Verse: Part of my Full Velocity series, AU, vaguely set it 2007 Bayverse. Not compliant with ROTF/DOTM. This can be read as a "Stand alone" fic without any background knowledge.
Warnings: violence, intoxication and derogatory mech slang.
Disclaimer: I do not own Transformers, and am no way affiliated with Hasbro/Takara Tomy/Paramount Studios. I make no profit from this, and am only having fun. Think of it as stress therapy.
Summary: He didn't give a damn what other's thought about him. He lived buy his own code of honor, and so did she.
Let It Cost What It May
Prewar Cybertron: Iacon
One-hundred and five steps from the door of his domicile to the door of his favorite energon bar. He knew this. He had counted out the steps many times over the almost twenty vorn that he lived here.
One-hundred and five steps to the nameless little dive that exchanged his credits for rations of fuel. He like the energon they served, clean and filtered. Nothing laced, nothing fancy, and nothing that could clog a tank, simple fuel at a decent price.
A dark, quiet place where he could sit and think, not expected to talk to anyone unless he wanted too. Somewhere he could lose himself in his thoughts.
One-hundred and five steps to the relaxing end to a tiring orn. He went to his quarters just long enough to toss his data pad on his recharge bunk. He didn't bother turning up the lighting, he knew the location of everything in his humble home. Turning and exiting, he relocked his door behind him. He started the count towards the pub.
Thirteen steps to the cross-hall.
Seven steps to the lift. He activated the controls and waited with his arms crossed over his chest. His legs spread in a stance to warn others that he wasn't moving. The lift doors opened and a couple of mechs glanced at him with wide optics. They excused themselves as they squeezed around him, trying to exit. He grunted in response, not caring.
One step onto the lift, and another to pivot around to face the front. He tapped in the codes for the lower pedestrian bridge. The lift shuttered to life and slowly slid downward.
He relaxed, rotating his shoulder gears to shake off stress. His processor slid back to an earlier argument, and he wondered if he still had a job. Telling the head engineer that a fragging drone could do his job better, hadn't been the smartest thing he had ever said, but it was the truth. His creators had taught him all they knew about engineering, architecture and construction, but he didn't come from the right status to actually move into the upper offices and run the whole thing. Instead, he had to be content with the position of Assistant Site Foreman.
He saw mistakes, errors, things that could compromise the structural integrity of the project. His superiors didn't care, the government officials that sanctioned the project didn't care, and if it collapsed, killing scores of Cybertronians, there would be a nice cover up. He didn't understand why, when they could spend a few credits more and save lives and a scandal, right now.
His heated and intense opinion over this probably lost him a job he had scrapped, clawed to be promoted, despite being from one of the labor classes. Oh, he could get another job. With his credentials, temperament, reputation and social standing, he could easily join any of the fighting pits in Kaon, or enter into the military, they always needed cannon fodder.
He snorted, those options didn't appeal to him. He wasn't afraid to fight, but he only fought on his terms and he sure as the Pit wasn't going to have someone tell him, who or when to fight.
In truth, he enjoyed the complicated process of raising new edifices too much. His spark danced in joy when new trusses rose skyward to add another floor to a new building, or when the final details of an interior room sparkled in polished metal. Creating and construction were his only loves.
The lift shuddered to a jarring stop, and he mech made a note to check out the lift's mechanics later. The responsibility didn't fall to him, but he didn't want to be the one riding the fragging thing when it failed, and plummeted to the bottom of the shaft.
The doors slid open and the filth of the pedestrian level greeted him. One of the lowest levels in the city, few ever ventured this far down. Not many Cybertronians enjoyed the simple pleasure of walking to their destination, not when they could transform into an altmode and zip along the higher causeways.
He liked walking, it slowed life down. He tipped his head back, and peered upwards. The towering supports of the upper causeways, anchored on levels even lower than this one, faded away into the upper atmospheres, monstrous obelisks that held the winding ribbons of the roads and bridges. The structures blocked what little light the Cybertron star shed onto their far flung world. He stood in a thick gloom, heavy shadows wrapped lazily around everything that ventured this far down. Even the noise of the city above sounded muffled and distant here.
A movement to his right caught his attention. He held his position, but cut his optics to see who neared.
He had only an astroseconds to respond as a fist sliced across his visual field. He reached out, snagging the other's wrist and jerked downward. The crunch of metal twisting out of shape screeched loudly in the desolate walkway as he wrenched the offending mech's arm out of socket.
The other screamed.
He used his leverage to topple his would-be attacker, dropping the mech to the ground. Without hesitation, he slammed his pad into the other's chest, pinning him.
"You think I'm an easy target? You are wrong." A small blaster appeared in his hand, emerging from its housing in his forearm. He leveled the barrel at the mech's spark.
Terrified optics stared at him, and he smiled cruelly.
This might be Iacon, but even the capital city possessed a criminal element. Mechs that preyed off those that they thought wouldn't fight back. A hidden menace the High Council ignored, brushing the complaints away like one does refuse.
He continued to smile at the waste of metal, taking in the mech's appearance. In spite of the rust patches and dinged armor, this one appeared only a few vorns old, hadn't seen a repair bay or even buffed his armor in quite a while.
Something resembling pity kept the older mech's anger in check.
"My name is Ironhide. If you come around me again, I will snuff out that worthless spark in your chest." Ironhide lifted his foot.
The mech quickly scrambled to his feet and disappeared into the darkness.
Ironhide watched him go, quickly stowing his blaster. Weapons were outlawed on Cybertron, only statute enforcers and the military could carry them. He had picked his weapon up illegally, as had most of the working citizens of this sector.
As in any large city, on any planet in the cosmos, those that lived towards the bottom of the economic ladder tended to ignore the high minded ideals of the elites, ethics and morality meant little in the day to day struggle to remain fueled and functioning. In the slums if Iacon, this was no different. The citizens had learned that arming themselves meant protecting themselves. They feared not only those living on the fringe of society, but the enforcement officers that were supposed to protect them. Enforcement officers had a bad habit of confusing the victim with the offender and making life miserable for everyone.
Ironhide turned and headed back to his unnamed bar. He had lost count of his ped steps in the scuffle, another minor annoyance in an orn full of annoyances.
The building itself sat wedged between monolithic pillars, supports of the upper causeways, a small, dark structure, squatting among the giants towering over it.
He headed inside, wanting to get his back against a solid wall in case the young mech returned with a pack of friends. He doubted that the mech would return, but a little caution wouldn't hurt.
Ironhide took his regular seat at the corner of the bar, a place where he could keep an optic on everyone in there. A smattering of mechs dotted the inside of the place. They gathered in tight groups of three or four around the tiny tables. Exhaustion, frustration and desperation hung in the bar like a fog, the ambiance of a working class barely able to fuel themselves.
Tonight it was particularly bad.
Dragdown, the bar owner and only server, moved in front of him, a half-hister of polished metal countertop ran between them. "Had some trouble." A statement, not a question.
Ironhide folded his arms on the bar surface and sank further into his seat. He grunted, "Nothing I couldn't handle."
Dragdown nodded knowingly. "Breakstop wanted to go out and back you up."
Ironhide looked towards a soft spoken mech sitting alone and watching the news feed on the monitor hanging on the wall. He doubted Breakstop could be much help in a fight; the mech worked as an assistant to a consultant, and lacked armor and heavy hydraulics. One good punch and he would be in a medbay. "I'll pick up his tab tonight, but don't tell him until later."
The barkeep nodded again.
Ironhide didn't see any reason to make an issue out of things, but the thought did count.
He ordered a half a ration of medium grade energon, and relaxed. He listened to other mechs.
Dragdown sat his energon in front of him, and Ironhide handed over a data stick containing his credits. He didn't worry about Dragdown stealing from him, that would be very bad for business based on simple honesty. He knew Dragdown too; he had been coming to this energon pub since he left his creators. He trusted the barkeep.
He picked up his cube of energon and nodded thanks to Dragdown as the mech ran his data stick through the register. He sipped the fluid, enjoying the cool slickness as it slid down his throat.
Ironhide turned slightly, picking up snippets of other conversations. Most discussed Sentinel Prime's decision to cut ties with the Kaa Alliance. Made from nine planetary systems, the Kaa Alliance provided a huge amount of commercial trade for Cybertron, along with a formidable military ally. He had already heard about the decision and knew that several of the space ports would have to cut laborers or close. What bothered him was the lack of reasoning the Prime offered for turning his back to such an old ally. The Kaa had stood beside Cybertron for a very long time and even helped blocked Quint raiders.
He agreed with the anti-Prime sentiments shooting round the little pub, he just didn't bother to voice his opinion.
The cycles wore on, and he sipped his fuel, nodding the occasional greeting towards mechs he knew. He kept to himself, only talking when spoken to, saying little and simply watching. He didn't need the clatter of other Cybertronians to fill his day. He enjoyed the company of his own thoughts; others just made noise, talking a lot while saying nothing at all.
He needed to go back to his quarters and recharge. His next shift at the build site started in 5 cycles and he wanted to be refreshed and renewed so that his superiors could release him of his duties there. The slim hope that they might actually listen to him danced in his processor… and ionic boars would fly.
The pubs door opened and Ironhide barely registered it. The bar had filled up and he knew enough of the mechs in there to stop worrying about the little slagger that tried to attack him earlier, not that he was worried, but his aft would be covered. He lifted his cube to his mouth, and tipped it backwards to ingest the last dregs of his fuel. In his periphery visual field, movement snagged his attention. Ever so slightly, he lowered the cube to peer over it.
Three femmebots slipped along the tables, moving to the back of the pub with lithe, efficient grace. Ironhide, and every other mech in the pub, turned to watch them.
He would have been less surprised if Sentinel Prime opened the door and strolled in. Rare and rarely seen, femmes caused a commotion where ever they went. Smaller and lighter than the average mech, balanced and elegant, femmes carried themselves with a haughty confidence that belied their mischievous nature. Their armor curved fluidly around their supports and systems creating living art. Their voices carried with a melodic undertone, mesmerizing and alluring. They were Cybertronian, and yet they were different. They kept to themselves and away from mechs. Like stays with like.
He had seen femmes before, but not around here, and not in his bar, walking through like they owned the place. He glanced at Dragdown and the old mech stood there with his mouth components hanging open. Ironhide realized that he still had his cub pressed against his face. He hastily set it down.
"Another quarter ration," He ordered, things just became interesting.
The femmes moved to a table, delicately seating themselves around it. Their softer colors cut a brightly through the dingy bar
"Big spender tonight." Dragdown had apparently recovered his senses.
Ironhide glared at the barkeep.
A sultry laugh eradicated any comeback he wanted to make. He looked at the table of femmes, the pale blue one laughed, her hand pressed against her chest, while the pale green one with silver trim smiled wickedly. The all-white one stared wide-opticed in shock.
Ironhide would have loved to know what had been so funny.
As the blue femme recovered her composure, the green one searched the bar. Her optics scanned the mechs until they meet his. He and the femme stared at each other until she smirked and turned away.
His pump pounded in his chest.
Dragdown sat another round of energon in front of him. Then the barkeeper headed towards the femmes. He talked to them for a few clicks before making the rounds to other tables, serving energon and checking on his patrons.
Ironhide settled back down in his seat. His pump continued to thump rapidly in his chest and his core temp crept upwards. He happily blamed it on drinking more than normal.
A cycle crept by.
Most of the patrons relaxed around the company of the femmes, even if no one approached them. The femmes talked, laughed and sipped their rations, then ordered another round. The green one twisted in her seat and raised her legs, plopping her peds on an empty chair. She glanced at him, their optics briefly meeting.
Cooling fans kicked on in Ironhide's cassis, and he ordered another round.
A couple of mechs stood up, disgust evident on their facial plates. They slammed their partially finished cubes on the table and headed towards the door. They passed near Ironhide, and he could hear their grumbles.
His mouth components turned downward in disgust when the term "fragging' hubs" reached his audios. Ironhide wasn't renowned for being a polite mech, and he had slung his share of crude epitaphs, but there were some things he couldn't tolerate. He ground his dental plates together. Intent on following the mechs out and pounding an apology for the femmes out of then, Ironhide shifted to get up.
A hand pushed down on his shoulder. He turned his head to see Dragdown; the barkeeper silently shook his head. "It isn't worth it. The femmes didn't hear, and you don't need trouble from the enforcers. Just sit and enjoy the show," the mech whispered in his audio.
Ironhide's engine rumbled. "It was an insult."
"I know, but just let it go. Like I said, the femmes didn't hear. Just let it go. Anyways since when do you jump to defend someone you don't know? Sit and enjoy the show, the femmes want to play Jarts."
Ironhide stayed seated, accepting the older mech's words. He really didn't care what insults mechs called each other, but calling a femme a "hub" was especially repulsive. It reduced a fellow Cybertronian to an object, a toy to plug into and overload off of. He hated the term, using it was just vile.
Dragdown left his side and disappeared into a storage area. The grizzled old mech came back with a dirty box, Jarts spear points sticking out of it. He sat the box on the femmes table and snatched up their empty cubes. He made his way back to the bar and where Ironhide sat. The barkeeper disposed of the empty containers and pulled out three tiny sample holders and poured high grade in each of them. He looked up at Ironhide, a grin on his face, "The orn just got interesting."
Dragdown sat all three samplers on a tray and took them to the femmes.
The femmes had pushed around several tables to set up the Jarts pit. The blue one distributed the little spears as Dragdown arrived with their samplers. In unison they ingested the energon, and then placed their tiny cubes on the tray. The green one wiped an unseen drop off her lip components with her thumb, her optics lingered on his.
Ironhide almost slipped off his stool. Thank Primus no one noticed as he righted himself.
The barkeeper returned and lined up three quarter rations of the same high grade. Ironhide ordered one for himself.
The femmes started their Jarts game, the blue one going first.
Ironhide didn't pay attention; he kept his optics locked on the green femme. She pointedly ignored him, but he watched her gestures, and the way that her facial plates shifted in different expressions. He took note of the wry intelligence that burned in her optics, noting that she would be a handful to content with. As he sipped his high grade, a slight buzz hummed along his systems as he admired the gentle curve of her armor and her light and sure steps as she moved to take her turn at Jarts.
Her stance was balanced, her throws loose yet controlled. Quick and ruthless, she racked up her score with an impressive cluster. Green handed the spears to the white femme.
"Sad" would be the only way to express the white femme's performance. She didn't even hit the target, and stuck one of the spears in the ceiling.
Ironhide chuckled to himself.
He propped his elbows on the bar counter and rested his chin in his palm, making no pretense about watching the femmes.
The femmes retrieved the errant spear and sat the pit up for another round. The blue one went first; he ignored her, focusing on the green one. The green femme stepped up for her turn. She had her back to him and Ironhide observed how her little aft wiggled as she shifted her weight to pitch the jart. A deep growl rolled out of engine. She scored a perfect center ring, and followed up with two jarts in the hexagonal quadrant.
Not bad, he mused to himself. Actually, pretty slagging good.
The white femme then took her place. Her first throw went wild and bounced off the shoulder plating of a nearby mech. The offended mech snatched the jart and stood.
Before he registered that he had even stood up, Ironhide's peds carried him between the mech and the femmes.
The green femme shoved her way past him to intercept the irate mech. She stood shorter than him and Ironhide figure that he could aim over her head if he needed to land a few blows.
"We need that jart back," the femme said, her voice, while softer than a mech carried the tone of one accustomed to giving orders.
The big mech sneered and curled his hand into a fist.
The femme crouched slightly, drawing both of her fists up.
Ironhide processed how fast he could shove her to the side and subdue the other mech.
The loud crack of metal impacting metal rang out, distracting everyone.
Ironhide looked towards the source of the audio shattering sound. Dragdown held a length of pipe in his hand, he had slammed it against the bar counter.
"NO!" the bar owner shouted. "NO! Either stand down or take it outside."
Ironhide relaxed his stance, but kept watch on the irate mech.
The mech glared at him. "I cannot believe that you defend her over me." He pointed at the green femme standing between them.
Ironhide stared coldly at the mech. "I like her more than you."
The mech stammered, obviously stunned. "'Ironhide, we have known each other for vorns."
Ironhide shrugged. He couldn't remember the mech's designation and informed him so. That seemed to deflate the mech's hostile attentions. The mech dropped the jart and moved towards the exit, his spark and pride crushed. Ironhide didn't care, whatever he and that mech had had, didn't really matter much. Slag, he couldn't even remember the mech.
Ironhide turned towards the white femme. "Hasn't anyone ever showed you the right way to throw a jart?" he snapped.
She looked down, embarrassment clouding her optics.
The green femme turned on him, her finger poking him in the chest violently. "You have no right to talk to her like that!"
He wrapped his massive hand around a slender green and silver one. He like the way it felt, and his pump skipped. His energy field crackled, seeking out hers. He shoved her hand away, took a step back, distancing himself. "Before she injures someone, I'm gonna show her what do to since you didn't."
Anger flashed in the green femme's optics. Ironhide fantasized about those heated optics hovering over him in more intimate circumstances.
Quickly, he moved to collect the errant jart from the floor before he did or said something stupid. He also decided that he had had enough energon and needed to start burning some of it off.
With the little spear, he turned back to the femmes, stepping to the launch line of the Jart pit. "You," he said and pointed at the white femme.
She didn't move, fear lighting up her optics.
The blue one shoved her forward. "You said that this was how you wanted to celebrate your promotion."
White attempted to stammer something in return, but Ironhide snatched her by the wrist and dragged her the last couple of steps. He took the other spears from her and handed her one back, the rest he stabbed, points first, into a table.
"Hold the fragging thing like this…" He used the spear he had picked up to show her the proper way to balance the jart in her hand. "Now when you throw it, don't move your upper arm. It's all in the elbow and wrist." He launched a jart; it arched perfectly before sticking into score matt.
White attempted to do the same, but she rotated her whole arm. The spear landed severely to the left, two tables away, sending the customers scrambling out of the way.
"No," Ironhide grumbled and reached for another one of the small spears. The green femme handed him one. He could have sworn his spark imploded as her fingers brushed his.
It took him half a cycle to get White to even hit the matt, but she did. Grunting in satisfaction, he stepped aside, intent on heading back to his seat.
The blue femme blocked his path, and held a quarter cube of high grade out to him. "You and me against those two?"
He stared at the high grade and the femme offering it. Her optics shone in amusement and she smiled at him. He nodded and took the offered fuel, promising himself that he had already had enough and would sip this slowly.
They lined up on their teams, pitting him and Green against each other. He relished the challenge, she was good at Jarts, but he knew the he was better, as liquid confidence buzzed along his circuits.
"What's your designation," he asked.
She stared at him. "I'm not going to tell you."
His brow arches raised in surprise. "What if I earn it?" He remained composed, but he couldn't believe he had just said that, it had to be the high grade talking.
She emitted a single bark of laughter.
Ironhide took a sip of his high grade, staring at her.
Her lips peeled back in a sneer, showing her dental plates. "You better keep up if you want to earn anything from me… mech."
He winked, letting the high grade and her proximity warm his systems.
Green stated that she would take the first turn, and no one argued with her.
Ironhide followed close behind her, knowing he would go second.
She tossed all of her spears, swearing violently at the low score. He wanted her to swear at him like that.
Ironhide took his turn. The green femme crept close enough that he could feel her energy field tingle along his. The distraction sent all of his spears falling into the null space.
The other two femmes took their turns, but he didn't care about the game scores.
Another round of high grade and several more round of Jarts and he gave up any and all decency he possessed. He let his optics rove over the green femme's frame. He imagined his work worn hands sliding over her smooth, polished metal, making her gasp and moan with delight. His frame shuddered, but he kept his arms crossed firmly over his chest.
She glared at him her optic shutters narrowing in threat, but the corner of her mouth quirked up in a barely hidden smile.
Ironhide filled his vents with air, and puffed his already formidable chest out a little further.
She reached over and grabbed their empty cubes, the containers clanked in her hands. She turned and headed towards the bar. Her steps wobbled and she couldn't maintain a straight line when walking.
Ironhide followed closely, behind her. He made every step that she did and few extra. His gyros spun erratically, sending conflicting signals to his processor and he stumbled about every third step.
The green femme dropped the containers on the bar counter. "Another round," she called to Dragdown.
"What is your designation?" Ironhide growled, and the planet spun around him, then righted itself.
She listed to the side, and grabbed ahold of the bar to correct her stance. "Like I'm telling you."
He stepped closer to her, their fields brushing against each other, tantalizing and teasing. It took everything he had to not reach out and touch her. Primus, he wanted her, and he had played enough of her games. "You said if I could keep up you would tell me your designation. I have kept up with you…femme." The words slurred from his vocals.
She threw a punch at him.
Had he been sober he could have dodged it, but she connected with his shoulder and he staggered. Shock registered in his processor, frag she could hit hard. He swung his arm towards her, not to return the punch, but to grab her wrist. He missed and swiped at her again.
He caught her, but not before she landed another punch.
"Would you fragging stop that!" he snarled, and wrapped his free arm around her. He pulled her to his chest, effectively restraining her. Immediately, he noticed the way that her chassis molded against his, and how her energy field sizzled along his own. The high grade stripped away all of his inhibitions, he let go of her wrist and stroked her neck cables.
The femme's optics dilated, before contracting to narrow points.
Ironhide's chest rumbled. He could feel her squirm and grate against him. Wicked thoughts involving playing in her programs and accessing her pleasure centers brought the energon in his lines to a boiling point. He wanted every part of her.
A metal pole slammed against his shoulders, and he staggered under the force of the blow. "Out!" shrieked Dragdown. "Get out of my fragging bar! The both of you!"
The pole cracked Ironhide across the back again. "No fighting in here!"
Ironhide loosened his grip on the femme and grabbed her by her shoulder struts. He unceremoniously dragged her from the bar.
She hissed and repeatedly punched him in the head, face, chest and tried to kick his legs out from underneath him. Certain he had more than one dent, he let her go, expecting her to run off. Instead, the femme stumbled backwards and crouched into a fighter's stance.
"All I fragging want is your designation!" he shouted at her. Part of him wondered she was worth it, and part of him still wanted to just touch her. He paced in a tight circle, the world spinning around him. Overcharged, turned on and frustrated he stomped into the gap between the pub and the causeway supports.
Cybertron rotated wildly on its axis, he hugged the wall for support, and shuttered his optics. False data flashed on his HUD, and he cycled his vents. A soft pedfall alerted him of the femme's approach.
"Why do you want to know my name so badly?"
Ironhide snorted. "So I can drag you back to my quarters, 'face you into submission and bond with you. What do you think? So I know how to address you, you thick plated…" He let his words drift off uncompleted.
Opening his optic shutters, he pushed away from the wall and staggered a few more steps down the alley. He had made a complete aft of himself. He had probably lost his position at work. Dragdown probably wouldn't want him back in, and he certainly wasted any chance with the femme that he had. He didn't even realize that he wanted a chance with the femme until the High Grade and not his processor started making the decisions.
"'Face me into submission and then bond with me?" The femme's voice echoed around him.
Awe frag, he had said that aloud.
"It was only an idea," he mumbled.
Embarrassment heated his systems. He took a step, and realized that he had consumed way too much energon and his tanks had finished converting the fuel to energy. His circuits buzzed, and his systems started shutting down to protect them from the excess energy.
He took one more step before his optics shut off and he collapsed into a heap.
He hurt everywhere he had a pain sensor.
His processor throbbed, and he begged Primus for death.
He had ruined his entire life in the span of a few cycles and didn't want to move, or even see a new orn.
He lay still, trying to remember all of the events that lead him here, but he could only recall the delicate face and mischievous optics of a green hued femme.
His chronometer chimed, he needed to head to the work site.
Opening his optics, Ironhide tried to focus, but he couldn't see a thing. Panic flared within his spark, he had drunk himself blind. He reached up to touch his face and realized a strip of sheet metal blocked his vision. He tossed it aside.
He raised his head. He lay on his back with one leg propped up on a wall. He couldn't quite figure out how to unwedge himself.
Then he saw it.
There, carved through his paint, glittering in stark contrast on his thigh plating, several glyphs spelled out a name.
"Chromia," he said aloud, the back of his head clunked on the ground. A victorious laugh bellowed from his vocals.
A/N: This one is trying to take off and become multi chapter fic. Grrrrr. Maybe, I don't know. I have HOTF for finish first. Damn bunnies. I was going to post the next chapter of Holding Onto The Future, but it has disappeared from my computer. Poof! Gone. I still have the chapters written in longhand, in my notebook, so, all is not lost.