Yeah, so I have no life and I like robots. Have some more stuff. It's all genfic, gents, you're safe here! Enjoy...? Maybe?
1. Cusp of Return (set somewhere prior to re-arriving on Cybertron.)
Rodimus stepped up next to the viewscreen. Cybertron, after all this time, spread beneath them again. And unlike last time, their last glance a backward one in flight, this was a slow approach, and the planet below glittered feebly with signs of life. A lot had changed, apparently. Down there, and up here. “Been a long time, huh?”
Drift shrugged. “Long enough.” Non-committal, holding back. Well, Rodimus supposed, he had reason. The Autobots hadn’t been exactly welcoming.
“None of us wanted this. Not even the Decepticons.”
The other’s mouth pulled down. “No. Megatron wanted it all to burn.”
Rodimus considered. Drift had never been exactly forthcoming about his past, but he’d never really hidden it, either. Was this an invitation? “What do you think he’s thinking?” He jerked his head back to the center of the ship, the core of Omega Supreme, where Megatron was held, immobilized.
A shrug, but not a hostile one. “Been a long time since we spoke.”
“Did you used to?”
Another shrug. “A long time ago.” A repetition, but an admission as well.
“Not afraid to, are you?” Halfway between teasing and testing.
A shadow crossed the silver facial plating. “Just…,” Drift shook his head. “Not right.”
“What’s not right?”
The helm turned, the finials carving a helix in the dimness of the room. “Him. Here. Any of it.”
“You don’t think we should let him go, do you?” Rodimus remembered—a little too well—his own last meeting with the Decepticon. If his repaired body had forgotten, his memory core could still remember, vividly, the hot burning agony of the fusion cannon’s blast, the sneer on the hard face, and the bitter pain of failure. He’d gone to redeem himself, and had failed. He was perfectly okay with Megatron, surrendered, neutralized and immobilized.
“Don’t know. Just…the VVH.”
Drift’s telegraphic style was hard to get used to. Rodimus wondered how Perceptor had stood it for so long. Then again, Perceptor had changed. “He’s Megatron. We have to have something to keep him controlled.”
“Not that. I mean…Optimus.”
Rodimus nodded, his own mouth pulling to one side. Yeah, he hadn’t been happy with that either. Optimus using the harness’s current. They’d just been talking. That was all. Talking. And Optimus had lost control. That’s not what heroes do. Rodimus could see the temptation, sure, but…that’s not what heroes do. It just wasn’t.
Still, Optimus was the leader, right?
“Megatron could push a saint past his limit,” Rodimus said. A half-hearted defense, but a defense nonetheless.
Drift bowed his head, taking a step back, as if closing off again. As if aware he’d said something wrong, unacceptable.
Heh. Rodimus was all about unacceptable. “Must be hard to watch another idol fall.” Rodimus remembered Cybertron and Drift from before—it seemed every time the white mech spoke, someone shut him down. And yet Drift still kept trying. Holding his words quietly, weighing them as if measuring to see if they were worth the resistance he'd get.
A bitter snort. “Not an idol. I think that’s the problem. Feel like I’m the only one who doesn’t believe.”
“Believe in what?”
A struggle. Drift really didn’t want to answer. But it was a direct question and something in the mech’s strange code of honor won out. “Optimus.” The jaw tightened and then Drift suddenly turned his attention to the glowing net of lights of Cybertron, scattered below them like a spangled dark carpet.
“What do you believe in?”
“Hope. A future better than now, better than the past.” A pause. “That’s what I’ve always been fighting for.”
“The past wasn’t so bad.”
The blue optics hardened as Drift turned, and for a klik, Rodimus could see Deadlock—the scowl, the gaze like a weapon, the entire body taut with violence. “It was for some of us.” He mastered himself, with visible effort. “Fighting was better, because you were doing something.”
“Kind of easy to do the wrong something, though.” It didn’t sound blaming, he hoped. Rodimus had learned a little too well, a little too personally, that action for the sake of action sometimes went wrong. He could feel Drift tense, then loosen.
“It is,” Drift said, quietly. “Wrong thing for the right reasons.”
“Or the right thing, for the wrong reasons.” Like himself, how many times? This last time, haring off after the Matrix to prove…something to someone. He could still feel where the Matrix had rested, a memory of some powerful bliss. He’d learned so much, floating on the liminal edge of death, as space slowly cooled around him, the Matrix taking him, showing him himself, the war, their kind, with a kind of vertiginous depth-of-field.
Drift nodded, staring through the screen, through the planet itself, it seemed, until he could see the heart of the planet, struggling underneath the weight of their war. Staggering on, as they all did. He said nothing, but it wasn’t a hostile silence, just one of knowing, and knowing that words didn’t help sometimes, words did nothing but cheapen and attenuate. “Didn’t see it,” Drift murmured, raising one hand to the cool glass. “I didn’t see any of it. Had to die to see it.” A rapid blink of the optic shutters, his other hand reaching to stroke the Great Sword’s hilt, as though finding some comfort in it.
“Me too,” Rodimus said. Like Cybertron—a dead heart crusted over with ego and history. Something drastic needed to happen to start beating again, start living again. He managed a grin. “Funny how that works, huh?”
2. Ghosts of the Future (because I really really REALLY dig Megatron. x_x)
Drift stood in the doorway, lavender light from the Variable Voltage Harness dancing over his white armor. Just…looking, for a long time. Megatron. So different, and yet Drift would know him anywhere. Something about the EM field, or the curve of his optic shutter, the animating defiance in his frame.
The head turned, red optics homing in on him. The mouth twitched, doubtless thinking the same, before curling into a familiar smile. “Deadlock.”
A snort of laughter. “The name I gave you not good enough?”
“Not who I am.”
“It’s not as easy as changing your name, Deadlock.”
Drift’s head bowed. “Yes. I know.”
“So.” A curious glint in the red optics, warring with the purple of the harness, Megatron’s power armor. “Come to gloat then, have you?”
Drift shook his head. “No. Not gloat.” He wasn’t sure why he was here, but he knew it wasn’t to gloat. His history was too tangled with Megatron’s for that.
“I’m in no position to lecture anyone.”
“I’m, perhaps, in less of one.” Mirth around the corners of his optics, practically rattling from the edges of his mouth. “So, Drift,” and he said the name as though it were some alien word with a flavor he didn’t quite know what to do with, “why are you here?”
“Not sure.” It was something Rodimus had said, some throwaway comment, half in jest, but it had stuck with him. He hadn’t spoken to Megatron. Not for ages. How could he be at peace with his past if he held back from facing it?
“You know,” Megatron said, his tone conversational, as though proving a point: He was the one held captive, he was the one immobilized, yet he was the one who was in control. A subterfuge, but one not less true for the fact that it was, “It doesn’t suit you.”
It was distressing, that in their old familiarity, Drift knew what Megatron was talking about. One hand brushed the Autobot insignia in his shoulder well. “Factions suit no one.”
“And yet, there you are,” Megatron said. “Then again, you always did want to belong.” He said the last as though it were a sneer.
“Yes.” Wounds only hurt if you let them strike home. “Too much.”
“Belonging always comes at a price, Drift.”
A nod. Oh, he had learned that all too well.
“And is it worth it?”
Drift frowned. He was letting too many blows in, past his guard, only blocking. Time to parry. “Is this for you?”
“Worth it?” The smile turned contented. “Drift. You remember. I always get what I want.”
“You want this. Captivity. Helplessness.” Drift tried to imagine himself in the same situation—immobilized, stripped, neutralized. His optics slid to the arm, looking strangely naked without the heavy cannon.
“Drift.” The head reared back and for a klik all Drift could see were the bare, exposed cables of the throat. It was a taunt, of course. One Megatron knew he wouldn’t rise to, but would have to fight the urge nonetheless. “My very presence here is more disturbing to the Autobots than anything else I could do. Fight? We’ve become numbed to it. But this: quiescence, obedience? This shakes the very foundations of what they think I am.”
A laugh, dark and velvety, and oh, Drift remembered the seduction of it. “I am what they can’t understand, Drift.” The head reared again, an untamed animal gesture. “And you? You have tried to shape yourself within the confines of their comprehension. You limit yourself. Now.” A chuckle, fond. “Is that freedom? Is that truly better than what I offered?”
The mirth seemed to fade from the red optics. “That thing you have always reached for, Drift. And then pulled back, appalled by your own dirty hands.”
Drift stepped back: Megatron knew him too well. Maybe if someone knew you from the beginning they knew you better than you knew yourself. He remembered, suddenly, how he’d felt, standing in that crowd, to hear the great revolutionary speak. And to be recognized, called by name. By Megatron. Drift was an unknown, a nobody. But Megatron had seen him. Megatron had given him a name, praised him.
He had fallen for it, like tumbling into a gravity well. “Your methods were hardly clean.”
“My methods are harsh. Yes. But look around you.” The dark chin traced a semicircle, encompassing the ship around them. “Would your compatriots have listened to any less? Did they listen to us when we merely spoke back on Cybertron, Drift?” The red optics took on a sly glint. “And isn’t that why they tolerate you, after all?”
A palpable hit. There was no point disguising it. Drift let it show on his face.
Megatron nodded, rolling one shoulder in his harness. “They pretend to be better than Decepticons.”
“They are. Have you seen what we have become?” Drift remembered what he’d said to Turmoil. The Decepticons had become mired in violence, and the Autobots fallen. He’d believed it then, but now, somehow, he wasn’t sure he still did.
“You have seen me, Drift. And this Optimus you now follow. Tell me. How do we measure?”
“I don’t follow him. I do what’s right.”
“And you see the distance between them, don’t you? You feel it.” A snort of laughter. the kind that knew he was right. “In your own way, you’re as immobilized as I am, Drift.”
Drift wanted to refute him. He wanted to feel pity. Anger. Anything other than this almost awed respect, this poignant nostalgia for when the world was young and everything seemed clear.
“Do you remember?” As if clairvoyant, the voice quiet, soft, like an echo of the past. “Do you remember the days of glory? When the world was ours?”
“Was ours to burn, to destroy. All we knew how to do.”
“And these Autobots know something else?”
Drift sighed, frustrated. It was always like this with Megatron. In those days, the distant past, it had seemed exciting, a constant battle, a way to keep honed and sharp. Perfect Decepticons.
And maybe that wasn’t wrong. Constant alertness. Constant guard. It kept you busy. Kept you too busy, sometimes, to see what you were doing. But that was better, sometimes, than blind faith. “I fight so the war ends, Megatron.”
“Strange that I am not fighting then, isn’t it?”
“You’re always fighting, Megatron.” Something dangerousy close to fondness in his own voice. Drift pressed his mouth together, as though trying to quash the emotion.
Megatron laughed. “You understand. Don’t you, Drift?” He nearly winked, as though that understanding would be a bond between them, a wall between Drift and the other Autobots.
“I thought I did. I thought you believed what you promised us.” And Drift realized he was talking about the past. The past had never left him, would never leave him. How had Megatron come to peace with his?
“I do. I do. And that,” a pause, and for a moment the hard, glossy composure seemed to slip, “that’s why I cannot be broken, Drift. Not here. Not by them.”
“There are worse things than breaking,” Drift said. Wing seemed to hang before him, between them, like a spectre, a phantom of what Drift might have been, had a thousand branches gone differently. Wing had broken him, cracked him open, and—he hoped—released some light.
“There are,” Megatron agreed. “One must destroy to rebuild, after all.” An old slogan, so old it seemed to reek of the past, the smell of hot energon and an almost frantic hope. Then the voice lowered, the chin tipping down, Megatron wanting to drop the pose for a moment, his red optics catching at Drift’s blue. “The secret, “ he said, his voice so soft it was nearly lost in the hum of the VVH, “is to never forget the past. Remember, Deadlock. Drift. Don’t forget the past. Ever.”
A shiver ran over Drift’s frame, the image of Wing between them seeming to ripple and reform; the keen intensity of the words seemed to slice into his cortex with the weight of prophecy.