The Silent Telepath
by K. Stonham
first released 28th May 2008

Jazz was like a field of white noise. He was one of the few beings Blaster knew who didn't constantly have a whispering cloud of thoughts around him, and it made the laid-back saboteur's presence soothing. Over time he'd discovered they had a mutual love of music, which gave him an excuse to hang around Jazz more and more, just shooting the breeze and discussing style, range, and emotion... all the things that made music worth listening to. Once in a while the black-and-white gave him a pointed, ironic lopsided grin that seemed to say he knew why Blaster sought out his company... but if those were actually his thoughts, Blaster couldn't hear them and Jazz never voiced them.

Maybe it was an Special Ops thing. Mirage and Bumblebee, while not running as silent as Jazz, were also quieter than the average 'Bot. Blaster wondered what kind of training they'd got that muted their presence to a telepath, and why the slag the army hadn't mandated it for everyone. Or maybe it was just something about the mindset required for Special Ops that made their thoughts harder to hear. Whatever it was, Blaster was grateful for it.

Everyone else, from Optimus down to Gears down to the humans, thought loud. He knew they couldn't help it--Pit, they didn't even know they were doing it!--but it still ended up stressing his processors and leaving him longing for the distant cool of the deep-space communications station he'd been designed to run. Just himself and his crew catching the waves and the vibes, transmitting messages onward... a little steel and crystal nest floating among the stars. He really envied Cosmos his stellar patrols some days when tensions were high and tempers spiked sharp into his CPU. Solid walls didn't make a difference, only distance, and while his quarters were as far away from everyone else's as they could get, even sleeping with his cassettes' warm bodies piled around him couldn't block out the mental noise of his shipmates.

Ratchet had a constant supply of pain blockers for him and kept a careful eye on his rate of self-medication, which Blaster was none too easy about either. He'd heard far too many bad stories of crowded Comm 'bots getting addicted to stims and he preferred the pain to losing himself that way.

Not that it was common knowledge, he admitted. Most 'bots didn't even realize that he and Soundwave were any different than they were. He was the music-loving communications officer, and Soundwave held the same rank under Megatron, with the added curse of being the tyrant's third-in-command. It was funny in a way, but most Autobots were more scared of being at Soundwave's mercy than they were of Megatron or Starscream. Meggie and Screamer, they reasoned, could only torture and kill them. Soundwave could pick their thoughts out of their head, make them into traitors, and potentially reprogram them without moving a servo.

Blaster supposed he should be glad that it didn't occur to his fellow Autobots that he'd been made for the same purpose as Soundwave and had the same abilities. Slightly more, possibly; he was a newer model than the midnight blue Decepticon. But to balance that out, being older, Soundwave had more helper cassettes than Blaster.

They'd met one another before, long ago in the depths of space, twisting cosmic strings that sang in the deep musical silence of the universe. He'd known Soundwave's insubstantial touch and rhythm then, the same as they'd both known scores of others who inhabited the void with only sound to sustain them. All those voices were silent now, long gone and slaughtered. He and Soundwave were the last two of their kind.

Blaster loathed his Decepticon counterpart and knew the feeling to be mutual. Soundwave had taken what was pure, something that had sung since the beginning of time, and twisted it, made it scream. For that, and for the betrayal of their fellow Communicators, Blaster could never, ever forgive him.

He'd paid attention to the vibrations of space, and as he'd felt them tuning sour he'd done what no Communicator should ever do: abandoned his post. He'd run ahead of the wave of Decepticon slaughter all the way back to Cybertron, him and his small crew, and upon arrival nearly died regardless, going into stasis from the sheer pressure of so many minds, the unlimited volume of chaos shrieking into his processor.

But he'd been found--luckily by the Autobots--and Ratchet had managed to drug him deep enough that he could recover. By the time he'd been stable enough to give his report it had been unnecessary. For the first time in recorded history, the stars beyond Cybertron were silent. He'd wanted to go back into shock, to lament the total loss of his kind, but there was something inside him that wouldn't let him. Instead, Blaster had shored himself up, consulted briefly with his cassettes, and offered his services to the Autobots.

Optimus Prime himself had accepted the offer, and jumped him straight into officer ranks. It had been rough for a while; there were plenty who had been in line for a promotion, and he was a raw newcomer. But he and his crew had proved themselves, knowing their way around comm systems, tricks, and protocol as easy as freefall, and eventually (with the help of a few rounds of highgrade) the resentment had eased.

Still, Blaster kept his secrets and the command structure kept them with him. It wouldn't do good to let everyone know there was a telepath in their ranks. The other officers knew, of course, and eventually they'd all built up enough trust in him that their thoughts didn't start fluttering every time he was in the room. There was an unspoken agreement that he kept a listen out for anything that might be real trouble among the ranks and turned the information over to whoever was appropriate, usually Ratchet or Jazz. Red Alert didn't approve, but then Red didn't trust anyone except himself and Inferno.

Sometimes still, while on comm duty and dreaming of the plans Hoist and Grapple had drawn up for an isolated communications tower in the proposed Autobot City, he felt Soundwave's touch in the air. It made him tense and move double time, trying to isolate out the other Communicator's transmissions, read them, block them, whatever. Anything that could hinder or hurt the traitor.

Because Blaster would never forget, or forgive, the sound of screaming and then silence.