A/N: the inspiration for this story is in one of my earlier pieces called "seven sins" as well as in Portal, RvsB and once again the writings of author Ceris Malfoy. This story is a glimpse of what I've always come to think of Screamer, his mind works so fast, and from personal experience with my more-so unmedicated days, I can tell you quite confidently that fast ins't always good.
Sins of The Living
"When the gods have abandoned you and all hope is lost, when the world catches fire and all around you crumbles and blackens and burns; stand tall and make everyone remember your name." - The ballad of the rage of Unicron, the warrior god of death.
To see them working in such a cadence was nigh unprecedented and more than just… unusual.
They were always bickering, always talking in the background… and always screaming, fighting; they never worked as one and there were just so many of them.
They moved fast too, strangely fast, incredibly fast, a wrong kind of fast that had you clutching onto the edge of your seat wondering how you got there. Everything is everywhere, like a computer with too many windows open all running at once and so much so fast.
They were like people too; all as smart and quick as he, what the medics had called "rogue programs". Havoc on the psyche; personalities and programs that shouldn't exist and had you tripping over yourself to remember what's real or what's made up, what they made up. There were dozens of them to begin with, trauma and experience and memory splitting them into more and more; hoarded, fetid little bundles of emotion and memory clawing about like angry infants and the guy who lives in the big grey building with the barred windows that nobody talks about because bad things happen.
There were a lot, there's more now, the last time he'd run diagnostics there had been a report of at least 374 rogue personality programs and related anomalies running through his processor; not counting those that had avoided the detection systems or jumped ship on him. Really, he should keep better track of them but as long as the more dangerous ones remained under lock and key the jumpers were none of his problem… except for that one time… and the other times before that and after that. A strict schedule of thorough de-fragging of his processors eliminated the knock-offs and kept him relatively mentally functional so he really couldn't complain.
No, his concerns were limited to the more dangerous escape artists; should they get loose… well, bad things happen.
Indeed, there were many facets to his being, many minds in one and more.
The First Sin, Sloth; Why should I bother with you? You do everything I want on your own...
"We created blades to kill and are in turn killed by blades."
Delta was the head of the throne of cold science and logic, the chill serpent that bites the bosom of its savior for that is it's nature. Always thinking, always testing and building no matter the cost, science and intelligence in its purity with neither restraints nor ethics to murk the way of progress. Delta could do the impossible with nothing and make you pray you're dreaming, a scheming wraith of terrible machinations quite happy to sit working on the worst of all things as the last of all things by your own hand, pleased to give you the lovingly handcrafted tools of your own demise and watch the noose tighten with the threads of time. A double dealer, giving not for profit but for fun, for idle entertainment, for sitting back to watch whole nations come apart at the seams in a blaze of glory and crumble. Delta and his kin are the unseen web weavers in the dark, writing fates with the utmost precision.
The Second Sin, Lust; I know everything you want... I will make it real...
"The mad lovers, the waltz of the entwined thorns, those who taint both themselves and everything around them."
Phi; the seducer, the manipulator and user was a honeyed wine spiced with decadent poison, a creature that could bend and break a dozen mechs and have them all come crawling back for more. The whisperer into the ears of fools and madmen and geniuses alike, the thin see-through black satin made for temptation and all too good at concealing a golden tipped dagger. The thing about Phi and it's ilk was that despite them all knowing of the fine edged knife stropping the lace with a lovely purr, they came for it and they wanted it. Addiction personified, high grade walking, Phi would pour desire down wanting mouths like the sweetest drink, a subtle burn with the richest flavor; eating them alive from the inside out. With a sway of lascivious ivory and scarlet the world would dip, with a purr the world would keen and with a fine toothed smile along plump aristocratic lips whispering lies like honey and truths like acid, kissing the ears with everything you ever wanted, the world would crumble.
The Third Sin, Pride; everything is after you and only you of course.
"The thorns of the rose, they spread like fire and spilled across the seas like disease, withering all it touches."
There were so many like Sigma as well, fear and phobia, intense paranoia that painted eyes on your back and a dagger in your chest. Sigma and her kin were vast and various but in the end their origin lay in fear; in the dark, beyond closed doors and sharp corners and the little black boxes that they liked to put him in. Sigma had him painting the walls with blood to keep the monsters from closing in on him. She had him scrambling to offer life to the dead that screamed and called for him inside his head. Sigma could turn paradise into hell with a thousand deaths, the reaching dark, behind her footsteps followed everything you couldn't see; everything you ever were afraid of and more. She was the first leap into the madness of the unreal, the lost little girl running in circles in the dark dead woods, covered in red and wide eyes crying. Contemplating, fearing, the prickle up your spinal struts the pounding fluttering spark so desperate for release, the shakes, the twitch the nerves cut raw; where oh where might the big bad wolf wander.
Right behind you.
The Fourth Sin, Envy; I want what I cannot have and cannot know and I want it now.
"The temptress sisters from whose lips spill only lies, whose silver laced tongues poison the eyes."
Then there were ones like Gamma, the liar, so full of lies it doesn't know the truth anymore. Gamma would spew nonsense for hours without knowing it, lies that would turn fair weather into delusions and love into envy into rage against everything it can never understand. It was so many lies, you can't even tell if it's trying to lie anymore or just desperate to tell the truth but it can't, rather a pathetic creature. Gamma was the twisted shadows toying with you behind grey silk and dusk, the mad crying deceiver, so much a liar it was a lie in and of itself.
The Fifth Sin, Greed; give me everything you have.
"The regenerator, the consumer, the dried up oceans."
Then there are those like Beta, those that know only pain, feel and perceive only pain. They shake and they wail but they know not guilt nor sadness or remorse. They were the ones born of punishment and depravity, sin and sadism, of weeks of hunger and a lifetime of untreated wounds and sickness. They were the ones born on the streets and gutters of the slums of Koan and fostered and nourished within the heart of Vos, within an academy of dark corridors full with pride and fools ilk and eventually within the ruins of all. They are the sad creatures that languish in the dark and they are the most dangerous of all; they make you pity, make you think, make you want to care and worst of all they make you believe that there may be even the slightest capacity for goodness in the caterwaul of cries and the eerie chittering of rocks on sandpaper just beyond the veil of seeing. Beta and it's kind were as simple as they were tragic; they know nothing, only pain.
The Sixth Sin, Gluttony; nothing you give will ever be enough, nothing I take from you will either.
"The resilient, the swift, the arrow through the heart, the outstretched hands that multiply and scream for more; the death sentence."
There were those like Omega, zealous and ever full of envy, taking and devouring, trying to fill an unending pit and void that would never be satisfied. It was hunger, it was unending throbbing painful want born of total deprivation. Reaching out, stealing, grasping, clawing, can't get enough can't make it go away, can't fill the hole in me. Omega was as sad a creature as he was dangerous and treacherous and ugly and so utterly completely simple.
The Seventh Sin, Wrath; come close little one and pray.
"The black cloak, the ticking clock, the cleansing flames, the finality; ashes to ashes."
Epsilon, the most dangerous of the children of hate was the pit of blackness itself reaching up and out towards your neck and spark with clawed hands grasping, never letting go. Epsilon is the ken of suffering, knowing only rage hate and pain and the means to inflict it. Unlike most others of it's kind though, Epsilon took joy in himself and his doings, so few of any of them, if at all, knew joy; no matter how twisted. Yes, Epsilon knew joy despite it's being and that is what made the torturer so dangerous. Those of hate would soon as suckle the energon from their own severed limbs if it meant surviving the dark another day to finally get the chance to strike back. Driven by sheer hate, the depths of what they could do, what they would do, was shocking even to the other decepticons. Epsilon would gladly tear a mech limb from limb to sate some wild fancy, gut them, rip and cut them and bathe in their energon blood, lapping it up and drinking it in with an almost sparkling like glee while Delta carefully dissected and categorized each piece removed from the whole, the many others clamoring in the dark spaces of his mind and writhing; he knows, he's done it before.
As an infant abandoned to the slums of Koan at the tender age of five he had clawed his way through life; by the age of six he had already offlined, cannibalized and dismantled his own kind, supped on their very life-blood and dying mass if only to quell the ache in his belly. He could dissect a mech down to the nutritional value of their parts and lines. By the time he was six and a half he had well and truly learned and lived the worst ways of Cybertron, her people and the festering hell that was Koan; he had been used, abused and beaten in the most horrifying ways. They had taken his home from him when he was five, they had taken his food from him with his security and what little love he had known at the time; he remembers the grayed shell of a mech he had been reluctant to leave at that time. Not truly understanding death at that point it was only the constant aloneness and the building hunger that eventually forced him from the mechs corpse. He remembers that dirty alleyway and the looks of those who ambled passed him and the desperate fear and pain that had him licking up what he could of the mechs dried energon before fleeing into the darkness.
He's uncertain but that corpse may have been his creator...
They took his trust and ruined it, they took his hope and murdered it; every aspect of a decent loving sane creature had been taken and twisted beyond recognition. By autobot, by decepticon, by neutral alike; our ivory towers crumbled.
He had lost his chastity rather unpleasantly to a gang of drunken miner grounders when he was somewhere into his sixth vorn of living.
By the time he was seven he was well and truly glitched beyond repair, all potential for proper moral and emotional programming, for sane rationalization, had been stripped of him. He had become mentally stunted in a way, unable and unwilling to see, hear or think in anything but the darkest ways. Murder and death were normal, rape and pain were normal, subterfuge and hate and evil in the worst of ways were as normal and acceptable as a simple scientific cause and effect reaction. They were fact.
At the age of 9 vorns he had been abducted and forced into service as a pleasure-bot, collared like an animal, in one of the seedier houses; a rare breed were seekers in Koan. He fought, so they beat him. He bit and thrashed, so they filed his teeth down and cut off his claws. He screamed, so they tore his vocalizer.
He's not sure of his age at the time, there were explosions and that was all that mattered. They were dead, he was gone, the rest is history.
So he runs.
He had to become smarter, faster, powerful in every deadly sense of the word and he put every ounce of his being into just that. He raised himself, fed himself in mind and body; barely a youngling he could outsmart and outperform mechs over four times his age and be just as cruel if not even more so. It had been his undeniable extraordinary intelligence and insatiable drive that had elevated him from the slums of Koan to Vos and eventually to the very pinnacle itself; the towers of the Iaconian elite.
That was the day he'd met Skyfire; an elite and a gutter mech, no one would have thought it and no one approved it, yet somehow Skyfire didn't care, somehow the bumbling oaf of a sweet-sparked shuttle had learned to toe the line of his madness and pierce the veil with his too-large strangely soft hands. He had loved in his own way, with what little he knew of it and had, for the first time in far too long, been loved in return.
It was weird.
It couldn't last, everyone knew it, they knew it too.
They'd lived together, worked together and nearly died together... they'd sparked together... new life in his chest, a flutter and an electric silk along his insides. He'd been terrified, didn't know, couldn't hide from the strange feeling growing inside. The carrier mechs were all dead, had been so for so long; slaughtered by word of the council and religious nonsense to make way for the allspark and the power its possessor would lord over all of them. He didn't even know what he'd had, what he'd done; perhaps the ultimate act of treason.
Then came the storm, the frozen blanket of white death, pain and static that had taken Skyfire from him. He'd searched for so long, too long, and had eventually been forced to retreat to Cybertron; leaving Skyfire behind had been painful beyond anything he could understand. Half dead from exhaustion, lack of food and exposure he had begged; first the academy of Iacon, then the military, then the senate and finally even the council itself: help me.
There were ugly whispers; the military drone that murdered the elite.
They locked him away in one of their elite containment facilities, they ignored his cries for his lost love and his pleas fell upon deaf ears; he was in another small, dark box...was this Koan? Their treatment of him reaches new lows, he is but a vessel for their contempt.
He felt like he was dying inside.
He had been left to rot, left to fester in madness and sorrow with no medical care as sickness, abuse and starvation and his inherent glitches took hold. All records of his existence were expunged by the academy, his patents and inventions stolen, his almost-life ruined, his future and his love taken.
Then one night, in a cloak of dank dark and quiet and pain his body had shook and convulsed as the sickness inside of him seemed determined to make an appearance. His chest plates parted, lines burst in fits of static, fluids, and blood and screaming until the object had been painfully extruded from his body with claws, cries and shuddering spasms. Never had he experienced such pain before, such body wrenching pushing-fear- where's Skyfire I want Skyfire please!
It was far too early to have happened, he'd had far too little food, shelter and care; the birthing alone had almost killed him. He lay in his blood, coming back to consciousness unto a rust red pool of his rotted and starved internals and his own stillborn infant.
It was then that he'd understood what had happened and it was then that the guards came for him, for the dead grey frame of the child he cradled to be taken to the incinerator.
He'd screamed until his vocals snapped.
His spark itself bore scars now, a great black gouge upon its quartz crystal core.
He would never bear again.
That was the day he gave himself unto his others, the slow descent into madness that much quicker, that much more painful, that much more necessary for survival. There would be whole vorns of darkness, of distant cries and silence in poorly lit halls and the burning spinning of his spark. Vorns alone, vorns in the dark, vorns held to heel beneath the abuse of the insatiable. Broken though his body may have been the undeniable countenance of rage, of smelting fires barely contained behind cracked bloody optics, the corona of a sun, never wavered; pride and hate never faltered. Chained and beaten and all but dead that rage became a mantle of heat-haze that breathed like a beast and grew like a dying star. It loomed like torture, stalked like teeth in the dark and fed his frame when the wardens would not.
-I hate therefore I exist-
The guards grew to fear him, their shifts came to pass his little out of the way cell less and less until footsteps rescinded unto silence.
Should his molten gaze shutter, should unconsciousness creep as chains clattered in the dark, he would swear he felt the watchful eyes of an amused golden clad lover at his back and armored hands upon his emaciated shoulders, a phantom caress and an unspoken promise as he slept. A longing, a lover only in dreams, perhaps the last bitter writhing of a mind so very deprived. He would spend vorns wrapped in that sweet delusion of a wild winged lover, until the day came that it too would fade unto the shadows with nought but a lingering not-there touch and sigh for comfort. There was the anticipation of fate in the dank air now, a copper tang along broken teeth that made his eyes burn that impossible little bit brighter.
Decepticon raids would see his prison broken, his chains cut and his vendetta unleashed; it would be a day that no one would ever forget. He had broken free of his prison in Iacon amidst the midnight raids and ran and killed and butchered until energon deprivation and exhaustion brought him to his knees in the very heart of Vos.
The once thriving city of seekers and crystal spires had been bombed into the ground by the frightened councils words, grown mechs murdered, younglings slaughtered in mass graves and the sparklings.
The cruel death of Vos was perhaps the true start of the war.
He had become a decepticon simply due to the fact that it was they who had found him first, several vorns after the destruction of the cities and his cell, a homicidal wraith wandering the ruins of Vos, and decided he might be useful.
Nothing was good enough, nothing would be good enough; not the prime's head he'd torn from his ornamented shoulders nor the tortured cries of every last senator and councilman he'd systematically hunted down like frightened sniveling animals.
Mutilation and destruction, desecration and dismemberment and disembowelment on a scale unthinkable, corpse after corpse after beaten broken pile made nought but bloody remnants of screams, pain and terror; no mercy... yet no satisfaction; it will never be enough...
The unknown murderer of saint and sinner alike, the open-air secret that was an unspoken assassin. He had been a story-like figure, swift death, a reaper among the wreckage. If only they had known what they had found, that they bargained with Unicron himself insatiable. He could see in their leader-warlord's eyes the madness that begged pain and blood, see far beyond his pretty words of freedom. Freedom? Freedom meant nothing to him, all he had left was his hate and he would make sure all the world around him would know it too.
Despite it all, now, he so dearly wishes to believe those words, even as the decepticons themselves fall unto corruption.
He stayed because that was just how things went; he had nowhere to go and that haunting want and hunger had pushed him higher. He had stayed because in desperation, as the city of Vos was condemned, with what sanity he had managed to drudge up in a more pleasant life, he had pushed his two young hastily self-appointed wards onto a decepticon transport ship to get them out of the genocide he knew would come; no matter how much the two hated him for it. An inscrutable act of mercy, perhaps simply the inherent drive to save what little he could of his frame-kin, it mattered not. They were all just a memory now, clear skies and younglings laughter, fettered away by the enforcers and black halls and fire.
That and there wasn't much else he could coherently do at the time either.
Make no mistake though, he had fought his way to the top in every task with broken teeth and shattered claws, blood, disturbing cunning and the sheer blatant refusal to die. He would hold the whole of the decepticon army together with quick wit and powerful action and sheer force of will as time and time again Megatron would drive them unto the very brink of extinction, leaving Starscream to pick up the pieces of himself and everything around him and put them all back together even stronger than before. They hated him, they mocked him, at times they feared him and at others they respected him; the warrior in the shadows of time and tyranny. A wild creature as stubborn as he was intelligent, as powerful as he was swift; a devastating combination of feral prowess and cunning all wrapped up in the most beautiful frame; totally untouchable to them.
In the sky and on the land, he was the embodiment of the line they could not cross, and like a mad pyre in the dark, he kept them safe.
The lynch-pin of the entire decepticon army.
Truly though, much of what he could and would do, of all that he would toss upon the flames, was quite shocking to the others, sometimes even Megatron himself; that thought was amusing to no end. Much of his time after his role in the death of Vos and Iacon had been a violent haze of sedatives, a beast chained to the floor and a howling madness void of all coherency, a golden clad caress along beaten broken faceplates and burning eyes.
Though for some odd reason he does remember several mechs specifically.
Megatron of course had been the stoic overseer, never quite letting it show just how much the demon scared him. Megatron had seen the raving madness beaten from him, the violence and the shakes drugged out of him and the murderers tied to the ground with stasis cuffs, shock collars and the generous metal chains and bindings used to secure cargo and small ships to the bay floors.
For that at least, Starscream could be thankful, that was one thing the old fool actually got right.
Try as he might though, the mech always left as stiff as the rafters above him and just as pale, always a few shades lighter, they counted the nights by those colors... and funnily enough so had he and his figment. They say his armor is dusty corpse grey for all the things he's said and done; we know different, we know what he's seen..
Then there had been Soundwave; clearly incapable of shielding his processor Starscream was to be fully examined and his mind "sorted" out. To this day they tell him that that was the only time they had ever heard the mech so much as curse let alone scream, apparently Starscream had brought out the mechs religious side as well; thrice damned by Primus indeed, how cute.
It had taken five days to work the bugs out of his system, to stop the random crashes, the tremors and the trauma loops, five days to make the pain cycles stuck into his processor stop. Seven days to recharge properly on his own, three days to make the screaming stop; his and theirs, to make them fade with the seizures. Eight days to make the- this isn't real -leave him alone. He doesn't talk about it but the slight shake and the bloodless grasping of his hands tell the story; he only looked once but like Pandora's box, you only had to look once.
They had tried to make him do it again, to open that dilapidated blood stained door to that god forsaken hell, again. Everyone present in the command center at the time remembers with no little a mixture of chagrin and fear when Soundwave quietly asked permission to speak freely and, granted, promptly told Megatron to shove it up his aft.
Megatron couldn't bring himself to blame him for it.
He remembers a silver face, light like platinum, and full lips and fangs that moved and shone like mercury. He remembers skeletal finger-like ribbons that flowed and swayed and left fire on his frame. He remembers a reaching golden figment with a laugh like death, a touch like desire and a hunger that resonated so deeply with him on so many levels it hurt to think. He remembers and he wonders.
Finally there had been two others, two other faces he had recognized even in the throes of having lost it to the world the worst he ever had.
Thundercracker and Skywarp.
Perhaps the fools that be were trying to use their would be trine bond in hopes of stimulating some kind of a mental turn for the better. Those two, after all, were the ones he had so secretly and selfishly looked after since the day he'd first found them lost in the outskirts of the slums of Vos. The younglings that never knew of their guardian until the day he showed up out of nowhere, claiming bond with them and shoved them onto a decepticon transport ship, booted them from their home and enlisted them unto the ranks. They had hated him for it but they had survived because of it and that was good enough for him.
Why, he did not know.
They brought him rations, helped to tend his wounds when the fits stopped and the shakes weren't so dangerous. They spoke to him even though he couldn't understand or retain a word or a syllable of it. They eased stiff joints and cleansed what would eventually become just another scar despite the claws and reaching and -don'ttouchthem- they made the endless edge away when the drugs and the beatings could not.
Why, how, he did not know.
Maybe he had seen guilt on their faceplates, maybe remorse or sorrow or some form of elation in realizing that he really was sick, so sick, but sickness nonetheless meant hope for a cure.
Starscream would eat his wings before he let either of them fall into the trappings of his mind and body.
Somewhere in his spark he knew he would sooner shoot himself with Megatron's own alt-form than give those virulent multiplicative things the satisfaction. He could agree to that no matter how much they tried to make it different and just how much they would conspire against him to do it.
For them, they didn't matter.
The pyre is burning thin, the fuel is nought but ash and cinder; what would that blanket of unknown bring, that creeping darkness, should the firelight of his madness finally wink out of existence? He had carved his rage into the whole of their world and the very planet upon which they stood until it crumbled and wasted and blackened beneath the weight of it. He is so tired now.
-That candle in the dark-
He is the Decepticon SIC, a mech of approximately 22 vorns of age, disturbingly young, who had risen from nothing to become everything as a laughing jack of all trades. Truly, he was far too good at what he did; from Koan, to Vos, to Iacon and to the whole of their world.
Sparkling of an Autobot noble sire and a lower class seeker carrier.
Graduated top of his class in the science and military academies of Vos, Koan, Praxus, Altihex and Iacon.
Mastery level certified field-medic, surgeon, combat specialist, mortician, chemist, physicist, psychologist, mathematician, chaotician, weapons expert, computer expert, botanist, tactician, engineer, inventor, xenobiologist, explosives expert, economist, close-quarters combat specialist, long-range combat expert, systems theorist, arial ops expert, spec ops expert and a previous deep-space explorer. The list goes on and it's still growing.
Responsible for no less than 357,000,032 civilian deaths, 470,000,000 military deaths, the termination and mutilation of all senate, council and over half the Autobot elite forces. Played part in the destruction of 11,520 Autobot city capitals, 26,320 lesser Autobot cities and 42,330 Autobot townships. Co-responsible for 34 cases of genocide, accomplice to the Decepticons in countless acts of violence, terrorism, atrocity, espionage, treason and conspiracy.
Certified insane by 63 notable institutions, guilty of 22,147 individual acts of high treason and around 114,550 known counts of war crime.
Personally responsible for the fall of Iacon, Praxus, Helix and Altihex.
Personally responsible for the death and mutilation of Nova, Sentinel and Vector prime.
-my love I am so tired-