It's like rust, Mikaela thinks. And, how can it be like rust?
She shouldn't be here. Part of her knows that. Part of her is screaming at the rest of her to get the fuck up and run. Demanding to know what the fuck she thinks she's doing, if she's trying to get herself killed, and what the hell she thinks she can do about it, and how stupid is she? Part of her is her very own shouting voice trying to drag her to her feet and get her away from here.
The rest of her is right here, on her knees beside Ironhide. Beside Ironhide's corpse. Right here on the ground, like a stunned kid, thinking, how can it be like rust? and not really noticing the tears running down her cheek.
Mikaela's not a kid. She knows that shaking what she can of his ruined shoulder and saying, get up, get up, get up, wake up, please Ironhide please get up won't do fucking shit. She knows he's dead. She can see the decay eating away from the center of him, and how everything that should be light is dark. Everything that should have the buzz of power is still and cold. She knows, and she still wants to.
She knows if he weren't dead Ironhide would be bellowing at her to stop being stupid and run.
Get up, what's left of a little girl screams at an empty metal shell. Get up get up get up please get up don't be dead get up.
She can ignore the explosions, and she has been. But that's Ratchet's voice and she has to look up, even if she can't see him. And the little girl comes out just enough. Just enough to make her say, "You have to fix him."
"We must leave. Now." Ratchet's voice is clear. Cool. Sensible. That's smart, they should go now, god only knows whether or not the Decepticons will try to follow this up. If, having the pillars, having everything they wanted, they'd even care - but vengeance might be enough.
But she says, "We can't. We can't leave him. We have to bring him, you have to fix him." It's stupid and it's childish and she can't make herself stop, what the hell, is this shock? She's heard of it, but -
"Mikaela." And two of Ratchet's fingers curl around her under her arm and pull her to her feet. "There's nothing I can do. We must go."
She's not going to cry. Not anymore. Mikaela refuses to cry, like some kid. And he's right, and she knows it, so she grabs the little girl by the throat and shoves her back, tries to remember who she is and take control of her own goddamn body.
"Right," she says, wiping her eyes with her sleeve. "Right. We should go."
"You're actually going to go."
By now she's really good at reading Autobot body-language. She's not 100% sure about Decepticons; after all, the level of contact her 'bots have with humans has got to mean some human stuff rubbing off, and someone straight out of Cybertron like, oh, the fucking backstabbing Bastard Prime, who knows? But her 'bots, oh yeah.
And Rachet absolutely winces. Full-body flinches, frankly, before he drops himself down to where he can pretend they're eye to eye. "Mikaela - " he begins.
"This is bullshit," she half-shouts, not in the mood to hear anything placating. Especially not from him, especially not with the rusted remains of Ironhide - just, no. "They're going to fucking strip this planet clean and then kill us all. You know that. You know that!"
They definitely picked up the sigh from humans, because it's a totally unnecessary body-movement and sound from a life-form that doesn't actually breathe air. Ratchet sighs and reaches out with one hand to curl it beside her so she can rest her hand on it. "Your leaders have the mandate of your people, Mikaela," he says, and at least he sounds like the words taste bad. "If we stayed when welcome is withdrawn, we are no better than they."
"Oh, right," Mikaela says, folding her arms. "Evil wins because good is too fucking polite - and they don't have my mandate. I didn't even vote." And then she says what she's really afraid of, says, "You know they're never going to let you leave alive."
"Sentinal's word is the word of a Prime," Ratchet says, which Mikaela cannot even start to believe he means. But she spits anyway.
"Sure," she says. And god-fucking-damn-it, her throat is closing up and her eyes are blurring. "Sure, he honourably shot Ironhide in the back with that special fucked up weapon even you can't do anything about. You can't be that fucking stupid. Even Optimus can't be that fucking naive."
Ratchet looks away and says nothing, not even taking her to task for what she just said. Mikaela would punch him, or kick him, except that would only hurt her hand or foot. She takes a deep breath, and says, "Fine. But I'm not coming." Ratchet looks back at her and she lifts her chin. "I am not going to watch you walk away. I'm not going to watch you walk into a death-trap like fucking lambs. I'm not."
She doesn't say good-bye. She just turns around and starts walking away, as fast as she can in the heels she's in and on this floor. Behind her, Ratchet's voice calls, "It'll be right. In the end."
Mikaela stops, but doesn't turn around. "Try that one on Sam, Ratchet. Some of us had to grow up."
Mikaela makes a liar out of herself and watches the launch on TV.
She can't not. She makes sure she's the only one in the work-shop by dint of locking the door and then shoving benches and heavy chairs over in front of it. Someone will probably complain, maybe that Intelligence bitch, and it's pretty much a given that this time Mikaela will be thrown out on her ass because there's nobody to stop it. But right now, she doesn't care.
Right now, she watches the flat-screen, biting the tip of her thumb with her other arm wrapped around her stomach, and prays. She doesn't do that very often, doesn't actually think there's any kind of God out there to give a shit. But right now she'll do it, pray and stare and pray more that she's wrong. That she's wrong and the bullshit Ratchet spouted was right and that Asshole Prime will let them go. She'll pray, and she'll hold on to the dim, dim memory of a gramma who always insisted God answered every prayer.
It might be true.
But this time, the answer this time is no.
As the pieces of the Xantium (beautiful, beautiful, dead) fall down in fire from the screen, Mikaela turns and looks until she finds a wrench. A big one. Just an ordinary, simple wrench. Simple, straightforward, human tool, a lump of metal with a shape. She finds it. She feels it in her hand.
Then she hurls it as hard as she can (and that's hard, now, after all the work she does) at the screen and watches it shatter and spark and smoke.