Disclaimer: It's not mine. Be thankful, or it would be the only thing running on Tv. ^^
Author's note: Ok, so now I'll post this again and hope it will stay there. After what happened, I have a new understanding for the world and how it works. There are some people out there, who give the definition 'Spoilsport' a new meaning. N00bs who shout out loud: I KNOW! IT'S LIKE THIS AND THAT WILL HAPPEN AND THEY WILL GET TOGETHER BECAUSE OF THIS... and so on and so on yadda yadda.
Again, so this certain girl will understand this as well. There are people who haven't figured it out or haven't thought so far. Spoiling the story like this is not only a disrespect for the work of the author, but also rude to your fellow readers. You are NOT doing any good by acting like a hillbilly who thinks 'consideration' is a country or something to eat.
Now a message for the hillbilly girl: You are blocked from ever reviewing any of my stories ever again. Normally I'm a good natured person, but you certainly got on my bad side. Let this be a lesson and you better look the word 'consideration' up.
So now that I've blown off some steam on with the story.
Forget Me Not
by Misty Mina
"I tell you Prime. One day, he will get himself offlined for good, because of his own reckless actions!"
That was what Red Alert told Optimus every time he and his partner Inferno came back from a tussle with the Decepticons. This time, they were only outside to look for a spot to test out Red's improved cameras when Starscream and his Trine mates paid them a little visit.
It was strange enough that the Seeker practically showed his faceplates every time Red Alert was out of the base. One would think he'd stay away after the whole Negavator fiasco.
However, the end of the story was that Inferno acted on impulse and ignored Red Alert's orders, ...again.
Truth to be told, the Seekers fled quickly after a few well placed shots, but Inferno got badly injured. Not enough to be life threatening, but enough for Ratchet to cuss the fire truck out for a few cycles.
As much as Prime hated to dish out punishments he had to set an example for his soldiers. Ignoring orders of a high ranking officer was not going to be tolerated. Of course, there were always exceptions. Like requesting back up would be out of question or the mech in charge would be a complete idiot. But Inferno had no excuse and Red Alert was a capable security director. The Lamborghini knew protocol by spark, which said, to request back up in case of enemy encounter and to stay low until help arrived.
Optimus was at a loss as of why Inferno would risk his health for nothing. He should know the rules so far and at least listen to what Red said. Besides, they had all territorial advantages since they were in a forest. Seekers were made for aerial battles, they hated the ground and would only go down if they had to.
All in all, it was not enough for a stay in the brig, but enough to teach the fire engine a lesson.
The Prime was on his way to the med bay to inquire the status of Inferno's health and maybe to hold Ratchet back a little. He needed the fire truck in one piece, not pieces.
As soon as the doors opened, he ducked the oncoming wrench. It seemed like not even the title of 'Prime' could protect one from flying objects.
"Go away, I'm busy!" The Chief Medical Officer snarled and turned right back to his unfortunate victim. Sideswipe sat on the medical berth while Ratchet worked on the knee joints of his right leg. From Prime's position, it looked somehow twisted. He had no idea how the red twin managed to do that.
"OWWW, hey Ratchet, be gentle, will you." The red warrior complained, still a bit twitchy from the pain.
"Gentle you say? Oh, ...you mean like this?" Sideswipe howled in pain and flopped back on the berth. There definitely was a reason why the medic was called 'the Hatchet'.
"If I actually cared about being gentle with my patients, I'd never get any work done. Now hold still or this will take longer than 'you' would like!"
That was why Optimus avoided the check ups.
"Ratchet as much as I hate to interrupt you, I need to know how Inferno is doing."
Sideswiped looked a bit hopeful when the Autobot leader spoke to the medic. Perhaps he hoped for a break or that the Hatchet will be distracted enough to leave him alone for awhile.
Ratchet didn't even look up from his work. He wasn't the CMO for nothing.
"Well, in my opinion, I'd put him on medical leave permanently. Since he seems to have suicidal tendencies, I'd advise a few sessions with Smokescreen. Or what would you call what he did Prime? Him against Starscream and his two glitch-heads?" Ratchet was seething and this time his rage wasn't unfounded.
"I know Ratchet and I will talk to Inferno about this as soon as possible." Optimus was really not in the mood to argue with him.
"You can start right away." Ratchet pointed to a corner with a curtain.
Not trying his luck, Optimus walked right up to the curtain and put it carefully aside. Inferno lay on the berth online and with fresh welding marks adorning his body. A few machines were hooked to his chassis, monitoring him as a measure of precaution.
"Optimus Prime, sir." Inferno greeted, not really able to salute.
"No need to be formal Inferno, we're in the med bay. How are you?" It wasn't often for Prime to have the time to look after his soldiers on a regular basis, even if he did worry for every single one of them.
"Been better, but I'll live" Truth to be told, he really felt like slag.
Optimus stood right next to the berth. There was an awkward silence before he continued.
"I'm here to ask you a few question about your encounter with Starscream and his comrades." He started.
Inferno nodded, but looked like he wanted to be somewhere else. He wasn't sure if he could answer Prime's questions. He couldn't really remember what exactly happened after they retreated since he went into stasis from the pain and energon loss.
"Do you have any idea what Starscream wanted in that area?" It was better to start with the official questions.
"None, sir. But judgin' from tha way Starscream looked like, I'd say he had a ... dispute with Megatron. Mebbe he was jus' out on patrol or to blow off som' steam." Inferno shrugged.
"What about Red Alert's project with his new cameras?" The leader continued.
"They're up and workin'!" The fire engine smiled brightly. Red Alert had seemed so pleased that his work had paid off.
"Were they out to get the cameras or destroy them?" Prime knew this sounded like an interrogation, but he really needed to know.
"No, we have just finish'd setting 'em up and were on our way back tha base when they show'd up. I doubt they even suspect what we were doin' so far 'way from tha Ark."
It was time to come to the real issue here.
"Why didn't you listen to Red Alert when he told you to stay and not engage the enemy?"
That was a question he couldn't really answer. Well, at least not 100% honestly.
"I thought, it'd be better tha get rid off 'em as soon as possible. Who knew when back up would arrive. I couldn' risk 'em getting tha advantage." That sounded like a bad excuse even to his own audio receptors.
Optimus gazed sternly at the fire truck. He guessed that this was only half the truth. However, he was not about to force him to talk about it.
"You do know that ignoring orders has consequences, no matter if the higher ranking officer is your friend or that they never requested for disciplinary measures." He really hated to do that.
Normally Prowl would be the one to discipline the soldiers. But the SIC was unavailable at the moment, because he worked with Red Alert on the strategic use of the new cameras.
Inferno knew that his buddy wouldn't request for that. He would complain and yell and be mad at him for a while but it would be fine in the end. No, Prime must have noticed on his own how often he had ignored orders from Red. It was hard to listen when his impulses drove him to take things into his own hands.
It was not reckless behavior or the need to prove himself. He wanted to show Red Alert how capable he was. Show him that he was a mech worthy to be by his side as his partner and friend. Maybe also to impress him a bit with his courage and fearlessness.
The leader let out a heavy sigh.
"Fighting for the cause is one thing Inferno, but putting your spark unnecessarily in danger is another. This is not only about disobeying orders anymore. I've noticed that you leave comrades behind! Not only Red Alert, but others as well."
The lecture was strict, but long overdue with the fire engine.
"Leaving your partner or your team in the midst of battle to fight alone, ...can be a death sentence! I don't want to lose a capable soldier due to a petty skirmish."
Inferno let his leader's words sink in. So yes, death was always an annoying comrade in war, but he didn't try to think about it. However, his leader was right. His own actions were uncalled for and could have him deactivated for nothing.
Seeing that Inferno acknowledged his mistake Optimus tried to think of a fitting punishment. Usually he would assign monitor duty, but with Inferno being the best friend of his security director, the measure might even be more of a reward.
"You are relieved of duty and confined to your quarters and the rec room as soon as you leave the med bay until further notice."
Giving Inferno nothing to do would be the best course of action. The fire engine would always have the need to do something, anything at all. Preferably putting fires out even if he had to start one himself.
Wincing slightly, but still accepting the house arrest, Inferno only nodded. This meant he wouldn't get to see Red Alert for a while. Now that was a fitting way to punish him, even if Optimus didn't know it.
With that, Prime turned to go back to his office, trying hard to slip out unnoticed by the medic who was still working on poor Sideswipe.
Red Alert enjoyed the quiet of his own sanctuary. The security room felt more like home than his own quarters did. His quarters felt so small, worse than the brig. It truly felt like being cut off from the world. In his monitor room he could still be part of the Ark's life, even when nobody would notice or acknowledge him.
There was just something missing. Or rather someone. He'd already heard of Inferno being grounded like a sparkling by Optimus Prime himself. He felt a bit guilty since it was his complaining that got his partner into this mess. He had talked to Optimus later, but their leader wouldn't give in when he requested to lift Inferno's punishment.
Red didn't mean to rat Inferno out. It was just his worry and anger getting the better of him. The fire truck just had to play the hero, didn't he? Did he even consider how afraid Red Alert was for his well being?
Of course not!
Or he wouldn't have done such a stupid thing in the first place! It still made him mad that his friend was so careless. What would Red Alert do without his best and only friend? He didn't think he could bear the loneliness he'd been through again.
At the beginning he was fine. The security director didn't know what it meant to simply enjoy someone's company. Or to talk freely to another mech without fearing they might turn on him. But meeting Inferno had changed him. He didn't think he could trust another mech like he trusted him.
It might not be much for other bots to talk, to touch or simply be around others, but for him those simple things were things he couldn't share so easily. His glitch was bad enough and his life before the Ark had taught him to be cautious.
The place where he had been was worse than the pit.
There was no such thing as being paranoid. Trusting others was equal to shooting yourself. It was a certain way to be deactivated and used for spare parts. That was his greatest fear. Whenever his glitch would act up, it would also bring those memories back and he had to use all of his willpower to ignore or override them.
It had taken Inferno a long time to gain Red Alert's trust and he almost lost it when Rumble's missile hit the bunker. But saving Red Alert from the fire despite being ordered to save himself was like an apology from Inferno for his mistake. And the Lamborghini accepted the apology, willing to give his friend another chance.
The security director hoped that Inferno wouldn't suffer too badly and if his schedule allowed it he could pay him a visit later. Being grounded does not mean he couldn't have visitors and nothing was written in the rules about it either.
'Boring!' That was the only word that rushed through Inferno's CPU like a never ending chant. Prime truly outdid his SIC this time. The punishment was torture! He couldn't go and train, he was off duty and he couldn't go out to visit Red Alert in the monitor room either. All he could do was go to the rec room, get his energon and stay in his quarters. The others could only stay in the rec room for so long until they had to go back to their work or their quarters. And if Prowl happened to be there he would make sure that Inferno never stayed too long.
Luckily some bots symphetized with him and dropped by when they could, like Jazz for example. Even Bumblebee had shown up once just to keep him up to date of what was happening around the base.
He had read all of his data pads twice. (Which weren't much to begin with.) Seen all of his favorite visual tapes and even found an old board game from Cybertron in the back of his room. Slag, he even went so far as to 'clean' his room. The things one does when they're bored.
There was a short knock on the door. By now, there was no visitor who wasn't welcome in his quarters. Not even Megatron himself.
"Come in!" Was it just him or did it sound very eager?
To his absolute joy, it was Red Alert who came to visit him.
"Hello Inferno, how are things going?" He asked casually. A privilege only Inferno had earned until now. Red usually wasn't comfortable enough around others to be casual. Most of the time he was stiff and formal with them.
"Red, is good tha see ya! I thought ya forgot about meh already."
The Lamborghini entered and let the door slide shut.
"Forget? About you? Is that even possible?" Was Red's sarcastic comeback. It felt good to joke around with his friend like that.
"Nah Red, ya 're just being mean now. So, is tha visit official, or private?" Inferno just hoped his voice sounded steady at the last word and not suggestive. The last thing he wanted was to spook Red.
"A bit of both actually. I wanted to see if you've deactivated yourself out of boredom by now and I just happen to meet Prime on my way here. I should tell you something from him." Red Alert smiled a bit.
"Wha? Don' tell meh I still havta stay in 'ere!"
That even got a slight chuckle out of Red. It was a sound that Inferno cherished since it was so rare to see the security director like this.
"You don't. In fact, Optimus thinks an orn is long enough. You can start your duty next cycle." Which basically meant right next morning.
The whoop of joy was something Red Alert hadn't seen from Inferno in a while. He expected him to be glad not overjoyed. It startled him a bit, but at the same time it made him feel happy for his friend as well. What he didn't expect was to be picked up in the very next second and spun around in circles. Red Alert's glitch practically shouted out to him that Inferno tried to deactivate him. His horns sparked while he tried to fight back.
'Why should he hurt me now? He is only happy that's all.'
But the glitch wouldn't be quiet about it and kept attacking his CPU with accusations. The last straw was when it pulled a coded memory out of his secondary hard drive. A memory where two bots acted all friendly and hugged each other. But suddenly there was a shot and one of them sagged into the arms of the other. The other pulled a rifle out and Red knew he had shot his 'friend' right into their spark chamber. The poor mech didn't even know what hit him.
Inferno stopped himself when he noticed what he had done. Red Alert was tense and tried to claw his way out of his arms. His horns were sparking brightly and his optics were full of panic. He set the Lamborghini down but still kept a firm grip on his shoulder joints. If he let go now, Red would either hurt himself or others.
"Red! Red, it's meh. C'mon buddy. I won' hurt ya. Ya know meh, don't cha?" He could only hope it would calm him down. He really didn't want to call Ratchet and have the medic cuss him out again for being stupid.
He could see how his friend struggled to beat the glitch down and in the end the horns stopped sparking and Red Alert slumped to the floor. Inferno slid down to the floor with him, trying to keep him in a sitting position.
"I'm sorry, Red. I shouldn' have scared ya like that."
It took the security director a moment to regain his sensory functions. Powering up his optics, he looked up at his friend.
"No Inferno, you did nothing wrong. My glitch acted up and I lost control over it. You shouldn't apologize for this. I'm sorry." He didn't even dare mention that it was a bad memory that had triggered his panic. The less Inferno knew how messed up he really was the better.
As much as Inferno wanted to take him in his arms, he couldn't. Red Alert was already in a vulnerable state, doing anything now would give the glitch enough ammunition to act up again.
"That's total slag, Red! I gat carried away. I should think before actin'." He helped Red Alert up and reluctantly let go of his shoulder joints.
As much as the touch had frightened the red and white mech, he was still a bit sad when Inferno let go of him. Not really knowing what to do, he blabbed out the very first thought that crossed his data highway.
"I should go, there is so much work to do." Red Alert totally forgot that he was off duty and turned to go.
"Red!" Inferno called out.
To his own surprised his little friend didn't rush out, but remained where he was, giving him a backward glance. The fire engine was at a loss for words. He had called Red, but didn't know why. Maybe he didn't want him to leave like this or keep him from leaving altogether. He had to say something. Anything!
"See ya tomorrow?" 'Lame!' Inferno scolded himself.
It seemed like it was what Red Alert wanted to hear. He relaxed slightly before he answered.
"Sure." Then he simply walked out of the room. Not rushing out like he would have done a nano-klik ago.
When the door slid shut with a hiss, the fire truck took a few steps back and flopped down on his berth. Inferno sighed heavily. He didn't know why he acted the way he did. He knew that Red trusted him and would also forgive him if he really did something wrong. He even forgave him when he would ignore his orders.
So why was he always so nervous about losing that little bit of trust Red had in him?
It was only a few days later when Red Alert prepared himself to leave the base to fix a broken camera near the mountains. He didn't think he'd need back up but Prowl insisted. That's why he waited for Inferno at the entrance. He took the time to think over the visual material the camera had picked up before the screen went black. There was something strange at the edge on the monitor, but even freezing the picture and zooming in on it didn't help. It looked like a scrap of metal. It could be anything, from a Decepticon construction to simple human trash.
He really hoped it was just trash. The last thing he wanted, was to encounter some evil device Megatron had set up to destroy them all.
When he met up with his partner, they transformed and drove through the forest right up to the mountain. Things had been a bit strained between them at first after Red had glitched so badly in Inferno's quarters. But everything was slowly going back to normal and Red was really grateful for that. He didn't know if he could stand his partner's concerned stares for much longer. He would be fine, he always was.
They came close to the spot where Red Alert had hidden the camera. He didn't like the place, really. Too many options for enemies to hide. That mountain was full of caves and hidden niches. His paranoia was acting up again, but considering the circumstances and their place, maybe it wasn't really paranoia, just his experience doing the talking.
Inferno started to pace slightly. He took in his surrounds and made sure that nobody could ambush them. He wouldn't let his friend down. Not again! No matter what happens. After awhile he tried to ask Red Alert via comm. link how bad the damage was, but got no reply, only static.
"'ey, Red. Is your comm. link broken or somethin'?" He shouted to where Red kneeled in front of the camera.
The red and white mech twitched in surprise before glancing back at the fire engine while trying his comm. link as well. After receiving no reply from Inferno for his sarcastic remark over their comm. link, the security director was sure something was wrong.
"That's bad! Our comm. links aren't working. We can't call for back up and we are out in the open!" There it was again, the nagging feeling of paranoia and panic.
"So, ...we're sittin' ducks?" Inferno had heard that human term a while ago, which could be associated with helpless targets.
Red Alert didn't really get the meaning of the words, but as long as Inferno meant that they were in deep slag, he'd be right.
The security director scanned the area using his sensory network. There were faint signals on the other side of the mountain. Perhaps the reason why their comm. links didn't work.
"I pick up signals from the east side of the mountain. Let's go back to base and report this to Prowl." Transforming Red was ready to go back to the Ark, but Inferno had other ideas.
The fire truck transformed and went the other way.
"Inferno! Where are you going? Protocol states we have to report this!"
"Jus' checkin', Red. Mebbe it's just som' human radio station. No need tha get Prowl's circuits in a bunch."
"And what if there is a Decepticon army just waiting for us to make an appearance? No, we're going back!"
But Inferno wasn't about to give in.
"C'mon Red, Jus' a peek, then we can go back an' give a full report."
Red Alert sighed heavily. How was Inferno always able to convince him?
"Fine, we just take a look then make our way back to base and that's final!"
They drove around the mountain which took about twenty minutes. The Signal got stronger until Red Alert's sensory network couldn't bear the friction those signals caused. So he dimmed his sensory network to the point where it was bearable again. Now Red Alert's awareness was not better than any other's.
Transforming they both hid behind a rock to observe the situation. As Red had predicted, there were Decepticons at work. Although it wasn't an army, two or three were enough to send Red's paranoia spinning. They were working on some strange device. As far as Red Alert could tell, it was responsible for the disrupting signals he'd picked up.
"A jammer!" He whispered. Red had seen enough of those.
Thinking about it now, it could have been the thing he'd seen on his camera before it had been destroyed. So the Decepticons destroyed the camera and thought nobody would notice until it's too late. But why would they put up one in the middle of nowhere? Strategic thinking was not really his field if it didn't concern security. That was Prowl's area of expertise.
Red Alert nudged Inferno so they could retreat before they would be spotted. Suddenly a shot hit their hiding place and missed Inferno by a few inches. What neither hadn't noticed was that one of the Cons had seen their reflection in the new constructed steel of the jammer.
The fight was on!
Two Autobots against two Decepticons. A fair fight one would say. However, Red Alert was sure he'd counted three. Both Red Alert and Inferno, still hidden behind the rock, took out their weapons and tried to fend them off. The Decepticons were in the same situation as the Autobots. With the jammer around and working, they couldn't call for back up either.
Decepticons were natural cowards. If a fight seemed fair, they would retreat when they couldn't win. At least if Megatron wasn't around to push them forward. But until then, they had to fight back. Inferno had to do something about that. Or else this would go on for hours.
'Protect Red! Show him that you can do that!' That was the urge that nagged him and drove him to risk his spark without thinking.
Looking around, for a way to gain the upper hand, the fire truck spotted the jammer.
'That's it!' He thought.
Red Alert managed to hit one of the Cons. Not enough to deactivate him, but enough to put him into stasis. Now was Inferno's chance!
"Cover meh, Red! I've gat an idea!" He was about to leap out of their hiding place, but a servo on his arm held him back.
"Are you defect? Stay here Inferno!" There was a third Con around, he knew it!
The other Decepticon kept firing, but crept closer to his fallen comrade to pick him up or check if he was still functioning.
"Trust meh Red!" It was all Inferno had to say before jumping out of their hiding place and ran towards the jammer. The red mech couldn't get a good shot if he'd stayed in their hiding place. Now being close enough, he shot twice before the thing exploded. The comm. links where working again and he lost no time and requested back up, while trying to take cover in a niche of the mountain.
Meanwhile Red Alert managed to distract the enemy long enough for Inferno to shoot the jammer.
'He could have told me what he had in mind! But no! He just ignores orders and has to play the hero!' Were Red Alert's bitter thoughts.
Now with the jammer gone, Red could turn his sensory network up again. Right in time to notice that the third Decepticon had crept up behind him. He'd used the battle as a distraction to sneak up on them. Turning on his heel, Red Alert fired!
Inferno tried to shoot the enemy again, but the Con who'd been distracted by his partner, grabbed his comrade and fled the battle. Now that the jammer was only a pile of scrap metal, there was no reason to stay. The fire truck tried to listen to his surroundings, but hearing no gunshots or other Decepticons he decided to leave his shelter.
"Did ya see that Red?" 'Did ya see meh?'
As usual after a battle Red Alert wouldn't answer. Because he'd always claim that the enemy would use a voice modulator to lure him out.
"Aw c'mon Red! It's really meh. No voice modulator or anythin', I swear!"
The only answer he got was the silence of the mountain. So ok, maybe Red was right and, yes there were Decepticons, just like he thought. But this was overdoing it.
"C'mon Red, it ain' that bad. The Cons are gone!"
Inferno walked back to the place were he'd left his partner. The closer he got, the more he noticed something peeking out behind the rock which they'd used for cover.
Noticing it was a black servo, he broke out into a run. Looking behind the rock, it was the worst sight he could ever imagine.
Red Alert half sitting, half lying against the rock. His helmet cracked open, dripping energon over his faceplates and shoulder joints. But those were things Inferno could deal with. What really frightened him to the core processor was the big hole Red had right under his spark chamber where his fuel tanks should be.
A third Con lay on the ground, deactivated and with his faceplates gone. Red Alert shot him right between the optics, but not without taking a hit himself. Inferno took his friend into his arms, trying to stop the energon loss.
"No, no Red! Don' do this ta meh!" He pleaded.
Red Alert couldn't hear him. His optics were dark and he most likely fell into stasis long ago to conserve energy.
Panic tore at Inferno's spark. He'd rescued many bots, but not one of them had been so close to join the matrix like Red was at the very moment. Inferno opened the emergency comm. link.
"RATCHET! Get yar aft out here! Red has been shot!"
The story might look shorter in later chapters, but it isn't. I've just thrown two chapters together.