I'm posting this just some minutes after watching 'Crossfire'… Epic, I can't describe all the feelings that I had during the episode. Imagine a rollercoaster between devastated and frenetic, and still it would be short… Sorry, I'm just rambling here, but that's to be expected after watching possibly the best episode of the series.
I'm done rambling, sorry. Now, let's get back to this fic.
I want to deeply thank you all for the reviews and comments you were so kind to share with me after reading 'My happy ending'. I also want to thank Tench for the beautiful drawing she made, and to disgorgingfoetus for the video he uploaded in youtube. I'm speechless with all of you guys… It was your support what kept this AU running in my head and took me to write this sequel.
So I want to dedicate this story to all of you. I hope you'll like it as much as I did.
Oh, and be prepared for a guest star… or more.
Thanks to iratepirate for beta reading and her continuous support.
My wild 9.99 percent
Written by Taipan Kiryu
The lunatic is on the grass
The lunatic is on the grass
Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs
Got to keep the loonies on the path
In the dream, he was crazy.
In a colorful world, a rollercoaster of noise and grey smoke coming out from exhausts. That's where it existed, small but present, an annoying particle trapped within his processor, reminding him of its existence.
Curiously, everything else around was blurry. But still, he could hear the music. Because that was the way speed was supposed to be: blurry and full of music. Heavy Metal… Knock Out would have found the term ironic, had he been conscious.
But he wasn't. His mind was a battlefield of fog, frames, two backs turned to him, wheels burning rubber, polished hoods, stickers on his rear bumper… Many, many images pummeled his processor at the same time, making focusing a very difficult task.
There were also the voices echoing through the tunnel of supremacy and perfection, struggling to escape. He had known those rounded walls practically since he had been assembled; sometimes he felt he had known them even before that. The roughness, the laughter, the monster made of many. And, amongst it all, the warmth, the belonging…
The longing too.
…tunt… merge and trans… into Men…
It always ended like that.
So he was insane, the same as his speedometer. 80, 120, 160, 200, 250… Miles – not mechano-miles, but miles. How did he know what miles were? Why did he recognize the asphalt of the streets, the yellow lines in the middle, the blue mantle above him, the foreign frames that turned into junk as soon as he touched them? There must have been worlds like that, only he had never seen them.
And then, the white planes. It always came to the white planes making sharp, symmetrical shadows on his hood. He didn't like symmetry; he wanted to keep seeing the sun through his windshield as the Heavy Metal kept playing. Was that the reason why he didn't like planes? He had to be the only Decepticon who hated anything with wings.
And then a hand covered his mouth, silencing his cry of freedom. And suddenly he wasn't crazy anymore. He was focused, and concentrated on winning the race, and self-centered, and pessimistic enough to appreciate the symmetry of the white planes, certain carriers of doom.
Symmetrical, but not beautiful.
Knock Out interrupted his recharge cycle as he had done so many times in the past: with a start, air vents hyperventilating, gyros frenetic…
It hadn't always been like that. At the beginning, most of the time he spent offline had been relaxing, the perfect way to maintain his systems running at optimal efficiency. His beauty sleep, as Breakdown liked to call it.
But then the imperfections started. Dreams, as the base's data base named them. Dreams, a dysfunction proper of organic beings.
He wasn't organic, so it was impossible that his recharge delirium could be qualified as dreaming. It was a disturbing imitation, a small price to pay for not having been assembled in series, as many other Decepticon warriors who shared the same frame design, voice and even personality had been.
So his individuality wasn't perfect, but who cared? Every time he looked at himself in the mirror he was reminded of his superiority.
Only in his dreams his looks always had a disturbing second place, sometimes completely disappearing from his thoughts. It was always about the fight, the continuing struggle of that small part inside of him to reach the two figures in front, far ahead of him and reaching the goal line. There they were, the self-centeredness and vanity that made his personality component, perfectly balanced with each other. That was him, but the race was far from being over.
Knock Out sat, his hand forming a fist. He almost feared to look at himself in the polished metal of the recharge chamber. He knew, as hundreds of vorns of life had taught him, that it could be one of those days on which the face that looked back at him from the mirror wasn't his own. He hated it when that crazy thing surfaced and made him see the Universe through different optics.
He heard the door hissing open and he forced himself to remain indifferent.
"The facility has been secured, Sir. The first battalion is expecting our arrival."
Knock Out turned to the Vehicon standing at the entrance. How close had he been to becoming one of those anonymous soldiers, named by serial numbers and not by their individuality traits? But he wasn't one of them. Not a Vehicon, not an Eradicon, certainly not a Miner. He was unique, stalked by annoying impersonations of what organics called dreams, but unique. That was what mattered.
He stood up and nodded to the Vehicon. "Prepare to land," he told him.
The Vehicon bowed slightly in reverence, the same he would have done to any other high ranked officer, and left the room. The door was still closing when Knock Out's communicator came to life and the most familiar voice in the Universe resounded in his audio receptors.
"Knock Out. Are you there yet?"
Breakdown never wasted unnecessary words greeting him. He was always blunt, sudden, even brusque, but every single time he spoke to him Knock Out could notice the timbre of warmth in a voice that had been the last thing so many Autobots had heard, and some Decepticons too.
"Perfect timing, as always, meine freund," he said, getting up from the recharge chamber. "I've just arrived."
"Everything fine with the flight?"
Knock Out smirked as he examined the reflection of his face on his arm. "If by fine you mean boring, yes, it was quite fine. This side of the colony has been dead for years. Is it too much to ask for some good, old-fashioned enemy resistance? You should have left some Autobots alive for me, partner."
Years? Why had he said years instead of vorns, eons or any other Cybertronian time unit? He always woke up from those crazy dreams with words that were not his own, but fortunately Breakdown understood them. He always understood.
There was a silence on the other side. Breakdown was a mech of few words, but those silences always seemed to be full of meaning. Knock Out really wished that his partner would have been at this side in that moment.
"Anyway, watch your back down there. There could be some Autobots hidden amongst those Empties, maybe even some Decepticon deserters."
"Do I really have to remind you that I'm not a helpless protoform, Breakdown?" Knock Out said as he consulted the nearby computer terminal. "Besides, the squad of Vehicons I sent to precede us already took care of the situation. I'm currently receiving the report that all the Empties living in the facility were terminated."
"Have the buffer ready when I get back, that's what you should do instead of being so paranoid. I'm afraid of what this atmosphere will do to my finish."
And he cut the communication. Knock Out felt an instinctive familiarity towards Breakdown, but sometimes he wished his partner wasn't so over-protective.
Knock Out didn't rejoice in power. That was one of the two things that distinguished him from the rest of his kind. Decepticons were naturally ambitious, eager for power. Dominance was their fuel, much more than Energon. Then why did Knock Out find the task of walking ahead of a squad of Vehicons, inspecting a lot of terminated bodies, tedious?
It wasn't that he wasn't ambitious. He was. There was a part of him that enjoyed picturing himself in a position of authority, at the top of the podium with an eternal number one beneath his feet. But there was another strong part, the one that was indifferent towards power and practically toward everything else that didn't involve his physical appearance.
And there was also the third part, the small percentage, the one that reminded him of speed, and fun, and vivid colours, and music…
Insanity was its name.
He grimaced and shook his head. He had to make it stop. Usually his recharge delirium remained there, when his primary circuits were dormant and he was unable to do anything about it. But when his systems were totally functional – when he was awake, to use another organic word – he was the ruler of his own feelings. He was himself, not those pushing malfunctions in his processor that were trying to open their way through the dark tunnel.
He tried to focus on his current mission, feeling satisfaction when he managed to do it. He had been sent in command of two squads of Vehicons to secure whatever functional equipment that remained in a medical facility in one of the most forgotten Decepticon colonies.
Although to use the word 'forgotten' was quite a compliment.
The facility was nothing but a display of rotten walls, many of them remained standing only with the help of unexplainable forces. Most of the ceilings were gone, and the few that were still stubbornly attached to the walls showed an asymmetric display of holes and scorch marks.
The world facility was also completely inaccurate. The only thing that hinted that the building had once been used to practice medicine was a dozen repair berths, torn from their bases and piled one against the other in one of the laboratories. There, amongst oblivion and their own rust, a small group of neutralists had mounted a masquerade of survival, their lives nothing but a continuous search for Energon crumbles. Knock Out was certain they had practiced cannibalism in desperation to live another cycle. He had been compassionate by ordering the Vehicons to terminate them on sight.
He grimaced in disgust at the pathetic view. Two squads of Vehicons… why had he been sent with two squads of Vehicons to secure a place ruled by no more than ten jokes of Cybertronians which he could have beaten with one hand tied behind his back? Even two of the most average Vehicons could have taken care of the job without getting a scratch in their dull paintjobs.
He continued his way to the Control Room, not bothering in hiding his disgust. Dust, dirtiness, oxide… His hates and fears lay there, where filthiness and imperfection were kings. Knock Out hated the Autobots because he had been built as a Decepticon, but his hate for carelessness was his own choice.
Gray, gray, gray… all the dead robots were gray, with practically the same frames and the same faces. Or maybe it was that oblivion and death had made them equal. It was impossible to find a difference between any of those Empties, except for the amount of damage and rust on their frames. If they had ever been Decepticons or Autobots it was impossible to know. Neutralists, deserters… it didn't matter. All Empties were made of the same substance.
And then he saw colour. Red, a glimpse of red, hidden between the gray and something else that looked suspiciously like white paint.
A white and red mech, or what once had been a white and red mech to be more precise, lay dead. Knock Out felt the need to laugh.
And he would have, if one yellow optic hadn't been fixed on him. Cracked, opaque, a flickering light behind the glass, but the white and red robot was still alive and was staring at him.
No, it was more than that. The Empty was scrutinizing him with his penetrating, dying gaze.
But that was not what disturbed Knock Out. It was the familiarity he could sense in that stare. It was as if that mech knew him.
Knock Out frowned. He was sure he had never seen that robot. Neutralists were not usually amongst his very exclusive circle of relationships, and certainly not rusted, dying ones.
He should have turned around, he should have ordered the Vehicon captain to destroy that creature, he should have taken his Energon prod and nailed that Empty to the wall…
But he didn't.
He was certain he had never seen that robot.
But then why had he recognized him?
Something came out from the vocalizer of the Empty, obviously as damaged as the rest of his structure. It sounded guttural, the exposed hydraulics of his neck moving as the bizarre sound erupted. It took Knock Out a moment to realize that the Empty was laughing.
"Primus frag me…you made it…" the broken voice said. "You made it… the three of you…"
Knock Out frowned. He was flanked by two Vehicons, one more covering his back. What was that Empty talking about?
Normally, he would have ignored any insect who dared to talk to him, especially if said insect was a rotten neutralist. But he had recognized that junk piece. He had never seen him, he didn't know who he was, but he had recognized him. Was he becoming insane?
In the dream, he was crazy.
No, it wasn't the moment to go there again. Knock Out clenched his fists and strengthened himself, taking two aggressive steps towards the Empty.
The disgusting creature kept laughing. "You made it, you made it… Frag, you made it… And look at you now! Aren't you handsome or what?"
"How dare you speak to me, scraplet?" he hissed, not crushing the Empty only because he was disgusted by the idea of touching him.
The robot shook his head, making a piece of his shattered helm fall to the ground. "You made it, you made it… Breakdown… It was him, wasn't it? He saved you… How did he do it? Frag… If only I could have done the same for my teammates…"
There was a clear hint of sadness in his voice, but Knock Out didn't pay any attention to it, or to what he had said. Only the mention of his partner made Knock Out's eyes turn into a line. His arm reformatted and a sharp drill replaced his hand.
"How do you know Breakdown? Speak!" he said through gritted dental plates.
The Empty continued to look at him, not seeming impressed at all by the drill rotating just some inches from his face. It was as if he didn't even see it.
"Oh, I know Breakdown, I knew him once… and I knew you too."
Knock Out growled and leaned over the Empty, not caring about what kind of spectacle he was showing to the Vehicons behind him.
"You have confused me with somebody else," he hissed, the levels of anger inside of him reaching a boiling point.
The Empty shook his head emphatically. "Nope... How could I confuse you? I'm the one who put a plasma bolt through your energy core, remember? Through one of them, at least... But I'm glad you made it. I was never the killing type, you may remember…"
That should have been it, the ultimate confirmation that the Empty was insane. No Cybertronian would survive a direct attack to the energy core, not to mention that Knock Out had never been close to a situation like that.
But realizing that he was dealing with a lunatic didn't ease his anxiety. The effect was the opposite, and suddenly Knock Out found himself terrified. The pain, the ultimate shutdown circling around him whilst he laid in a pool of his own vital fluid, choking in agony and Energon both the same…
"Heh… I bet you thought you killed us… but you didn't. I survived, you see? As you did, I survived too." He heard the voice around him, within him, but it didn't sound like the voice of the Empty anymore. It was a voice he knew, a voice he had known once.
The world became blurry around him, the confusing mist only broken by the patches of reality he used to have in his dreams. He saw a battlefield; smoke, fuel, broken parts… a beautiful yellow finish damaged beyond recognition, a scratched Decepticon symbol over a red wine chassis, a dying spark pulsing for the last time inside a huge, gray frame… And he could hear his own roar, erupting for the last time, crying names that mattered more to him than his own, for once forgetting about fun, and music, and speed…
In the dream, he was crazy.
He was crazy, and he was not alone.
Knock Out roared, with his voice, the one that was full of many. The energy flew through his arm in a bizarre combination of pain and harmony. Stabbing an enemy with his drill was common, and satisfactory. But when he pierced that white shoulder, he only felt frustration… and an unbearable familiarity.
Knock Out sat in silence, his hand holding his chin as he stared at the reflection on the wall in front of him, oblivious to the movement of the ship and the dance of planets around him. Once again, his face didn't look like his own, but for the first time since he had been assembled, he could recognize it.
It had been fortunate that there was still one functional life support machine at the medical facility. But even if that hadn't been the case, Knock Out was a very good physician and he wouldn't have had any problems in keeping one simple life signal online.
He looked at his hands. Despite being a medic, very few times had he used them to save lives. Dissecting was his thing, his art, as Hook used to tell him, in remembrance of some teammate his deceased instructor had had once.
But Knock Out had saved one life today. The life of an Empty.
No, the life of an enemy.
Because that was what the white and red robot was, what it had been and what it would always be. That was the reason why that Autobot had to live, to keep being Knock Out's enemy, to give revenge a chance.
Or maybe because that small, unstable part of him was compassionate besides being insane.
The white and red robot hadn't said much after his initial rant, not even when Knock Out reattached a set of wings. It hadn't been Knock Out's best work due to the lack of proper materials, but the robot would be able to call himself a flier again, one of the kind that Knock Out hated.
However, the mech had said something else, one more thing that Knock Out had recognized.
"Motormaster," Knock Out said in low voice, tasting the name.
"Motormaster," he said again, for the second time in his life. As had been the case the first time, the word didn't sound foreign.
The search hadn't been very successful in the ship's data base. Motormaster. Class-A General terminated in the First Cybertronian War. There wasn't even an image in his profile.
But as was the case with the Empty, Motormaster was another ghost Knock Out had never seen but could recognize. Was that his insanity acting, now that it had left the blurry space of his dreams to make itself present, along with the vanity and the competitiveness?
It was a good thing that the three of them agreed on the need for speed, though.
Knock Out shook his head. Three? Why the scrap had he listened to that Empty? Why had he repaired him? Why had he answered to him every time he called him by different names, each reply made with different voices?
He took an almost fearful look at his communicator. If there had ever been a moment to comm Breakdown, it was that one.
But he didn't. For once, he wasn't looking forward to talking to his partner, at least not yet.
He knew one thing, though. Breakdown had many questions to answer, and Knock Out would make sure to be staring at his partner's eyes during that interrogation. Breakdown had a thing against being stared at, but Knock Out knew, for certain this time, that he would find the answer to all the silences and furtive glances behind his friend's paranoia.
"Motormaster," he said with a smirk. "Let's find out who you were."
… and the epilogue
Red fingers passed over the place where only protuberances had been for a zillion years.
He wasn't delirious. Once again, he found wings.
He had forgotten what it felt like to have wings, but he hadn't forgotten how to fly. His element welcomed him back, embraced him without any resentment.
He smiled, and allowed the flow of memories to keep running through him, reminding him of who he was and of whom he had belonged to.
Skydive would have been disgusted by those wings. He wouldn't have dared to call them as such. But that was all he had, and what he would have for a while.
At least they had good maneuverability. Wildrider had been very kind in taking care of that matter, and of painting them in a beautiful red too.
He laughed when he remembered Drag Strip and Dead End, grumbling from the shadows. They would have never showed any kind of compassion for an enemy, especially one created to fight them, but Wildrider had.
Primus blessed the crazy ones.
In a display of generosity, Wildrider had even drawn the Autobot insignia on his chest. Or in a display of mockery, because the insignia had a moustache.
He laughed. Slingshot would have considered a detail like that an infuriating offense, but he didn't. He had too much to remember to waste his time holding grudges towards the guy who had given him another chance, curiously the same guy he thought he had shot to the Pit.
Who knew? Maybe when he remembered everything else, he would look for those three slaggers and tell them everything – no, not three slaggers, just one: Knock Out. Dead End had insisted that his name was Knock Out now, even though Drag Strip had said something about him being unique, and Wildrider had just shrugged his shoulders, happy that he had reached his brothers in the race towards the dominance of that spark, still oblivious of his real personality.
"Well, Knock Out, we'll meet again, you can be sure about that," he said in a low voice, attracting the attention of the guard in front of him, who hadn't stopped staring at the moustache on his insignia since he had landed in the base with the only intention of rejoining the Autobot ranks.
"Designation?" the guard asked again.
Thank you, Wildrider… and frag you both, Dead End and Drag Strip.
The recently repaired robot smiled. "Fireflight," he said proudly, savouring his name for the first time in millions of years.
The lunatic is in my head
The lunatic is in my head
You raise the blade, you make the change
You re-arrange me 'til I'm sane
The end? No, not a chance. There will be a third part of this AU. Expect it soon.
Kudos if you recognized the lyrics of 'Brain Damage' by Pink Floyd, a song dedicated to their former member Syd Barrett, a real life Wildrider.
And more kudos if you guessed which Hook's teammate Knock Out was talking about. Yep, Scrapper, silent psycho and beloved leader of the Constructicons. You guys must know already I love to make this kind of hints all the time ;o)
Thank you for reading. Please review if you liked.
As a last note, the title of this fic is "My wild 9.99 percent', not 999 percent, but the site doesn't allow me to change it. Sorry about that.