He had done it. He had finally done it.
Depth Charge wasn't sure what he should feel in this moment. Somehow, through some force of nature (and the meddling of Megatron. That darling mutation of his still disgusted him even if it might have made this feat possible) he had defeated Rampage. He had all but expected to die in his last action, striking the weapon deep within his half spark. It was almost intimate a moment, the water near still around them as he straddled the protoform and threw what would be their final words. A damnation for the beast that deserved it, and a prayer that he'd stay there from beast who would slay him. A small action happened, but neither was sure what, and Depth Charge was allowed access to continue, to kill him without a fight. After all what a more fitting end than the two of them dying together, it seems even Rampage saw this as the acceptable condition. He would not live in a world without Depth Charge, and Depth Charge would not live in a world without him. The game would be won, to both of them. Though in his final moments Rampage would consider himself the true victor, for finally driving Depth Charge to commmit such a depraved act.
The world turned white in sight, sound and feeling as they were both consumed.
However, something was wrong. The pit would be something, anything other than this. Depth Charge had no delusions of going to the Matrix, he had made sure of it in his never-ending pursuit. He should be burning, the protoflesh and metal melting off his form as his protoform screeched, his only comfort knowing that Rampage would be with him. Instead it felt like cold, metal ground. The thrumming of ships engines, the steady pulse of life support, and-
"It's a good thing I found him so soon. I-"
Well that just confirmed it. A goody goody like Primal wouldn't go to the inferno if he could help it. He must have lived. Depth Charge began to tune out the conversation, unable to move or shave his optics stay open long anyhow despite effort. He heard more voices join in on the conversation, what he could only assume was Rhinox and Cheetor. They were predictably easy to figure out, that and they spent enough time lecturing him over what could be deemed his more "obsessive" hobbies.
How had he lived? Why had he lived? He didn't deserve it. He sacrificed his life to Rampage willingly, gave himself over to the thirst the monster fed him. He wanted revenge, he wanted justice, and he was not blind to that fact. How blind he was to everthing else, however, was up for debate. With each new body laid for him like a breadcrumb he played into his game and let himself be consumed, with each new friend of his eaten like a precious meal who would no longer be there to help him get out of this path he let Rampage give him the matches to burn those bridges and keep him on the path set in motion for him. He knew the price to pay for his justice and it was unfair he was cheated out of it by the fact that Primal had simply found him just in time. No one had found the poor victims of Colony Omicron until their bodies turned grey and their viscera became permanent stains on the walls. No one had found the victims of Starbase Rugby until they were grey too, but their corpses had been more cruely done up. A display just for him, a taunt and a welcoming message to come find exactly who did it. No one had come for them just in time.
Why was he spared?
It wasn't even a question at this point. He demanded to know. What sense of cruel irony allowed him to live through what was to be the finale of their game?
Rhinox approached the medical slab he was on, taking more readings. Depth Charge wouldn't question it right now, however he would confront them all on the stupid choice to let him live once he was able to fight. He wouldn't dignify this while still injured and barely able to focus on the world outside his own musings and fantasies of the perfect justice. However it seems it would have to come sooner, Rhinox paused above him as if waiting for something.
"I know you're awake." Rhinoxs deep voice cut through his thoughts, cutting all hopes of at least trying to pretend that he wasn't aware yet. "The scanners we have hooked up to you indicate much more activity that there was a cycle ago, and I know for a fact that you aren't dead. I could only be so lucky."
Depth Charge tried to bite his metaphorical glossa, he really did, but already having comments thrown at him was not helping this situation. "It's not my fault if y-" a cough, his ventlation systems sputtering out disgusting looking smoke, "you were stupid enough to save me."
"We don't leave teammates to die, no matter what said teammates would prefer."
"What makes you think I wanted to die?"
Rhinoxs eyes shifted back the datapad in his servo, "We know what happened down there Depth Charge."
Depth Charge was silent, he remained still and cycled his vents in an attempt to stall. What would he even say to this beyond the fact that he was willing to die? He had been over this with the Maximals before. It's not as if he actively sought death, he was just willing to make the sacrifices needed. He had abandoned the Maximal sentimentality long ago, the need to preserve all life no matter how vile or how much more impossible it made things. He wouldn't kill innocents, but he wouldn't save the guilty. The Maximals wouldn't accept the truth that to make the galaxy a better place you sometimes had to be rid of the people making it worse even if it meant that you yourself may go down with this fate. It was weak and he was not willing to fight this right now. Not until he could ACTUALLY fight about it.
"Depth Charge?" Rhinox interrupted his thoughts.
"I just did what I had too." He paused again. "He let me. I couldn't pass up that opportunity." Depth Charge opened his optics, refusing to look Rhinox in the optic. He didn't have to explain himself or show weakness.
"I thought you said you know what happened down there."
Rhinox blinked, typing more notes onto the pad in his large servos. "I suppose not...." A few more taps. "Are you going to tell us what happened?"
"No." Depth Charge wouldn't, ever. That was now his last memory of X and now his greatest victory. He wouldn't tarnish it by sharing it with the other Maximals and having them place their judgment on him and his actions. Talking to the rhino was already torture enough. "X is gone. That's all you need to know."
Rhinox adjusted the various medical equipment around Depth Charge, seeming to adjust some settings on the devices during his meddling. These were not used often, injuries that the CR chambers couldn't handle being rare enough to not warrant it. Luckily enough, injuries of this magnitude were rare enough that anyone suffering them were considered DOA. Primus seemed to be moving his sense of humour from Waspinator to Depth Charge this day, the pathetic bug hopefully getting a day where he wasn't shot to pieces.
"We'll talk about this later. I don't want Primal and you getting into another round before you can even sit up. He feels guilty enough as it is." Depth Charge snorted as he started to fade back into the inky blackness once more. Ah. Rhinox must have adjusted whatever medication he was receiving, likely looking for an excuse to leave. Not that either minded. He let himself slip back into recharge, unsure of what memories would take hold of him now.
Fog tinged the edges of his vision, his mind feeling as if it were stuffed to the brim with a soft substance, gently pushing at every nook and cranny of his brain module, yet never hurting. The soft touches only made him weary, less aware and more willing to accept whatever reality may befall him. Dreams were always like this to Depth Charge, his mind never clear and in a haze of exhaustion and desperation simultaneously until trauma would force him to relive his darkest moments in such clear vision and mind he would think he was there experiencing it all over again. He preferred the fog, a chance to somewhat rest his mind from the living horror of other dreams and visions that would befall him. Even his emotions were somewhat stunted as he didn't have the constantly anxiety and anger that plagued him. They felt almost far away now, as physical sensations running through his lines and in his chest rather than the driving forces of his very being. It could be relaxing, though even in his mind Depth Charge would never allow himself that luxury.
However, this was different. This was not his usual location for a dream, no Starbase or Academy before him. It was unknown, a locale he had never seen nor heard of. Inky blackness surrounded him, occasionally light shining from unknown areas to create the illusion of walls around him. His fogged mind could not place it, only giving him the urge to explore and go further. He obliged, walking with pride as he did. Nothing seemed to be ahead, not truly, only the walls coming into existence around him as he went. Behind, and forward were nothing. Only where he occupied was truly existing.
A turn suddenly appeared in the walk, stopping Depth Charge in his tracks. This could either be good, or bad. While he generally wouldn't care much, this was a dream after all he was in no real danger, he was not looking forward to a possible trap of reliving another memory. One still fresh in his mind stung at him even in this state and he refused to acknowledge it further. He wouldn't feed into it, he wouldn't let others know, he would live and die with the memory as it was.
A deep intake. And he stepped forward, rounding the corner confidently to face whatever the void would have in store.
Apparently, the void once again has Primus' sense of cruel humour. Once more, Depth Charge hoped the little slagger of a bug was enjoying the spotlight off of his pathetic self.
It seemed to end into, well whatever this somewhat void was. Rampage sat on what would have been a floor, back seeming propped against nothing as his many beast forms legs twitched in annoyance. He seemed to acknowledge Depth Charges presence but went no further than that, as if waiting for him to do something to prove he was there. Depth Charge was unsure how to respond, instead stepping forward gingerly. With no gun to reach for he opted to take a slightly defensive stance, as if preparing for the other to attack. That was how all these dreams went after all. His mind began to clear and the fog lifted slightly, a sign of something about to happen.
Rampage did almost as expected, quickly launching himself up on his powerful haunches and diving towards the other. They crashed into nothing again, skidding over the non-existent ground with a screeching sound. However it went no further. Their positions seemed reversed in the tumble, Rampage over top of Depth Charge and straddling the mech below him. Rampage dug his claws into Depth Charge, feeling the other beneath him. He seemed unsure himself, as if he was not sure he would make it this far. He gently let go, leaning up and taking his servos away. Otherwise he stayed firmly in his position. "Hello, old playmate."
Depth Charge looked confused, turning his head at a slight angle at the sight before him. "You don't want to fight?" This wasn't like any X in his dreams before. This one seemed agitated, not his usual calm and confident facade of superiority. A tense creature just looking for a reason yet not wanting too. "That isn't like you, X."
"I don't feel the hunger right now, as much as I'd like too." He stood still, working out a kink in his neck cables. a deafening snap was heard alongside a slight exhale of relief. "If I felt anything other than the mind numbing boredom I would gladly reach into your chest and return the courtesy of leaving me here."
Ah, this was how he would be tortured this time. His mind of course making a version of Rampage who would do nothing but remind him of his failure to go out the way they had both intended too. The way his justice was left with loose ends. How fitting. "Where is here, X?"
"I do not know, beyond the fact that it seems designed to drive me either further into madness or away from it." Another twitch of his beast modes legs. "I somewhat regret not reading into the religious texts that overcompensating spawn would hoard. Perhaps that would give me a clue so I can get out." Rampage moved off of Depth Charge now, standing to his full height with a light stretch. He offered no hand to Depth Charge to get up but it was not expected by either.
Depth Charge gingerly stood up, the feeling of his crowded over-yet-under-stimulated mind clouding his actions as he did. How did this dream version of X know that when he himself did not? "This dream is getting too weird." He quietly spat out, dusting himself off as if there was anything to dust off. Of course there was none, the void was as clean as it was empty. Even then their own frames seemed spic and span in this somewhat unsettling world. It gave nothing but a physical and mental distraction for the ray. One that was very soon useless.
Rampage let out a cackle, a bitter sounding thing. "A dream?! Fishface, you really believe this is a dream?" He let out another, his tone getting more desperate and unhinged as he went on. "I WISH this was only a dream. I was supposed to be immortal! I was granted freedom from the burden of life, from nothing but being a pawn directed by the hubris of whatever vile power wanted their desires made real, and it's happened again!" Another snap, another quick motion as he grabbed Depth Charge again. His claws yet again dug into the ray, his upper arms already breaking under the desperate hold. His tone continued to rise, desperation and real fear leaking into it. For the first time in his life, Depth Charge felt something other than disgust at the creature before him. "This wasn't supposed to happen! You did this!"
"I KNOW!" Depth Charge snapped, taking Rampages forearms in his own hands now, grabbing him in return. "I didn't want this. Do you think I did? For the Maximals to find out? I wanted to die there, X. That was supposed to be my justice. It was stolen from me too."
"You're not he one trapped in here. You may have had your justice stolen but I had everything stolen." A pause, he seemed to catch his intakes, slightly calming down. The lack of ability to kill and eat anything that so much as looked at him wrong seemed to not be doing Rampage any favours, his nerves obviously strung much higher than before. "Do you remember when I asked you if you were given the chance would you deny me my life?"
"I remember." Depth Charge would always remember. It was the first capture of Protoform X, Depth Charges first move in the game of cat and mouse he would never escape from. How naive he was then. "I said no."
"A model Maximal you were." Rampage bitterly laughed again. "I asked, my freedom then? How positively cruel of you to do so. Any decent society would give me something, my simple vices, anything. You elected to nothing. All my freedoms, in exchange for rather valuable life. Dear friend, you have taken both from me."
Depth Charge paused, he wish he has a response. His intakes were deep and started to become ragged alongside Rampages less frantic ones. "I keep telling you I didn't mean it." His voice became edged as he spoke, the frustration already beginning to leak into his words.
"And I keep telling you, you still took what freedom I had away from me. That doesn't change a thing." Rampages voice took an edge in turn, refusing to be talked down to by the mech he held onto. "You need to fix this, Fins."
"How? We don't even know what this place is." His grip tightened at this, as is testing something internal thought. Energon bubbled in return as Rampages metal bent in protest. Of course Rampage didn't let this go and gave a harsher grip in return. Depth Charge felt his own energon leak out as well as the crabs intense stare on the inflicted wounds. However he didn't feel anything else. The wound didn't hurt, he didn't wince and only felt the physical sensation as if someone were moving an article of fabric off of his body. Rampage quirked an eyebrow ridge as if expecting an answer for the action. "....I assume you do."
Rampage rolled his shoulders in a shrug, a smug yet tired motion. "I assume it's a form of punishment." A quick glance around, another guessing gesture. "Or the waiting room for it."
"Waiting room?" The Ray thought, trying to think of reasons for this. He wasn't a religious bot himself (nor has he assumed Rampage was one), but things got around. Many of the bots out in colonies were a type, he knew that a good amount being veterans from the Great War was no coincidence. Mechs seeking redemption for the things they had to inflict for so long or the ones who enjoyed it only to live to see the consequences. He wracked his mind for things he had heard. "....One of us has unfinished business."
With a cackle Rampage let go of him and brought his arms down, slapping a servo on his thigh. "One of us does, yes. Didn't you say you intended to die with me, friend? That sounds like quite the unfinished business if I do say so myself."
"I won't give you the satisfaction of that, creep. Or anyone else. I think the Maximals are waiting for me to blow what they think remains of my brain module out onto what remains of their ship. Not like y-" Before he could finish his sentence, Depth Charge felt himself begin to slip away. Stray energon began to drip to the void where they stood as his grip on wherever they were began to slip. Even his optics began to shutter, turning on and off as if he were struggling to stay awake. Whatever medication induced rest Rhinox has put him under began to wane, or he was being forcefully pulled out of it. He struggled. Of course this had to happen now, they were just getting somewhere. His straining was fruitless, as it only seemed to make him escape from the experience faster.
"Well it looks like you'll be figuring it out on your own. Perhaps ask one of the terminally sentimental on your team what it could mean." Rampage dropped down to the ground once more, the bored expression returning to his features. "You've never kept me waiting before."
The world went black once more, and he opened his optics to the small medical bay where he lay.