Time Scale: Nano-klick: Second ; Klick: Minute ; Groon: Hour ; Joor: Day ; Orn: 13 days ; Steller-Cycle: Year ; Vorn: 83 years.

Chapter 15: Accepting Our Place

It took about a groon for Eject to calm down enough to vent properly when he had finally wandered away from Prowl's office. He hated that it took that long, but at least no one had crossed him in the halls or questioned his terrified venting. Luckily, everyone seemed to understand his longing to be alone the entire day and had left him beneath the shade of the giant oak to collect himself. It was one of the largest trees near the Ark located near the woodland. It was burnt and blackened at the top where lightning had tried to claim it. Yet it stood, unyielding even with its charred bark and missing branches from a jet pack incident. It still lived. It was alive and vibrant despite its scars. It carried on.

Eject somewhat envied it.

He wished he could just accept his lot in life, his family's bond disfigured by Rumble's disgusting presence, but he just … he just couldn't. He was angry. He would rather run away, frag being bound by another, he'd rather fade!

And yet he just couldn't do that. He didn't want to leave Blaster.

He loved Blaster and his brothers.

It wasn't like there was any place to go anyway. Hosts weren't that numerous before the war and now … their really weren't a lot of them left.

Sniffling, he resisted the urge to get up and run as a familiar presence finally filled his spark, the sound of heavy peds now heading in his directions.

Soon, there was the rustle of pebbles under-ped and the sigh of heavy vents as his creator sat down next to him under the cover of the oak tree. The birds were only silent for a klick before they started their song again, singing away their merry day. They didn't care for a little cassette and his inner turmoil beneath their tree. Eject wanted to hate them as much as he hated the wind that was causing the swaying grass to sing. The world was entirely too chipper. Eject just wished the whole world was as miserable as he was right now.

"Hey, little buddy," came the warm almost tired voice of Blaster, the mech's EM field washing over him and their bond for a moment. "I know you don't want to, that you would rather just stay on the bench and wait out the game, but we need to talk. Do you know what I want to talk about?"

Helm still buried in his hands and knees, Eject nodded. He didn't think he could look up at his creator. He didn't even try to rise his head.

"Do you want to tell me why you lied to me? To your siblings? To Prowl?" asked the cassette rack, his voice almost too exhausted to be angry, but it was there. A quieted rage.

Still refusing to look at his creator, a sob in his throat if he dared speak, the symbiot shook his head. No, he didn't want to tell him. Honestly, he felt it was rather obvious.

Blaster sighed, the sound of joints hissing almost caused the young mech to bolt, but suddenly he was being wrapped up in a hug, the larger form encasing him. There were no words needed to know what was being said. Blaster was forgiving him. Blaster always forgave him. Eject almost wished the red mech was angry or enraged or at least openly disappointed. It would have been less painful than this. It would have been less agonizing than this automatic forgiveness and understanding.

Unable to stop himself, Ejected started blubbering, unable to hold it in a moment more since Prowl had stood over him that morning. It was messy and loud and pathetic, but through the sobs he finally admitted, "I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I'm s-sorry! I just-I just …hick … don't want him to be part of me! I don't … hick … want to be-be a Con! H-he's going to w-wear off on me-me and I-I will-ll be j-just like h-him. I don't-t want t-to be like h-him. H-he's just going to-o hurt o-our family a-and its all m-my fault. I-I shouldn't have said-d anything a-at the l-lake."

Sighing out of his vents, slowly pulling out of the hug so he could look down at the hiccuping mass, Blaster murmured, "Little bubby, young spark, it doesn't work that way. Yes, Rumble will be in the same bond, but you will still be you. Your siblings will still be as cankerous, moody and offbeat as usual. Things might be a little different, we might have to make changes and be patient, but don't think of this as bad. Rumble is young, a little younger than you, he will be able to adapt and change. If anything, when he wakes up, I'm sure he will be just as scared and upset as you are."

Blaster then rubbed a large finger over his cassette's cheek smiling sadly down at Eject.

Eject in turn, tried to nod his head in understanding while trying to wipe his own tears away, but he couldn't seem to keep up with the now flowing water-works. He was getting coolant everywhere and was going to probably overheat with the way he was hiccuping, his vents closing and opening of their own accord. Baster didn't seem to mind though, he just took his thumb and wiped the tears away, not the least bit perturbed with Eject's growing breakdown.

"Shush, vent little one. It's going to be okay. You hear me little buddy? No more of this hiding. You are going to be fine. We are all going to be fine. Just trying to vent," he added, petting that sobbing helm again before he wiped a finger over one of Eject's stuttering vents.

Eject, venting even harder, his engine whining, tried to gather himself. It wasn't working. If anything, his sobbing was worse. At this rate, he was going to overheat.

"Come now, Eject. Vent for me. I need you to be strong for Rumble, okay? He's probably going to be frightened when he wakes up. This is new to him as well. And I know he's a Con and that he isn't perfect, but he did as he was told. It is Soundwave who should be ashamed. Not him and definitely not you should be ashamed. You did nothing wrong by telling me Rumble was still online."

Sobbing, nodding even though he didn't want to, Eject cried even harder his whole body shaking as warnings started popping up on his HUB. He wasn't ready. He wasn't. He didn't want to form a bond with Rumble, but he also wanted to do as Blaster asked. He wanted to be strong for Blaster.

"That's good little buddy, my spark. Now, can you transform for me? I know you are tired and upset, but can you do that?" asked Blaster again, voice so warm and forgiving. "It'll be okay."

Sobbing muffled as his vents refused to open, Eject knew he wasn't going to be able to calm down on his own. That was okay though. Blaster would pull his systems into recharge the moment he was inside his chassis. He was scared, terrified, but he still rose to his feet, swaying for a moment as his spark stuttered in its casing. There was no point it putting it off now or risk overheating. Plus, he just wanted back into the bond, to feel the playful nudge of Blaster and the others.

He didn't want to be alone anymore. The last few days had been terrible.

And so, reaching up to Blaster to return the hug, Eject tried to force his tightly sealed vents to intake as he stumbled back and then transformed. Blaster opened his chassis as perfectly timed as usual, spark light lighting up the coming evening of the world. Chassis closing with a heavy click, everything was warm and kind about Blaster as the cassette rack took control over his systems. Immediately, the panic started to bleed away, feelings of acceptance and support coming from his host.

Feeling the larger spark wash over him, Eject noticed that nothing had changed about Blaster. He was the same. Yet, as he felt Blaster's systems pull him into forced recharge and repair, he did feel something. It was just the shiver of another half-spark.

Astonishingly, it wasn't ugly or as hateful as he thought it would be. If anything, it was as scared and terrified as he was. Apparently, it was also lonely.

Surprising even himself, the forming part of the bond rose to greet it and he wasn't disgusted at all. In fact, he greeted it warmly.

Blackout smiled as he stalled before Soundwave's room. Well, his room now. It was almost Thundercracker's actually. He felt a little bad for the seeker. Slagger was so going to die. What a waste. The mech had pretty wings. Not as much of a waste as the femme cassette though. She was smart and would have been a useful tool, but you win some you lose some and then some fragger ends up dead.

Hitting the door control, it unsurprisingly did not open. It just pinged at him irritably.

The large mech glared at the door control and hit it again. It merely chirped once more.

=Scorponok,= growled the mech through their bond.

=Yesssss?= questioned the cassette.

=Why isn't this door open? I thought you were already in there. You said that two of the cassettes were already deactivated,= growled his owner, hitting the door with his fist.

=Well … I did get up into the floorboard and then I was attacked. They have reinforced all the plating in the floors since. I could force my way into the room … if you don't mind a few holes in your new floor?= said the cassette, already knowing that his Master was the new communications officer. =Or you could wait a few more klicks until your position is acknowledged by the ship and you can just let yourself in.=

The copter stood there a moment as if trying to decide what he wanted. He could break into the room, but it would leave the room open for attack in the future. He could also have Scorponok go through the floorboards, but it would leave a possible escape route if any of the remaining cassettes tried to run. Or … he could wait.

Fraggg … waiting was so boring. He'd rather rip something to pieces, but he would wait. His handler had always told him to take care of his things and to have patience. Then again … his handler was long gone and dead. Patience did him little good and then Blackout had to raised himself for the most part.

Finally, he received a bing telling him he had most of the access rights that Soundwave had had.

Smiling, he commed his cassette to come meet him at the door, and once the scorpion-bot was there, he asked, "You ready for this? I love it when they run."

Yet, as the two bots opened the door, Blackout slamming it behind himself promptly and locking it … they did not receive the fight they had both been expecting. There was even the smell of death in the room.

Frowning, wondering if he should turn on the lights and see if the little fraggers somehow overcame their self-harm programs and deactivated themselves, a caw filled the room and suddenly two flying cassettes were dive-bombing him.

"Egh! Not the audios! Not the audios!" cried the copter as he tried to bat away Buzzsaw and Lazerbeak as they dive-bombed him.

Scorponok, not wanting to be stepped on, quickly backpedaled away from the larger bot, stuck somewhere between amusement and anger. Yet, he quickly noticed that there were only the two attacking. Where was the third cassette? Looking around, dancing through his creator's legs as the mech stomped around trying to whap away the irritating little fliers, he quickly found the third. He was on the berth, covered in foil. He was likely placed up there, away from the floor, due to Scorponok's earlier attack.

Almost wishing he had a mouth to smile, the scorpoion-bot decided that he would end this little charade here and now. He was the only original creation and he wanted the other three to know their place in the hierarchy: they were all below him, expendable.

Making his way to the top of the berth, he slowly stalked toward the weak bi-pedaled cassette that was trying to sit up and aim a small acid-pellet gun at Blackout. He could barely raise his arm or keep his visor online though. He was a mess and the only reason the youngling was probably still alive was because of the two older half-sparks that were trying to attack the intruder.

Many legs clicking, not the least bit worried now if the weak cassette noticed him, he almost skipped to the other side of the berth. He loved it when that helm turned in his direction, EM field suddenly full of fear. That arm then tried to turn on him, but the older cassette merely slapped the acid-gun away with a fling of his tail. A nano-klick passed before the red cassette was knocked down, the scorpion-bot now over the little slagger with his tail raised in order to strike.

His words bounced around in all their helms as he called out with an open comm. =Bird brains … look what I got.=

Lazerbeak was the first to look around the room and his spark sank. Slaggen stupid youngling. If Buzzsaw's cry of distress was any indication … he noticed as well. Doing one more swoop around the copter, ignoring Frenzy's weak cry of don't, the both landed across the room on their usual perch, both ruffled and enraged.

Blackout, wiping away some energon from his lip plate where one of the bird-formers had caught him, grinned down at his own cassette. He then sauntered forward, smiling almost wickedly at the two fliers as he headed to the berth. He petted Scorponok down the back before waving the cassette off, grabbing Frenzy before he could even try to crawl away. He manhandled the smaller bot, even going so far as to use his thumb to press his intake open, looking down Frenzy's throat as if he was checking livestock before buying it.

"Pff, a youngling. No wonder he's almost deactivated," said the mech as he roughly placed Frenzy back onto the berth like a doll, grabbing a leg and pulling him back when he tried to crawl away. "Now, what are your designations, cassette? Megatron has given you three to me."

Frenzy started as he tried to focus, slurring, "W-what? Three? W-where's R-ravage?"

Frowning, the copter waved off the question. "Slag at this moment I suppose. Megatron has little patience of traitors."

The three cassettes all called out, demanding to know what had happened, but were all silenced when the copter barked, "Enough! She made her choice! Now, designations! I need them for the cassette rack vows. Now or you all are getting new names. So unless you want to be Birdbitch, Featherfreak and Redmope as your new designations, I recommend you cough up your names."

The two bird-formers cawed in disgust, Buzzsaw surprisingly speaking up for both of them. =Frag you. We are not afraid to deactivate.=

Giving the spy-cassette a smug look, he waved towards Frenzy. "And what of the young one? Are you willing to watch him deactivate as well? He will go before you. So it's either all of you or none of you. Do you understand?"

Frenzy, optics going bright behind his visor, shook his helm, "No, no, no! You two don't have to do that. I'm ready to be with Soundwave. I am ready!"

The two older cassettes though … looked away from him, pressing their beaks together in a show of affection as the copter looked at them hungrily. They were the oldest now. Rumble was their responsibility. Ravage … she apparently wasn't here anymore. They hadn't even felt her go.

Buzzsaw, softer spark of the two of them, gently asked, =He has barely gotten to live? Should we try?=

Looking at the youngest among them, Lazerbeak relented and offered up softly, =I am Lazerbeak, my brother is Buzzsaw … and the youngest one is Frenzy.=

Frenzy could only look up at the bird-from in horror. No. No. No! He was not going to be the reason for their suffering. He was not going to drag out their pain as they remained alive for him. He would not do that! Yet, he never got to voice his complaint, a clicking filling the room as the large mech suddenly part his chest plates, light raining into the room like a sun. The cassette nearly whined as the larger mech's EM field washed over all of them, his half spark recognizing the offer despite how much Frenzy already hated the copter. Even Lazerbeak and Buzzsaw twitched, their sparks hungry for support.

Waving towards his chassis, the large mech rumbled, "Then you two must go first. The brat will go last. Deal?"

It was slow and pained, even as Frenzy choked that they should not agree, but both bird-formers nodded … and a deal was struck. They were his and Blackout would do whatever he wanted with them.

The rest was like a nightmare to the young cassette as Blackout gave the Cassette Racks Vow. It was spoken perfectly but behind it they could hear the half-truths and lies. No one even pretended it was sincere. Frenzy could barely watch, through his tears, as his two older siblings folded up and accepted the false vow.

Frenzy, at this point, could barely move. He didn't want to move. He had been slowly accepting his death, to be reunited with Rumble … to maybe forgive his brother in the Well of Sparks. Not this. He didn't want this.

He didn't have a choice though. He was forced to transform, to accept his new master. Even transformed, he knew that he screamed when he was placed in the rack. His new owner's spark seemed to burn him to the core, claiming him spark and all.

He was little more than property to this mech.

And for a moment, he was glad he had sent Rumble off. He was glad that he had screamed at him and blamed him for Soundwave's death. He was glad that Rumble had wandered off to die a traitor's death. He was glad for his brother … because he was allowed to die at all.

After all, his brother was free.

Meanwhile, in Blaster's chest, Rumble wavered slightly at his twin's pain and almost woke. The after images of his lost twin's pain barely bleeding into his spark. He, unknowingly, squirmed away from it, his mind unknowingly labeling his sibling as dead.

And so, his spark wanting to fill the forming hole where Frenzy had been, he pressed a little closer to the other half spark that was greeting him, wondering if this one would fill the void left by his twin-spark.

XXX

Paw07: Okay, I lied. Rumble doesn't wake up in this chapter. Regardless, Eject is now a little less angsty, for now at least, and Rumble's unknowingly latching onto mechs that may or may not want the attention. As for Frenzy … poor babe. Life's gonna suuuuuck. As a writer I should feel bad about doing this … but I don't. As an angst vampire, I need the angst to survive.

Honestly, I really should change my pen name to AngstVampire and be done with it. I really, really should.

Furthermore, I started watching Robots in Disguise on Netflix … Its adorables. I can't wait to write angst for it.