therizinosaur: (Default)
Nellasaur ([personal profile] therizinosaur) wrote2011-12-05 05:14 pm

[FANFICTION] Mercenary Medicine, ch 3/? [TF: PRIME]

Title: Mercenary Medicine
Fandom: Transformers: Prime
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Knock Out is a freelance medic-- he works alone and he likes it that way. But when he finds a corpse that isn't as dead as it ought to be at the bottom of a pile of bodies, it puts his entire careful operation at risk.
Chapter: 01 || 02 || 03 || 04 || 05 || 06 || 07 || 08 || 09 || 10 || 11 || 12 || 13 || 14 || 15
Notes: Set way before what we see in the show and nowhere near Earth. Contains copious amounts of worldbuilding and headcanon. Many thanks are due SixthClone and Elemental for beta-reading this for me!


**

When Blackout woke up, he was alone. The first thing he did-- before diagnostic scans, before location pings, before even rebooting his optics-- was access the private feed that connected him to his Deployer.

The little drone responded right away to Blackout's request, reporting that it was still active and engaging in anti-Autobot patrols and surveillance around the periphery of their base. It followed up immediately with queries of its own, wanting to confirm its reading on Blackout's current location and to reconfirm the last set of orders it had received.

Scorponok, it seemed, was functioning fine.

Blackout told it to keep up its patrol and dismissed the location request, at least for the moment. He wanted to ascertain where he was for himself before he relayed the information to his drone.

Finally booting his optical subroutines, he opened his eyes and sat up. He'd expected the move to trigger a cascade of diagnostic warnings across his internal HUD, but it didn't. He started up his diagnostics and reached down at the same time to probe what should have been a gaping and ragged hole in his side. Instead there was only smooth plating, new and still the color of raw alloy. His internal systems confirmed a moment later what the visual scan had suggested-- he'd been repaired.

This explained why he'd woken up in the single room of the base's small, spare medbay, then.

More systems were coming online, one set of subroutines after the other reactivating successfully. He shifted his weight carefully off the medbay slab, closely monitoring the reactions of his body, but everything was reading fine. There was no residual pain, no pulling or stiffness or sluggish reactions, nothing.

Distantly, Blackout felt surprise, and realized that this, too, was a good sign. The medic who'd fixed him up had known enough to leave behind a temporary affective block, the kind of emotional buffer necessary to keep a mech who'd stasis-locked involuntarily from waking up with his systems disarrayed. It was a straightforward procedure, yet Blackout had seen more than one field medic who’d forgotten it take injuries of his own in the process of waking up a patient whose body had stasis-locked on him in the middle of a battle.

Carefully, he got to his feet. The repair held, and Blackout couldn't help a grudging admiration for the work. He wasn't even feeling a twinge, and that Autobot rocket had done a lot of damage. He had been lucky to make it back to the base at all, particularly without support, and he hadn't managed to do much more than clamp off the leaks and disable the local power conduits before that freelancer had hacked his way in.

The freelancer must have done this, Blackout realized, sliding a hand over the repaired plating of his side, and at the same time he realized that the affective block must have degraded the rest of the way. His ripple of irritation as he thought about it was sharp and raw-- he'd told the other mech he did his own repairs! He didn't need some slick little stranger's hands mucking around in his internals, particularly when he wasn't conscious for it.

A few cautious steps carried him to the terminal against the wall; a few quick keystrokes logged him into the Teletraan system that controlled the base. According to Teletraan's security feeds, the freelancer was in the hangar with his ship. Disengaging from the terminal, Blackout paused a moment to contact Scorponok again, confirming his location as requested and reiterating that yes, he really did want the drone to keep patrolling.

When he ducked out of the medbay and into the rough-hewn hall, it was to find the freelance medic rounding the corner and coming towards him. The much smaller mech was wiping down his hands distractedly with a rag. He met Blackout’s eyes and smiled.

“Up already, are you?” he asked, crossing the distance between them with quick, light steps. “Good. I need your help.”

Blackout wasn't interested in helping. He scowled and pivoted on one big foot, trying to crowd the medic against the wall-- only to have the other mech neatly duck and dodge right past him. Clawed fingers caught his wrist for an instant and pulled.

“Come on!”

Blackout planted his feet and crossed his arms across his chest. “Don't think so, freelancer. You and I need to have a conversation.”

An astonishingly put-upon frown creased the other mech's smooth white faceplate. “We can talk after I've figured out what to do with this Breakdown of yours, hm?” The rag moved between his hands again; the medic was meticulously cleaning off his long fingers, his gaze never leaving Blackout's face as he did it. He jerked his head over his shoulder, indicating the hall beyond. “You can manage repairs, I can tell, and you’d know him better than I do. So will you help me?”

There was a very big part of Blackout that wanted to force the 'conversation' anyway, but his sense of duty overrode his own selfish desire to deal a bit of brute violence. Nominally, he was still in charge of this unit, and he knew where his responsibilities lay.

“Hn. He's still alive?”

The freelancer nodded. “For now.” He made his rag disappear, turning and taking in the hall behind him with a sweeping gesture. “If you'll follow me?” Reluctantly, Blackout trailed behind him as the other mech led the way back down the hall, passing the medbay but stopping at the next room on, a storage room for Dead End's medical supplies.

He shouldn't have been able to access it. Nearly all medical materiel had been upgraded to medium priority storage, meaning only commanding officers and ranked medical staff were supposed to be able to get at it. Dead End wasn't much of a medic, but was still--

Blackout had to manually arrest that thought. Dead End hadn't been much of a medic. He wasn't much of anything at all anymore, and Blackout was going to have to answer for it. He had been the handler, after all.

Every combiner needed one to be functional in battle. Cognitive attenuation in the combined form was characteristic of gestalt technology. It didn’t matter how smart or capable the members of the combiner were individually; when they were fighting as one unit, a discrete mech was necessary to keep them on task and make sure their devastating offensive force remained pointed at the enemy.

His primary role in this unit was—had been—to be the brain that the brainless Menasor needed to fight effectively, and he’d failed catastrophically in that task. The Stunticons were destroyed, by an Autobot weapon Blackout had never encountered before. There was no way he could have anticipated it, but someone was going to have to be held accountable for a loss this monumental, and he was the only candidate. The very thought was enough to make him shiver, which made the spines that hung down his back chime softly together.

Arresting that particular trail of thought too, he hurried after the freelancer. Inside the storage room, Dead End's unorganized heaps of supplies had been disarrayed further, crates and racks shoved aside to make space for the makeshift berth in the center of the room. Breakdown was laid out on it, and actually seeing him was enough to halt Blackout on the threshold.

One of the Stunticons had survived.

The little red medic was already on the other side of the berth, leaning over Breakdown's chest with his head cocked, listening to the systems in the blue chassis. He held the pose for a moment, then shook his head and straightened up.

“I can't get him to reboot,” he said, leaning one hand against the berth and looking up at Blackout across it. “All my diagnostics are coming up clean, but none of the usual overrides are working. I even tried manually restarting his core processor , but it didn't take.” Long fingers tapped out an annoyed tattoo on the edge of the berth, the freelancer frowning deeply. “I'm out of ideas. His processor's fine, his body's fine, but--”

“Idiot. He lost his gestalt.”

That shut the medic up, and the exaggerated expression of shock on his face would have been funny if they hadn't been talking about a dead gestalt. Not just any gestalt, either, but Blackout's. His responsibility, his duty, and he'd failed.

He scowled and turned away, arms folding across his broad chassis. “There were four other mechs on the battlefield where you found him, right?” He didn't wait for a response, talking over the medic's hushed affirmative. “They were a combiner team. He's not waking up because he's suffered a spark trauma greater than you can ever know.”

He turned back, but not to look at the freelancer. No, his optics fell to Breakdown, quiet and still on the berth. He looked like he was just recharging, but his energy signature was so weak that Blackout could barely detect it from the doorway.

“I don't know how he survived, but it'd be better if it hadn't.” Now he looked up, catching the medic's bright optics. “If you really want to help him, kill him.”

And again without waiting for a response, Blackout turned and left the room.

**

The massive Decepticon's words seemed to echo in the empty air long after he'd left. It felt like they were trapped in here with Knock Out, echoing and multiplying and threatening to choke his air intakes.

If you really want to help him, kill him.

Now, Knock Out was very familiar with the concept of mercy. He'd dispatched his share of gravely wounded soldiers, same as any medic; sometimes it was all you could reasonably do. Given the option between quietly killing a comrade and wasting time and resources that he wouldn't get back trying to put him back together-- well, sometimes he had to make the pragmatic choice.

But that wasn't the case here. The mech laid out on the berth in front of him wasn't half blown apart, wasn't bleeding energon faster than it could be transfused back into him, didn't have compromised or terminally corrupted systems. He was whole and functioning, except for the part where he wasn't actually functioning.

He would be, though, if only Knock Out could wake him up.

The problem, of course, was that waking him up was far easier said than done. If it was true that this brawny blue Decepticon had been part of a combiner team, and all the rest of said team was currently in disorganized chunks in the hold of Knock Out's ship, then it wasn't a surprise that nothing he'd tried yet had managed to bring him out of it. Knock Out didn't know much about combiners, but he did know that all the members of a gestalt were connected. What happened to one affected all of the others.

“Spark trauma, hm?” Knock Out murmured thoughtfully, seating himself on a crate big enough to bear his weight. The words were heavy in his mouth; it was a diagnosis that Knock Out wasn't equipped to handle. Oh, a trained medic would probably know of some intervention to deal with a case like this, but Knock Out had never trained as a medic. He'd learned his anatomy in body shops and upgrade clinics before the war had been anything more than an agitated movement for equality; everything else he knew about Cybertronian medicine came from his own experiences after he'd enlisted, supplemented by a handful of partly-corrupted datatracks he'd grubbed off of real doctors.

The only reason he could get away with calling himself a doctor now was because most of the legitimate ones, Decepticon and Autobot alike, were long dead.

Knock Out would be the first to admit that he didn't know much about sparks. Bodies he could do, and he wouldn't have made it this far without learning his way around a processor, but sparks? Once sparks got involved, he was out of his league. Luckily, most of the time sparks got involved, medically speaking, things were over and done with before his ignorance could show.

After all, not even the best doctor in the world could fix it if a spark casing cracked or corrupted, especially not these days. There had been a transplant procedure for it before, but it was tricky operation that only the most skilled—and highly paid—doctors, those who had the best equipment, ever bothered to attempt. Knock Out's estimation of his abilities might have been high, but he wasn't delusional enough to think he could pull something like that off.

Beyond that, a successful transplant required a new pureforged spark casing, and pureforged pieces were exceedingly difficult to come by these days. Pureforged pieces of that size and complexity? Forget about it.

None of these musings on spark transplants were helping him to figure out what to do with Breakdown, though. It seemed like a waste to mercy-kill someone who would be fine as soon as he came out of his stasis-lock, but if Knock Out couldn't bring him out of it, he was as good as dead anyway. He might have no choice but to admit defeat...

But not quite yet. There was one thing Knock Out had learned in his time as a body shop jockey that carried over just as well into doctoring, and that was that sometimes the direct route worked where finesse didn't.

Breakdown wasn't waking up because his spark wasn't reacting to the stimuli and signals from his body; it was one of the fundamental symptoms of spark trauma. Knock Out would just have to give his spark something more immediate to react to.

He was on his feet before he could think too hard about what he was about to do. Fingers finding the manual releases around the unconscious mech's chassis, he parted the plating, then hoisted himself up on the berth beside him.

Everything inside the chassis appeared just the same as the last time he'd had a look, when he'd been inspecting the other mech's spark chamber for damage. Even the spark itself was the same pale blue, its weak light glowing thinly out of the casing that housed it. Leaning over the inert mech's broad chest, Knock Out tapped lightly at the chamber.

Just barely, the light emanating from it flickered. A smile tried to steal across Knock Out's face, but he banished it. The fluctuation had been slight enough that he couldn't quite discount the possibility of a sensor glitch.

He tapped again, harder this time, and was rewarded with a reaction that definitely wasn't a glitch of his perceptors. Both the flicker of light and the tingle up his finger were unmistakable.

“Well, let's call that proof of concept, shall we?” he said aloud, allowing himself to smile up at the slack face. “But proof of concept alone isn't going to wake you up, is it?” He patted Breakdown's hip and then got up on his knees beside him.

Leaning out over the inert mech’s chassis, he curled the long fingers of one hand into a fist.

“If this doesn't bring you back, my friend, it's the scrap heap for you,” he warned the body, and then he cracked his knuckles against the chamber as hard as he could.

**
white_aster: (tf autocon symbols)

[personal profile] white_aster 2011-12-06 08:28 pm (UTC)(link)
You know...for a bit there I wondered if he was going to try to sparkmerge with him. ;P But no, BANGING ON HIS SPARK seems much more Knock Out's style. :DD

Ow, that sounds like it should hurt. Wake the dead (which is the point), but HURT. W...why do I get the feeling that this is going to get Knock Out thrown into a wall?