It didn’t look like he had before.
They’d told him that would be impossible, and even if he had wanted to look like the Damus that had been, there was no way to mimic his original face with the mess of scarring and damage his protoform was underneath all of his plating.
Empurata victim’s parts were often melted down, and their images wiped where they could be. A further destruction of all they had been. Like they hadn’t taken everything Damus had been and burned it into nothing when they’d taken his hands and his face, when they’d pulled every one of his servos from their hinges, and had laughed at his screams. They’d torn his optic free while he was still awake.
They were often left awake, as he’d found out later.
But this time, this time he’d been put under. Megatron had been there when he’d gone under, smiling and proud, and he’d been there when Damus had woken, still smiling and still proud.
“How does rebirth suit you, Tarn.”
To be perfectly honest, he wasn’t sure.
With newly constructed hands, he’d touched the planes of his cheeks, under his optics, over the seams where his original optic had been replaced within the new face, where the second had been reconstructed from half ruined wires shoved into the optical bell of his helm.
Staring up at Lobe from a medical berth once again had proven to be a test of his faith so intense he’d nearly failed. Doppler’s cackling over plating colors, and aligning the joints in his neck as he’d woken had caused him to thrash immediately, medics all taking steps back like they half expected him to bust through restraints. Megatron had easily gotten his attention, his field warm and open, and that was all it took.
He could never be afraid when Megatron was watching over him.
The other medics all seemed worried once he was awake, nervous and careful, quiet. One of the smaller ones, a spindly mech with a faceplate and long fingers had tested his joints one by one, making him move each individual part, one after another, his field pleased as Damus had done what he was told.
So much of him was new,.
He opened his mouth to see carefully constructed parts as far down as his throat and when his fingers ventured further he could taste the newness of his own paint. It was the first thing he’d tasted in years.
His whole face scrunched at the bitterness, putting the lines of scars and seams into horrible gouges across the new plates of his face. When at rest, his new face was handsome. Near seamless unless you had looked truly close.
His tipped his head, and tried to smile, pulling the edges of the plates the way he remembered doing centuries ago.
It looked awkward and near horrifying.
But then, Damus had been the kind to smile before with his rounded face, and his bright yellow optics. This Damus was not. Or at least wasn’t yet.
“How does rebirth suit you.”
He didn’t know yet.
But he’d like to find out.
If he shuttered his optics he could feel Megatron’s hand heavy on his shoulder and his field surrounding him like a cloak, and when Tarn onlined them again he barely recognized the mech grinning in the mirror.
That was more like it.
Learning to move in this new frame was awkward. Lobe had no patience with him, and he and the smaller mech, Forestock, he’d learned, often seemed to be at odds with how to proceed.
Doppler and the other assistants just seemed to treat Damus like a machine not a mech, testing him in way after way, over and over. Lobe would complain, and make him repeat processes to see why he was having trouble while Forestock would speak directly to Megatron about his dislike of Lobe’s methods, often relying on their leader as a translator from his Primal speak, and though he understood Lobe, he made no effort for Lobe to understand him in turn, while Lobe rejected most of Forestock’s suggestions as if they were beneath him.
Megatron had little patience with the entire matter, Lobe especially, watching him over the edge of whatever datapad had been given to him, often silencing all of the mechs in question with nothing more than a look.
Though Damus had the power to halt mechanics, he wished he had the power over mechs that Megatron had with such ease.
Writing proved to be one of the harder things, his fingers large and awkward, clawtips leaving gouges in datapads and Stylus, in counters and walls. As he became more frustrated with himself, several datapads fried themselves in his hands, power conducting easily through his new body, pain of his skill so much less than the pains of his adjusting frame.
Doppler just kept laughing every time one of the small devices burned out, sending skittering treads of pain through his sensors. It became clear quickly that he had little control over his facial components. His face twisting into ugly, extreme expressions with no ability to hold back.
His mask, at first, had just been there to help with his appearance, but it quickly became a necessity, his frustration, his anger, his upset all showed on his face. He could hide his field easily, he had experience.
His face on the other hand…no.
Lobe would click his tongue that had never been taken from him, and would smile and make Damus remove his mask again and again to get a better look at his scars or his movement and every time Damus could feel rage beginning to burn in him, wrapping around his spark, and near spilling out of him.
He hated it, and he hated Lobe, and he hated Doppler and he hated his own stupid Glitch and he hated it all just waiting for this frame to feel like his own, and for his spark to stop feeling like a stranger in his own plating.
The final straw had come when Forestock was working on his hand, the plates of his wrist open and the wires exposed. Out of the medics employed, he had no problem with the smallest of them, the gun was talkative, all of the medics were, but his babbling was all in the hissing dark tones of the Primal vernacular, and he seemed to be pleased with Damus’ stumbling attempts at understanding him, correcting his pronunciation as he worked, giving Damus something else to think about as Forestock tightened gears in his wrist.
Lobe walked up behind Forestock, making disapproving sounds at his work and huffing about disposables under his breath, and it had not taken much to recognize the tension that suddenly slid over Forestock, making the smaller mech pause in his work, and his fingers resettling against the tool in his hand with short clicks of his claws.
Damus’ mask had been set aside while Forestock worked, unbothered by the small mech or Megatron seeing his expressions, but Lobe’s presence made him wish for it immediately, not wanting to give Lobe the pleasure of knowing how he bothered Damus to his core.
Lobe had then deigned to touch him prodding at his helm under the guise of checking connections, his fingers tracing the line of one of the finer welds, hidden to anyone who had not seen it early in the healing.
“For the parts we had, you did turn out quite well.” He said, half turning to look at Doppler over his shoulder, ignoring how he got in Forestock’s way. “This is more attractive than your last face, isn’t it, Doppler? Red optics suit you much better than gold, and the line of your olfactory sensors is far straighter.”
Damus’ felt like ice slid down his spinal strut as the other mech tipped his face as if for a reason other than just to show some sort of dominance over him, over Forestock, over the entire situation, and Damus pulled in his own field to try and keep Lobe from touching that part of him as well. Forestock’s fingers tightened against his own as he kept working, completely ignoring Lobe’s presence, as he tended to.
When Damus looked up, over Lobe’s shoulder, Megatron was watching him, from his high seat on the second level of the medical chamber, his expression full of a weighted distain aimed at the back of Lobe’s helm. His optics resettled on Damus, and Megatron’s expression shifted, from something full of displeasure to something more complicated. His brow ridge raised and he tipped his helm. As Damus watched, Megatron gave a slow nod.
Lobe’s continued babble had no meaning as he realized what he was being given. His optics widened and his optics reset, and he looked up at Lobe.
A mech with his uses, but no idea of what the cause meant. No idea of what mechs like Megatron had gone through, raising up from the depths of the mines, or what Forestock had to have gone through with a form like his, or what Damus himself had gone through. Damus had been forged with a voice that had been meant for the stage, and his fingers had been made to play the delicate strings of the electoharp and pull music from it’s glass soundboard. That had been stolen from him, for things he could not control. His gifts, as Shockwave had called them. As Orion had called them. As Megatron called them. He hadn’t meant to hurt anyone. He hadn’t wanted to. And that was the problem really, when they’d found out, all that the senators had wanted were his stupid little glitch, not what he’d trained and worked so hard for.
All he’d wanted was to be who he was meant to be.
And they’d ripped it from him, piece by piece, plate by plate, wire by wire, until all that was left was his Glitch
Damus watched Lobe speak, and laugh, and his field was wide and unbothered, when he should have been groveling at their feet for forgiveness for what he’d helped put the masses through. What they had put him through.
With his free hand, with the new fingers Lobe had helped reconnect, Damus reached out and grabbed hold of the mech, grabbing him by the jaw. His orange plating crumpled immediately under Damus’ claws.
Lobe’s field flared in panic, and he shrieked, calling out for Doppler, for Megatron, but Megatron didn’t move.
He just smiled.
The control he’d gained made it easy to short out Lobe’s vocalizer, the gears of his face, his jaw, the hinge going loose and pliable in his hand as the mech lost control of it.
Damus had no handle on his expression, sure it was a twisted wreck of anger, but he found himself uncaring as he used his other hand to reach out and grab the back of Lobe’s helm, using his new fingers to tear Lobe’s jaw free of his frame.
Lobe tried to pull away from him, tried to claw at Damus’ hands, metal screeching against the plates of his wrists and his hands, his arms, trying to get away.
Damus had tried to escape when Lobe and Doppler and every other mech in that building complicit in his maiming just tied him down and moved on with their lives, tearing him apart and then moving to the next mech.
Holding Lobe up by the shoulder, he just began to rip at plating, feeling it buckle under his hands, feeling the echo of Lobe’s field, panicked and pained and thrashing against his. He tore and twisted and shredded with his claws and his gifts and his anger until the other mech stopped moving and that terrified field shrunk to nothing.
When he looked up, Megatron was watching him, the other mechs in the room were watching him. Doppler was hiding behind a table, his hands covering his face trapped between Damus and the door. Forestock was still sitting in his chair, his helm tipped and flecked in bits of energon from being too close, unbothered.
Megatron was still watching. He smiled at Damus, and it lit up his optics, his face was suited to smiling and Damus wanted to give him every reason for it.
“You aren’t done.”
And he turned to look at Doppler and then back at him.
Damus felt his spark in his throat, covered in the energon of the mech who maimed him, he’d never felt more treasured, realizing the gift he’d been given.
Doppler never stood a chance.
Later that evening, Forestock repaired the damage he’d done to his fingers, to the open wiring that had been exposed, fussing at him in the primal tongue.
He couldn’t help but feel his spark spinning in his chest, still remembering the look Megatron had given him, still feeling the giddy rush of true vengeance, and wishing that sort of joy for every other Decepticon who knew how it felt to be brought low.
How did rebirth suit him?
He’d never felt better.