Someone once told him that the music they heard him play came straight from the spark, and in response, the other with whom he sat had laughed on a channel only Blaster could hear.
They have no idea, Soundwave had said. Poor, deaf/blind creations.
It had made Blaster twitch at the time, and still does to this day. The mini-bot that had spoken the words had gazed up at the two communications officers with plain awe glowing in his pale optics, honest admiration written across every faceplate.
“Thanks, friend,” Blaster had said. “It's all part of the job.”
You have that correct at least, Soundwave said later, and then flexed his claws and hissed static across the channels when Blaster turned his back on him and walked away.
Even in those early years, so many ages ago now, when they still stood side-by-side, two young creations (new models scaring the old ones, each in their own way), even then they had been modelled one after the other, each a reflection in the other's visor.
Where Blaster heard the voice of the people and played the raucous hum and roar of it back for all to hear and be inspired, Soundwave assimilated, catalogued, charted, sliced, reflected and drew out meaning, pondering it in silence, discarding the superfluous and pulling patterns from cacophony.
Blaster was, is, a wall of joyful, blaring, tumbling, wild-hearted life, and Soundwave has been, always will be, the cool, measured beat of perfection. Each of them hears the voice of Cybertron, the voice of the people, and each, in their own way, reflects it back for all to hear.
Together, they are a class apart. Chief Communications Officer of the Protectorate, Highnote, has them brought online at the same time, according to her carefully coded specifications, and even she is surprised by the skills they come to display.
They fear us, says Soundwave, cutting a private link just for the two of them across the babble of the rest of their team.
They fear you, Blaster replies sharply, and smiles at the staring faces of mechs that are far older, far more experienced than either of them. Mechs that have been part of centuries-long campaigns against alien threats to the Empire of Cybertron, mechs that have been integral in the saving of the planet more than once. Mechs that have just been shown up by two brand new models who have broken the F'Sarsi code in less time than it has taken some of them to load all their screens up. He smiles brightly at them, willing them towards friendship and away from fear, and mentally begs the mech next to him to help. Say something to them, he pleads. We should at least try talking to them. Be friends with them before someone decides we're too much of a threat to their career.
But Soundwave simply turns his back on them all. Those who talk too much are not listening to all that they could be, he says and takes his place at Highnote's side, gazing impassively back at a team they have, together, shown that they completely outclass.
They say that it's lonely at the top, and even years, centuries, later, Blaster can still attest to that.
“I got this, boss.”
Family. An imported word from alien cultures, used to describe individuals related by genetic material. It has other meanings too, so he understands, when placed into different contexts, meanings such as possessing close opinions, being tied together by resources and mutual attraction. But also, strangely, there are circumstances in which such factors do not make family. No matter his expertise in language and communication, there are still subtle nuances of non-Cybertronian cultures that Blaster has yet to fully comprehend.
“Family” applies, as he understands it, to the drones he creates to help him carry out his duties. He is an autonomous higher-function primary node, and as such is equipped and outfitted with the capacity to create and control drone-symbionts. He's a drone master, a cassette master in some dialects, and in some alien cultures, he is a parental unit. Head of a family – protector, teacher, guardian, father, mother, head of the household.
Whatever he is, he has creations. They are tied to him, and he to them. He nurtures them, cares for them, loves them, protects them and sends them out to die in battle. He is unsure if this still makes them his family.
“Ramhorn, take them down! Steeljaw, cover the right – let's get this show on the road!”
They fight at his side, with claw and blade, with relay and sensor, augmenting his abilities, going to the places where he cannot pass unnoticed. In this way they are a part of him and he of them. They'll die for him and he? He looks out across the battlefield and sees Soundwave on the other side. His drones swoop around his shoulders, shrieking binary code that grates on the sensor with its cruelty and sharp-edged keening. Silent at the centre of their dance, Soundwave stares back at him.
“I'll take care of him,” Blaster says grimly, and across the channels he hears that same old familiar laughter.
IV. Traps and Snares
Their fight is a poison across every network, clouding every battlefield and sullying each mech with whom they come in contact. The Autobots look to Blaster to be their voice, the unifying force that shouts across the chaos of war and unites all behind it in one, single purpose. He leads from the front and others, inspired, follow.
Soundwave is out there too, behind Decepticon lines, driving the 'Cons forward on the impetus of their fear of him. He's everywhere and nowhere at once, his spies watching where he does not and because they are his, they are him and are to be feared in the same way. Soundwave inspires fear, and the Decepticons flee before him, charging to the fore lest he linger on them and notice their existence.
And there, stretched as an unseen web between these two opposing forces lies the intricacies of their personal battle. It hurts to know that once they stood side-by-side. It shows in the familiarity each has in the tricks and tendencies of the other, in the inherent understanding of the loop and coil of coding that can strip another's soul from its metal shell. There is another battle raging here, one of betrayal, all laced with and driven by the fury of those who once called one another brother/lover/compatriot/node-mirror.
They were prodigies together when they came online, sweeping before them all the competition that once, before their existence, had stood as proud examples of Cybertronian expertise. Geniuses, masters, experts, they are all these things, together and apart.
No-one else can code the traps they spin for one another with such ease, and nor can anyone else evade them with such nonchalance. They lay snares for one another that would split another mech's processor and tear out all its programming. Blaster writes code that's tagged for Soundwave alone, targeted rage that can and will kill in a single, blinding burst of vitriol. Soundwave writes viruses that will erase and burn, leaving nothing behind but a shell, and signs them for Blaster's optics only.
They leave calling cards for one another, scattered across star systems, burned into the networks of alien worlds oblivious to their presence. In battlefield formations, echoes across the wires, graffiti on the walls of communications networks they communicate where no-one else would think to look, sending messages piggy-backed on other people's love notes, other general's orders.
There's a song in the universe and where one of them sings it loud and furious, the other keeps the beat that holds it all together.
V. Seven for a Secret
Blaster knows the sparks of other mechs. He reads the messages they pass to one another across his networks, in the way they sit, in the things they say and the things they do not. He gathers their secrets to him and keeps them safe, and knows that on the other side of this endless battlefield Soundwave does the same.
Secrets are power. Secrets are what drives mechs onwards as much as love or passion or righteousness. They are the root and the reason and as such they are the source of power. Blaster knows that Optimus sends messages to Megatron in the quiet of the dark night, and that sometimes Megatron answers him. He knows that there's a traitor in the Wreckers, feeding information to Shockwave, little packages that Blaster picks up and apart before sending them on their way wearing new co-ordinates and safer words.
Standing at Megatron's side, peering into the mirror and reading from the other side of the network is Soundwave. He reaches long, slender claws into the labyrinth of Cybertronian communications and deftly pulls out the information he needs. He slices secrets from their protective metaphors, stripping away double, triple encrypted codes to get at the secrets locked within. He reads the other side of the conversation between his lord and the Autobot Prime, and what he thinks of it is something only he knows.
Blaster can feel him watching, knows that he too holds secrets that could end the lives of the most loyal of warriors. Knows that he holds the Prime's sensors, just as Soundwave does Megatron's. They are the same in this, each hoarding information that could damn their own kind, be they passing acquaintance or closest friend. But they do it for their Causes, to protect, to serve, to ensure that when all this is over there will still be something left for their side to rule.
VI. Mirror, Mirror
When he looks into the network, Blaster sees Soundwave looking back. He's there in the mirrored surface of a comms relay, a dark shadow that reflects the darkness of Blaster's own purpose. Each of them holds secrets that could damn a world. Each of them sacrifices those close enough to them to be a part of their own bodies, and neither of them would die to save them if it meant losing in the greater battle. Cold, hard, unforgiving, they mirror one another in every way.
It makes Blaster wonder if, somehow, he's already lost this war.
You and I, we are alike, Soundwave tells him when they first come online, and then again throughout the long years, in notes tagged to the bottom of troop movement summaries and innocent messages coming back from the frontline.
You and I are as one; now, then and always.
And Blaster knows what he's doing, damns him for it and damns himself in that he cannot help but believe it.
XXXX. [Everything in the mirror is inverted]
He has in his hands a virus that will end the war. It is beautiful, intricate beyond the capability of any other save one to comprehend, and even then, it will be too late by the time he does so.
It is his best work, his crowning achievement, and when he unleashes it the war will be over and so will the lives of a hundred thousand Decepticons. They will have less than a second to know that they are dying as they feel their systems shutting down in a cascade of deadly silence, memories erasing themselves one by one, too fast to be prevented. It will be a plague unlike any before seen. Beautiful beyond compare, wicked beyond redemption.
It will win them the war, he will win them the war, and finally there will be peace.
Blaster runs his fingers over the data crystal that houses his most deadly creation and watches the light catch on the end of everything. One day, Soundwave will create something just like this, but tagged for an Autobot system. One day, he will not be fast enough to spot it coming and the war will be over. Blaster can hardly believe that he has been the one to get there first.
They are one and the same, the two of them. Two sibling creations, staring into each other and seeing themselves reflected back.
I am nothing like you, Blaster replies, sending the message out across the networks on a route only the two of them know, and crushes the data crystal between his fingers until nothing remains but dust.