plating, insulted into a rage and at the same time desperate to prove them wrong, but the ridicule never stopped.

Frenzy said there was no way he was reaching the top on his own, yet he could find no one who would tolerate him for more than a patrol shift. He was a stranger to the other Decepticons, a new face who was shouldering his way through the ranks from nameless shock trooper to squad commander, an arrogant little glitch who should know better than to try and outcompete the older, more experienced former gladiators turn commanders and lieutenants.

Maybe he should just toss Frenzy into one of the giant tanks at the remains of the hazardous materials treatment plant they were hiding in the shadows of, forget what Starscream did to him at Ky-Alexia, and do whatever on Cybertron he wanted.

He glared down at Frenzy, who tilted its head, chattered at him, turned around, and darted off down the giant pile of rubble to heckle at the resting patrol team. The neutral hadn't been the same since one of the Autobot Aerials nearly crushed it during a battle fifty megacycles ago at the outskirts of the Kalis district. He wasn't sure which Frenzy he hated more – sneaky and smart or sneaky and ridiculous.

Chunks of infrastructure tumbled down the mountain of debris, and Barricade turned around to glare at the disturbance; Flamewar climbed over a broken pipeline and perched on a jagged metal pinnacle at the top of the heap of metals across from him. Red pinpricks glowed down at him.

Unnerving. «What do you want?»

«I'm doing my job,» was the cool reply, «unlike the glitching idiots down there. If the Autobots hit us now, they deserve to get caught.»

She crouched down, the giant cannon in her grips at the ready.

«How good are you with that thing?»

«This? Built it myself. Was a scientist at Nova Cronum – pyrotechnics and engineering. What did you do before the war?»

He hated the question, loathed it with such intensity that his optics fairly sparked red gold. «I did nothing

«Really? Wasted away those astrocycles doing nothing? How unproductive. What did you do, sit around and watch the stars contract or explode in supernovas while your armor rusted?»

He hated the femme's condescending tone. «Nobody wanted me around; they kicked me from district to district, north to south until I found myself in the middle of an underground arena with some lowlife's head in my hands. What do I owe a planet that didn't care-»

«How long were you a gladiator?»

«Only a few megacycles. Didn't get a chance. Why, what about it?»

«A virtual nobody, and yet in the Decepticons' rough-and-tumble hierarchy you managed to make it to squad commander. I'm impressed.»

'Squad commander' was nothing to be impressed about. Most of the Decepticons were commanders…of Decepticon drones, and that was a necessity. «Nothing's impressive until you get to the top.»

A chunk of concrete tumbled down the hill. Flamewar rose to her feet, shifting her cannon from grip to grip. «You want to reach the top?»

Did she actually ask that? «I thought everyone wanted to reach the top. Am I out of the loop here, just like every other time?»

Flamewar was laughing at him. «It depends on how you get there…and how much you want to get there.»

She was still laughing at him. First a slew of questions and now mockery. Trying to find a toehold, he quickly said, «What do you do for the Decepticons?»

«I engineer weapons of war.» Flamewar tilted her head towards her cannon. «While Shockwave holes himself up in an empty city pretending to research alien metals, I actually put them to practical use. An army is nothing without weapons, and communication lines; Soundwave provides the communication and I help produce the weapons. And if you must know, I'm also a part-time saboteur.»

He glowered at her. «Yeah, whatever.»

A few blissful cycles went by. Then, «So why did you choose the Decepticons?»

What the- «What does it matter to you?»

The femme turned her head towards him slowly. «You had me at 'Nothing's impressive until you get to the top'. Don't recall it?»

Barricade considered leaving the question unanswered, abandoning his self assigned post, and heading downhill to help Frenzy heckle their temporary squad mates. «Word for word. So what?»

Flamewar jumped from place to place down the mountain of debris she was perched on, and strode up to him. One hand on her hip, the other precariously balancing the huge cannon on her shoulder, she looked down at him, optics glowing brightly as she said, «Don't you just hate feeling left out of everything? You nearly lost your life leading the charge that won Ky-Alexia and all the credit went to Lieutenant Starscream. You kept your cool when that Autobot femme disrupted the ranks during the Altihex siege and nearly brought down both Blitzwing and Bonecrusher; they forgot you while promoting both Astrotrain and Sunstorm for finally sweeping the Autobots out of their stronghold. Before the war you were thrown out of almost every district from Iacon all the way down to Kaon; it was CSF Commander Silverbolt who chased you out of every single one of them, too. Didn't think you belonged anywhere, with your temper and roughhousing tendencies. And you thought joining the Decepticons, who were all big brutes, would make you feel like you belonged.»

He told only Lieutenant Soundwave that when he first asked to join the then fledgling Decepticon army. And Frenzy, before it became the epitome of a glitching virus. So how did she, a Decepticon he didn't know existed until twenty-two megacycles and three cycles ago, know that?

«Soundwave gave me the transcripts,» she said before he could ask. «So what are you going to do, Barricade? Knowing you're nothing like the others, how are you going to climb to the top? And where are you going to stop? You want to reach the lieutenants? Or do you actually dare to-»

Barricade rose to his feet, and the femme was forced to tilt her head up to look into his optics. «Who the slag do you think you are? What's with the questions? Why are you digging into my past? Why do you even care

Her faceplates were smiling. By the damn Allspark… «Because you're not like us.»

And then she stopped talking. He seriously wanted to fist his hand and dent in her face. At the same time he wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake her until she kept talking – what did she mean by that?

«Thunderwing was a scientist at Nova Cronum-»

«What does a traitor have to do-»

«-and I worked with him for several astrocycles – eleven, to be exact. The only thing I ever did was help him put together research files on the advancement of the average mech's internal weapons systems from Vector Prime's reign up to that of Optimus Prime and Lord Megatron, but I also discovered a few incomplete linked files on five Cybertronians and the only one remotely close to completion was on you.»

Now things were way over his head. How did this nonsense go from pointless interrogation to that traitorous Thunderwing? Now wary, he slowly asked, «What did it say?»

Oh how he hated that smile on her faceplates. «He sized you up, asked Ravage to send him video files of your behavior in the various districts you visited. He noted that you were unusually small for a mech and yet very fast like a femme. He was drawing out your infrastructure and adding notes to your bizarre mentality…and he left it off there. What do you think he was talking about, Barricade?»

He was floored. He was just floored. Like Flamewar said, he's always been at the receiving end of all sorts of slag and shit, but what by any stretch on Cybertron was this secret file that the absolutely insane Thunderwing kept on him? Barricade didn't care how much bigger his opponents – Autobot, Decepticon, Neutral – were or how fast he was compared to them. Mentality? He sure as slag wasn't crazy. All he ever did was survive, and keep surviving.

In the end all he said was, «I don't know.»

«You know Thunderblast?»

Scientists were always bad news. Scientist-saboteurs, which he'd never heard of until now, were freaks. «What

«The only Triple-Changing femme on Cybertron. That was the only thing he noted in his notes when I found them. The Autobot Bumblebee – nothing, except a statement from Nova Cronum's resident medical mechanic refusing to let Thunderwing anywhere near the little glitch. And Thunderwing never labeled the other two files. The only thing I managed to pick up from all of this was that all three of you are very, very young. Might be among the last of the Cybertronians the Allspark created before the war. Now I wouldn't know anything about Cybertronian evolution – that's Thunderwing and Shockwave and a couple other dead scientists – but I know a remarkable weapons system when I see one. Don't kill yourself for the next several astrocycles; I want a good look at you off the battlefield.»

She turned her head away, began to walk off. «If you want their respect, force them to respect you. They value nothing but sheer power and authority. Show them you mean business, throw your weight around to prove your point. You want to know why Blitzwing is so crazy? No, you don't, but I'll tell you anyway – he mocked me and he paid for it with his sanity, and that 'sanity' almost got him killed at Altihex. Now none of the mechs and neutrals even think about crossing my path. You don't mess with a femme who knows what she's doing. Go wake the glitches up; Buzzsaw just spotted a group of Autobots near the broken bridges. I'm going to do some recon.»

The femme strode away, sliding the cannon off her shoulder and hefting it with both hands as she disappeared into the shadow of the plant's skeletal remains. Barricade stared after her for a few kliks before heading downhill towards the other Decepticons.

She was crazy. Thunderwing was crazy. Shockwave was crazy. Blitzwing was crazy. The Allspark was crazy. That talk was crazy. Everything was crazy. And Ky-Alexia, how did she know that? He didn't think someone would sympathize with his forgotten role in the battle, but someone did.

Frenzy, the spindly little silver neutral, bounded up to him as he made his descent, and started jumping around his feet. «I saw, I saw, I saw! She's interested in you, isn't she? Fancy that, somebody doesn't hate Barricade! Hee, hee, I jammed a rod into Octane's gears; let's see him try to get out of stasis now-»

Barricade decided he definitely didn't like sneaky and ridiculous, and kicked the neutral all the way across the clearing down below before continuing to make his way downhill.

Author's Note: This glitching piece of slag oneshot! Why is it late? Because I couldn't make it perfect. I hope this starts explaining Barricade a little more, though. He needs a lot of work.

Reviews are deeply appreciated.

Preview: The theory of everything.