I was tripping, stumbling over myself like a drunk. Alarms blared, the flashing lights bathing everything in alternating flashes of red and black. I could hear soldiers shouting, roused from their sleep.
I could hear everything.
It was as if Unicron had enhanced my senses. Every nerve was on fire. I could feel every speck of dirt on the tilted base floors, taste every speck of dust in the cool air on my tongue. My chest ached - the bullets were oozing from my body and falling to the floor, the flesh repairing itself rapidly.
I very briefly saw Cade emerge from his room, hair disheveled. I streaked past him, heedless.
I shouldered past double doors and into the hangar. I skidded to a halt, overwhelmed by the wide open space that was dominated by hulking figure - Autobots and Decepticons alike.
I stumbled. Dropped to a knee, clasping my head as Unicron growled commands.
“Say what I say. Do as I say.”
My other knee buckled. I moaned. It felt as if my head were going to split. As quickly as Unicron had gifted me enhanced senses, he’d taken them away and was directing all his rage and ire right into the back of my skull.
“You will listen!”
“Okay, okay,” I moaned. “Okay. Ok-”
A soft, feminine voice sounded from behind me. I whipped around, growling -
It was Tessa.
The sight of her rocked my entire frame. I swayed, blinking. Unicron seemed very distant.
She was clad in her nightclothes, blonde hair pulled away from her face. Barefoot. Clutching her hands together as if she were unsure whether or not to approach me further, although her feet seemed to move on their own and she came to kneel next to me, one dainty, manicured hand feeling my forehead.
“Jesus, you’re freezing!”
“Tessa, you need to back away,” I managed.
She didn’t budge. “You need help,” she said. “Let me help you-”
Cade and Vivian both came speeding around the corner, Lennox in tow. My eyes darted upwards as several Autobots, Optimus at the helm, gently approached me. Sideswipe had his weapon drawn.
“They’re going to kill you.”
“No they aren’t,” I snapped. “Shut up!”
“Who are you talking to?”
“Nobody, nobody,” I shook my head. “Nobody - Tessa, please. You shouldn’t - I’m not-”
“Shouldn’t what? Help you?” Tessa smiled. She glanced up at her father, who gave an uneasy nod.
“I hurt Cogman. I don’t want to hurt you.”
“You won’t hurt me,” Tessa said soothingly. She stood, grasping my hand and pulling me up with her. Slowly, but surely. It was the first time I’d noticed how shaky my limbs were, how sweaty I was. How dirty. How tired.
I began to squeeze.
Tessa gasped. I was crushing her hand but I couldn’t let go. She gave a wail - it was a wonderful sounding wail of pain, and I could feel Unicron relishing in it.
I’m so sorry Tessa, I’m so sorry-
I narrowly dodged the sweeping blade of Cade’s talisman. Tessa leaped back, sliding across the floor and clutching her shattered hand. I heard her sobs but paid her no mind - I was busy dodging, parrying, and ducking around Cade’s frenzied assault.
“I told you she was too dangerous to live, Prime!” Megatron bellowed. I hissed as Cade cut a long slice from my elbow to my palm. Stumbling back, I finally took the chance to look around.
Dozens of weapons were trained on me. Megatron’s blaster was whirring, charged and ready to fire.
Only Optimus had yet to draw his blade. He seemed frozen, stuck. Stoic.
Panting, I stared at Tessa as she crawled towards Viviane. The woman held her, eyes wide with horror. I heard thundering footsteps as Megatron stomped forward, ready to fire.
A flash of blue and red. Optimus intercepted Megatron mid-strike, forcing the mech’s blaster towards the ceiling right as he fired. Debris rained down and Megatron bellowed, retaliating by striking Optimus in the head.
“She’s too dangerous to be left alive, Prime!”
Optimus groaned as Megatron planted his foot against his chest, forcing him to the floor.
The noise echoed through my mind. I felt the ground beneath my feet begin to shake, and then everything, everything began to shake. More debris rained and the hangar lights flickered, and then blew out.
Through the chaos, through the earthquake, Unicron forced me to run. Ducking and dodging as soldiers fell and rebar and tiling crashed to the ground. My feet slid across glass and I could see the hangar exit, see the stars and the fresh air and the -
A mechanical bellow pulled me out of my trance. I felt Unicron bristle, and I glanced over my shoulder just in time to see a silver, clawed hand descend towards me.
Megatron caught me in the side. The solid hit sent me flying through the air, slamming hard into the passenger door of a parked military Humvee. The impact shattered the glass and sent the car sliding across the floor.
My head was spinning and the ground was still shaking. Or, maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it was just me.
“My legs,” I said to no one in particular. My mouth was filled with blood. I didn’t want to look at the carnage below my waist. I could see Megatron walking across the hangar, through the smoke and fire. The ground had stopped shaking but the base was in ruins - I could hear distant booms, explosions, and the blare of sirens in the distance.
“You are weak.”
Megatron drew his blaster.
Unicron was seething. His host, his new body, was injured - I could feel him slipping back into the recesses of my mind, watching, waiting.
“I will take no pleasure in offlining you, fleshling,” Megatron said. “Optimus is was not strong enough decision. But I am. You know what has to be done.”
“It doesn’t! No, Megatron!” Optimus was hobbling forward, one arm twisted and damaged. “We can find another way-”
“There is no other way!”
Optimus collapsed, one big hand landing next to my head. His large body hovered over me like a protective shield, optics wide.
“You are stronger than Unicron,” Optimus breathed. “Do not let it consume you. Please.”
“I already have. I already belong to him-”
“You belong to yourself.”
“No. You belong to me.”
“I can’t get him out of my head,” I sobbed. “I’ll keep hurting people...doing what he says I have to do-”
“She’s accepted her fate, Prime. Why can’t you?” Megatron snarled. His blaster whirred, and he put it away before drawing his axe. “Do you wish to die with her?”
Optimus thought for a moment.
Megatron barked a laugh. I coughed, finally mustering the strength to sit up. When I looked down, I nearly vomited - I could see deep, pink flesh and stark white bone poking through my left leg. Yet, I felt no pain - Unicron was stifling it, keeping it from reaching my brain. My eyes traveled down at the bloody skin. It was moving, ever so slowly. Healing, just like before, with the bullets.
“A fool willing to die with his mate,” Megatron chuckled. “I have always admired your spirit, Prime. But it blinds you.”
Optimus closed his optics as Megatron clutched his axe tighter, preparing for a swing. The chest plates above me opened slightly revealing the pulsing blue spark inside. I caught a glimpse of my mate’s spark, his soul, for what I believed to be the final time.
“I’m sorry,” Optimus murmured, and for some reason I knew those words weren’t for me.
Chest plates snapped shut. Optimus drew his sword and pitched himself backwards with the grace and poise of a dancer. Before Megatron could land the killing blow, Optimus did so himself, driving his blade through Megatron’s chest.
Megatron stammered and dropped his weapon, the massive axe clattering to the floor inches from my prone body.
Optimus pulled his blade free. Megatron fell to the floor. I saw his optics flicker, and then dim forever.
“You can. You are healed. Get up, and run-”
“No! No, I’m done listening to you! I’m done! Fuck off! Get out of my head! Get out, get out, get out, get out, get out, get out, GET OUT !”
The ground beneath my hands cracked, and everything went dark.