therizinosaur: (Default)
Nellasaur ([personal profile] therizinosaur) wrote2012-04-01 10:20 am

[FANFICTION] Badge of Honor [TF: Prime]

Title: Badge of Honor
Fandom: Transformers: Prime
Rating: Uhhh IDK PG-13 for discussion of death, grief, and mourning?
Summary: What happens in the medbay after the events of S2E7, "Crossfire".
Chapter: One-shot.
Notes: Written in a three-hour paroxysm of grief and insomnia, mostly in an attempt to deal with the incredible feels that I couldn't handle last night.

I'm not sure how much it helped, frankly.


**

At first, the crew wondered if he hadn’t heard. The news had broken fast, racing the length of width of the ship on the whispered wings of gossip, and it seemed impossible that Knock Out didn’t know. But the medbay was a secluded place, and occasionally he got lost in his work, and he kept taking his appointments, one after the other.

Most of the Vehcions, expecting a towering show of temper from the occasionally volatile medic, walked back out with blithe comments about how lucky they were that he hadn’t heard the news yet. A few of them, more perceptive than the rest, murmured ‘They must not have been as close as they seemed’ or ‘He’s handling it better than I thought’ as they were sent on their way.

But it was only the most observant of the troopers who saw that he didn’t smile as he tuned up worn systems or repaired minor injuries. They noticed that his quips were a little sharper, that the acid tongue he was known for burned a little bit deeper. They picked up on the edge to his movements, elegant and controlled though they still were, and the way that his fingers twisted and tweaked painfully as he worked.

It was only those observant Vehicons who stayed adroitly out of his way when he concluded the last case on his duty roster and closed up the medbay after his shift. They turned their faces away and stepped aside as he strode out into the halls of the Nemesis, ringing footfalls carrying him inexorably to the bridge.

And it was those observant Vehicons, the ones who’d known Knock Out and his partner the best, the ones who’d learned well how to read the quicksilver moods, who fled the inevitability of his confrontation with their leader.

When Knock Out made his request to Lord Megatron, though, he made it not with grand gestures and bright smiles but bent gracefully over one knee, his voice clipped and controlled. It was a simple request—that he be allowed to search for the remains—and when it was summarily denied, the Vehicons watching in the bridge braced themselves. Now, surely now it would come, the temper and the tantrum, the howling and carrying on like what had echoed through the halls of the ship after Breakdown had limped home from his confrontation with MECH. As unobtrusively as possible, they strained to watch, eager for the drama to fuel the undercurrents of gossip that flowed strong through the Vehicon ranks.

But it never came. Knock Out only acknowledged after a long moment of silence, and then flowed to his feet and left.

When the first appointment of his next shift on-duty in the medbay arrived, though, it was to find the doors closed and locked, their inset viewports opaqued. If the doctor was in, he didn’t respond when the Vehicon rapped on the door and called through, and it didn’t take the trooper long to decide he had better things to do with his newly-free time than try to attend a routine maintenance session.

It took another three disinterested troopers stymied by the locked door before any of the Vehicons thought to make an official report of the anomaly. It was one of the observant ones, serial number 001349—a Vehicon who knew that Knock Out was conscientious about clearing his appointments when he received other assignments, a Vehicon who knew that Knock Out left the medbay unlocked when he wasn’t present, in case of emergencies.

Serial number 001349, informal appellation Scrapheap (after an unfortunate incident on incinerator duty early in her life), had been brought online with congenitally miscalibrated gyros. The affliction wasn’t severe enough to affect her ability to work, but it did make her clumsy, and her tendency toward injury ensured she was a frequent visitor to the medbay. Quiet and thoughtful, as some Vehicons tended to be, she had come to appreciate the doctor and his assistant—and for more than just their skilled hands and their inexplicable patience with her.

When serial number 001349 couldn’t get into the medbay, she did the first thing she could think of; she attempted to comm the doctor. He kept a channel open for medical emergencies and he’d given her the frequency in case she ever injured herself severely…

But it was blocked now.

It was blocked, and the location ping that returned to her automatically was through those doors.

Serial number 001349 didn’t waste any further time attempting to contact the doctor or trying to get inside. She just did what every Vehicon was trained to do when they were confronted with a significant abnormality in the daily operation of the ship—she turned and ran for Soundwave.

Her report was quickly confirmed, and the Vehicon’s simplistic assessment that something was “very wrong” was nonetheless corroborated by the fact all of Soundwave’s visual surveillance feeds inside the medical suite were blacked out when he tried to access them. He immediately attempted to counter the hack, only to find that it wasn’t a hack that had blocked the input. It wasn’t a hack, which meant there was no way he could restore the visuals. His audio feeds remained functional, but he couldn’t decipher the source of the strange ambient susurrus filling his microphones. Certain traitorous rogues might have obliged his surveillance with a self-important monologue describing and justifying their erratic behavior, but not Knock Out; his voice was present only occasionally, rising and falling wordlessly. Soundwave was able to match certain snatches of cadenced sound to cached music files, identifying one recurring passage as a funeral dirge characteristic of the machinists of Altahex before the start of the war, but otherwise the noise was meaningless.

Concerned, Soundwave brought the report to the lord of the Decepticons. Megatron, unconcerned, dispatched Dreadwing to get in there and find out what was happening.

When Dreadwing returned to report a failure to talk his way into the locked medical suite, Megatron nearly waved him off with a command to blast his way in; surely his vaunted demolitions expertise could break him through a simple door. But then he remembered the proximity of the medical suite to the Nemesis’ onboard research lab—and the delicate nature of certain projects he had the good doctor working on. Blasting their way in wouldn’t be an option.

He needed only a gesture to command Soundwave’s attendance, and together the two of them swept into the depths of the ship to confront the problem directly.

Knock Out had never been anything but perfectly respectful of the chain of command, and so Megatron expected he would only have to demand it to get those doors open. But his demands went unanswered, wholly unacknowledged, and there was really nothing for it but to have Soundwave override the locks.

Megatron didn’t even wait for the massive portal to iris all the way open. Ducking his head and shoulders, he stepped through—and into a medbay transformed.

Like the Vehicons (although he would never have admitted the similarity), he’d expected evidence of a tantrum from his doctor—destroyed equipment, overturned fixtures, damage. And what he found instead, as Soundwave stepped through the doors behind him and closed them against the curious crowd of Vehicons, was that the medbay was in impeccable condition. Everything was in its place, organized and secured against turbulence or the acquisitive fingers of the troops…

And everywhere, it seemed, there was blue. It smeared the walls in liberal swathes; spots and spatters of it decorated the medical slabs and the arches of the room and the stands supporting medical equipment; it streaked the floor in curves. It was so unexpected that it took Megatron a moment to realize that the paint was applied not randomly but in deliberate patterns, laid down by a deft and well-controlled hand. He found himself twisting and turning as he strode deeper into the room, stepping carefully to avoid the elegant designs on the floor and trying to take in as much of the cosmetic change as he could.

The effect was overwhelming, enough that it took Soundwave’s hand on his arm to stop the slow dance of his progression. He staggered as his most loyal lieutenant halted him, and felt a swell of anger rise to replace the wonder.

“Knock Out!” he bellowed, funneling his discomfort at being so… so enchanted into the stentorian roar of his voice. “Doctor, attend me!”

The absent grounder was nowhere to be seen but after a moment there was a sound of footsteps, approaching with an even stride from deeper within the medical suite. Megatron drew himself up, scowling, and forced himself to keep the expression on his face as the doctor stepped out of an alcove and into view.

He was as transformed as his medbay.

Though he’d never had to sink so low as to take advantage of it to ensure cooperation, Megatron was all too aware of Knock Out’s vanity. It was a key point in the dossier Soundwave had provided after he’d regained his body and resumed control of his army, and he’d enough experience with his chief medical officer and head scientist to know that Soundwave’s files perhaps understated the esteem in which Knock Out held his personal appearance. His paint job, in particular, was a source of superior pride.

The doctor’s paintjob was as liberally marred by blue as the medbay, and if anything, even more exquisitely designed. Wide blue streaks painted bands over the vaulted curves of his shoulders. Intricate patterns danced up the paneling of his forearms, and added contrast and definition to the plating of his abdomen and his legs. He’d even sullied his pristine white face with it, blue making sharp trails under his eyes.

The doctor had pot in his hands—more pigment, with a brush as fine as one of his surgeon’s fingers sticking out of it. “Are you in need of my services, my Lord?” he asked, and there was nothing to fault in his voice or the respectful little obeisance he made in front of Megatron.

“I am in need of an explanation, doctor,” Megatron said. He took in the room with a sweeping gesture, his optics narrowed as he completed it and faced the smaller mech again. “You have been neglecting your duties.”

Knock Out glanced around as well, as if re-acquainting himself with the efforts of his labor. When he met Megatron’s gaze again, there was faint challenge in his own. “I took a little, ah, personal time to redecorate,” he said with a shrug. “I’ll be happy to open the medbay as soon as the lacquer’s cured. Unless there’s something that requires my immediate attention?”

There wasn’t, and Megatron was left feeling uncomfortably like he was in the wrong here. Untenable. “The next time you presume to lock my people out of facilities on my ship, it will not go well for you.” He snarled the words, because he wanted to do something more but didn’t dare risk Knock Out’s integrity, mental or physical—not when the doctor had so much work yet to do for him. He stabbed a finger like a blade at his chest, but couldn’t quite bring himself to mar the fresh modifications to the grounder’s finish.

Knock Out didn’t seem to register the threat. He did incline his head respectfully, but it wasn’t enough to mollify Megatron. This time when he gestured, it was to indicate the changes the medic had made to his chassis. “Don’t you think that’s a little tacky?” he asked, the words incongruously guileless after the barely constrained rage of a moment before.

This weapon, too, failed to have the desired effect. Knock Out stepped back and spread his hands, a smile on his face that didn’t meet the dull red glow of his eyes. “Don’t tell me, Megatron, that you’re so far removed from your gladiator roots that you don’t recognize a badge of honor when you see one.”

Having his time as a gladiator in the pits of Kaon evoked again, and so soon after his combat with Airachnid’s Insecticon, was enough to make Megatron recoil with unpleasant surprise. He raked his narrowed optics over Knock Out’s body again, like he was seeing the changes for the first time—

Yes, yes, he could see it now, as if the doctor’s words had catalyzed memories long left dormant. He recognized suddenly how the designs were inspired, here and there, by gladiators’ warpaint. He’d never seen the glyphs and sigils acknowledging the honored dead executed so exquisitely, but he oh yes, recognized them now, with a thrill that was almost visceral.

And he recognized something else, too—the specific shade of blue that Knock Out had used to so meticulously amend his cherished paintjob.

And suddenly, he understood.

This time it was Megatron who withdrew, backing out of the other mech’s personal space, and Megatron who inclined his head to Knock Out. Before the surprise could fade from the doctor’s optics, he reached out and plucked the brush from the paint pot the grounder still held. The implement was ridiculously tiny in his fingers, but it was sufficient to paint streaks of blue across the barrel of his cannon. The mind had forgotten, perhaps, but the hands remembered how to make the sigils honoring the cherished dead, and Megatron was willing to pay homage to a warrior who’d died in pain and pieces, like so many others who’d fallen in the pits.

His strokes were ragged and sloppy, the sigil superimposed on his plating instead of integrated, but there was a certain grace to it all the same. Megatron thought he detected approval in the glint of the doctor’s eyes as he returned the brush to the pot, but he saw no need to acknowledge it—or to acknowledge the other mech’s pain, spoken so eloquently across his finish and the walls and floor of the medbay.

No other words needed to be said. Megatron turned smartly and left Knock Out to his paint and his grief, demanding that Soundwave accompany him when the surveillance master would have stayed behind to pick the light-blocking patches off the lenses of his cameras.

The doors slid shut and locked again behind them as they exited.

For now, Megatron decided he would permit him the privacy.

**

Serial number 001349, informal appellation Scrapheap, was the first in to see Knock Out when he re-opened the medbay to patients, slipping in before any of the other Vehicons could claim the doctor’s time.

She wasn’t injured, or in need of maintenance.

When she walked out again, there was an intricate design in fresh blue paint on her shoulderguard. She was the first of the crew to sport the memorial to Breakdown, but it spread across the ship, following the whispered wings of words that were more respectful than mere gossip.

**
white_aster: (Default)

[personal profile] white_aster 2012-04-01 04:57 pm (UTC)(link)
^_^d The idea that KO and Breakdown might have worked in the pits, too, isn't one I've seen before, but I really like it. And the emotion here is really spot on. And the Eradicons! I always liked that Breakdown was one of the few who actually just chatted with them. Of course they'd mourn him, too.
hellkitty: (redcry)

[personal profile] hellkitty 2012-04-01 05:42 pm (UTC)(link)
I am such a sucker for anything that gives backstory to the Vehicons, especially beyond the Steve trope (has that played itself out yet?) and this was just such a lovely way of incorporating that into the larger universe.