These are a series of short stories in the world of Prometheus, where Sam is on board the ship with many of the better supervisors he once had. As he is now able to talk to them, they are taking the opportunity to either reflect on how Sam is different from the slave they knew, or ask questions they could not before as he could not speak. Each story will be independent.
Anyone who has ideas, please feel free to make suggestions in reviews or PMs. Reviews are always welcome.
Reflections from Shipboard
Scrapper came in with the medicines and a nutrition drink for Sam and found him asleep. Razorclaw found that keeping the chains on the retaken human left reddened areas on Sam's wrists and ankles. When the areas became marks and fluid came out of them despite the padding, the breeder took Sam out of the cage, left him with Shrapnel, went over the cage with minute care, and removed the chains. When he did so, he moved the cage to the recreation room; it was rare for the room to be empty. Most the crew knew Sam in one of his former lives, and the rest knew to contact one of them if they thought Sam needed something.
The few crew members who did not know Sam before this trip normally did not deal with humans at all except to avoid stepping on them when they were on Earth. This human was the Master's pet and rumored to hold part of the All-Spark. Worse, even they could see that to live, he would need careful handling and care. They played it safe and left him to the ones who knew him.
Scrapper opened the cage and stroked Sam's white hair. Sam opened his eyes at the touch, and Scrapper saw that he was not asleep, but still in an effort to deal with pain. "Time for your medicine," the labor supervisor said. Sam nodded and started to push himself up, moving with visible effort. Scrapper held out a finger, and Sam used it for support. It was a habit they once had when Scrapper and his crew had first found him, when he was Noisy. "I need to void," the retaken human said in his mechanical voice. Scrapper moved with him to the waste disposal. When Sam was finished and had wiped his hands with the cleaning solvent, Scrapper gave him the package with the medicines and a canned drink. Dead End set up the medicines and meals for the human according to the instructions from the infirmary. Scrapper remembered how shocked all of them were that the medic tending the holder of the All-Spark was a human.
Dead End's response to that was amusement. "I heard Ratchet say she was better with humans that he would ever be, with my own audio sensors. He said that no one else would have saved Sam." Everyone on the ship sent up a private thanks to Primus for saving their lives.
Scrapper arrived on Earth with one of the last waves. He was in the fight with the Fallen, but his unit faced off with the Autobots and the Psyches, with almost no humans in that mix. He knew that others faced humans, and that they came off the worst, but he also heard that it was the force of numbers that defeated them- there were that many humans with Autobot supplied weapons that lead to that defeat.
Now, having exposure to the colonies, Scrapper knew that that version of history was so much scrap. There were two generals and one leader in that fight on the Alliance side. One of the generals was Rodimus Prime, but the other was a human by the name of Abigail Lennox, who kept Lord Megatron at bay while the Psyches, under their leader, and Rodimus Prime dealt with the Fallen. When the Fallen went down and the Sun Destroyer became so much scrap metal, Megatron retreated. The Decepticons could not stand against the Alliance without the Fallen and the energon the Sun Destroyer would have produced. The hatchlings on the Fallen's base died. Scrapper found out later that the Autobots never knew they existed.
Scrapper held out his hand, palm flat, in silent invitation, and Sam climbed in slowly.
Some protocols began almost as soon as all of them began interacting with Sam. Scrapper remembered all of the former supervisors appeared in the recreation room after Razorclaw moved the cage there and all of them called him by a different name. Sam held up his hands. "Please," he said, and even though his voice was mechanical, the weariness came through. "Lord Megatron calls me Sam." There was a silence, but the Master's pet knew his Decepticons. Invoking the Master meant that whatever name they knew him by before, the white haired human was called Sam now by all of them. Otherwise the argument/fights would have started.
Razorclaw helped Sam undress to show the extent of his injuries. They saw the huge bruises on his torso, his legs, and back. Scrapper had seen more deep bruises in humans than the others, and he knew that such dark colors on the torso mean internal injuries. "What are the little lines?" he asked. Sam explained stitches. Silence followed, all of them amazed the human survived at all and all of them aware that if they were to deliver Sam to the Master alive, he was going to need careful care. Sam pulled his clothes back on, moving slowly, and they could all see that he was in pain.
Most of them wished that Cykill was there now, so they could kill him.
"I thought you were leaving the infirmary," Dead End said. "Where were you going?' Sam explained that he was going to the same place the newborns and small children were cared for. "The most protected area of the colony," the pretender noted. "It would have been impossible to take you there." They all nodded, understanding that he was being moved to an area safer than the infirmary, which was well protected. Dead End said they were lucky, and now Scrapper believed him. Razorclaw put Sam back in the cage to rest.
So the guidelines were laid down. They were not to pick Sam up, but let him move into a flattened hand. Each one was responsible for Sam for a certain time period, which included making sure he had meals and medications on time. If they were to remove him from the cage, they were directly responsible for his safety. If he was not in sight and not in the cage, he was to be restrained.
But Scrapper seldom put him in the restraints. He preferred to either keep Sam under his direct eye or leave him in the cage. Sam was content to sit in his hands while he swallowed the pills and the drink that went with them. Scrapper compared Sam to Noisy, and saw small differences. Noisy had been thin, with his muscles flat on his frame. There had been no spare fat on him, despite the extra food he gathered while Scrapper looked the other way. Sam was not as thin, and his muscles were not nearly as developed. But the brooding look, that was quite familiar. Back then, it would be no good to ask what Noisy was thinking. Now, however…
"Sam, how many lives did you have before the one with me?" he asked. Sam looked at him, considering. "We all tried to manage a timeline, but sometimes things got confusing. "
"You were my sixth life," Sam said in his mechanical voice. "The first ended when I died in Optimus Prime's hand, when I was sixteen. No one knew then that I died, they just thought I had been missed in the search for the living. The second time I died with my wife, fighting in the resistance." He had to explain marriage. "Then I was in the mines." Scrapper saw a look on his face that Noisy never had, but that he had seen on other humans-hate. "Then I was with Shrapnel and Razorclaw. The fifth was building work."
"The one that works with Hook? Watts? "Sam nodded. They were both quiet for a time. Sam shifted a little, still uncomfortable. It would take a while before the medicines began to work. Sam shivered. Scrapper pulled a blanket out of the pen for him. The padding helped. "I remember that Baldy thought you were dead when he found you. Scared the wits out of him."
"You found me before I woke up from that reboot," Sam reflected. "Normally I had some time free before I was found. " They were both quiet, Sam settling into the warmth of the blanket and Scrapper's hands, and Scrapper remembering the time when he first saw Noisy.
They were ahead of schedule, and Scrapper wanted to stay that way. The sounds someone crashing through the foliage to him was a sign that there was a problem. He looked down to see one of his newer crew members coming through the foliage. Scrapper could see Baldy's distress before he took the submission pose all slaves used before imparting bad news. "Master, we found a dead slave."
That was unusual and merited attention. "Show me where," Scrapper said, resigned. Relief at not being punished for bringing bad news swept over Baldy's face. He had not yet figured out that Scrapper only punished when the slave was at fault, not circumstance. He led the way to his find, hurrying as his master strolled. Scrapper saw the still form before Baldy did. "Go on with your work," he told the nervous slave. Baldy nodded and went to get his tools, avoiding the young male on the ground as he did so.
Scrapper squatted to examine the human before him. He saw a young male, with no uniform, no collar, and no marks except a healed white scar on his throat. He was young but looked fully grown. There was little muscle development. He was a pale white all over, including white hair on his head and here and there on the body. He turned the boy over to see if there were marks on his back. The skin was softer than the sun-toughened ones of his crew members.
To his surprise, the youngling opened his eyes on the movement. He pushed to a sitting position, his back was to Scrapper. Rubbing his eyes, he took in his surroundings. When he saw Scrapper, he scrambled to his feet. Scrapper promptly put his hands around the boy, closing him in. "You," he informed the struggling figure, "are remarkably lively for a corpse." The youngling stopped struggling, looking down. "Look at me, little one." Frightened hazel eyes looked up to meet curious red optics. "So you can hear, and you understand me." The youngling nodded. Scrapper gave him an admonishing smack with a finger, enough to sting but not harm. "Speak respectfully."
Wetness appeared in the eyes. The boy raised a trembling hand to his throat and shook his head. Scrapper frowned and touched the boy's chin, making him tilt his head back. "You can't talk." The boy nodded. "I see." Scrapper considered the boy in his hands, who looked down again and swiped at his eyes. Considering the youngling's behavior, there were several possibilities. One was that the youngling was simply abandoned by someone who got tired of dealing with a flawed slave. Another was that the poor child was trained and used for something illegal, before having his speech mechanism damaged and being abandoned. He could be a youngling that somehow escaped before getting a collar. No, Scrapper thought, because younglings are raised in farms, and at the farm his skin would have toughened and gone the darker colors.
"Well, you're a puzzle. What should I do with you?" The boy said nothing, of course. "I suppose the first order of business is to get you dressed." He kept extras of the uniforms his crew wore, as accidents happened out in the field. He stood and said, "Come along," when the boy bolted into the thickest cover of underbrush.
Shouts broke out, and then calls for the master. If Scrapper was alone, the youngling might have escaped. Fortunately for the supervisor if not the youngling, he went straight to where the crew was working. While the crew might not have any idea what was going on, they did know that a naked boy running in the woods was trouble. Scrapper came to the area his men were clearing to find that Scarface and Gimpy had wrestled the boy to the ground and were holding him easily. "Very good," Scrapper told the two crew members, and took the boy from them. "Back to work, you can gawk at him after the light goes."
He administered a mild switching and promised the boy much worse if he tried escaping again. The boy's body writhed under the punishment, but he made no sound, confirming that the boy was indeed mute and not just stubborn. Done, the supervisor provided a set of field clothes and sandals and watched as the boy put them on. Until the normal work break, he carried the boy. On break, he left the boy with the crew with strict instructions to keep him with them but otherwise leave him alone, and went to create a harness.
He came back to find the crew trying to get information with yes and no questions. So far they found out that the boy was alone, and that was it. There was a lot of shrugging. "Did you give him some of the water?" Scrapper asked as he came up.
"Yes, Master," Gimpy said, "and took him to void, too, Scar and me together."
"Good." He produced the harness. The boy tried to bolt, but Gimpy saw that coming and grabbed him. "Primus, he's a wild one."
"Can't be too wild if he knows talk even if he can't talk himself," Scarface noted.
"Think he got dumped?"
"I think you better get back to work," Scrapper told them sourly. "We'll discuss the matter when the light's gone." The crew went back to work. The harness was an improvement on carrying the boy, though not by much. The supervisor did take the time to contact his work center by com to report finding the boy; they told him there was a patrol coming by that could take his report, and otherwise keep hold of him. "You are a problem," he informed the boy, who was poking at some rocks.
The boy mimed getting out of harness and pointed to the woods. "Nice try," he responded, amused by the boy's offered solution to his problem. "You'd either die on your own, get killed by a patrol for target practice, or wind up going through this mess again with someone else." He shook his head. "No, you'll get taken to a farm and get some proper training soon enough. Though I'd like to know where you got that scar."
That night, the boy surprised all of them. Scrapper tied the harness to a tree in the middle of the camp. The men started setting up camp. The boy watched for a time, before starting some activities on his own. He gathered a mound of some soft vegetation first, loading it in a hollow between tree roots. Having completed this to his satisfaction, he made another pile, but this time it was various sizes of wood. By this time Scrapper was ignoring the rest of the crew to watch him, intrigued. The boy produced the rocks he had been playing with earlier. One rock was a kind that was all over the place, a flat, glassy looking one. The other was a kind of ancient metal, mostly rusted but with some of the metal still shiny silver. He did something with the two rocks, before messing with the wood. The smell brought Scrapper over. The boy had a small flame that he was patiently building into a small fire.
"Master, we're finished." Gimpy said, coming over. "Hey, is that a fire? Can we heat the food tonight, then?" Scrapper nodded and produced the food packets, including one for the boy. "Noisy thing, isn't he?" he commented on the boy, as they gathered around the fire. He also found an extra blanket, though he did not have a sleeping pad for him. It turned out that the boy intended to use the vegetation he gathered as a pad. Scrapper found the tree a perfectly good backrest. He took the harness off the boy after he sat next to the pile the boy settled on. He kept a light hand over the boy, who eventually went to sleep. In his sleep, the boy nestled against his hand, seeking the warmth the supervisor radiated when the night got cold.
By the end of the second day, everyone was calling the boy Noisy. They were going through the woods, with trees that had round objects on them. Occasionally Scrapper found Noisy digging at something. By the end of the day, he saw that Noisy's shirt was tucked into his pants and was bulging in places. When he tied Noisy to the tree, the boy pulled out several plants and the round objects from one of the trees before he made up his vegetation mat. Scrapper wondered at it, but was distracted when one of the crew yelled something about a snake. He went over to see Baldy and a few others retreating from a fair sized snake, which he dispatched. By the time he had disposed of the remains, there was no sign of the little pile Noisy had gathered. It took Scrapper about a week to figure out that what Noisy gathered he ate. The crew did not report it because Noisy was sharing.
Noisy figured out how to get out of the harness once during the day while Scrapper was distracted, which earned him a harder switching. The second time, the crew caught him. Their punishment was to bind him hand and foot until Scrapper returned from making his com report. The patrol appeared about the tenth day he had Noisy. By that time they had worked out some simple signs.
The patrol talked to Scrapper and looked the boy over. "None of that makes sense," the patrol leader said, baffled. "No marks, skin white all over, no collar, only the scar at the throat. Can't talk, but hears, and can understand language. How quick is he?"
"Picks up almost everything the first time you tell him," Scrapper said. "He knew how to start a fire from some stones he picked up, knew how to make himself a soft place to sleep out of vegetation, knows what kinds of plants they can eat without getting sick." He refrained from mentioning that once Noisy had tried to cook a grey tree animal he caught and killed by twisting its neck. The crew took care of that matter without his needing to intervene. The idea of a human eating something that used to live did not sit well with him any more than it did with his crew.
"Feral?" the leader asked, interested. "Think he might be from a group that threw him out for some reason?"
"Why are you asking me?" Scrapper snapped. "I just found him." He glanced at Noisy, who was holding the submission pose while the masters chattered in Cybertronian around him. The crew had hammered into Noisy that doing anything else would embarrass Scrapper and earn Noisy a beating.
They tried to question Noisy, and only got frustrated. Fortunately for Noisy, the leader thought most humans were pretty much too stupid to live without constant supervision anyway, and he did not hurt Noisy when he got frustrated. "We'll do a search," the patrol leader decided, "just in case. Otherwise, we'll just process him as an abandoned slave who was found. Oh, I do have a collar." He produced the steel band with the electronics built in. Scrapper took it.
"What about getting him to a farm? He's too young for this kind of dangerous work," Scrapper said.
"We can't," the patrol leader said. "If you want him off your hands, though, we're going past the mines after we do our search. They can always use workers. "
"In that case, I'll keep him," Scrapper said. This might be dangerous work, but the boy was far better off with him than at the mines. A pain in the aft Noisy might be, but by this time, he was their pain in the aft.
Soon after, they were gone. Scrapper took the collar and stooped, pulling Noisy to him with the harness. He attached the collar. Noisy didn't struggle. When it was on, he took the harness off. "From now on, any one of us can track you through this," he said. "If you try to leave, you'll get this," and he shocked Noisy. "You've never seen me do that to my crew, and I won't to you either, as long as you behave." He stood. "Come along. It's about time we started training you."
That night he told the crew that Noisy would be with them permanently. "But master, he's too young, shouldn't he go to a farm?" Gimpy asked.
"It's here or the mines," Scrapper said. "He's flawed, so he won't be bred." The crew traded looks. "One other thing," he added. "He is too young for breeding. Understood?"
The crew members, with the exception of Noisy, squirmed. All of them used each other for sex. Some were established partners, and some went from partner to partner. Most of them had eyed Noisy at one time or another, but as Noisy slept near the master, they had not tried anything. "Yes, master," they chorused.
But Scrapper did not object when Noisy continued to bed down near him, until he toughened up and felt confident he could beat off anyone who tried to bother him. Scrapper continued to keep an eye out.
"I raised you to be one of my best workers," Scrapper said out loud, though he thought Sam was sleeping. He knew even at the time that he was unreasonably attached to his silent slave. How could anyone have known that a slave could hold the All-Spark? Or was that only part of the reason?
"You were a good master," Sam responded and yawned. "Do you know why your slaves were so loyal to you?" Scrapper shook his head. "You let them have a sense of family, of belonging to something."
Scrapper shrugged. "Giving good work conditions means they do good work and make me look good," he said indifferently. Sam hummed something drowsily in agreement. Scrapper moved to sit where he could see the screen showing space and told him about other systems he had seen. Sam listened, asking the occasional question, until he was able to go to sleep.
He was sure that Sam knew his reason for treating his crew well. When he had a crew he knew he could work well with, he felt that he belonged to something, too, and the most content he had ever been was working with Noisy in his crew.
He had protected the All-Spark. That was indeed something to feel good about.