340 Years ACR…
Dreadwing peered over the vastness of Cybertron, turned a rosy hue from the setting sun, from the roof of the Wreckers' Headquarters, his thoughts quiet as his gaze flickered to one building that rose proudly from the middle of Iacon.
The former Cybertronian Senate.
One hundred years had passed since the bombing of the Senate building - a hundred and two days to the date, actually - and, from what had once been a ruin of metal and Cybertronian lives, there now stood a building of immense beauty and resilience. Many Cybertronains had lobbied for the creation of a memorial for the fifty-six Cybertronians who had lost their lives after Iceblaze's bombs had obliterated the original building and, to no one's surprise, it had taken little for the funding and legislation for the reworking of the former Senate building to become a memorial to all those that had perished.
But the building, now one of the tallest on all of Cybertron, had not just been made merely as a memorial for the fallen of the bombing - and the war - but also as a vessel for which any Cybertronian could access once forbidden libraries and a wealth of knowledge that had, in war time, been secreted away to galaxies far away from Cybertron. An entire floor of the building was dedicated solely to the War of Cybertron, both to spread knowledge of the war and to, hopefully, prevent any war of such scale to ever come to their planet again. And that was only one of the many floors of the giant building.
There were floors with libraries that spread knowledge of solar systems beyond Cybertron - there was a room made for Earth and the link the distant planet shared with Cybertron - and libraries that held ancient tomes from beyond even the Golden Ages. Some floors were made to evoke calm and be a place for quiet and peace for any mech that desired it, at any time, with gardens designed specifically to bring calm to Cybertronians, to rooms filled with peaceful music produced from skilled Cybertronian musicians and even to rooms that held nothing but projections of space and the stars for one to gaze upon and lose one's self in.
Dreadwing had spent many a cycle within the walls of the building, both before and after its completion, and he had lost himself more than once before within the vastness of knowledge and memory the building brought to him. He most often found himself meditating in the gardens, or wandering through time and space that was detailed in the many tomes held within the vast array of libraries, or even staring into the depths of the many map rooms of solar systems he had never had the chance to explore himself.
Though the building had never been given an official name, as was Bumblebee's intention so that all who visited could think of the place as they best saw it, there were fifty-six floors designed specifically to memorialize those that had been lost in the bombing. Dreadwing had never really come up with a name he believed suited the building, though he found himself wandering the floor dedicated to Breakdown more than most.
The floor dedicated to Breakdown was one of the closest to the top of the building and held a library, a few gardens - many of which Dreadwing found occupied by Vehicons on a daily basis - and the largest map room that was dedicated entirely to the planet of Cybertron. Dreadwing found some of the gardens on Breakdown's floor the loneliest and quietest and thus, to him, the most peaceful. And the more time Dreadwing spent on that floor, the more he realized how much he missed Breakdown.
He had grown to respect Breakdown when he and the Wrecker had worked together to dig up the atrocities the now defunct Cybertronian Parliament had committed. Dreadwing considered Breakdown the closest being to him since his brother, though the friendship he and Breakdown had shared was different from the split-spark bond he and Skyquake had shared. And it was one hundred years to the day Breakdown had lost his fight and joined the Well of the AllSpark, a fact that had led Dreadwing to the roof of the Wreckers' Headquarters to think alone.
He heard the shift of plates and the quiet scrape of light pedes behind him moments before a quiet voice interrupted his musings. "Dreadwing?"
"Yes, Breakdown?" Dreadwing turned his helm to where the young Cybertronian stood behind him, his small grayish-blue frame crouched slightly with the nervous energy that seemed to have been programmed into Breakdown since his creation.
Breakdown's yellow optics flickered to Dreadwing's side for a moment before the young Cybertronian gestured to Dreadwing's side with one servo. "May I join you, please?"
"Of course." Dreadwing shifted to his left and gestured for Breakdown to join him, though he made sure to give the young mech a reassuring smile before he approached him.
Finally Breakdown shifted his pedes and approached Dreadwing, his optics lowered with a nervous respect as he lowered himself down on the roof and let his pedes hang over the roof. Breakdown's arms crossed over his chestplate as the smaller mech turned his helm towards Dreadwing then gestured in the direction of the former Senate building.
"Today's the day he died, right?"
"Yes. A hundred years from today," Dreadwing vented. "Are you still seeing memories from him, Breakdown?"
Breakdown's helm ducked at Dreadwing's question, shame paling his optics to a dull whitish yellow as the young mech's digits clenched over his arms. "I am. I didn't realize what they were before I met you and Wheeljack and Bulkhead, I thought that I must have had a messed up processor or something that led me to see glimpses of places I'd never seen before. But… after Menasor, I… I realized what I was and what all those strange images were. I don't… I know Wheeljack hates that I'm not the Breakdown that he fought beside, but that's not my fault!"
Dreadwing felt his processor begin to ache as Breakdown's engine started rattling, a clear tell of his nerves as the young mech's voice rose to a fearful, anxious pitch. Knowing he needed to calm Breakdown before the nervous mech's engine short-circuited Dreadwing's systems, Dreadwing slowly reached a soothing hand towards Breakdown, though he did not touch the young mech yet.
"Easy, Breakdown, you're alright," Dreadwing soothed as he continued to hover his servo over Breakdown's shoulder plate, "easy."
Breakdown's helm snapped towards him, his optics narrowed with the faintest trace of fear as the small mech noticed Dreadwing's servo hovering near his shoulder plate. Dreadwing waited patiently until Breakdown's vents hissed and his helm lowered, the rattle of his engine easing to a quiet thrum. "I didn't ask to share Breakdown's name or his memories, I would have done anything to be as unnoticeable as possible if it was my choice. Sharing the name of a Cybertronian who was extremely famous would be the least of choices to name myself after."
"I know that," Dreadwing rumbled as he laid his servo upon Breakdown's small shoulder plate, "even Wheeljack knows that now. Wheeljack thought you were taking his friend's name as an attempt to use it for your own personal gain… that or tarnish it. He now knows that to not be true and Wheeljack does like you."
A frown curved down Breakdown's faceplate as his clawed digits dug into the metal of his left arm, his optic ridges furrowing slightly before he vented. "He doesn't talk to me much, if at all. I… I worry that he judges me for the devastation Menasor caused."
"Everyone knows that was Shockwave's doing, Breakdown," Dreadwing hissed, "you had no power to stop that attack. But it was you who turned Menasor against Shockwave. Trust me at least on this, Breakdown, Wheeljack cares for you deeply. He's stubborn and not the best with words, and he has never been the most forthcoming with apologies, but Wheeljack no longer harbors dislike for you."
Breakdown huffed in response but still gave Dreadwing a nod of understanding, though the young Cybertronian's chassis continued to thrum with nerves. Dreadwing kept his servo on the smaller mech until he finally noticed the tense, sheltered posture become loose and somewhat relaxed as his arms uncrossed and his servos instead rested on the edge of the roof.
"You never told me much of Skyquake, Dreadwing, but I've seen… glimpses, no, I remember conversations you and Breakdown had about him. What was he like? And your… split-spark bond with him… what was that like?"
Dreadwing pondered Breakdown's question, the tiniest trace of a sorrowed smile tugging at his mouth as long buried thoughts of Skyquake roused from deep within his spark. "Skyquake was loyal, brave and one of the fiercest Seekers the Decepticons ever had. But for all of my split-spark twin's strength and loyalty, he was much more prone to let his temper take control of him. Skyquake found himself in many foul situations for that temper of his, of which I had to save him a few times."
"Sounds a little like Wildrider," Breakdown snorted softly, the mention of the former Decepticon he'd been forced into a gestalt with turning his yellow optics away from Dreadwing, though not before the Seeker saw hurt flash through his dulled optics.
"Brave, reckless and hot-tempered? Yes. But one I cared deeply for and still yearn for. As split-spark twins, I felt every injury Skyquake did and shared in his triumphs and failures. When he was offlined on Earth, I knew immediately of his fate and turned my ship to find my brother and pay my respects to him. The bond we shared is somewhat like that of the bond you were given when Shockwave captured you and made you part of his Menasor gestalt.
"You can feel the emotions of your gestalt, as I could Skyquake and he mine. My brother and I could communicate through our bond, just as I know you can communicate with your gestalt if you wish. To this cycle, though," Dreadwing lowered his helm and shuttered his optics before he vented and continued, "I can feel a tugging from my brother - one that is most assuredly not alive yet also… not completely offlined either."
"You too?" Breakdown gasped. "But why?"
"Because he wanders a different realm on Earth called the Shadowzone as a Terrocon created by Dark Energon. He died when Optimus Prime and Bumblebee fought him but, thanks to Starscream, there is no chance for my split-spark to ever completely rest."
"I'm sorry, Dreadwing," Breakdown whispered.
Dreadwing shook his helm at the young Cybertronian's apology. "You have no need to apologize. My split-spark's passing haunts me to this cycle but it is good to speak of him. The Breakdown with whom you share memories was curious about Skyquake too. He fought alongside Skyquake in the War a few times after he joined the Decepticon cause. But he only knew Skyquake as his commanding officer and he was unable to curb his curiosity around me at times."
"He liked Skyquake," Breakdown admitted, "you too. It was his friendship with you that drew me to you on that street the day you picked me up. I know only his memories and the feelings he had towards those, but I know for certain he cared deeply for you - along with Wheeljack and Ratchet, even Bulkhead."
A surge of pain splintered through Dreadwing's spark at Breakdown's words, his own memories of the original Breakdown as much a source of sorrow and hurt as those of Skyquake were. Though Dreadwing's bond with Skyquake was one from the spark and that of his and Breakdown's a bond shared only through friendship, there was no possibility that Dreadwing could deny that he, at times, felt his spark ache for both Skyquake and Breakdown.
"Dreadwing?" Breakdown's servo brushed against his shoulder plate, drawing Dreadwing from his thoughts as he attempted to give a reassuring smile to Breakdown.
"I feel a hollow ache within me from the loss of Skyquake and Breakdown every cycle. But," Dreadwing gave the lightest rub to Breakdown's helm before he looked over Cybertron's skyline once more, "you have been a help to that pain since we met."
Breakdown's vents seized for a moment, the surprise from the smaller mech clear even without Dreadwing needing to see his reaction. "Dreadwing… I…"
Arms wrapped around Dreadwing's chassis as Breakdown gave him a - a hug, as the humans of Earth would call it. Dreadwing looked down at Breakdown as the smaller mech remained close to his chassis, his arms finally loosening from Dreadwing with an embarrassed vent.
"That is perfectly alright, Breakdown."
Breakdown settled beside Dreadwing again, though now his engine rumbled with what Dreadwing could only define as happiness. The two Wreckers sat for some time on the roof without a word shared between them - any words would have been unnecessary- until Breakdown began to fidget and shift his optics towards Dreadwing again.
"I can still feel Motormaster and Menasor through the gestalt bond, Dreadwing. I blocked Drag Strip, Dead End and Wildrider but I can't seem to block Motormaster or Menasor. I can feel Motormaster's rage even though he's one with the AllSpark and has been for years. Menasor wants to fight and kill things but, without Motormaster making up his torso and helm, Menasor can't. Without Motormaster, shouldn't Menasor not be present in my gestalt bond anymore?"
"I am no expert on the mythos of combiners," Dreadwing pointed out, "and I am especially lacking in the understanding of the bond you share with those of your gestalt, so I do not have an answer for you."
Misery clouded Breakdown's optics at Dreadwing's words, the smaller mech's shoulder plates tightening against his frame without a defeated shrug. "I don't want to feel Motormaster in my gestalt bond anymore, he makes me angry and bitter and he always blames me for everything. Motormaster and Menasor both.
"Either I see glimpses of your friend Breakdown's memories or I'm forced to share my thoughts and feelings and hopes with a mech who is long offlined and a combiner who desires his own freedom. I can't think without one of the others knowing exactly what I want and I can't do anything without the other Breakdown's memories cropping up."
Breakdown's engine let out a whine of nerves as the smaller mech buried his helm against his knees, which he had pulled to his chestplate as he'd discussed his feelings. Dreadwing's spark ached for the young mech as he laid a comforting servo on Breakdown's shoulder. He hated seeing Breakdown in such turmoil, especially when a factor of the mech's misery was his connection to the deceased Breakdown.
In the sixty years since Dreadwing had taken Breakdown under his wing, the small mech had matured greatly. While Breakdown would always be nervous and paranoid, he had come to be so much more than just the skittish self Dreadwing had first met him as. And most of that maturation was linked to the gestalt bond that was bothering Breakdown so deeply of late.
Shockwave, who had been in hiding ever since the revival of Cybertron, had found Breakdown and had experimented on the young mech to turn him into the final component of a combiner called Menasor. Breakdown and the four former Decepticons who formed the group that composed Menasor had been used by Shockwave to attack Iacon - a destructive force that was only stopped because of Breakdown and the friendship he'd formed with Wildrider, Dead End and Dragstrip.
Dreadwing was proud of Breakdown and, though the young Cybertronian shared the same name and memories as the Breakdown Dreadwing had befriended for years, he saw the young mech as an individual
The Breakdown he'd known was headstrong and brash - much like Skyquake - a fighter and yet also a medic. His friend had been loyal to those he deemed his allies, and it took only the harshest of situations to make Breakdown betray that which he swore loyalty to.
The young Breakdown seated beside Dreadwing, on the other servo, was skittish and paranoid - though he had grown significantly more confident and brave since Shockwave's experiments had made him into one part of a combined gestalt team - a sharp contrast to the deceased Breakdown's fiery temper. As was typical of the nervous sort like Breakdown, Dreadwing found his young charge shy and somewhat reclusive around other Cybertronians, and he seemed to open up really only around his gestalt, Dreadwing or Ratchet. This Breakdown would not be caught befriending Vehicons or arguing against leaders like Optimus Prime, unlike his namesake.
"You may share memories or thoughts with mechs both deceased and alive, Breakdown, but they are not what define you. I care about you for who you are, not because you share my deceased friend's name and memories, and that link to my long-departed friend is not the reason I care about you."
Breakdown did not move from his huddled position, though Dreadwing saw the young mech's optics shift towards him slightly as Dreadwing spoke. The digits of Breakdown's right servo twitched and scrapped against the plating of his left arm before a vent stole from the young Cybertronian's mouth. To Dreadwing's surprise, instead of Breakdown once again arguing Dreadwing's point, the small mech decided instead to lean against his chassis - a display of affection Breakdown had only learned after Shockwave's experiments had made Breakdown into one part of the Menasor gestalt.
The briefest trace of a smile quirked at Dreadwing's mouth as Breakdown's engine began to stutter, not in its destructive vibrations but instead rumbled in a quiet, pleased thrum. Dreadwing pulled the young mech ever so slightly closer and watched as the last dying rays of the sun illuminated Cybertron's skyline.
5 Days ACR…
"Those stupid Autobots, always barking orders at us. They are just like Starscream!"
"Vehicons do this, Vehicons do that! We have names for Primus' sake!"
"They should do this construction, it's all their fault our planet's ruined!"
The Vehicons had all elected to take a break from their task of repairing Cybertron's ruined buildings the klik the Autobots had abandoned them and flown off in the Nemesis. Especially that obnoxious overseer, the Wrecker known as Bulkhead - who acted like he didn't even believe the Vehicons capable of good work.
We're the mechanics on the Nemesis!
Anger sparked through the Vehicon's chassis at the thought of the Autobots. All but a select few Vehicons had sworn allegiance to their Autobot conquerors - Megatron was dead and the war was over, thus the Decepticons were no more - and all had been more than willing to assist in the repair and revival of their planet.
But the Autobots had not even addressed the Vehicons individually when they ordered them to begin construction on their planet. All the Autobots did was demand and act like the Vehicons were all the same.
And the one mech who had ever shown genuine care and concern for the Vehicons had fled. Breakdown hadn't even stayed a day before he'd left the Nemesis and all of its Vehicon inhabitants with Autobots who did not understand them. He'd betrayed the Vehicons when he'd turned on the Decepticons and he'd betrayed them again by leaving them with Autobots who knew nothing of the Vehicon life or morals.
A sudden roar of a jet engine snapped every Vehicon helm to the west, where a blue jet was streaking towards them. Vehicons scrambled to their pedes just as the jet transformed into the one time Second In Command of the Decepticons, Dreadwing, and landed before them.
Every Vehicon snapped to attention and saluted their former Second In Command in surprise - he had mysteriously vanished on Earth prior to Megatron creating Darkmount in Nevada - though he wove it off with a sharp growl.
"This is no time to stand on ceremony. Vehicons, at this very moment, Cybertron is in peril. Unicron has come to destroy our home planet with an army of undead Predacons. The Autobots already are on their way to fight the army with the Nemesis, but they are vastly outnumbered. We need to defend Cybertron alongside the Autobots, as this is a fight to save our planet, not one between factions!"
"But the Autobots will have the run of the planet, they already do!"
Anger surged through Dreadwing's optics before the grand Seeker let his engine snarl his fury. "Does that matter to you in this moment? Our planet will die if Unicron poisons the Well, and the Autobots do not have the numbers even with the Nemesis at their helm to defend Cybertron. This is your planet as much as it is mine and the Autobots!
"We have no time to waste! If you are going to fight for your planet, come with me! Flyers come with me, we do not have the luxury of time to plan or wait for our grounder allies. We must reach the Well before Unicron does!"
With that, Dreadwing transformed back into his jet alt and blasted away, back to the west - back to the Well.
The Vehicons all looked at each other before, with a roar of helicopter blades and jet engines, every single Vehicon capable of flight took off.
When they neared the Well, all they could see was the dark hull of the Nemesis, firing desperately at an endless army of mutilated Predacons that reeked of Dark Energon. Ahead of them, Dreadwing dove, firing indiscriminately at undead Predacon after undead Predacon.
And the Vehicons did not wait either.
The Nemesis was surrounded on all sides by Predacons when, with a roar like thunder, every flyer Vehicon descended on the horde of Predacons. Blasters blazed and guns rattled as the thousands of Vehicon troopers that had once lived on the Nemesis dove into the fray, picking off Predacons just as three bursts of flame rained from the sky.
Three Predacons, including the one that had lived on the Nemesis for some months, dove from the sky, joining in the battle alongside the Nemesis, Dreadwing and every Vehicon trooper who dared to stand up for their home.
"Make sure you're back before night," Wheeljack warned coolly as Breakdown passed the Wrecker on his way out of the headquarters
Breakdown stopped in his tracks and turned towards Wheeljack, who had stopped working on a data pad to watch Breakdown. "I will," Breakdown promised as Wheeljack's optics continued to bore into his chassis, unsettling every wire and nerve within him until the white Wrecker let out a snort and turned back to his data pad.
"Call us if anyone gives you trouble, alright?"
Breakdown fled down the hallway and burst from the front doors of the Wreckers' Headquarters, though he stopped just outside the doors to cast a nervous glance back inside the building. Though he had noticed a change in Wheeljack's attitude towards him over the years since he had been brought to the headquarters, Breakdown still could not help but feel that the Wrecker did not trust him. Though those suspicions likely were more foolish paranoias that Breakdown's glitched processor overreacted to - at least that was what he hoped.
When Wheeljack did not appear behind him after a few minutes of waiting, Breakdown vented and transformed into his alt mode - a swift car styled for races - and headed out from the city. He avoided the busiest roads and highways as he raced away from the headquarters he called home and roared out towards where he knew there to be suitable isolation from ever prying optics.
The path he took was an instinctive one, though he did not realize where he was headed until his scanners pinged quietly - he had his scanner's warnings set at the lowest volume possible as the sudden harsh shriek had set his engine into its unstable vibrations a number of times before he'd decided to nearly mute his scanner's warning - with numerous energon signatures.
Breakdown slowed as he passed through the destroyed remains of the city Zakadorex, a city that had been thriving until he and his gestalt had destroyed it with the unbound fury of Menasor. Menasor's fury had obliterated the entire city, leveling buildings and destroying Cybertronians until all that was left was the dust of buildings and the cries of dying Cybertronians.
He had done everything in his power to forget the feeling of Menasor's lust for death that had made him enjoy the destruction the combiner had laid upon an unsuspecting city, but he had failed. He could still hear Menasor's laughter, could still see the Cybertronians that had been severed in half by Menasor's energon sword all while the combiner taunted the Cybertronians with a jarring voice that continued to boom inside Breakdown's processor.
Shockwave had been pleased, well, as pleased as the scientist could be, at the destructive force his combiner had razed upon the city in the first true test of Menasor's capabilities. The Decepticon scientist had then known that he was equipped with a weapon that, at the time, seemed unstoppable - a perfect fit for Shockwave's desires.
Breakdown had not been back to Zakadorex since he and his gestalt had destroyed the city for he could not dissuade the fears that those whom Menasor had killed would haunt him for his role in their deaths. Oh, he had seen plenty of newsreels and articles full to the brim with pictures of the destruction the combiner had laid upon the city but he had never physically gone back to the site.
His engine tuned down to a low thrum as he slowed and maneuvered through the wrecked city. He felt a nervous foreboding pound in his spark as he drove through the lifeless city, all to aware that he had been part of the city's destruction.
Then his scanner pinged a warning and he came to a large expanse of land that, compared to the rest of the city, looked new and untouched. But how? Menasor destroyed everything!
Curiosity urged Breakdown out of his alt mode as he peered at city block after city block of new buildings, the tall buildings a sharp contrast to the flattened rubble that lay strewn over the plates of Cybertron. Distantly Breakdown could hear what sounded like the hiss of welders binding together metal and the grind and growl of treads and engines echoed over the city.
Breakdown checked his scanner again and took note of the six signatures his scanner had picked up earlier - signatures he assumed were the ones at work repairing the city. And he was already at the source of the noise before Breakdown's processor became aware that he, in his young curiosity, had gone looking for the mechs currently working.
Six green and purple mechs were hard at work, though all were in their alt modes of construction vehicles - Constructicons - as they worked at removing debris from a block of Zakadorex that had yet to have any new buildings. Breakdown watched the Constructicons work for some time until one of the construction vehicles, a front loader, transformed out of his alt and called for the others to do the same.
As the six Constructicons gathered somewhat near Breakdown, he ducked behind a fallen structure of a building and watched. The first one to transform - Scrapper. Leader, Breakdown's, the other Breakdown's memories, informed him - took out a data pad and scoured over it as his team chattered and joked as they refueled.
The group continued in this way until one of the Constructicons, a bulldozer Breakdown's memories called Bonecrusher, turned to Scrapper and, with a gesture around the destroyed city, asked, "I wonder where that gestalt that wrecked this city are off to. No one's heard from them since their combiner was destroyed, do you think they're still out there causing mayhem?"
Scrapper looked up from his data pad at Bonecrusher's question and seemed to mull over his answer for some time until he shook his helm slightly. "I believe that the leader of that gestalt was killed when Shockwave turned his Predacons on Iacon. If they are still running around, which I suspect is true, they do not have the ability to combine anymore."
"Shockwave couldn't stop after Bruticus, could he?" The Constructicon Hook scoffed. Breakdown got a sense that Hook felt little towards Bruticus - the combiner of the Combaticon unit - and very likely thought even less of Breakdown's combiner. "And making Motormaster the leader of a combiner gestalt? How wise."
"Why would he?" Scrapper pointed out, "He already knew that Devastator and Bruticus were dangerous threats in war time and he likely learned from the creation of both of those combiners what to do better the next time he decided to dabble in combiner technology. A combiner that held no loyalty to Megatron, remember. Menasor was Shockwave's combiner, not Megatron's."
The Constructicons grumbled in agreement at Scrapper's words, though Breakdown heard Hook snort and mutter something to the Constructicon - Scavenger - next to him. Scavenger nodded in response as the excavator got to his-
Breakdown saw Scrapper's helm snap to his precise location at the same time as one of the other Constructicons snarled and quickly gathered himself to his feet, his towering form tense with the rage of-
Combiner! They're a gestalt!?
Fear paralyzed Breakdown as his own gestalt link became aware of a deep anger that radiated from the Constructicons - an anger that was not their own - long enough for Scrapper to get within feet of Breakdown. Breakdown swallowed his fear as Scrapper and the rest of the Constructicons closed in on him and, with a roar of his engine, transformed into his alt mode and burst away from the Constructicons.
Breakdown swerved around the destroyed city in a desperate attempt to escape the Constructicons, who he was certain were hot on his trail. When he was long out of range of Zakadorex, Breakdown finally slowed, though he made sure to check behind him for any angry looking construction vehicles chasing him down.
Much to his relief, he saw no sign of the Constructicons nor heard the menacing rumble of their engines chasing him, though he knew their alt modes were not designed for speed like his own alt was and the possibility of them catching up to him was slim to none. With the threat of being caught - and the Constructicons doing who knows what to him if they got their servos on him! - gone, Breakdown relaxed somewhat.
Relaxed, though not enough that his thoughts would not stop going back to the underlying presence of the combiner he'd sensed from the Constructicons. He'd known about Bruticus and the Combaticons, both from stories Dreadwing had told him and from meeting the Combaticons himself, but he'd not known of the third combiner - Devastator, he assumed.
Menasor alone scared Breakdown to no end and his one encounter with Bruticus had been one in which Menasor had lived only because of Drag Strip's overwhelming desire to be the best - that and the fact that Shockwave had provided back-up in the form of audial scramblers that Menasor was immune to along with the scientist's own powerful tank form.
Knowing that there was another combiner gestalt out there made Breakdown exceptionally nervous, especially since his gestalt, unlike the Combaticons and the Constructicons, no longer had the ability to combine and fight as Menasor. But they shouldn't have any reason to attack me, right? I don't even have my gestalt with me! I haven't seen or heard from them since Motormaster died! I'm not a threat to those gestalts, am I?
Breakdown was so preoccupied with his nervous thoughts that he failed to hear the quiet pinging of his scanner notifying him of an approaching energy signature or the high roar of an engine until a sleek, yellow car alt designed for the swiftest of raceways pulled up alongside him.
Though he had not seen Drag Strip in years, Breakdown recognized the alt mode of his gestalt-mate immediately. Drag Strip raced alongside him and, for Drag Strip, was surprisingly quiet-
Breakdown suddenly remembered the block he had put up against Drag Strip and the others after Motormaster's death, a block he knew prevented all contact from the living members of his gestalt from invading his thoughts. Reluctantly - and only because Drag Strip continued to throttle his engine as if challenging Breakdown to a race - Breakdown slowly lowered the defenses around his gestalt bond a few fractions and was met by a flood of noise from his three remaining gestalt mates - though it was still muted due to how little he had allowed his defenses to lower.
::. Breakdown! Breakdown Breakdown Breakdown Breakdown! .::
::. Oh, so you weren't offlined… hello, Breakdown .::
::. Where were you Breakdown? Wildrid- .::
::. MISSED YOU! .::
::. Hey .:: Breakdown greeted Drag Strip, Dead End and Wildrider quietly. He immediately felt a blaze of joyful red bursts from Wildrider's bond-link as the three heard him through the bond for the first time in years.
::. Thank Primus we found you, .:: Drag Strip growled, ::. Wildrider's been going stir-crazy without you around. Crazy enough he tried to challenge me to a race, crazy fragger. .::
::. Why didn't you talk to us, Breakdown? .:: Breakdown felt the rejection and hurt from Wildrider as he spoke. ::. I missed you. .::
::. … .:: Breakdown felt his bond-like defenses reforming at Wildrider's question, an instinctive reaction to the self-consciousness that arose at Wildrider's question, though that only made Wildrider's bond-link thrum with desperate intensity.
::. NO NO NO NO NO PLEASE DON'T- STOP PLEASE! .:: Wildrider's bond-link crashed through Breakdown's defenses, leaving him completely exposed to his team.
Now he could feel Wildrider's pain, his relief, his joy-
Dead End was surprised, even happy at Breakdown's presence-
Drag Strip chortled that he found Breakdown first- never mind Wildrider's belief that he would-
Now it's not quiet! I can hear again!
I'm glad he wasn't offlined… he's not that bad…
Hahahahah! All that energon is mine, Wildrider!
Do we ask him about-
Not the time-
Breakdown's scanner pinged a moment before he felt his engine completely short out, overwhelmed by the onslaught of voices, feelings, thoughts, memories that were not his but his gestalt's. Drag Strip shot past him as Breakdown's alt came to an abrupt halt, though the aerodynamic race car wheeled about quickly and drew to an idle in front of Breakdown.
::. You okay? .::
::. Yes… shorted out my engine. .:: Breakdown explained as he checked his circuits and wiring and waited for his engine to recover enough so that he could restart it and resume moving.
Drag Strip waited for Breakdown, the yellow racecar's patience surprising him completely-
::. Wildrider will pout and throw a fit if I leave you behind, .:: Drag Strip drawled.
::. Thanks, .:: Breakdown replied sarcastically.
Drag Strip's engine hummed in response, then grew quiet until Breakdown's engine finally roared back to life. ::. Let's go. .::
Breakdown twisted his tires then charged after Drag Strip as his gestalt-mate raced down the empty expanse of Cybertron. The two cars drove swiftly, slowing only when Dead End and Wildrider's bond-links became clearer and more tangible - which meant that the two were near Breakdown and Drag Strip.
When Drag Strip finally slowed it was at the outskirts of a city called Hoz, though the race car took care when he pulled up to a building set at the very outskirts of the city. Compared to the Wreckers' Headquarters, this building was tiny but looked sizable enough from the outside to comfortably fit Breakdown, Dead End, Drag Strip and Wildrider without any of them feeling overcrowded.
"Home sweet home. Come in," Drag Strip said out loud as he transformed out of his alt mode and strolled up to the front door of the building. Breakdown followed Drag Strip up to the door as the older Cybertronian inputted a code into a pad that unlocked the door and allowed Drag Strip and Breakdown through.
The building smelled new and, considering the fact that Wildrider lived within its walls, there was very little damage or marks on the polished walls. Drag Strip moved down the hallway then turned to his left, to a room that was wide and had one large window that allowed light to filter in and illuminate the whole room and the hallway Breakdown and Drag Strip had just come from.
Breakdown took a step into the room and was promptly crashed into by Wildrider, whose gestalt bond was practically burning with fire and joy as the gray and red Cybertronian clung to Breakdown. "Hahahaha! You're back!"
"Yes," Drag Strip snorted, "and you owe me, Wildrider."
Irritation blossomed from Wildrider's bond-link for a moment at Drag Strip's reminder but, with a mocking smirk, Wildrider let Breakdown go and delivered a solid whack to Drag Strip's shoulder. "You got it, Dragster! One crate of high-grade will be delivered to your residence."
Drag Strip's chassis ruffled with arrogant triumph at Wildrider's words, and Breakdown was unsurprised to see Drag Strip almost preen himself as Dead End finally made his appearance known in the room.
"Hello, Breakdown." Dead End's greeting was excited - for Dead End - and, though Dead End's expression was unreadable, Breakdown could feel Dead End's relief at his presence. "It has been some time."
"Yes it has," Breakdown agreed quietly as Dead End gestured for him to sit down at a table that bordered the large window.
Breakdown followed Dead End to the table and sat on the chair beside him as Wildrider and Drag Strip joined them on the opposite side of the table. When the four had settled down, Dead End's helm turned towards Breakdown, his purple optics curious to a degree as he watched Breakdown.
"How have you been, Breakdown? We were unable to hear you through the bond since Motormaster died, and I know that all of us worried over you. I believed we had lost you too," Dead End admitted quietly.
Dead End's bond flashed with pessimism, a sharp edge that dug under Breakdown's plating as he felt the dragging belief that Dead End had lost Breakdown along with Motormaster. Wildrider's joy at his return was broken only by desperately nervous thoughts -please don't leave us again! Too quiet!
Guilt curled through Breakdown's chassis as Wildrider's bond surged with a slew of emotions, most notably a severe feeling of rejection that was so complete that even Dead End and Drag Strip's bonds faded to a dull thrum.
::. See what we've been stuck with, Breakdown? And this is the quietest he's been in a long time. .:: Drag Strip said as he shot Wildrider a miffed glare.
"Sorry," Breakdown apologized out loud, "I was scared after Motormaster died. All I could think was to run back to my home and block off the gestalt bond."
"Do you hate us?" Wildrider's candid question made Breakdown freeze, though his optics shifted to the blackish-gray mech that was sitting opposite him. Wildrider's digits - red claws - tapped on the top of the table as he watched Breakdown with red optics.
::. No, I don't, .:: Breakdown admitted through the gestalt bond - he suspected that Wildrider would doubt him if he said as such out loud, without the openness of the gestalt bond.
::. But you left us! .:: Wildrider reminded him loudly. ::. You had to hate us if you left! .::
::. No! I don't hate you, Wildrider! I don't, I swear! .::
::. Then why did you close off the gestalt bond? .:: Drag Strip interrupted with a pulse of anger throbbing from his bond-link.
Shame flushed through Breakdown's chassis as the gazes of his three gestalt mates locked onto him, embarrassing and unnerving him as his bond wavered with a slew of emotions from the three Cybertronians. Breakdown looked away from his gestalt as he tried to formulate a way to explain to them his reason for blocking his bond from them.
How could he make them understand that keeping the bond open allowed for Motormaster and Menasor's thoughts - desires, emotions, memories - to live within him? Or that closing it off protected him from the invasive feeling of being spied on or watched, even in his recharge?
And how could he make them understand that, along with the shared spark and memories of the deceased Breakdown, the bond made him feel like he was trapped? He was either a living reminder of a famous and long deceased Cybertronian or a tool to create a combiner that couldn't combine anymore!
They couldn't understand, could they? Motormaster, Dead End, Drag Strip and Wildrider had been warriors, Decepticon soldiers who fought during the War of Cybertron - Breakdown was just a new spark who had murdered countless Cybertronians with a being he had no control over. The four former Decepticons who comprised his team had their own ambitions, their own wants and even had a spark entirely unique to them. Breakdown didn't.
And it was that - the memories and the feelings he shared with the Breakdown who had come before him - that bothered him so much. He could not shake the paralyzing fear that he was tolerated by Dreadwing and the Wreckers only because he was a reminder of their friend, and he worried that Dead End, Drag Strip and Wildrider only wanted him for some unstated reason.
They'd accepted Shockwave's combiner experiments willingly, though their motivations for such ranged greatly. Breakdown, on the other servo, had been captured and forcibly experimented on by Shockwave.
He had not been given the choice whether he wanted to become a member of the Menasor gestalt, just as he had never been given the choice over sharing the spark of a Cybertronian he knew only through memories, stories and old articles.
::. I like you for who you are, .:: Wildrider interrupted. ::. You may be part of our gestalt, but that is not the only reason I want you around. You're a friend to me, Breakdown, as much as Dead End and Drag Strip are. .::
Breakdown knew that Wildrider was not lying - Wildrider never lied and the gestalt bond made lying difficult - but there were still remnants of hesitance within him. He liked Wildrider and the others quite a lot - it was hard not to with the bond - but he also cared for Dreadwing and did not wish to upset the Seeker if he spent time with his gestalt. And he feared what his gestalt would think when they heard Motormaster through his bond-
::. It's not just you who can still hear Motormaster, .:: Drag Strip snapped. ::. All of us are stuck with him, him and Menasor, unfortunately. .::
::. All of you hear him? .::
::. Yes. .:: Dead End affirmed as Wildrider scowled and nodded. ::. I believe he's still present within the bond due to the circumstance of his offlining. He died when we were Menasor, when our gestalt was as one whole. If he had died when we were not combined, I suspect we would hear nothing from Motormaster. .::
::. I hate it, .:: Wildrider hissed.
"So do I," Breakdown said out loud as he clawed at his arm with one servo, "I'm not violent like him but Motormaster makes me feel that way when he gets through the bond."
"You closed off your bond to try and block him, didn't you?" Dead End surmised quietly.
"It didn't work," Breakdown frowned, "all blocking off my bond did was muffle Motormaster and Menasor. It didn't silence either of them as I would have preferred. No, the only ones I silenced were those I thought of as friends."
The faintest trace of a smile flashed across Dead End's faceplate as the older Cybertronian's battlemask and visor retracted finally, revealing a face and optics that seemed distant, though Dead End's purple optics slowly began to glow with warmth as he looked at Breakdown. "I am glad to know that I have friends like you, Breakdown, and Drag Strip and Wildrider. I never had reason to consider my fellow Decepticon soldiers as friends during the war - nor were friendships encouraged back then - but ever since Shockwave's experiments I…"
"We were all changed - and not just physically - after Shockwave's experiments," Drag Strip growled as the racecar's clawed digits dug into the surface of the table. "A change I am reluctant to see as wholly good."
"I'm happy to accept that I'm one part of a defunct combiner if it means I get to keep my friends," Wildrider snapped as he shot Drag Strip an irritated glare. "Even you prefer having us as friends than not, Drag Strip. You've practically admitted as such to us through the bond, albeit without saying a word."
Drag Strip's engine snarled as the racecar jolted to his pedes, the growl of his engine serving to challenge Wildrider as the yellow Cybertronian's servos clenched into fist. "Just because that fragging scientist made us have to share a bond does not mean I enjoy you poking into my thoughts!"
"I don't do that on purpose!" Wildrider snapped back, "And your emotions have always been the most evident through the bond, racer. Maybe you should accept that which your bond tells us, Drag Strip. You care about us and would miss us if you left and you know it. Otherwise you wouldn't be living with Dead End and I still."
"Shut up, Wildrider!"
::. Enough. .:: Dead End's voice was calm and yet authoritative and, for the first time, Breakdown realized that the oft-pessimistic mech was the new leader of their gestalt when he felt Wildrider and Drag Strip both flinch and apologize through the bond.
Breakdown looked at his family, searching through each one' gestalt bond as they turned to him.
::. I've got a while until I have to go back to Dreadwing and the others. Want to race? .::
::. Only a fool would challenge me, Breakdown! Let's go! .::
45 Years ACR…
Wheeljack moved down the hallway of the Wreckers' headquarters quietly. He was tired from the exercise he, Bulkhead, Breakdown and the other Wreckers' instructors had tasked their recruits to. The ten recruits had spent a deca-cycle - thirty solar cycles - stranded on Luna 2 with only the barest minimum of supplies, tasked with survival and learning how to cooperate with each other.
It was not a task the Wreckers' particularly cared for testing when the recruits had only started three deca-cycles before. But it had become a necessity.
From the start, Wheeljack knew that these ten recruits were going to be a problem, and they'd proven him right on the first solar cycle. Fights between the recruits had been easier to start than an automatic engine, and they had persisted even during classes and training.
Four former Autobots, all of whom had been sparked during the war and thus had only known war, had immediately found issue with the three Vehicons and the two former Decepticon Seekers that were part of the class.
Monarch, the self-proclaimed leader of the Autobot recruits, refused to acknowledge his fellow Wreckers and had made it well known that he did not want to work beside the former Decepticons. Vindictive the helicopter Vehicon, Enigma the jet Vehicon, and Ambition the tank Vehicon had, understandably, taken offense to Monarch and the three other former Autobots' - Starblast, Quickstream and Bluesteel - attitude towards them.
The fight between the seven Cybertronians had started in Clawshock's engineering class and had escalated, bringing in the Seekers Seablaze and Thunderflame and the last recruit, a former medic named Hollowdrift, until Breakdown had charged in, furious as could be, and had to subdue the fighting recruits. After that, Breakdown and Clawshock had refused to train the recruits until they could get along, and thus the idea for stranding the ten recruits on Luna 2 had been born.
Wheeljack, Bulkhead and Breakdown had observed the recruits the entire deca-cycle, and it had been no surprise to any of them that Monarch had been unable to cooperate with the five former Decepticons until the former Autobot had become desperate for energon and had to beg them for a truce.
And it seemed that the survival mission had worked as, when Wheeljack had gone to Luna 2 to pick up the ten recruits, there was no hint of anger or dislike amongst themselves. Breakdown had snorted and disbelieved Wheeljack when he had reported the development between the recruits, so that the blue mech could only raise a surprised optic ridge when Wheeljack and the recruits returned to the Wreckers' headquarters.
The instructors had all agreed on giving their recruits two solar cycles off - they needed recharge and lots of refueling - and that had left Wheeljack and the others to their own devices for two solar cycles.
At first, Wheeljack had figured he'd catch up on some much needed recharge but, at a passing comment from Clawshock about Earth, an idea had sprung to his mind. But he wasn't going without Breakdown or Bulkhead.
Wheeljack rapped his knuckles on the door to Breakdown's quarters before he called his friend's name. There was no response from Breakdown but for the quietest rumble from the truck's engine. Wheeljack rolled his optics before he pushed open Breakdown's door and walked up to where Breakdown was leaned over his desk, helm slumped on the metal face of the desk.
"Come on, Breakdown, wake up," Wheeljack growled as he prodded Breakdown's shoulder plate.
Breakdown grunted and slowly rose up from his desk, his yellow optic blinking slowly as he peered up at Wheeljack with a quizzical look. "What?"
"We're going to Earth, remember? Going to see the kids and Sunshine."
Breakdown gave Wheeljack a flat stare before he nodded and rose to his pedes. "Bulkhead's coming?"
"Of course. He's got the Space Bridge ready. I'm surprised he agreed to waiting for you, he's been bouncing on his pedes for the last groon."
"He could stay on Earth if he misses Miko that much," Breakdown chuffed as Wheeljack walked out of the larger Wrecker's quarters and headed towards the Wreckers' Space Bridge control room.
Space Bridge technology had been declassified when Bumblebee, Ultra Magnus and Viperstrike had argued for the release of Space Bridge restrictions. Wheeljack had seen to creating a personal Space Bridge for the Wreckers the very nanosecond the bill had passed through the Senate and all restrictions on interstellar Space Bridge travel had been lifted.
And, with a Space Bridge, Wheeljack and his friends could visit Earth whenever they liked and provide new challenges for the program's recruits. It was a win-win situation that saw to silencing Bulkhead's nightly mourning of his distance between Miko.
Bulkhead did not even wait a moment before he activated the Space Bridge upon Wheeljack and Breakdown entering the control room, and he didn't even wait before he rushed through the Space Bridge to Earth.
Wheeljack turned an optic towards Breakdown who only saw fit to shake his helm before a slight smirk tugged at his mouth.
"Typical Bulkhead, always rushing around without stopping to think."
"Ratchet won't be pleased. Come on."
Wheeljack marched through the Space Bridge with Breakdown only a few feet behind him, and emerged with a smile into the large hanger that was Unit E's base. Bulkhead was already sitting near Miko and chatting with her as if he hadn't seen her in vorns. Ratchet noticed Wheeljack and Breakdown and, with the trace of a smile appearing on his faceplate, approached them both.
"Good to see both of you back," Ratchet greeted as he stopped before Wheeljack and Breakdown, arms crossed over his chest as he peered at each of them. "How are things on Cybertron."
"Alright," Breakdown shrugged.
"Busy," Wheeljack added, "the new wave of recruits are a servo full."
Ratchet raised an optic ridge before he turned a narrowed gaze on Breakdown. "Again?"
Breakdown nodded before he let his engine growl irritably. "The former Autobots hated the idea of working and training alongside former Decepticons. They started fights until Wheeljack devised a plan of stranding all ten of them on Luna 2. They seem to tolerate each other now."
"It will be many more years before Autobots and Decepticons can ever get along," Ratchet sighed deeply, "and I have my doubts whether either side will ever forgive the other."
"At least the new sparks don't have the same sentiment," Wheeljack noted. "We've had a number of new sparks try and apply for positions within the Wreckers… but they are too young at this time. But their excitement is appreciated."
Ratchet, Wheeljack and Breakdown spent the next groon catching up on happenings on Earth and Cybertron until Miko approached the group. Wheeljack greeted the human with a cheerful rub on her head before Breakdown shifted himself and returned a light smile to Miko.
Ratchet nudged Wheeljack's shoulder as Miko, who had blue highlights in her hair now, asked to speak to Breakdown privately. Wheeljack followed Ratchet as Breakdown kneeled down to Miko's level, and stopped at the hanger's Ground Bridge controls.
"What's up with Miko?" Wheeljack asked the moment Ratchet stopped at the monitor.
The medic let out a long sigh before he shifted his helm to where Breakdown and Miko were talking quietly. "She's not been the same Miko for years, Wheeljack. She tries to act like losing her leg hasn't changed her, but I've come to see that it's a lie. Miko's tough… but she's still human. She's been struggling with nightmares almost nightly."
Concern tugged at Wheeljack's spark at Ratchet's explanation, and it took the medic's staying servo on his arm to keep him from approaching Miko and Breakdown. He let out a sigh before Wheeljack turned his helm back to Ratchet. "She's good at hiding it, clearly. Why didn't she ever tell me? I care about her deeply, doesn't she know that?"
"She knows, Wheeljack," Ratchet snapped, "but she knows that Breakdown has gone through similar nightmares as her. He'll understand what she is going through better than I can."
Wheeljack crossed his arms over his chest plate and watched Miko for some kliks before an idea came to his mind. "You still have the Apex Armor, correct, Ratchet?"
"I think it is high time we show Miko Cybertron."
341 Years ACR…
Ratchet looked over his notes critically before he finally relented and sent the file to Bumblebee. The former scout had become very interested in Ratchet's research into the Shadow Zone recently, when Ratchet had mentioned it in passing the last time Cybertron's leader had visited him.
While he had never been able to replicate the phenomenon on Earth, Ratchet had been able to create a Shadow Zone on Cybertron - in a confined space in his laboratory. He knew well and good what could happen if he opened the dual portals near innocent bystanders, and his lab had all precautions against the Shadow Zone.
It had taken years of research to complete, but he'd never found what he'd wanted to. Soundwave was somewhere in the Shadow Zone still, unless he'd starved from energon deficiency, and he'd never been able to find a trace of Skyquake's walking corpse.
Ratchet avoided mentioning his research topic to Dreadwing, if only because he could not read the Seeker well and did not know how poorly he would react to the idea of Ratchet meddling in the world where his brother's spark was forever lost. Breakdown and Optimus were the only ones who ever seemed capable of understanding Dreadwing - and likely the only ones Dreadwing would allow.
Ratchet had tried to make conversation with Dreadwing occasionally, but the Seeker rarely ever said more than was necessary and he never offered conversation out to anyone. Dreadwing was a mystery to Ratchet, and a frustrating one at that.
A knock on his door drug Ratchet out of his own thoughts, just as a polite voice called his name.
"Ratchet? It's Knock Out, may I come in?"
Irritation spiked through Ratchet's chassis at the slick voice of Knock Out, the insufferably preening medic who seemed to enjoy pestering him every solar cycle with the most nonsensical suggestions and ideas. He did not care what a drive-in theater was, for Primus' sake!
"No! What do you want, Knock Out?"
Knock Out did not respond on the other side of the door for some time before, with a quiet sigh, Ratchet heard the medic's servos clench and his engine rumble lowly. "I was ordered to bring some supplies you requested from Team Prime. But I also wanted to talk to you."
Ratchet let out a deep sigh before he got to his pedes and walked up to his door, which he opened wide enough for Knock Out to fit through and gestured into his quarters with a single servo. "Make it quick."
Knock Out nodded as he moved into Ratchet's quarters and sat down on the opposite side of Ratchet's desk, clawed digits tapping at the face of his desk slowly.
Ratchet moved back to his table and sat across from Knock Out, who shifted his shoulders before he turned a quick glance towards the now closed door.
"Ratchet, do you know if sparks can be brought back?"
"What do you mean?"
The former Decepticon medic jerked his helm before his digits scraped against the face of the desk roughly. "Can Primus bring back deceased Cybertronians?"
"If it could," Ratchet snarled, "don't you think we would have Optimus back?"
Knock Out stilled for a moment before he lowered his optics and glared at the face of Ratchet's desk. "You are as thorny as ever, Ratchet."
Ratchet returned a glare to Knock Out at the medic's words before he gave a low snarl from his engine. "It is a bit late to feel regret for turning your back on Breakdown, Knock Out. A hundred years too late."
Knock Out's optics flamed as he jerked to his pedes, anger sparking off his chassis in heavy waves. "I know that very clearly, thank you very much, Ratchet! I apologized to Breakdown a long time ago but he was too stubborn to accept it!"
"Maybe," Ratchet hissed, "because he knew you too well to ever believe you could be capable of apologizing."
"I meant it when I apologized to him, Ratchet."
Knock Out lowered his gaze and sank back to the chair he'd been sitting on previously. "I did… I do. He was right to be angry at me, I've learned that. Being part of Team Prime has shown me a lot about myself… a lot of it that he accused me of. I miss him though, so much."
"We all miss Breakdown."
The two medics of Team Prime became quiet, though Ratchet's quiet was an irritated silence compared to the silent introspection of Knock Out. Ratchet knew that Knock Out was not lying when he admitted to regretting the dissolution of his friendship with Breakdown, the medic had shown it over the years. But it was still hard to reconcile the Knock Out who had joined Team Prime from the vain, self-preening Knock Out of the Decepticons.
No doubt that Knock Out was still inside the vibrant red medic, but the Knock Out who was sitting in front of Ratchet had changed. Knock Out's vanity remained but the medic had displayed regret and a genuine desire to prove himself to Team Prime.
A light knock on Ratchet's door drew the medic's sharp gaze to the door before a small servo and two yellow optics peeked through a crack in his door. Breakdown's optics widened as they landed on Knock Out, who had stiffened upon Breakdown's intrusion and was watching the small grounder with a suspicious look.
Breakdown lowered his optics and gave a weak apology to Ratchet before he started to close the door but, with a rustle of plating and a short growl, Knock Out stood.
"No need to leave, I was going as it was."
Knock Out brushed past Breakdown, though Ratchet did not miss how the cherry red medic paused and gave a long, searching look over Breakdown's chassis before he stalked down the hallway. Ratchet let out a low sigh before he stood up and approached the small mech standing in his doorway.
"What do you need, Breakdown?"
Breakdown did not meet his gaze before he shuffled his pedes against the hard metal floor of the hallway and slumped his shoulders. "I need to speak to you… in private."
Ratchet closed the door behind Breakdown and then turned, with arms crossed over his chest plate, and looked down at the young mech. "What's wrong?"
Breakdown flinched slightly before he ducked his helm and self-consciously hugged his arms close to his chest plate. "I have only spoken in due terms with Dreadwing about this, but I… I wanted to talk with you."
The small blue and white mech twitched, his plating shaking before he met Ratchet's optics. "I only realized after Shockwave captured me and turned me into a component for Menasor, that I have more than just the memories of the Breakdown who preceded me. I share his spark."
Ratchet stared at Breakdown, his optic ridges quirking as a scoff escaped from his mouth. "That is absurd!"
"It is not," Breakdown shook his helm, "I am not him, but I share his spark, as he shares mine."
"But that is impossible. He is dead, long deceased for that matter."
"That is true, Ratchet, but that does not explain how I know of the missile silo or of fighting alongside Wheeljack against Predaking, does it? I have never done that or even been to Earth, yet I know of it? The only explanation for such is that I was forged with his spark, his memories and his knowledge."
Breakdown looked away from Ratchet, servos tightening before he let out a sigh. "I don't know."
48 Years ACR…
"-that was the last time June let me visit. I apologized but… you aren't listening, are you, Breakdown?"
"I was listening, Miko," Breakdown muttered tiredly as he rose his helm up and shook off the bleary recharge that had hit him halfway through Miko's chatter.
He'd forgotten how long Miko could talk for, let alone how loud she tended to be. There was no hope for peace when she got the mind to talk to him, it seemed. And, judging by the amused expression on Ratchet's faceplate, the medic was enjoying Breakdown's plight.
Miko scowled before she placed her servos on her hips and gave Breakdown a disappointed scowl. "Really, Breaky? You promised you'd listen to me."
"That was six groons again, Miko. My audio receptors are practically short-circuited from all of your chatter."
"Well, if you'd brought Bulkhead or Wheeljack or even Dreadwing with you, I wouldn't have had to talk to you for so long!" Miko's protest was made in jest, though it still made Breakdown snort a hiss of steam from his intakes.
"I needed a break from all of them, Miko," Breakdown sighed, "but it seems I forgot how little peace and quiet there is with humans."
Miko scowled lightly before she let a sigh escape from her mouth and she kicked at the railing Breakdown was still leaning his chassis on. She had become quite friendly with Breakdown since he, Wheeljack and Bulkhead had made efforts to visit Ratchet and their human companions as often as they feasibly could.
Naturally, Bulkhead was the most excited to see Miko of the three of them, but Breakdown had come to tolerate her constant blabbering. She would never know the meaning of quiet, he had long accepted that, but if enduring her chatter meant Breakdown could visit Ratchet and get away from the constant grind of life on Cybertron for a few groons, it was worth it.
He loved his home but he also had grown to care deeply for Ratchet as a friend and longed for the chance to talk to the medic. Ratchet, from what Miko had told Breakdown one solar cycle, had seen his mood vastly improve when the three Wreckers had started showing up at Unit E's hanger. Breakdown knew that Ratchet was lonely and was starved for companionship from fellow Cybertronians, and he'd even had the medic admit as such one night, so visiting Earth was both good for Breakdown and the Autobot medic he'd befriended.
Breakdown was sufferably stubborn, he accepted that, but he would not deny now that he had come to appreciate what the Autobots had done for them. He had been their enemy when he'd commed their base, asking them for their help and yet they had still come to help him. They had allowed him to linger in their base for as long as he wanted - so long as he behaved - and he had finally had a glimpse of a life away from the Decepticons.
He had his issues with the Autobots - he outright did not care for Optimus and many of his decisions - but Breakdown had realized something while living with the Autobots. He'd had a family - that human concept that Optimus had once mentioned - with the Wreckers and he'd abandoned them as much they had him.
His taste for revenge had long soured and, with every solar cycle he spent with the Autobots, only opened his optic to everything that had come from that dark urge for revenge. If he'd stayed with the Decepticons, Breakdown would never have been able to see his choices in the war as a mistake, or have ever been able to reconcile the fact that it wasn't just himself who had been hurt at Tyger Pax.
Wheeljack, Bulkhead and every one of his Wrecker brothers had suffered from the fallout of Tyger Pax. But Breakdown could not consciously place all of the blame on Tyger Pax and Sharpclaw anymore… no, he knew that he had made the wrong choice.
His hatred for Bulkhead and Wheeljack and the rest of the Wreckers - before he'd left the Decepticons - had been as much hatred for them as hatred for himself and everything . Breakdown's choice to betray the Wreckers had only been one choice of many that had seen him play a part in the complete and utter destruction of Cybertron.
"Breakdown?" Miko's whisper reached him before he felt her servo gently press against his own.
A long sigh hissed from his vents before Breakdown shifted his helm enough on the railing that he could meet Miko's optics. Concern made her brown optics sharp, though she did not remove her servo from his.
"You mean a lot to me, Breakdown. You and Wheeljack and Bulkhead all do. All of you are my family," Miko smiled, "even old doc bot Ratchet is."
Ratchet growled in the background as he continued to discuss projects with Jack, the medic's glare more than just a joke before he snapped his helm back to Jack.
Miko smirked and giggled in Ratchet's expense, her glittering optics softening as she looked at Breakdown again. "The Wreckers mean more to me than I can explain. And that includes you, Breakdown. You may not like me still because I am human, but know that I love you as my family. You, Bulkhead and Wheeljack are like fathers to me."
Breakdown looked away from Miko, unsure of how to feel about Miko's confession. He cared for her, even if she was human as Miko had guessed, but he didn't know how to respond to her. She was not a Cybertronian, none of the children were, but they had all fought for Breakdown's home as if they were. But family?
Uncertainty warred within his spark for a long klik before Breakdown returned a slow smile to Miko. "Considering that family is a distinctly human concept, I guess it is alright for you to see Bulkhead, Wheeljack and I as…. family. Though," Breakdown smirked ever so slightly, "Wheeljack will never let me live down the image of being your 'father'. He always teases me that I need a sparkling… now I can tell him I have one."
Breakdown expected Miko to smile at his response - she was easily amused, usually - but she didn't. All he saw was a sad frown on her faceplate before Miko's shoulder's stooped in.
Breakdown shifted and then gently pressed a single digit under Miko's chin, and tilted her helm up to meet his optic.
Miko said nothing before she buried herself against his digit and cried. Breakdown allowed her to cling to him as he let a soft, soothing rumble echo from his engine.
He'd learned quite a lot about himself while working with the Autobots, and had even learned to accept the closeness of family. Miko had wormed her way into his spark alongside Ratchet, Wheeljack and many others.
The old Wreckers may be gone, but he had found a new family on Cybertron - and on Earth.
354 Years ACR…
"I don't know about this," Dead End sighed beside Breakdown, "I do not believe the Wreckers will be interested in meeting us, Breakdown. They might very well offline us for all our luck."
"They won't, trust me! Wheeljack's quite grumpy but he's changed. He didn't like me for a long time-"
"And you think it is suddenly a good idea to introduce us to him, why?" Drag Strip snapped as he cast a glare up to the headquarters of the Wreckers.
Breakdown nervously glanced at Drag Strip, Dead End and Wildrider and felt his spark stutter at the dark looks in Drag Strip and Dead End's optics. He wanted his friends - his gestalt - to meet his family in the Wreckers.
It had been a spur of the moment idea, bringing his friends to meet the Wreckers, but one Breakdown felt was important. Dreadwing had questioned him a few times on where he would vanish to for solar cycles on end, but Breakdown had - for the first time in his entire life - lied to the Seeker and avoided telling him the truth.
He had his suspicions that Dreadwing knew that he'd lied to him but he'd never questioned him again. And lying had left a sour taste in his spark ever since.
::. If you are not ready to introduce us to your friends, we can do this a different solar cycle .:: Dead End's pulse was reassuring but there was an edge to it. Clearly, Dead End did not care for this meeting and was more than willing to delay meeting the Wreckers for as many solar cycles as he could.
And Breakdown understood why his gestalt was so hesitant to meet the Wreckers. He'd seen their memories of the war, and had even sensed hatred for the Wreckers - and all Autobots - deep beneath their plating.
But the war has been over for centuries. We have to move on to make Cybertron the best it can be.
Steel hard determination set into Breakdown's chassis as he sent a reassuring yet all together commanding growl to his gestalt. ::. Trust me .::
The three former Decepticons shared a glance before they followed Breakdown through the entrance of the Wreckers' headquarters. There was a pallor about the headquarters as Breakdown strode purposefully ahead of his gestalt, his instincts taking him to the vast room that saw most training bouts occur in.
When he entered the training room, Breakdown noticed the nine recruits deep in battle with each other, claws and blasters flashing as Bulkhead, Wheeljack, and Dreadwing watched. Dreadwing was the first to notice Breakdown's arrival, though his red optics narrowed and shifted over his helm to settle dangerously on Dead End, Drag Strip and Wildrider.
Drag Strip stiffened behind Breakdown and a thread of fear pulsed through the gestalt bond as the yellow grounder recognized the Seeker. "Commander Dreadwing?"
Drag Strip's loud voice snapped every single recruit and Wheeljack and Bulkhead's helms to where Breakdown and his gestalt stood. Bulkhead narrowed his optics at Breakdown's gestalt but he did not make a move towards them, unlike Wheeljack.
Anger pulsed suddenly from Wildrider, so hot and dangerous that it staggered Breakdown as Wheeljack braced a single servo over his swords. But neither acted as Bulkhead moved in front of Wheeljack and raised a servo towards Breakdown.
"Breakdown, who are these with you?" Bulkhead sounded friendly but Breakdown knew that look in Bulkhead's optics often - he'd seen it often in his dreams, when he was unable to hold back the memories of the first Breakdown. Bulkhead was angry, no he was furious.
Breakdown glanced towards his gestalt before he sent a reassuring smile to Wheeljack, Bulkhead and Dreadwing. "They are my gestalt. Dead End, Drag Strip and Wildrider."
Disapproval and pure fury blazed in Wheeljack's optics as the white Wrecker approached Breakdown and his gestalt, where he drew himself to a halt and met the glares of Breakdown's three gestalt-mates. But then that gaze turned to Breakdown and, for the first time since he'd known Wheeljack, he did not see his usual dislike or coldness but, instead, all he could see was hurt. So much hurt.
"They are my friends," Breakdown explained as Bulkhead, Dreadwing and all nine recruits surrounded him and his gestalt in a half circle, "I wanted to introduce them to my family."
No Wrecker said a word before, with a calmness that did little to soothe the anxiousness in Breakdown's spark, Dreadwing lowered his helm in a respectful nod to Dead End, Drag Strip and Wildrider. "Greetings. I recognize each of you, though I did not realize you were the mechs that were part of Menasor along with Breakdown. He has told us how much he cares for each of you."
Dead End finally responded with a bemused yet oddly cold snort of his vents. "He is one of us, Dreadwing. We were given a bond with each other to allow ourselves to cooperate more efficiently in battle and to know when to combine. It is the way of the combiner to care for its other components."
A snarl escaped Wheeljack, one that was low and poisonous. "We don't need a Shockwave created bond to care about Breakdown."
"Do you care about him, Wheeljack?" Wildrider's snarl matched the same venom as Wheeljack's as the black and red mech shouldered past Breakdown and met Wheeljack's gaze. "We know you hate him - all of us have seen it in his thoughts and his memories. Breakdown is our gestalt-mate. What is he to you?"
Wheeljack did not respond at first as his optics widened with surprise before his backstrut bristled and his field burned on Breakdown's chassis. "Breakdown is a Wrecker. He's been one of us long before he ever met any of you. And," Wheeljack stepped forward until he was chestplate to chestplate with Wildrider, "I didn't have to capture him and have him experimented on to consider him family."
There was no warning before Wildrider lunged at Wheeljack, bowling the older Cybertronian over and over as the two clawed at each other amidst furious roars from their engines. Drag Strip and Dead End lunged forwards to join in the fight alongside Wildrider until Dreadwing's sword smashed broadside against their chestplates.
Breakdown stood frozen and watched as Wildrider and Wheeljack leapt away from each other and, with unseen speed, Wheeljack's swords slashed across Wildrider's chestplate. Wildrider stumbled back as Wheeljack lunged forwards, though Wildrider ducked and smashed his spiked helm into Wheeljack's faceplate.
Wheeljack's swords missed Wildrider completely as he lunged around the white Wrecker, clawed servos snapping open and plunging-
It wasn't Breakdown's instincts that made him suddenly transform into his alt mode and drive straight into Wildrider's chassis, but a rage that simmered deep within his spark, one that was wholly and entirely not his. Pain tore through the gestalt bond as Breakdown crashed directly into Wildrider's chassis and sent his friend flying across the training room.
Wildrider slumped and did not move as Breakdown remained in his alt mode for a long nanosecond before he finally transformed out of his alt mode and stood between Wheeljack and Wildrider. Wheeljack slowly rose to his pedes behind Breakdown, though the Wrecker paused for a moment before Breakdown felt Wheeljack's servo brush against his shoulder.
Utter silence met Wheeljack as he swept out of the training room without giving a second glance to Breakdown or the rest of his gestalt. Drag Strip snarled as Wheeljack passed him, but it was a snarl only heard through the gestalt bond.
"This training session is over," Dreadwing's voice growled from behind Breakdown, "we will resume next solar cycle."
Every single recruit fled without even a protest, leaving Breakdown, Bulkhead, Dreadwing and his gestalt in a room that seemed all too small suddenly.
Fear and anxiety bubbled in Breakdown's spark as he turned quickly to meet the hard gazes of Bulkhead and Dreadwing alike. He glanced over to Drag Strip and Dead End, neither of whom had moved an inch, then lowered his helm shamefully.
"I'm sorry, I should have asked before bringing my friends here-"
"I believe it would be best for every one of us gathered here to depart until cooler heads may prevail. Breakdown, there are quarters for your friends in the east wing. They will be allowed to stay here for the night."
"Thank you, Dreadwing," Breakdown whispered before he gestured for Dead End and Drag Strip to follow him. He apologized to Wildrider through the bond as he trudged out of the training room, refusing to meet anyone's gaze as he trudged towards the east wing.
115 Years ACR…
"This meeting is over," Bumblebee's voice was sharp with irritation as he had to yell over the arguing voices of the Senate.
No mech heard Bumblebee or acknowledged Cybertron's leader, even when he added a snarl from his engine. Breakdown turned his optic to Bumblebee as the former scout clenched his servos and swore under his breath. Even Ultra Magnus was unable to quell the arguing as the large mech stood and roared for silence from Bumblebee's left.
"Why won't they listen?" Bumblebee snapped as he flopped down beside Breakdown.
Breakdown snorted before he shrugged his shoulder plates and gave a bored look to the former scout. "Do they ever listen?"
Bumblebee met Breakdown's gaze before he shook his helm and relented. "No."
Breakdown did not wait to be released as he gave Bumblebee a curt goodbye and strode out of the Senate chamber. He loathed being stuck in the Senate meetings and, sometimes, late at night, he regretted ever agreeing to Bumblebee's request.
But he still went to meetings when Bumblebee asked him to, even if he felt like he didn't contribute as Bumblebee had suggested he would. All he had gained from his trips to the Senate was a greater dislike for those running Cybertron than before. Bumblebee acted interested in his opinion - stupid Autobot - but Breakdown knew, assumed, that it was more a formality than anything else at this point.
Breakdown transformed into his alt mode the moment he exited the Senate building and thundered home to the Wreckers headquarters. Night had fallen by the time Breakdown drove up to the Wreckers headquarters and trudged inside.
He didn't hear anything, not even Wheeljack training alone, as he walked towards his quarters, though he kept his audio receptors tuned for any noise. He had only just reached the hallway that led to his quarters when he heard lowered voices originating from Bulkhead's quarters.
"We know that we were enemies, but do consider our offer. You have knowledge and skills that our program and its recruits could benefit heavily from." That was Bulkhead, that much was clear from the rumble of his words.
"The goal behind us recreating the Wreckers in this new Cybertron was to provide a new life to any Cybertronian that wished. Even former enemies. We have our quarrels from the war-"
"I cannot." The two words were short and politely clipped but Breakdown recognized the voice immediately.
His spark stuttered with surprise, shock and warmth. He had not seen his friend for quite some time, years in fact, and he was always excited to see the Seeker. But why was Dreadwing here at the Wreckers headquarters?
He shifted against the wall beside Bulkhead's door and tuned his audio receptors so he could pick up the conversation between Bulkhead, Wheeljack and Dreadwing better.
"Working with our program doesn't mean that you've joined the Autobots, Dreadwing. We want you as a fellow instructor." Bulkhead sounded exasperated and, from the hitch in his engine, irritated at Dreadwing's refusal.
"All of you or just Breakdown?" Dreadwing's pistons hissed behind the door and Breakdown imagined the Seeker had crossed his arms over his chestplate at his question.
Neither Wheeljack or Bulkhead responded for a moment before a hiss heaved from Wheeljack's engine. "He doesn't even know that we were going to ask you. Bulkhead and I both came to an agreement to approach you with this offer. I… we both know that we have been tolerant to training former Decepticons in our program - some of our best recruits were former Decepticons - but we also have come to realize that we need to be able to work with one alongside us."
"Both of us had our qualms against you during the war, and for good reason, but we have to accept that the war is over for all of us," Bulkhead added. "Breakdown was our enemy for millions of years after we turned our backs on him. But we learned forgiveness, all three of us did, at the end of the war. Optimus wanted Cybertron to be able to forgive and work together with our former enemies.
"And we failed that until you and Breakdown exposed Radiance and the Parliament. We know that you are an honorable and wise Seeker, Dreadwing, and we would be honored to have you represent the honorable nature of the Seekers in the Wreckers."
Dreadwing sighed audibly before he spoke, his voice lowered and distant - sad. "I respect your offer, but I must refuse. I do not believe that this would be the correct path for me at this time. Tell Breakdown I am sorry, but I cannot accept."
The door opened up, revealing the tall stature of Dreadwing as he met Breakdown's gaze. Breakdown backed away from the door as Dreadwing nodded a greeting towards him.
Dreadwing swept past Breakdown before he could even return the Seeker's greeting. Breakdown watched the Seeker as he headed down the hallway and felt his shoulders slump.
"Sorry, Breakdown," Wheeljack said as he stopped beside Breakdown and peered up at him with a sharp gaze. "Bulk and I thought he might agree but we were clearly wrong."
Breakdown shook his helm in response to Wheeljack's statement as he watched Dreadwing's form continue to retreat from the three Wreckers. He knew that Dreadwing felt lost living on Cybertron without his brother and that a restless wandering had settled into the grand Seeker's spark. Settling down in one place was not something Dreadwing was very invested in at the moment.
"He's not very keen on the idea of settling down on Cybertron, Wheeljack. It isn't about his past with you and Bulkhead, really…"
Wheeljack's helm turned away from Breakdown before the white Wrecker sighed. "I know."
Breakdown hesitated for a long klik before he jerked his helm to Wheeljack, offered him a quick apology, and hurried after Dreadwing. He caught up to the Seeker just as Dreadwing exited the headquarter's front entrance.
Dreadwing stopped and turned slowly to face Breakdown, his expression unreadable as he looked down at Breakdown. "Yes?"
"I understand why you refused Wheeljack and Bulkhead's offer but you can't keep running from your hurt forever," Breakdown snapped, "you know that, right? You have to accept what happened someday, otherwise you will always be unhappy and hurting. I would know."
Silence met Breakdown's response before Dreadwing shuttered his optics and inclined his helm slowly. "I may acknowledge that as truth, Breakdown, but it is far harder than mere words to accept my loss."
Breakdown stomped a pede in frustration as he stalked up to Dreadwing and glared up at him. "Skyquake isn't the only mech who has cared for you, Dreadwing. Mortar, Pillar and Yosemite care deeply for you and so do I. I've cared about you for-"
Dreadwing shook his helm, cutting Breakdown's words off without the Seeker having to do anything.
"I'm sorry, Breakdown, but I can't," Dreadwing growled, though Breakdown saw a flicker of regret in his optics as the Seeker turned his back on him.
Breakdown watched, rebuffed, as Dreadwing blasted away from the headquarters in his alt mode. He knew Dreadwing wasn't planning on coming back but it still hurt. The Seeker need not have said anything, Breakdown understood what his refusal meant.
Breakdown sighed and, with a trudging step, walked back into the Wreckers' headquarters.
Breakdown thrashed and twisted, servos clawing at his recharge slab as his engine let out weak hisses from his engine and voice box.
Wheeljack watched, arms crossed over his chest, as the young Cybertronian thrashed. He had been walking past Breakdown's quarters when he heard the young mech speaking to himself in strangled, guttural growls. They had been odd enough to bring Wheeljack into the mech's room, and had only grown ever more odd when he'd realized that Breakdown was in recharge.
"Kill-" Breakdown snarled gutturally, as he continued to dream.
It was obvious to Wheeljack that the little mech was suffering from nightmares, though the nature and subject of his nightmares were not clear. He assumed it had to do with the combiner, Menasor, that Breakdown and the rest of his gestalt - who were on speaking terms with the Wreckers, though neither group cared for the other - had once formed and used to destroy many city-states of Cybertron.
Dreadwing and Ratchet had both told him that the young mech suffered from nightmares, but Wheeljack had never seen it himself. He wasn't sure how to respond, whether to wake up Breakdown or let him wake up on his own. So he watched, arms crossed over his chest uncomfortably.
Then suddenly Breakdown grew rigidly still and his vents hissed and grew quiet. Wheeljack was about to stand up and leave when he saw Breakdown's digits twitch impercitably. And then the young mech's blue and white frame shivered, before his optics opened sightlessly.
"Don't! Fight… back!"
"You betrayed me!"
"He's using us!"
"Slag you all to the Pit! I'll kill all of you!"
Wheeljack froze, his arms loosening over his chestplate at the roar that erupted from Breakdown's mouth. It wasn't Breakdown's high, excitable voice but a deeper snarl - and a snarl that Wheeljack recognized from centuries before. But, before he could register what exactly he'd heard, Breakdown continued to snarl and thrash, his words low but sharp as blades.
"Motormaster, please! We can't do this! Stop this, please!"
"Satisfied? I'll be satisfied when you all feel the same pain I did!"
There it was again, the voice that wasn't that of the little blue and white mech thrashing so furiously on his recharge slab. It wasn't him… but it was achingly familiar… it was his old friend's deep snarl, the hateful, pained words of the Breakdown who had betrayed the Wreckers.
"I loved you! And you BETRAYED me!"
And then Wheeljack's processor brought up eons old memories and drowned him to all that was happening before him.
An explosion rattled Wheeljack from his recharge, snapping him up from his slab and his servos to the swords that rested at his side before the door to his quarters slammed open. Corsair stood in the doorway, optics wide with terror as he met Wheeljack's gaze.
Wheeljack ran from his quarters after Corsair, stopping only when he reached the main room of the Wreckers' headquarters and saw Megatron, leading an armada of Decepticons, slash Topspin's chestplate open, exposing his sparkchamber.
Wheeljack lunged, swords slashing through Decepticon after Decepticon in a blur as the remaining Wreckers charged into the fray-
Bulkhead joined him soon after with Annihilation at his side, the three Wreckers cutting through the swaths of Decepticons to defend their home-
A flash of pale blue and yellow optics snapped Wheeljack's helm straight ahead-
He was alive!
Excitement at the sight of his friend, who Wheeljack had believed dead, stopped dead cold in his spark when he realized… oh Primus, no!
Breakdown was approaching him and Bulkhead, hatred burning in his optics, blazing over his field and clearing a path of the fighting Decepticons and Wreckers without the large blue mech having to do anything. Bulkhead and Annihilation stopped as they realized that Wheeljack had stopped fighting, their optics turning before gasps of shock burst from their mouths as they too recognized Breakdown.
Energon splattered over Breakdown's chestplate and up his arms, turning his blue chassis into a blur of burning blue that highlighted the absolute fury in his optics.
"Breakdown! You are alive!" Bulkhead moved towards Breakdown but the desperate gasp of Annihilation halted him in his tracks as Breakdown continued to glower with pure malice towards them.
"I am alive, no thanks to any of you!" Breakdown snarled. His words were too quiet for his anger, too strained, too-
"Breakdown?" Annihilation sounded terrified as Breakdown's mouth turned into a snarl that hissed from his engine coldly.
"Why aren't you fighting the Decepticons? We need your help!" Bulkhead gasped as he jerked his servo to the enemy factions fighting behind them.
Breakdown let out a cold laugh - there was no humor, just pure malice in it - before he took a menacing step towards Wheeljack, Bulkhead and Annihilation. "Because I brought them here, Bulkhead."
Wheeljack stumbled back - Primus, no! No, no, no! - but then tensed his swords in his servos. "You betrayed us?"
"Betrayed you?" Breakdown snarled, his fury turning fully onto Wheeljack as he spoke. "It was you who betrayed me! You left me to die! You BETRAYED me!"
Before Wheeljack, Bulkhead or Annihilation could respond, Breakdown lunged, his servo catching Annihilation's arm before he stomped his pede onto the flyer's chest and ripped her arm from its socket. Bulkhead gasped and leapt for Breakdown, only for the large green mech to be thrown back by Breakdown's hammer servo.
Wheeljack did not move towards Breakdown as he pointed his swords at Breakdown and paced around him. "What have you done, Breakdown?! You were one of us! You are one of us!"
"NO I AM NOT!" Breakdown fired his cannon at Wheeljack as he roared, forcing Wheeljack to scramble to the side. "You saw to that when you let Sharpclaw attempt to offline me! You LEFT me behind!"
"We didn't want to!" Annihilation gasped from under Breakdown's pede. "We didn't-"
"BUT YOU DID!" Breakdown seemed to lose control then and, before Wheeljack could stop him, Breakdown turned his shoulder cannon to Annihilation and blasted a hole through her spark chamber.
Annihilation twitched before her optics dulled and emptied, leaving no trace of life in her frame as Breakdown's helm jerked to meet Wheeljack. Wheeljack tensed up - he had just witnessed Breakdown kill his friend - Breakdown, for Primus' sake!
"You killed her!"
"Slag you all to the Pit! I'll kill all of you!" Breakdown raged before he fired at Wheeljack again and lunged for him.
The two Wreckers fought as Bulkhead slowly drew to his pedes, his optics broken as he looked down at Annihilation's chassis. Breakdown had Wheeljack backed into a corner - he was fighting without any sense of honor, or even with any awareness of anything but his own fury, anger and betrayal - and it took every skill Wheeljack had to defend himself from Breakdown.
And then, with a heaving snarl, Bulkhead threw Breakdown away from Wheeljack and snarled darkly at the large blue mech. Breakdown straightened with a furious snarl as he paced towards Wheeljack and Bulkhead a step, though he stopped a few feet from both Wreckers.
"You brought the Decepticons here and you killed Annihilation!" Bulkhead hissed. "Aren't you satisfied yet?"
"Satisfied? I'll be satisfied when you all feel the same pain I did!"
"Pain?!" Bulkhead roared. "You betrayed us!"
"Me?!" Breakdown shrieked, the anguish in his words clear even for the sounds of the battle behind them. "The Wreckers left me behind at Tyger Pax! YOU left me behind! I loved you! And you BETRAYED me!"
Breakdown jerked his helm away from Bulkhead and Wheeljack, though not quickly enough for Wheeljack to miss the anguish and devastation that had darkened Breakdown's yellow optics. "I will destroy you next time we meet, I promise both of you that."
Wheeljack was jolted from his memories when he felt a clawed servo gently press against his shoulderplate. And then a distant voice spoke his name, jerking his helm to the red optics of Dreadwing.
"Are you alright, Wheeljack?"
"Yes," Wheeljack said with a slow shake of his helm. He noticed soft yellow optics watching him worriedly, yellow optics that had been glaring at him with malice and hate moments before in his memories, and returned a slight smile to Breakdown.
"I was worried!" Breakdown squeaked as he gestured to Dreadwing. "I was in recharge when I heard your voice. I woke up and saw that you were in my quarters but you were thrashing and muttering and you didn't respond when I tried to wake you. I had to find Dreadwing."
Wheeljack smiled slightly before he reached out and scuffled Breakdown's helm. Breakdown lowered his optics and let out a happy purr as he rubbed against Wheeljack's servo. "You're alright, Breakdown."
A smile lit over Breakdown's faceplate for a long klik before he suddenly looked down at the floor and scuffed his pedes nervously against the metal plating. "You heard me talking in my recharge, didn't you?"
"That's why I was in your quarters. But I wasn't sure whether to wake you or let you…"
"Ride it out?" Breakdown finished.
Wheeljack nodded with a defeated smirk that he tried to reassure Breakdown with. "Maybe I should have woken you."
"You could have but it wouldn't change anything," Breakdown admitted. "No matter what I do, I always have nightmares. They won't go away, but I've accepted it."
"I heard you talking like you knew my friend Breakdown's thoughts… how is that possible?"
"I have his memories and thoughts," Breakdown said, his optics shifting to Wheeljack with a seriousness that seemed beyond his years. "And I share his nightmares too."
Wheeljack hesitated at Breakdown's words. He knew that Ratchet and Dreadwing had been adamant in their belief that the little blue and white mech standing before had the reincarnated spark of his deceased friend. He'd refused to accept the idea and had only allowed himself to see this new Breakdown as a mech desperate to cling to the fame of his deceased friend.
But - Wheeljack's helm sunk and his shoulders slumped - he knew that wasn't true. He'd known it for a long time but had never accepted it as fact. His friend was gone, and he always would be, but the young mech before him was as much a friend to him as Breakdown had been.
"You're an honest mech, Breakdown," Wheeljack said quietly. "And I'm glad you are part of the Wreckers. This is where you belong."
Dreadwing looked down at Wheeljack as Breakdown smiled and shyly ducked his helm at Wheeljack's statement.
Wheeljack gave the young mech a gentle smack on the shoulder plate before he turned and, with Dreadwing alongside him, strode out of Breakdown's room. Dreadwing walked beside him silently until he slowed outside of Wheeljack's quarters and turned to face the white Wrecker.
"A long time ago, Breakdown told me that I had to accept what had happened to my brother. I refused to listen to him but I saw eventually that he was right. All of us have made mistakes because of what happened to each of us in the past, and the only way we were able to atone for what we did was to accept our past and move on.
"I miss Skyquake every solar cycle but I understand that the Autobots were no more to blame for what happened to him as the war was in itself. Breakdown hated the Wreckers but he learned to move past his hurt to become your friend. We all have a lot to learn about acceptance, you and I included."
"Yes," Wheeljack agreed as he looked back in the direction they'd come from, back to Breakdown's quarters, "we do."
300 Years ACR…
Breakdown shivered and shook as he cowered in his room, the sound of flames and explosions shattering the peace of Iacon. He had been in a deep, dreamless recharge when shouting had jerked him from his sleep.
Shockwave's Predacons - the Predacons he had been making for Predaking for years - had laid siege to Iacon, blasting the proud city-state to ash and ruins with their dragonfire and rage. Dreadwing, Wheeljack, Bulkhead and the rest of the Wreckers were already out there fending for their lives to protect their home. And he was cowering in his room, afraid.
An anger that wasn't his snarled at his cowardice, a throaty bitterness that burned from his spark. He couldn't let the Wreckers fight this threat alone - not when his home was in danger.
Breakdown ran from the headquarters, racing to the one place he knew where he could find the means to defend his home.
They knew he was there before he reached the four Decepticons, and their reactions to his arrival were mixed. Motormaster glared at Breakdown as he stopped in front of the four Cybertronians, the hulking black and purple mech as tall and imposing as Ultra Magnus as he glared down at him.
"So you've come back to us, Breakdown?" Motormaster sounded snide, and the threat in his words and posture was unmistakable. "I believed you wanted nothing to do with us ever again. Yet, you come back reeking of fear."
Breakdown glowered up at Motormaster - his spark was not afraid of Motormaster, so he couldn't be - and jerked his servo towards Iacon. He could see the flames from here and could hear the roars of Predacons faintly. "Are you just going to stand around while Shockwave and his Predacons destroy Iacon?! This is our home - my home! We have to defend it!"
"We?" Motormaster scoffed. "You were clear in your desire to never be part of our gestalt or to ever combine again. This is your issue, not ours."
"Oh for Primus' sake!" Breakdown snarled. "No one but us stands a chance against the Predacons. My family is doing all they can to defend their home from this attack, and I'm doing nothing! But we can, together!"
Motormaster curled his lip then turned his back on Breakdown, leaving him to face Dead End, Drag Strip and Wildrider desperately.
::. Please… .::
"Motormaster, this is not a matter of pride but defending our planet. Shockwave won't stop at Iacon. How long will it take before he destroys Kaon?"
Motormaster growled angrily at Dead End's reasoning but he turned and, with a steel hard glint in his optics, nodded. "You are not wrong, Dead End. The Combaticons are too injured from our fight with them to help… that just leaves us and Menasor."
Breakdown watched hopefully as his gestalt-mates transformed and, without hesitation, raced towards Iacon. They reached the city-state kliks later, though the four Decepticons behind Breakdown froze in horror at the utter devastation laid upon Iacon.
::. By Primus… .:: Drag Strip flared. ::. It's worse than I thought. .::
Motormaster hesitated briefly before he inclined his helm and let a snarl tear from his engine. "We fight until we can't any longer. You understand?"
::. We do. .::
Motormaster needn't have said another word as the five Cybertronians combined to form the towering menace of Menasor. Breakdown hated the feeling of combining - it was all together an entirely different feeling from transforming into his alt mode - but he almost was relieved to feel the might of Menasor within him once again.
A giant dragon Predacon was the first to notice Menasor as the combiner plunged down to the streets of Iacon, dwarfing the buildings as he drew a massive sword from his subspace. "Menasor destroy!"
The Predacon blasted flames over Menasor's chassis, which only made the combiner angrier. With a roar of his massive engine, Menasor cleaved his sword through the dragon's body. Pain splintered from the Predacon's roar before it fell to the ground in a heap of destroyed metal.
And Menasor continued on, his rage and fury not inhibited by the components of his combining, hacking and slashing through any Predacon that dared to face the giant combiner. Small specks of Cybertronians rallied at the combiner's power, and soon the defenders of Iacon began to push the Predacons back.
Menasor felt triumph - they were the best! - until a massive Predacon, even larger than Predaking, landed in front of the combiner, its optics burning with hatred. The dragon lunged, claws tearing through Menasor's chassis as its jaw locked around Menasor's helm-
Menasor swung a fist at the Predacon in desperation before a gout of flames burst over his chassis. Agony ripped through his spark as the Predacon tore its claws into his chestplate, through hardy plating and to the very spark of Menasor. The combiner tried to fend off the massive Predacon but it would not budge as it continued to tear its claws through his plating.
And then there was a hiss of elation from the Predacon and the combiner heard muddled thoughts-
Do something Motormaster! We're dying!
Fury, anguish, agony-
Motormaster screamed as his spark was torn from the combiner - no, from Motormaster's spark chamber -
Menasor fell apart, the combiner's components falling as the Predacon roared in triumph above them.
Breakdown could feel the pulse of Primus beating from the Well of the AllSparks as he stepped to the edge of the Well. Wind sucked at his chassis as Breakdown peered down into the Well - the very heart of Cybertron.
He had never traveled to the Well before - he'd had little reason to - but he could not help but understand why so many Cybertronians revered the Well. It was his birthplace and the place where the sparks of his family rested.
Dreadwing, Ratchet, Wheeljack, Dead End, Dragstrip, Wildrider and everyone else Breakdown loved had long ago joined with the Well of the AllSparks, so long ago that the sound of their voices was almost a distant echo to him. He missed them all far too much to explain to any normal Cybertronian.
Only one Cybertronian understood how much Breakdown missed his family and that was himself. No, not Breakdown, but his shared spark and all the memories he shared with the long fallen blue Wrecker.
He had resented his lack of individuality - or what he believed was a lack thereof - for quite some time, until he'd realized he had been making decisions for himself from the moment he'd been sparked by Primus himself. The Wrecker Breakdown's spark had been shared with him - and a library of his memories - but that didn't mean he was the deceased Wrecker, just as he wasn't just a member of a gestalt.
He was Breakdown, a member of the Wreckers and the Menasor gestalt - Wildrider insisted on calling them the "Stunticons" (a stupid name in Breakdown's opinion) - and nothing else. He had finally understood who he was and accepted why Primus had forged him with the spark and memories of the first Breakdown.
"You wanted to challenge me, to see if I could overcome the doubts I had over my self worth- to see if I was able to fight for Cybertron and save my friends. I did, Primus, and I finally understand."
Breakdown closed his optics before he let out a deep sigh and, for the first time, truly let himself feel at peace for what he was. "Thank you, Primus."
Warmth overtook Breakdown's chassis, a strange warmth that filled his entire being - a warmth he remembered from when he'd been forged.
You have done well, young one, Primus' voice, I am proud.
Primus' voice faded into the Well once more and then Breakdown felt a small tug at his spark and, as suddenly as it had come, the warmth vanished from his chassis. And, with it, Breakdown realized that he no longer could see Breakdown's memories within him - no, he couldn't even feel that strong presence within his spark anymore.
Breakdown startled at the voice that spoke beside him as it was a voice he'd never heard out loud yet it was familiar to him. Slowly, Breakdown turned his helm to his right, expecting to see the hulking chassis of the Breakdown he'd shared his memories with for so long but, to his disappointment, he did not see him.
And he knew he wouldn't but he still could not help himself as he let a small smile touch at the corners of his mouth and, helm turned to face down into the Well, yelled, "Thank you!"
He woke in a darkened room slowly, his optic shifting as he tried to gather his surroundings. He recognized this room somehow, though he felt like he had never been here before - or had he?
Slowly, he moved to his pedes, a smile rising to his lips when he heard the thud of his pedes hitting the hard metal beneath him. It felt good to be on his pedes again, with his sturdy silver legs supporting him - they didn't even ache.
Something flickered at the edge of his vision, oddly enough that he had to look down and squint. Laid out on a nightstand next to his berth was a single, heavily polished and highly reflective sheet of metal - a mirror, or what substituted for a mirror on Cybertron.
Odd. He wasn't the vain type that he needed to look over his frame with a mirror constantly, but he still couldn't help but curiously pick up the sheet of reflective metal and peer into it.
Two yellow optics stared back at him, set in a ruddy orange colored faceplate that was bordered by silver helm lines on both sides. A smile quirked in the mirror's reflection for a moment before he lowered the metal back onto the nightstand.
For some reason he couldn't explain at that very moment, he felt that his reflection was different from he'd last remembered. That feeling faded though when his audio receptors picked up faint voices outside his quarters - down a hallway or so, judging from how faint the voices sounded.
Curious to see who was awake at this hour, he hurried out of his room and, using his audio receptors to track which direction the voices came from, headed down the hallway. Eventually the voices grew much louder - he could differentiate at least five different voices immediately - and soon he located the large front room that was the origin of the voices.
He noticed ten Cybertronians who all were gathered in the giant room, some lounging on chairs, while others stood around a table and one, a blue and gold Seeker, stood to the side. Every single one of the Cybertronians were very familiar to him, familiar to a degree that he instantly felt joy flood his spark as he recognized each mech gathered.
Knock Out was chatting amicably with Bumblebee, Smokescreen and Arcee as they lounged around a table, Knock Out's pedes rested on Smokescreen's chair. Ultra Magnus was looking over Optimus Prime's shoulder, reading the datapad that the Autobot leader was looking over.
Wheeljack and Bulkhead, as always, were lobbing a large ball of steel between themselves, their laughter echoing off the ceiling infectiously. Ratchet was watching the duo with a hard, disapproving scowl - a scowl that only grew more pronounced when one of Bulkhead's lobs missed Wheeljack and narrowly missed hitting the medic square in the chest plate.
And then there was the ever silent Dreadwing, who hovered away from the group, though his optics never seemed to lose their focus as he watched the different groups.
And it was because of Dreadwing's innate watchfulness that he was the first to notice the new arrival and, when he did, the Seeker snapped rigid, his optics wide with shock. The purge from his flight engine snapped the attention of every other Cybertronian in the room to the Seeker's grand frame - though only long enough for each helm to turn with Dreadwing's, straight onto him.
Wheeljack was the first to move as the white Wrecker ran up to him and gave him a hard punch on the shoulder plate - a punch that suddenly became a hug that clung to Breakdown like a vice.
Breakdown smiled down at Wheeljack as he returned his friend's hug. He knew it had been a very long time since he'd seen all of his friends - something in his spark told him so - and he was more than happy, more than overjoyed, to see them all here.
Ratchet and Dreadwing were the next ones to approach him, the Autobot medic's own constant scowl turning into the brightest smile Breakdown had ever seen from Ratchet. The relief within Dreadwing's red optics stilled Breakdown for a moment before Bulkhead, Smokescreen, Bumblebee and Arcee swarmed him, their voices overlapping with joy as they greeted him.
"I was wondering when you would join us, Breakdown." Optimus Prime's words were calm - he only remembered a few times when the Autobot leader hadn't been calm - but even his optics showed a certain amount of happiness at Breakdown's presence.
Even Ultra Magnus greeted Breakdown with his own stern attempt at a smile - but it was a smile nonetheless and one Breakdown returned to the imposing blue mech.
The last one to approach Breakdown was Knock Out, his cherry red chassis gleaming and untarnished.
He could tell there was a lot left unsaid by the medic though something told Breakdown that there would be ample time to speak with the medic in private.
So he gave Knock Out a hesitant smile and held out his servo to his friend. "Hey, Knock Out."
Knock Out stared at Breakdown's servo hesitantly before he took Breakdown's servo and shook. "Good to see you."
"Where have you been?" Smokescreen interrupted, the question he'd posed to Breakdown turning his yellow optics to the small Elite Guard.
"In my quarters. Why?"
"We've been waiting a long time for you, Breakdown." This time it was Ratchet who spoke, though his voice shook with worry as he glanced towards Bumblebee and Optimus Prime.
Optimus gathered himself to his pedes finally as he slowly walked up to Breakdown, his optics searching. "You were the second to join the Well of the AllSparks, Breakdown. I knew of your passing but you never joined me - until today."
"What?" Breakdown exclaimed, his optics blinking rapidly as he looked between all of the gathered Cybertronians.
Optimus Prime had sacrificed himself to the Well of the AllSpark-
Then he was dead, and so was everyone else gathered here. He wasn't happy to see his friends anymore, not if it meant that they had all perished.
Breakdown scowled as he looked away from the group, though the flash of yellow and black from Bumblebee's chassis stopped Breakdown. He remembered the explosion - everything, every memory had come to him in a rush upon Optimus' words - and trying to protect Bumblebee by throwing himself on top of the younger mech.
"Clearly I failed to save you, Bumblebee," Breakdown muttered coldly as he fixed his gaze on his pedes, fearful of the anger he knew he'd see in everyone's optics at his failure.
He almost expected his friends to kick him out of the room - if not the building - and he expected it so firmly that, when he felt servos gently touch his arm, he waited to be hauled away. But all he felt was that gentle grip and then Bumblebee's digits moving his chin up so that he had to look Bumblebee directly in the optics.
"No, you didn't fail. You saved me when you sacrificed yourself. I was never able to thank you for that," Bumblebee whispered, "I owe so much to your sacrifice. I wanted to thank you but, when I finally joined the AllSpark, you weren't here."
"No one knew where you were," Arcee added, "we grew worried. Dreadwing had his beliefs about what happened to your spark but we all know he worried you'd become like his brother."
Dreadwing looked away at the mention of his brother, Skyquake, though not quickly enough for Breakdown to not see the worldless depth of pain that lived in his friend.
"I don't know, honest," Breakdown admitted. "I don't remember anything after I died."
"That was eons ago," Ultra Magnus finally spoke up, "all of us have been gathered together for quite a many centuries before you joined us."
"Yeah," Bulkhead said quietly, "we were almost convinced that something had happened to your spark - something that kept you from us."
"I don't know what it was," Breakdown shrugged. "But I'm glad to see all of you again."
"I am relieved to see you," Dreadwing said quietly, though only loud enough for Breakdown to hear the Seeker's voice.
Breakdown gave the Seeker a small smile before Optimus Prime ordered the rest of the gathered members of Team Prime to give Breakdown space. Arcee, Smokescreen, Bumblebee and Ultra Magnus willingly gave Breakdown room, though Wheeljack and Bulkhead did not move an inch but to stand beside him.
Knock Out gave Breakdown a tentative smile before he turned and followed Arcee back to the table they had been lounging on prior to Dreadwing noticing Breakdown. Breakdown watched Knock Out for a moment before he turned to his Wrecker companions, Dreadwing and Ratchet.
"I guess we've got a lot of time to catch up, don't we?" Breakdown chuckled lightly as he gave the four mechs still standing near him a hesitant smile.
Ratchet finally smiled at him before the medic nodded and gestured for him to follow him. "We have lots to catch up on, actually."
Ratchet started away from the room, leaving Wheeljack, Bulkhead and Dreadwing to nudge him along.
"Come on, Breakdown! We've got loads of stuff we have to talk about," Bulkhead said before he gave Breakdown's arm a gentle tug.
"I'll be with you in a moment, you two," Breakdown reassured before Wheeljack and Bulkhead hurried after Ratchet, leaving Breakdown to face Dreadwing alone.
"Hey," Breakdown greeted his old friend casually.
Dreadwing did not answer his greeting with his own verbal one, and he moved so suddenly that it took Breakdown a few moments to realize that the serious natured Seeker had pulled his chassis into a hug. Surprised, it took Breakdown a moment to return his friend's hug, but return it he did as he closed his optics and let out a deep sigh.
This was home - not the building itself, but the ten Cybertronians who were gathered there. They were friends or close allies, all of them, and Breakdown was relieved to see every one of them.
This was his family.
And it always would be.