Warnings/Content Advice: Some violence, verbal torture, induced pain (but not overly graphic), minor swearing, slavery.
Rating: M
Continuity: G1 AU-ish
Characters: Red Alert, Inferno, OC.
Disclaimer: No...I don't own TF's.
Prompt: Freak from the 10th of July 2010 (Master list) - From tfspeedwriting comm on Livejournal

Authors Notes: This idea spawned from thinking about Red Alert's glitch. I didn't intend for it to come out the way it did, but I'm actually really happy with it. It kinda reflects the dark mood that's been hanging around me in the past week. I'm glad I got this out so I can continue with my assessment items without the urge to write fanfiction niggling at me.


Alone in his cage.

At least until it was time for him to perform.

More like be jeered at, mocked, made to be what they called him, what he was. A freak. At the thought of the word, the red and white frame curled up to himself further. They were going to a new town, on the edges of the Iacon city state border, near the Manganese Mountains. The Ringleader was hesitant to go so close to the capital of their planet for some reason. Red Alert didn't know why.

He had been the circus's freak for as long as he could remember. Since they picked him up, glitching and alone as a sparkling, and decided to make him one of the star attractions.

Needless to say, he didn't know much about the outside world. Only that it must be cruel. After all the mechs and femmes that had made him go into fits whenever they were allowed to view him, he could only conclude that all other bots were like that. If there was any kindness in his life, it was Ringleader's daughter, Moonracer, who would sometimes take him out of his cage to hold him and talk to him. She had been the one to teach him from a youngling, and was the only carrier-like presence he had ever had.

His helm horns buzzed and he instinctively covered them, gritting his denta as his glitch flared up. It was random. But when the spectators came to view him...well, it was just a hundred times worse.

The transport stopped, creaking as its hydraulics lowered it to the ground. Red Alert tensed as he heard movement, of Ringleader barking out orders. He muffled a whimper with his hand. He didn't want to perform again. Not so soon. Another orn for him to truly recover from his last spate of glitches would have been nice.

"Oi! Where's Freak?" called out Ringmaster.

Freak was his designation to all but himself and Moonracer. She was the one to name him. Red, for his main colour, and Alert for the times his helm horns zapped whenever he saw her.

"I'll go get him creator. His cage is at the back."

That was Moonracer. Red Alert only felt a slight relief that the pale green femme was coming to get him. He might actually be given something to fill his tank.

Sure enough, within a few moments Moonracer appeared before him, optics sad as she gazed upon his huddled form. She took something small and glowing pink out of her subspace, offering it to him. "Here Red Alert. Here's a goodie until I can get you some energon."

Reaching through the bars, the young adult mech snatched the treat and wolfed it down hungrily. He was so caught up in the taste of the goodie he almost didn't realise it when Moonracer began to wheel his cage out and down the ramp and into the erected tent. He received but a glimpse of sunlight and tall spires in the distance before the familiar environment of the tent. The pale green femme reached in and gave a soft caress to his helm before leaving.

Red Alert sighed and braced himself. Tonight he would be subjected to being the freak once more.

"Come one, come all! Femmes and mechs, it is a pleasure to present to you a mecha whose glitch is the most famous in our parts! See him shake, see him writhe, see electricity crackle along his circuits! Here he is! THE FREAK!"

Red Alert struggled. He always did. He was taught to, told that it would bring the crowd more delight.

It gave him one tiny piece of resistance before the inevitable pain.

The Ringmaster grinned at the crowd as his Freak was tied to a metal pole in the centre of the arena. Throwing his arm out wide he called, "Take your best shot! Make him helpless, feel the power you hold over him! Go! GO!"

A majority of the crowd rose up with a roar, some getting as close to the arena as possible to view the struggling red and white mech in the centre.

"Ugly Freak!"

"A pleasure drone would be better than you in the berth!"

"I want to slice open your neck you abominable piece of slag!"

The small mech let out a keen, trying to stop his glitch, fighting against the pressure as more insults were called out, the sound of the audience growing with each passing astrosecond.

"We should feed your spark to the turbo-foxes!"






Red Alert couldn't fight it anymore and let out a scream as he arched back, sensor horns glowing a electronic blue as his glitch played up, making him feel like mecha were reaching for him, tearing off his plating, and pain registered as his sensors were overloaded with too much excess data. He writhed and fell to the ground, flailing in an attempt to stop. He saw stars when he flung his helm back in his struggles, in his battle with his own frame, and disrupted his equilibrium chip.

He faintly registered jeering laughter, the same insults yelled at him, energon being thrown at him, covering parts of his frame. He shrieked again as something hit his arm hard.

"STOP IT!" a voice suddenly thundered, loud enough to be heard over the din.

All at once, the audience paused as a large red mech finally pushed his way through to the front, leaping over the barrier to the ring and rushing to the shaking and keening mech laying on the floor. By the various scratches on his frame, he had been trying to get through the crowd for a while now. When he finally reached Red Alert he scooped the trembling mech up into his arms, glowering at the Ringleader.

Red Alert was barely aware of what was going on, only that there was no more laughter and he was being held in warm, secure arms.

"What is the meaning of this?" barked Ringleader, displeased that his star attraction had been interrupted. The way the large mech was glaring you would have thought he had forgotten this was a circus.

"This is cruelty! I have never heard of any circus havin' acts like this! Why are ya subjectin' this poor mech to this?" growled the large red mech.

"What's your designation?" Ringmaster asked. He liked to know who he was talking to.

Standing up proudly, towering over the circus mech, he replied, "I am Inferno, part of the 1st division Iacon Fire and Rescue. Ya gonna answer my question?"

"He's my property. Without me, Freak would have deactivated as a sparkling, abandoned glitch he was. I can do whatever I want with him," replied Ringmaster, severely displeased.

"Frag that!" snarled Inferno, indignant. He turned to the audience, ashamed to call them fellow Cybertronians. "How could ya all do this? He's barely matured and ya treat him like slag because he's different! Show yur shame!"

At his words, the crowd shifted uncertainly. Not one would meet his optics.

Turning back to the circus leader he said, "I want to buy this mech." He shifted the smaller red and white frame in his arms, holding him closer. He felt as the trembling began to subside and a small hand clung to him. The anger he felt at seeing this innocent creature used in such a way was indescribable. If it wasn't illegal, he would have killed the disdainful mech in front of him.

"He's not for sale," retorted Ringmaster.

Inferno growled low, moving closer in a threatening fashion. "I know mechs who are good friends of Optimus Prime. Ya know what will happen if I get word to him about yur farce of a circus?"

Immediately, the smaller mech seemed to pale and he cycled air nervously. "There is no way-"

"Find a way! I am not leaving here without rescuing this mech," stated Inferno, steel in his tone. It was then that Ringmaster realised he stood no chance.

With a resigned sigh, he beckoned to Inferno and said quietly. "He's yours. For 10 000 credits."

"Done," snapped Inferno. He placed the mech in his arms on the ground, unhappy that the horns were still sparking and the mech was still twitching and flopping about slightly in his pain. He took a credit ship out of subspace, set it for 10 000 and gave it to the circus mech. Before anything else could happen, he gathered the smaller red mech in his arms and marched out of the circus. He was going home.

He hoped that he could help the mech in his arms.

When Red Alert woke, he began to panic immediately. Where was his cage? Why was he on something that was soft and warm? He bolted upright, scanning the room and seeing a very handsome mech sitting on a chair at the end of the comfortable surface he was laying on. Immediately, he froze under the warm blue gaze of the other.

"Hi," Inferno greeted quietly, smiling gently at the tense and obviously afraid mech on his berth. Poor mech. He looked so young too.

Red Alert didn't know what to do. He had never been in a situation like this before. Hesitantly he asked, "Who are you?"

"I'm Inferno. Do ya have a name? Something tells me that 'Freak' isn't it," Inferno said, making sure to keep his posture open and welcoming.

"I'm...Red Alert. Why...why am I here?"

Glad to see the mech being a bit more certain, the fire and rescue mech replied, "I didn't like what they were doin' to ya Red Alert. It's cruel. No mech should ever go through that. Ever. So I bought ya. Rescued ya if ya like to put it that way."

Rescued? Red Alert didn't understand. "You mean...other mechs aren't treated like that?"

The smile on the larger mechs face dropped off at that innocently asked question. Inside, he mourned for the loss of experiencing a normal life that Red Alert endured. He shook his helm slowly and murmured, "They're the freaks, Red. What they did to ya...its torture really. Most of Cybertron ain't like that. We're a bit more decent that that."

"Oh," mumbled the smaller mech, curling up to himself. This was all uncertain; he didn't know what he was going to do. Tentative, not knowing how far he could push, he asked, "Inferno, now that I'm your property...what are my duties? What...what is it you require me to do?"

"Absolutely nothin'," replied Inferno. It was breaking his spark to see a mech in this condition. "Ya ain't my slave. I didn't rescue ya so ya could serve me. I want ya to be a free mech. And if ya wanna...ya can stay with me. I'll help ya understand the world. We'll get a medic to look at ya, see if we can put some sort of pain limiter on your glitch or somethin' so ya don't go on the floor and shriek. I want to take care of ya."

"But...why?" asked Red Alert, confused, and yet there was this wonderful warm feeling in his spark as Inferno talked to him so nicely, and was so genuine.

Shifting to sit on the berth now, Inferno reached out a hand and said softly, "Because I like to rescue bots. I couldn't let ya be treated like that. I had to do somethin', even if it's only a small difference. I want a better Cybertron. It starts with one mech, and can grow to hundreds. Ya just gotta plant the seed."

Red Alert finally did something that was so foreign his own systems were questioning it. He smiled. It was small. But there. He crawled forward, taking the larger hand offered and crawled into Inferno's lap, sighing as those secure arms embraced him once more.

They might have just met. They were almost complete strangers. But nothing, nothing, could shake off the sure, undeniable feeling that Inferno was safe. If this was safe, then this is where he wanted to be.

A/N: My first Red Alert and Inferno fic. Wow. Angsty. Anyway, please review! (Again, apologies for my chapter stories will not be updated this week.)