Title: Memories and Meaning
Date: 01 May 2015
Summary: It's not as deep as it sounds.
So Nyon's Nygone, the rebels are fractured, and so far as any of them have declared for one side or the other, it has nearly all been to join the Decepticons. There's just something about Zeta Prime stomping a city flat (uh, helped by Hot Rod, but never mind that) which really inspires rebel hearts to go all out.
But as for Hot Rod, he hasn't quite decide what he's going to do. He's ambivalent on the Decepticons, so he seeks out an expert: Deadlock. It's not /quite/ that he's been avoiding him since the fall of Nyon, but he's certainly managed to make himself busy elsewhere before this.
Deadlock is up to his usual at this hour, wandering Kaon, looking for a place that can offer him a cheap and decent drink.
It isn't long before their paths cross.
When the Decepticon warrior spots Hot Rod's flames, his optics light up and he runs to greet the Nyonian rebel.
"Rod!" It's a step closer to Rodimus than Hot Rod, and he knows the flameo probably appreciates it. "I heard about Nyon--are you okay?" he looks him up and down carefully.
"In a word, not really--" That's two words, Hot Rod. "--but the only way through is forward, right?" He tries a bracing smile, but it's not very good. The blind would read it as false without difficulty. "I've been trying not to think about it.
"A lot of the others have already joined up with the Decepticons." Hot Rod pivots to stand next to Deadlock and look back across Kaon. "I feel like Pax and the others are disappointed in me for that, but I don't blame them. Might even understand why they did. You still think the 'cons have the right idea?"
Deadlock embraces Hot Rod tightly. "You're tough, Rod, you'll pull through." He then smiles, and takes a step back, patting Hot Rod on the back.
"Yeah. I'm not as fond of Megatron as some are, but I think we're going in the right direction, yeah." His optics widen. "You're gonna join, right?" He stares hopefully him, looking slightly anxious.
Reluctantly, Hot Rod admits, "I was thinking -- I don't know, saying that I was thinking it doesn't seem exactly right, but I'm not /not/ thinking about it." This is about as clear as mud. He sighs, drawn-out and exaggerated. His spoiler drops with his shrug. "This whole time I haven't wanted to, because I thought it was more important to help Nyon, but how do I help Nyon now, you know? What do you think the right direction /is/? What is it that /you/ think the Decepticons are doing right?"
Sadly Deadlock isn't the best person to ask about these types of things. He pats Hot Rod, and shrugs a little, a bit nonchalantly. "They won't let the Autobots win, that's for sure, and that's all that really matters, right? The Autobots are terrible. You agree, right?"
His optics suddenly get a distant look in them, and for a moment, he zones out, staring blankly at the horizon.
"No." Hot Rod punches Deadlock in the arm. This is just courting danger. It's a gentle punch, a friendly punch -- but it's a punch. "Come on, Deadlock!" At least 20,000 years have finally cured him of his frequent slips to 'Drift' instead. "That's exactly the problem. No, that's not all that matters. What matters is protecting the people the Autobots have been hurting!"
"What!? It /is/ the same thing. Not letting the Autobots win stops them from hurting people, /of course/." He playfully knocks Hot Rod in the helm with his own.
He looks around suddenly, then steps closer and lowers his tone of voice, "There's been something I've been wanting to ask you."
"Yeah, but that's not the first thing you said." Hot Rod looks particularly /stubborn/ on this point, setting his hands on his hips and everything, so that Deadlock knows he's really serious. "Protecting people has to be the first thought, not the third."
Considering recent events, Hot Rod is a little wary as he asks, "What?" That's also all he asks, rather than draw the question out: a reveal of nerves.
"It's not third," he grumbles, "because it's all the same thing. Not letting them win means people don't get hurt, it's all the same reason."
Deadlock motions for Hot Rod to follow him into a dim alleyway. He sighs. "I haven't told you about that recurring dream I've been having recently, have I?"
Hot Rod relaxes as he follows Deadlock into a dim alleyway. This is not the usual, or even the /smart/ reaction -- not for most people, anyway. But despite the, oh, just a couple of times that Deadlock's tried to kill him, they are totally friends! No problem! He's follow Deadlock into any dark alley, any day! At least he's not asking just how Nyon went up in flames, anyway. He's eager to avoid the subject, and so intensely interested in the question. "No, I don't think so. What's going on?"
Hot Rod has nothing to worry about, Deadlock would never purposefully try to kill Hot Rod. Or would he?
"I keep having this dream, about this girl. I don't know what her name is, what she looks like, where's she's from or what she even sounds like. All I know, is that in the dream, she took something from me. I don't know what. And I have to get it back, but I don't know where she is. And I always wake up before I find her. I know she exists and that she was an important part of my past." He pauses. "You must know about her. I just need you answer this question: is she still alive?"
Hot Rod looks blank. This is not an uncommon look. "Mech, I got no idea," he admits after a pause to think about it. "I mean -- it wasn't Arcee, was it? You were hunting her, but it's not like she really took anything. And there was Shiftlock, but I don't think /she/ took anything -- and she's been dead since -- wow, since Sentinel, I guess." It's been a long, long, looong time. "Maybe it's just, uh, flashbacks." (Side effects. Of the DRUGS that DEADLOCK used to DO.)
Deadlock looks frustrated, and he lets out a ragged sigh out of his ventilators, shaking his helm. "No, she's not either of them."
Then he pauses, optics narrowing. "Why does the name Shiftlock seem to jog my memory," he asks Hot Rod. "So she died, huh? What happened?"
"Senate scrap," Hot Rod briefly summarizes. "She was an Autobot -- she'd originally been coerced to join, but she stayed of her own free will and got caught up things. I never really got the full story. She helped you -- uh, she helped you get clean," he eventually says.
Deadlock rubs his helm, clearly having a hard time recalling his past. "No, that's not true. I got myself clean, after Gasket died, I joined the Decepticons. That's why it can't have been her. Someone already mentioned her before, and I'm pretty sure it's not her." He frowns. "That doesn't make any sense. How did they /coerce/ her to join? And you have no idea why they killed her?"
Hot Rod gives Deadlock a sidelong, doubtful glance. "I'm pretty sure she helped you. You didn't join the Decepticons until -- well, until /Starscream/." In those two syllables is every reminder he needs to keep him from running to join the Decepticons. One might get the feeling he doesn't like Starscream much. (DAMN his EXCELLENT entrances, anyway.) "But it was a little while after Gasket died. You lost a bunch of memories and stuff when they reworked you."
Waving his hand in a vague gesture, Hot Rod says, "The whole Autobot thing was scrap. Blurr made her turn herself in or he'd shoot civilians. He was being brainwashed at the time, then they did it to her. She got over it, but she stayed. And no, no idea."
"No, no that's not right," Deadlock corrects Hot Rod, because clearly he knows his own past better than Hot Rod, right? "Starscream wasn't the one who told me to join. When I woke up in that Decepticon hospital, there was an Insecticon there. His name was Bombshell. I'm pretty sure he was the one who made sure I didn't die. He gave me my first weapon."
Deadlock shakes his helm. "No idea?" he frowns, suddenly looking slightly skeptical. "You seem to know a whole lot about everything else."
That's a new one. Hot Rod's eyes narrows. He notes the name, but lacks context for concern. Bombshell. Okay. Whoever THAT is. "If you say so, but you're the one who forgot who I was for a little while," he points out with the jab of his finger at Deadlock's side. See? Pointing. Point, point. "So maybe believe me, huh? Anyway, that's one thing I don't actually know much about. Blast Off might know more. He and Whirl did a better job of keeping up with her, sometimes."
Deadlock frowns, his gaze hardening. "You mean that one guy that tried to kill me while I was carrying you, because you were nano-kliks from your deathbed. Next time I see that mech will be the last time I see him," he growls.
"Hey!" He scowls and punches Hot Rod playfully. "I didn't /forget/ you... I was just... I was still recovering from my helm injury, okay!?" Right, because Chromia had knocked him over the head with her stick before remembered anything. "I owe my life to Bombshell. I don't know where he is now, but that's why I joined."
"You two are still fighting?" Hot Rod sounds so exasperated, so disappointed with them. "Aren't you guys on the same side? You should really get over that. I mean, if you want answers, what are you going to do? Beat them out of him?"
"Mech, if I could change that," Deadlock says with a sneer, "I would!" He folds his arms. "Maybe. He is a piece of tinfoil, after all." He then shrugs. "If he willingly gives me information, maybe I'll delaying murdering him a little bit. Hey! If you're so concerned about us killing each other, why don't you join the Decepticons? Maybe I'll forget about it if you join."
Hot Rod smirks. "That's a terrible reason to join." He glances down the road toward the horizon and says, "But you still might get more answers from someone else. Anyway, I'll think about the Decepticon thing, I guess, but I'm kind of done with thinking for now. Gonna go burn some of this off on a drive. You can come, if you think you can keep up," he teases.
"Any reason to join is fine," Deadlock says. "Don't think too hard," he mutters, "you might accidentally fry your processors," he says derisively, shaking his helm. "Is that a challenge?!" he says, optics flashing. "Come /on/!" He transforms.
"Yeah, that's a challenge!" And Hot Rod throws it down when he's already spinning up to drive off, too. Fair lay is for chumps. He'd make a great Decepticon. Laughing, he races off, no longer thinking hard at all.