Frenzy had always been amazed by just how easy it was to take down Optimus Prime. One wouldn't think so, considering how tiny he was and how huge Prime was; but somehow, every time Frenzy tried to tackle him, the Autobot was always knocked off-balance and ended up flat on his back underneath the Cassetticon.
Except this time. No, this time things had worked out the way they should have done all along, and Prime had been ready for the attack. Frenzy had launched himself toward the Autobot's chest as usual, but before he could connect a big blue hand reached out and slaggin' caught him.
And that was why Frenzy was currently sitting in a cell in the Autobots' brig, glaring daggers up at Prime, who looked totally unconcerned with the unfairness of the whole situation.
If only Megatron had brought Soundwave – or even any of the other Cassetticons – along on the raid that morning. Neither the Boss nor any of his brothers, not even Ravage, would ever leave one of their own behind. None of the other Decepticons present had given a slag when he was caught, though. Megatron probably figured he had deserved it, daring to attack Optimus Prime like that.
But it usually worked!
He tuned back into the interrogation when it sounded like Prime had started begging.
"You can make this all a lot easier on yourself," the big commander was saying. "All you have to do is tell us what you know, and then we'll let you go free."
"I ain't tellin' ya nothin'," Frenzy spat back, scowling. He didn't actually know anything important at all, but that would be too embarrassing to admit. His scowl darkened even more when the guard standing behind Prime started laughing at him. It was that big red warrior, whatsisname, the one who had piledrivers like Frenzy did.
"That's enough, Sideswipe," Prime said, and then turned his attention calmly back to the prisoner. He had been in here trying to reason with Frenzy for most of the day, and he still didn't even seem close to losing his patience. The Cassetticon was beginning to suspect that he had even more patience than Shockwave, who had seemed like the calmest any mech could possibly get without being dead.
But then Prime gave a sigh, and Frenzy quickly shifted his glare back from the warrior. The Autobot leader had lifted a hand to rub his optics wearily, like humans did. It was a pointless action for a Cybertronian, and would have looked silly on anyone else, but for some reason Frenzy had to admit that it fit Prime's personality.
"Leave us, Sideswipe," Prime ordered, and the red warrior began protesting as Frenzy stared in surprise. So, Prime thought he could handle Frenzy alone, did he?
... not that Frenzy could do anything, anyway, because he was unarmed and the cell's energy bars were between him and Prime.
As soon as Sideswipe had been shooed out, and the door had cycled closed behind him, Prime eased himself down to sit on the floor outside the cell. It still didn't put him anywhere near optic-level with the Cassetticon, but at least he wasn't towering over the captive anymore. Frenzy watched him warily.
Those big blue optics met his small red visor, kind and gentle and ... sad? What could he possibly be sad about?
"Frenzy," Optimus Prime said softly, and the Cassetticon had to force himself not to shiver at the sound. The only one who ever said his name like that was Soundwave. For some reason, Prime's commanding voice speaking his name made it sound like he didn't hate Frenzy at all, and maybe even cared about him.
Feh, stupid Autobots and their compassion.
"I'd like to know something," Prime continued, not at all affected by the little Decepticon's glare. "Why are you so loyal to Megatron, even when he treats you as he did in the battle this morning?"
Where did that come from? Anyway, it didn't matter one bit why he followed Megatron; he was a Decepticon and one of Soundwave's creations, and it was his duty to—
But now that he thought about it, Prime did have a point. Megatron put up with Frenzy because of Soundwave and the others, but it was clear that he didn't consider him as anything more than a clone of Rumble or something. Rumble was one of Megatron's most trusted soldiers. If it had been Rumble who had been captured in the battle ...
"None o' yer business," he finally answered. He realized that he really didn't have a good answer for why he was still loyal to Megatron, but he was not about to admit that to anyone.
And then Prime completely surprised him. "Will you spend the rest of your life being kicked around by Megatron? Or will you consider joining us, and being free?"
Frenzy could only stare at that, shock taking over him for a few moments before his outrage could build up.
"The other Decepticons treat you as little more than a drone. You may deny that, but I have seen it more times than I care to remember," Prime carried on, probably mistaking Frenzy's speechlessness for him actually thinking about the offer. "You deserve more than that. Every sentient being does."
Finally the anger burst out. "You want me to switch sides? No fraggin' way am I ever gonna be a slaggin' Autobot!"
"Why not?" Prime's voice was still irritatingly calm.
"'Cause ... 'cause ... 'cause I just ain't gonna do it, that's why! I ain't doin' anything without Soundwave, so I ain't gonna change any sides unless he does! And good luck tryin' ta get him to defect, 'cause the Boss is more loyal to Megatron than anybody!"
"I see. But what if it didn't depend on Soundwave? If you could make the decision on your own, without being influenced by anyone else, what would you choose? To be looked down on among the Decepticons, or to be appreciated for who you are here with us?"
Frenzy scowled even more fiercely, annoyed that Prime just didn't get it. "I'm a Decepticon, and I'm always gonna be a Decepticon, so there's no point in thinkin' about anything else. I ain't a traitor."
Optimus Prime tilted his head a little, optics glowing softly, and Frenzy wondered if he was smiling under that mask. Or if he even had mouth components under there to smile with.
"I admire your conviction, even if I do not agree. I will not insist any further, but I want you to think about it. If you ever change your mind, the offer still stands. Believe it or not, Frenzy, we would be glad to have you join us."
And with that the Autobot leader rose to his feet, in one smooth motion that seemed to defy his huge size. He'd always moved like that, gracefully and purposefully. It made his enemies forget that he was just as powerful a warrior as Megatron. Frenzy couldn't help being a little envious, because even with his own small body he was annoyingly clumsy.
Prime looked sad again, but now there was no doubt in Frenzy's mind that he was smiling anyway. The whole expression threw the Cassetticon off so much that all he could do was glare back until Prime turned to leave the room.
Just as the brig door cycled open, Frenzy found his voice again. "Why do ya even care, anyway, Prime? You forget I'm yer enemy, here?"
The Autobot leader paused to look back. "No, Frenzy, you are not my enemy; only your programming is. The Decepticon tendency toward enslavement and cruelty – that is what I was created to fight. And I care because my programming is to care about every living being, in the hope that one day Autobots and Decepticons can overcome their differences and live in peace."
"Ha! Stupid Autobot. Not gonna happen," Frenzy sneered, turning away in annoyance at the lecture. He heard the door cycle shut behind Prime and footsteps fade down the hallway, but refused to look up again.
After silence had settled over the room he made himself wait a few dozen more astroseconds, to make sure no one was coming back to watch him again, before he gave in and curled up against the wall. Wrapping his arms around himself tightly, he offlined his optics and tried to figure out why he suddenly felt so lonely.
It wasn't Prime's sappy idealism, that was for sure. What were the Autobots thinking? Decepticons could never live in peace with anybody, they would probably die if they weren't allowed to be violent. Frenzy would rather shoot himself than give up fighting. He would also rather shoot himself than betray Rumble and Soundwave and everyone and become a weakling Autobot.
Was that the reason, then? He missed his twin and his Boss, and maybe his other brothers a little bit, too; but the feeling of being alone had never been this bad before. On the rare occasions he was captured, Rumble had always been there with him. This was the first time he had been held prisoner alone, without even any other Decepticons for company.
But slaggit! He was a Decepticon, he shouldn't be getting all mushy like this. What he should be doing was figuring out a way to escape. There had to be a way, the Autobots always underestimated the Cassetticons, so there just had to be some flaw in their security that he could take advantage of.
The easiest way out of here, of course, was to give up and pretend to join the Autobots, and then sneak off as soon as he got the chance. But knowing Megatron, he would find out somehow that Frenzy had "defected," and wouldn't believe it had just been a trick. Then he'd make Frenzy's life a living hell, if he didn't just kill him instead. And Soundwave and the others would probably be in trouble too. No, taking that way out just wasn't worth the risk.
But then what else could he possibly do, except sit here and hope Soundwave could convince Megatron that Frenzy was worth rescuing?
Those Autobrats had one thing going for them, at least: they would never leave one of their own behind, no matter how small and worthless. That was a stupid, risky tactic – but, just for a moment, Frenzy found himself wishing that his own comrades were that loyal.
It ended up only being two days, but to Frenzy it felt like he had been in that cell for a week, because after Prime's visit the Autobots had left him completely alone in the brig. No interrogations, no guards to taunt, nothing but his own thoughts and a security camera that he quickly grew tired of yelling at.
Frenzy discovered that he couldn't handle solitary confinement well, and was a nervous wreck when Optimus Prime finally appeared in front of the cell again. The Cassetticon hid his true mood as well as he could behind a defiant scowl.
"What, back for more? You gonna torture me now or somethin'?"
Prime ignored his jeers, and simply nodded a silent command to the black and white tactician standing beside him, who had his gun drawn. The tactician moved toward the control panel for the energy bars.
"We're letting you go," Prime announced. "Megatron has bargained for your release."
The bars in front of the cell flickered and died. The black-and-white came over to herd Frenzy out of the cell, though it wasn't really necessary. He was finally getting to go back to the others; there was no way he was going to put up a fight now and risk that. Once he saw them following, Prime led the way out of the brig and into the halls of Autobot headquarters.
His Decepticon confidence now fully restored, Frenzy couldn't resist a parting shot. "Looks like I won't be defectin' after all, Prime," he said smugly.
The Autobot leader glanced down, not breaking his stride.
"As I said before, my offer still stands. Remember that, Frenzy, because you may change your mind someday."
"As if," the Cassetticon sneered back, and the three continued walking in silence.