Disclaimer: Once again, I am called to write a fic with the pairings of Shockwave and Red Alert. Well, this one is more heavily centered around Jhiaxus and happens after "LIVING WITH CHILDREN". I came up with this idea from a combination of dream and just thoughts scurrying through my head. Also by listening to the song "Bury Me Deep Inside Your Heart" by HIM. It'll play more on unwelcome guests arriving at New Lucifer, intent on enacting revenge for the death of Lord Megatron...
"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, not touched. But are felt in the heart."
"Grief knits two hearts in closer bonds than happiness ever can; And common sufferings are far stronger links than common joys."
-Alphonse de Lamartine
"All pretense of bravado is swept away by one last wheezing appeal for mercy!"
-Jhiaxus, G1 "PRIMAL FEAR"
Jhiaxus calmly sat in front of his makeshift training ground, observing Shockblast as he tore through them breathlessly. The former warlord casually took a drink of Energon from a glass before smiling when Shockblast rushed up to him, struggling to cool his heating internals. Jhiaxus stood up and gave him a pat on the back.
"Excellent, my boy!" he said, "That was 3 nanoklicks faster than your first attempt!"
Shockblast flashed a thumb joint up and groaned.
"Now then, are you ready to try it again?"
Shockblast grimaced in protest. "Ugh! I think my intakes are going to burst!"
"Good! That means you're learning properly," Jhiaxus said, turning to take hold of two swords lying on a table. He offered them to Shockblast and the young bot frowned down at them cluelessly. "These will be your practice weapons until you learn to forge your own."
Shockblast looked at him with confusion. "But can we take a break, Jhiaxus?" he suggested, "I'm really-"
"Death will NEVER wait for you!" Jhiaxus barked, reaching for his swords, "It is as I told your father, 'nothing about reality is considerate or fair'. You must learn to master your own weaknesses and rise above them."
Shockblast nodded his head dumbly.
Redstrike approached the sight of the two bots performing several slow swings in practice. She smiled and shook her head before taking a spot near her mother; Red Alert was sitting at a table, attempting to understand an alien insect and it buzzed away as Redstrike joined her.
"Mother, can I ask you something?" Redstrike asked.
Red Alert smiled. "Of course."
"Why does Jhiaxus get a bit more 'short' around this time?" Redstrike asked.
Red Alert frowned thoughtfully. "He's never told you?"
Jhiaxus and Shockblast continued a slow dance of clashing blades. Shockblast slowly and carefully blocked each strike of the swords. He felt a question burning in the back of his central processor and looked at his mentor.
"Jhiaxus, what happened to her?" he asked. "The femme in your portraits?"
Jhiaxus stopped swinging his swords and stared at the young bot with silent contemplation. He closed his optics and gestured with a flick of his head. "Come and I will show you," he said. He looked beyond him to Redstrike and gestured for her to come as well. "No doubt the question hasn't been on your mind alone. Perhaps it's time I shared it with you both."
Red Alert gave him a small smile as he led the two younglings to his ship. "Good job, Jhiaxus..."
Jhiaxus led the two bots into Eros' burial chambers and knelt down. Shockblast and Redstrike followed suit and looked at him curiously.
"Who is she?" Redstrike asked.
Jhiaxus' optics were focused on the coffin, but slightly glinted with pain. "Her name was Eros and why did she die? For loving me."
Shockblast and Redstrike looked at each other in shock.
"You are old enough to know," Jhiaxus continued, "Eros was an Autobot, like your mother. But she was slain before my optics. Her own father took her life purely out of fear and hatred for me and my kind."
Shockblast shook his head. "Jhiaxus, we never knew..."
"Of course not. I try not to let my people understand my grief." He waved a hand in the air. "You know, now you have my leave to go."
Redstrike still looked surprised as the two slowly rose. "But you never seem angry about it," she pointed out.
Jhiaxus uttered a quiet laugh in response. "Oh children..." He was silent for a moment before looking at them. His optics were mildly misted over and there was a bare tremble in his voice. Not of sorrow so much as pain. "I'm always angry."
Night fell onto New Lucifer.
A collection of unwanted voices filled the air, observing the makeshift city below.
"This is a dangerous game you play."
"Jhiaxus could destroy us."
"Which is why we break his mind first. Then his body will follow."
Standing on a hillside was Mindwipe, Strika, Blot, Sky-Byte and Oil Slick. Mindwipe seemed pretty intent on the concept of destroying Jhiaxus, but the others were not so certain. Even Strika; one of the most powerful Decepticons of her generation was a bit cautious. Sky-Byte and Oil Slick were not too thrilled with the idea either; Oil Slick wasn't especially because Jhiaxus had taken him down painfully in the past.
"Think of it," Mindwipe told them, smiling wickedly, "What will the universe say about the ones who took down the legendary Jhiaxus? The very same one who killed Lord Megatron?"
"What do you have in mind?" Oil Slick asked.
Mindwipe chuckled, a malicious tone to his voice. "Think about it; what hurts a mech more than anything in the universe? The loss of a bondmate." A broader smirk touched his face, showing his fangs. "He can be as strong as Jhiaxus, as weak as the smallest sparkling, but it's the same; the loss of a bond mate is the greatest pain. I will simply break him with his pain before we step forward and crush him in his moment of weakness."
As Jhiaxus slept alone in his berth during this, he could make out the sound of whispers calling his name. Jhiaxus' optics opened and he sat up in the berth, looking around with a frown on his face. He reached for his swords and fitted them on his back before climbing out of bed and following the sounds. They led him out into the fields where he could see no one, despite the constant whispers in his mind. Jhiaxus closed his optics briefly before looking around.
"Here I am," he said, "If you are friend, come and face me. If you are an enemy, then I regret to inform you that I am not in a condition to toy with you."
He whirled at the familiar voice and his optics widened in horror and shock. "Eros?"
Sure enough, she was standing there with a sorrowful smile on her face. "Why did you leave me alone, Jhiaxus?"
Jhiaxus looked confused and disoriented. He didn't know if this was a dream or not, but it felt so real. "E-Eros, I didn't-"
"You let them kill me," Eros whispered, her voice trembling with anguish and bitterness. It was something Jhiaxus had NEVER seen Eros become and it unnerved him. "Why didn't you stop them? I thought you loved me."
"I DO LOVE YOU!" Jhiaxus shouted desperately, "You know the mech I am! You know how much I love you!"
Eros didn't seem to hear him now. She shivered, holding herself. "It's so cold... I feel so cold. Please, Jhiaxus; help me. I don't want to die."
"Eros!" Jhiaxus rushed for her, but the image faded and he collapsed to the ground with a grunt. He looked up frantically and Eros was gone.
The following morning, Red Alert and Shockwave found Jhiaxus lying asleep in the same field. They looked at each other briefly before Red Alert bent down to shake him awake. Jhiaxus mumbled sleepily and focused his optics on the two figures staring down at him.
"Jhiaxus?" Shockwave said, confusion in his voice, "What in Primus' name are you doing sleeping outside?"
Jhiaxus grunted and appeared to be mildly disoriented before he stood up and brushed the dirt from his cape. "Oh! I...I think I may have been recharge-walking last night," he told them, "The strangest thing; I don't normally do that."
Red Alert arched her optic ridges. "Any particular reason why this happened last night?"
Jhiaxus seemed to look around before a faint smile lit his lips. "I-I saw Eros."
Shockwave and Red Alert glanced skeptically at each other.
"Jhiaxus, you must have been having a dream." Shockwave told him, "Eros is-"
"Dead, I know," Jhiaxus said, somewhat harsher, "I'm only telling you what I saw. In the time since she's passed on, I haven't seen her image since. Now that I see it again, perhaps I should focus on why I am."
Red Alert patted a hand on his arm. "Maybe I should run a scan just to make sure nothing's wrong."
Jhiaxus softened a bit and realized his error. His tone was even now. "Yes, of course," he murmured, "Perhaps that's for the best."
Red Alert brought Jhiaxus to her medical ward where she performed a few scans. He patiently waited for her to finish and when she did, she looked mildly confused and stared down at the readings on her wrist.
"Your readings all point to normal," she said, "Energon levels are a little low. When was the last time you refueled?"
Jhiaxus frowned thoughtfully. "I don't recall," he replied, "I have been rather busy with Shockblast's training and preparations for the shield generator."
"Then I think you need to relax. Maybe all that work coupled with the previous day as the anniversary of the loss of..." Red Alert paused and chose her words carefully. "You just need to take a bit of a break, okay?"
Jhiaxus nodded in agreement. Perhaps recent events had only been brought on by stress. Maybe Red Alert's advice was to be taken seriously since he was working as hard as he could be. That seemed to be the most logical decision to make.
"Of course," he said.
As he left, Shockwave entered the room and looked at Red Alert. "Well?"
Red Alert sighed and lookd up at him. "I don't know if she's real or not, but she must be real to Jhiaxus," she said, "I think he's slowly beginning to lose his grip on reality, Shockwave. Only this time, it's far worse than before."
The morning did not bode well for Jhiaxus. The more he worked on the generator, the more he was spent alone with his thoughts. The day dragged on with his working until it led into the night. He constantly drilled pieces into the tower before pausing, letting flashes of memory tear through his mind. Each sight brought on personal anguish that he had always hoped would disappear. But this time, they were stronger than ever. He bared his fangs with a frustrated snarl and began to tear apart the metal in front of him. His claws ripped through wires, shredded circuits and tore tubes apart without mercy.
He looked up with a startled sound and spotted Eros standing there, smiling sweetly. She beckoned with one hand.
"Come on!" she said, laughing, "Follow me!"
Jhiaxus pursued her with a gasp. "Eros, wait!"
As he ran, he could hear another voice. It sounded almost the same as the Eros in front of him, but it felt distant.
Don't follow it, Jhiaxus.
Eros laughed without a care in the world. "Come on, slowpoke!"
Stay in the city.
Jhiaxus moaned at the conflagration of heat and despair weaving in his mind. "You're not real," he whispered to himself, "You died. You're not real." He paused and felt a yearning he both welcomed and hated all at once. "But I want you to be real..."
Jhiaxus, don't come out here.
Jhiaxus chased Eros into the forest, desperate to reach her, despite the odd warnings that were in the same voice as the Eros before him. He ran until he reached a clearing in the forest where Eros was standing. She held out her arms to him lovingly and he slowly walked into her embrace. For the longest time, they held one another in the cool night air. Jhiaxus felt Eros' mouth against his audio receptor and she whispered soothingly.
"Jhiaxus my love..." she whispered, "It's time."
He blinked, dazed and warm. But he felt happy. Happy for the first time in so long.
"Time for what?" he asked.
"Time to die."
Jhiaxus' optics snapped wide and he uttered a weak grunt of pain. He stared down in horror and shock at a blade buried into his abdomen. Bright blue Energon gushed from the wound and formed a wicked puddle at his feet. He looked up at Eros; her features curled in a wicked smirk foreign to her before her form dissolved through his fading vision into Mindwipe. He laughed wickedly as Jhiaxus' optics rolled up and he collapsed to the ground.
"Aww, poor thing," Mindwipe sneered, "You're nothing without your little glitch. Imagine the glory I'll receive for killing you and your pathetic people."
Jhiaxus' vision blackened as Mindwipe walked away, laughing to himself.
Sweetspark, time to get up.
Yes you can. You have people to save.
"I want to die."
It's not your time yet. You have to save them, my love. You have to be the leader they need. Mindwipe used it to get to you. But now you can get to him.
Jhiaxus' optics opened and he found himself staring up at Eros' loving smile. She leaned forward and kissed his lips gently before parting. He gritted his denta and reached out to touch her, but she faded away. He laid there in the grass, listening to the sounds of gunshots in the distance and weakly lifted himself up to catch sight of flashes of lasers and hear sounds of screaming. His optics widened when he recalled those last words.
Mindwipe got to you.
Jhiaxus' optics widened before he felt an overwhelming wrath choke his senses clear. How dare that mech use something so beautiful and bend it into an ugly false image of lies? How dare he lead him away to slaughter his people endlessly? HOW DARE HE. HOW. DARE. HE.
Meanwhile, Red Alert struggled to avoid the fire from Decepticons led by Strika.
"Shockblast!" she shouted, "Where's Jhiaxus?"
Shockblast had punched out a Decepticon soldier lying on the ground. "I don't know!" he yelled back. He glared down at the unconscious mech. "How's that for a shot, numb nodes?"
His father stood at his side. "Shockblast! Language," he warned.
Through the chaos, a group of Decepticon troopers suddenly ran passed them, screaming for their ship outside of the city walls.
"He's coming!" one of them screamed, "RUN!"
Red Alert and her family watched them in confusion. Then, she looked back and saw it.
Jhiaxus was stalking toward them, swords held out and dripping with recently drawn Energon. His optics were blazing red in the darkness and his lips pulled up in a grin that none of them had ever seen before. It was mad. Bordering beyond control with no semblance of the mercy he once had. His mouth was even dripping with mech fluids and he looked ready to tear them all apart with no second thought at all.
The Decepticons ran for their ship and desperately tried to close the doors, but Jhiaxus slipped his swords between them and grinned wildly.
"Stay!" he snarled, "Let's talk."
The doors closed behind him as he stepped inside. The inhabitants and several lingering Decepticons watched and listened to the horrible, dying screams of the runners and the sounds of swords slicing through soft metal. Finally, when the doors opened again, Jhiaxus stepped out, soaked in Energon. Behind him lay the bodies of the fallen Decepticon warriors, some dismembered practically unrecognizable. Jhiaxus opened his mouth and screamed.
"MINDWIPE!" he shrieked.
This scream wasn't his normal war cry. This was the scream of a being possessed that could have shattered concrete and buckled metal. Jhiaxus looked through the chaos and found him. Mindwipe was hiding among the inhabitants of New Lucifer, holding one at knife point. Jhiaxus' optics narrowed and his mouth curled as he slowly advanced. When he passed a wounded Decepticon, he plunged his sword into his throat to kill him.
"MINDWIPE!" Jhiaxus snarled, "WHY DON'T YOU FACE ME, FILTHY COWARD?"
Mindwipe laughed nervously, gesturing to the wound in Jhiaxus' abdomen. "I see you're still bleeding, warlord."
"And you have yet to bleed," Jhiaxus spat.
"Do it, my lord!" the hostage yelled, "Don't worry about me!"
Mindwipe shook his head rapidly, glaring down at the hostage. "Keep quiet, you-"
Jhiaxus suddenly moved swiftly and grabbed Mindwipe's throat. He snarled like a blood-thirsty demon and slammed Mindwipe's face into a ship wall, running and dragging his head down the side of the metal with a painful screeching sound. When he stopped, Mindwipe's left half of his face had been completely eroded away to the chrome skull beneath. He moaned in pain and Jhiaxus grinned widely down at him.
"Mindwipe, you've desecrated my mind, disturbed the peace of this planet and tormented my people!" he hissed, in a voice that oozed with malice, "Congratulations... You've earned my FULL ATTENTION!"
Now, he started punching Mindwipe's face in. He did this for what felt like an eternity, screaming with raw fury and hatred.
The following morning, Jhiaxus stood before his people with sadness in his gaze.
"My people," he began, "I feel the need to tell you all how sorry I am for my selfishness. When I thought the Eros I saw was real, I neglected the living for the dead. I have failed you as a leader and do not expect forgiveness for my crimes. Maybe if you learned the real truth, it would help you understand."
Red Alert looked at him. "No one's angry at you, Jhiaxus..."
He nodded dully before beginning.
"There was a time, long ago as I'm sure that you are aware; I met a beautiful young Autobot. Her name was Eros. The time I spent in her company changed me. Upon the briefest glance, I was...overwhelmed with feelings of passion and attraction. I was confused, needless to say. I had no idea what these feelings were. I felt a sensation of fear that I hadn't know since the days of my father. Since the day he left me to die and fight for my life on a wild, savage planet. But it was this fear that I learned something about myself; that even I was not entirely without spark.
Eros was a kind soul for an Autobot. This...fascinated me further. I had taken the lives of many, but not one of them had ever felt so...out of place. I remember feeling something strange come over me. I was...happy. Happy to be in the presence of her. Happy to do whatever it was that she wanted of me. Does that sound ridiculous to you? Of course it was! All in one day, my life felt like it was changing. Changing for her...
Well, I suppose happiness never lasts long. The days we spent together in secret caught on with her arrogant filth of a father and that little piece of scrap Pontus. Moment by moment, second by second, my life was ending as I raced to save her. I felt a sense of hope that I would be fast enough to save her life. But plans like that never work, you realize. It was inevitable. I found myself staring down an endless abyss of pain and misery when he took her life. MAGNUS! Her own father! He took her life because SHE LOVED ME!
I remember feeling as if my spark had been ripped out; inch by inch, wire by wire I was dying inside. I was slowly falling into death at the sight of my beloved crumbling in front of my optics. And then, it was over. I felt nothing. My world was meaningless. Everything I ever was had perished with her. I realized then that if I was living a pointless life, why not join her? Ah. I felt a sense of peace already at that confession. I could already see her waiting for me.
But something happened. I felt myself stopped. I looked up and there she was! I don't know what I saw, but Eros was looking right now into me. She pleaded with me to continue forward and live the dream she had; the dream for freedom and equality. The dream of this planet made whole. I knew then that my life had meaning once more. That she was here. Still here watching me.
But then, something else came to me. I wanted something. My internals felt...empty still. I could picture Pontus laughing at me and his friend Tau; laughing at the shed Energon they had made. Laughing at the lifeless face of my love. That feeling of fullness had faded and I was hungry again. I needed to find them. I needed to end them.
It was simple, really. They fell for my trick without difficulty. Tau was the first to die. I still remember...bringing redemption to him. Pulling apart his limbs never felt so...wonderful. Those screams that pierced my spark felt like a thousand joys over and over. To bring him suffering as he had Eros... Oh, but there was still one more to go. Pontus was the reason for her death. He had brought about the events that led up to her demise.
Pontus deserved something special. So...I brought him back to my ship. I remember hearing him plead to me for mercy. Can you believe it? Second by second he begged. But it wasn't just that. It was a bargain. A DAMN BARGAIN! He dared to make a bargain with me after what he did! Then, I began to slowly pull him to pieces from the inside out. He screamed until his intakes were raw. Every single intake of breath carried a plea for it to stop. But it didn't. I continued on, keeping him on spark support for days to pass until he was too weak to feel anymore. So I slowly crushed his spark in my hands. Ah...I remember feeling the warmth as each precious tube broke beneath my grip.
But I still have no need to continue down that path. I know that now. I live and exist for Eros' dream until I cease to function. Whenever that may come. And when it does, I will welcome it. And you will be free even then."
Despite the horrors of his tale, the people clapped and praised him regardless.
She haunts me, even without Mindwipe's spell...
She always will until I die.
But for now, I will live.