Title: In memoriam
Summary: Scrapper can't remember his first sculpture, but knows his last will be his masterpiece.
Warnings: Character death, and disturbing concepts.
Scrapper's an artist. He has been all his life and while he can't remember his first sculpture anymore, a product of corrupted memory banks eroded during his isolation in Cybertron's deserted underbelly, he knows that this last one will be his masterpiece.
He gently puts the last of his materials down in a pile, and picks one up, examining the once shining metal. He doesn't usually use such old materials, new ones always captured the essence of the victims much better, but for this he wouldn't settle for anything else. He does the same for all of them before he settles down, picks up his tools, and gets to work.
Hook operates tirelessly on Long Haul for hours, until death finally ends the torment and takes the dump truck in his embrace. Scrapper brings him an energon cube, because he hasn't refuelled since he started working, and because he can't have his second fail him now. Not while Bonecrusher destroyed anything he could get his hands on, not while Scavenger locked himself in his storage room with all the comforts of his treasures, not while he didn't even know what Mixmaster was up to because the chemist hadn't been answering his comms.
"Drink up." he forces the cube into the surgeon's hand, who can't take his optics off the greyed corpse beneath him, formerly a vibrant mixture of green and purple, it now blended with the dull chrome of the table.
"I failed." Hook says, and Scrapper knows the statement has nothing to do with his pride.
"You tried." because that was the truth, even if the ever so repeated mantra of 'Hook can fix anything' had finally revealed itself as the hidden fragile lie it was, Hook had tried more than he had with any other mech under his scalpel.
"Tried." the word is spiced with venom and the table dents under Hook's death grip. Scrapper puts his hand on his shoulder.
"Refuel then recharge. That's an order."
Hook fixes him with a hard stare and reluctantly goes. The closing door echoes behind him and Scrapper is left alone in the medical bay. He stares at Long Haul for an eternity, before turning around and leaving.
He's unsure of whether or not to pose the body like this. Scrapper knows how much he hated his job, always lugging around everyone else's garbage, never getting a chance to do anything he wanted. But there is an overpowering need for accuracy, to remember him as he was in life while he still can.
Scrapper leaves it the way it is, because he knows that the body can no longer care.
It turns out that the death of one member does not in fact incapacitate the whole. It hurt for a long while, but the wound eventually turns into a scar, always there, always a reminder, but it doesn't hurt anymore. Sure, Hook has become more obsessed than ever with perfection, Bonecrusher is just a bit more aggressive, Scavenger clingier, and Mixmaster crazier, but they are still the greatest team of engineers Cybertron has seen yet, and Scrapper knows they'll pull through.
He knows, because he has to. He's the commander, the pillar that everyone else leans on when slag hits the fan, and he can't afford to think of anything else. Devastator's gone. He started fading slowly, until none of them could even hear an echo of what he once was.
They'd lost two members that day, but that was beside the point. Megatron had lost a gestalt, and Scrapper knows that they have to make up for it.
So he spends most of his time coming up with plans, improvements, and more weapons of destruction, because Megatron needs to know they can still be of use, and because every Autobot blown to pieces with one of his weapons was a victory for a bottomless pit of revenge.
They go one like this for years. Until they leave Earth, because Cybertron has finally become theirs and the Autobots are being pushed back, where they've just about got it back together again, until the radio ping comes in.
"The patrol was ambushed by Autobots, Scavenger's been shot."
The excavator doesn't even make it under Hook's meticulously prepared and anxious hands. He'd bled out on the way there. They all surround him in silence, until Mixmaster speaks up.
"He's still got all his stuff back there." it's quiet and there isn't a hint of a stutter, and Scrapper remembers the filled storage rooms the excavator had claimed the moment they arrived.
No one says anything, but two joors after he is entombed Scrapper destroys it all, sending to Scavenger everything he'd left behind.
Scrapper hasn't recharged in days, too busy collecting any scraps he can find outside in the ravenous caverns, avoiding the last remnants of his dying comrades. He's found enough, and he carries the pile back to his barely lit hole, and arranges them around his sculpture. He finds it doesn't truly capture the essence of the mech, how he found joy in every little scrap and he goes out and brings back more.
Scrapper does this over and over, knowing that it'll never be enough.
"You can't even keep your teammates from dying. How pathetic."
Motormaster says this, and Scrapper finally snaps. It takes Starscream, Soundwave, and Onslaught's combined efforts to tear him off the semi, and by then the mech is mess of scratches and laser shots. To his record, Scrapper has a nasty sword wound through his shoulder, but rage was a hell of an aesthetic. Motormaster needed repairs, but Hook refuses until Bonecrusher is placed in the crypt, and everyone is reminded of how bad it is to frag with the ship's surgeons regardless of dwindling numbers. There was a reason Megatron still kept them around after all.
"I-I saw it you know." Mixmaster looks off back down the dark corridor they'd entered.
"Mixmaster?" Scrapper says, though he knows exactly what the chemist means. He'd seen the remnants of their most aggressive team member's head after he was brought in, having been in the wrong place at the wrong time of a well-placed sniper shot.
"Some of it g-got onto me."
He fights the urge to recoil.
In a way this body is the simplest one. The easiest to manoeuvre, because while never simple his hobbies at core were. Scrapper puts as much effort as he does in the others anyways, and is thankful for how easy the mech makes it for him. The carnage and destruction of Autobots beneath his fists, he knows that he wouldn't have had it any other way.
Mixmaster was starting to lose it. A few sneeringly said he already had, but of course never within their hearing and Scrapper can't care, because he's too busy trying to bring his teammate back to reality.
"Mixmaster, don't be ridiculous. You can't see them." His tone is harsh, but the subject matter called for it. Mixmaster glares at him, hands on his hips. Three dead gestalt mates had finally done the trick, and while the chemist had reverted to his relatively old personality back on Earth on weeks ago, the claims of their ghosts wandering their halls was more than cause for concern.
"Yes I can, I talked to Scavvy just y-yesterday" so sure, so confident that it occurs to Scrapper to let him live in his fantasy, but that thought is banished with reminders of Hook's ever growing glares of anger every time Mixmaster tries to tell them. He doesn't want their numbers reduced to two, because their surgeon lost his temper and murdered their chemist.
"Duh, but he's still here. And Bonecrusher keeps trying to get you and Hook's attention but you guys are just being stubborn afts about it."
They go on like this for hours, until Scrapper is forced to let it go, because he has to help Hook with the latest batch of casualties from the war, because the Autobots had been amassing all their forces in the lull of the Decepticons' illusionary victory and they were pushing back steadily now, regaining all the ground they'd lost. He's going to talk to Mixmaster again, but he never gets the chance.
Onslaught is the one that tells him, with not a hint of emotion, because by now the Combaticons are down to three and the tactician has only increased in his icy demeanour. Scrapper accepts the new with the same neutrality, and relays it to Hook whose hands slip for the first time and the welder clatters to the ground. It echoes, and the sound permeates the room until only painful silence is left.
Scrapper doesn't fill it, thinking only about Mixmaster's determined delusions, and how maybe it wasn't so bad that he died with all his teammates with him, regardless of how untrue it was.
But it is he swears he hears a whisper that sounds exactly like the chemist, stutter and everything, but banishes the idea. He doesn't have the luxury of going crazy.
He hears them sometimes, thinks he sees them to. Scrapper no longer cares about holding onto the remnants of his sanity and he hears the voices once again, as he positions the arm in a pouring motion into a bucket that substituted for a suitable vat.
Scrapper hears them and knows they're only figments, no matter how much he wishes they weren't.
And then there were two. Hook and Scrapper. Scrapper and Hook. He figures that if there were ever a constant it was the two of them, and now they rely on each other more than ever. They make it through Megatron's defeat, Starscream's takeover, the destruction of Kaon, and the dispersing of the Decepticon forces, and Scrapper thinks that they might just survive the war.
He's only vaguely surprised though when the missile slams into their temporary shelter, burying the crane under a ton of metal, which he takes as a sign of tired surrender, but he still fixes Hook the best he can, because he owes his last teammate this much and more for all of them combined, but the perfectionist is the only one left that he can give to.
The barren wastelands are a poor replacement for the pristine cleanliness, preparedness, and order of the Victory's medical bay, now only a distant memory. Hook isn't even awake when he passes; having slipped into Stasis long ago. Scrapper is left clutching the only coloured part left of a once impeccable frame, the visor.
He sits in front of the shelter's broken remains, and cleans it everyday.
Scrapper hasn't let a speck of dirt touch it since that day and he takes it out, nodding in approval. He'd have wanted to remain perfect, even in death, and Scrapper has just finished gruelling over the body. It shines in the dull light of his hideout. The artist places the visor carefully over the face and steps back to admire his work.
Perfection sought and attained.
He is a failure.
A commander's job is to lead. To watch over the mechs under his command, be responsible for them, and to take care of them at all costs. Scrapper has failed every requirement, because if he'd had the foresight he would have taken them all from the Decepticon army long before this entire mess ever started, and they'd still be together. Still would be able to feel each other, and Devastator as the big guy lumbered, hidden beneath it all as the knot that tied them together.
Now he is alone, the pitiful last member of a broken gestalt, because no one ever thought the team could survive losing one, much less five. But they did, new wounds appearing and leaving invisible scars each time another member left, until only Scrapper was left alone.
He is a victim, healed yet scarred, and to some that was good enough, but it hardly matters to him, because he can't even see the possibilities beyond past and fading memories, what-ifs, and regretful mistakes. Scrapper reaches out for them, and is greeted only with the stinging abyss of a broken bond.
He reaches, the last of Cybertron's first great gestalt, looking for something he'll never find.
It's finished, and it's perfect. His masterpiece stands for his eyes only and Scrapper wouldn't have it any other way. To show it to anyone else would result in desecration, because there isn't anyone alive left to care, and because he hadn't meant it for the living anyways.
He's carved out an alcove from the back wall. It would be nigh undiscoverable once he placed the false segment back, and he's furnished the room so that no outside intrusions can get in and ruin his work. This is where Scrapper wheels his masterpiece, where it remains even after the Autobots come to sift out the remaining Decepticon forces and Scrapper is taken and executed, because Optimus Prime died in the final battle with Megatron, and there is no one left to campaign for their rights.
This is where it sits, his masterpiece in memoriam.