Dark Secret

By: Sapphire


Authoress' Note: PG 13. This story is rather disturbing.  It's got a few themes running through it, but by the end of the fic I hope you'll be able to identify the main theme. Not for the faint-hearted.




 

He watched her leave the base.  He saw her look both ways before she left the shadow cast by the Axalon, looming over her.  She sprinted across the open land ahead of her, jumped up and let her wings spread out.  She caught a wind current, lifted up and flew higher and farther until she was out of sight.  Where was she going?

Rattrap had taken over monitor duty from Cheetor for two minutes while he went to fetch a music CD he wanted to listen to while doing his boring job. Rattrap was supposed to be fixing a damaged CR chamber, but had entered the control room briefly to get some tools.  Cheetor had asked him to take over and while he watched the screens, he saw her leave.  She probably knew it was Cheetor's time for duty and seeing as the two were best friends, he wouldn't report her absence, or rather he would say he wasn't aware she was gone.  But Rattrap knew better.  He knew that whenever he wasn't looking, she stole out of the base and when she returned, she either lied that she'd been feeding her beast mode 'near base' or that she had in fact been in the base 'all this time'. He knew these were lies, because he could tell when she lied.  It wasn't natural, she was a bad actress and she always looked nervous.  Yet, he wasn't sure what it was that she did when she left.

Cheetor came up beside Rattrap.

"Thanks RT!  I've got what I wanted.  Did you see anything peculiar while I was away?"

Rattrap sighed and got out of Cheetor's chair.

"Only Mia leaving base again.  Do ya have any idea why she insists on pullin' a Tigatron?  She's almost neva home!  An' don't tell me she's feeding, she's as thin as a rake an' her beast mode doesn't need ta eat very much."

Cheetor looked a little taken aback.  He scratched the back of his head with a shrug.

"I'll be honest with you Rattrap.  I noticed the same, but when I ask her she won't give me a clear answer.  I just don't know where she goes."

Rattrap stared long and hard at the young cat, making his eyes drop.  Cheetor shifted uncomfortably.

Rattrap shook his head with another, soft sigh and started to make his way out of the control room.

"Well, just tell her when she gets in, dat she must come an' see me immediately," he said as he left the room.

Cheetor resumed monitor duty feeling both worried and unsettled.


Megatron growled and clenched his fists.

"Where is Tarantulas?" he barked.

Waspinator and Quickstrike both wobbled a little on their hover boards due to the jumps of fright they'd made at his sharp question.

"I don't know boss bot.  I ain't seen that dang spider for three days in a row," Quickstrike said.

"Wazzpinator thinkzz zzzpider bot up to no good."

Megatron tapped his fingers irritably on the arm rest of his 'throne'.

He opened his com. link to Inferno.

"Inferno!"

"Yes Royalty!"

"I'm not picking up Tarantulas on my scanners.  See if you can locate him and if you do, report to me at once."

"As you command, my Queen.  Inferno out."

Megatron turned to Waspinator and Quickstrike.

"My scanners have, however, picked up a single Maximal moving towards neutral ground.  We have no detectors there and in a few cycles she'll be out of range.  Get to her before she disappears, and follow.  See where she goes," Megatron ordered, knowing full well that the route she was taking was not a regular patrol route.

The two Predacons left the command center and made their way toward the Maximal.


It was very dark inside his lair.  The constant glow emitting from the energon crystals above him created an eerie kind of neon light.  His computer screens blinked at him and the ticking of his clock reminded him that he was expecting someone.

Tarantulas finished his lunch and moved the remainder of the carcass into the back of his lair and further into a pit he'd dug.  It stank of rotting flesh, a gruesome reminder that he needed to clean it out again.  He transformed back into robot mode and stood still, listening for noises outside.

Nothing.

With a grumble, he walked over to one of his screens and tapped a few buttons.  The computer hummed in reply.

"Approaching Maximal.  Seventy Nano-clicks away."

He switched off all his computers and silently made his way to the hatch which would lead him to the outside world.


Silverbolt was on patrol.  Soaring overhead, surveying the landscape below, his mind often drifted.

He thought of his position as a Maximal.  It was heaps better working under Optimus' command than under Megatron's.  He felt more at home with them and if it weren't for this war and the fact that his lover happened to be Predacon, he'd be pretty happy.

His lover - Blackarachnia.  Was she really his lover?  Not really, he thought a little miserably.  She was so smart, so dark, so attractive...but she was treacherous.  She operated her own agenda and he knew that his trust in her was far from foolproof.  He believed strongly that there was goodness in her spark and that eventually she'd come round, but for the time being she was being stubborn and he'd just have to put up with the fact that for now, she was very much a Predacon.  Which brought him to another point to ponder - if he'd stayed with the Predacons, would they have...maybe it would have worked out better...no.  He couldn't think such things!

His thoughts were interrupted by a crackle from his Com. link.

"Optimus to Silverbolt."

"Silverbolt here!"

"Silverbolt, Tigatron and Airazor have located something important in Grid Vitra, which as you know is some days away from here.  They've urged me to come and check it out, which means I'm going to be away from base for a few days."

Silverbolt frowned.

"Is it serious?"

"It sounds so.  This is all very sudden, but I'll try and get back as soon as I can.  For the meantime, Rattrap is in command."

"Understood.  And Optimus, good luck."

"Thank you Silverbolt.  Optimus out."

No sooner had Silverbolt closed the link and prepared himself to worry about his leader when his Com. rattled to life again.

"Silverbolt!"

"Silverbolt here...?"

"Dis is Rattrap."

"What do you need, Commander?"

There was a chuckle and a snort.

"Commander.  Huh.  'Like da sound of dat!  Ahem.  Uh, 'bolt?  Can ya do me a favour?"

"Why certainly! What is it?"

Rattrap cleared his throat and paused a little before continuing.

"Mia's just disappeared again.  She's off da scanners inta neutral ground.  I can't reach her wid' da Com. link.  Could ya make a detour an' fly over dere...see if ya can locate her?"

Silverbolt lowered himself out of the air current and changed course.

"I'll try.  What must I do if I find her?"

"Tell her to report back ta base immediately.  An' tell her dat now I'm her commander."

"Will do.  Silverbolt out."

Silverbolt caught another current and moved swiftly toward the neutral ground.  He wondered why she kept going off.  It was obviously bothering Rattrap and her disappearances were becoming more and more frequent.  It was probably a good idea, he thought, to follow her instead. See where she goes, instead of bringing her back to base where she was bound to make up another excuse.  She was a bad liar, everyone could see it.

"I'm sure Rattrap wouldn't mind if I did a little snooping.  I might be able to answer more questions than her."

With that thought, he hurried on his way.


2 Hours Later

Let me show you the world.  Let me show you the light, and the darkness.  Let me show you pain and let me show you love.  Let me touch you, let me push you away.  Let me talk to you, let me force you into silence.  Let me enter your mind, let me tell you sweet lies and harsh truths.  Where is your mind?  Where?  Is...where...is.... 

Let me teach you to kill, to fight, to destroy and to make life. Let me ask you questions you'll never be able to answer.  Let me ask you to make impossible decisions.  Let me pour water over your body and let me let you...burn.

Mia's eyes were closed.  She was lying on a table in pitch darkness, listening...listening.  Her breathing was deep, her mind was far. Her body tingled and then lost all feeling.  She felt nothing but heard his voice, low, almost a whisper.

"Will you let me?" he said, after a pause of unknown length.  Time didn't exist in this world of depth and dark.

"Yes," she answered, her voice sounding foreign and hard to her audios.

She felt pressure over her abdomen and breathing became difficult.

"Mia."

She tried to talk but she couldn't.

"Mia."

She wheezed.

"Where is your mind?"

She felt very sleepy all of a sudden.  She could feel slumber creeping up on her like a wolf, hunting her consciousness.

"Where is your mind?"

The pressure eased and she could breath again, although she strangely hadn't missed the air.

She felt his arms around her and her body being lifted so she was in an upright position.  Her head throbbed a little and her eyes felt as if they were glued shut.  She struggled to open them and because it was so dark, she wasn't sure if she had succeeded or not.

She felt warmth and she fully embraced it.  She leaned against him and put her head to where she imagined his chest to be, as she could hear the tell-tale pulse of his spark within.

"Mia."

"Yes?"

"Are you all right?"

"Yes."

"Do you want to wake up now?"

"I...ok."

Her eyes flung open and her world was once again visible.  She was in his lab, the light was very dim...just the glow of the energon crystals above and the flicker of computer screens.  She was sitting at the end of the lab table.  She looked around only to find he was gone.

"Tarantulas?" she called, a little frightened.

He appeared from the shadows holding something.

"You did well this time.  You went almost completely under, into an absolute state of trance.  You were exploring levels of your consciousness that you've never known about.  Here," he said and placed what appeared to be a weapon of sorts on her lap.

She studied it, running her fingers over it.  It was long and deep purple with a glass middle and inside it was a swirling liquid. The barrel had a safety cap on and there was a mini console at its rear end, littered with colorful buttons.

"What is it?"

He sat down next to her.

"It's a very large syringe.  It contains the same liquid I injected into you that helped you reach that state of your mind.  I'm giving it you so you can experiment with it at will, when you like."

Her face lit up.

"Really?  Wow!  My very own...can I do it before I go to sleep?"

He nodded with a smile.

"Of course, but you must remember, this has to remain a secret. Don't let any of the Maximals find out...they will object because they are too narrow-minded to understand what it is we're trying to do."

She nodded adamantly.

"All right.  I'll be very careful."

He pointed a claw to the measurements marked in inked notches along the length of the glass container in the middle of the syringe.

"You must be careful to only inject yourself with a very small amount.  Too much can kill you.  Only have 10 milliliters at a time every two days."

She nodded nonchalantly as she gazed over the syringe.

"How am I going to smuggle it in without anyone seeing me? No doubt they're all just waiting for me to get back, loaded with questions.  Tarantulas, I hate lying to them...I hate lying to him..."

Tarantulas patted her softly on the back as he stood up.

"I know it must be hard for you, but is better for them too, you see, to be kept in the dark.  Do you understand?"

She nodded softly, her eyes dropping, her legs swinging a little limply over the edge of the table.

There was a sharp squeal which pierced the silence and Tarantulas let out a low chuckle.

"Ah.  Dinner is ready!"

She giggled.

"Caught another antelope in your web?"

Tarantulas transformed to beast mode.

"Sounds it.  I hate to ask you to leave so soon, but it is probably best you leave now before the after effects, the drowsiness, kicks in," he advised.

She transformed into her raven/raccoon mode.

"I understand.  Can I come back tomor -"

"Whenever you wish...I may not always be here, but you're welcome to work on our... little project otherwise."

She nodded with a smile.

"Thank you.  I...I love you."

He laughed darkly, and although she did love him, that laugh was so wicked, it frightened and unsettled her.  She shifted uncomfortably.

"Well, I'd better be leaving now," she said and turned and left rather hastily.


Inferno, Waspinator and Quickstrike weren't the only transformers who'd had no luck in finding their assigned target.  Silverbolt was growing worried.  It was getting dark, the sun was melting behind the hills and in the west a storm was brewing.  The air currents became stronger and he was having to fly into the wind.  Still no luck in finding Mia.  He'd left neutral ground three times to get into COM. link range and ask Rattrap if she'd returned and each time the reply had been no.  

A particularly strong updraft ruffled his feathers violently and he squeezed his eyes shut for a brief moment.  He could hear the thunder threatening in the distance and he sighed.

"I'd better return back to base and call for an official search.  I'm going to need help finding her in the dark," he said and changed course to the Axalon.

The storm had seemingly chased him all the way back to base, as by the time he arrived rain was already beginning to spit down.

He transformed to robot mode and got into the elevator, glad to be out of the wind and impending rain.

The elevator reached the top and opened and he stepped inside the Axalon.  Rattrap was sitting at the command table and he looked up anxiously.  His face dropped.

"Ya didn't find her?" he asked wearily.

Silverbolt shook his head slowly.

"I looked for her everywhere.  It's getting dark and I thought maybe it'd be better if we dispatch more of us to locate her," he suggested.

Rattrap looked down at the table, twiddled his thumbs and shook his head.

"I don't think anyone's gonna find her in a storm dis big," he muttered and motioned with his hand to the screens.  Silverbolt walked over and studied the weather patterns being monitored and displayed.  Rattrap was right, that was one huge storm.

He opened his mouth to say something when he was interrupted by the noise of the elevator rising and opening.  Both he and Rattrap looked across and standing there, dripping wet and looking both tired and miserable, was Mia.

"Mia!" Rattrap yelled.

"Where da Pit have you been?"

Mia wobbled a little on her legs and stepped out of the elevator.  She shook the water off her feathers and fur and looked at him sadly.

"I went for a walk and I lost track of time," she said, her voice sounding strained and fragile.  She looked ready to faint.

Rattrap stood up, his chair scraping menacingly as he pushed it behind him. Silverbolt stepped back sensing a fight coming on.

"A walk, huh? So ya didn't even notice da HUGE clouds dat have been looming over ya fer da past hour?  And where exactly were ya walking?  I couldn't see ya on da scanners, you were out of Com. range and you didn't ask permission ta leave in da first place!"

"Oh stop being so serious.  So I wondered off and out of range.  I went for a walk to be alone and away from all this.  Neither you nor Megatron could find me and that's what I wanted," she growled and started making her way to the entrance of the hallway.

Rattrap looked ready to explode.

"Don't turn yer back on me!  I wanna full explanation, because I don't think you're tellin' da truth!"

She swiveled around viciously and Silverbolt gulped.

"That was my explanation...and stop ordering me around!  You're not Optimus Primal, y'know."

"Oh yeah?  Well I just happen ta be his second-in-command an' he's away fer da next few days, which ya would've known if ya weren't on one of yer slaggin' walks, an' until he gets back, I am yer commander."

She glared at him, quivering with either rage or sheer exhaustion.

"I'm going to my room," she said at last and stormed off.

There was a long pause and Silverbolt felt as if the air was flammable.  He eased away from Rattrap.

"Well...uh, at least we won't have to call a search," he said meekly and hurried down the hallway.


Megatron listened to Inferno's report.  Waspinator and Quickstrike had come in an hour before, and had no luck in fining the Maximal. The antbot had searched the entire grid for Tarantulas and had not found him.  Although annoyed with Quickstrike and Waspinator, Megatron was not angry with Inferno.  He was sure that the bot had done his job as best he could and he also knew how elusive Tarantulas could be.

"I could keep on trying, Royalty?"

Megatron shook his head.

"Don't bother.  There is a storm coming...an electrical one at that.  There's no point.  You are dismissed, Inferno."

Inferno saluted and left Megatron alone in his energon bath.

He kicked his rubber ducky around a bit while thinking.  He'd picked up on some communication waves between Silverbolt and Optimus and had learned that the Maximal leader was away for a few days investigating a find in Grid Vitra.  He decided that once the storm had passed, he'd send Inferno and Blackarachnia to check it out.  He realized too that this meant the Maximals were under the command of Rattrap.  Now, he was aware that fairly often Mia left base and followed non-patrol routes.  He hadn't paid much attention to it, but now that Optimus was away, he could see a way that he could use her frequent excursions to his advantage.  Next time she was out, he'd capture her and hold her as a hostage.  He could then make whatever demands he pleased and Rattrap would have to meet them.  What would he like?  Their surrender, their base and to use them as slaves until he didn't need them?  Optimus wouldn't agree to so many things, but Rattrap might...seeing as Mia was his daughter.  

With this thought in mind, he opened the channel to Rampage.

"Rampage!"

He could see the crab bot was lying on his bed and looked unhappy at being disturbed.

"What do you want?  I'm trying to sleep-"

"You know the Maximal named Mia?"

"Yes.  What about her?"

"Next time she's out, and I'll alert you when she is, I want you to intercept her before she heads into neutral territory, and bring her to me."

"Why?"

Megatron was growing impatient.

"Never mind why!  Just do as you're told when the time comes.  Megatron out."

He switched off his screen and lay back in his bath.  He could hear the storm was upon them now and the thunder was growing ever louder.

"Now, if only I knew what was happening in grid Vitra..."


The Next Day

Mia stared at the ceiling of her room.  It was where she'd be staying for the next week, as she was grounded or, as her commander liked to put it, confined to quarters.  She loved her father, and she knew that he worried and was only looking out for her...and she hated to lie to him, but he just couldn't know. He wouldn't understand.

She found herself bathing in silence, with a lot of time on her hands to think.  She thought about her life.  She'd only been here for a few months.  She'd never met her mother.  Her name had been Moonshadow and she was killed in battle.  Her father told her she was pregnant at the time and the very fact that Mia was alive was a miracle and she owed her life to Rhinox who'd managed to rescue her spark from her mother's corpse.  None of the Maximals were ever clear as to how Moonshadow died, all she knew was that she was a medic and that it pained her father to speak about her.  

Cheetor had become her best Maximal friend.  He was fun to be around and she trusted him more than any of the other Maximals, including her father.  He was like an older brother and he looked out for her, which she really appreciated.

Her mind drifted from the Maximals to the Predacons and she remembered how she'd first encountered Tarantulas.  She'd been on scout patrol for the first time and somehow she'd managed to get lost.  She'd managed to wind up outside his lair, which she wasn't aware was there at the time.  She'd heard a whisper in the wind; it sounded like someone was calling her name.  Someone was.  She followed the whisper to a concealed hatch and mesmerized by its beckoning tone, she'd entered the tunnel that led to his lab.  When she was inside, the whispers stopped and she looked around this strange place with curiosity.  She was inside a cavern, but there were computer screens, tubes and beakers and above her, a huge collection of energon cubes.  Then he'd come out of the shadows, like he would so often do in their future meetings, and she'd yelped in fright.  Optimus had warned her about him and she'd prepared to fight him, but he'd remained calm and told her she was not to fear him, he had no interest in hurting her.  She'd been skeptical at first, but when he started telling her about all the wonderful things he wanted to teach her, and how he was not actually a Predacon nor a Maximal, she'd become intrigued.  He told her many things and by the end of the day, she was his.  She'd gone to see him almost everyday after that, and each time he'd show her something new.  He told her stories of Cybertron, showed her how to operate complicated systems, explained his experiments to her and that one day he was going to escape Earth and he'd take her with him.  She couldn't help the attraction she had for him...it was strange, unexplained but she found herself totally in love with him.

She sighed and rolled over. She wanted to go and see him again.  He would be wondering what had happened to her soon, when she didn't come to visit.  She rolled off the bed and landed with a thump.  She looked underneath it and reached for the syringe she'd successfully smuggled in by means of a compartment for her weapon.  That meant she'd had to leave her weapon behind, but it wasn't like anyone was going to notice anytime soon.  She was grounded after all, so she wouldn't have any opportunity to fight.  She didn't mind, because she hated fighting the Predacons, especially when Tarantulas was involved.  It would only be a matter of time before the Maximals (and Megatron) noticed that the two never fired at each other.

Mia reached for the syringe and lay on her back, holding it up in front of her.  

10 milliliters every two days...wonder what 15 would do to me...

There was a knock at the door.

"Mia?"

She quickly pushed it back under the bed, jumped to her feet and made her way to her door.

"Yes?"

"Hey Mia, it's Cheetor.  Can I come in?"

She opened the door and smiled to see him standing there.

"Sure."

The two of them sat on her bed and she waited for Cheetor to ask the inevitable.

"So uh, I heard about...well, I know you have to stay here.  But I don't know why.  Where did you..?"

She sighed and her eyes dropped.

"Cheetor, I really wish I could tell you.  I hate keeping a secret from you," she looked up "but it's not like I'm doing anything bad.  It really isn't.  It's just, private.  I might tell you, someday...when I feel the time is right.  I'm sorry."

He nodded gently and his shoulders drooped.

"Oh, ok.  I won't bother you.  Hey, I brought you this," he said and took out an audio CD from his sub-space pocket.

"You might like some of the tracks on there.  It's one of my favourite albums by the Techbots."

She took the CD with a smile.

"Thanks, Cheetor."

He got up and headed for the door.

"I'll come talk to you later, it's my turn on scout patrol.  Bye."

He left and her automatic doors shut behind him.  She fiddled with the audio CD in her hand, and was just about to play it on her laptop when she remembered the syringe.  She knelt beside her bed and reached for it.  She took it out and turned around so her back was to the bed.  The swirling blue liquid danced in the glass container and she positioned the barrel over her arm.

"No," she whispered to herself.

"The mark it'll make will be too visible on my arm...I wonder where Tarantulas injected me.  I...I can't remember."

She got to her feet and went to the mirror in her room.  She commanded her door to lock and then she undressed her torso plate in front of the mirror.

"This is one spot no one will see except me," she assured herself as she undid the bolts on her back.  Her torso plate came loose and she removed it carefully.  She bent over and picked up the syringe and pointed the barrel over the top of her left breast.  She glanced up briefly at the mirror to check her positioning and then looked back at the syringe to adjust the settings to ten milliliters.  She paused halfway and frowned.  Slowly, she looked up again at the mirror.  Something had caught her eye.  She squinted and saw in her reflection a round mark...on her right breast.  She stared at the reflection in disbelief.

"So that's where you injected me," she whispered hoarsely.  Her eyes fell on the syringe once more.  She remained silent and still for a long time, her emotions boiling inside of her.  She suddenly shook her head.

"No, he just thought the same way as me.  He knew nobody would notice the mark if it was under my torso plate.  He was looking out for me!  Yes, yes that's what he was doing," she told herself and giggled nervously.  She positioned the barrel once more, adjusted the settings and injected.  Almost immediately she felt woozy.  Her legs began to sway beneath her and she struggled back to her bed, managing to roll the syringe back underneath it before collapsing.  She lay on the bed, all sight seemed to be fading around the edges, there was no sound except the pulse of her own spark beating in her audios.  Her breathing became deep and she felt her mind drifting.  Memories came seeping in, at first very distant and hard to grip, and then stronger and more vivid.

"Mia."

"Yes?"

"Do you know what a spark is?

"Y...yes.  It's what keeps us alive."

"Do you know what else it can do?"

"Uh...it can give us energy, it can love, it can...uh..."

"Little Mia, do you even know how you came into being?"

She was frightened of his tone of voice.  Dark.  Ominous.

"Optimus found a blank stasis pod, and took my spark from my dead mother and put it in the blank protoform and I was born."

"Very good.  But where did your spark come from?"

"The Matrix?"

A wicked, mocking laugh filled the air around her and the memory faded.

Another began.

This time, she was outside his lair, looking up at the stars.

"Tarantulas, have you ever been in love?"

He was silent for a long time.

"Yes and no," he'd said eventually.

She'd looked at him curiously.

"Who was she?"

He'd begun to reply when a noise in the distance, that of an approaching vehicle bot, stopped him.

"Mia, Rattrap is coming.  We mustn't let him find us! Quick, back inside the lair!"

He'd opened the hatch and they both crawled inside the tunnel, her first.  It was fairly wide but only one could squeeze through at a time.  She felt and heard him scuttling behind her in beast mode.  She felt one of his legs on her back, pushing her forward, then slipping over her side and tickling her stomach.  She'd giggled. "Stop that!  That tickles...."  She scrambled forward but felt him grab her back legs, making her fall flat on her belly, one of his legs squashed underneath her.  He continued to tickle her.

She was laughing.  

"Oof!  Hey...hey!  Stop it!  Hee hee!"

The tickling became harder, she could feel his breath on the back of her neck.

"Hey!  Ow...not so hard.  Stop..."

She'd tried to scramble forward again, but he latched onto her ankles again and she fell and her world faded into darkness.  

Mia frowned.  She couldn't remember any more after that.  Had it been a dream, or a memory?  Her world was so hazy, she couldn't tell.

Her sight had totally gone and she felt as if she were underwater and sinking deeper and deeper.  A far-off noise tickled her senses and after what felt like eternity, she deciphered it as her name.

"Mia!"

It was small and faint.

"Mia!"

It grew louder.

"MIA!"

She lurched forward, vision flooded back to her eyes and the pounding noise of her spark faded away.  She was panting, as if she really had been underwater.  Someone was banging on the door.

She got off her bed shakily, put back on her torso plate and slowly made her way to the door.  She tried to open it.  It took her some time before she remembered it was locked.

"Unlock," she commanded.

She opened it.

"Mia!  Why didn't ya answer me?" 

Rattrap...no...her dad...yes...he was her dad.  He was...who was she?  Where was she?

"Huh?  Oh sorry...I was asleep."

The annoyed look on his face softened into one of concern.

"Really?  You look...terrible...I mean, yer so...."

She felt as if she was going to faint.

"I'm fine," she said, her voice hard and flat.

He put an arm around her waist and tried to give her a hug.  His hand was on her stomach.

She whimpered.

"Don't...please stop...."

He pulled away with a confused frown.

"You're da one always complaining I don't hug ya enough.  Are ya feeling ok, baby?"

She coughed and looked at the ceiling.

"I'm your baby," she said in a sing-song voice.

He stared at her.

"Yeah...anyway, I came ta tell ya dat ya can leave yer room fer a few hours ta come an' help me fix some damage to the exterior of da base, caused by da storm.  It was one heck of a storm, I tell ya.  Knocked out sentinel.  Didn't you hear it last night?

She felt sick.  She wanted to sleep.  The liquid was still so poignant.  She should still be under.

"I'm coming Rattrap.  Let me just get my tools," she said and went back into her room.

He watched her dig through her drawers with a frown.

"Rattrap," he muttered.

She suddenly stood up, looking both sick and exhausted.

"You know...can I come a little later?  I'm not feeling too good."

He nodded.

"Yeah, ok.  Da hole is just above Dinobot's room.  Heh...poor guy woke up drenched.  Smack bang over his bed an' he didn't even hear it!" he chuckled.

She stared at him blankly.

He cleared his throat.

"Ok, you get some more rest,  I'll wake ya in an hour."

He turned and left, shaking head his head and frowning.  She closed the door and flopped back on her bed, sobs choking in her throat.

"I do feel terrible," she whined.

She closed her eyes and let sleep take her.


One Week Later

"Where the Pit are Inferno and Blackarachnia!"

Quickstrike and Waspinator exchanged glances, and then looked back at their angry commander.

"They're probably on their way back as we speak, Boss bot," Quickstrike tried to comfort Megatron.

Megatron snorted and tapped his fingers on the armrest of his chair.

"They'd better be.  I want to know what's keeping them and Optimus in grid Vitra. I'd be annoyed if I had to fly there myself.  Especially when-"

The computer's loud beep interrupted him.

"Unit Mia leaving Maximal base."

Megatron's frown turned into a smile.

"Ah, dear little Mia has surfaced again."

He opened the Com. channel to Rampage.

"Rampage, Mia has left base.  I want you to wait for her at the following co-ordinates..."


Rattrap knew Mia would leave the second her 'confinement to quarters' was over, but he wasn't going to try and stop her. He'd set her up this time.  He knew that her behavior that day after the storm had something to do with her absence the day before, and he was determined to find out why.  So, he'd asked the rest of the Maximals to play along in a little game he was going to play.  When she'd woken up that morning, he'd asked Rhinox to tell her that she'd missed a battle early that morning and that 'Rattrap had taken a bad hit and needed time in the CR chamber'.  Of course she believed trusty old Rhinox, asked how long 'dad was going to be in there' and he'd told her all day. In actual fact, Rattrap was lurking in the long grass in beast mode, waiting for her to leave base, which she did.  Now she was flying toward neutral ground, and he converted to vehicle mode and followed her from the ground.  

"No more secrets, Mia," he whispered and followed as fast as he could. She had an advantage with speed, being able to fly, but he'd keep up.

He had to.


 Rampage would have done exactly what Megatron had told him to, if he hadn't run into Dinobot.  The velociraptor had been on scout patrol, but must've picked up Rampage's signature before he crossed over into neutral ground and, battle-hungry as always, intercepted him.  
Rampage was confident he could take down Dinobot, but he was still a little confused as to why the Maximal was so determined to stop him.  

Right now, Rampage was facing his opponent, six meters apart.  Dinobot was fast, he'll hand him that, but he wasn't indestructible.

Dinobot fired his optic lasers at the crab bot.

"Leave here, crustacean!" Dinobot snarled and fired again.  Rampage dodged the blow and fired a missile.  Dinobot narrowly escaped it with a jump to the right.  

"Why?  I'm just on patrol...what is is that you want from me, Lizard?" Rampage roared above the sounds of battle.

Dinobot snorted.  He knew that Mia would be entering neutral ground, he knew the vermin wanted to follow her and he'd reluctantly agreed to make sure no Predacon's intervened in the rat's little mission.  

"This is not a regular Predacon patrol route, you're up to something," Dinobot growled, ducking another blow.

Of all the Predacons he could have encountered, it had to be Rampage, Dinobot thought irritably.

Rampage chuckled darkly.

"I'm always up to something," he cried and resumed firing.


Tarantulas sensed she was coming, and he was prepared for her.  He knew she'd missed him and he knew that she'd been held at the Axalon against her will.  She was free now and she was on her way here.

He switched off his computers and lay in wait in the shadows.  He didn't wait long.  He heard the hatch opening and closing and the echoes of approaching feet coming through the tunnel.

"Tarantulas?"

He watched her step into the pulsing blue light caused by the energon cubes above her.  

"Tarantulas...it's Mia.  I'm back."

The pretty little raccoon bot, with elegant raven wings folded on her back, stepped further into his lair.  He emerged from his cover.

"Hello Mia.  Where have you been this past week?"

Mia's face lit up at seeing him and she ran over to him.  She threw her arms around him and grinned happily.

"I was grounded, but I'm back now!  Man, did I miss you."

He patted her gently on the back.

"Did you use all of the liquid?" he asked softly.

She pulled out of the embrace shaking her head.

"No.  I couldn't.  I was continuously being bothered by pitiful Maximals.  It was too risky.  I used it once...though.  I had strange dreams, or I thought they were dreams," she said, scratching her head.

"Really?" he said and put his arm around her waist.  He walked with her to his lab table and sat down on it.  She sat beside him.

"Tell me about those dreams, Mia."

Mia swung her legs back and forth under the table and sighed.

"They're difficult to remember.  Um...well, I remember feeling pretty woozy after taking the first dose.  I was lying on my bed and all my vision blurred and faded.  The dreams came to me at first very garbled and faint.  I can't remember the first one, but I remember the second a bit better.  You and I were outside the lair...it was night time."

Tarantulas was staring at her intensely and she felt a little uneasy.  She certainly had his full attention.

She continued.

"We heard a Maximal approaching, I forget who it was, and you told me to get inside the lair.  We both went into the tunnel...I was first.  And then we...you...tickled me on my tummy...and I fell.  I...fell...I can't remember what happened after that.  It felt so real, though."

She looked up at him and saw that he was staring at the floor, his gaze distant.

"Mia, that wasn't a dream," he said eventually.

She felt a little burst of panic inside her stomach.

"What?"

He turned to her and she didn't like the look on his face.

"That really happened.  We did go into the tunnel together, hiding from a Maximal.  It was Rattrap.  He was looking for you.  I did tickle you, and you did fall."

Her eyes were wide with fear and confusion.

"What...happened after I fell?"

There was a long, dreadful pause.

"I injected you on the sole of your foot.  You didn't fall asleep, you just became...you were on another level of consciousness.  You were still awake but you weren't aware of it."

Mia was shivering.  She stopped swinging her legs and brought up her left leg instinctively  She picked up her foot, and looked under it.

Sure enough, there was the same circular mark as there'd been on her breast.

She looked back at him, wide-eyed and trembling.

"What...did you do with me...when I was in that state?"

He stood up and pointed to the lab table she was on.

"I'll show you."

She felt like fainting again.  Every inch of her body began to prickle and a thousand alarms in her head told her to run.  But she couldn't.  She was paralyzed under his gaze.  She brought her legs up and lay on the table, waiting for him to show her.

"Ok."

He stood over her, his optics fixed on hers.

"Mia."

"Yes?"

"Do you know what a spark is?

She felt her spark shudder in her chest.  Something clicked in her mind.  She continued to speak, as if she had no control over what she was saying. She felt like a recorder, replaying events.

"Yes.  It's what keeps us alive."

"Do you know what else it can do?"

Fear was beginning to choke her.  The feeling of deja vu was becoming immense.

"It can give us energy, it can love, it can..."

"Mia, do you even know how you came into being?"

Terror.  Absolute terror.  She didn't want to know.  That was enough.  Enough!  Stop it! 

"Optimus found a blank stasis pod, took my spark from my dead mother and put it in the blank protoform.  I was born."

"Very good.  But where did your spark come from?"

The rush of mech fluid in her ears was almost deafening.  She felt nauseous.  Her body was tingling with warning and she was itching to run, but she felt glued to the table.

Slowly, like she was watching a horror film, her mouth opened and she said,

"The Matrix?"

She expected to hear that same dark laughter.  The dream, no, memory was flooding back to her at horrible speed.  He didn't laugh this time, though.  Instead, he got onto the table with her and knelt over her, his long, sharp claw tapping her torso.

"No.  Not the Matrix," he said coldly.

Her head felt as if it were going to explode.  His claw slipped from her torso plate to her tummy....

"Mia..." he said gently, seductively.

"Does Rattrap know you're gone?"

She shook her head slowly.

"No, he's going to be in the CR chamber all day," she said, her voice reaching that same, flat tone as it had a week ago.

His other claw was stroking her cheek.

"Dear oh dear," he said in mock sympathy. "What is he doing in there?"

She felt his touch on her tender stomach.

"He sustained a bad wound during the battle this morning."

Suddenly, his claws froze and his eyes burned into hers.

"What battle, Mia?" he asked, his voice a near-whisper.

Before she could panic, before she could speak, before she could even take her next breath, her world shook.  The entire lair rumbled, dust fell from the cavern roof and the noise of explosions filled the air.  

Tarantulas got off her with a cry.

"What?!"

The cavern shook again and Tarantulas whipped out his gun.

"Stay here!" he commanded and ran toward the tunnel entrance.  She watched him disappear into it, and her temporary paralysis began to fade.  She suddenly felt as if she could breath properly again and she gasped for the air.

She sat up, her spark seemingly leaping in her chest.

"Help," she whimpered, and tried to get to her feet.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tarantulas flung open the hatch and jumped outside.

He looked across for the source of the explosions.

He gasped.

"You!"

Rattrap had is gun aimed at the cavern, but he changed its direction so it was aimed at the spider.

"Yeah," he said frostily.

"Me."

Tarantulas quivered with rage.

"What are you doing here?  How did you find me?"

Rattrap glared at him.

"I followed Mia here.  Where is she?  What are you doing with her, you sick, twisted Predacon!"

Tarantulas felt anger and frustration boiling up inside of him.

"I'm teaching her things you pitiful Maximals will never be able to."

Neither Rattrap nor Tarantulas noticed Mia emerging, weak and afraid from the tunnel.  She got out and leaned against a boulder, watching the intense verbal conflict continue between the two.

"Teaching her what?  Ta murder, ta poison?  Ta kill just like you did Moonshadow?"

Tarantulas erupted in a terrible scream.

"I loved Moonshadow!  The last thing I wanted to do was hurt her!"

"You KILLED her Tarantulas!" Rattrap yelled furiously.

Tarantulas was shivering from head to toe.

"I didn't mean to!  She got in the way!"

Rattrap shook his head bitterly.

"She would have lived...she would have made it, if ya hadn't pumped so much of dat poison into her before da battle."

"She wanted it," Tarantulas growled.

"Never!  You tricked her inta thinkin' she did!  An' now you're doing da same ta my daughter?  No way you're gonna get away with it!"

Tarantulas had heard enough.  He whipped out his gun, but to his surprise he realized he hadn't brought his gun, but in his hurry he'd picked up a syringe instead.  

"No matter," he muttered and adjusted the settings to a full dose, to be fired through an arrow-missile.

Mia watched him from behind and rose shakily to her feet.

"No," she whispered hoarsely, but no one heard her.

Tarantulas aimed the syringe at Rattrap.

"See how you like it," he snarled, and fired.

"No!" Mia screamed at that exact moment, and dived in front of Rattrap, taking the full blast.  She was thrown backwards as the poison arrow hit her shoulder.  

She hit the ground hard, but she never felt it. Her systems were already beginning to shut down.

"NO!" Tarantulas cried out and watched in horror as she fell, her optics already dulled.

Rattrap dropped his gun and collapsed to his knees beside her body.

"Mia!" he cried and put a hand over her forehead.

Mia could hear him talking, but she couldn't see him.  Her vision had already faded.  She felt his touch on her head, but unlike the way Tarantulas made her feel, his touch was warm, loving, caring.  She wanted his touch.  

"Daddy," she whispered, but it was too faint for either of them to hear.

She could hear the pulse of her spark in her ears, but it was beginning to get softer and slower.

"Mia," she heard him say, his voice choking with emotion.

The pain in her shoulder was gone altogether now, and her breathing became shallow.

She felt as if she were falling asleep.  She felt very peaceful, and she knew she was dying, but she wasn't afraid.

"Mia," she heard him call her, but his voice was so distant now, it seemed to melt away into the all-consuming silence that enveloped her.  Her world faded and she felt no more.

 

 

Rattrap knelt beside his baby girl for some time, only distantly aware of the noise of two other bots coming up behind him.  He knew at the back of his mind it was Cheetor and Silverbolt, because he'd called them a few cycles ago in case he needed back-up.

He felt a compassionate hand on his shoulder, and he looked up, stricken with grief, to see that Tarantulas was gone.

 

The spider was never seen again.


Two Days Later

Optimus rubbed his sore head as he ascended into the Axalon.  The elevator floor was covered with dry mud.  There must've been some heavy rainfall a few days ago.  He stepped out of the elevator and into the control room.  Cheetor was sitting at the table, and the catbot slowly looked up to see him.

"Hey Big Bot," he said rather somberly.

"What have you been doing all this time?"

Optimus frowned at the sad look on the Maximal's face, but answered Cheetor's question before he asked any.

"We had a little rendezvous with the Aliens.  It took a while, but we sorted it out.  Believe it or not, even with a little help from Blackarachnia and 
Inferno.  Tigatron and Airazor are fine and are back on scout duty.  Anyway, I'll let you know the full story once I call a meeting."

He looked around the control room and noticed it was very quiet.  Other than Dinobot who was in the CR chamber, only Cheetor was there, looking terribly sad.  The atmosphere was heavy.

Cheetor nodded softly in acknowledgement.

The Maximal leader looked at Cheetor curiously.

"So, what did I miss?"


 Inspired by: 'Where is my Mind?' by The Pixies.



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