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Racing Against a Crumbling Sky

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     "Enter." Came a cool voice from inside.

     Orion smiled shyly at the guards as he ducked past them.  They both watched him but neither commented.

     Inside, Orion was immediately floored, his mouth coming open as he looked around in awe.  He'd interviewed gladiators before at other supervisors' request, but this was the first one Alpha Trion had sent him to.  And the first who was also a politician.  Megatronus had been causing quite a stir on Cybertron and was even being sponsored by the Senator of Tarn.  The gladiator's room wasn't opulent by any means, but, well, he had more than one room! And he had a number of furnishings, even a few pieces of art on the walls.  It was all of a value even Ratchet would be proud of.

     "Ah.  Hello." His gaze snapped to the large silver mech in front of him, the blue optics gleaming, a charming smile under his gracefully spiked armor.  He looked the picture of sophistication even with their fairly modest surroundings, seated in the red and blue trimmed armchair as if it were a throne. "You must be the clerk sent to interview me.  Orion Pax, was that it?"

     Orion flushed visibly, giving a nervous smile.  Megatronus had to know very well what his name and occupation were, since he'd had to tell the guards to get in.  But the mech was obviously taking pains to make him more comfortable. "Ah, yes sir.  I mean, Megatronus, may I call you that?" Not his best reply.

     Megatronus smiled again. "Of course.  I have no other name." Winking, he joked, "Not yet at least."

     Orion laughed back, genuinely charmed and amused. "That's, that's funny," He said, shyly, again aware that wasn't his best reply ever, but oh well.  If he got everything Alpha Trion wanted - which was an impression of who this mech was, really, at the spark - he'd be fine. "May I . . . ?" He gestured at the nearby couch.

     "Oh, certainly.  Where are my manners?" Megatronus smiled at him again but didn't move to rise from his chair as Orion settled down on the couch, dwarfed further by the large mech. "So, what's this interview for?  A newscast, padcast, research paper?" He waved a hand lazily as if it interested but didn't truly matter to him.

     "Research, s - Megatronus." Orion caught himself that time and smiled back. "The Iacon Hall of Records interviews a large number of mecha from all social classes and occupations, to provide future generations with better ideas of our past.  You've caused quite a stir in the past few years and the archivists believe you're a prime candidate for interview.  You may end up changing the face of Cybertron." Ratchet always said they were laying it on too thick, but with what he knew, Orion actually believed them.

     Megatronus in person did little to diminish his onscreen identity.  He had a powerful presence and was so naturally charismatic Orion could hardly take his optics off him.  The silver mech smiled now. "I make no secret that I hope to."

     Orion quickly pulled out his datapad and prepared it with his stylus, casting Megatronus another smile. "How did you become interested in politics?" He asked, genuinely curious though it was an assigned question.

     "I grew up as a poor mechling in Kaon." Megatronus began. "The city is well-known as a cesspool of crime, but that's due to how many mecha are born into the streets, into poverty." His tone became reflective. "When you grow up with nothing, it is easy to tell how harsh our world is.  You do not grow up with the crystal lenses for your optics, believing the world is mostly good.  I don't recall my creators; knowing what I do now, I believe it's likely they starved to death.  I grew up alone, with nothing.  No one would hire me because I was a street mech.  So when I was approached to become a gladiator . . ." He spread his hands. "There was no question.  At least then I would have something.  But as I rose through the ranks I never forgot where I came from, what that was like - and how the political environment we live in perpetuates it.  Something had to be done, something had to change, and no one who could change it would begin.  No one who would change it had the means - except for me.  I am not interested in politics, Orion Pax.  I'm interested in change."

     His words resonated with Orion in a way few politicians' did and he grinned. "That's something we don't hear a lot of.  How did you manage to get the acclaim you've received?  Most speakers for the lower classes end up quelled long before they reach so many."

     "I bided my time." Megatronus said simply. "I gained acclaim as a gladiator, published only under a pseudonym previous to that.  To affect change I needed power, so I gathered all that I could and then took up the fight." Then he gave a short laugh and smiled. "Forgive my language - the rings can do that to a mech.  Fighting should not be the only way to rise above one's station.  Change must occur.  If we can convince the council of that, then my work will be done." He gave another charming grin and Orion couldn't help but smile back.

     "So you do plan to petition the Council?" Orion asked, surprised.

     "Of course.  They have the power, so they are the ones who must be swayed." Megatronus shrugged. "The lower classes have tasted oppression.  They will welcome change, of that I am certain."

     Excitement bubbled up in Orion and he had to quell himself, gripping his stylus and checking back at his assigned questions. "Well, what exactly are your goals?"

     "To bring the lower classes out into the light." Megatronus replied easily. "To expose everyone to the light, to show the world what we truly are.  No one should be hiding in the dark.  No one should be starving to death, no one should be killed simply because an Enforcer didn't like the look of them.  Our world is hideously corrupt and our people are warring without a war.  I wish to bring them peace."

     Orion's optics were bright with eagerness. "Between you and me, I fully agree with you.  I'm not allowed to note it." He shrugged a bit self-consciously.  In lower tones he admitted, "My brother and I, we were out on the streets young as well, orphaned.  We were lucky enough to be taken in by a family that included a disgraced noble who still had contacts in the Towers, but . . . I remember what it was like.  I've done my best to help everyone I could."

     Megatronus leaned forward too, meeting his gaze with an intense one. "But it's never enough!  No matter how much you do, no matter how hard you try, there are always more who need help.  And they keep coming back to you."

    "I don't mind," Orion protested. "I've never had someone become angry with me because I couldn't help them at the time.  I have more than I need -"

    "But they will never live comfortably just because one dataclerk wants to be a hero." Megatronus pointed out.

     Orion fell quiet and bit his lip.  That had always gnawed at him, but, well - he shrugged a little, awkwardly. "I'm doing everything I can."

     Megatronus gave him a keen look. "What if you weren't?" He asked quietly, wheedling a bit. "I think you understand what I'm trying to do here, Orion - may I call you Orion?"

     "Y-oh-yes?" Orion coughed and reset his vocalizer, flushing again.

     Megatronus just smiled. "You are one of the few mecha in this city who understands exactly what I'm trying to do here.  You're a dataclerk!  You have access to so much information in the Archives . . . perhaps you and I could be friends.  This world needs a change.  Who better to bring it than a couple of street bits?"

     This couldn't be happening.  Orion's optics widened and he felt like he was going to vibrate out of his armor. "Are you serious?" He blurted before he could stop himself.

     Megatronus grinned. "As the ring.  Leave me your comm number when you leave?"

     "Absolutely!" Orion trembled excitedly and almost dropped his stylus.

     Megatronus caught it for him and repositioned it in his hand, casual, as if it were nothing out of the ordinary. "Perfect." He smirked a bit, optics wandering over Orion's frame and then back to his face . . . where Orion wasn't paying attention, instead jotting down a few more side notes.

     "I should, er, probably finish the official interview before we start talking about me leaving," Orion laughed, casting him a boyish grin.

     Megatronus laughed too. "Of course, of course." He sat back in his not-throne, waving a hand. "Go on."

     Orion turned back to his pages with glee.