TITLE: Co-Dependence,
SERIES: Imperfection Deviation
AUTHOR: Macx
RATING: R for violence
DISCLAIMER: None of the characters belong to me, sadly. They are owned by people with a lot more money :)
FEEDBACK: Loved
GRAMMAR BETA: okami_myrrhibis
PLOT BETA: Sapphire, who suffered through random bouts of my madness

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Additional words from the author: those who are following the stories I write might have noticed that I like throwing cartoon and movie stuff together. Since ROTF gave us zilch on the characters you're about to read about, just had them appear, and I didn't make copies of the G1's, this is entirely my made-up version of those guys, of what happened to them in my eyes, and what the result was.
You'll find out what I mean after the first chapter.
Don't hurt the author :)

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Barricade carefully rolled onto the construction site, past a sign that proclaimed that a new power station running on solar energy would be erected here. He kept his scanners peeled for anything suspicious. The humans had abandoned the project due to the averse weather conditions. The signal was still coming at the same strength.

Mud squished under his tires, clung to his frame, and he rolled uneasily forward. There was little to no traction with the puddles and muddy ground, but Barricade didn't think for a nano-second that it would hinder him in a fight. Rolling almost noiselessly past building equipment he let his scanners search.

::Something's here::

He had to agree. Jazz was further back, hidden from sight due to the rain and the darkening sky. It was already late enough for dusk to mingle with the rain clouds, making eye-sight for a mere human difficult. Barricade had more than his optics and even they were far more sophisticated than the organic human eyes.

The police cruiser finally stopped. Rain pitter-pattered onto his car shell and ran in rivulets down the smooth surface. He had come in without his headlights and he wasn't prone to announcing where he was exactly by using them now. He was announcing his general presence, though. Barricade was echoing the call signal.

There was movement not far to his right and he tensed.

"Designation?" he sent on the same channel the signal had been coming in.

The shadow moved again and Barricade transformed, weapon out, coiled for a confrontation.

"Designation: Scrapper."

He almost took a step back in surprise. His data banks provided him with information that was like watching a history lesson.

The shadow came closer and coalesced into a tall, armored figure. A red visor band glowed softly. The mech had no discernible mouth; instead he was wearing a lower face shield. Whether it was a battle mask like Prime's or a fixed feature, Barricade didn't know.

He had never met Scrapper – if this was the one the data banks supplied him information about. He had heard of this particular mech.

There was suddenly more movement and Barricade whirled around, fingers clenching around the trigger. Two more figures appeared, all taller, neither brandishing a weapon, though.

"We didn't call you to inflict harm," Scrapper told him.

::Barricade?" Jazz asked tensely.

::Wait::

"Who is 'we'?" the former Decepticon demanded out loud, reflecting the same tension as his partner.

The lights of the construction site went on and Barricade knew he was either in very deep trouble or about to get into it. Five mechs were revealed, one just now transforming out of his alternate mode, a power shovel.

Neither bore any faction symbols.

All had their weapons sheathed.

"This is us," Scrapper said quietly.

"You are Constructicons," Barricade stated flatly, trying to hide his shock.

"Yes."

"You serve Megatron."

"We never did."

Barricade snorted. He knew what the Constructicons had built for the Decepticon leader's empire of destruction, what they had demolished, who they had erased. His service for Megatron himself had never brought him in contact with the six mechs that had been famous before and throughout the war. Shock-troopers were the bloodhounds, the frontline killers and assassins. He had been all over the explored and even the unexplored parts of the universe to hunt Autobots and destroy their sorry sparks.

But he knew. Like many, he knew.

"We'll explain. I'll explain," Scrapper told him. "What we ask for is sanctuary. A truce. We didn't come here to fight and we don't intend to ever do so again. It was never our war."

"History tells differently."

Scrapper looked almost slapped. "I can explain. And I want to explain," he repeated. "But I need the assurance that our revelation won't be our death."

"Why come to me? I'm not a trusted Autobot."

Scrapper seemed to smile. "I calculated our chances of survival higher than by approaching the Autobots directly."

Barricade gave him a terrible grin. "You could be wrong."

"I could."

Silence descended and Barricade felt Jazz push closer.

::Not yet:: he told him.

"What do you expect me to do?" he finally challenged the Constructicon leader, keeping wary optics on the other four. They simply stood there; silent; waiting.

"Relay our wishes of a peaceful existence on this planet. Cybertron is dead. We can't return. Neither of us can. This world could be our only future. We know of Soundwave's attack and should he return, the humans are still ill-prepared."

"The humans know nothing about us."

"Exactly. But for how long? One day your presence will be revealed."

"So you want to hide here?" Barricade clarified.

"We already are. We've been on this world for six thousand of this planet's years."

::Pits…:: Jazz muttered.

"Our damage didn't allow us to come out of stasis. When we arrived, this world was primitive but safe."

"Why come here?"

"It was where we had tracked Megatron and the Allspark."

::They what?!::

Barricade tilted his head. "How did you do it?"

Scrapper chuckled humorlessly. "We followed the Allspark's trail, faint as it was, because it was the only way we could think of restoring ourselves. We crashed, we were out of power, we had to go into stasis. When we were finally functional enough to search actively, it was hidden from us."

::This is crazy!:: Jazz exclaimed, shocked.

Barricade didn't have to turn to know that his partner was rolling onto the site. He could read it from the sudden shift in the Constructicons. Scrapper's visor band flickered a little, but neither pulled a weapon.

Jazz transformed and joined Barricade, his face unreadable.

"I'm Jazz, Prime's second-in-command," he introduced himself.

Scrapper inclined his head in acknowledgement. "We know you."

"You're asking for a great deal of trust here."

"We're aware of it. We could have harmed the humans or this world in our time awake. We didn't. I would hope this counts for something."

"You didn't interfere when Megatron arrived either," Jazz challenged.

Scrapper nodded. "We hid ourselves. It was safer. Our condition is far from battle ready."

"And you're missing someone."

One of the others gave a soft rumble. It didn't sound aggressive, just uneasy.

"Bonecrusher was off-lined ten planetary years ago," Jazz went on.

"We know."

"So you've been sitting here for that time, doing nothing? I doubt that, Scrapper."

It got him a humorless rumble that could be interpreted as a laugh. "Bonecrusher was already lost to us. We had to fight not to lose more of us. Our arrival wasn't simply a planetfall. We crashed and burned, as the humans like to say. Our recovery was long and painful, filled with set-backs. We didn't have the Allspark or even a medic with the necessary energon and parts. We had only our sparks. Scavenger nearly off-lined, Mixmaster was in stasis lock for a long time period, and Hook and I tried to keep them alive as we were the ones who woke ourselves more frequently. If you want us scanned, we'll submit to it. I know you have a technopath among you."

Barricade felt something inside of him growl. They knew about the human! How could they? Sam Witwicky's powers weren't obvious!

Jazz's optics narrowed.

"Soundwave's attack on your base computer left us with the brief opportunity to gather enough intelligence to arrange for this meeting," Scrapper added, sounding like he was smiling humorlessly.

"Not a way to win our trust."

"The only way we could," the Constructicon argued. "You have those among you old enough to remember us, what we were. I don't say we're still those mechs, but we're Cybertronians, not Decepticons. We ask you to extend a little of what you gave Barricade."

Barricade glanced at his bonded. His position with the Autobots wouldn't have been the same if not for Jazz, for the spark bond. It was a different kind of trust, a different kind of base for the developments thereafter. The Constructicons didn't know it.

But they knew about Sam.

"I can't make that decision," Jazz said neutrally, "until you give me a reason why this isn't a Decepticon trap."

Scrapper inclined his head. "Very well."

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Jazz had kept his scanners fully on their backs with an almost paranoid quality until he and Barricade had put a good distance between the Constructicons and themselves. Barricade sent amusement at his partner's behavior.

"You're no better," Jazz growled. "And I'm not sure I can trust what they say."

"They wouldn't be the first to defect."

"True."

Jazz knew of one or two other cases that were true defections to the Autobots' side. Jetfire had been the most prominent because he had been such an old mech, older than even Ironhide or Prime, and he had turned his back on Megatron throughout the war. No one had heard of him since.

But the Constructicons were a different matter. They had never defected; they had been forced into servitude, their minds altered. How much of that alteration still existed? Were they truly their own now or would the changes take hold once more? They apparently hadn't for millennia, had been on Earth for quite some time, and they were still suffering from what had happened to them.

But how much could you trust a Decepticon?

::How much do you trust me?:: Barricade asked, voice almost nasty.

::Not the same:: Jazz argued, optics flashing. ::And you know it. We're different::

::I killed. I killed your kind, I mangled and destroyed. I was as distrusted as they are::

Jazz let a hiss of air escape, sounding like a human sigh. ::Still not the same::

It was a tough decision to make. He knew Optimus would believe the best, but he would also be cautious. Jazz was even more so.

"Let Prime decide," Barricade rumbled.

"Yeah." What other choice did he have?

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Since coming to this organic planet Scrapper had seen his friends and comrades worsen, turn better, then worsen again, only to show improvement. He knew how it felt; he experienced it all himself. There were days he couldn't recall his life on Cybertron. On others it was clear as daylight – only that those memories were of death and destruction.

Their arrival on Earth had been a very long time ago and it had been a time when humanity hadn't even started to form the societies of today. The Constructicons had crawled into a hiding place and gone into stasis, waking at infrequent times to hope for energon sources made available through the planet's evolution. When it had become apparent that waking all five was destroying them faster and faster, those who were in the best condition would take over that duty. Every century they would go on-line and hope. Little by little, tiny steps and not more, they began to repair themselves.

Scrapper sometimes thought he could feel the changes inside his mind that Shockwave's machine had forced onto them. It wasn't just the connection he now shared with all Constructicons, the connection that let them become Devastator and act as one. It was something else; like a personality file that had tried to overwrite his mind. It was an intruder and it was there, but in pieces. All of them had broken free of the reprogramming, but with terrible losses and even more terrible wounds to their sparks.

It had changed them all.

There was Hook. He had always been the artist among them. He had had visions of beauty and perfection. Even the most simple job would be perfected to the nth degree. He had planned buildings of novel design, had realized sprawling vistas and towering structures. Today he was still an artist, but he had grown quieter. He worked on his own, drew up wonderful cityscapes, created buildings of the future, and then he destroyed the blueprints and erased the files.

Mixmaster was their chemist. He had been a brilliant scientist. Today you would call him a crazed alchemist. Scrapper couldn't argue with the results of the concoctions, but it was sometimes more of a mad experiment than anything else. He had started countless fires throughout the times he had been on-line and trying to create energon for them to live on. The humans would be terrified to know that in 1871 Mixmaster had been responsible for the two biggest fires in the history of the northern American continent.

Long Haul couldn't remember anything of the past. He could barely remember Cybertron. It was like reading a fiction novel to him. He would listen, nod, and be unable to relate to their home world. He had grown fond of Earth and he sometimes spent days on end logged into TV programs that dealt with home improvement. On one side Scrapper knew the other mech wanted to belong somewhere, but then he withdrew, unsure what connected them. Like all of them Long Haul felt Devastator's pull on them.

Scavanger, like Long Haul, had found solace within the humans' Net. He could be found within forums, discussion groups, on journals and email lists. He was even exchanging rather long and heated emails with one human he had found an equally minded engineer in. Scrapper had lost track of what they were arguing about, but it was apparently amusing Scavenger and he was usually in a very good mood after an email from the human.

They were all damaged. If anyone from their old lives would see them now, they would be shocked. Scrapper sometimes wondered how many of the old ones still existed – somewhere in this universe. Cybertron had perished and they were all refugees wherever they went, and their own refuge was now Earth. They could help here; in secret, behind the scenes. They could help arm this world against a possible new Decepticon attack. Their abilities were still there; they were engineers.

It was all a matter of trust.

Scrapper hoped that some amount would be extended. There was no guarantee the Autobots wouldn't just erase them, permanently off-line these weak shadows of the former glorious group of architects.

"Might be for the best."

He turned and shook his head. Sometimes their interconnection was too damn inconvenient. As little as individual thoughts travelled, emotional upheaval did. He looked into Hook's solemn face.

"I won't just roll over and die," Scrapper told him. "We defeated Shockwave's reprogramming. We survived."

"Something survived. This isn't us any more. It's a parody."

Scrapper's optics flared. "You want the Decepticons to win now? Megatron is dead and we are still alive! I'm not going to give up on any of us!"

"What if Bonecrusher is permanently off-line?"

"Then we will go on. We beat Shockwave, Hook. We beat the program!"

"How do we know?" Mixmaster wanted to know, now joining them. "It could reassert itself."

"It hasn't in millennia."

There was a paranoid gleam in the red optics. "Shockwave never worked without a fail-safe."

"Which is why I want the technopath to scan us."

The other looked uneasy. Scrapper felt anger flare brightly.

"You want to continue running? You want to leave and take your chances out there? Starscream would tear us apart. Soundwave would annihilate our sorry existence in a nano-second. Shockwave… he would probably torture us to regain control! This was our decision, Hook! All of us together. We will wait for the Autobots' decision."

And he hoped Optimus Prime was still the Prime he remembered. Someone who didn't kill in cold blood.

tbc...