Disclaimer – "Transformers" and all related characters, events, and concepts belong to Hasbro, Takara, and any other related owners/distributors/producers. I get no monetary benefit from this. My benefit is the enjoyment of dealing with beloved characters.

"Sparks are Cheap"
by DragonDancer5150

Chapter 3 – Frustration

The mech hit the wall hard, his body barely having a chance to slump before Ratchet was on top of him. "Where?" the medic demanded again. Ratchet remembered this mech, one of the bounty hunters who captured his friend. That had been over almost four solar cycles ago. Too long, far too damned long. This mech was the only link Ratchet had to his friend's whereabouts, and by Primus, he would talk.

"What the frag, mech?" The other's optics were narrow. "Doncha think you're overreactin'? Little rockie's nothin' but a runaway. Smelt, even his creator's in Turnback's employ. The mech was paid ta build him. If that don't mean he belongs ta that rich slagger, I don't know what does."

"This is a mech we're talking about," Ratchet snarled, "not a piece of furniture!"

"Around here, same diff!" the bounty hunter retorted. "Welcome ta Blaster City, outsider. 'Round here, if ya don't got money or the ball bearings t'force a little respect outta people, you're someone's property, one way'r another. Your buddy just happens ta be one'a those that it's literal an' legal. And if you're not careful, lemme point out that you're two kliks from joinin' him."

Something in the way the mech said it made Ratchet pause. "What do you mean?"

The mech gave him a nasty grin and gestured to one side with his head. Ratchet spared a glance over his shoulder at the corner of the alley's mouth, indirectly "looking" down the street. "You heard alla that racket down there, right? Them's the slave markets. We don't bother with prison 'round here, outsider. You get caught an' convicted, we kill ya or we put ya ta good use. An' if they can't sell ya in a vorn or ya get returned twice for bad behavior . . . we kill ya. 'Course, if ya got money ta spare an' work ta be done, but ya don't feel like fraggin' with unruly criminals, then ya just pay someone ta create labor special-made for ya. They're exactly what ya wanted, they don't give ya no trouble, an' ya don't gotta worry about trackin' sentences an' when ya gotta let someone go for time served. Works for everyone."

"Except the poor spark condemned to a life of slavery with no hope of seeing any end to it!"

The mech shrugged. "What spark? Like ya said, they're just furniture. They're just a drone, only got a little more sense to 'em. Usually."

Ratchet couldn't catch himself fast enough before his fist was smashing across the bounty hunter's face, crushing a few peripheral plates, breaking a service line in the jaw joint, and splashing his hand with energon as the mech lost consciousness from the viciousness of the blow.

You're two kliks from joinin' him.

Ratchet stood up and hurried out of the alley. He intended to be long gone before the bounty hunter could wake up and come after him.

At least now he had a name. Turnback. It was more than he'd had arriving in this dirty, dangerous, hellish city.