The voice of a femme rang loud and clear through the small alleyway, which was unusually quiet despite the time of the solar cycle that it was. A youngling was clinging to the hand of an older blue femme, her frightened optics pleading for her not to go. The blue femme was trying to pull her servo out of the young black femme's grasp but to no avail; her free servo was pushing on the femme's faceplates, her digits curling deeper into the thin alloy of the youngling with each passing nanoklik.
"I don't want you to go, Psi. I need you to stay with me!"
Psi let out an irritated sigh, "It's not up to me, Flareup. Linux doesn't want you around anymore and you know that if I left you here, it would be a whole lot less painful for you."
Flareup sobbed, "Linux is wrong, Psi. I can be useful. I still can, I promise!"
The blue femme ceased her struggle and pursed her lips, "How can you be Flareup when your ability to shape-shift glitches every time you come under pressure? You nearly got me caught by the Enforcers back in Praxus! Next time, you'll be ratting out the entire group to some random stranger you meet out there because of your glitch."
Shaking her head, Flareup tried to reason with her, her voice becoming nearly incoherent from the sobs that were racking her lithe frame. "I won't, Psi. I swear over Primus that I won't!" She sniffled and fell to her knees, "I'd never betray our family unit, Psi."
The word brought a strange look to Psi's blue optics and Flareup could feel that she had said the wrong thing; her older sister tore her servo out of hers and turned her faceplates away, a grimace etched onto them.
"We don't have a family unit, Flareup." Her sister's voice was hard as if she were having trouble getting the words out. When the blue femme finally riveted her gaze back towards her, Flareup could see that any hesitation had evaporated from her sister's being. There was only cold steely resolve in those blue orbs of hers and the black femme felt her Spark twist painfully; there was a time when Psi used to be bright and cheerful. Her blue optics were always full of warmth and her smile was so bright, it made even the planet star seem dim in comparison. She never gave any harsh retorts and her touch was always full of love and kindness.
However, after that incident with their creators...Psi changed completely. Her demeanor was cruel and her blue optics were now void of emotions, cold and desolate, hard like freshly mined stones.
Flareup had always wondered what it would take to get her sister to smile once more and as the years passed, she sought for a solution. When the two of them joined Linux's band of thieves in order to survive, Flareup thought that the adrenaline and thrill of adventure would
bring the old Psi back but it only seemed to push her further and further away. A void began to appear in Flareup's Spark and the emptiness that she felt was a sign of her sister's change.
Flareup reached up to place a small servo over her own chassis, the beating of her Spark thrumming beneath her digits. It usually comforted her but now, it only seemed to aggravate the pain that was slowly tearing at her from the inside out. She closed her optics and let the tears cascade down the length of her cheekplates, her arms wrapping protectively around her midsection.
The blue femme let out a sigh and cast a glance back at her younger sibling, pity swimming in the depths of her optics. "Don't call me that, Flareup. You know I slaggin' hate that nickname."
Her helm snapping up to stare at her sister, Flareup tried to compose herself but the tears didn't stop flowing and she knew that her sister was probably going to yell at her for being so weak. She always did that whenever they were near Linux, after all.
"Psionic," Flareup blubbered, "I'm sorry for being so weak. I never meant to cause any trouble for you or anyone else."
Psi blinked and after a moment of hesitation, she replied, "I know you didn't, Flareup. But...this isn't my choice to make. You know that." Rising to her pedes, Psi glanced down at her sister with an irrepressible look of despair and when Flareup met her gaze, Psi was almost hesitant to grab her rifle.
Flareup's optics widened when she saw her sister subspace her rifle and a look of realization dawned on her faceplates.
"Psionic." Her voice shook with a mounting sense of fear, "you said you were only going to leave me here."
Psi swallowed roughly, "I am, Flareup. Linux however, was very specific on how."
"No! You can't do it! I'm you're sister, Psi! You can't kill me!" Flareup scrambled onto her pedes and began to take a few steps back, her optics desperately scanning for an escape route. The only way out of the alley was behind Psi and Flareup knew that her chances of reaching that were slim.
She was trapped.
Psi let out a deep sigh.
Flareup could only stare as her sister placed her foredigit over the trigger and then aim the armament's barrel in her direction; the small red dot found it's way onto her chassis and Flareup felt her breath catch in her throat.
She was actually going to do it. Psi was actually going to kill her...
A dawning sense of fear invaded her and she fell to her knees, her servos raising themselves up in front of her protectively. She squeezed her optics shut and let out a cry of fear.
A gunshot was heard, but there was no pain following it. Flareup was now gasping for air, having held her breath for so long and she glanced in her sister's direction rapidly, trying to discern what it was that Psi had actually fired at.
The sight that beheld her made her scream in both horror and fear.
Her arms had instinctively morphed into two long metal beams, seared to a point and stretching forth in defense. They had skewered through her sister's upper torso. Psi had a look of surprise in her blue optics and her mouth was slightly agape in shock; her blaster fell out of her servo and clattered noisily on the ground.
Flareup would have fainted if she had not been so horrified. She retracted her arms and the body of her sister fell onto the hard concrete with a loud and sickening thud.
"Psi!" Flareup ran towards her sister, her bloody digits raised over her frame in distress. Tears gushed out of her optics and they dripped onto her sister's frame, mixing with the fresh blue Energon that was steadily trickling out of Psi's mortal wounds. In an effort to aid her sister, Flareup pressed her palms over her sister's torso in an attempt to stifle the deluge of precious fluid. Her small servos dug into the wounds and a sickening sound was heard as Energon spurted out of her sister's wounds, seeping down the length of Flareup's arms and onto the floor.
A small groan of pain escaped Psi and Flareup retreated her servos, too intent on her sister's flickering optics to notice her bloody servos. Reaching up to cup her sister's cheekplate, Flareup attempted to get her sister's frantic optics to focus on her.
"Psi. Psionic. Look at me. Look at me, Psi. Please-"
Psi shuttered her optics and a strangled gasp followed by a regurgitated mouthful of Energon was all that she responded. The warm fluid splashed onto Flareup's chassis and the sickly sweet smell made her insides churn with disgust.
She had done this. Everything that had happened to Psi since those Enforcers killed her parents, all the pain, all the loss, it had all been because of her. Psi sacrificed everything to make sure that Flareup would be able to make it in this world and all she had done was disappoint her.
And now, because of Flareup, Psi was going to die.
Flareup wiped her optics with the back of her servo and peered into her sister's optics, intent on listening to whatever it was that she had to say.
Whether it be good or bad. For better or for worse.
"Flareup...." Psi swallowed roughly, "I...I always..."
Flareup clenched her dental plates, "What, Psi? You always what?" Grabbing her sister's helm in her arms, the youngling brought her sister into a slightly upright postion, intent on keeping her online long enough to say whatever it was that she needed to say. Or at the very least until help came.
Psi grabbed her sister's servo and clenched it tightly, her lips attempting to form words. However, before she could utter another word, the light faded from her optics and her grip on Flareup's digits loosened. Her helm fell backwards and her frame slumped completely, devoid of any life.
Flareup bit her lip as a sob fought it's way up her throat and she could taste the sweet taste of Energon as her sharp dental plates broke through the delicate membrane of her lip component.
"Psi...Psi..." Flareup buried her faceplates in her sister's neck, her sobs muffled. Her body shook with each cry and she remained that way for a while, crying and crying until her body was unable to produce any more tears. Her back ached from her hunched position but Flareup ignored it. She had lost the will to do anything else; her only reason for remaining alive, her only connection to this world, had been Psionic. Without her, Flareup did not know what to do. She couldn't think, couldn't feel, she couldn't even breathe without having Psi on her thoughts.
Flareup gripped her sister's frame even tighter in her arms and more tearless sobs began to rack her body, the sounds of her grief were muffled by the sounds of activity in the nearby streets of the large metropolis.
She lost track of time. What seemed like nanokliks to her actually turned out to be entire megacycles. The rumbling of her internals as they began to process the lack of Energon was a small reminder of the elapse of time but the pain in her Spark overpowered it and in a few breems, she had forgotten it completely.
Numb with the pain of the trauma she endured, she didn't hear the footsteps of the mech as he approached her from behind. Even when he stood inches away from her spinal strut and his long shadow bore down on her from behind, Flareup hardly paid any heed to the newcomer's presence.
"Do you plan on leaving any time soon, youngling?"
Flareup, who had her optics closed as she tried to recharge, swallowed roughly in response.
The mech did not seem fazed by her lack of response; in fact, the smile that spread over his his faceplates showed that he completely expected it.
Gazing down at the offline femme, whose blue armor was caked with decaying Energon, a curious spark ignited in his dark gold optics.
"Was that your sister?"
Flareup's frame stiffened upon hearing the question and the mech grinned, relieved of receiving a response from the young femme, however, when he saw saw the femme's fame begin to shake with grief, he immediately walked around her until he was facing her and he then bent down on one knee, his optics searching for the young ebony femme's faceplates.
"Hey, now." The mech cautiously brought his palm up towards her face, his digits stretched in her direction in surrender. "Look at me, femme."
Flareup wasn't sure why but the tone of the mech's voice seemed to urge her to look up and when she did, her optics widened upon seeing how it was that was attempting to converse with her.
The mech was tall and handsome; his faceplates were sleek and smooth and he had on a smile that radiated with charisma. He couldn't have been older than Psi. However, the thing that caught her attention were his optics.
The gold orbs were full of warmth but they glinted with a hidden hint of intelligence. They were enticing but at the same time, they screamed for you to think twice about trusting this mech. However, Flareup had given up on everything. Danger meant little to her.
A smile flashed across the mech's faceplates, "There you are, youngling." He frowned, "What's your name?"
Flareup wiped her optics instinctively, ignoring the stinging sensation the dried up Energon left in it's wake. She tried to answer but her voice was lost before it could escape her lips.
Sensing that she was having troubles, the mech nodded once and cleared his throat. "Oh, right. I guess I should introduce myself first. My name is Makeshift." He shrugged, "Most bots call me 'Shift, though."
Flareup couldn't help but feel a glimmer of interest upon hearing his name. It had an oddly familiar ring to it, as if Flareup had heard it somewhere before. She couldn't quite remember where, though. Swallowing roughly and clearing her throat silently, Flareup licked her lips with her glossa and tentatively replied, "My name is...Flareup."
"Flareup? Primus. That's a pretty name." The mech smiled lightly, "I like it."
Uncertain of how to react, Flareup tightened her grip on her sister's cold corpse. Makeshift glanced down at Psi's body and a sad frown found it's way onto his faceplates. "I saw the whole thing, Flareup. That's quite the power you got there."
Power? Flareup almost scoffed. More like a curse.
Makeshift brought up a servo and a serious look crossed his optics, "I know what you're going through, Flareup. Believe me, I know exactly what it feels like."
As he spoke, his servo shimmered, as if it were melting right before their optics. However, in less than a nanoklik, it was replaced by another one, nly this one was bigger and pulsed with raw yellow energy. Flareup nearly gasped in response, and Makeshift smiled sadly upon seeing the look of recognition in her optics.
"Guess you're not the only one whose messed up around here, eh?" Makeshift blinked and in a second, his original servo reappeared. The mech flexed his digits and lowered his servo, a sad look lingering on his facade. He raised his optic ridges, "I got the same power as you, Flareup. I can shift my frame into any form that you can imagine. Other bots, other objects, I can be anything that I want in the blink of an optic."
Flareup gazed down at her own servos and she winced upon seeing the Energon that caked her small joints. What was it like, she wondered, to be able to control that ability? To be able to use it whenever you wanted and not injure and kill those that were most precious to you?
Her vision blurred but before she could let any tears fall, a big servo lay itself over her smaller one and wrapped it's digits around hers tightly. Flareup glanced up to see the sympathetic glimmer in Makeshift's gaze and she felt a small blossom of warmth erupt in the core of her cold desolate Spark.
"You can control it, Flareup. It's not a glitch, like Psi said. It's simply a lack of practice. She wasn't able to see the greatness in your capabilities; instead of teaching you to embrace your ability, she taught you to deny it and in doing so, you weren't able to control it and thus it resulted in this." He gestured at Psi with a tilt of his chin, "A tragic course of events but sadly, inevitable."
Makeshift blinked, "I can teach you how to control your capabilities, Flareup. There are things you aren't even aware of that you can do. Changing a part of your body is barely scratching the surface of shape-shifting. I can teach you everything there is to know about it."
He rose to his pedes, a determined glimmer in his optics. A servo was stretched in Flareup's direction, his open palm inviting her to take it. "I can protect you from everything, Flareup. All you have to do is trust me."
Flareup stiffened, unsure of what to do. Just a second ago, she had been completely devoid of all emotion. Now, she had this burning desire in her Spark to be with this strange mech; all his promises echoed in her audioreceptors and Flareup gazed down at her sister's faceplates, her vitals twisting in pain.
Makeshift said he could teach her how to prevent these things from occurring; now that Psi was gone, all that Flareup had was herself. She had noone. She wasn't needed by anyone nor was she loved by anyone. Linux had forsaken her and her family unit was dead. Yet this mech, who had just met her a few nanokliks ago, expressed his desire to have her in his company and even offered to keep her safe from any harm.
To others, the response to the question would have required a long time of planning and pondering. But for Flareup, there was nothing to decide.
Rubbing her digit tips together for a moment, she reached up and her small servo placed itself in Makeshift's larger palm. The mech's digits enclosed around it gently but they gave it a gentle squeeze of calming reassurance. Flareup looked up tentatively at the mech's optics and the smile on his faceplates made a glimmer of warmth blossom in her chassis.
A small smile played upon her lips and the weight seemed to lift off of her shoulders. Everything was going to be alright now; Psi, Mara, Axion....she was going to make all of them proud...
"Flareup! Are you slaggin' listening to me?"
Flareup blinked, breaking out of her train of thoughts. Blinking rapidly, she saw that Tarros and everyone else in the conference room was staring in her direction, their optics narrowed in faint interest. Tarros had been busy discussing the Decepticons next plan of attack but the conversation had gotten tiresome and Flareup had allowed herself to drift off in her thoughts.
She saw Megatron staring at her from the opposing end of the table, his dark scarlet optics cold and desolate as always. A small shiver went up her spinal strut and swallowed roughly in an attempt to get a grip on things. Skyblast, one of the senior aerial commanders had a small smirk on his faceplates and Flareup knew he was itching to see her get into trouble. That mecha always liked sucking up to the heads of Decepticon command and he never passed up a chance to revel in the misfortunes of others.
He was one of the biggest glitch heads she had ever had the privilege of knowing.
Flareup waved her servo in the air and rose from her place, putting on a bored facade. The chair's legs scrapped softly on the floor as she rose. "I just need some fresh air," She replied, "I'll be back in a nanoklik." The femme was faintly aware that Makeshift was staring at her from his place beside Megatron but she did her best to ignore his gaze. The last thing she needed was for him to know he had been part of her recent train of thoughts.
She turned gracefully on her heelpedes and walked out of the room, the door swooshing shut behind her. A loud sigh escaped her once she found herself in the comfortable silence of the hall and she made her way towards the nearest window that lined the hall of the great Decepticon fortress.
The breathtaking view of Kaon was all that could be seen from her panorama and she smiled slightly in response. It was as dark and gloomy as ever, that much was for sure. The sky was thick with the red and gray smoke of the smelting pits that burned on the planet surface, scattered among the grand city in a seemingly random fashion. The large cylindrical buildings reached up towards the sky, their rusty alloy charred from the pollution in the atmosphere and singed from the continuous cascade of acid rain that seemed to rain down from the sky in a seemingly never ending format.
It wasn't pretty but it was home.
"Tarros' tactical meetings too much for you to handle?"
Flareup smiled upon hearing the voice but she didn't break her gaze from the window. "Nah. I just have better things to do, that's all."
From her peripheral vision, she was able to see her mentor make his way beside her and she could faintly see his reflection appear beside hers.
A small smile was his response. "I see. Never thought of you as one who likes to simply watch the planet star rise and fall, Flare." He paused, and his voice grew more serious. "But I know that's not really what's going on."
Flareup sighed in defeat and her arms crossed over her chassis. There was no getting anything past Makeshift, that much was for sure. Of course, she shouldn't have expected anything else. The mech knew her better than any other bot ever did.
"What gave me away?" She asked, turning her helm to stare in his direction.
Makeshift raised an optic ridge and pointed a digit towards her forehead, the tip of it grazing the small crease between her optic ridges lightly. "That," he replied. "It always appears whenever you have something important on your mind."
Flareup rubbed her cheekplate, "Hm. I guess I need to work on that then." Makeshift didn't respond and the femme knew he was waiting for an answer. Licking her lips, which had dry, she replied, "It's nothing really, Makeshift. Psi's just been on my mind recently."
At the mention of her long deceased sister, Makeshift cocked his helm in curiosity. "Psionic? Really, why?"
Shaking her head, Flareup shrugged. "I don't know. It's been vorns since I last saw her and she never came up until now..." She paused, "Old memories have a way of resurfacing, I guess."
Makeshift was silent for a while but then he replied, "That they do. They're a pain in the aft sometimes but at least they're useful." He glanced back towards the window and Flareup could see that a wistful look had appeared on his faceplates; it didn't quite reach his optics but the femme knew that he was reminiscing too. It was rare seeing him do that, he only did when he was with her, but it still was a nice thing to see.
Unlike Megatron, whose fiery gaze only shone with bloodlust and a desire for power, Makeshift was one of the few Decepticons who still had a soft side. Soft, of course, referring to their sense of sentimentality. The only other bot that Flareup had ever seen delve so deeply into their thoughts was Skyblast's twin sister, Backfire.
That femme was an enigma, Flareup was sure of that much. She rarely ever left her lab and when she did, she always found her way towards the training room, where she would take out a helluva lot of pent up frustration and then head back to the lab to continue on her work. Shockwave always complimented on her persistence and said her dedication to the cause was an admirable trait, indeed. Flareup never really spoke with her much but she could tell that the femme was always somewhere else; whenever she went to the rec room to get a couple pints of Energon, her optics always had a distant glimmer within them, as if she were living her life out in a dream.
Flareup had done her research on Backfire and the results that she got weren't quite what she had expected; an absent mech creator and a deceased femme creator were somethings that didn't really seem out of the ordinary, almost everyone had those, after all. It was the designations of those creators that caught her attention. Rethalia and Jetfire. Granted, having one of the Autobots' aerial strategists as a mech creator wasn't something to be proud of, Flareup noticed that Backfire never really paid much attention to him whenever they went into battle.
Neither did Skyblast, surprisingly.
Familial bonds were a strange thing, Flareup thought. Her family died off when she was young so Flareup never really struggled when she fought against the Autobots. She had Makeshift beside her and that was enough for her; as long as he was alright, so was Flareup.
Heat rushed into her cheekplates upon hearing the mech's voice and she pretended to be focused on the view spread out before her. "Yeah?" She asked, not glancing in Makeshift's direction.
"Go take a couple pints of Energon. I'll fill you in on the rest of the meeting later on, okay?"
Flareup glanced up at Makeshift, ready to retort. "No, I'm fine-Really, I just-"
Makeshift shook his head, "If you need me to make that an order, I gladly will." He walked back towards the conference rooms doors, but paused with his servo on the matrixpad. "You're only going to take up space in there if you're not focused. You know Megatron doesn't approve of those things."
Before Flareup could reply, the mech opened the door and walked in, the door shutting behind him. An urge to curse at him rose in her chassis but Flareup suppressed it.
As much as she hated to admit it, the mech was right. She hated Tarros' stupid meetings more than anything and the last thing she needed was to endure another one any longer. Besides, a pint of High Grade sounded pretty good right now. Her processor was driving her crazy and it would also be a good way to celebrate the special occasion.
It was the anniversary of Psionic's death.
Granted, it wasn't pretty normal to celebrate such things but this was an exception. Apart from being that, it was also the day that Psi was sparked. It was ironic, really. The day that Psionic died was the day that she had been brought to life. Flareup tried to see things in a more optimistic light so she always saw this as something to celebrate rather than something to mourn about.
The rec room was surprisingly empty; only a few mechs here and there and the bartender was so bored that he had taken out the store of alcoholic imbibes and was busy sorting them back into their places.
A smile spread across Flareup's faceplates. Between Tarros' obsessive planning strategies and this, Flareup was just fine with this scene.
"Move over." Another voice suddenly said from somewhere behind her, "You're blocking up the whole entrance."
Flareup glanced over her shoulder and scoffed, "Backfire. Hm. What a surprise. Finally decided to come out of your hole?"
Backfire's unamused expression remained but her scarlet optics flashed when she retorted, "I could say the same to you, you glitch. I suppose walking around in Makeshift's huge shadow all day finally got you worn out."
Flareup laughed. "Primus, I thought Skyblast was the only one with a dirty mouth." She grinned, "Guess it's hereditary." Turning to face Backfire, Flareup narrowed her optics. "Who do you think you get it from? Your Autobot mech creator?"
Backfire pursed her lips and snorted softly, "Same old Flareup. Always butting into other people's business. Guess that's what you become when you have a retrohound raising you."
Flareup stepped aside, shaking her head in amusement. "You never change, Backfire. I can always count on you to lighten up things around here."
The femme Seeker pushed past Flareup, her wings slapping her on the way by. "Whatever." She took up her usual place near the bartender's supply of Enex and asked him for a pint, sub-spacing several credits and placing them on the surface in a single fluid motion. The smile dropped from Flareup's faceplates and a serious expression befell her optics. Letting out a heavy sigh, Flareup trudged up towards the black Seeker and sat down in the empty seat beside her.
Flareup gazed down at the credits and then at Backfire's solemn face and she scoffed, "You do know this isn't a bar, right? We don't have to pay for anything we drink in here."
Backfire shrugged, "Old habit, I guess. Besides," She began to toy with a shiny gold credit between her digits, "We can't use these for anything anymore."
"That makes sense, I guess." Flareup took out two credits from her own subspace and placed it beside Backfire's. "Plenty more where that came from." She glanced up when the so called bartender brought Backfire her drink and Flareup grinned at him, "I'd like some High Grade, if you don't mind."
The mech nodded once and left.
Backfire took a long chug of her imbibe and glanced at Flareup from the corner of her optics. "What's the occasion?"
Flareup raised an optic ridge, "Do I really need one to drink?"
The other femme shrugged, "I certainly doubt Makeshift would ever let you get yourself drunk unless there was a reason as to why." She smiled, "Doesn't he keep tabs on almost everything you do?"
"Frag off, Backfire." Flareup reached up and snatched the cup that the arriving bartender gave her, some of the hot liquid spilled over and burned her finger but she ignored it.
Backfire narrowed her optics, "I was just wondering. There's no need to get snappy with me. After all, you're the one who decided to sit next to me." She took a sip of her drink and winced at it's strong taste.
"Sorry about that." Flareup replied, ducking her helm in mock shame. "I'm just tired."
Half expecting a smart retort, Flareup prepared to retaliate but all that Backfire gave her in response was a dreary sigh. "Yeah," She replied, the can of Enex teetered on her lower lip, "I am too."
Optics widening, Flareup looked over at Backfire and raised an optic ridge indignantly. "That certainly wasn't the response I was expecting."
Backfire shrugged, "You're not the only one with something to celebrate, Flareup." She wiped the residue of the Enex from her lips with the back of her servo. "I have something as well."
Flareup frowned, "What is it? Your spark date? If that's so shouldn't your idiot brother be here with you?"
"No. And even if it was, Skyblast isn't the kind of company that I would like to keep." Backfire smiled slightly, "He be a bit of a slagger when he gets alcohol into his systems."
"Pfft. Tell me about it. Even without High Grade that guy is a pain in the aft." Flareup took a sip of her own drink and let out a dreary sigh when the liquid began to burn the back of her throat. She gazed at the pink liquid and frowned. Slag. That stuff sure was strong. She turned back towards Backfire, "Today's my sister's sparkdate. Psionic was her name."
Backfire nodded, "Interesting. What was she like?"
Flareup laughed scornfully, "She was a fraggin' glitch." She took a long gulp of her drink and didn't stop until her glossa was uselessly waddling through thin air. She cursed and set the cube down roughly, catching the bartender's attention. "Bring me more of this stuff," She commanded, waving her servo in the air. "Make it two cubes this time."
A silence ensued and Flareup laid her helm against the surface of the table, suddenly feeling a bit lightheaded. Backfire gazed at her curiously, taking small delicate sips from her own drink.
"What celebrate her, then?" Backfire asked, genuine interest lingering in the depths of her optics.
Flareup shrugged, "Don't know. Guess I just wanted a reason to get a little drunk." She thanked the bartender as he brought out her order and cracked open another cube, her actions a little more sluggish than normal. Backfire could only gaze at her as she drank and set the cube down, wiping her mouth with her glossa. "Though I guess it's a habit I can't seem to break."
Backfire dropped her gaze to the floor and nodded, her optics returning to her own drink, which had begun to grow cold. She understood. Despite what others thought, Backfire was in a seemingly similar situation. Especially with-
"So what's your reason?" The question jolted Backfire out of her train of thoughts and she glanced over at the slightly drunk shape shifter, her optics widened in surprise.
Flareup rubbed her optics with one servo, and let it sluggishly fall onto her thigh. "I told you my story, I think I deserve to hear yours."
Backfire stiffened but then visibly relaxed. "Alright," She replied, setting her Enex can down.
Flareup seemed to grow more alert; she raised her helm and rested her chin on the back of her servo. Backfire let out a small breath and said, "I can assume that, seeing how you know so much about my parenting, that you know my history, right?"
"Yeah." Flareup's voice began to sound a little bored. "Though there's a small gap between your life in the Stanix Regions and your time in Crystal City."
Backfire smiled, "Of course there is. I made sure of that."
"What the slag? Why?"
The ebony femme Seeker sighed, "Because that's the time that I met him. Euroscope."
Euroscope. A strange sensation blossomed in Flareup's Spark and she jolted out of her drunk trance, her optics alert as ever. Euroscope was the mech that Shockwave sent her and Makeshift to capture nearly two vorns ago; Flareup was the one who infiltrated the Autobot ranks and disguised herself as a femme named Quartz, attempting to lure Euroscope to where Makeshift was so they could capture him together.
The mech hadn't been that difficult to capture but there was something that he had said to her during the time that they brought him to the Decepticon prison in Kaon.
"Why'd you choose to be a Decepticon, kid? You're way too young to be killing bots."
Flareup's hand tightened around the cube in her grasp and she glared at the pink liquid with repugnance. That mech spoke with such nobility, it was if he believed he were Primus fallen from the stars. He smiled at her when she called him names, slag, even when she punched him straight in the faceplates, he manged to crack a smile and ask her if that was all that she had.
"Is that it, Flareup? I had a sister who punched ten times as hard as that."
Flareup knew him, alright. And she wasn't fond of him at all. Without looking at Backfire, she replied, "You knew that slagger?"
Backfire nodded, "Yes."
A scoff was Flareup's response. "Figures. That bastard was crazy."
"He wasn't back then. He was actually quite the mech to keep company with." She took another sip of her drink and Flareup could tell that the alcohol in her drink was starting to take it's effect on her too. The femme smiled. This was bound to get interesting.
Backfire smiled, "Euroscope was quite the inventor. He always had the ability to build amazing things out of stuff he found lying around and it was a privilege to see him work. It was like watching a blacksmith create a vibroblade out of pure Energon. A true work of art." The femme's optics became wistful for a few seconds and then they grew solemn, and finally her scarlet optics hardened, shining in the dim light of the bar like red rubies. "Of course, good things never do tend to last."
Flareup raised an optic ridge, "What happened?"
"He abandoned me." Backfire coughed, "One day he just up and left, telling me he would be back in a few breems." She paused, "Those breems turned into megacycles and thosto cycles and finally into solar cycles. He never came back and it wasn't until a few cycles later that the city of Crystal City, in which I was in, was destroyed." The femme scoffed, "I was pretty useless back then, Primus knows how I managed to survive the assault. But I guess it was luck, you could say. I was rescued by Shockwave and now, here I slaggin' am. Drinking a toast to the day I became a Decepticon."
Flareup couldn't help but laugh at the story and Backfire glanced at her with unamused confusion, "What's so funny, Flareup?"
The shape shifting femme shook her helm, "Nothing. It's just that I can't help but notice how different your tale is from Skyblast's. His is always full of daring adventures and daring escapades and all yours is about is this one mech. Heh. Despite being twins, you two really are quite different from each other."
Backfire thought about it for a minute and then she responded, "Yes. You're right. Skyblast's ambitions are always bigger than his own being; he dreams big and he never stops himself from aiming too high." She smiled, "He has plans for himself."
Backfire hesitated and then she replied, "I'm nothing more than a chemical engineer, Flareup. My life's work is dedicated to war, to the creation of weapons capable of wiping out entire populations. Everyone I love is dead. After the war ends, I'll have nowhere else to go. Nothing else to do. When I kill Euroscope, what then? My life ends after that." She paused, "I know how I'm going to end up already. I'm not going to make it past the end of the war."
"Everyone?" Flareup couldn't help but notice the word.
Backfire smiled, "My mech creator is an Autobot who left me even before the war started and my brother left me after it began; it's pure coincidence that we found each other again, Flareup. Euroscope included." Her gaze clouded, "You know, sometimes, I envy you. Despite the fact that you lost everyone you hold dear, you manage to hold onto one bot who manages to keep you standing with a steady grip on your arm. You won't let him down and neither will he to you." The femme finished up her drink and rose from her seat, nodding farewell to the bartender. Backfire placed a servo on Flareup's shoulder as she walked past her and then retreated it, heading towards the exit with a slightly uneasy gait. "See you around, Flareup."
Flareup grunted in response, suddenly feeling too queasy to finish up her drinks. The pink liquid had grown cold and it had clotted up, like melted ore left to cool off on a drying rack. She pushed the cube aside, folding her servos over the top of the table surface. Backfire's words echoed in her mind and she let out a dreary sigh.
There wasn't much to envy, she had forgotten to tell her that before she left. Makeshift was Flareup's reason for existing, after all. She wouldn't be where she was without his help. He had taken her in, raised her and trained her to be the best infiltration agent in the universe. If he hadn't shown up after Flareup had killed Psionic...Flareup would have died right alongside her sister. Now, the tie she had with her sister had been forged with Makeshift.
If Makeshif ever died in battle. Flareup knew she would die right alongside him. The whole reason she had joined up with the Decepticons was because she had been following Makeshift. If he had chosen to go to the Autobots, Flareup would had followed him without asking any questions. She was a weapon, used at Makeshift's disposal.
She smiled coyly. She and Backfire weren't as different as Flareup originally thought. Backfire was hellbent on killing the mech who had severed one of the most precious bonds she had ever forged in her life...Flareup was hellbent on preserving her bond with the one bot in the world who had the Spark to take her in. Each of their lives....tied to another being. Completely and irrevocably codependent.
It was quite pathetic actually...but it was the truth.
What would you do if Makeshift hadn't saved you that day?
Euroscope's voice came back into her thoughts; he had found out about her past after his comrade Climaxx had done a little research on her after she rescued him from the Decepticon citadel. The two of them had faced each other during the battle of Kalis and Euroscope had confronted Flareup that day. Despite her best efforts, Flareup couldn't forget the intensity lingering his blue optics.
They burned with the desire to know the truth.
Flareup hadn't answered him that day but it hadn't been because she refused to be questioned by an Autobot.
It was because she didn't know how to answer.
I would have died.
That would have been the obvious answer. Killing her sister had been like watching their creators get murdered in front of her, over and over again. Hearing their screams, smelling the sweet scent of their Energon as they desperately fought to keep the Enforcers away from her and Psionic, who had been running down the streets of the marketplace, their arms loaded with stolen Energon cubes.
Flareup dug her digits into the surface of the table, the linoleum surface unchanging beneath her fingertips. What would she really had
answered him if she was forced to?
What would she have done after Psi's death if she hadn't run into Makeshift?
Would her hunger have taken over and forced her to find nourishment, abandoning her sister and running onto the streets?
The answer seemed to drift further and further away from her processor, which was now beginning to ache. She pressed her palm against he temple and began to massage it, trying to focus.
She drank way too much High Grade, that much was for sure.
She better go back to her chambers and sleep; the planet star was still up and a war was going on. If they found her like this, she would never be able to live it down.
Rising from her seat, she firmly grasped the table's edge, trying to keep herself steady as she swayed from side to side. The bartender cast her a curious glance from the corner of her optics but Flareup didn't care. Makeshift was sure to come around soon to tell her about the meeting and she wanted their future encounter to be just that. A briefing. She didn't it turning into a lecture.
As she made her way to her chambers, Euroscope, Backfire and everyone else seemed to drift out of her train of thoughts. They were still there, though, in the back of her processor but they were overruled by the memories that were steadily swimming through her mind. Unable to keep a firm grasp on her thoughts, memories of a blue femme ricocheted through her CPU; some of those images depicted her with a smile, others with a frown.
However, the ones that managed to keep replaying and replaying itself in her mind were both invigorating and contradictory. One displayed Psionic with a smile, her faceplates round and soft like that of a small youngling; it was the first one that Flareup had of her sister, when she was very recently sparked. The glint of interest and joy reflected in her sister's blue optics never left her memory.
Unfortunately, neither did the look of shock that appeared on her sister's bloody faceplates nearly fifteen vorns ago. The movement of her dimming optics, her strife to say something coherent, her body slumping lifelessly in her arms....
"Slag." Flareup glared at her servos in disgust and she curled them up into fists as she made a sharp turn and came upon the closed doors of her small living quarters. She paused just outside of the door, her processor momentarily clearing up.
For a small nanoklik, the imprint of her sister's Energon reappeared on her dark alloy and Flareup felt her vitals churn in response. However, the fleeting moment passed and the bloody imprint disappeared, being replaced by the faint outline of a slightly bigger pair of servos that placed themselves onto her palms. The digits were sharp but delicate and there was no mistaking the blue hue of the alloy.
For a brief moment, Flareup was unsure of how to respond but afterwards a small growl of dissatisfaction escaped her and she punched the access code into the matrixpad, the doors of her recharging chambers sliding open with a slight creak.
"You little glitch," She cursed, her helm shaking slightly from side to side. "You're supposed to be dead. Why can't you leave me alone?"
Her dark room offered no answer, just an eerie monotonous silence followed her rhetorical question. Sighing, the femme took a step into her room and the doors slammed shut behind her. Not wanting to deal with anything else, she collapsed onto her recharging chamber and fell into a deep recharge before her helm had even touched the flat surface.
Backfire wasn't the kind to ask questions. In fact, she preferred not to know the answer to anything unless it benefitted her own personal needs.
However, when she saw the large green mech, bloody and sparking like a freshly cut live wire, being dragged through the halls by a fellow comrade, she couldn't help but feel a bit curious.
Stopping in her path, she turned to face the two mechs walking in the opposing direction and asked, "Who'd you run into this time, Argyrus?"
The mech holding him stopped, his gaze hardening as he met the femme's scarlet gaze. "We don't have time for this, Backfire. Argyrus needs to see a medic immediately."
Backfire raised an optic ridge, "The untouchable Argyrus, needing a medic?"
Argyrus was huffing heavily and he was holding his chest firmly, his digits curling into his alloy. Backfire narrowed her optics, fully aware that such a sight was very much out of the ordinary. Argyrus never came back from battle with so much as a scratch. Yet here he was, leaving a trail of Energon in his wake, his alloy shredded and armor dented from a single battle. He had been on the feel countless numbers of times; he's defeated battalions lead by Optimus Prime himself, for Primus sake.
What the slag had happened to him?
Suddenly curious to know the full answer, Backfire made her way to the injured mech's unattended side and hoisted his arm around her shoulders, supporting his heavy weight with her side. He was slagging heavy but Backfire was strong enough to keep him standing.
Argyrus did not complain but his frame did stiffen a bit, indicating that he was uncomfortable with her proximity.
The femme pursed her lips. "Medical Bay is in the opposite direction, Argyrus."
Tell, his subordinate, stiffened upon hearing the snippet of information and Backfire furrowed her optic ridges knowingly. "But you two already knew that, didn't you?"
Argyrus growled, "Stay out of my business, Backfire. If you know what's good for you."
The threat hung in the air like a thick cloud of pollution, making the air around them prickle with tension. However, Backfire was unfazed by it.
"You may scare others around here, Argy. But you don't scare me. You're just a mech who hides behind his sniper rifle, unable to make the fight one that's up close and personal."
Quick as a flash, Backfire subspaced a small handheld blade and held it up to Argyrus' neck, all the while the blade of Argyrus' own crude blade did the same to her throat. The injured mech had let go of Tell and he was standing fully upright, his scarlet optics locked onto Backfire's. The surrounding area went silent as the silent standoff went on and Backfire flexed her digits on the handle, ready to sink the edge of her weapon into the mech if need be. She could tell by the way the blade at her throat pinched her alloy even further that Argyrus was thinking the same.
She smiled. "You look alright to me, Argyrus."
Argyrus grimaced, "Keep talking, femme. I'm this close from spilling your Energon out onto the floor. Knowing your brother, I'm sure I'd be doing him a favor."
At the mention of Skyblast, Backfire's optics hardened and she brought her knee up towards the mech's abdomen, savoring the crack as her knee joint connected with his bruised alloy.
Argyrus let out a strangled cry and he fell onto one knee; his servos dug into the cold floor beneath him, too proud to hug his injured abdomen protectively. Tell looked ready to retaliate but a shake of Argyrus' helm forced him to keep his ground. Backfire narrowed her optics and put her blade away, her arms crossing over her chassis. "Don't make threats you're in no position to keep, Argyrus. I can kill you too, you know."
The mech coughed, wiping a small trickle of Energon that leaked out of the side of his mouth. He glanced up at her and grinned, "Hmph. Kicking a bot while he's down. You never cease to amaze me, Backfire. I can see why Shockwave is so fond of you."
Backfire rolled her optics, "Compliments won't get you anywhere, Argyrus." She paused, "I'm done being subtle. What the slag happened to you?"
Argyrus chuckled, "I went into battle, femme. Plain and simple."
"With who? One of the Autobots' subordinates? Did you get beat by a lowly soldier?"
"If I had been, I wouldn't have come back here, Backfire. You know that damn well." He glared at her maliciously, "I wouldn't waste my time with any useless Autobot filth."
Backfire cocked her helm to one side, "Who?" She asked, trying to divert the conversation back onto track.
The injured mech grinned, rising to his pedes. "You should be well acquainted with this mech, Backfire. You fought him several times. Especially during the battle of Praxus."
Praxus. The name jogged up some faint memories and Backfire tried to recall her adversaries on that day. There were many aerial bots involved in that fight but no particular one came into mind. Argyrus seemed to grow aware of that and so he said, "He was the mech who led the bombing on the city, a silver mech with a slaggin' cheeky attitude."
Backfire frowned, "Silverwing?" The name slipped out unintentionally but the memories of the mech came into mind at it's mention. Backfire knew him alright. He was the one who left Skywarp in the Med Bay for weeks with a broken wing. He didn't give off the expression of a smart mech but Backfire knew from seeing him that his aerial expertise was unmatched in the Autobot faction. Even Jetfire's tactics dulled in comparison.
The femme narrowed her optics, "Silverwing did this to you?"
Argyrus spat, "The very one."
Backfire grinned, "Wow. He must've laughed right in your face when he beat your aft into the ground, didn't he?"
Argyrus was silent for a moment and then he shook his head, a feral delight suddenly brightening his optics. "He didn't. In fact, he won't ever be able to laugh again. Not anymore. You see," The mech grinned, "I killed Silverwing. I killed the bastard and his little bondmate. Right now, they're lying dead among the remains of Hecron Outpost III."
Backfire felt her breath catch in her throat. Did he just...?
I killed the bastard and his little bondmate....
Silverwing's bondmate was dead.
Climaxx was dead?
The femme wasn't sure why but her whole body began to shake.
Not with sadness or fear but with jubilation.
Climaxx had been the one who ripped Euroscope away from her. Climaxx had been the entire reason that Backfire had suffered so much. The little glitch always boasted of her strength and she always had that nonchalant look on her faceplates when she ripped her comrades to shreds on the battlefield.
She always fought besides Euroscope, never letting Backfire fulfill her one reason for still existing.
But now she was dead. Climaxx was now dead.
Backfire had never imagined that saying would be so sweet on her tongue. But now that it was, she reveled in the feeling of joy that erupted in her Spark. She had always wanted to be the one to kill Climaxx but now that it was a reality, she really had no reason to complain.
Climaxx's death surely was a blow to Euroscope's Spark. The femme smiled, imagining her former bondmate lying beside his dead brethern's death bed, his optics spilling blue coolant tears and dental plates clenched in agony. She imagined the other idiot, Jumpdrive, doing the same and a strange sense of euphoria rose up inside her.
That was one down. Only three more to go. Jumpdrive was going to die next. Afterwards, the little annoying pipsqueak Nightcrawler would follow. Then, she would take the time to pleasurably extinguish Euroscope's Spark, which would surely be hardened by the deaths of his closest comrades.
Backfire gazed down at Argyrus, a smile on her faceplates. "Are you sure that Climaxx is dead, Argyrus?"
The mech nodded, "Of course. I wouldn't be here if she wasn't." He raised an optic ridge in apprehension.
Backfire, however, was to euphoric to notice. A small spark of intelligence appeared in her optics and she felt the inkling of a brilliant plan take a hold of her. Apologizing to Argyrus for kicking him in the gut, the femme turned around and headed towards her original destination. However, before she arrived towards her lab, she made a small detour and headed towards the hallway that lead towards the detention center.
Her gait was quick and full of excitement but she managed to maintain a composure of serenity and tranquility. The smell of oxidization and the blazing humid atmosphere of the Decepticon prison was not an amiable change of air but Backfire faced it on with newfound resolution.
Autobots and Decepticons turned traitors screamed through the bars, their servos reaching towards her pathetically, yearning with the desire to rip her apart for her part in keeping them locked up.
Backfire ignored them, too intent on her objective to really notice them. The cell at the far end of the complex was unusually quiet and if she hadn't known better, she would have made up a conjecture that it was empty. But she knew what was in there and that was the reason why she chose to enter this Primus forsaken place in the first place.
Stopping a few feet from the cell's bars, Backfire gazed into the small compartment, focusing on the creature that was huddled against the center of the far wall, her knees pulled up to her chest and faceplates buried between them. She was filthy and her armor appeared to be coated with oxidation, giving the appearance of dark alloy. Backfire knew that it was really an ivory hue but her time in here had taken it's toll on her. She used to scream through the bars like the other prisoners but something inside of her had snapped and she had ceased her endeavors after learning that they were fruitless.
A smart bot, indeed.
Backfire narrowed her optics, "Hey," She said, trying to get the femme's attention. The femme stirred but she did not reply. Backfire sighed and shook her helm. Praying to Primus this femme wouldn't offer anymore difficulties, she took a few steps closer and said in a sweet voice, "Hey. I know where your sister is."
Immediately, the femme raised her helm and her optics burned with an almost rabid desire to know.
Backfire surpressed a smile and she crouched down in front of them cell, trying to appear as innocent as possible. Autobots were so gullible.
"Yeah. She misses you; I know she cries at night for you, longing for you to be there to wish her to have good dreams." Backfire pouted, "No one pays attention to her anymore. She's just another pawn now that you're gone. The Autobots send her off on the frontlines, not caring at all that she's just a youngling. Not caring that she's all alone. Not caring that she's in pain."
"Shut up!" The femme's scream was weak but the emotion behind it was undeniable. "Euroscope told me he would take care of her! He told me she would be safe....He promised..."
Backfire grimaced, "He promises a lot of things. But he never keeps any of his promises." She rose to her pedes, her arms crossing over her chassis. "He let Climaxx and her bondmate die at the hands of one of the Decepticons' best fighters...what makes you think he can protect your sister?"
The femme gasped, "Climaxx....No...She's not...You're lying!"
Backfire shook her helm, "I wish I were but I'm not. I saw it happen myself." She let her arms fall to her sides, "Euroscope is devastated over the loss of his sister-bond. All he can think about is Climaxx. He doesn't have a bond with Nightcrawler. If he couldn't protect his family what makes you think he will protect his friends?"
The question seemed to shut the femme up and the ponder in her optics told Backfire that she had hit a soft spot. This femme's bond with her sister was great, no doubt. Nightcrawler knew it from the moment she saw her. These type of bonds had the power to bring bots very close to one another...but it also had the ability to do the latter. When it ultimately came down to friends and family, there was no competition.
The answer was obvious.
Backfire smiled as realization dawned over the femme's faceplates and she lifted a servo, palm up, in the femme's direction. "I know what it's like to have a bond broken by the carelessness of other bots, 'Silver. The pain is unbearable. It makes you want to tear your own Spark out. After all, I have a brother myself." Her scarlet optics flashed, "I can help you get your sister back, Quicksilver. I can help you keep her safe. All you have to do is help me with one little thing."
Quicksilver bit her lower lip, uncertainty and pain battling it out in her optics' depths. Backfire knew that she would eventually give in. She read this bot's file on the way here; there was no way she was going to deny this opportunity.
"You're Backfire, aren't you?"
Backfire glanced at the femme, curiosity lingering in her optics. "Yes. Though I am surprised that you know that, seeing as how we never met."
Quicksilver sniffed, "Euroscope talked much about you. You're the reason he brought us to join the Autobots; you betrayed him!"
Backfire's gaze hardened and her mandible clenched in fury. "Is that what he told you?"
"Yes. You joined the Decepticons after your home city was destroyed. Jumpdrive and Climaxx went after you but you refused to come back."
Backfire suppressed the urge to laugh, "I expect him to take the mantle of the victim. He's always been the kind to find ways of placing the blame on others." She shook her helm in amusement, "Did he also tell you how he left me in the city, promising to come back but never did? Did he tell you about how I was forced to merge by two Decepticons who attacked me in my compartment?" Backfire's fists clenched in anger upon remembering the incident and it made vile creep up into her mouth.
"I was able to escape only because I was able to fight them off and run. But their volatile actions remained with me and I was forced to see my friends and colleagues get murdered in front of me as I tried to escape; Autobots cut down my former lab partners, stray shots pierced my frame and as I struggled in the midst of all that devastation, I called out to him to help me, to save me. But he never did. He never even answered." Backfire could feel tears stinging her optics and she wiped them away precariously, "If I had waited for him, I wouldn't be here today. If it hadn't been for Shockwave or my brother, I would have been dead."
Quicksilver did not meet her gaze as she spoke but her frame was shaking as she heard the recollections. Backfire scrunched up her noseplate pitifully, "I may not be a perfect bot, Quicksilver but I can tell you this. I wasn't the one who broke our bond. He did. I may have chosen to stay with the Decepticons but it was because I was unaware of the situation. My comrades were with me and so I chose to remain with those who chose to rescue me." She paused, "I loved Euroscope, Quicksilver. I may have chosen the opposing side but I never sided against Euroscope. In fact, I even thought about going after him. But all those feelings went away when I woke up one morning and found that empty space in my Spark. Do you know what that feels like? The coldness, the empty feeling as if a piece of your Spark was removed without your consent. At first, I thought he was dead but then I learned that he choose to sever our bond out of his own free will."
Backfire placed a servo over her Spark chamber, her optics beginning to burn. "He betrayed me in the end, Quicksilver. I had been with him since he arrived in Crystal City. He was alone, he had just lost his sister and his entire family unit. I gave him a shoulder to lean on, a bot he could confide in. I heard him out whenever he told me his incommodities...
"I just want to avoid having the same thing happen to you, Quicksilver. I've met Nightcrawler, on the battlefield. I easily could have taken her out but I stopped myself because I knew that if I did, I would be no better than bots who turn their back on those precious bonds. You're one of the few who still has those bonds, Quicksilver. I'm offering you a chance that you'll never going to ever have in your life again. You help me out and I can help you get your sister back. You two will be able to walk away from here and live your life, together." Backfire caught Quicksilver lifting her gaze towards her and a smile threatened to spread over her lips when their gazes finally met. The white femme's optics were shining with a desire to comply simply because of a need to protect her sister but there was also a hesitation to turn on her friends.
Backfire, her patience running thin, let out a sad sigh. "I won't force you, Quicksilver. But think about your sister." She turned to leave but a small tentative voice stopped her midstep.
Backfire grinned. "Yes?" She asked, turning around.
Quicksilver pursed her lips and then let out a defeated sigh, her optics brimming with despair. "What do you need me to do?"