My Madness, My Saving Sanity
Chapter One: Amnesty
Author's note: While this is G1 based, I've made Starscream a blend of his G1 and Armada personalities just because I find the dichotomy of it fascinating. It takes place in no particular timeline, following no particular events. Also, please review politely. If you haven't something nice to say, keep it to yourself please.
It was funny. I never thought about just how I would die.
I suppose, if I'd given it more than a fleeting thought in my dreaming youth, I might have believed my death would occur after a great achievement of some kind, having left my mark on the world. If I had given it more of a thought in my growing years I would have thought it would be in some glorious battle, guns blasting at my enemies, companions mourning my passing with fury when I went down. A warrior's death, filled with honor, glory and respect. Or at least, that was the romantic ideal that I cherished secretly… there was no way I would ever admit to it amidst my comrades. They would have laughed themselves silly. I had my reputation, after all. However, I never imagined it would be like this, beaten and defeated, abandoned alone on a god-forsaken planet with no one even thinking twice about what had happened to me.
Irony, it seemed, had a severe sense of humor.
I wasn't even aware how much time had passed, my chronometer was severely damaged, and likely missing altogether. I couldn't tell, my diagnostics were down, which was likely just as well… I'm certain I wouldn't have liked the readings. The only insufferable thing, other than the agonizing pain that refused to shut off, was that I knew I was not dead, and my death would be long in coming.
He'd planned it that way, after all.
He thought it was funny, leaving me here forgotten, unimportant. He thought it suited me.
He was probably right, it WAS funny.
How did I end up this way, you might ask? Do you REALLY have to ask? I finally crossed him one too many times. He got tired of my treachery. It was as simple as that. I had pushed his buttons once too many, and despite his insanity in keeping me around and actually not listening to my advice, he finally got one rational thought and decided I was more trouble than I was worth. He'd put up with my antics long enough, and finally snapped.
The pity was, he still possessed that insane masochistic streak that required he do his best to cause suffering to those who cross him.
No, I'm not bitter. Perhaps I'm a bit sarcastic and laughing at myself. It's easy to reflect back on your life when all you have is time to think back on your mistakes. But if given the chance to do it again, would I? I honestly couldn't be sure. Events have a way of changing you. If I could have talked to that young sparkling I once was, I would have told him to not be drawn in by the bids of glory and conquest presented to his young optics. I would have slapped him silly for thinking a life of battles and action was exciting.
On the other hand, I REALLY couldn't see myself chained to a laboratory for the remainder of my life.
Stop feeling sorry for yourself, what good does that do anyone?
I could hear his voice chiding me now: the only person who I truly could have called a friend, the only one I had actually trusted in my life. Now that I thought about it, that was rather sad in and of itself. Trusting only one person, most would have said it was pathetic and just showed how shallow and insecure I was. I preferred to think of it as a survival tactic. The less people you trusted, the more chance you had to avoid being betrayed. It was how I had skated by all these years under His command. It had served me well, up until now. I had gotten sloppy.
Though, I suppose the point had been made by now… without friends, who was going to care that I was here thinking such thoughts of abandon.
Yeah, go ahead and laugh. You're right, there is some humor in the situation. At least it's something positive out of this slagging situation. One last glimpse of amusement before I pass into the stars for good.
Of course, it had been a fragging long time as it was… I was beginning to wonder if I would, could, ever die. Most ordinary mechs would have long since been offline, but yet something seemed to be stubbornly holding me to this world. I pondered on it as I had nothing better to do.
Perhaps it was my curse, punishment for the deeds I've done. Yes, even I'm not proud of most of them. I'm not as dumb as everyone thinks, I just act that way to dissuade them of the real genius that I hide within. If they knew how smart I truly was, that I had won outstanding commendations in my youth for achievements on global proportions, they might have seen me as a bigger threat, and of course that would have interfered with my plans. But it was times like this when I felt the humiliation truly wasn't worth it. At times I felt it was penance. After all, despite being trained for war, we had SOULS buried deep down within.
Some of us just hid them better than others.
Primus must be laughing somewhere…
He certainly had a sense of humor, having resurrected ME from what I once had been…
How long I lay there, I could not say. My consciousness faded in and out of memories buried somewhere deep within my processor, memories I had taken care to hide behind carefully constructed walls of my own making. However, I was not to remain solitary in my last hours.
My awareness snapped back to reality as I noticed something. The ground quivered slightly with footfalls that my audio receptors could not hear, for they had also been damaged. I could hear, see and monitor nothing. Only the vibrations of the earth beneath me told me that I was no longer alone. I couldn't even tell who it was that stood over my battered body. It could be anything from friend to foe. I hoped secretly it were the latter. At least my misery would be at an end, were that the case. Unfortunately, luck was not with me. I felt hands carefully lifting my battered form from it's resting place on the ground, more than one pair at that. Whoever it was took the care to be gentle, careful not to jar anything loose. It was a sympathizer to my condition then, or one who at least wanted to salvage parts or information from my processors. A pity I could give them no sign of my awareness, not that I knew what was happening anyway. I had no control, no power of my own.
It was humiliating.
It seemed ages of jarring actions, each step causing pain to shoot up my frame in fiery flashes of white hot agony. As I could make no sound nor movement, I had to bear the pain in silence, and bear it I did. I had little choice. Eventually the jarring steps stopped, and I felt my body being lowered down and placed on something hard and even, obviously not the barren rocks that inhabited this backwater little planet. I surmised it was a ship of some sorts, though could not determine more than that. I knew there were no dwellings or inhabitants of this rock, therefore those who had found me had come and purposely taken me with the intention of removing me from this location. For whatever purpose, I couldn't yet fathom. I likely wouldn't know until much later, if and when they repaired enough systems for me to know what was going on.
It turned out I was right. Again, time held little meaning. I couldn't even go into recharge, there was nothing systematically functioning to require it. Only my processor functioned at full capacity, constantly running with the internal monologue that did not permit me any reprieve. Fortunately, I had always been resourceful when it came to talking to myself. There were calculations I could permeate, diagnostics of planets and asteroids I could run, and even comparative analysis of the pathetic planet I'd been looking at before this whole incident started. I had nothing but time at the moment. I was on the fifth atmospheric analysis since I'd begun when suddenly realized someone was yanking something near my chest area. It was incredibly disconcerting, as I knew it was near my spark casing, and to boot it was very painful. But I could do nothing to stop the actions from occurring. However after a moment, all the pain abruptly shut off. Thank Primus, they finally discovered that my pain receptors were on. It was shortly after that they discovered my processor was online, and suddenly I knew nothing more, as I sank into blissful blackness.
Everything came on with a crackle through my damaged audio receptors. I could feel someone tinkering with them, muttering curses in our native tongue as he adjusted parameters. I could tell immediately that it was a patch job, as everything sounded tinny and thin, as if broadcasted through one of those small human radios. I could make out the words, but couldn't quite pin the voices and who they belonged to. Perhaps I had taken a stronger hit to my head than I had thought.
"You're SURE he's still alive?" Came a disgusted tone of disbelief.
"I told you, his spark is pulsing, it's not gone out yet, though it DOES look kinda odd.. He's alive, despite all odds. Don't ask me how."
"You think you can fix him?"
"I'm not a medic, but I know a thing or two about fixing systems." The voice came closer. "I believe I've fixed his audio receptors. He can hear us now, but won't be able to reply."
"And what good is that?"
"He knows he's safe, stupid. That counts for something."
"A lot of good it does him right now."
"You want to help instead of making snide comments? Be my guest."
"You know, the boss's gonna be asking where we are if we spend too long here."
"Let him." Came the irritated reply.
I thought it was curious. Why would anyone come looking for me, let alone be concerned? Though my thoughts were sluggish, I thought I knew who these two were. I would not have gone so far to call them friends, but they were comrades. My two fellow wing mates who often held me in high contempt rather than respect…
And they had come for me.
A burning feel of rage bubbled to the surface as I wondered one thing: why? Why had they come, most likely despite orders or lack thereof. This meant that HE didn't know they were here, that they had saved me, or there would have been hell to pay. Which meant they were either MIA, or on a cover mission. Why, though? Why would they risk their lives, their careers, for me? I certainly wouldn't have done the same for them, nor given it a second thought. Comrades perhaps, but not worth my own life. We were soldiers. We thought only of ourselves, only for our own lives and the future beyond. I would not have thought twice at leaving them if I thought them dead in the midst of battle.
Did they think the same?
Obviously not, or they wouldn't be here now. Curios.
Anger flooded through my processor. Anger at them for being fools at having such soft sentimental emotions, unbefitting of elite soldiers. Anger at my commander for putting them in danger by forcing them to hide the fact they were helping me. Anger at myself for suddenly realizing I'd been taking their presence for granted.
They had come for me. That was more than I had ever expected of anyone, and it sent a jarring course of strange emotions I had bottled up for ages through my very spark.
Through the following days, I knew they were working hard to repair the damage. Slowly systems came online one by one. My diagnostics remained offline, as did my optics for most of it until at last I was brought online to a static-filled black and white display of my surroundings through one functioning optic that had a very obvious crack running through the prism. The other remained dark. Squinting, I found myself in a small obviously abandoned facility, laying on what must have been a table of sorts, as I knew my elevation was too high to be on the floor. The walls were rusty and covered in filth, and I knew that it was fortunate my olfactory sensors were offline, as no doubt the place would stink.
A face drew closer to my optic, and a quick scan revealed it was one of two familiar ones I had assumed had been my 'saviors'. Unfortunately due to my lack of color designation, I couldn't tell which he was. However, it didn't take long to determine the answer as he spoke up. "So you're awake." The voice was clearer now, obviously my self-repairing systems had latched onto the damaged audio receptors and begun their work. "About time."
I didn't reply, though my diagnostics were offline it was easy to determine that there was no capability of speaking at this point. Something was disconnected. Solemn familiar eyes watched me calmly with a scrutinizing gaze that I found rather unnerving. I always had found my 'twins' to be an unnatural reminder of our origins. We three built of the same mold, yet very different beings. I was headstrong and ambitious, while the others were calm and patient and wild and unpredictable, respectively. We complimented one another nicely, which was perhaps why we worked so well together. But it didn't explain their loyalty to attempting to salvage my life. Was it a bond of familiarity, or merely loyalty to their commanding officer that drew them to me? I felt an odd twinge in my spark, realizing that it was in their hands that my spark's existence lay. I didn't like owing anyone anything. I existed to serve myself, and relied on no one. Knowing my fate lay in their hands was extremely unnerving.
Thundercracker seemed not to care either way, and continued to regard me coolly. "You're one lucky son of a glitch, you realize? How you're not dead is beyond me." I simply stared back at him in what I hoped was a defiant expression, though I had no clue if it came across as such; I couldn't feel my facial plates one way or another. Either way, he seemed unimpressed. "I'm going to bring your diagnostics back online now. You need to know there's no way I can repair all this damage." He crossed his arms defiantly. "I'm not a medic. This is way out of my league. I kept you from bleeding out, but you need complete structural repairs. You're just a pile of parts right now, most of which isn't even connected." I simply shuttered my functioning optic and looked away, not wishing to discuss my condition with him. Why couldn't he have been satisfied to leave me be, let the elements claim me. "Hey." His voice was irritated now. "Don't you look away from me. You got us into this mess by letting your aft get handed to you. You OWE us." I opened my optics again, seeing him glaring my direction. "We're risking our own necks to save yours, so you'd better be grateful."
Why should I? Grateful for what? Bringing me back to a world of barely functioning systems? Back to a world where I must watch my back constantly? What good would that do me? Why did he feel he owed me anything at all? Surely it couldn't be loyalty. Our kind had little loyalty, and if any it was normally directed towards the one commanding us all. What did he feel he owed me to save my life and skirt orders likely given. He seemed to guess what was running through my mind, for a sharp jab to my processors initialized a sequential flood of information that began to inundate my processors with new data. I cringed at the damage. Ruptured energon lines, severed limbs, fried circuits, damaged systems, and missing parts. Optics severely damaged, facial plates partially missing, cranium severely damaged, vocal processors missing, audio receptors on the mend, chassis and armor ripped and shredded, wings completely missing, weapons physically ripped out of their sockets, and while one leg was still attached if barely, the other was missing, as was an arm. HUD damaged, trans-scan and transformation impossible, communications offline… the list went on. I'd been right. I really didn't want to know the damage. But it was too late now. I was slightly impressed, considering my companion was not a medic, he had done remarkably well given the fact I knew that I had been much closer to death before his timely intervention. I had many questions, and it was frustrating knowing I could not communicate a single one to him.
He seemed to sense my frustration, for turned back to his work, tinkering with some main lines that connected my lower extremities. "I don't want to even know what you did or said to piss Megatron off this time. But you really got him steamed." Optics flicked my way, as I held his gaze. "He ordered anything to do with you purged, you know. As far as the rest go, you're officially dead. No one even knows you're alive, except Skywarp and me."
Great, I thought wryly. And this was supposed to cheer me up? At least it meant no one would be looking for me, but what of them? In a way I felt slightly relieved at this turn of events. If I pulled out of this, it would be the out that I needed to get away from Megatron once and for all, go and start over… forget everything, start my own life, my own goals, stop living in his shadow.
I felt a sharp twinge and suddenly pain flooded back into my processors as a switch activated somewhere near his work. Unfortunately, I could still utter no sound, no communication, nor move any portion of my body to react, and had to bear the pain in silence, before it shut off again, as I heard a loud click. "That should do it. You'll be able to use that leg again. The other's going to be a problem though." Optics slid over towards me, studying me calmly. "I know you're gonna hate the idea, but I think we need to bring in a specialist. We could hire a neutral, and with the damage you have no one would recognize you anyway. You're practically ripped down to your protoform." My optic narrowed in response, skeptical at his assumption, and he simply shrugged. "Fine. I'll do what I can, but I'm not a medic. You want to talk, fly and walk again, you're going to need someone trained in more than basic field repairs."
A specialist, paid impartial repair-bot or not, would be trouble. If none knew I lived other than my wing mates, then I had no enemies searching for me. All it took was a single word, a small hint or rumor and my life could well hang in the balance again. While it might not have been distressing to put an end to my pathetic existence, I did feel some hesitation when thinking of my wing mates. They should not suffer for helping me, not after putting their necks on the line. But did I truly not resemble the once proud warrior I had been? That in itself was distressing enough.
Unfortunately, I had little choice but to simply wait it out.
The repairs took excruciatingly long. I wasn't sure what excuse he had given, however he continued to do what he could to assist my systems in regenerating. It wasn't long, therefore, before I finally was able to twitch my attached limbs a little, and the connections to my basic functions were restored. I still had a communications blackout, and that was explained when finally I managed to tilt my head to catch a glimpse of my reflection in his polished cockpit on his front chassis. I looked like scrap. It was no wonder he had said none would recognize me. My once proud helmet had been torn off, revealing bare processor showing beneath shattered chassis, one optic had cracks and chips running through it's glowing red facets, the other was completely torn out with only wires exposed from the socket, and I could see holes and gaps everywhere in my upper chest plating, scorched and twisted metal that bared to the parts exposed beneath. I looked like a completely different mech, and had I not known I was myself, I would not have recognized my own face. No longer the proud visage of the Strategic Air Commander, what lay before me was a broken shell of the proud warrior I had been.
It gave me a whole new perspective on my existence.
They both came and went over the cycles. Sometimes they were gone for long periods of time, sometimes they would come and go frequently. I understood the reason, stealth and cover. However, I found it increasingly difficult to focus on anything positive without their familiar presence gracing my side. Where was I to go, even given the remote possibility that I might be repaired enough for a functioning life? If it were known that I lived, I would be pursued. I clearly could not lead a rebellion in my condition. I felt a tight pain in my spark as the realization hit. I would not be able to fly again… not as I was now. The pain of this knowledge was worse than any of the physical pain that I had faced. To have the one thing I enjoyed taken from me after this long… it was as if someone had delivered a blow to my spark itself.
This wasn't like me, I realized. I was proud, vain and strong. None had ever been able to take me down before, not Autobot nor any other… Well that wasn't completely true. Megatron… Megatron was the ONLY mech who was strong enough to put me in this state. Megatron, the one whom I so desperately hated with every fiber of my being. I loathed him so deeply that I tried at every opportunity to thwart his every move. It was no wonder I had received such a brand as a traitor, backstabbing coward. I would do anything I could to get my way, even if it meant humiliating myself.
Was it worth it?
I was beginning to question that now. Pride was both a strong point and a weak point for myself. I was proud of who and what I was, proud of my intelligence and wit, proud of my skills. I was strong, smart and to be feared.
I was also made into a laughingstock for the entire Decepticon army on a regular basis.
At whose hands?
You guessed it.
The pain, the humiliation, the constant repairs from his wrath… it was insufferable at best, and just plain torture at the worst.
So what was I to do now? I couldn't go back to Megatron's ranks, the death warrant had officially been sent out to ALL mechs, bounty hunters and all those others who would gladly kill me for free. But I wasn't about to just give up my thirst for Megatron's head. He had to pay for what he'd done to me… I know that I'd thought this a million times before, but suddenly I realized it was the only thing I had left… No command, no body, no safety, where could I turn?
It was then I realized, I had to make a decision.
When Thundercracker returned, I had already committed myself. Sure, it might have been an insane plan, but then since when had I ever stuck to the mundane?
We had worked out a system of communication, given my silent state. A flicker of the optic I still had left in a pattern could pass simple thoughts along, but not complex statements. Therefore relaying my idea to him was not as simple as it seemed.
"Feeling any better?" he asked conversationally as he continued his work. I replied with a flash of my optic, one blink for yes, two for no, and three for an alternative response. I indicated three blinks, which drew his attention. "What?" He asked, frowning down at me. "Pain?"
"Ok, you thought about bringing a specialist in?"
"Good." He seemed relieved. "I'm sick of repairing your aft. Megatron's already getting suspicious why we keep vanishing and parts go missing. I can get Hook, if we're careful, he'd never say no to a challenge even if it IS you."
"What? He's the best we've got."
"What do you mean no. Do you know someone better?"
That had him pause as he stared at me with a clearly bemused expression. Then it dawned on him. "You're not thinking…" He trailed off with a thoughtful frown. I indicated yes again. "You're nuts. They find out who you are, you're toast, you know that."
"You still think it's a good idea?"
"I guess it's better than the alternative." He mused. Yes, we both knew what would happen if word of my survival reached Megatron. The safest place for me to be right now, ironically, was in the hands of the enemy. They had the best medic out there, and could protect me. In exchange, I would be giving up my freedom. But considering how I was far from being free in my current condition, I doubted it could get worse. My companion seemed to agree with me. He was smart, unlike our third partner. He understood my reasoning. "I think I can get you close. But once they got you, you're going to be in their hands… I can't help get you out later, not without revealing WHY."
Yes, I replied with a single blink. I understood the balance of risks. I had accepted them.
"You're sure? You've never been captured by them before." He frowned thoughtfully, having been the recipient of such an event once or twice. "You know they're not going to just let you go, IF they even agree to repair you."
"Ok… your aft." He muttered uncomfortably. "But don't say I didn't warn you."
And so it was that cycle that he delivered my broken body onto the very doorstep of the Autobot's base. They didn't even manage to deliver a single blow before he'd dumped my body at their gate, with a single data burst.