Slow Burn

Chapter 7

Chapter 7

I slid down another corridor, realizing it was a dead end and backed up, the clicking footsteps right behind me. Not even pausing to think, I whirled and dashed between the red mech’s legs running back the way I had just come, zig-zagging in the hopes it would make me harder to target.

“I’m trying, but I can’t shake the bot!”

“We’ve got to go back for her,” Frenzy ordered.

Rumble immediately protested, “Are you out of your mind! There ain’t a piece of aft in the universe that’s worth squaring off with the likes of Cliffjumper!” I could already see the purple mech clubbing his brother for implying that he wanted to rescue me for sentimental reasons, even though we all knew it to be true.

Ravage saved the day for me while the brothers tussled, “Natty, get into the ventilation systems. Go against the flow of air. All vents pull air in from the outside.”

“Thanks Rav! You’re a lifesaver!” Scanning ahead of me in the corridor I was running down, I found a floor vent and pulled my electro shock cannon from subspace, charging it immediately. It would take a full power blast to burn through the metal, and even then, I may have to hit it a few times. Glancing back at the red mech closing in behind me, I struck on an idea. I stood right in front of the vent, still cloaked, and took aim, striking him at half power. His back arched and he groaned, but he stood his ground, shaking it off in only a couple seconds. Oh fuck, I thought to myself, realizing just how grossly I had underestimated the assassin. He must possess the same shock protections that I had, because that blow should have knocked him to the ground in a writhing screaming mess.

Twitching his head to each side, popping his neck joints, his blue optics glowing wickedly, he grinned a mirthless malice, “My turn.” The massive cannon raised, aimed at me.

I was shaking, the timing had to be perfect on this. “J-J-Jazz said to make it l-l-look real!” I stammered, my eyes glued to his trigger finger.

“Yeah,” he shrugged, ”But then you decided to play rough.”

As I saw the telltale twitch of his finger beginning to pull death from the machine he carried, I leapt forward tumbling across the corridor. I could feel the heat of plasma burn licking at my feet as I fell end over end. I didn’t hesitate, not even waiting to finish my landing roll, I twisted around, jumping through the still melting metals in the vent cover, yelping at the heat under me as I raced into the ventilation system. Glancing over my shoulder, I could see the muzzle of the white weapon in front of the red mech’s gray face, taking aim again. I leapt to the floor of side connection just in time to see the plasma flash by me through the air I had just occupied a split second before. His curses echoed through the vents. Rolling to my back, I leaned onto my elbows letting my head loll backwards in relief.

“I’m in! Now what Rav?”

“Follow the flow of air. It will lead you to an outside vent. I’m coming back for you, but I still can’t get a lock on your position. I think Cliffjumper is scrambling it.”

My head snapped up, remembering the screaming interference in the comm before the red assassin captured me. “Rav?” I rolled onto my stomach peering down the shaft I was hiding in toward a faint glow of light in the distance. “If he’s scrambling my energy signal, why isn’t he scrambling the comm too?”

“Because he’s listening to us.”

All my energon pumps seized, my blood running cold. The light at the end of the shaft flickered softly. Fear pierced my chest like a cold blade, I scrambled to my feet and ran back down the ventilation shaft I had started out in not bothering to test the direction of air flow.

The red phantom’s jovial voice drifted to me through the echoing corridors, chasing me down, “Aw, come on little Decepticon bug! Come on out and play with me!” Creepy, I thought, glancing back over my shoulder as if I could see his position through the walls while I ran full tilt in no particular direction. Each cross shaft I passed played light and shadow across my path, making me feel as if he was keeping pace with me outside the walls, and encouraging a deep seated feeling of paranoia. Finally, I veered off in another direction, zig zagging through the tunnels with no idea where I was headed, but desperate to escape the snickering echoes of the red mech that haunted my every step.

I rounded one more corner and stopped dead in my tracks. Relief washed over me, I threw my hands to my mouth to cover the gasping whimper. There, before me, stood Ravage, red optics gleaming in the near darkness. “Rav!” I squeaked, his conical ears at the top of his narrow animal head twitching in annoyance at my vocalization. But he couldn’t chide me for it this time, because the Autobot was monitoring our comm. Without a word, he turned and began racing through the ventilation shafts, weaving an impossible to remember path to freedom.

When at last we reached the external inlet, he stopped well back in the shadows, running scans and sniffing at the air. I watched him wide-eyed and pale faced, trembling less from the exertion of keeping up with the animal tape and more from fear of what may lay in wait for us on the outside. In the distance, I could hear the twin engines of Skyfire’s Su -37 alt mode. My eyes darted to the ceiling of the shaft in which we stood, imagining my spark brother circling the base, just out of range of its defenses. Ravage tapped my leg with his tail and, without looking back, moved cautiously to the opening. Pausing to peer out in all directions, he leaped from the inlet and took off at a full run. I didn’t bother to check, it wouldn’t matter at this point, I jumped out after him and bolted for the safety of the outside walls of the base.

Halfway to the wall, I could hear footsteps running up behind us. I didn’t have to look, I knew it was the red Autobot. “Rav!” I screamed. The animal tape glanced back but never broke his stride. I was on my own now. He leaped to the top of the wall easily and disappeared over it in a flash. Focused on that wall, I wondered how in the world I was going to make that jump. My question was answered as two shapes zoomed in my direction. The first, Rumble with the maneuvering wings of his jet pack extended, soared over my head, laying down a spray of plasma to send the red bot for cover. The second, Frenzy landed right in front of me, arms open to grab me. I ran straight into his grasp, nearly knocking him down. He locked his arms around my waist tightly, and I snaked mine up between the maneuvering wings of his jet pack and his back, hooking my fingers under the edge of his shoulder armor. As he lifted us into the air, I wrapped my legs around the back of his knees to keep my feet from dangling and changing his flight trajectory.

“Hang on,” he called to me over the roar of the jet pack. I buried my head in his neck. Since that fateful night when Blackout shot down my chopper, flying was terrifying to me. I couldn’t bear to watch the ground receding beneath us. The scream of the Su-37’s engines ripped past us as Skyfire transformed and hit the ground giving us additional cover fire. For a moment I thought we were going to make it. For a moment. But the sudden buzzing of my warning systems shook me from that elated feeling of freedom.

My eyes opened wide, I tilted my head back yelling to Frenzy, “Zee—“

“I know!” he shouted back, “Hold tight!” With that he banked hard left, arcing a gracefully evasive circle, but it was not enough. The brightness of the plasma charge flared around us as it took off the jet pack’s left wing, searing a gaping hole in Frenzy’s side and singing my arm. His scream was brief, fading quickly with his strength, fluids beginning to gush from his side.

“No! Zee!” My voice quavered with fear. “Zee, stay with me!” I reached into the hole in his side, grasping as many lines as I could manage to hold at once and trying to clamp them all closed with my desperate hand. He let out a loud groan, his optics squeezed shut while we began a spinning dive. Ground, sky, ground, sky, horizon, sky, horizon… “I know it hurts, Zee, but your bleeding out!” He nodded acknowledgement, his optics slitting open at me before they flickered and went dark. “Zee!” My panic was squelched by the impact of our crash. I was thrown a great distance from Frenzy’s limp body. He came to rest on his injured side, fluids pooling beneath him, the remaining jetpack wing sticking up at an oddly crimped angle, his legs set out in front of him, arms curled around his own chest, head lolled to the ground.

I rolled up into a sprint and scrambled to his side, screaming his name over and over.

“Leave… me…” he managed, his optics flickering for a second before going dark again.

“No!” I whimpered, hoisting his shoulders up and dragging his body awkwardly away from the fight that was still blazing between the jet and tape duo and the red Autobot. I switched my comm back on, no longer caring if Cliffjumper was monitoring it or not, I had to get help. “Livewire to Commander Soundwave! Frenzy’s been hit! He’s leaking fluids everywhere! We’re trapped, requesting assistance!”

“Acknowleged,” came the cryptic monotone as if he were receiving permission to dock at home station.

“Hurry!” I snapped at the Comm Officer. That would cost me later, but at the moment, I didn’t really care. All that mattered was the purple mech I was painstakingly dragging around mines and debris, wincing with each bump that his body endured, cringing at the spasmodic convulsions that seamed to randomly attack him as his life supporting systems individually sputtered into varying degrees of stasis lock. “Stay with me, Zee! Help’s on the way!” He hissed static in reply as his body convulsed weakly, optics completely dark.

Finding a clump of damaged body parts from what was once a much larger mech than either of us, I pulled my injured companion around to the lee side, propping him against what appeared to be a leg joint. Kneeling at his side, I began soldering what I could find attempting a field repair of sorts—anything to stop the hemorrhaging. He blinked darkened optics at me, a soft pained moan escaping through the staticky hiss of his ragged breath, his head canted to one side.

The crash of running footsteps set me on the defense. Pulling my EMP cannon and charging it immediately, I launched myself at the intruder, catching myself mid flight and stumbling into Rumble. He grabbed my arms, pushing me back and gazing around me at Frenzy, his annoyance immediately turning to controlled panic. Shoving me aside, he rushed to his twin’s side, scooping the failing body into his embrace, and giving me a mildly regretful glance.

“Just get him out of here!” I said in answer. That was all that mattered to me at the moment. Rumble nodded, silently, propelling them both into the air and away to the safety of our waiting ship. Crashing footsteps behind me rang familiarly in my ears, moments before the black hand tossed me upward. I landed in Skyfire’s cockpit mid-transformation and huddled as deep as I could into the seat. We were all retreating in the face of one, singular, red, Autobot Assassin. Cliffjumper.

I slipped into the Infirmary with my cloak raised, lest I be spotted by Hook or any other Constructicon. They were known for their wild experimentation and I had not set foot inside their shoddy establishment since my arrival, despite their frequent and nefarious invites. The Cryo Regeneration Chambers were in a separate room at the back of the Infirmary and that was my destination. Rumble stood in front of one of the smaller CR Chambers, shoulders slumped, head dropped, talking softly to his spark brother suspended on the other side of the observation glass. The gray palm of one hand was pressed firmly against the window, and on the other side, Frenzy’s optics were slitted open, but held no light or focus.

Dropping my cloak as I entered, I drew a deep breath, which caught in my throat, at the sight of the purple mech floating in suspension inside his chamber, a myriad of tubes, hoses, and electrical lines attached to every limb and port possible. Three small mechanical arms worked furiously at repairing the gaping hole in his side, occasionally hitting a sensitive spot and making his body jerk reflexively, sparks softly cascading down his side. My body shivered with a longing to make it all better, to make it have never happened. I approached slowly, cautiously, part of me not wanting to intrude on Rumble’s interlude with his twin, another part of me wanting Frenzy all to myself.

Hearing my footsteps, the gray mech snapped without turning around, “You did this! He wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you!”

I sighed, “He wouldn’t be alive if I had left him like he asked me to.”

Rumble rounded on me, “He went back for YOU! It’s your fault!” His narrowed optics and furrowed brow spoke volumes of the internal torment at seeing his twin’s suffering. He was right, I couldn’t deny it. The blame really did sit squarely on my shoulders.

“Rumble…” I lowered my voice, softening my tone, “How is he doing?”

“He’ll make it, no thanks to you,” he stood in a defensive posture, knees slightly bent, fists raised, guarding his brother from me. I dropped my gaze to the floor, but I stood my ground. I was not leaving Frenzy’s side. I had made him that promise and I intended to keep it, regardless of Rumble’s currently violent disapproval. Rumble straightened as though listening to something I could not hear and turned toward the CR Chamber protesting quietly so that I could not make out what was said. Inside the chamber, I could see Frenzy’s body shift slightly, his head nodding in slow motion. He was awake! My heart thrilled—or at least it would have if I still had one. Shaking his head, Rumble punched the next chamber over, leaving spider webbed cracks in the observation window and startling the wounded mech inside, before he turned to stalk out of the room throwing a deadly hateful glare at me as he passed.

As soon as Rumble had left the room, I raced to Frenzy’s CR Chamber, both palms pressed to the window, along with my forehead. My voice trembled as I called to him through the window, uncertain whether he could hear me, “Frenzy! I’m sorry! I’m so sorry! Rumble’s right, it’s all my fault! If I had just left with Ravage… If I had taken a jetpack myself…” Looking up at the purple mech, I could see his head shake slightly, a scowl slowly covering his pain stricken face. “I don’t care if you think it’s weakness, Zee,” I was guessing at his thoughts. “You are my weakness.” I rolled my head so that my cheek was pressing against the window, watching the three thin arms diligently working at reconstructing his side. Drawing in a deep shaky breath, I wondered if there was anything I could possibly do to speed his recovery, or at least make it less painful.

A soft clinking sound caught my attention and looking up, I found a purple palm flattened against the inside of the window opposite one of my own palms. A guilty, burdened sigh pulled itself from my chest. “Zee… what can I do…? I’d do anything…” my voice faltered into a strangled squeak. Looking up at the purple tape, I saw one corner of his mouth quirk slightly upward, in spite of his obvious pain. Chuckling despite myself, I said, “Really? Can I even get in there with you?” My chest fluttered little sparkling tingles as he nodded slowly, pointing toward the datapad at the side. With a giddy grin, I opened the door for the chamber and slipped inside with the purple mech. When the door sealed shut once more, my body drifted upwards in the zero gravity suspension. I gingerly grasped at Frenzy’s body pulling myself close to him, whispering apologies as he winced at the movement.

I began showering his face and neck with kisses, grateful to be able to touch him, grateful he was still alive. “I was so afraid I would lose you,” I whimpered against his throat, my face tucked under his chin. He hissed a staticky word at me that didn’t register at first. Glancing up at him in confusion, I turned the sound over in my mind, finally recognizing the word… connect…

“Now?” I queried, puzzled. Remembering that the original purpose for those infamous connection ports was to flush fluids into systems, I nodded acquiescence, and took his connector from its storage, snapping it into place in my body. A pained cry ripped from my mouth and my body spasmed into an arc immediately as his deeply echoing agony washed through me. “Zee!” I gasped, wide-eyed. Steadying myself against the sharing of such an abysmal suffering, I carefully wrapped my arms around his torso, curling myself up against his body and bearing as much of the pain for him as I could manage. Every stroke of the mechanical arms sent searing fire abounding through my body, overlapping the miserable pangs of the injuries suffered and systems damaged, the only comfort being a slow drip of warm energon through another port in his arm and the entanglement of his tortured soul into my own. I won’t leave you, Frenzy, I whispered through the connection.

I know, his strained thoughts caressed at my guilty mind, wrapping me up in the warmth of the sentiment that had sent him back for me. He had rescued me, he had nearly lost his life for me… I couldn’t repay that. No need… he whispered. I shivered at the strength of the emotion behind his words, realizing, in turn, how deeply I had come to feel for this crazy, wild mech.

At some point, many hours later, I fell asleep, cradling his wounded body in my embrace, although I’m not entirely sure how. Perhaps exhaustion from the strain of sharing all that pain, perhaps he put me to sleep, I really couldn’t say how it happened, or for how long, but I am certain that he eventually fell itno a deep recharge right along with me. My dreams were widely scattered and seemed to have a shadowy figure always present in them. I dreamt of Earth. I dreamt of Blackout. I dreamt of downed helos and dying soldiers. I dreamt of Skyfire. I dreamt of Cybertorn. I dreamt of an era before the war. I dreamt of peace that was always just beyond my reach, hanging there like a forbidden fruit. I dreamt of a planet raped by unnecessary war. I dreamt of noble ideas that led to deep division. I dreamt of restoration at any cost. I dreamt of the need for great sacrifice to undo the damage done. Obviously not all the dreams were mine.

“Natty,” the voice was rough, and cracked with a faint static. It spoke in my ear and my mind simultaneously. Slowly I roused from my dreaming state, uncertain of what was reality and what was fading, unconscious apparitions. A warm push surged through my mind, reaching inward and lifting me from the fog of sleepiness. Natty.

I startled awake, my eyes flew open wide, blinking rapidly. Two hands held my head steady, red optics, bright and strong, stared into mine, the corner of Frenzy’s mouth curled upward into his characteristic smirking grin. It took me a second to realize this was not a dream, he was really awake.

“Zee!” I squealed, “Oh, Zee!” I pushed forward, capturing his mouth with mine, wrapping my arms around his neck, my legs around his hips, and ignoring every sore pang my sudden movement caused him. We were still connected and I could feel his laughter at my rush of affections. You’re okay! I whimpered through the connection, as I devoured his rough, biting kisses.

Yes. Sensual tendrils began to seep across the connection and I welcomed them cautiously, wondering if that was really a good idea at the moment. He had just recovered from a nearly mortal wound and we were still suspended inside the CR Chamber. I’ve always wanted to try this… he chuckled mischievously. I giggled out loud. I would not deny him anything right now, I was so grateful that he had survived his ordeal.

With a complete surrender, I whispered back, Feed my addiction, Zee. A sudden flood of tingling excitement coursed through my circuitry, at once tender and fierce. His passion consumed me both physically ravaging my across my body and internally in the connection, filling me with his longings, chasing down my lingering fears and doubts and casting them out like exorcised demons. His consciousness invaded my own, exposing my whole life, laying out all that I am before him like a buffet line, and he sampled everything, leaving nothing untouched, all while I basked in the electrifying intimacy he washed my mind with. I felt alive for the first time. Like everything before had just been a prelude to the real awakening. And in his sight, at this very moment, I was beautiful, I was wanted.

His caresses reached down to my very soul, wrapping me in an euphoric ecstasy that could only be borne of such a deep seated connection, our lives, our very existences, entwined and tangled with a pervasive emotion that could not be readily named. It was something so far beyond love that the very word seemed to be insulting. Strength, steely, and sharp cut through my inhibitions, tearing down my walls and exposing the trembling creature that I am, lifting me into an embrace that was both tantalizingly erotic in nature and addictively nurturing, sustaining. A building torrent of desire began thrilling within me, spilling through the connection from his own hungry obsessions. His fingers covered every erogenous zone on my body, bending my excitement to his will, a heightened intoxication, enraptured by the chase to an orgasmic climax. Racing through the adrenaline charged sexual heat, my body began to shake, unable to contain the surge of ecstatic euphoria of his sensual touch. It felt as if this time I would not survive the frenzied tidal wave of ravishment he was unleashing upon me, and I didn’t care! I wanted to die, right here in this moment, wrapped up in this jubilant bliss, this insane paradise of Frenzy’s making, so that I would never have to leave it. The painfully delicious exhilaration of climax erupted between us like a super nova, two souls, coalesced into one another, reborn again as separate entities, each carrying pieces of the other away, the entanglement never entirely undone.

I had never felt so close to another being in my life. Not even sharing a spark with Skyfire could compare to the intimate reverberation that coursed through me. He was mine and I was his. Eternally. This could not be undone. On some level, it seemed, there would always be an open connection, a link to him that would surpass time and distance and carry over even into death. Right then, I knew I would never love again. Not like this. For all our disagreements and differences, our souls were seared together permanently. He disconnected from me, but even in the absence of the directness of the physical means, I could feel his presence within me.

Relishing the residual euphoria, I snuggled against him, enjoying the possessive tightness of his grip around my waist, my face buried in his neck, he leaned his chin against my cheek. And this is how Hook found us, clucking his disapproval and threatening to cleanse the CR Chamber with energon pumped directly from our own dismantled bodies.

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