004. A Socially Acceptable Monster
Three days free from The Room, and he had a very astute observation to make. Namely: Decepticon ranks were a glitch.
On one hand, power and ambition were favored -- ruthlessness and competency. And yet, loyalty to the cause (to Megatron) were supposed to be foremost. Say it with Descendant now: What? Secondly, Descendant was in the unique position of trying to find his nitch several thousand years after everyone else had. He had to find the perfect balance between earning some respect (to keep from being deactivated) and not getting on Megatron's nerves (tyrant that he was). Having once been meat, respect was something in short supply, and not giving into his reflexes to kill and cannibalize the more annoying ones was hard.
So ... yes, a glitch in every sense of the word.
That wasn't the only difficulty he was running into, though. If that had been his only problem, it wouldn't have been much of a problem at all. However, he had to also become accustomed to consuming fuel through his mouth (intake) from a container ... and that was difficult, period. While he had instinctively sucked fuel from lines through his mouth when his processor hadn't been properly working (all these memories lumped in with the meat-memories, as they were incomplete and suffering from bit-rot), he had gotten used to directly feeding lines to his tank. Going through his mouth was just a reminder of what he used to be, and it seemed like a waste to make the fuel travel so far.
Though this was apparently necessary, because while he could easily transfer fuel the way he had been, raw fuel had to be processed, and the length from mouth to tank was a processing system. All this meant to him was that there were easier ways to do things that were no longer socially acceptable.
Not socially acceptable! Among Decepticons! Now, there were some words he didn't ever think would be strung together ... mostly because he'd never thought about it before. Ah, well.
Descendant cycled air irritably, carrying a tin canisters of fuel as he headed off to start the day with Barricade. He was rather perversely pleased with the glitch being assigned as his mentor. Barricade was probably the one less likely to deactivate him out of irritation, disgust, or just because it sounded like fun. Not because of any misplaced responsibility or fondness, but because Barricade had already tried and nearly shearing off his cannon seemed to be a good way to convince him that it was just easier not to.
"Eat anyone last night?" Barricade asked when Descendant entered the area, and maybe he was actually being serious asking that.
"(Oh, ha-ha,)" Descendant sent over the radio, vocalizer crackling with static as power ebbed and rushed to his optics, making them dim and brighten in a poor imitation of rolling his eyes. He sloshed the tin at Barricade and refilled the processing well in his chest. The first night he spent in his berth had been after he'd gotten an alt-form, and he had snapped out of recharge, struggling with one of the other grunts. In the darkness, and not having gotten used to being ... outside ... yet, Descendant naturally deactivated the mech and had drained him of fuel before memories came back to him.
When a friend of the mech Descendant ate tried to get him in trouble, Descendant had spoken his second set of words in a storm of crackling static: "Prove it."
With no video, no one else being awake (that had come forward, at least, and they wouldn't if they knew what was good for them), and the entire base having known about Descendant's normal method of feeding within five seconds of his show in the arena (he supposed the ones who fed him hadn't talked), there was no way to prove that Descendant was the one who had done it.
While the Decepticons seemed to approve of that simple logic, he had still ate another mech ... which was so abhorrent to them that he was hardly going to get congratulations.
Barricade rumbled wordlessly, measuring up the slightly taller, more slender mechbefore turning away. Descendant had to wonder if Barricade thought he was next on the menu.
He wasn't. Descendant had just forgotten where he was, and had been attacked in the dark while sleeping. He could control himself, so long as his reflexes didn't get the best of him, first. Just ... don't approach him in the dark, or too quickly. He wasn't used to this 'being around others' thing. Still, it would be so much easier if he could just drain fuel from lines. This consuming raw fuel and waiting for his processing well to empty was tiresome. It took energy to refine the fuel to power his gears and it was just so much more energy efficient if he got his claws on some that had already been processed.
Another few liters were poured down his throat to the well (and Descendant looked away from the gape in Barricade's armor, flashing temptingly bare fuel lines).
Descendant did not twitch. Perfectly still, optics dim-dim-dim, barely anything running. A state of half-stasis (another loathsome remnant of his organic origins, this state of low-power that was as close as a robot could come to being catatonic) he entered willingly, accepting input from his sensors but also not actively analyzing it.
Not all Decepticons were noisy little glitches. One of his creators was not -- Shockwave. Deluge had little interest in him past designing his weapons systems, and Shockwave only wanted to see if it could be done. It had been Shockwave's idea to allow him to eat mechs, after he had attacked and savaged the grunt sent in to see if he was still functional -- Shockwave just wanted to see what he would do. (Meat memory. They had no reason to believe that the grunt was in any real danger, not with his weapons offline.)
(He had a sort of parents due to his origins, but they were neglectful at best.)
Shockwave finally withdrew his hands from deep within Descendant's innards and closed the access panel. (He was only half Cybertronian, because the other half of his design was drone. A Frankenstein monster in every sense of the word.) Slowly, his optics powered back up a little to a more normal level, at which point Shockwave addressed him. "You will desist in provoking fights with those whom you are uncertain you will win against."
Descendant stirred. Telling him to stop picking fights with Barricade was like telling Barricade to stop lying. It just wasn't going to happen. First, he had to attack Barricade for trying to kill him, this time ... Well, it was personal. Perhaps a part of it was the reminder that he could still kill mechs, or maybe it was because he was taller (by a few bare inches) than Barricade, but he just wasn't going to stand for the lies. Both times he had attacked Barricade, of course, the more experienced mech just beat the slag out of him. It was why he had to return to his creator to get fixed and make certain he wasn't glitching.
Correctly interpreting his silence, Shockwave continued, "It is not logical to fight battles that can not be won. You will desist from instigating fights that are such; it is senseless to suffer damage that is unnecessary."
Finally, Descendant gathered himself to respond: "(I believe that this is a result of my human software programs,)" he sent, and it lacked the inflection that he always lacked. Like Shockwave, and Soundwave, Descendant did not make mood indicating noises. "(Human biological programing is unpredictable.)"
Silence fell between the two mechs as both remained utterly still while processing this. Finally, Shockwave responded. "I can not eliminate your human programing. Megatron has forbidden it. You will learn discipline."
Because that was what Descendant was -- he wasn't supposed to be one of them. He was only half an experiment and half a pet with guns. His optics dimmed -- and though not a standard sign of acknowledgement, they both knew that he heard it. Descendant would never be caught off guard, for he never thought very deeply, and his sensors were hypersensitive at all times.
"Go," Shockwave instructed. "My studies indicate that humans find pain effective as a learning devise. If you do not learn discipline, I will hardwire your sensors to a subprogram that will inform your human software that you are in pain. Perhaps then your human software will avoid making you behave irrationally."
Descendant moved off the table, no further information traded. What Shockwave promised was not a cruelty -- the mech would not understand the logic behind it. It was a simple statement of fact, a remedy for the glitch that ailed him. Descendant resigned himself. He would not fight Barricade anymore, unless he was certain that he could win.
There would be no more self defense.