Last chapter! Thank's to all who stuck with me through this somewhat disturbing story. I really hope it lived up to your expectations. If you have any questions, just drop me a line. Anywho, enjoy!
I do not own Transformers: Prime.
Blood splashed across Jack's shirt and he screamed.
The knife was buried all the way up to the hilt, pale, slender fingers gripping it firmly. His mother's face was a mask of agony, twisted into something unrecognizable. It seemed as if she were trying to push the knife in deeper into her body, all the way. Like she was trying to get something out of her…
"Mom!" Jack slid out of her grip and scrambled up. He didn't know what to do. His mind was in a frenzy as he watched the crimson liquid seep into the asphalt.
"Have to….get it…" His mother grunted. She twisted and the knife slid a few inches more into her flesh.
"Stop!" Jack lunged and fumbled with bloody, slippery fingers, prying her fingers away from the blade. She shoved him away at the last second, met his eyes.
She tried to stand up.
Fell back down on her knees, staring at the knife with her head tilted to the side. The milky whiteness of her eyes was retreating once more and Jack could see the humanity under there, see his mother.
And if she died here it would be his fault.
Through the rain and the flashes of lightning Jack shouted, "Let it go, Mom! You can't get it out! Mom, please!"
Her fingers curled around the hilt of the knife and pulled.
It came out, and through the pounding water and the rolling thunder Jack was glad that he couldn't hear the noise. It clattered onto the ground and his mother doubled over, clutching her stomach. Her forehead touched the concrete and she groaned.
Jack rushed to her side. Touched her gently on the back, his tears beginning to fall. She was murmuring something that Jack could not hear and, as the bloody began to seep from between her fingers, he leaned closer.
"Mom? Mom, you're going to be alright," Jack's words were shaky and forced. "We'll get Ratchet and both get out of here…"
She waved a hand and tried to speak once more, but instead of words, out spewed blood. She tried to stifle it with a crimson covered hand and shuddered.
"Go to your father. He has to be…someone has to stop him," She met Jack's teary eyed and gaze and said, "Someone has to."
Jack glanced back towards the front of the warehouse. He could see Arcee perched atop the roof, firing blue tinged shots down at Soundwave. The dark mech was leaping, dodging, simply tilting his body to the side as he evaded Arcee's attack.
Off the side lay Optimus, twitching, groaning.
They wouldn't be able to help him now.
"I'll be alright," His mother gently touched Jack's face, smiling through bloody teeth. "Go. I trust you'll do what's right."
She inched her way over next to a battered dumpster, leaning against it and closing her eyes. She tilted her head back, her chest rising and falling.
Jack wanted to weep. To shut down and not do anything.
But he had to. His mother…
She was depending on him.
Wiping his eyes furiously, Jack pushed his way past the steel doors and into the dank warehouse. The lack of rain was convenient, his wet shoes squeaking against the floor as he pushed his way past boxes, into the center of the room. The sound of water beating against the side was deafening, and even more so was the screeches and explosions and gunshots as Arcee and Soundwave continued to fight.
He ran fingers through his dark, dripping hair and took a shaky breath.
His voice echoed off the walls and Jack grimaced.
There was a noise. Over to the side, shrouded by shadows.
It was the same voice he had heard on the phone, but free of any static. Lighter. Almost as if the voice were singing, letting the words roll across the room.
"Come out and playyyyy…."
His head smashed against the ground once again. The kick had been hard, a direct blow to his chest by a heavy toed boot.
Jack cried out in pain, looked up, and found himself staring into the dark, mad eyes of his father.
It had been a while since Jack had seen him. Almost six years, to be exact. His features were still sinister, angular and a little bit harsh, as if he hadn't aged a day and Jack was certain that he had shrunk – maybe it was the fact that his shoulders had obtained a permanent hunch. His grin was still there, a permanent expression that Jack had grown up with, but this time it promised much more vile things that previously imagined.
All in all, he was terrifying. He was terrified, and he had faced down Megatron, Airachnid, Silas…the list as endless.
Jack scooted back, the fear robbing him of words.
"What's the matter, Jacky? No pat on the back?" He looked genuinely disappointed, and shook his head sadly. Then, his grin returned, as usual. "You haven't seen your father in years!"
"For good reason," Jack said, as firmly as he could muster.
"For good reason," His father echoed. He'd twisted the words into an awful sneer. "Whatever. Your mommy was more than happy to see me. We talked, laughed – well, I laughed – and in the end she joined me. Magnificent, isn't it? The effect I have on people," He giggled and the noise caused a part of Jack's soul to crumble. "Take someone out and the equation falls apart. Put someone in and you have yourself a solution."
Jack was struggling to his feet, ribs aching. He met his father dead in the eye and said, "You're sick. No wonder mom kicked you out."
"No, see, I was the one who kicked her out. She didn't approve of my science and you know what, Jacky boy? It was her loss. Look what I have in my arsenal," He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out something metallic and thin. He touched a finger against its dark surface and it lit up, casting an eerie blue glow on his face. "A regular high school student who used to have a crush on you. Expendable. Your mother. Expendable to a certain degree. Soundwave. Expendable. And soon," He gave a low whistle. "Optimus Prime. That's not a prize to pass up. And you know how I got him?"
Jack shook his head slowly, wiping water from his eyes.
"You. You and your mother and Arcee and anyone else you're associated with, Jacky," He twirled the remote through his fingers and sang his next seven words. "You set it allll up for me. I take out a minor player and you absolutely freak. You assume. And when you assumed, you want to investigate and things. Go. Wrong."
He gave a hearty laugh, his grin broadening. "And now, I'm at the top of the chain. The apex predator. The destroyer. And all it took was a single pull of the trigger."
He reached up under his coat and pulled out a metal, single barrel gun and aimed it at Jack.
"You're going to join the revolution, son. But, it's not like you'll remember…"
An explosion. The wall behind Jack's father – no, not his father. Not anymore. Howard Darby was his name for from this moment forward, he was nothing else to Jack – exploded inward.
Jack was knocked to the side by the concussive force. A slender blue shape flew past and smashed into the metal support beams, twisting them, breaking them. Plaster rained down from the ceiling.
Lightning boomed overhead and a spray of mist hit Jack. He saw Howard struggling to his feet, launcher still in hand.
He fired a shot and Jack rolled to the side.
"Stupid, stupid Jacky. Don't you even know the rules of attacking?" Howard faltered, and then grinned. He giggled. It was revolting. "H-Hey! That rhymed," He laughed again and staggered on his own two feet. "I'm a poet and I don't even know it!"
For some reason, he found that funny. Jack didn't know why. He didn't even think that his previous words rhymed.
Howard barreled into Jack and they fell. Off to the side, Arcee was firing shots out the massive hole in the wall, back at Soundwave, who was casually walking forward, shifting a hip or tilting his body to the side, parrying each one.
Howard smashed his fist against Jack's head and Jack cried out, kneeing his attacker in the ribs. He heard bone crack.
It was satisfying.
Howard rolled of Jack and groaned, crawling to the side. Jack spotted a crowbar lying next to a stack of boxes and grabbed it, just as Arcee slammed both feet into Soundwave's chest. The larger mech stumbled but the blow didn't affect him, and he tossed Arcee to the side with a flick of the wrist.
Howard had his fingers around his remote just as Jack raised the crowbar. One leg shot out and caught Jack in the knee, sending him sprawling out onto his stomach. Snarling, Jack grabbed the crowbar and lunged.
He slammed it against his father's shoulder. He watched in horror as the bone popped out of place and his father, twisting his head to look, smiled.
Jack screamed and bashed the crowbar against his head and suddenly the side of Howard's face was covered in crimson.
Words slurred, Howard said, "Again!" He laughed through a mouthful of blood.
Jack dropped the crowbar.
Howard got to his feet, almost toppling back over. He held the remote in his hand and was trying to laugh. "This is so much fun! Father - son bonding time was always my favorite," He spat out a glob of blood. "But you were never on my level, Jacky. You had so much potential. Go on! Be like you father," He pointed to the crowbar. "Finish this! Finish me!"
Jack's felt tears well up in his eyes.
"Kill me! Do it!" Howard shrieked. He tossed the remote to the side. Behind him, Soundwave was making an advance towards the sprawled, unmoving figure of Arcee. "Kill me! Kill your deranged, crazy, absurd father!"
Jack shook his head.
Features mangled and bloody, Howard leaped at Jack.
Arcee leaped upward, spraying a barrage of blasts from her gun. One of the nicked Soundwave in the knee and he dropped. Arcee lashed out and kicked him as hard as she could, knocking him back through the hole in the wall. She was still firing when she rose.
Unbeknownst to her, one of the shots had flown wide.
Howard took the partial hit. Part of his shoulder dissipated, a piece the size of a small steak, and suddenly there was blood in the air and on Jack and on the ground.
Howard stared down dumbly at the wound.
Jack reached down and gripped the crowbar, but Howard had leaped and kicked it away. Jack stepped back and out of the corner of his eye, saw the remote as it slid across the ground.
He dove for it.
Howard, spraying blood like a garden hose, the wound horrendous enough that it was sure to kill him, followed on numb, staggering feet.
Jack's fingers curled around the remote and he scrolled through the settings. Didn't know which one to press, what to click on. So he trusted his instincts and smashed the remote against the ground.
Outside, the gunfire stopped.
Optimus ceased his moaning.
Unknown to him at the time, several hundred miles away three of Agent Fowler's soldier opened clear, dazzling eyes free from that awful milky white.
And outside, his mother smiled.
He glanced up. Howard sank to his knees, staring at Jack's with insane eyes, before falling face down on the floor, blood pooling around him.
Miko was sobbing.
Jack knew why, and the only thing he could do was reach out and gently touch her arm. Hold her. Tell her that it was going to be alright, that Penny was in a better place free from Decepticon's, free from Howard, free from any pain.
Jack bit her tongue at the thought of his father.
They were back at the Autobot HQ. He and Miko were still bloody and muddy. Jack's mother had been taken by Agent Fowler, back to his own department, to have the parasites removed surgically, as well as to be treated for the knife wound in her stomach. Optimus lay in stasis on one of the berths, Ratchet gently picking off each parasite out from under his armor.
"Do you think we should have left him?" Jack said to Arcee. The blue femme nodded, her optics tired and weary.
Bulkhead, who sat on a large crate off to the side, said, "He's the one who caused this whole mess," He shot a saddened glance in Miko's direction and said, "He deserved to be left."
"He was still alive when we called for bridge. I checked," Jack glanced down at the ground. "I just…"
"Jack," Arcee placed a hand on the railing. "Sometimes you have to do what you have to do. It was hard for you – trust me, I've been there before – but your decision was the right decision. There was nothing we could have done for him," She looked at Miko. "Or Penny."
"She got blown up," Miko said through a long, heaved sob. "Body parts all over the place…"
The words were horrifying, coming out of Miko's mouth. She'd seen something Jack would never, ever want to see. He rubbed her back and said, "Miko…"
"Don't, Jack," Miko shoved his hand away and shook her head. "Just…don't. What did Fowler tell the authorities?"
Ratchet glanced up from his work and said, "That they found her body out in a clearing. That she had run away from home."
Raf, who was standing over Ratchet and watching him operate, said, "I doubt that they bought it, though."
"They had no choice," Ratchet answered.
"What about her parents?" Miko stood up. "Her siblings. I know them. I…" She faltered. "I want to see them. I have to see them."
Bulkhead and Arcee shared gazes.
"Sure," Bulkhead stood. "I'll take you, Miko. We can go later today."
"I'm coming with you," Jack said.
Miko shot him a caustic glance.
"I want…I want to tell them that I'm sorry. That I knew their daughter but didn't spend enough time with her," He wiped a lone tear from his eyes. "That maybe…none of this would have ever happened. That…that I'm…"
"Angry?" Miko glanced at him.
Jack stared at the ground so long that a part of him forgot the question. "No," He shook his head. "No. Just sad."
Howard awoke to the smell of blood.
His arm. Oh, God, his arm. It was numb. Unmoving. It wouldn't twist on command like it should have.
He had been shot. He remembered clearly now. The blue femme had missed and hit him and he had screamed, screamed so loudly. He'd attacked Jack. Tried to kill him, and then Jack had…
Smashed the remote.
If the remote smashed, the system was shattered.
"No," he said through a gurgle of blood. "No, no, no, no! This is my system. Mine," He smiled and laughed. "All mine. Like June and Jacky and…all of it…this is my world. Mine. Mine, mine, mine."
He used his good arm to inch himself forward. Outside, the rain had died down to a slow trickle. The air was grey and the water leaked into the warehouse, through the massive hole.
Howard laughed. Rain. How he hated rain.
A part of his mind was gone. He'd already lost that part. The rest was all a jumble of information, agony. Sadness. Regret for something he couldn't recall. Absolute rage. And he couldn't control it all because he was unstable, as Silas had once told him.
But what was humanity? Humans were weak, insipid, stupid creatures. He marveled the Cybertronian race.
And he was just an insane little man drowning in a pool of blood.
He heard the sound of a jet outside, and the unmistakable whirr of machinery. The Autobots! Silas, maybe? M.E.C.H, coming to his rescue? Even Fowler and his nitwit soldiers?
A clawed hand gripped the edge of the broken wall and a foot stepped over the pile of rubber.
"Is this the human, Soundwave?"
No, no, no.
The face was that of a shark. Teeth bared. Red eyes staring down at him. A Decepticon emblem was firmly stamped across his chest.
He stepped into the warehouse and examined his blaster. Behind him, Soundwave, standing in the drizzling rain.
"I do not think kindly of humans who hijack my top officers," The alien thudded forward. "You do not have a warning, human. Your species had meddled with the affairs of this race far too long. Your punishment will be your demise."
Howard gaped and tried to crawl away like a fish. But his bad arm kept him from doing so and he just lay there, watching, waiting, and knowing that it was his end.
The monsters were coming to get him.