Meant to post up this second half of the story 2 weeks ago, but for some reason I was having error problems when trying to edit my stories. Don't know if anyone else has been experiencing similar site problems recently too?
Anyway, after a prolonged delay from site errors and a couple of short TFs: Prime fiction pieces ("The Drive" and "After the Cold", check them out if you haven't already!) following after the first half of this fic, here finally is the second half of my second Robots in Disguise story!
Synopsis: In the moments awaiting his final fate of croygenic freezing, Scourge, piece by piece, continues to recall his mysterious former life as an Autobot, a past that he would rather not face...
Note: italics indicate memories and flashbacks.
Reviews are appreciated as always!
Reflection of a Ghost - Part 2
My imagination plays strange tricks on me as I watch him striding away. Optimus Prime's figure begins to fluctuate with that of Nova Prime's. His predominantly red body flickers in and out with a black, white and blue one. I shut down my optic sensors to block out the image.
In the darkness, more unwelcome memories run rampant through my mind. The Council, the Epsilon, the Autobot combiners, the journey across the stars, the chaotic descent to Earth...
The Epsilon's descent is swift and chaotic. She plummets uncontrollably into the upper atmosphere of Earth. The control room is shaking violently, red lights are blazing and sirens are blaring around Nova Prime and his Autobot crew. They are scrambling at their control panels.
"Keep her stable!" Nova shouts above the sirens.
"Sir, we're losing power to the main engines! They're going offline!" Dolrailer frantically reports.
"The secondary engines!" Nova barks back.
"They're not responding! We're falling fast!" Hepter cries.
Nova's sight is pulled to a rattling main vis-screen. The images on it are breaking up, but he sees the Epsilon's hull burning red-hot as the ship plunges rapidly through Earth's atmospheric moisture clouds.
"No, it can't end like this...," he utters despairingly.
Nova Prime never awoke from stasis, entombed forever within the crashed Epsilon. He perished on Earth along with his crew all those stellar cycles ago. It was only the Decepticon Scourge that emerged later from his stasis pod, full of fury and destructive power, with no memory of who he once was.
I order the Decepticons to fire. We unleash a rain of missiles and firepower onto the Autobots, intent on their eradication. Optimus Prime, in his battle-mode armour, steps directly into our barrage of fire with arms outstretched at his sides.
"Scourge, you're an Autobot! Fight Megatron's infusion of evil! It's not who you really are!" he pathetically appeals aloud to me.
"Why should I listen to you?" I reply coldly, my optics burning red. "You are Megatron's enemy! And the enemy must be annihilated!"
Whilst Nova had lain in stasis, they replaced him. They forgot him. So quickly, so easily. I find myself angered immeasurably at the realisation. Did they even bother to search for him? They left Nova on Earth to die! And then they replaced him...with Optimus Prime!
My optics blaze online again. Filled with an all-consuming hatred, I glare at Optimus Prime.
He took Nova's, he took my, place as Autobot leader! I see him standing there, tall, proud and sickeningly self-righteous! The great leader, the shining knight, the noble hero! Everything that I once was! My former life, my former self! What I should have been! That was me! I was once Prime!
Is that why I despise Optimus Prime with a passion? From the moment I reactivated on Earth, I loathed him, without really knowing why.
Moments after my genesis, I have already engaged in my first confrontation against Optimus Prime. I am eager to continue the battle. But then Megatron calls for a withdrawal. I obey.
Glaring back at Prime before I depart, I make a spiteful pledge.
"Optimus Prime, the next time we meet, you will cease to exist! I promise you!"
Even without any conscious memory of my former life, perhaps in my spark I realised...I realised that he had taken my mission and my place! I was meant to find Fortress Maximus on Earth and bring him back to Cybertron to help us combat Megatron and the Predacons! But it was not to be. Fate took me down a different path. I became something dark and corrupt. Anger and ambition replaced nobility and honour. My original purpose was lost. And if I could no longer fulfil my original role and purpose as an Autobot, then I would destroy the one who had taken them as a Decepticon: Optimus Prime!
Autobot. Decepticon. From the beginning, both sides tried to tell me what I was. Megatron, who had reprogrammed me to serve him, and Optimus, who held onto the hope that his influence in my creation had been enough to save some of my original Autobot spark and programming. I rejected Prime hostilely. I chose to be a Decepticon. And though I sided initially with Megatron as his reprogramming had directed me to, I grew increasingly to realise that I was not completely aligned with him either, and I became dissatisfied serving as his General. I desired to be my own master, to carve my own fate, to make my own choices, no longer to be a servant to others.
And so it was that, in my freedom from Autobot codes and morals and my concealed disloyalty to Megatron, I formed new, dark ambitions on Earth, ambitions that Nova Prime would never have dreamt of. Nova had set out to find and reactivate Fortress Maximus in the interests of the Autobot High Council. Then Megatron, the very evil Nova had sought to stop by setting out to find Fortress Maximus, ordered me to perform the same mission for him. But on Earth, for the first time, I dared to imagine the possibilities of claiming Fortress Maximus for my own, of taking power for myself, of taking charge of my own destiny. With Fortress Maximus under my control, I turned against Megatron, or rather Galvatron, when he did not expect it. But the coup failed. And I paid dearly for my ambition and betrayal.
Galvatron's dark energies flood excruciatingly through my circuits, wiping blank my processor, erasing my recent memories, my very thoughts, my autonomy. For nano-kliks, through the agonizing pain, I am dimly aware of what he is doing to me and my troops: reprogramming us to be his loyal servants once more, a merciless punishment for my attempted mutiny in turning Fortress Maximus against him. Before I can fully grasp that bitter knowledge, it is forcibly pulled from my mind.
Familiar faces from the distant past flash across my mind now. Old friends, followers of Nova Prime. Saluting, laughing, cheering, smiling. Could they ever have imagined that their leader could fall so far? A particular face emerges above the others...
A female Autobot composed of black and white colours stands before Nova Prime. She is stunning to behold. A pointed silver crest sits low between the narrow blue optics of her white face. Flanking the sides of her white head are silver plates. Her body, hard and soft at the same time, combines sharp edges with smooth curves. Vehicle mode components fan out from her back extravagantly. And attached to the sides of her hips are two long, unusual folded weapons, swept backwards away from her slender legs.
She holds Nova Prime in her intense azure gaze as she speaks softly.
"So how long are you to be gone?"
"I cannot say for certain," Nova replies quietly. "Until I have found Fortress Maximus."
She looks away for a moment, seemingly unsatisfied.
"That could be a long time," she murmurs.
An awkward and tense silence descends between Nova and her.
"I will return, Whitefire," Nova says sincerely, approaching her. "Until then, I need your support...and patience."
Whitefire looks up at him.
"I could come with you," she suggests hopefully.
Nova shakes his head.
"I already have enough assistance with the combiners as my crew. You would do better to remain here on Cybertron to fill in for some of my duties for me. Can I rely on you for that, Whitefire?"
Her disappointment is apparent, but she replies obligingly, "I am always at your disposal, Nova."
Their hands rise and meet briefly, holding onto one another. Then they pull apart.
"I will come back," Nova promises again. "Wait for me, Whitefire."
With that, he turns. Heavily, Whitefire watches him leave for the last time.
A small feeling of regret pierces my spark. What happened to Whitefire after Nova left? What did the Council tell her? What did they tell all of Nova's comrades when they lost contact with him? Did they simply report him deactivated? Did they eulogize him at some premature funeral? Would they tell Whitefire and others the truth of what became of him now? That he was reprogrammed, twisted, corrupted so completely that he had become something unrecognisable and terrible?
I stand watching the burning remains of an Earth power plant. We destroyed it in mere moments. The wall of flames licks hungrily upwards into the sky. Thick dark plumes of smoke blot out the clouds and the Sun. The heat sweeps over me like a suffocating breeze.
The destruction, the loss, the fire. It all satisfies me.
They would never tell them what became of Nova Prime. It would tarnish his proud memory. It would pain his former friends and followers. Perhaps it is best that Whitefire never knows the truth.
Nova Prime is dead. I am bitter because I was once him. I hate Optimus Prime because he is what I used to be a long time ago. And I know with certainty...
The Epsilon shoots further and further away from Cybertron. From his command seat in the ship, Nova Prime watches his home-world diminishing on a screen. He murmurs to himself...
...there is no going back now.
A former life. Gone. Dead. But I do not grieve. I am something else now. Free from the old Autobot morals that bound and shaped Nova Prime. I am so much more than he now. I am Scourge.
"Activate the chambers."
The voice of Levitacus pierces into my awareness, dragging me back to face judgement at the hands of Autobots that Nova Prime once considered friends and allies. In the distance, I see Optimus Prime watching me with those pitying gold optics. It angers me. I hate his weakness, his compassion, his mercy, his sympathy, his persistent hope to 'redeem' me. I hate what it is that he reminds me of.
I hear the resonant hum of the cryo-chamber engines and circuits powering up around me. The reinforced glass lid of my chamber lowers and closes over me, sealing me in claustrophobic containment. The chamber lights up around me, washing me in pale blue light. A frosty mist seeps rapidly into the air of my confined space. From the corners of my optics, I see the same happening to my Decepticon soldiers, who still lie mercifully offline and unaware in their cryo-chamber tombs.
The surrounding temperature begins to plummet. It is getting cold. My servos are numbing.
Sensation and perception dwindles. Past and present seem to blend.
I stare before me into the glass. There is a reflection. But to my horror, it is not my own.
Blue Autobot optics, solemn and ghostly, look back at me...
A terrible fear rises within, taking hold of me.
It cannot be. It cannot...
Then the fear erupts. I roar at the ghost possessing my reflection.
"You are dead! Do you hear me? YOU ARE DEAD!"
I jerk and writhe violently and suddenly. Furious, denying, terrified and mad.
On the periphery of my awareness, I vaguely notice the startled Autobot expressions staring at me from outside. Then simultaneously, without warning, my arms and legs stiffen involuntarily. A paralysing coldness injects itself sharply into my circuits. The ice seizes my body abruptly and remorselessly. One by one, my systems shut down.
The pulsing of my spark slows to a subtle throb.
The last thing in my failing vision: the haunting blue glow of a long-dead Autobot's optics.
Then the light dies.
And everything blackens.
"Strange. I did not think he would struggle so much."
Levitacus observed the now frozen form of Scourge in the cryo-chamber thoughtfully.
"Guess even he was scared of being frozen at the last moment."
"Maybe," Optimus Prime replied quietly. "Or perhaps there was something else he was afraid of..."
Levitacus looked at Optimus curiously.
Optimus Prime shook his head.
"It's nothing, Levitacus. You are probably right. After all, there's nothing left of the Autobot that once inhabited that shell."