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Protect and Swerve

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Breakdown stretched and yawned, realigning his gears and resetting his vocaliser again for the third time that day. He’d onlined earlier than usual thanks to his trip from Ananka and he hadn’t had nearly enough of a rest thanks to the pylon that had gone and fallen on him a week earlier at work and with Knock Out not there to chastise him he’d made the trip anyway. How couldn’t he honestly? Knock Out had been off planet for what felt like forever now and Breakdown wanted to be at the spacebridge as soon as the other mech crossed over. Except he’d messed up the times and had arrived way too early. After waiting at the spacebridge for two groons before realizing Knock Out wouldn’t be arriving till later that cycle Breakdown went to the ambassador's town house to wait and recharge there where he was promptly harassed by paparazzi also waiting for Knock Out to get back so they could have the first chance at what news he was bringing back with him, and honestly that was too much to deal with for him that early in the cycle.. Luckily Minerva took care of them for him.

Breakdown could still hear the blank rounds of her volt blaster going off as he sat in her small front room. Blind as gods and bitter as bismuth Minerva was certainly a femme. Older than the war and certain primes she came from a different age. “AND STAY OFF MY WALK! I DIDN’T CREATE A WHOLE NEW WORLD FOR MYSELF AND EVERYONE ELSE TO HAVE TO LISTEN TO YOU NOSY SLAGGERS TIDDLE AROUND IN MY CARPACIA BUSHES!” Breakdown stood when he heard her door open and close but before he could even get back to the front hall she was at his side wearing a Cheshire smile and laughing like an impish maiden half her years. She pushed her gun into his servos and pat him on his arm as she slipped past him. “ Honestly you’d think they’d figure out I use blanks by now~ Put that back in it’s place will you darling I’ll go warm us up something. It’s a cold one this morning.”

“ Course Minerva. Thanks again for the save. Is my engine really that easy to hear?”

“Oh they all are dear. I know when it’s about past noon because I can hear Navitas hit the new crater from that meteor that happened a few years back. Like clockwork. I keep sending letters to that damn council to change the course so we don’t run ourselves into a pit one day but do they listen? I’ll have to throw my own name into the ring just for the poor old thing to turn his wheels a few damn degrees to the right, honestly!”

“Don’t I know it. I’ll tell Knock Out about it and he’ll get it done, even if he has to go down to Navitas himself to do it.” Placing Minerva’s blaster on its rack Breakdown took a moment to pet the old medic’s moon raptor. The grumpy bird fluffed it’s feather plates and turned its buried head to nibble at Breakdown’s fingers. The creature was likely as old as Minerva herself but it continued to thrive just the same. “Morning Rust how’s it going?” Rust screeched in response and jumped from his perch to Breakdown’s arm all but demanding with his tired narrowed stare to be taken along to the sitting room. Breakdown continued giving Rust his scritches as he took him to Minerva.

Minerva was giving him that smile when he got into the room, it always made Breakdown blush like a fool. “Honestly, you could get that boy to talk the sun into stopping if you wished it.” Minerva let Rust glide over to her shoulder before handing Breakdown his warm cube of energon.

“Oh Knock Out’s got more common sense than that.”

“Oh he’s a shrewd thing behind all his smiles and fancy paint sure but remember how long he’s lived next door to me. Imagine all the things I’ve heard. He doesn't treat you like any other mech. You’re something special to him.”

“I should be for all the work I put into this relationship.” Minerva laughed at Breakdown’s just a tad less than sarcastic comment before picking up her own cube of energon and letting a comfortable silence fall between them as they enjoyed their morning fuel up. After a bit more conversation Minerva let Breakdown use her guest berth and went to her personal lab to make him a better treatment for his fractures. Breakdown could only count the blessings of snagging a medic for a partner as he settled down. When she was done Minerva woke the other mech, fixed him up, and by then it was time he headed out to the space bridge. So the two traded goodbyes and Breakdown headed off into the streets. At the space bridge station Breakdown just made it to catch the sight of Knock Out coming off the platform, Moonracer at his arm full force begging for something, just barely being tugged along as she tried to stall Knock Out to pay attention to her.

He could just hear their conversation that wasn’t much more than, “Knock Out! Please,please,please,please,please,please,please,PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!” While Knock Out idly chatted about being home.

Breakdown made his way over to the two mechs, grabbed at the surprised Knock Out’s servos, and started his own chant. “Please, please, please,please,please,please,please~” Knock Out’s face turned blue in an instant.

“You don’t even know what she’s begging for Breakdown. Don’t encourage her!” That didn’t stop Breakdown. Whatever Moonracer was begging for it was likely a good cause. “HONESTLY~ The two of you! You make me feel like a heel when you do this! Moonracer- It’s not that I don’t want to help them but you saw them! They’re underdeveloped, practically dying, and have nothing to offer us should we help them! Taking in refugees even as little as a few hundred is very taxing! You really want to bring those poor mechs, and I say this with nothing but love, TO OUR PIT? They’re ancient! We’d have to change climate systems and radiation barriers and they don’t even use energon so we’d have to send a team to help gather them resources before their planet crumbles to nothing and just-” Knock Out’s case didn’t seem to be swaying the femme or Breakdown as the ‘please’s’ only became more incessant. Knock Out rolled his optics and sighed in frustration, “What would you have me tell the circuit hmm?! Pitch this to me.”

Moonracer straightened her limp frame as she got serious and tried to hold Knock Out still to talk but the other mech kept going forcing the other two to move with him. “Knock Out they have technology that helped them survive a supernova!”

“So do we!”
“For emergencies! It only lasts a few minutes at a time in case something happens to one of the cities the sun can pass over us. Theirs lasted for years! Who knows how long it could last! And if we could scale those fields down? We could make them personal! We could actually live on our planet! Explore! You remember all the others who told us this place was a paradise! What if it is? What if it’s underground and we just can’t find it! There are caves and rivers and who knows what under all the glass and snow don’t you want to know! Wouldn’t it be nice not to be trapped on the same tracks for the rest of your life.”

“First of all those were legends, second the Faltive expressed that they have a very sensitive spiritual relationship with that technology so we don’t know if they’d even let us touch it, and three do I look like someone who wants to go on another exploration mission? I went on this one and now I’m here! In a world that’s always a mile away from a sun! Even if the tech worked it might take ages to develop and we know how impatient out citizens are! They like results right away!”

“SO WE KEEP IT SECRET! The citizens of Velocitron are also kind mechs who know how to handle ourselves. Just because we’ve suffered some…..incidents in the past doesn’t mean we shut ourselves off forever! They’ll be fine helping these mechs for goodwill alone! We have more than enough resources!” Knock Out remained looking unconvinced but Breakdown had a look of stunned wonder in his optics. He would definitely back her up but she didn’t need to bring him in just yet. “Would it help if I already had a piece of the rock that they gave me and I already got a few specs on it from Becq?” Knock Out sighed the sigh of a broken mech and finally stopped his brisk walking.

“Why don’t you just take this to the circuit yourself! You are a phenomenal racer.”

“I can’t! Only you’re allowed to bypass the preliminary races and take an issue right to the Benefit!”

“No, I made them change that and not only that because you said you wanted more issues to get through to the Benefit I even gave you clearance to push through any issues you saw fit to so they wouldn’t have to go through the rigmarole! You felt like your opinion wasn’t worth as much so now it is.”

“Knock Out you know that’s not true. I have no presence with them yet! They still just call me your assistant! Even if I won the race it doesn’t just mean it’s going to happen! Winning the Benefit only means that Override will seriously consider the issue. She’d turn me down in an instant and it would be a waste but if you back this you might not even have to race! She might just do it! That’s what your favor means don’t you get it?! If you race, it gets done! She’s never turned down a single one of your causes! Besides everyone else who races the Benefit are my friends! I can’t just beat down my own friends when most of their issues are just as serious! PLEASE~! They were so nice to us. They didn’t even ask for our help. Who knows what they could grow to be if we help them? The’re aren’t many technorganics in the universe. Please, please,please,please,please!”

 Knock Out vented deeply and sighed just as dramatically before pointing a fixed digit at the femme. “I swear to Primus if I found out that we’re somehow enraging a religious leader of theirs all because you get soft sparked at some weary starshorn new mold I’m leaving you behind next trip and you’re going to spend the time in Viduus writing up every single temperature complaint do you understand?”

“YES! Oh~” Moonracer threw her arms around the mech and hugged him as tightly as Knock Out would allow. “Thank you, thank you, thank you! You don’t know what this is going to mean to some of them I swear!”

“As long as they all don’t die instantly from decontamination upon arrival. Give me the rock and send me the specs. This is going to be half my cycle .” Moony and Breakdown followed the salty mech as he took a sudden turn and changed directions to the High Circuit’s building.

Moonracer continued to go on about the race that her and Knock Out had come across and were trying to save and the few others that Knock Out said he planned on telling Override about. Mostly for Breakdown’s sake but also to continue to endear her fellow ambassador to them should he suddenly change his mind. When they reached one of the intersections they parted ways. Knock Out didn’t need Moonracer’s bleeding spark with him to convince Override that she was also on board with the plans and the femme had mechs of her own that she wanted to see as well knew it was probably a good idea to give Knock Out some privacy. They said their goodbyes and Breakdown and Knock Out kept walking towards the Circuit building.

“So~ the old big wigs heard about my...incident….at work. They actually sent me paperwork for my lodgings in Viduus. Signed and key’s sent by Override herself. It’s a pretty nice one by that sea they built a while back.” Breakdown laughed off his own statement trying to make sure Knock Out knew it was only supposed to be an amusing anecdote but Knock Out’s optics turned to accusing slits all the same.

“You told me what happened wasn’t that bad! Why in the Pit did they think that necessary?!”

“Well~ The clinic I went to thought it was necessary. I mean I know it fractured my back strut pretty bad but-”

“IT DID WHAT? YOU SAID IT WAS NOTHING BUT A DENT! Tell me you didn’t just go to a clinic in Ananka!”

“It was nothing my auto-repair and some nanites couldn’t fix plus I just got something from Minerva for the ache. I-I just thought it was funny. Do those hotshots really think that’s all it takes to put bots like me outta commission for good? I don’t want to turn into Jury-rig but if the new generation is really that dull-”

“Their frame’s aren’t built like ours you know that. At least you should, I’ve commented on it a dozen times. My most accomplished work as a medic was formulating a fuel plan that would help turn the new planted sparks frames into ones as nice as ours and in the beginning it was lauded! My name’s in books! Now it all means nothing! They’re happy to die young as long as they’re faster than some other! I even find Override skipping her vitamins on her particularly low self esteem cycles. Some poor thing reading that incident report doesn’t remember what it was like before. What they should be like. Override thinks I’m a sort of demi-god because I can compete as well as come out of crashes and collapsed buildings, and laserfire with only a few scratches to my name. I’m surprised that incident report didn’t earn you a death certificate.”

“Are they really that different?”

“The planted ones are of course! The kindled one’s no but they’re so few and far between. They don’t even get a chance though. With their denser frames they don’t know how to compete and….well even as youngling they feel ugly next to their peers. They just get lost. Doesn’t encourage those of us left to try when all of our offspring will only be seen as average at best in this world.”

“Average ain’t as bad as Delta makes it seem. Ours won’t have to worry ‘bout that though. Someone’s gonna have to take over your legacy once this job drives you mad.”

“Oh Primus you’d condemn a mere sparkling to my fate? We must be the real gods then.”

“Does someone need to see Lovelace again? You know she always picks up for you.”

“I do not need my shrink. Certainly not before the meeting I’m not that neurotic.”

“Then you should slow your pace a bit. I know you like bein’ prompt but I didn’t come all the way from Ananka this early just to stare at your gorgeous aft.” Knock Out slowed to a halt as he looked over his shoulder, then pulled Breakdown down an empty more secluded street.

Breakdown wrapped his arm under Knock Out’s aft and lifted him up to kiss and nuzzle him. It felt good to have to have him so close again, to have his weight in his arms, the hot air from his vents blowing into his own seams, his eager hungry kiss, his ghosting touches. It all made Breakdown want to never let go, never let Knock Out go ever again.

After the the race a few years back they started slow. Breakdown still lived in Ananka but he officially registered and went through the rigors of becoming Knock Out’s body guard. Allowing them more time together. He could come and go as “Knock Out” pleased, was welcome in the circuit building, the sky boy at most races, all the fancy parties and most of all the paparazzi almost stopped caring about the two. There were moments like the morning but aside from that there were only the tabloids. Who to be fair had caught them in pretty incriminating photo’s but most of the general public didn’t take them seriously despite enjoying the gossip and saw them as nothing but professional. Close perhaps but ultimately professional. Breakdown just wasn’t allowed to go off planet. Being a lower class citizen and a bit of a thick bot by the forge he didn’t manage to pass all of the necessary tests for that qualification. Breakdown didn’t hold it against them he understood not wanting some dolt accidentally ruining potential deals and meetings but it still left a chunk of time where they couldn’t be together. Knock Out was quick to offer his money up for schooling and Breakdown was eager to take it but he was just very slow in more ways than one. Still his private tutor had faith in him and hadn’t given up yet and Knock Out was capable enough to handle himself. They were in this for the long haul, the time away only made them want each other more when they were together.

“You know~ The other reason I brought up the house in Viduus is because I figured if you ever wanted to take a week off we could go check it out. It is mine after all no matter if I stay there or not.”

“If I wanted to visit Viduus we could have stayed at Minerva’s house! I’m not exactly looking for a chance to go there!”

“Yeah but..you can help me decorate this one. It might even have a decent sized shower!” Knock Out stroked the line of Breakdown’s jaw, fully endeared. “I thought you said Viduus was nice?”

“You’re so easy to please. Perhaps after the Benefit I’ll do another tour and we can stay and enjoy ourselves for a few weeks. Primus knows all the mechs there will be glad to see our faces. Perhaps we can even convince Minerva to go there with us….and keep her there.”

“She’s got no place there. She knows how to take care of herself plus you know you’d miss her if you managed.”

“She chooses to stay blind! I think that serves as a reason. She’s just lucky she has me, that beast of hers, and her small fortune.”

“And her gun. Smart of her to classify it as an antique so the Circuit can’t take it away.”

“That was part of the fortune honestly.”

“Well hey then I must have more money than I thought ‘cause I still got most of my arsenal from the war. They don’t even give the police anything more than stun prods.”

“You’re part of the militia it’s not as sexy.”

Breakdown snapped his digits and sighed in mock dejection, “Yeah I know.” Knock Out couldn’t help but laugh and peck a few more kisses to Breakdown’s helm.

“We really should get going. They know what bridge I was coming through and I can only claim I was sprucing up for so long and still go there looking like this.”

“One more kiss.”


 

At the Circuit Breakdown stood in one of the corners and watched as Knock Out worked his magic. Every now and again responding to a message from Dent, a very large, very scared, very sweet tank build who worked for Override and Sidewinder a Predacon triple changer who hated her job, so much so that she often slept with the leader to slip her secrets, but appreciated the cash working for Ransack. They’d both become rather fun drinking buddies since he’d started his job and often treated him to fun nights on the town when meetings were going to run so long that even their bosses couldn’t condemn them to sticking around.

“So there you have it. That’s everything I’ve managed to acquire this trip. Anything that interests you?” Knock Out continued to pace slowly, standing tall, servos held just so behind his back as he addressed the two leaders.

Override looked at Ransack and their gazes locked as their optics narrowed. “Write up trade agreements with the Tanisians and Gerifs!”
“Enlist the Chantoyier!” Their commands quickly overlapped but Knock Out was used to it.

“Understood. Anything else?”

Override shifted in her chair, her stare never leaving her rival. “Well…. you made such a strong case for these Faltive, you never go on so long about your trip unless you truly liked them so it’s clear you see some potential in them. You and Moonracer really like this forcefield thing too and it sounds useful…. but we don’t really need it.”

“I see potential in what they can offer both in the “deity” that saved them and their dying planet itself. There are dozens if not hundreds of new minerals and elements that could be harvested before the inevitable death and because of Moonracer’s tactful kindness we already have a sample of said “deity” and express permission to use it for our own needs. And while yes we don’t need it It could be the ticket to expanding not only onto our own world but other worlds in the galaxy where our ships can’t get through because of starwalls. Moonracer sees potential in them simply because they’re a young race who deserves the chance to grow. As techno-organics they have sparks similar to ours and thus we could form some sort of kinship with them. They have miraculous shifting powers since their metal is more malleable and also reflects light. With quicker auto-repairs and stronger cores their genetics could help to strengthen the next generation with little to no complication. Let it be stated for their character they gave Moonracer a piece of this deity expecting nothing in return, simply for the chance to help others. They sympathized with our predicament- even though we have it handled- and gave us everything they thought they could without malice or demands! If we wanted we don’t even have to lift a digit and we still have the most valuable thing they have. We could just let them die-”

Override stood suddenly from her seat. “You didn’t mention that! We are not that type of planet if they’ve already given us everything they could of course we’ll help them! We’re not thieves!”

Ransack scoffed at her outburst. “What if we need more of this rock? I doubt they’re going to be so nice when we use all of it for ourselves! They get saved and we get nothing but a few more tests with no hope of a final product!” Ransack was looking smug. As much as he liked having Knock Out on board he knew of his bias and was eager to shut most of his plans down whenever they didn’t suit Velocitron over all.

“I thought of that as well which is why I was going to pass them over. However with just a few simple studies it’s clear that this is nothing more than a crystal with a unique wavelength and while the elements that make it up are rare right now with our limits they are not hard to find and aren’t even limited to the Faltive’s planet.”

“Perfect. You said there’s only about a hundred of them? Give me the coordinates I’ll get you on a ship back for them by tomorrow!”

Ransack stood now as well. “WAIT A MINUTE! WHAT ABOUT OUR CITIZENS! WHAT ABOUT THE LAST ATTACK FROM “REFUGEES” WE BROUGHT IN! They won’t have forgotten!”

“THAT WAS YOUR CALL! This one’s mine. Our citizens know what decisions are good ones.”

“You say that as if you blame me Override but was it not Knock Out’s intel that led me to the decision?”

Knock Out quickly butted in before the screaming match could get any worse. “Your Radiances please! I can assure you without fault that this will not be like the Midians. I gave you fair warning of their character and you wished to take the risk anyway. They were far too proud and far too bloodthirsty. The Chantoyier are a much better fit for our needs plus they have interest in expanding their own influence. Still I agree Ransack as a point.”

Ransack smiled, smoothing his plates as he took his seat. “Yes Knock Out~ Please indulge Override and convince her to see our point.”

“Well with the last attack the citizens will not be so accepting, perhaps even scared of not only the Faltive but the Chantoyier if we bring them in so soon. I have no doubt it would need to be a public ruling and I would be happy to race for both since they are issues by the state if you’d allow that.
Yet I must warn you that while the planet will not only be harvestable and need to be harvested for the Faltive’s survival the land they live on specifically does not have much time...it could turn into a sinkhole by next week for all we know.”

The two leaders continued to glare not really happy by the final statement. Ransack knew almost no one had a chance at beating Knock Out on a Benefit course but he couldn’t deny bringing in the Chantoyier would cause problems if he didn’t do it publicly so he wanted the ambassador to race on his behalf even if it meant letting more worthless scrapheaps mooch off them. Override was simply conflicted by her morals. She knew her citizens were shaken thanks to Ransack’s arrogant need for an army and she should play by the track but Knock Out wouldn’t have tugged at her conscious if he didn’t think the Faltive were in serious danger.

“Fine!” The two shouted in unison but Override continued. “ We are in agreement that you will race for both our issues but I’m still sending the ship. We can place them in Ananka or Viduus till the race and if you should lose we will ship them off to one of our allies. That certainly won’t be a necessary case though will it Knock Out?”

“Of course not your Radiance. The swiftness of my wheels and the surge of my spark serve only your Radiances’ will. What both of you want, you shall receive. Am I dismissed now?”

“For now. I want you on that ship though so as much as I’m sure you’re weary of your travels I expect you to be at the bridge tomorrow morning for Egredior. I’ll make sure they assign your favorite captain.”

“Will do~” Knock Out bowed lowly again to both Override and Ransack before making a small gesture with his digits. “Breakdown. I need a drink what about you?” Knock Out heard Ransack and a few of the senators who had chosen to show up remark curtly under their breath in disgust but Knock Out paid them no mind.


 

Out at Knock Out’s favorite bar Breakdown tossed back another one of the fancy drinks perhaps his fifth or sixth? It was hard to tell since the staff were rather attendant. Either way it was getting to him but made with the specialized energex that Delta served it charged him up something fierce to the point he was more just twitchy than drunk. Knock Out had finished his line of shots and was now resting his head on the table, going on about the parts of his trip Moonracer hadn’t mentioned. His face flush and his field just pouring static. He wasn’t even drunk, just tipsy and Breakdown could already feel his panels jumping and plates getting tight. It was no wonder they called him the Circuit’s Siren of the streets. Well...wasn’t really a wonder just more so one that it was a lauded complement and not the press calling him a back alley service drone. Breakdown could only imagine what the ambassador must be like when he really put on his charm to get his way. Considering they were getting all their drinks for free tonight it was kind of a scary thought.

“And then they tell me they’re sorry! That’s it! Just sorry! So I was quite firm and said look here you hard light slaggers we use scrap like you as kink gear so you better do more than just say sorry for sticking me in room and demanding I serve just because your boss told you! I don’t give a glitchrat’s aft what type of your citizen I look like or about your stupid boss but they sure they’ll have something to say about my gun or perhaps this saw that is embedded in my arm so perhaps you should take me there and demand me an audience! Honestly you’d think all inorganics would get it!”

“The higher up you get the more slaggers there usually are. You know this. It’s just not easy for us techs because any old scrapheap with a textbook can build a machine that works for them so they don’t care that we just so happen to live in ours. They don’t get it. They don’t get that we grew with these that this is us and we can’t just change it willy nilly cause if we do our sparks get sick or that it’s taboo. Just ignorant is what it is.”

“Mmhmm~ I was lucky the seemed interested once they learned we weren’t just built. It’s like I get it but that should not be you basis on what you think a strong allie is! They also didn’t like the idea about overthrowing our own caste system but I told them quite plainly I don’t have to care if you don’t I’m not here to tell you how to run your planet I’m just here for soldiers and trade. That being said if the deal goes through and stays clean like I hope I can keep things I don’t give it ten years before we’re planning a coup and “emancipating” them”

“Is….is that good?”

“For them or us?”

“Both?”

“Depends on how well Override thinks her plan out. You want another drink or should we head home?”

“I think it’s about time to head home. I’m uh...starting to lift the table if you catch my drift~”

“Oh~ I do.”

By the time Breakdown woke up the next morning Knock Out was gone. He stayed in the luxury berth for quite a lot longer than he was used to. It still smelled of Knock Out even after only one night in it, He enjoyed the sound of the rain outside and the pseudo fresh air that lingered from Knock Out’s just used shower. It was nice to be back because as much as he loved Ananka he wanted to also love Delta. Knock Out wouldn’t be gone for long and while going home wasn’t that much trouble he thought perhaps he could call up Dent or Sidewinder. They were rarely off duty but they would be more than happy to set him up with some like minded company. Till then he could hang out with Minerva. She had been complaining about her roof and it would save some poor bot the trip if he just did it himself.

Chapter Text

A few weeks later he got his trip to Viduu’s after all. Construction had been called in to spruce up some of the houses and even though Knock Out was back he couldn’t but throw in his hammer to help. He was chatting up a small group as he worked and as much as he respected Moonracer’s spark Knock Out had been right. They were underdeveloped and sickly, smelling of rust and rot and barely able to understand universal binary. For the most part it was all simple yes or no questions with them. Which was fine since Breakdown wasn’t much of a talker anyway. The group of young one’s he was setting up though were at least energetic despite their condition. Barely waist high the lot of them they admired his frame, his massive servos, his headlights,remarking it all as a sparkling would it’s creators with eager shouts of glee when he turned them on and off in quick succession when he misplaced something or idly transformed his servo to his hammer and back to fix something. There we plenty of empty houses in Viduu’s waiting for when their rightful owners would need them but some of them needed a little love. Even with the hundred or so they only took up ten. Mostly because of the children wanting to live together away from their guardians for a change. Empty of most furniture it wasn’t hard to set up a dozen or so padded berths in the space available.

Without the energy to really help and not wanting to bother his work they all wanted to show off their own transforming ability, turing into strange fauna or their elders to at least try and make Breakdown laugh...at least he was pretty sure that’s what they were doing it for. If not they didn’t seem mad for him enjoying their antics. It was nice to have young ones around. Young ones who stayed young for the right amount of time. On Velocitron they grew up so fast, not nearly as fast as on Cybertron he was sure but he’d never thought about those things when he was there. He was pretty sure he didn’t even have a proper youth. He was glad these ones could now safe and, hopefully after a bit of treatment, healthy!

It would have been dawn by the time he was finished and got to return back to Knock Out but Viduus didn’t get dawn, they called it the sleeping city for a reason. A safe place that the sun never touched. It had been built as a place for Velocitron’s elders, a sort of Nirvana for them, where they could go once the grind of Velocitronian life got too much. Most of the remaining original crew of Navitas remained here and a few others. Mechs who were sick or came out that way from the start. They were all taken care of in Viduus. The place was amazingly nice and since not many of the new generation lived long enough after a crippling injury to even get a chance to live in Viddu’s most of them and even the residents saw it as a sort of strange holy place. Where answers came out but nothing ever really went in. Proud bots like Minerva or Knock Out took the place as an insult. It was either too coddling or too demeaning. As medic bots who had quickly grown used to a frantic life and had lasted long enough in the war for it to take it’s toll and stick with them it was understandable but for everyone else it was just a quiet place to continue research and not have to focus on the new generation's lifestyle or fads that they weren’t exactly built for. Knock Out had once said Override herself saw the place as a sort living museum. A constant memory of where they came from and how far they progressed.

Still it was a beautiful city no matter the connotations. They even had a fake dwn for those mechs who still needed it, and as Breakdown stepped outside he could still see it. A distant light that shined at the edges of the city and domed up. It looked good now, a great illusion but it didn’t change the reality or the old fears of what a real dawn could bring for him. He didn’t want to think about the past though. He waved goodbye to the little alien ones still lingering at the door with him. One of them grabbed onto his arm and started mumbling in their own language. Breakdown took a knee as he chuckled. “What is it kid? Don’t want to go be with your friends?”

They didn’t respond just continued to look up with wide nervous optics. Eventually they pulled together their courage. “B-breakdow? You- Yes?” Breakdown tried not to look shocked but...he hadn’t told the kids his name. Naw he must have at some point! Maybe? Then it came to him.”

“You must have been Moonracer’s little informant. Did she talk about me?” The child’s fear was gone in a flash, taken over by excitement and awe.

Nodding eagerly and caught between what they wanted to do or say they quickly turned flustered. “Moony! Moony! Yes! Breakdow! Star-st-star- Starhero! Built here! Stalled the sun!”

Feeling his face turn warm Breakdown tried to hide his blush. He’d know those words anywhere. Damn that femme and her flowery language. What had she told these young ones! “Hehe~ T-th-tha’s me I guess. Somnthin’ you want?” The child turned shy again, a guilty look on their face just hidden by the glow of the biolights that dotted their collar. Not the asking type it seemed. “You uhh…-You wanna go see her? Moony. I can take you. You can take yourself if you wanted she’s just up the block. You ain't stuck in here.”

That lit them back up. “Moony? Yes! Not stuck!” They were at Breakdown’s arm again, jumping a little on the balls of their peds.

“Yeah, course.” Breakdown groaned as he stood and closed the door to the house. Heading up the street he felt the smaller mech get close and grab at one of his digits. Their whole servo could barely wrap around it. They really were such small things. Breakdown could only imagine how strange it must have been from them. Going from a dying planet living with almost nothing to the glitz and glam of Velocitron.

Down the middle of the block Breakdown crossed the small street to a more lively looking home where Knock Out said he and Moonracer were going to be for most of the time. Dealing with the heads of the Faltive. He couldn’t help but notice the one at his side start to pout. Only just away from overbearing elders and already heading right back. Breakdown knew that feeling. Gently he nudged them. “It’s alright I’ll get’em alone for ya. I’m sure they need a break from their jobs.” This got him a smile. It was nice to know they were at least excited to be on a new strange planet. In all the movies when most “higher evolved beings” tried to help it usually ended in panic and disaster.

Curtly knocking on the door Breakdown didn’t wait to open it. Good thing too because no one would have heard him. Walking into what looked like the world’s strangest diner party there were almost two dozen mechs in the room just laughing and looking like they’ve lived there forever. Mostly Faltive, a few of the retired medics who had chosen to make the move, and some of the Circuit’s best linguistics. Even Minerva had been called in to deal with recuperating them. Moonracer and Knock Out naturally at the center of it. Breakdown could never even entertain any functionalist ideals but at the same time he’d never met any two mechs more forged for their jobs. It really was as the more religious left wingers would say. Mechs are born with certain functions to excel it’s just that the senate was so terrible at getting them wrong. Breakdown didn’t think Moonracer and Knock Out could fail at any job though. They were just built for life, for experience. It didn’t matter if you loved to hate them or never wanted to let them go either way they were always on one’s mind and they stayed that way. Breakdown was sure the idea that a planet’s economic, militant, political, and societal welfare rested firmly on the shoulders of a third generation cybertronian mutant, historian, humanitarian, xneo-linguist and a Senate hospital orderly turned surgeon/soldier, turned ambassador would make the old senators turn in their unmarked graves, if they had even been given that, but it worked. It worked so well it was almost unreal. Then again Breakdown still wasn’t sure Moony and Knock Out even were real. It wasn’t hard to see why Override entertained the thought that they were somehow sent by gods to keep everything from turning into a slagshow. You could never tell just by hanging out with them but the moment they started to work, especially together, it was already too late.

Breakdown waited till whatever story Knock Out was telling, Moonracer likewise translating, was over to slowly weave through the crowd and make himself heard. Both mechs optics lit up, the exhaustion clear on their faces for only a brief second. They had been at this for hours. Making strangers feel like the belonged took a lot out of anyone and especially so after already doing it for years before. The two quickly excused themselves and headed into a emptier room.

“Carus!” Moonracer picked up the young Faltive Breakdown had escorted along and peppered their face with quick kisses. Carus giggled with joy and returned the greeting.

Breakdown too bent down and gave Knock Out a quick kiss, letting him get close and practically melt against him. This close Breakdown could feel the strain keeping so many mechs happy and calm was having on him. “You know the world won’t explode if you forget to manipulate one little factor. They all look happy to me, I think you can give yourself a break.”

“You should have seen them before on the ship. Most of their fears were warranted mind you but even when I went out on the skydeck once to get some air, you’d think they thought I was letting a sparkeater in. They spent the rest of the trip coddling me. I don’t think I’ve ever been scolded before till then. I suppose I was poorly influencing their young ones to just trot out into space any old time but still.”

“I couldn’t blame ‘em. I’ve seen some pretty dumb aerials fall asleep flying and end up across the universe. They were just worried about you. I doubt they know what radiation shielding or gravity fields are.”

“They do not.”

“I’m sure they’re still good mechs. Still….when can you get outta here?” Breakdown was a little guilty of wanting to pull Knock Out from his job, from refugees that possibly needed him but the day they had together hadn’t been enough.

“As soon as possible! I swear it’s almost as if he still doesn’t trust me.” Moonracer butted in, her voice thick with sass. “I’ve already had my two weeks while you were bringing these guys here. Go home. I’ll make sure everything’s fine and if by some ludicrous chance a riot breaks out here I’ll call you.”

“You’ll call me? You barely like to give me your full reports so you can use information against me later as you see fit! I highly doubt you’d risk me having to come rescue you from your mess up.”

“Well…..then I’ll call Breakdown. He’s handled much worse.”

“Please whatever you do don’t screw this up. We won’t be taking in anymore refugees anytime soon if you do.”

“I know. Have a little faith in me. I know I can’t instantly calm most mechs like you can but- ”

“It’s not instant! Please! When you and Override talk like that it makes me sound like a supervillian just manipulating whoever I want whenever!”

“Well~ Either way I don’t handle situations like you but I still handle them. Go take your break Knock Out. You really earned it.”

Knock Out glared softly down at the femme. “Mmhmm~ You’re just saying that because you got what you wanted.”

“Yeah! So? Go get something you want now and let me do the job you hired me for. Besides don’t you have a Benefit you should be training for?”

After a bit more back and forth Breakdown and Knock Out finally headed home. As much as he hated leaving his assistant alone he knew she was a capable femme and he didn’t have to worry.

 


 

The days leading up to the Benefit were boring. Mostly Breakdown studying with his tutor at the private track Knock Out practiced on. The two trying not to get distracted by the other young racers Knock Out himself was tutoring, while also using them for practice targets, got flung off into walls.

To be honest it was mostly the tutor who was watching. As much as Breakdown loved Knock Out and the races it did get monotonous after a while. It’s why he liked studying there because aside from a few sympathetic ‘ooh’s’ and ‘ouch’s’ to the young bots and a moment or two of weakness whenever the stadium lights hit Knock Out just right he was able to keep his optics on his data pad. Briggs on the other servo was usually stuck in the underground or at the colleges on Reperio and didn’t get to see racers up close and personal. So he had to pull his attention back often.

“So teach this galactic council thing is really that important?”

“Oh- Yes unfortunately. They can be more like bullies most of the time but because of the influential planets in our galaxy who no longer liking being affected by the war of our ancestors they hold more power than they should. We are mindful to assure them we have no place in that nonsense anymore but they still keep us on a watch list of sorts for suspicious behaviour. To be truthful Ransack pays them off quite a lot which is why we can expand our army and trade as well as look for worlds to claim as our own. So you won’t really have to ever worry about them getting in the way.”

“But Override doesn’t like that. The expansion…..this empire he wants.”

“Yes she’s very adamant about staying here. Can’t blame her. Our government works for us but from an outsiders view it can look very silly. Should we find another planet and colonize it who’s to say they would adhere to our ideals which only grew out of our geological predicament. How long would they see Override as high ruler and remain in this metaphorical empire. Just take yourself for example. You have no stock in speed and are even looked down on for your inability to achieve it. Say we found a world that was rich in anything and everything that Velocitron would want to use as trade. Say though that this world is inhabited by feral beasts or covered in craters thus leaving lightweight racers a liability and yourself a denser, more powerful, working build an apex mech. Say you grew a reputation, a status. You’re very likable and trustworthy so mechs give you responsibility, they put their faith in you. You build this world, “in the name of Velocitron” and when the time to instil a government comes along would you then mirror our government? Would you even want to go back and serve Velocitron’s needs after some time?”

“Well….probably not the government because it doesn’t serve the mechs who are gonna live there. Almost no racer is gonna wanna live there, cept maybe those that like a challenge but that’s it. As for bein’ part of Velocitron as long as Override sees that and doesn’t think everything needs to be the same to work in her favor and is fair about it then I don’t see why not. Things are stronger in numbers to a fault and two planets ain’t really a tipping point. Just can’t play favorites.”

“Ah well we are lucky with Override but most rulers are rarely fair and rare are the oppressed who are so faultlessly kind as you.”

“Yeah well…..I ain’t shy about doing what needs done. If there ain’t no agreement I’d take out whoever till I got to someone who would but not at the expense of innocent mechs. I’d rather give everything I had to make others happy then start a fight I couldn’t win alone.”

“Well Breakdown I can say you might make a great leader and an amazing bodyguard but I don’t think you’d last very long.”

“Probably but at least I know i’d have done what I believed.” The two sat in silence again as Breakdown re-read the same paragraph the third or perhaps fourth time. It was a very large paragraph and he just now knew what all the words in it meant.

Briggs interrupted his thought again. “You know Breakdown, you shouldn’t have to do this and I’m not saying this because I don’t have any faith in you but….the others didn’t have to. I know they aren’t expected to go off planet constantly but….”

“Sidewinder can’t even read and I already know more than her and Dent combined. Yeah I’m aware. Ransack likes to keep his enemies vulnerable. He’s the one who demanded more qualifications be put on me ‘cause of Knock Out’s position. You should’a seen my poor Knocky I swore Ransack wasn’t gonna leave with any of his denta.”

Briggs looked over from the track a bit surprised that the brute had already caught on. “That or perhaps they think you’re too close. Do you always talk about your “boss” like that.”

“Oh well~ I try not to. I just forget sometimes. Do you really think that’s a reason? ‘Cause Override did agree pretty easily but she just might have thought it was a good idea.”

“I don’t think so. As our leader I’d like to think she’s not one to care about another mech’s life too deeply and you’re not exactly the aggressive one so I doubt she was worried about you just that….you might distract Knock Out perhaps?”

Breakdown laughed. Not many mechs saw Knock Out’s aggressive side. “Yeah. I hate to ask but did he strongarm ya into teaching me.”

“Strongarm? No. Tell every single free tutor at the school he was “disappointed that they didn’t appreciate the chance” because none of them wanted to teach someone with your background? Yes. I wasn’t there that day since I was helping a few freshmen with their physics exams but I heard the horror stories. Hi-nyck still can’t go past the architecture workshop and Cannon swears she still sees him at the end of every hall she turns down once lights are out. They were all begging for the job by the next week but he’d already caught me. Knew me from a party we were both at that Moonracer threw and I said sure. Then he offered me three hundred chits a session so I wasn’t about refuse no matter how bad off you were. What did he do to them?”

“He just…...he leaves a lasting impression. Its being off green light is what it is. Get’s too stressed.”

“Oh jeez. That’ll do it. That stuff usually kills and you managed to get him off it? You belong at a college clinic not taking care of him.”

“I like taking care of him.”

As the winds started getting cold as they passed by the southern pole Knock Out trekked up the stadium stairs, his tiny band of dented and beaten apprentices right behind him to signal time to return home. Breakdown had to admit it was a little rude how quickly the young ones got it in their processors that they could do Knock Out’s job better so it was relieving to see them like this, mostly just knowing it was one less thing the ambassador had to really worry about.


 

At home they took their time fueling up. Relaxing on the couch, holding each other as they watched some trashy movie. It wasn’t even in color. Golden age. Breakdown could barely understand a word but Knock Out said it was one of his favorites so he couldn’t care less. He cherished their moments like this, when Knock Out was so calm, so content that he didn’t even have to feel his field to know. He just knew by the way Knock Out would laugh at certain jokes till his engine choked and the fangs at the side of his mouth were able to catch a glint of the light. The slow way he’d slip his digits between Breakdown’s own and gently rub at the sides or fiddle with the exposed wires. The way he’d lean back, forgetting about his wheels and bump into Breakdown’s chest causing his face to dust in blush. Breakdown never left him to feel embarrassed...well almost never.

When things were good in their lives they were so good but then again when they were bad.

Breakdown stretched and curled back up expecting Knock Out to there in the berth next to him but as his digits searched for the familiar frame he came up empty. Training his audials he could hear the faint taping of Knock Out pacing. Breakdown pushed himself up and blearily looked through the darkness. Knock Out was looking nervous which could mean anything from nightmares to just his overall restlessness but with the amount of door tapping and whispering it was clear he was waiting for something. Leaning out he grabbed Knock Out and pulled him onto his lap, nuzzling the side of his lover’s face as he whispered in a heady gruff.

“Whas’ wrong?’ Knock Out stayed quiet. “Something not feel right?”

“Moonracer hasn’t sent over her nightly report. She’s three hours late.”

“Call her. It’s part of her job.”

“I don’t want to be that type. As much as nitpick Moonracer is perfectly capable and alone at Viduus with only primitive refugees and retirees for fun I’m sure she’s just drunk.”

“Moony doesn’t drink on the job.”

“Then what could it be? Too busy showing our guests around out most boring city. The place is full of eccentric mad mechs! Which I suppose sounds fun but only if your version of fun is doing dangerous experiments to create new elements, trying to fabricate new organic and inorganic life, and manipulating CNA to see if we can revive previously exterminated frame types! Not something I want poor new sparks ,who think a rock is their god because it acted on it’s own accord and caused a protective shield that just happened to save them from a series of supernovas, to get interest in just quite yet.”

“Then call her. It’s the only thing that will calm you down and she’s gonna forget about it anyway. It’s Moonracer, she knows you.”

“I’m sure she just forgot. Fell into recharge early. She wastes so much energy with everyone she meets I’m surprised she even has any to run.” Breakdown groaned, the sound alone making Knock Out’s metal vibrate slightly.

“You know you won’t be happy with your own assumptions.”

“Alright fine yes.” Knock Out rested his chin on Breakdown’s chest as he pinged Moonracer’s frequency. The long static making him more and more unsettled. It wasn’t even that late for the femme. “She’s not answering.” Breakdown sighed, a little nervous himself now too.

“I’m sure she’s fine. We can go check up on them first thing tomorrow if she doesn’t get back to you.”

They didn’t have to wait till then. A few groons later Knock Out got a call from one of the clinics in Delta. Moonracer had been attacked as she had been returning back after being called home to give Override a progress report on the new studies and the Faltive’s wellbeing. There weren’t many answers. Nothing taken and too violent to just be a hit and run so the Circuit assumed the worst. Every member was called to the Circuit building to be accounted for. Moonracer’s job wasn’t the highest but it was a new one and with the promise of going off planet so rare in most professions it was highly lauded among the younger members. Knock Out and Breakdown were immediately allowed to leave to return to Viduus but that was the last place on their minds.

 


 

The UIC was crowded with doctors all running in or out looking for someone to take their place. Losing a Circuit member didn’t exactly look good so he understood the fear but it was a bit of a slag show that Knock Out couldn’t help but be disappointed by.

Minding procedure enough to shove himself and Breakdown through decon before stepping onto the floor the retired medic parted the small sea of frantic mechs to look Moonracer over. She was a mess but they had her stable. Some of the higher ups yelled at him and Breakdown but were quickly hushed and yanked away. Some shoed off by Breakdown. They weren’t doing anything but fussing anyway. Still there were some determined ones who didn’t know their place.

“Her processor is unresponsive and her vocalizer’s been crushed what in the Pit do you think you can do you ancient hack!” Someone was touchy.

“Oh! Really?” Knock Out raised an optic ridge at the doctor. “So what are you doing to help? This was an assassination attempt, have you done a patch yet?”

“You can’t do a patch on someone whose unresponsive!”

“Morally or actually because both are wrong in this case. Get the equipment to hook her up and a free med droid to activate the connection.” Knock Out waved the mech off and Breakdown over. “Breakdown? Analysis.”

The doctor in charge for the moment was not being swayed despite the others trying to drag him off or keep him quiet. “You don’t work here! You’ve got no authority or even right to be here or give orders!”

“Perhaps I don’t anymore I have moved on but I did help build these clinics with my own servos but if that holds no weight there is still something that does.” Knock Out’s voice grew quiet,dark. Static filling the room. “ I RIPPED YOUR UGLY LITTLE SPARK FROM THE SOIL SO YOU COULD FLOURISH AND DO YOU THINK IT WAS TO INSULT ME? I don’t think so. So either go do what you’re told or sit and stay out of my way.” Knock Out sighed as he watched the poor young doctor shake in his spot. His spark unsure now what to do, signals too muddled. “Now look what you’ve made me do. One of you get him out of here so I don’t have to look at him anymore!” The rest scuttled around now doing what they could again, thoroughly shaken. Knock Out returned to Moonracer and slipped his thin talons between the femmes. “Breakdown?”

Breakdown placed one of his massive servos on his partner’s shoulder, spinning Knock Out’s back wheel with a thumb to calm him down. “It was a beatin’ obviously so either they were too stupid or posh to know how to get a gun or even a blade. Or they didn’t want those. Didn’t want to kill. There was anger in this sure but nothing vital’s unsalvageable. Face mutilated, tires cut, legs torn, arms crushed, intake slashed. Spark casings not cracked, T-cog should be working despite dents, processors only glitching from shock an’ havin’ her face beaten in. It’ll come back. It was a show. For what I couldn’t guess.”

“So it’s not another member of the Circuit.”

“Could be if they just wanted to scare her off but….you know how most Circuit members take out their competition.”

“Moonracer was smarter and stronger than that they’d have to try harder. Like this.” Slowly as Knock Out found Moonracers weak field the chipped digits between his own started to twitch and close.

Breakdown vented slowly, happy to see any response at all. “She saying anything to you?”

“She’s angry more than anything which is strange. Angry and sad. She may have known whoever hurt her. She knows quite a few senators very well.”

“You think it could’a been the Faltive? Her being too close to Carus? I know they said it was in Delta but there’s nothing to say one didn’t follow her.”

“I don’t think so but I’m certain they played a part in some way.”

“You think someone found out?”

“Yes. I’m going to stay here with her for a bit longer. Can you go and learn what you can before the police ruin everything?” Breakdown dimmed his optics and inched closer so he could hold Knock Out tighter.

“You sure you want me to leave you alone?”

“I’m just going to stay to oversee the patch and then I’ll head over. I’ll be fine as long as there’s not a mob out there. We can’t stay apart for long anyway because we’ll look suspicious.”

Breakdown nodded understandingly but still took his time leaving. “Alright I’ll go see what I can find. Stay safe.” Giving Knock Out a quick hug, Breakdown left and headed back to VIduus.


 

At the main clinic Breakdown moved through the nearly empty halls. Everything was so calm here still. No riots, no panic. Knocking on the door he wanted he hears Minerva’s slightly muffled voice call out to him allowing him in. For a mech who hated Viduus she looked quite content in her office as Rust scanned her medical reports for her. Breakdown didn’t even have to step inside to get her started.

“I’ve already heard. Is she going to be alright?”

“You all are pretty calm for just knowing there was an attempted assassination.” Minerva laughed sadly.

“You know she’s nobody still and there’s no use riling the mechs that will care. They’ll only blame themselves for it.”

“Is this about the Faltive Minerva? Do you think? Who could have found out?”

“You’re not gonna like what I have to tell you. I think it’s best if you stay out of it for your sake darling.”

“I think I already know. And it’s better if I just get it over with.”

Chapter Text

Back in Ananka Breakdown entered the Rusted Gear. Jury-rig as always at the bar serving the hard working Bots and Femmes that Velocitron prefered to forget. It only took one look at Breakdown for the older mech to know he had to say something right then or he was going to pay for it. Slipping away he grabbed at the other mech’s shoulder pauldron before he could get any further in.

“Breakdown you got the look of a mech who’s about to start a fight in a bar. Are you going to start a fight in my bar? Is it thursday already?”

“That depends on what Huffer has to say for himself. I know he was there helping out in Viduus and I know he was in Delta working on circuit building.”

“What’s this about Breakdown?”

“Moonracer was beat to her struts over something and Huffer didn’t have any nice words about the poor mechs she got Override to bring over taking away houses that were meant for mechs like him.”

“That pretty mint corvette that works for your new boss? Breakdown Huffer wouldn’t be able to speak around let alone hurt a femme like that.”

“Yeah but he’s got a big mouth and she’s got finicky friends.”

“How ‘bout I get him for you and you take this outside like gentlemen…..he’s already pretty tanked he doesn’t need you throwing him like a lob ‘cuz you soft spark for pretty faces.”

“You didn’t see her. If I even think his griping caused anyone to harm her I’m not letting him go without a few dents to go home with.”

“Augh~ Breakyboy just….make sure they’re body shots. Go out to the alley.”


 

Out in the alley Breakdown was slamming the minibot into the wall, not like it really affected Huffer, the bitter little bot used to his mouth getting him into trouble but having it be Breakdown had quickly left him concerned.

“Breakdown what I manage to do yo get you riled?” The mini managed to stay calm but it was flimsy at best.

“You know why we’re here huffer, it’s always why you end out in this alley. WHAT IN THE PIT DID YOU DO BEFORE COMING HOME FROM DELTA!

“JU-just the usual. Got a nice touch up and got smashed at a bar.”

“You talk to anyone?”

“Of course I talk to someone what else would you expect from me?”

“You complain about anything.” Breakdown’s grip on his shoulders was tightening, he wasn’t doing well defending himself of whatever he needed to.

“It ain’t complaining. So what if I was still pissed! It’s not my fault our next generation is screwing us over because they don’t think we’re worth it anymore! I used to be somebody on Cybertron here I may just as well be a service drone! Not all of us can be big and handsome enough to go out and knock on a few racers back ends till they fall in love with ya Breakdown! Some of us worry!’

“WHO DID YOU TALK TO?!” Breakdown knew he shouldn’t be letting himself get so mad. Huffer had every right to worry seeing Velocitron was more interested in the rights and lives of aliens more than some of it’s own citizens but that didn’t let Huffer off the hook. He could bitch all he wanted in Ananka but outside the city that information mechs like them were privy to wasn’t supposed to leave those few who knew it. Especially things like bringing in refugees without a public race for it! No one liked knowing the government was going behind its own rules especially when they didn’t have all the information.Huffer knew when he needed to keep his mouth shut even if he didn’t always manage to.

“Just some aerials! Skinny tired looking things! Green, and straight silver and blue. They saw me and bought me a few drinks wondering what a minibot was doing in Delta. We started talking. Getting things off our chest plates. They were….you know radicals or whatever. The young ones who pretend they want to help change things.”

“You say anything about Viduus?”

“Course I did! It’s slag! You know I don’t mind helping mechs but we gotta finish helping ourselves first. I don’t like letting those slaggers go behind the law even for something as worthwhile as that! It’s not right and mechs deserve to know.”

“Yeah but how often is drunk off your aft you given them the full story so they don’t jump to conclusions! Angry stupid mechs do stupid things when they get riled and those are the sorts of things that rile them!” The two were practically in a screaming match now but Huffer’s anger fell like a dropped sheet at the look on Breakdown’s face. Real rage in those golden optics of his.

“Did something happen?”

“OF COURSE SOMETHING HAPPENED! Do you really think I’d be here yelling at your for my health! Where was the bar? What’s it called?” Huffer stumbled over his words half way between guilt and rage that Breakdown was taking his anger out on him for almost nothing.

“I-it- it was called something like zephier- chariot- something old romantic slag it had a really nice outside with a good looking prime type carved on the front. I just wanted to go pick up someone nice can you blame me! You know this wouldn’t happen if the state hadn’t started using that hotrod you’re pretending not to be a trophy for! He’s what fifty-o for for all the benefits he’s raced little slaggers got it down to a science! Bet a high wired type like him only stops moving when he’s riding your spike!” Huffer landed on the ground with a clang but not before taking a blow to the side of the head from Breakdown’s fist.


 

With all the driving he was doing at speeds he wasn’t meant for Breakdown could smell the rubber of his tires burning. Finding the fancy bar Huffer had set up in had taken him a good couple hours thanks to Delta’s outer circle being nothing but a giant maze but eventually the sight of a large ornamental sign carved to look like a female prime caught his attention and had him screetching to a halt and quickly doing a u-turn. Inside the place was full of scrawny posh mechs. Student’s artists, and aerials who usually lived around the neighborhood because it was close to ground bridge station so they could get to school easy but still Delta so they could be near the action. It also had some of the lowest buildings with wide blocks of space for planes to fly around in and not cause a fuss. It also happened to be the cheapest part of the city.

As soon as he sat down he had optics on him and it made his plates twitch. The bartender a slick black and teal two wheeler came over to him instead of the server, her optics knowing. “You look in a mood.” Breakdown swore under his breath, did he really not have his field under control or were bartenders in Velocitron just all psychic.

“I ain’t in a mood that’s gonna cause you trouble young lady don’t you worry. You can just get me a glass of straight energon….I’ll be here for a while.”

“Can do but…...you’re here because of what happened to Moony aren’t you?” Breakdown found his digits curling on their own. No one should have known about her yet.”

“Did they air something earlier that I’m not aware of or are you trying to tell me somethin’?”

“It was brief. Just that the circuits ambassador’s secretary was attacked. They were all more worried about him than her. Surprise surprise but I know Moony personally she’s an actual friend and comes here often. I figured it was only a matter of time till cops showed up to the student sector but...you…..you don’t look like a cop.

“I’m not a cop I work for Knock Out. Which means I get to do whatever I want and take no slack for it.” The femme sat carefully on a stool on the other side of the table.

“So any information you get is off the books?”

“I’m the judge, jury, and executioner as far mechs who try to step to Knock Out need to be concerned.”

“Listen….there are some mechs who you should talk to but they know they’re being set up.”

“Set up how?”

“Like tipped off. A minibot came in a few days ago going on that the circuit had smuggled in refugees and they were stealing homes from vets in Viduus but they were going to have Knock Out race the Benefit anyway to make if public. Then a couple of students came in saying they had started noticing a lot of strange mechs around the city and that they heard Ransack was already letting alien military and assassins onto the planet because Knock Out was going to race for that as well! Just keeping peace between the our leaders but well...as you can imagine that didn’t sit well with a few of the groups who frequent here and Moony being a friend to most well….they let their anger get the best of them and called her for a visit.”

“The ARA. Yeah Moony was talking about them. They’ve been trying to get her to either race for them or get Knock Out for forever. So let me guess they were the last one’s with her but they swear they didn’t touch even a digit to her am I right?”

“You don’t believe them?”

“Do you?” the young femme shifted on her stool, tapping on of her long manicured digits on the table quickly.

“I don’t know…..how bad off is she?”

“Beat to an inch of her life.”

“Pit. Yes then. They wouldn’t do that even if Moony was basically setting them up to lose the next million Benefits!”

“Fine I’ll hear ‘em out.” The femme nodded a look of relief and thanks in her optics.

“I’ll call them and get your energon for you.” Breakdown nodded her off knowing if he wasted any more time then the police would soon be bothering him. He was military and this was an attack on a government official but it was flimsy enough for them to give him trouble and if this was an attack by a certain leader trying to get soft sparked Moony out off of his track then they were likely being paid off.


 

By the time he was half way through a second glass of energon and in the middle of a fairly terrifying conversation about eugenics with Base the bartender the two aerials Huffer had described came creeping in. The noticed base at the table and then Breakdown and froze like statues.

Breakdown didn’t really like being seen as a scary guy. Sure he was big and strong and one of the only citizens who had legal rights to all the guns in his house and the hammers in his fists but he never flaunted that. Knock Out on the other servo was known for his drug induced fights and his ruthless ability on the track and streets behind of course being overall a posh elitist who had an woo mechs that he could even get Unicron himself to take him by the servo and go for a walk to at least think for a moment about bringing on complete and utter chaos. Being a mech like that bodyguard….other had to imagine just what Breakdown was really like to deal with it all. He was gonna use it to his advantage today.

As they finally gathered their courage and sat down Breakdown almost felt a little bad for them. Tall and gangly their knee guards almost hit their dang chins as they got comfortable. Base was right these bozos weren’t the type. Moonracer could have taken both of them blindfolded. The two aerials just stared at him and then each other, trying to get the other to go first. The green one finally stepped up. “We didn’t touch her we swear! We didn’t even meet her! We got drunk and after meeting with that minibot and hearing those other students we just got pissed. So we called her and made set up a meeting to talk about it. We just wanted to know she was still going to race for us like she promised because if there’s anyone who could beat Knock Out it’s her. We figured she wasn’t but you know how it is we were mad because taking in refugees….that’s not the ambassador usually so we knew she twisted his arm. But if he’s allowed to race for more than one issue at a time then why the hell can’t their be more than one winner! At least the top three! It’s just laziness!”

“You done complaining? Where were you supposed to meet her? Did you have any contact with her after she didn’t show for the meeting? Anything that I can actually use that’s not just you getting me to get you off the hook for setting up your own friend to get beatdown?” The two clammed up quickly, worried looks on their faces again. Breakdown leaned over the table his chest bumping against the skittish silver one’s knees.

“Listen to me I know you think someone’s playing you, I think your scrawny little afts got played too but if you don’t tell me what proof you have I’m gonna take you kicking and screamin’ to the Doc and you don’t want that. There’s a reason he got on our upstanding titan and took the easy way out and I think you know it’s because of how good a doctor he is.” The poor silver aerial was shaking now, the green one looking at his friends with pleading optics. The Doc’s reputation was his lifeblood and for the most part it was blown out of proportion but if there was one thing that was true it was that he knew so many ways to kill a mech and kill em’ just enough to get what one wanted that some of his war stories even made him sick.

“I think those students that were talking about Ransack’s plan to bring the Chantoyier or whatever they’re called in before the race and the strange mechs they saw being proof….I think they were plants. Plants to cause mechs to talk and dig and…..they could find out that Override had gone behind the public’s back but Ransack... it was all just a rumor or something. Make him look better. I think someone hacked my systems after I called Moony the first time because she called me after we were waiting for an hour and asked where we were saying I sent her a text to change the meet up place because the one was too crowded. Then two seconds later she said she saw us. I might even still be bugged but i’ve got everything on mute and haven’t turned it on since. I don’t know how anyone could though We barely spent a few hours at the bar before calling Moony and no one so much as brushed against my shoulder.”

“Glyph! Really? Give him more of a reason to drag you in!”

“Who cares Northdrop I’ll need to go anyway to get this fixed anyway. I don’t want anyone else touching my systems unless I know they’re fixing me!”

Breakdown rubbed at his face. It was already getting late and this had Ransack written all over it. Just petty slag. He didn’t even look that angry about it at the meeting but then he usually always came up with his best idea a few days too late. She was probably becoming more of a pain in his side the more power Knock Out gave her. Probably worried Knock Out was already getting burnt out and trying to get a replacement. He had to get back to the hospital and report to Knock Out. The aerials didn’t seem to be on the same page, still expecting something.

Glyph was shaking nervously now unsure what was going to happen next. “So are you going to help us because if Moony does get better she’s gonna say we attacked her when we didn’t. Aside from the obvious prison time we don’t want to lose her!”

“Yeah I got a doc for ya who’s off the payroll and hates the government. She’ll fix you up and’ll probably be able to tell you who hacked you so we know. Take the first bridge to Viduus and don’t leave no matter who comes to get you. You’re gonna be in hot oil no matter what but I can convince Moony, she’s no idgit.” Slapping down an address to the clinic and Minerva’s frequency on an old vent freshener wrapper Breakdown paid Base a few credits and was out back on the streets. There really wasn’t anything he could do now. Even if it had been another government official let alone Ransack nothing would have really been done about it. Just all part of the life as most said. At least Knock Out would know so he could shell out a few chits and get Moony her own body guard. Knock Out would like Hatchback and Moony already had a crush on the femme.


 

As he headed up the slick white stares to the ICU Breakdown swore he heard Moonracer’s weak laughter. It took a dozen reminders and all his will to run to decontamination before just barreling through the doors. When he finally got there his spark thrummed with relief and joy and slight fear, Carus was there the tiny Faltive at a very alive and normal looking Moonracer’s bedside. The femme still a little scraped up and exhausted but nothing near what she was when they had brought her in. He’d only been gone for the better part of a day there was no way even Velocitronian medics could get done this fast.

“Moonracer!” Moonracer’s face lit up as Breakdown pulled her into a tight hug, her sharp digits leaving tiny pinpricks with how tightly she was holding on.”What in the Pit happened while I was gone.

“Oh Primus I’m glad you’re here. It’s…..it’s a long story. I’m just lucky I made the right call. Carus pretty much brought me back from the dead. That crystal of theirs isn’t just a barrier afterall. D-didn’t Knock Out tell you he was the one who picked Carus up. Where did you need to take him anyway? Why isn’t he with you?” Breakdown felt his tank drop as dread filled him.

“Moony I didn’t take him anywhere.” Breakdown felt Moonracer’s grip tighten.

“What do you mean you didn’t take him anywhere. I was just about tell him about Glyph and Northdrop when you came in. You said you had information and needed to take him somewhere.”

“Moony what wasn’t me. I was just at the bar with your aerials who said that you never showed and that someone sent you a message that they didn’t send.”

“Wh-what? B-but he looked just like you, acted- I never showed up...but I saw them and they called me over and…..they just…...I don’t remember it was like an energon prod but smaller they just stabbed me with it.”

“Where Moony? The cops found your body in a back alley! Tell me where you met them?”

“Breakdown it was just another bar we liked to go to! B-by the city center near the big fancy movie theater Knock Out likes to go to. Do you know the one? I don’t think it means anything!” Breakdown could feel the femmes spark racing now. There weren’t many shifters on the planet and all of them were government and all of them worked for Override. Knock Out knew everyone of them, knew their tells, their defects that they couldn’t shake. He wouldn’t have been fooled even if Ransack managed to pay one of them off.

“Moony what were the other guys you met like. T-the ones that Ransack wanted to enlist and deal with. Were they shifters like the Faltive?”

“Oh Primus yes! Nearly all of them and they could turn into anyone or thing at the sight of it! They thought it was so sad that we could only change our forms slightly but- after their higher ups mistook us as gifts, or drones, or just- I don’t even know. I still can't think straight. We knocked out like twenty of their guards after Knock Out managed to get us out of there. Not very strong. There’s barely anything to them. They were so weird after that. They’re not supposed to be here though. Ransack was going to take Knock Out back there to finish signing up the agreement after he won the race. He wouldn’t risk taking Knock Out down, he needs him even if he wanted the Faltive gone or-or to make them look bad like they had attacked me? They’re not nearly as good at transformation even if it’s similar.”

Breakdown huffed in disbelief. I think Ransack went and done somethin’ stupid. I gotta call Sidewinder. You stay here and don’t leave for nobody.”


 

With the reunion cut short Breakdown was back on the job, Sidewinder in his audial giving him a place to meet. At their usual bar he didn’t even step one ped in through the door before she was grabbing him by his shoulder and yanking him into the alley. “He took a personal trip to another neutral planet and met with a few of the hardlight freaks to discuss treaties and whatever. Plans of attack, where they wanted to hit first and who had the best whatever. I don’t know what was on most of it all but it seemed pretty normal but before we left two of the smaller ones caught us before we were heading back and said that there was one more condition before they could make things official after the Benefit. Ransack didn’t even care he gave the thing a second's glance signed it and threw it at them. That’s all I know. I already told Override about it so what’s this about?”

“Knock Out’s missing.” Sidewinder gave Breakdown a deadpanned stare. “Moony and a few others say they saw him leaving with me but I haven’t seen him since this morning.”

“Moonracer’s in stable condition already? Dent said she…..probably wasn’t going to make it.”

“Yeah well….Moony makes good friends it turns out.”

“Yeah and what does Knock Out make?”

“A trail of dull popped sparks wherever he goes.” Sidewinder sighed as she handed over her keys. The place is out by the hills. Bright green and spindly. Real old goldenage cybertronian. You can’t miss it.”

“Thanks Sidewinder.” The femme shoved him.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever. Just make sure you make him realize he’s the idiot and it’s his fault or you’re gonna be the one tossed out to the sun or shot into freaking space.”

“Thanks Sidewinder.” Breakdown knew the femme was going out on a limb for him but she was one the the best bodyguards in the city even if Ransack did fire her. As Breakdown turned to leave she called him back.

“Breakdown…” She tapped the side of her face with a thick digit. “Make sure it’s not my good side.”

“Oh...right. What good side?” Rearing back Breakdown bashed Sidewinder’s head with his fist. Bit’s of her metal and energon spraying out to coat his knuckles. The femme staggered but laughed as she stood back up, checking the damage. “Good enough?”

“It’ll do but I’m gonna have to go home and get smashed so the slagger can’t call me. Stay safe lover boy. I really hope that cute aft is worth all the trouble you’re gonna be in.”


 

Ransack’s house wasn’t what Breakdown expected. Not the glittering art deco of cybertron and not even the slick modern of most velocitronians. No it was simply put just ugly. Sidewinder always said the mech was colorblind and Breakdown wasn’t sure if she was right but this was certainly a bolt in the coffin. It wasn’t even a tasteful mess like Minerva who just hung whatever she bought from poor artists in the student sectors or even Moonracer’s tiny flat that was filled to the brim with pastel flowers and taxidermied native birds and bugs. It looked like a place where mechs died and were buried in the walls so Ransack would get a new painting to cover all the rust spots. It smelled the same too which was saying something because he was used to Knock Out’s place which smelled like bleach, turpentine and church. Knock Out never liked to admit it but he liked old mech wax. Wax that Breakdown had smelled on dozens of his old commanders when he had still been in the army both femme and bot. He switched it up every now and again to something new but always went back eventually. It always made Breakdown think of home but it made him worry too. Mechs like that in Breakdown’s life…. had always been special…..strong, influential, kind, beautiful...just special in a certain way he couldn’t really describe. They never…..never seemed to be anything less than the day they were onlined until the day they were... gone….and they always left suddenly….without warning. Breakdown didn’t want that to happen to Knock Out and know he’d have to suffer alone without him.

Ransack didn’t even scream when Breakdown woke him up just looked at him as if he were help that arrived too early. “What did Sidewinder get too drunk so she called you in? That’s very nice of Knock Out to let you off your leash to help a friend but I swore I set that alarm!” As he sat up and looked at the clock his face fell, not enough to look panicked but enough. “What are you doing in my house?”

“You went an’ screwed up is why and if you don’t tell me what was in that fancy contract for those hired guns you signed on I’m’a take your scrawny aft out to my side of town and bury you up to your neck in a puddle and see if you can crawl your ugly self out before your engine floods and kills you.”

Ransack leaned forward chin in his servos as he looked up at the other mech. “Well now Mr. Bodyguard you’re being so forward~ Usually only Knock Out whispers those kinds of things to me in my audial but then you two are of the same ilk.”

“You really think I’m joking don’t you.” Breakdown switched out his servo for his hammer and reaching in his subspace he pulled out a small bundle of hard light robe. “I’ve survived on the ground with the sun yer radiance and it ain’t always a death sentence if you know enough about our planet. So keep thinking you can try me and you’ll find yourself facing off against a ghost till the end of your miserable life.”

Ransack held his chest for a moment and whispered something about filthy dirt turners before putting all his smiles back on. “Alright, Alright I should have known better than to pick fights with an elder-especially one who is still in such good shape and never seems to age-Knock Out picks his subordinates for very specific reasons and takes care of them. I shouldn’t have signed the deal with the Chantoyier but….as far as I knew all they wanted was for her to live on their planet for a few years and have one of their ambassadors come here in exchange! Now I know this was discussed earlier and that Knock Out said he’d pick a new mech for the job but I guess sweet little Moonracer left such a good impression on the Canddius’ son that I think they just wanted a chance to woo her but they weren’t supposed to take her until after the Benefit! I’m no idiot if something happened to the dear ambassador she’s the only one fast enough. So what happened is all them I don’t know why they beat her up after they found her but it wasn’t my doing.”

Breakdown sighed, the idea of dangling Ransack off Delta’s rim oh so tantalizing now. “You don’t know slag from sprew do ya? The whoever’s son didn’t want Moony! So when his lackeys messed up and got the wrong bot they had to cover their tracks. So they beat her to an inch of her life! Knock Out’s gone missing and everyone who last saw him at the hospital said he left with me. Well he ain’t with me now is he?”

“The Benefit’s at the end of the week! I need him for the race. I need him for practically ever! I am not dealing with little miss soft spark for the rest of my run and-and-an- You need to go get him! A-a-acting on Override’s orders. Go off on how I did this behind her back and-an-and whatever! Just get him back!”

“I’m not allowed to leave the planet because I’m too stupid.”

“I’LL SIGN WHATEVER DUMB PAPERS YOU NEED JUST GO! I’LL HAVE A SHIP ALREADY WAITING IN EGREDIOR TO TAKE YOU THERE! QUIT WASTING MY TIME!”

 


 

“And that’s how I got my certification! Still I didn’t think it was right going behind Override’s back like that even for an emergency so I figure we could keep up the lessons.”

It was a few weeks later and Breakdown was sitting with Briggs at another lesson at the track while Knock Out trained his fledgling ambassadors. Briggs seemed dumbfounded by the story he’d just heard.

“O-kay I don’t mind but….. Breakdown? How did you get Knock Out back from the Prince and still keep the deal with Chantoyier, how did you two happen to get married before coming home, what about the race? The Faltive? Moonracer? I know she’s doing better but I haven’t heard anything else!”

Breakdown twisted the thick crystal band on his wrist as he grinned sheepishly “Well….Knock Out won the race! It wasn’t hard. He was a little tired after all the excitement but he pulled through. Moony’s getting better and the Faltive are still here. Already got a few planets for them that look promising. As for the rescue that’s a story for a different day. We wasted all our time talking instead of learnin’ look at them out there they’re already wanting to hit their berths and I can’t blame em’ I’m still exhausted.