cover image by Shibara
The scorched grass below him swayed and distorted in his vision which clouded with error after error on his HUD, and a wave of nausea kept him down as pain shot through his torso, starting from his cracked windshield and spreading through his chest and abdomen where the other mech had impacted with him. One red hand pressed against the heavily dented plating underneath his chest, and he wavered unsteadily on his knees and remaining hand. His audio receptors seemed to be malfunctioning - the sounds of battle seemed much farther away than he knew they were, and though he knew someone was calling his name, he could not bring himself to look up from the ground.
As far as hits went, Ratchet knew he had endured far worse - what was different? How had the other Autobot collided with him to cause such pain—
His hand was wet. The medic's first fear was that his fuel tank had ruptured, and he pulled his trembling hand away from his abdomen to confirm only to stare blankly at the fluids coating it. Energon was not purple. What—
Another wave of nausea hit him with the force of a rogue Dinobot, and Ratchet felt something inside him pop. Fluids rushed into his systems, over his circuitry, and began to leak out of gaps in his plating in pale purple and silver rivulets. His spark stuttered in its chamber and sent a chill through him. He tried to cry out, but his vocalizer would not work. He barely heard his name being called once more and only finally managed to lift his head when black hands came into his field of vision.
The other mech knelt before him, his plating riddled with cracks and deep dents, one leg leaking badly from a split fuel line, and his engine crushed from Devastator's grip. Peeled up from just behind his wheel well near his shoulder was a partially broken, multi-jointed rod which tapered to a sharp point. Ratchet stared at him, but he barely noticed the other mech's damage. He was saying something, asking if Ratchet was okay, asking what was wrong with him, but the white mech could not hear him. Hearing was not important. What was important was what he saw.
The same color - the same shape - just micrometers from Ratchet's face, the medic saw the exact same optics which had plagued his recharge for ten orns. Micrometers from him, Ratchet saw a segmented rod pulled up from the other mech's frame, forced from wherever it was hidden before Devastator tried to crush him. It was sharp and tapered, just like a claw, a claw an Autobot should not have, and all Ratchet could do was stare in growing terror that one of his attackers was directly in front of him, close enough to touch him again.
His spark surged, and his plating began to rattle as a protoform-deep tremble coursed through his body. His HUD was still flooded with errors, but they went unheeded - all he could see were those optics as his spark stuttered and his systems spiraled into shock. He barely registered as the other Autobot looked down at the substance leaking from Ratchet's interior and then looked back up. He barely registered the mech's own dawning realization and horror. All Ratchet could think was that he needed to run, needed to flee, needed to get as far away from this monster as he could, but he was frozen in place, trembling and leaking and unable to speak.
All Ratchet could manage was a weak, choked "You—" before darkness claimed him.