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Rust In Peace

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Song: Hanayou
Artist: Elfen Lied OST

Song: Invincible
Artist: Muse

Song: Fire Fire
Artist: David Michael Bennett


“Rabbit you need to calm down. Both of you.” Spine warned, rustling his newspaper and trying not to be too overly protective of them. Rabbit and Jon were running circles around the kitchen table.  It was a very hard habit to break. Especially after doing it for the last 2 weeks. His voicebox seemingly fixed in that an authoritative tone.

“I am the mayor of biscuit town!” Jon screamed as he zoomed past, holding a cardboard crown high above his head. Giggling as he was being chased.

“Give me that crown! THATS MY CROWN OF AWESOME!” Rabbit pretended to be angry, willing to continue the chase as long as Jon was willing to run.

Spine let out an annoyed huff, then chuckled slightly. He couldn’t stay too mad at them. This was actually a somewhat quiet moment, or at least quieter. They had fallen back into their usual patterns. Sure Rabbit wasn’t 100% yet, but he improved each day. 

“You should let them have their fun the Spine.” Hatchworth said softly from the sidelines, making sandwiches for the humans before their tv show started. If Spine was watching Rabbit, Hatchworth was watching Spine. 

Spine let out another puff of steam and shook his head. “You two really need to slow down.” He growled as Rabbit made another pass by his chair, almost knocking his newspaper out of his hands. “I’m serious here!”

“Hey Spine...” A soft voice tried to chime over the chaos, Michael appearing from the doorframe. Spine raised his eyes to the human, it had been days since he had seen him. He practically had disappeared straight after the party. He looked ragged, exhausted and emotionally drained. Peter said he had business to tend to outside of the manor, but having him leave after everything that had happened worried Spine. “Can I... talk to you?”

“Of course Michael.” Spine said with a quick nod, pushing out one of the empty kitchen chairs. Waiting for Jon to make his run past and forcing it the rest of the way out.

“In... in private if thats alright.” Michael tugged at the bottom of his t-shirt, shifting his weight nervously from foot to foot. He raised his head slightly and watched as Jon and Rabbit ran another lap. His eyes staying glued on Rabbit. The subject matter was obviously distressing. 

“Oh...” Spine turned back to the others in the kitchen. Hatchworth gave him an affirming nod that he would keep an eye on things, and he returned a thankful smile. “Of course Michael.” He stood from his chair, tripping as Rabbit and Jon made another circle around the table and into him. “You two be careful!”

“I’m sure they’ll be fine...” Michael whispered, already moving out to the hallway.

Spine let out a sigh and stepped out after him. Where as the kitchen was bright and bustling with life, the hallway outside was darker and quiet. It made it feel like the news was dire and grievous. “What... did you need to speak with me about?” 

“I’m sorry I had to  pull you away from everyone.” Michael apologized, keeping his eyes down. Even after all this time, he still could not look Spine in the eyes. Was he still blaming him? Blaming himself? “I know you... want to keep an eye on Rabbit.”

“Usually yes but, this seemed important. You’ve been gone the last couple of days. Peter said it was business but-”

“I just... I couldn’t talk to you about this. In front of Rabbit.” Unconsciously Michael had placed a hand over his chest. He was never a nervous person, but he seemed more cautious since the accident. He was feeling his own heartbeat, making sure to stay calm, and now Spine was watching too.

“Michael tell me what’s wrong? Are you alright?” 

Michael raised his pooling blue eyes, took a deep breath and released it slowly. “The lawyer that kept calling me.” He took a long pause, biting his lower lip and furrowing his brow deep in thought.

“Yes?” Spine tried to encourage.

“I had business in Washington....” He turned his head slightly away, staring at the carpeting. “In Seattle.”

Spine thought about it a moment. That was where their show was, where he had fallen from the needle monument. Where all of this had started 4 months ago. “Did we cause too much property damage? Leave pieces behind?”

“No no nothing like that.” Michael tried to calm him. “Listen. I couldn’t say this in front of Rabbit because I don’t want him to have one of those attacks.”

“Then this must be about Holly.” Spine cursed her name, clenching a fist and releasing an angry puff of steam. Michael simply nodded. “What about her this time?”

“Well....” Michael shifted nervously, running both hands through his hair and letting out an aggravated sigh. How could he explain it? “You see... She-”

He was interrupted by Rabbit screaming from the kitchen. It was a high pitched agonizing howl that drowned out into muffled sobs. Spine’s eyes went wide and he immediately dashed back into the kitchen. His glare piercing and fixed on Jon who was standing on one side of the kitchen table with his arms up in the air.

“I DIDN’T DO IT!” Jon tried to yell over Rabbit’s pained screams. “I DIDN’T TOUCH HIM! IT WAS AN ACCIDENT SPINE!”

“What happened!” Spine was in no mood for games. Following the sound to the table, not caring about the plates and things stacked on top. He put a callous hand underneath and flipped the table over. His angry expression quickly softening as he saw his brother. Rabbit was curled into a tight ball, holding his pained arm tightly as he cried in agony. His entire copper frame shaking as he gasped for breath.

“I told you guys to be careful...” Spine bent at the hip, wrapping a careful arm under Rabbit’s good one and pulled him to his feet.

“I was careful!” Jon tried to speak for the incapacitated Rabbit. “I crawled under the table and he came after me. I only tugged on his arm once.”

“You know you can’t touch it!” Spine growled, helping Rabbit into a seat and trying to calm him down. With one graceful foot he pulled the table back to its upright position, leaving the fallen kitchenware to the floor. “Go in the living room.”

“But I-” Jon protested.

“NOW! Haven’t you done enough Jon?” Spine snapped, yelling over the sobs and moans in pain. He walked to the sink, filling a large glass of water. Giving Jon that angry glare. “I told you to be careful. And you wouldn’t listen. Are you happy now? Now I have to-”

“Spine!” Hatchworth finally spoke up from his spot at the counter. He set his mustard knife down and gave him a threatening glare. “That’s enough. Jon said he was sorry. Right?”

“Y-yea... I’m Sorry.” The gold bot hung his head, shuffling his feet behind him.

Spine turned from Hatchworth to Jon. Not apologizing, keeping that angry glare as he walked back to the table and sat next to Rabbit. Sliding the water glass in front of the hysterical automaton. He carefully raised a hand and rubbed his back, hoping the touch would help him escape the pain. 

Hatchworth bent his brow and walked to Jon, taking his hand. “I know you worry about Rabbit, Spine. But you have other brothers too.” His natural intonation made the words sound harsher than intended. “Come on Jon, the show is going to start soon.” He marched out, leaving the kitchen, and dragging Jon behind him.

Spine waited till the two of them were alone in the room before letting out a long sigh. He rested his chin in his hand, his elbow on the table, as he continued to rub Rabbit’s back. Watching his brother double over, rest his head on the table, and moan in pain. Doing whatever he could to try and ease his pain.

Spine counted the time as it ticked by on the clock. Four minutes had passed and the wailing had stopped. Now more like a quiet moaning. 

“You need to sit up.” He instructed, only getting pleading whimpers in response. “You need to sit up straight. And you need to drink this water.” He pushed the glass closer, trying to ignore the series of muffled whines. “You know as well as I do this will help.”

“I’m... not... even t-t-thirsty...” Rabbit pouted, only wanting to curl up more.

“Its not for the thirst. Its for the distraction.” Spine grabbed Rabbit’s good arm gently and forced the cup in hand. “You know the routine. Slow and steady, and time your breaths.”

Reluctantly Rabbit followed his advice. He leaned back in the chair, trying to take deeper breaths and slowly began to sip at his water. Wincing slightly but the tactic worked. Soon the circuitry pain faded, only leaving throbbing after currents trying to repair the damage. 

“It wasn’t his f-fault.” Rabbit finally managed to mouth out. His breath still heavy.

“I told you to be careful.” Spine leaned back, still watching intently.

“I know I... I g-got carried away.” He took a staggering breath and covered his eyes with his good hand. Now that the pain was gone, the realization came back once again that he was still broken. “I’m sorry. I should have listened... I don’t know why I d-do this to myself.”

“Rabbit. Listen to me carefully.” Spine arched forward, sticking his chest out as he bellowed that authoritative tone. “You feel well, until something like this happens. Its easy to forget. You want to act the way you used to, play the way you used to. Its okay to forget sometimes.”

“You don’t think Jon is.... upset do you?” He lowered his hand and turned to his other arm. Shaking it out at the elbow. He winced as sparks flew between his joints with each flick, but he was getting his movement back.

“Hatchworth should have calmed him down. I’m sure he’s fine.” Spine scoffed. Shrugging off the words, clear his worry and focus were on Rabbit instead. “Are you feeling up to joining the others?”

“Yea I... think so...” He followed Spine’s example and stood from the table, following him to the counter where the the platter of sandwiches were. He gave his arm one last fling, sending out the last spark before stealing the plate from Spine. 

“Rabbit don’t strain-”

“Don’ worry Spine.” Rabbit gave that happy tone again, carrying the large tray in both hands. “I gotta do stuff too still. Ya know. As a distraction.”

Spine let out a sigh and watched as the copper bot led the way to the living room. Still stubborn as ever. A true sign that, whatever this was, they could overcome it. He chuckled under his breath, carrying the rest of the plates as he followed behind.

“Did it start yet?” Rabbit laughed as they stepped in the living room. All heads fixated to the screen. Mouths dropped open in shock, humans and robots. Something had happened that they weren’t aware of. Rabbit frowned confused as he wasn’t met back with cheers. “Spine what happened?”

“Spine you should get Rabbit out of here.” Michael warned from his seat in the recliner. His eyes wide and uneasy.

“What happened?” Spine leaned forward, noticing the tv screen from the corner of his eye. It flashed some static and returned to a sort of news broadcast. “This isn’t our show.”

“Spine please.” Michael leaned forward in his chair, hand hard pressed against his chest as he started to breath heavier. “Get him out of here.”

“What’s happening?” Rabbit asked confused, looking for a place to set his platter down. “Is the show late?”

“Once Again we return to our special broadcast. Today we spend an hour looking back on the life of a very important person to the science community and ask the hard questions. For those of you tuning in just now.-”

“Spine. Get him out of here.” Michael’s hand clenched into a fist, hissing the words through clenched teeth.

“Why?” Spine frowned, watching the panic wash over the human’s face. Worried he would suffer another arrhythmia.

“Last week, famed daughter of Science. Doctor Holly Eleanor Cooper, was found dead in her home.”

There was a crash, Rabbit dropping the tray in his hands. His arms falling limp at his sides as he stared at the screen. Spine almost thought he saw a spark flash in the automatons eyes. All sound was sucked from the room. You could hear a pin drop, everyone holding their breath and staring at the screen in shock. The moment felt unreal. Like a lie, it couldn’t be true.

Holly Cooper. The one that had attacked them, nearly killed them all. 

Was Dead.

Chapter Text

Song: Adaigo for Tron
Album: Tron Legacy Soundtrack

Song: Watch the World Burn
Album: The Dark Knight OST

 

Song: Lux Aeterna
Artist: Clint Manswell



Why?

 

How?

 

Spine tilted his head slowly, mouth still agape, and turned towards Michael. The only one not completely flabbergasted. “You knew...” Spine whispered under his breath. Michael only gave a quick and apologetic nod. “Thats what... you wanted to talk to me about.” He nodded again.

 

Spine turned back to the rest of the room, everyone still in shock. “Rabbit...” He whispered, wrapping an arm under the other automatons. “Maybe we should rest in the kitchen.”

 

-at the young age of 28. The science community is still shaking their heads at such a tragic loss.” The News broadcast continued, flashing pictures of Holly as a young girl. Smiling and happy, emotions Spine didn’t think she had the ability to possess. “Graduating with the highest honors from her advanced High school, and placing in the extremely competitive physics and engineering program at Caltech. She was ahead of her class on every level. Her focus and determination never faltered until the death of her father in 2008. Determined to continue his work after the loss of his company, Dr. Cooper began work with the Steel Toys and Robotics Corporation.

 

The newscast broke to an interview with Holly. Only from a few years earlier. She seemed completely different. She had color in her face. Her eyes bright and sparkling, she was enthusiastic, ecstatic about her work. Having nothing but optimism for her future.

 

“You see... I want to continue my father’s work.” She smiled, leaning forward towards the interviewer. Unable to sit still as she spoke of her dreams. “He knew that it would only be a matter of time until these robots replaced us humans. They are superior in everyway. Immune to disease, no need to keep a sustainable food supply, they are stronger, faster. If we could transfer a human consciousness into a programmable robotic body, think of the possibilities!” Her eyes grew wide and she stood from her seat in excitement. It took the interviewer a couple of tries to get her to calm down again. Her manic personality showing.

 

“But what if someone gets put into these, advanced superior bodies, and then decide to take control? Overthrow governments? Murder-”

 

“That won’t happen.” She growled angry. Clenching a fist as she slammed it into the arm of her chair.

 

“There’s always a chance.” The interviewer prodded.

 

“Not with my programming. I have failsafes. Safety nets. Back ups. The only problem is funding.” She sat on the edge of her seat and folded her hands into a tight pyramid.

The rest of the people in the living room seemed to relax, watching the rest of the program. Spine himself was sucked in, wanting to know more about this woman that nearly destroyed all of their lives. Then movement caught the corner of his eye. Holding his breath in his bellows he turned his neck slowly and watched as Rabbit took a step forward.

 

The light in his mismatched eyes seemed to dim as he walked towards the television set, as if in a trance. No attack, no fear at the mention of her. Seeing her face again. It didn’t bring up those memories. This was different, and Spine knew to be worried.

 

Dr. Coopers funding was revoked after a bitter review from the National Science Foundation after it was revealed she was working illegally with red matter.

 

“Miss Cooper did not take the news lightly.” A stern low voice chimed from the screen. A bald man with thick goggles smiled, crossing his fingers as he laid back in a chair. “She believed in her work, continuing tirelessly into the night. One of my finest scientists. Miss Cooper had a passion very few could match.”

 

“... Doctor Cooper you insensitive prick...” Rabbit cursed under his breath as he stood in the center of the room. His stance straighter, missing that casual lean of his. “... you always forget the doctor...”

 

Spine raised his eyebrow, not moving from his stance as he looked about the room. He caught the worried looks from Hatchworth and Jon, turning to Michael. They knew that intonation, that tone.

 

“Rabbit?” Spine tried to call his attention from the screen.

 

“Unfortunately her demands became too high... our labs couldn’t keep up. Her experiments were going nowhere and her research was unfounded in fact.” The scientist smiled curtly as he leaned back in his chair, crossing one leg over the other and running his index finger across his chin.

 

“Is that when you had to let her go, Dr. Steel?” The interviewer prodded.

 

“It was unfortunate. We lost a great mind with her departure from the company... but we felt it was best for her... mental stability.”

 

“MENTAL STABILITY!” Rabbit shrieked, incensed as he stormed in front of the set. He fell to a sitting position, grabbing the sides of the screen in his hands tightly as he yelled. “You just wanted to steal my research! You wanted an excuse to cut me out of it!”

 

“Spine?” Hatchworth’s voice shook as he stared at Rabbit’s back. “What’s happening?”

 

“Hatchworth I want you and Jon to get the humans out of here and in a safe place.” Spine instructed in a firm and stiff tone. Slowly walking behind Rabbit, who was too sucked into the program to realize.

 

“... Spine?” Hatchworth asked again as he stood. “... Spine-” He whispered now.

 

“Hatchworth do as I say. Get Peter. And get yourselves in a safe place.” He turned his eyes slowly, not turning his head away from Rabbit’s back. “Don’t worry. I’ve got this. Everything is fine.”

 

“She was a sweet girl.” Some woman blabbered on the screen. Neighbors being interviewed outside of Holly’s house.

 

“Kept to herself mostly. A shut in. That was her problem! She never went out.” Another woman chimed in. “That’s why they didn’t find her body for four months. And believe me, that house smelled like you wouldn’t believe.”

 

“.... four months?...” Rabbit whispered confused, running a hand over the screen.

 

“Nobody even knew she killed herself! Nobody bothered ta visit her. Except for that one boyfriend of hers. Boy he was handsome.”

 

“Pitty things didn’t work out. He was a musician I think.” The two ladies giggled to each other.

 

Spine stood a mere 4 feet behind his brother, trying to figure out how much force would be necessary. He kept his hands in tight fists at his sides, trying to shake the anger from his circuits. He didn’t want to do this again. He didn’t want to have to hurt Rabbit, who was already so broken, because of her. Again.

 

“Killed myself? I did no such thing!” Rabbit’s eyes grew wider. It flipped to images of her body, found decaying in her bed. Her funeral, interviews with cops. “... I’m.... dead?” He took a deep breath, fingers grazing over the people on the screen. “... no... I can’t be.”

 

“Rabbit. We need to get you to the lab.” Spine tried to call to any part of his brother. Not sure just how much control she had now. “Rabbit....” He tried again, his usually stern tone wavering. “Rabbit... please... please answer me.”

 

“I’m not dead.” Rabbit snarled, yelling over the news broadcasters. His hands grasped desperately at the sides of the set, his fingers now digging into the panelling. Cracking the screen, forcing the images to split, breaking up into colorful squares.

 

“Rabbit, please.” Spine took a step closer. He couldn’t believe this was happening. He wouldn’t. Rabbit was still there. He had to be. Slowly, carefully, he lifted a hand and placed it on his brother’s shoulder. Keeping his grip gentle. “Rabbit stop.”

 

Rabbit’s body froze, stiffened at the touch. A slight spark running through the circuits and panels in his neck. Silently, and without warning, he crunched the tv set in his hands. Squeezing the two sides together and crumpling the electronic into an accordion like shape. Paying no mind to the sparks and leaking fluids. He jumped to his feet, lifting the broken caved in set over his head and tossing it to the wall behind him.

 

“I’M! NOT! DEAD!” He screamed as it made impact. Huffing and puffing as smoke billowed from his vents. Something breaking inside of him. Now Spine could see, look him in the face. This wasn’t his brother, this was her. 100%. Rabbit was gone, and Holly was in charge.

 

There was a heavy moment of silence. Rabbit and Spine staring each other down. The tension was so thick it almost felt hard to breathe, impossible to function. Rabbit almost looked remorseful, returning his brothers despairing gaze. Spine would have believed it. If it wasn’t for that curt corner smile. “What fun... I’m stuck with you again.” He sneered, raising a clenched fist.

 

“I’m not liking it any more than you are.” Spine snapped back. “I don’t know how you’re doing this. I don’t care. I want you out of him. Out of our lives.” He pointed an accusing finger.

 

“I wish that was possible.... but apparently. I’M DEAD!” He growled, clenching his other fist. His photoreceptors darting behind Spine. That antagonizing smirk morphing into a rage fueled snarl. “YOU!” He shrieked, pointing past Spine. “THIS IS YOUR FAULT!”

 

Spine turned sharply, following his accusing finger and gasped. “MICHAEL! Get out of here!” He slid between his brother and the human. “You were supposed to leave with Hatchworth.”

 

Michael shook his head slowly, standing in front of the recliner he had been sitting in. One hand clenched tightly over his chest, breathing heavily. “I had to see it. I had to make sure...”

 

“Michael, get out of here.” Spine commanded, trying to keep an eye on Rabbit and another on him.

 

“I’m dead because of you.” Rabbit snarled, eyes flashing bright.

 

“I didn’t mean for-” Michael tried to sound sympathetic.

 

“You didn’t mean? DIDN’T MEAN? TO WHAT?” Rabbits voice cracking into her high pitched shrill.

 

“.... Holly...” He sighed, dropping his hands to his sides. “I’m... I’m sorry but... you did this to yourself.”

 

“Sorry! You’re... Sorry?” Rabbit straightened his back, eyes slightly dimming again as he seemed to be thinking it over. Another spark fizzling over his faceplate and that crazed snarl returned. “I’LL TEACH YOU THE MEANING OF SORRY!”

 

He spun, quick on his heels and launched for Michael. His arms outstretched, fingers spread and ready to wrap around his brittle human neck. Her hate and anger glistening in his robotic eyes. Her only focus, only desire, was to make Michael suffer as much as possible. “I’M GOING TO RIP YOUR FUCKING EYES OUT AND SHOVE THEM DOWN YOUR THROAT!”

 

It seemed in her manic attack she had forgotten that Spine was right there. As Rabbit dashed past, Spine managed to wrap an arm around his waist, pulling him back. The copper bot flailed, squirming in Spine’s grip. Kicking and screaming a long series of obscenities in Michael’s direction. In the back of his programing Spine was almost happy it was Holly in charge, and not a corrupted Rabbit. Rabbit was a much better fighter than her.

 

“Michael... get... out... of here!” Spine grunted, getting an elbow in the chin, another in his side. He squinted, opening one eye to make sure he got the message. “... Michael...” He cursed now, watching the human as he was sitting back on the carpeting. Hand clenched over his heart as he gasped for breath. He was suffering another arrhythmia. He needed help. He needed his medication, needed medical attention. But Spine could do nothing while he was still restraining Rabbit.

 

“YOU DYING THERE? HUH? LIKE I DID!?” Rabbit shrieked, finally getting one arm loose in the struggle. “I’M GOING TO FINISH YOU OFF AND PAINT THESE WALLS WITH YOUR BLOOD!”

 

Spine’s photoreceptors went wide. He had to make a split decision. In less that .687 seconds Rabbit, more like Holly, would be free. Michael was already struggling, she could really kill him. He had been holding back this whole time. Hoping he wouldn’t have to use the back up. Hoping he wouldn’t have to do that to his brother.

 

.342 seconds left. He stared at Rabbit’s back, watching his vest shift in that dash. Wishing it could have been for something less sinister. He knew this was only the beginning. He had to. He made a promise to Rabbit that he could handle this. He had to.

 

.298 seconds. He closed his eyes, tightening his grip on Rabbit’s wrist. Dashing forward and pulling him into his chest. A charged spark flashed between them. Rabbit’s eyes went wide, his hand outstretched for Michael. As the static built in the room every light bulb popped, spraying shattered glass to the floor. More and more flares began to engulf the two bots. Spine did his best not to cry out, holding on to his brother tightly. He wanted to whisper apologies, but he knew if he even tried to open his mouth he would be shrieking just as much as Rabbit was. One of them had to stay comforting, even if Rabbit couldn’t wholly appreciate it.

 

A final blast of electrifying blue light and there was a crashing of metal. The room smelled of smoke and burnt oil. Rabbit laid offline on the carpeting. His limbs bent at awkward angles like he had been thrown carelessly. His photoreceptors dark as tiny aftershocks fizzled over his frame. Forced into shut down from the shock.

 

Spine was perched on his knees, hands had fallen limply at his sides and head tilted back and to one side. His eyes dark, his circuits unresponsive. Slivers of electricity running down his arms, sparking before being diffused into the ground.

 

At the start of the electrical storm Michael crawled himself behind the recliner. Shielding himself from whatever blast. He didn’t want that again, he couldn’t be struck again. Then there was that final pop. The room went dark and quiet. No longer the sound of humming machines, only the soft static of the leftover surges.

 

“... Sp-... spine?” He managed to call out. Still struggling to catch his breath, he forced himself to look around the side of his impromptu barricade. He felt another twinge in his chest as he saw the two automatons frozen in place. “s... pine...” He huffed again, crawling out on his elbows. He felt dizzy, on the verge of collapse at any moment. But he had to check, had to make sure. That this, was not like the last time. That they hadn’t just lost both bots. “s-pine?... ra... rabbit?” He whimpered, struggling to take in another breath. Leaning against the side of the recliner.

 

Chapter Text

Michael forced his eyes open, suddenly realizing that he had blacked out momentarily. Panicked he looked back around the room, realizing that nothing had changed. Neither one of the bots had moved from their positions. He was safe, at least for the moment. He cleared his throat, taking a heavy breath. Ready to move again. He had to fix the bots he had to-

 

He shrieked as a metal hand gripped his shoulder. He tried to jump to his feet, failing and crashing back in the carpet. Trying to crawl away from his attacker.

 

“Mr. Reed! Calm down… Its… its only me!” Hatchworth waved his hands, trying to catch his attention. “You need help. You must calm down!” Michael held his breath, sizing up the mustachioed bot and letting out a heavy sigh of relief. He fell back on the carpet, clutching his chest with one hand. “Here…” He spoke softly, offering Michael a bottle. “I have your medicine… I need to get you to Peter.”

 

“What… happened to them…” Jon’s voice softly peeked up. The curly haired bot stood in the doorway, legs shoulder width apart as his hands ran over each other nervously. He waited for a response for several moments, but wasn’t going to receive one. Hatchworth knew about as much as he did, and Michael was too weakened to really speak. He took in a quivering breath, tried to shake out his nerves from his hands, taking a deep breath and walked slowly towards the two broken automatons.

 

“Jon… Jon be careful!” It was as much a warning as he was going to get from the preoccupied Hatchworth. His words just background noise as Jon stared down Spine’s darkened optics. She was in there. In one of them, maybe even in both of them now. Whatever that spark was, he knew he should be weary of it. But he couldn’t help his curiosity.

 

Holding his breath as he stepped over Rabbit’s crumpled leg. Keeping an eye on him. Any moment he could get back to his feet, and grab him. Contaminate him with her. In the 15 seconds it took him to step over his broken frail body, there was no movement. He was safe, for now. Raising his eyes from the form on the floor he turned his gaze to Spine who was only about two feet away and still sparking.

 

He took a tentative step forward, only moving a few inches. Eyes wide, intently concentrating. Another step forward. “Spine?” He called out softly, hoping to get a pleasant response. The same thought running through his head. Please don’t let her be in him again. Please don’t let her be in him again. “Spine?”

 

Jon screamed, covering his face with one arm and jumping back as a large spark suddenly ran up the side of Spines faceplate. His blackened photoreceptors shining a bright blue before flickering to their usual green.

 

“Jon!” Hatchworth stood, pulling Michael to his feet. “No stop! We don't know what happened! We need to get Peter here! If you break them more-”

 

There was another spark that ended in a heavy pop, drawing all their attention back to Spine. His green eyes blinking in the darkened room. Looking around and trying to gain his bearings again.

 

“SPINE!” Jon screamed, not hesitating and jumping towards him. Extending his arms, ready for a tight hug like always. “You’re okay!”

 

“Wait! Jon! STOP!” Spine commanded. His tone was dark and panicked. It didn’t suit him, usually so stoic.  “I could still shock you… I… We need to get Rabbit somewhere safe. Where he can’t hurt anyone…”

 

*Power Levels at 25.8% Shut Down Imminent* His systems warned. If Rabbit came back now there was no way he could pacify him again. He let out a hiss of pain, attempting to stand. The left over charges of electricity shooting through every ball joint, circuit, and bolt as he slowly got to his feet.

 

Jon stood close by, his hands pulled into his chest as he watched his brother struggle. “Spine… what… what happened?” He whimpered, turning now to Rabbit who was still offline on the carpet.

 

“Its… its a beta test now.” The low baritone voice chimed as he still tried to steady himself. “Peter the 5th installed it, before Rabbit was released from the lab.” He sighed, his thoughts disconnected after the jolt. It took great effort just to get coherent sentences out. “... He said it was just in case- just in case…” He paused, following Jon’s stare to Rabbit on the carpet. “... Just in case it happens again.” He whispered. It had happened again. “The spark.” He continued, refusing to fight against the guilt in his mind. “Was me using my power supply in a single burst. Overclocking his system. Forcing him to shut down... I didn’t suffer any damage… but he-” He forced himself to stop. He couldn’t promise that. He couldn’t promise that it wouldn't have hurt Rabbit.

 

He could no longer deny it. They were on the brink of war once more. A war against her. And this time Rabbit was her captive, not Spine. He rotated his shoulders, flexed his fingers before clenching them into tight fists. He would take control. He would lead this war. He knew the enemy. They stopped her once they could do it again.

 

“Jon.” He barked as he stomped one foot, demanding attention. He quickly received it from both bots. They knew that tone from him. He was giving out orders, something he hadn’t done since Vietnam.  “Take Rabbit to the labs. Stay away from the employee residences. Keep to the lower levels as much as possible.”

 

Jon clicked his heels together, giving Spine a firm nod and a salute before moving to throw the offline automaton over one shoulder. The salute was acknowledged with a firm nod from Spine, before he turned his attentions to Hatchworth who was standing at the ready, cradling Michael against his side.

 

“Is he stable?”

 

“As stable as I can get him, Sir.”

 

“Take him to Peter the 6th’s office. He’s there now. Inform him of the situation. Tell him where Jon is taking Rabbit.”

 

“What about you?” Hatchy’s voice chirped with concern, adjusting Michael’s arm over his shoulder. “You got hurt?”

 

Spine shook his head slowly, taking a few steps after Jon as the golden haired bot fled quickly. “I’m fine. But I need to recharge.” He stumbled to one side, catching himself on a chair. His scowl never wavering. “I can recharge twice as quickly in the H.O.W. That way I’ll be prepared if Rabbit comes back online and I-” He paused, straightening his back.

 

“In case you have to do it again.” Hatchworth finished softly. “I understand, Sir. Order’s received.” He clicked his heels, not as quickly as Jon had. Giving him a weakened salut with Michael still draped over his shoulders. “We shall meet you in the H.O.W. When you are recharged.”

 

“Dismissed.” Spine coughed weakly, watching the mustachioed bot scramble out. Now all three standing bots were split. But they had to prepare. War was coming.

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

“But Peter!” Michael protested, leaning forward in his seat. His face still pale and his cheeks bright red. Not helping his argument any. “I’m fine. Really. You are going to need my help on this one.”

 

“Michael she almost killed you once.” Peter scowled behind the mask. Dashing frantically about his office.

 

“That… that was because of something else. She wasn’t going after me.” Michael scoffed, pressing his fingertips against his chest. “You need me to help fix Rabbit!”

 

“I have enough engineers Michael! Ones that haven’t already suffered her wrath.” Peter stood on a wooden chair, pulling down books and maps from the high shelves that lined his office. “Look, with Dad stuck at the Brown Suits trying to explain what happened the first time, I’m in charge. And I’m not going to let her kill you.”

 

“But I-”

 

“THIS IS CODE RED MICHAEL!” Peter growled. His mask raising higher on his cheek bones as he turned sharply towards his friend. Panting, he tried to calm himself. “Look… we’ve seen what she’s capable of. Whatever she’s doing now. Between you, me, and Dad we couldn’t stop her. The Plan is to keep her as contained as possible until I can get in contact with him and get you out of harms way.” He relaxed slightly, stepping off his chair and dumping the contents of his arms on the desk. Walking around to the front the cherry wood desk he leaned against it. Crossing his arms over his chest as he took a deep breath. “Michael… I’m not asking you as an employer… I’m begging you as a friend… “

 

His words began to sink in the angry engineer’s mind. Michael relaxed back in his chair, putting a few fingers against his lips in thought. Closing his eyes and turning his head away. He knew Peter was right. But he couldn’t leave them to clean up his mess.

 

“Please. Just lay low at Matt’s for a while. Wait until this whole thing blows over… I don’t want to see you hurt again. Not like last time. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if it did…” Peter unfolded his arms, pressing his palms on the edge of the desk. “Okay? Its for your own safety.”

 

Michael let out an exasperated sigh, slamming his hands down on the arms of the chair. Letting out a growl before a reluctant, “Fine… I’ll… stay at Matt’s.”

 

“Good.” His mask  nearly falling off his face with how hard he had nodded. He marched back to the other side of the desk, plopping down in his oversized leather chair. “Now… Would you please share with me the information you’ve been keeping secret about this whole thing? I know you haven’t told us everything. I’m not stupid.”

 

Michael’s eyes darted up, matching his keyhole before giving him a sheepish grin. “How could you tell?”

 

“You keep biting your lower lip.” A smirk in his tone. “I know you well enough to know that its a nervous habit when you are unsure of a current action stemming from your cognitive processes located in the-”

 

“Alright I get it. I get it… I bite my lip a lot.” Michael groaned, not wanting another lecture. “..I guess I have to tell you now.”

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

Jon let out a heavy puff of steam, struggling to carry Rabbit’s dead weight on his shoulder. If it was anyone else they could have handled it. But Jon was the weakest. He would fulfill his order. He assured Spine he could handle this.

 

A crashing thunk as he accidently dropped Rabbit on the ground. He eeped, falling back against the wall. Momentarily startled that he would be attacked by her. But just as he had been this whole trip, Rabbit was silent.

 

He let out a puff of steam in relief. Taking advantage of the moment to rest. Closing his eyes and dropping his head in his hands. Spine and Rabbit both charged head first against her. Was he a coward for wanting to run and hide? He didn’t want to face her. He didn’t want to be torn apart by her again. He tried to fight the panicked tears. Shaking his head side to side as he uncovered his eyes. What if they couldn’t get Rabbit back? What if she takes out Rabbit and Spine? What if he’s the only one left…

 

Raising his head slowly he froze. Back pressed as hard as he could against the wall, holding his breath. Eyes going wide as he was met with Rabbit’s mismatched bright optics. He was back online. Back online and starring Jon down from his position on the floor. Neither one saying a word for what felt like hours. Merely blinking blankly back and forth.

 

“R… ra… rabbit?” Even if his voice was shaking, he was surprised he managed to speak at all. Rabbit just blinked again. His eyes dimming slightly, looking tired. “Rabbit?” He tried again, his words stronger this time. “Are you still there? Are you-”

 

He froze, holding his breath and watched as Rabbit gave that jester smile. Grinning ear to ear. Under normal circumstances his playful smile would have made Jon feel reassured, but in this light it was intensely unnerving.

 

“Jonny. My friend.” Rabbit purred softly. “We never got a chance to talk did we?”

 

Chapter Text

Jon couldn’t back up against the wall any further. Staring deadpan down at Rabbit who only returned that jester smile.

 

“I will only talk to Rabbit…” Jon tried to feign strength. Swallowing hard as his brother only blinked. Maybe if he pretended hard enough she wouldn’t mess with him. “Rabbit?”

 

“Let’s chat then…” His voice purred at a wavelength not common to him. It unnerved Jon that he still couldn’t tell who was who. Rabbit let out a soft groan, pulling his arms up underneath his chest, trying to sit up from the floor.

 

Usually Jon would have offered a hand. Instead he pressed his back against the wall and slid up it. Standing and keeping his eyes downcast at the other automaton. Watching him intently and trying to sidestep around him. “Rabbit?” He asked again, his voice didn’t shake as much the second time around.

 

“You were the one who wanted to talk.” Rabbit bit harshly. Barely managing to pull himself up to his knees. Clearly drained from the shock from Spine. There was no familiarity in that voice. “Come. Here. Let’s talk.”

 

“No. I’m fine where I’m… at.” Jon took a step back. He had to keep an eye on him, on her. His hands fidgeting nervously at his sides. His mind reeling of what he was supposed to do. He couldn’t beat Rabbit in a fight, and he didn’t have the ability to pacify him the same way Spine had. So easily she could saw him in half. Just like last time.

 

“Come. Here!” Rabbit panted, pulling up a knee. Growling low as he swiped out a hand. Jon jumped back, stumbling and tripping on his feet. Almost falling completely back. The panic setting in. “COME HERE!” He snarled again, weakly getting to both feet. Hunched over and panting steam just from the strain.

 

“I’ll!” Jon tried to think of a threat. “I’ll.. uh… I’ll shut you down!”

 

“I’d like to see you try.” Rabbit smirked out of the corner of his mouth. Tilting his head to the side. “Honestly what do you think you could do? I nearly broke you for good last time.” His eyes flashed darkly. “I’ll do it again.”

 

They stared each other down. The seconds felt like hours. Jon could feel his circuits start to overheat in the panic. Exhaling heavy strained breaths. Refusing to break his stare with him. Trying to think of an escape plan. Of all the times they played tag or raced, Rabbit won. Could he outrun him now, when it mattered?

 

“Gonna run?” He grinned, taking a threatening lunge towards the golden bot. Snapping his teeth in a heavy bite as he did so. Cackling when Jon fell back against the wall again. “It makes it so much more fun.” He tilted his head to the side, stalking him like prey. “Come on little birdy… let’s play cat and mouse.”

 

Jon took his chance, hoping Holly was more interested in the game than in destroying him again. He had to get word out. He had to wake Spine from the Hall of Wires. If he could reach one of the intercoms he could warn the whole Manor. That he had failed, and that she was loose.

 

Rabbit watched him, clenching his fists at his sides. Waiting for him to put distance between them with a malicious smile. “Run little birdie, run…” He leaned against the wall, stretching out his fingers as they dug into the plaster. Dragging them behind him as he marched after him. Leaving deep claw marks in the walls. “Its been a while since I’ve been out to play…”

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

The two engineers sat in a heavy silence. Michael was trying to delay it, or to find the right words. His hands folded into a peak and pressed against his lips. Nervously tapping them. Then running his hands through his hair, folding them in his lap. Tapping them against his crossed leg.

 

“Sometime today please.” Peter sighed, resting his chin in his palm and his elbow on the desk.

 

“So… Where would you like me to start? The day Holly and I fell in love? When we broke up? When we-”

 

“When she decided we were a good target.” Peter growled, not caring for Michael’s jokes. Sitting straighter in his chair. Trying to copy his father’s ability to look intimidating.

 

Michael sighed, relaxing back in his chair. “She always was… ambitious. In a lot of ways it was her best and worst quality.” Michael sighed fondly. “It was obvious pretty early on that she was smarter than everyone else in our classes… At first I wasn’t interested, at least not in a long term kinda thing. But she was persistent.” He chuckled, rubbing his chin as he remembered. “She brought me lunch everyday. Peanut butter and Jelly, she was no cook. Eventually I did ask her out… and once we started dating for a while I asked her why she was trying so hard.” He shrugged his shoulders, clearing his throat with a cough. “She said that when she saw me she knew she wanted me. And she always got what she wanted.” Michael smiled and ran a hand through his hair.

 

“Well that’s awfully possessive.” Peter muttered, turning back to his paperwork.

 

“Yeah she was that too… Boy did she get jealous quick. And such a short fuse too. But she was so smart, and passionate. She had such a sharp wit. Always so.. so…” He fumbled, trying to think of the right word. “Clever.” His smile faded to a frown, realizing he was talking about her in past tense. When she was quite obviously still here. And still trying to destroy them.

 

“You could find something positive in anyone.” Peter scoffed, flattening a large set of blueprints on his desk.

 

“I guess that’s true.” Michael had to agree with a nod. He stared at his feet. This was where things got tricky. “She… started planning our life… like without me. That’s why we broke up. She was too controlling. She wanted me to take over her father’s company with her… but I told her I was getting my degree then coming back here. To work with you guys. She was furious. Said I was choosing the Walters over her.”

 

He ran his finger over his lips again, wiggling it nervously as he forced himself to continue. “I tried to explain to her… she wouldn’t listen… she even applied to work for you guys…”

 

“Oh yeah…” Peter’s mask raised in thought. He turned to the drawers of his desk, searching their contents. “I remember that… Dad said she was too much of a hot head, a loose cannon… I might still have her application.”

 

“Yeah well… when she was turned down she was insulted. We grew distant, and I got so busy with the band and the bots and your new work and stuff. Then… In 2008 her father passed away.” Michael sounded guilty, hanging his head and folding his hands between his knees. “I was at a show with the band. I… didn’t go to the funeral.” He closed his eyes, exhaling a nervous breath. “If I had… maybe she wouldn’t have gone down this road. He was the only thing in her life and he was gone… she turned to me for help and I just… I was being selfish.”

 

“Michael.” Peter’s voice was soft and forgiving. He dropped a thick manila envelope on the table and sighed. “You can’t blame yourself for the decisions she made, because you couldn’t be there every time she fell apart.”

 

Michael nodded his head slowly. He knew it was true, but he couldn’t help but feel guilty. “What’s this?” Tilting his head as he pulled the thick envelope off the desk.

 

“Her application. I knew we still had it… Dad must have thought highly of her to keep it in the main office.” They sat in silence again. Peter watching Michael as he flipped through the dozen pages that was Holly’s lifetime career. How much could you know about a person by looking at dates and statistics? “This is all interesting.” Peter tried to bring him back to the conversation. “But you still haven’t explained the full on… robot murdering rampage.”

 

“Right sure…” Michael leaned back in the chair, crossing his leg back over at the knee. “We would talk occasionally on like, Facebook and stuff. Just to keep tabs on her, see where her life was going and what she was doing.”

 

“I hate that thing.” Peter growled with disdain.

 

“You hate anything that makes you have to explain the mask. And or talk to people.” Michael teased. Laughing hard as Peter gave an angry huff. “Oh yeah… so um… Well-”

 

“Why the visit? That started this. Last time.” Peter crossed his arms.

 

“Well we were in town. She asked us to come early to hang out. Which I thought was odd, considering she did everything in her power to push me away. But she was actually being… nice.”

 

“… nice…”

 

“Yeah.” Michael shrugged his shoulders. “So I took the bots sight seeing and whatever. You know that bit… She was working for Dr. Steel. Which I knew, but… she confided in me that he had her working after hours. On uh…” He cleared his throat. “… Purple matter…”

 

“WHAT!” Peter lurched forward in his chair. Hands grasping the arm rests tightly. “Under B.R.O.W.N.N. protocol 44, Violet mater and other matters in the same pallet must be authorized with a class 6 lab and at least a class 10 containment vault. WHICH HE DOES NOT HAVE!”

 

“Yeah… totally illegal.” Michael squirmed, as if he was the one in trouble. “And a huge health risk on her part. But ya know… She thinks she can outsmart anyone and anything. Until she got sick.” He started to chew his thumb nail. Keeping his eyes down.

 

Peter leaned back in his seat. Running a hand through his hair as he sighed. “Cancer?”

 

“Pancreatic… or at least they thought. The autopsy proved it to be a false alarm. But still… she went off the handle. She wouldn’t even wait for the results.” Michael charged angry. “She couldn’t wait two friggin months. Everything was life or death instantly. She wanted the blueprints and I wouldn’t give them to her. She wouldn’t just wait.” He leapt from his chair, starting to pace angry and slamming his hands together.

 

“The frailty of man!” He continued on her tirade. “She had the programming, just not the hardware. I was trying to be nice. Let her down gently. Its really scary, thinking you’re going to die at 28. She refused to accept it.”

 

“So instead she’s around masquerading as Rabbit.” Peter spat back. “Tried to kill them, break into the manor because she thought she was dying?”

 

“It wasn’t just that.” Michael sighed. “When she found out, she told Dr. Steel about it. But instead of playing it cool, she threatened him. Said she was going to turn him in to the B.R.O.W.N.N. So of course he cut her off. Kicked her out of the university. Got her funding pulled. Oh she was maaaaaaaaaad. Pissed and, with what she thought, nothing left to lose.”

 

“So the dramatics.” Peter waved a hand.

 

“As always…” Michael sighed. “She’s… she’s really ambitious. Her research is everything to her. And now the curtain was closing. She wasn’t going to be able to finish. She was desperate.”

 

“You’re making excuses for her.”

 

“No I-… I’m just trying to explain. Why she would-”

 

“Do you still have feelings for her?” Peter stated flatly.

 

“What?! No I just- SHE ALMOST KILLED ALL OF US!”

 

“And she’s going to do it again!” Peter stood, hanging his head as he walked around the side of the large desk. Meeting Michael’s guilty gaze with unseen eyes, hidden behind the dark key hole in his mask. He put a hand on each of his shoulders. Forcing Michael to stand straight. “Look… you said yourself. She always gets what she wants. She’s manipulative, cold-hearted, vicious, conniving, and worst of all… she’s smart. The Manor is on lockdown. You are going to Matt’s. Rabbit is on his way to the lab. I’m on this. She can’t escape. There’s no where for her to run. Trust me. Okay? We’ve got her cornered.”

 

Michael took a long deep breath, exhaling it slowly. Thats what he was afraid of. What would she do when her back is against the wall? How much of her made it over the network? “Yeah… okay. Keep me updated, won’t you?”

 

“Of course.”

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

“QUIT SQUIRMING!” Rabbit shrieked, taking another swipe. His fingers digging into the drywall, dropping plaster over Jon’s head. The gold bot managing to duck just at the right moment. Scrambling on his elbows and knees between Rabbit’s legs. Crawling underneath the older bot. Almost managing to escape as he was grabbed around the collar of his shirt and thrown back into the wall. Hitting the back of his head so hard he saw static, his gears knocked out of place and making a strained grating noise.

 

Desperately he grabbed Rabbit around the wrists as his hands came grasping for his throat. Wanting to cut off his biggest steam and oil pipes. Managing to hold the threatening grasp only a mere inch away.

 

“Rabbit! Rabbit Please!” Still trying to call to whatever part of his brother was left inside.

 

Rabbit’s copper faceplates squinted into a hardened scowl. His teeth pulling back almost the full length of his vents as he hissed. “Pleading out of desperation? I have no quarrel with you robot. You’re just in my way.”

 

Jon clenched his teeth, tilting his head away and closing his eyes. Feeling his grip on Rabbit’s wrists waning. “I’m sorry… brother…”

Chapter Text

After an intense fury of the manor fleeing to safe houses, it was eerily quiet. Michael was escorted to his room. His body guards of Hatchworth and Steve made him feel like the prisoner in this situation. Hanging his head between his shoulders as they walked. Keeping a hand over his chest, feeling for any arrhythmias to spawn on. That was just not what he needed right now.

 

“Alright…” Steve kicked the bedroom door open. Stretching a hand out to keep Michael in his place in the hallway as he scooped out the area. Checking the closets, the bathroom, any place she could hide. “Its clear.”

 

“You guys didn’t have to-”

 

“Peter said we had to make sure you were safe.” Hatchworth gave a firm nod, pushing Michael into his room.

 

“Yeah I know but, I still feel like I could help!” He stood at the end of his bed. Stretching his hands towards them in surrender. “C’mon. Let me at least say goodbye to Spine before I go? Give him a quick tune up-”

 

“You aren’t conning us, Michael. This is serious.” Steve put his hands on his hips. Giving him that shoulder wide stance and disapproving glare. His sign that he wasn’t taking any bullshit. “Look… I’ll check on Spine, have him swing by before Matt comes and gets ya. Okay? That make you feel better?”

 

“Loads…” Michael sighed, relieved and falling back on his bed. Steve watched the engineer hang his head in his hands. How heavy the weight of all of this must feel on his shoulders.

 

“And here…” Going against his better judgement, he pulled his blue matter gun from his hip. Forcing it in Michael’s hands. “Just in case.”

 

Michael tried to push it back into Steve’s grip, eyes wide in panic. “No. No no I won’t use a gun!”

 

“Just hold onto it. Okay? Its for your own protection! I can’t always be here to help you.” He took a few steps back, slowly walking backwards out of the room. “And if something happens-”

 

“I don’t want to hurt Rabbit.” Michaels voice broke. All of them coming to the realization once again. This wasn’t just her they were fighting. It was her manipulating Rabbit. Using him for her own plot. Anything they did to her, they did to him.

 

“Listen to me Michael.” Steve stood in the doorway. Voice dark and threatening. He cleared his throat and lowered his sunglasses. Making sure Michael could see the intensity in his eyes. “If it comes down to it… If its between you and him. Don’t hesitate to pull that trigger… Robots can always be repaired. Humans can’t.” Giving his words time to sink in, he pushed his glasses back up and turned to Hatchworth. “No offense…”

 

“None taken.” Hatchworth hung his head. “It is true…”

 

“There’s still no word yet that Jon and Rabbit made it to the labs. Peter’s getting the last of the schematics and is heading there soon. You should go with him.” Steve started laying down orders.

 

“But why would Peter need an escort?” Hatchworth frowned confused, turning to Michael in his room. Watching the engineer pout and putter around. Grabbing his clothes and haphazardly throwing them in a gym bag.

 

“Consider it a hunch.” Steve pinched the bridge of his nose. Slapping a hand on Hatchworths shoulder and shaking him to attention. “Last time this happened she was out there. In her house. But now she’s in ours. We can’t let her slip through our fingers. Peter put me in charge of keeping this ship in tight order. I’m watching all the exits.” Steve turned quickly on his heel back to Michael's’ room. Closing the door and making sure to lock it. Yet even that didn’t feel safe enough.

 

He turned, giving Hatchworth a once over as the automaton started walking back the way they came. “Hey, Hatchy…”

 

He turned slowly towards Steve, head tilted to one side. “Yes?”

 

“Help me push this table in front of his door. Ya know… just in case.” Steve gave a hard grunt. And with some help, barricaded Michael’s bedroom door. Against Michael’s angry pleads. It made Steve feel better about leaving him.

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

Jon kicked furiously, gasping to expel the pent up steam in his chest as Rabbit cut off his airways. His cheeks were overheating, his face turning red. He could feel his circuits start to fry. His hands wrung Rabbit’s wrists, trying to pry them from his throat. Hoping that his pleading airless sobbing would somehow pull him back.

 

Rabbit only continued that manic grin. Watching with such intent excitement as Jon struggled. Tilting his head every which way that Jon did. Relishing the thought that his artificial life force could go out right in his very hands.

There was a heavy kick of hydraulics, Jon’s eyes going blank. A last ditch effort by his programing to focus all of his strength into one motion. His hands holding on tightly and attempting to rip out the wires from Rabbit’s wrist and force his mechanisms to let go.

 

It worked, to a point. Rabbit’s eyes went wide and he shrieked in pain. A hard blink and his angry and bitter glare turned bleak and anguished. That high pitched familiar howl echoed through the empty halls as his grip suddenly laxed. His hand wrapped around his broken arm and his head rolling back. Screaming and sobbing in agony, he fell to his knees.

 

Jon fell to the floor as well. Blinking quickly as he came back from the brink of shutting down. The steam pouring from his mouth and nose. Fogging his vision. He knew with Rabbit weakened he needed to run. Attempting to climb to his feet and falling back down. Not having the power enough yet. He watched his brother writhe in agony on the carpeting. What had he done?

 

His mouth dropped open as he realized. His arm. His still broken arm. He had yanked on it, pulled at the wires. Forced that pain again, just like this morning. She was still weak to the same cracks and breaks that Rabbit was. He almost smiled at the discovery. “You’re a mean lady!” He barked, having the courage.

 

Rabbit groaned, lifting his head briefly from that curled position on the floor. He was sobbing dark oil tears. A tormented frown graced his lips. Struggling to suck in air between sobs. “... Jon…” He whimpered, the name cracked and broken. “... kill me…”

 

At the strange plea, Jon’s eyes went wide. “What!?” He asked confused. Why would she want him to kill her?

 

Rabbit screamed again, rolling on his back and turning away from the gold bot. He tried to curl into an even tighter ball of sorrow. “... You c-c-can’t!... you can’t let her… d-d-don’t let her… She won’t st-stop…”

 

“... Rabbit…” Jon whispered under his breath. It was him! He was in control! He fell over his fallen brother, now panicked and worried about the pain he had caused. “I’m sorry! I hurt you! You were trying to kill me!”

 

He screamed again in pain. Arching his back as Jon lifted his head off the ground and forcing him to look into his eyes. “... no… Jon… now… you h-have… the chance!...”

 

Jon shook his head. “No I won’t. You can be fixed! I’m taking you to the lab right now!” He tried to sound overly eager, hoping that his inspiring assurance would seep into the fragmented bot. “Petey can fix you. He can! He told me he could!”

 

“...n-no… Jon… pl-please…” Rabbit continued to beg, hissing steam between clenched teeth as he fought off the waves of pain. “... you… can’t see it… she’s destroying me… and she’s… g-g-g-g-g-” Trapped in a painful stuttering loop. Growling angry at himself before his head violently jerked to one side. “GONNA!” He spat the word out like brimstone. He whimpered, breaking down into sobs again. His good hand clenching the oil stained folds of Jon’s shirt. “... she’s gonna… destroy… you too… I ca-ca-can’t… let her… E-end it now…” He pleaded once more. “... please… Jon…” His words soft and forced. His mouth moved, continuing more of the cries but not enough energy or oxygen to fuel them.

 

Jon continued to vehemently shake his head. “No. NO no you are going to be fine!” He wrapped both arms around the copper bot, holding him close against his chest and forcing his head to roll over his shoulder. Cradling him like a child as he rocked him back and forth. Giving his back gentle strokes and whispering in his ear. “It’s gonna be okay… You’ll get fixed. Everything is going to be fine.”

 

Rabbit winced in pain at each movement, puffing smoke and steam from his broken vents. Eyes staring listlessly outward. That was his attempt. His final cry for help, and it was ignored. No they wouldn’t let him end it so easily, would they? Rabbit could hear her, he knew what she was planning. A captive in his own body and unable to stop it.

 

“Jon…” He asked softly, the pain of his arm fading to be non-existent once again. “We are… near the vaults aren’t we?”

 

The golden bot thought a moment. “Yeah we are… at the end of this hall… but we don’t have time to visit. We have to get to the lab!”

 

Rabbit groaned, eyes closing halfway as he smiled. “Who.. said anything… about visiting.”

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

Steve was halfway to the H.O.W. Reaching the top of the staircase and ready to turn down one hallway when he paused, frozen in his tracks. He could not be seeing what he was seeing. His hand instinctively going to his hip for his blue matter gun but finding nothing. Thats right, he gave it to Michael for protection. Who would have known he would need it himself.

 

“Steve!” Rabbit cheered as he spotted him. Smiling wide and waving an overly enthusiastic oil stained hand. “What a surprise to find you here.” From his chest down he was drenched in oil and splattered with green matter. Clothes torn and face dented. Obvious signs of some sort of struggle.

 

Steve tensed, trying not to panic. “Where’s Jon?” He spat the question, heels digging into the carpet and ready to run. Knowing without his gun he couldn’t quite match Rabbit in a fight.

 

“Oh hmmmm.” Rabbit put a finger to his lips. “Ya know… He was with me and then he must have wandered off somewhere.” He laughed, running a slick hand over the top of his head. “You know that one. Can never stay in one spot for very long.” Giving a disturbingly ecstatic grin. “Stephen… let me ask you something.”

 

“Don’t call me that.” Steve barked, as if the name were an insult.

 

“Why is the wi-fi off?” Rabbit pouted, staring at the ceiling as if that was where the signal came from.

 

“It’s off because of you.” He spat a retort.

 

“Thats sad for me then.” Rabbit sighed, taking a step closer. Steve slinked back, starting to crouch and prepare for some kind of attack. “Where is the Hall of Wires?”

 

He bared his teeth. “Like I’m gonna tell you? Can’t you figure it out?”

 

Rabbit pouted, tapping the side of his head. “I would… but sooooomeone deleted my map so I can’t. He’s such a little nuisance isn’t he.” He dropped his hand, starting to crack his finger joints and rotate his neck. Preparing. “Now. You. Are going to take me.”

 

His growled increased as he was met with a hysteric laugh. Mismatched optics glaring Steve down as the human nearly folded in half with laughter. “Don’t laugh at me!”

 

“Then don’t be so funny!” Steven wiped a tear from his eye. “Okay… maybe you could pass as the new Rabbit if you keep telling jokes like that.” He teased. Only he would have the gall to poke the raging murder bot. “As if… some kind of Doctor you are. You can’t find a single room?”

 

“THIS MANOR IS FILLED WITH ROOMS!” Rabbit stomped an angry foot, growing more and more infuriated. The smoke and steam mix pouring heavily from his broken vents, only made worse in the scuffle with Jon. And Steve knew that.

 

“And you can’t find the biggest one. I saw that documentary on you.”  Steve continued to chuckle. “Your Ph.D. was honorary.”

 

“I PUT IN ALL THE WORK!” He squealed, voice cracking as it hit that highest register.

 

“They gave it to you ‘cause they felt sorry for you.” He took a few steps back, still playing off the air of unknowing.

 

“No ONe! Feels soRRY! FoR mE!” The speakers for her voice box starting to crack at the sheer volume she was trying to push them. That intense anger and hatred overwhelming, clouding her judgement. “I’M GoINg tO MUrDeR! YoU!”

 

“I’d like to see you try.” Steve smirked. Just 20 minutes ago she had said the same thing to Jon, now the tables had turned. “But you gotta catch me first!” Turning on his heel he burst back down the stairwell. Jumping over the railing and turning over his shoulder to make sure  he was following.


Like a rabid guard dog, Rabbit stumbled hot on his trail. His eyes glowing brightly as that smog filtered more heavily from his vents. His body was already so broken from her, from the shock, from Jon. Steve knew he wouldn’t last too long. Maybe he could run him ragged until his power supply ran out. Without his gun that was Plan A. Hoping he didn’t have to resort to Plan B.

Chapter Text

 

Steve hit the ground with a hard thud on the 2nd floor landing. He softened the blow with a roll, springing to his feet as he charged down the hallway. Cackling like a mad man the whole way.

 

Rabbit paused, leaning on the handrail and panting smoke and steam. “... damn you… Nobody… has that kind of energy…” He cleared his throat, shaking his head. Blinking away that building static from broken circuits.

 

“What’s wrong? I thought being turned robot was supposed to make you faster?” Steve laughed and turned a corner so she couldn’t quite see him huffing and puffing. It was best she didn’t realize he was growing weary of the chase too. They only had two more floors to go to get to the lab. He could hold out till then, right? Groaning he placed a hand on his chest. Waiting for his heart to slow back down.

 

“NOt WHeN ThaT RoBOt is BROKEN!” Rabbit snarled through oil stained teeth. Stomping one foot and charging again down those last few steps.

 

“And whose fault is that?” Steve swallowed hard, peering around the corner to judge the automaton’s distance away from him. Stealing as much time as he could to rest.

 

“You weasley little idiot.” Rabbit huffed, wiggling his fingers in anger. “You think I don’t know about you either!? Sound Engineer is a fancy title for someone who dropped out of college. I’m surprised you’re smart enough to plug a light bulb in. No wonder every show sounds like utter shit.”

 

“Hey! Each show is excellent and I-” He popped his head around the corner so he could give her the full force of his angry yell. Eyes going wide as a nightstand was thrown for his face. He gasped, falling to the floor and rolling to the other side of the hallway to avoid being sprayed with splintering wood.

 

“You can be so easily replaced!” Rabbit threw his head back in a manic laugh. Ripping a large portrait off the wall and tossing it like a frisbee.

 

With another roll Steve dodged to the other side of the hall. Hopping to his feet and sliding backwards. “Listen if you wanted to redecorate…” He laughed breathlessly. “All ya had to do was ask.”

 

“YoU MouThy! LittLE! TraMP!” Another thrown painting.

 

“Tramp? I take that as a compliment.” Turning back around the corner to lead her through the weaving maze that was Walter Manor. “Sounds like you got the hots for me. But sorry crazy lady I’m taken.”

 

Rabbit struggled to make his way down the hall. Leaning against the wall and dragging his fingers through the aged wallpaper. “What woman in their right mind… would want a pompus little ass hole like you…” His voice getting softer as Steve put more distance between them.

 

“Hey I’m desirable.” He snickered, pausing at the end of the hallway and waiting for her.

 

“You are a grown man… WHO PLAYS WITH DOLLS!?” She huffed, turning after him.

 

“Hey. Lil’ Steve is his own celebrity. Ya can’t contain that-” He paused, putting a hand to his chin to think of a clever word for it. “Uh… Sex Appeal?”

 

She paused, raising a brow and shaking her head. “You are an idiot.” It was at this moment they both realized the chase was over. She was standing at one end of the hallway and he at the other. Putting the pieces together she looked around them. Hands lifting from her hips and crossing over her chest. “This is a rouse, isn’t it?”

 

He swallowed hard, feeling the sweat bead on his forehead. “So much for being a fuckin’ genius.” His hands clenching into tight fists at his sides. The adrenaline had faded from the chase, starting to feel tired. But now a new form of adrenaline set in. That fear that she was so very very close, and he was out of clever ideas. Plan B?

 

She merely smiled, tilting her hip to one side and turned. Walking slowly and casually down the other end of the split hall.

 

“Hey! H-Hey!” Steve took a few steps closer, swallowing hard again. “Don’t ya wanna kill me? Chase me? C’mon… I’m a lot of fuuuun.” He wiggled his hips side to side, trying to entice her. He grew even more worried when he was met with a sullen silence. Now he would have to do the chasing. When does the fly ever follow the spider?

 

Wasting time thinking, he had waited to long to follow. Rabbit was starting to disappear down the dark hallway. He skipped on his feet, walking double time to  make up the distance. This floor was full of storage rooms no longer used. Most had their doors removed by order of Peter the 6th, the rest were in the process of having them removed. This wing hadn’t been used in nearly 20 years. That was one reason Steve had led her down this path. She was away from everyone else. He paused outside a few empty rooms, listening intently for that puff of steam, that churning of gears. How did she keep Rabbit, whose usually a clanking bucket of bolts, so silent?

 

“Ya know…” He coughed nervously. His voice breaking only slightly as he tried to call her out of hiding. “It’s a good thing you and Michael broke it off… He’s soooo much happier without you.” Maybe he could hit a sore spot and she’d become infuriated. It had worked all this way, why not now?

 

The silence continued to creep around him, making him more and more uneasy. He was starting to think she had gone back up the stairs, or down. He cleared his throat, ready to throw out another insult when the door to the room 4 doors ahead of him creaked open. A window had been opened.

 

“Shit.” She was out on the roof? That wasn’t good. He sprinted through the door, hoping to catch her in time before making her escape. The inside of the room was pitch black except for a sliver of light coming from the now partially opened window. He paused, walking to the center of the space. The window was only opened about a foot. No way she could have crawled out that thin. Squinting in the dark he reached above his head, tugging on the long chain and turning the light on.

 

The door slammed shut. A hard and heavy thunk and he felt something slam into the center of his spine. Momentarily seeing black, he fell to his knees. The wind was knocked from his chest. When he could open his eyes again he gasped for air. Eyes wide in shock as Rabbit stood over him, grinning wide with a thick rusted lead pipe in one hand. “That was easy enough… now hold still little bee. This will only sting for a moment.”

 

Rabbit lifted the pipe above his head, ready to bring the weapon down into Steve’s skull. Hitting only rotting wood as the the engineer rolled to one side. His head was spinning, he had to get his bearings again. She took another swing, forcing him to jump on the broken bed frame. Leaning one hand against the wall as he tried to shake that dazed feeling out.

 

“HOLD STILL YOU LITTLE INSECT!” Now blowing all smoke as Rabbit took another swing, trying to take the human’s head off. The wind from her swing grazing half an inch from his bandana as he ducked. Trying to make another leap from the bed to on top of the dresser. He got one foot up, other dragging behind but she had caught him. A tight copper grip around his ankle and he was yanked hard downwards. Rabbits fingers digging into his bone.

 

His eyes wide and breath gone again from the pain as she crushed his talus bone. Slipping so far down that he bashed his chin against the corner of the dresser, stomach hitting the dented and broken brass railing of the abandoned bed frame. He choked as blood pooled in his mouth, spitting it on the floor and gasping for air.

 

“Ah… I forgot just how easy it is to break us. Perhaps being trapped in this body isn’t all bad.” She laughed. His gasps and wheezes were music to her ears. Giving his shattered ankle another hard squeeze and cheering as he screamed in pain. Ripping him from hanging over the bar and down to the floor. “Now you can’t run anymore.”

 

He coughed. The inside of his mouth tasted like blood. Blackness enveloping the corners of his vision. She was going to kill him. This was it. This was the end. He was in the middle of his life flashing before his eyes, when his fingers grazed something cold as he was dragged. He wrapped his hand around the object it. The Pipe. She must have dropped it to grab him!

 

“Prepare to-” She turned, ready for another villainy lecture when he brought the pipe upside her head. Rabbit’s faceplate cracked, knocking loose from his lips. One eye went out and the other flashed angry. Hands desperate to contain the squirming sound engineer. But with the loss of half of his sight she was grasping blindly.

 

With his good foot Steve gave a hard kick in the center of the robot’s chest. Managing to push himself far enough back that he could get on his feet. Instantly regretting the idea when he stood. As soon as he put weight on that foot, pain began shooting up every nerve of his leg. He wished he wasn’t coughing so heavily or he would have had a snide comment for this.

 

Rabbits skewed faceplate broke into a vicious snarl. Looking more like a creature of nightmares than the carefree Jester they knew and loved. She came charging again. Weakened, Steve got another hit in, smashing one copper arm to an inverse dent. Both snarling and screaming in pain with each blow.

 

He gave the pipe a hard swing again. Hoping to handicap her even further and take out her other arm. Instead she blocked the attack, grabbing his pipe in her palm. Her fingers digging into the lead so hard it started to bend. He yanked back in an attempt to pry his only weapon free from her grasp. Taking the opportunity of him being distracted she brought in her broken elbow. Clocking him hard against the jaw.

 

Already on unsteady feet, he stumbled back with the hit. On the verge of collapse on the rotting wood floor. She cackled and in a split second kicked him with full force in the center of his chest.

 

His eyes went wide as the breath was knocked from his chest. A few shattered ribs, all that could be recovered from. But not this. He stumbled backward, falling through the partially opened window. Glass shattered around him as he fell over the sill and started to roll down the slanted roof. His instincts kicking in. Even if he couldn’t breath enough to scream, he had to grab onto something or else he would fall the 3 stories to the ground. The shingles peeled off their tarred bases as he ripped between them. Trying to dig his fingers into any crevice and opening. He took a brief second to scan over his shoulder, seeing the edge of the roof approaching ominously.

 

“...n-NOF!” He managed to squeak out through his broken jaw. His feet dangling free over the edge.. “NOF! HELP!” He gave another scream as the hard metal gutter scraped against his stomach, his chin, his forearms. He pinched his eyes closed. Silently praying and preparing to fall that 40 feet.

 

His breath hitched in his throat as his fingers finally managed to latch onto something, the spiked gutters. The entirety of his weight held up by two hands. Sweat seeping from every pore as he attempted to pull himself up.

 

“Aw… and here I was hoping for a nice little splat.” Rabbit chuckled from the open broken glass pane. He sneered, pulling up bits of broken glass from the floor and starting to chuck them at Steve. “... I’d come out there to finish the job-” He laughed as Steve had to duck and wince to one side to avoid getting a very large shard in his eye. “But it looks mighty dangerous.”

 

Steve panted, attempting to pull himself up once again. His palms sweating and his foot already going numb.

 

“You were a worthy opponent.” Rabbit’s voice glitching into a sharp whine at the end. A malicious smile on his tilted broken face. He gave Steve a final Miss America wave before standing from the sill and returning to the shadows.

 

Steve poured every last ounce of energy he had into not dropping. The dread completely setting in. He could either drop to his death, or pull himself up and be finished off by her, or she’ll be off finishing someone else off. He had to go to plan B. He had to wake Spine up, recharged or not. He was the only one who could finish the task.

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

“Yeah Okay but- But nobody’s telling me what’s going on!” Matt pouted on the other end of the skype call. He leaned back in his chair, watching through the video as Michael paced his room. “I mean, I know I’m new and all- but if this is an emergency-”

 

“I can tell you more when I get there.” Michael sighed, fighting off the giant tension headache that had built in the back of his head. He paused at his dresser, trying to remember if he had already searched it. He hadn’t been able to concentrate the whole time. Worried for Rabbit, the robots, that eerie silence that echoed in the halls. Silence. Except for that strange scraping noise.

 

“Mike?” Matt asked softly with a tilt of his head. “You really don’t look too good…” He wiggled his thumbs together, leaning closer towards his camera. “Look I have clothes. Just come over okay?”

 

Michael slowly nodded his head, walking towards his laptop and plopping down in the computer chair. He sighed, eyes staring off listlessly as he rested his chin in the palm of a hand. “Matt… you ever… make a mistake in trusting someone, and then they hurt those you care about the most?”

 

“Mike you trust everyone. It’s in your nature… you’re too optimistic. You see the world through rose tinted glasses. Or purple ones.” Matt forced a soft laugh, shaking his head. Watching the one man band disappear in his own thoughts. “Look… you are too nice to people. But you do a lot of good with it. Don’t let one bad person spoil that? Huh? You know what I always say? I say that-” Matt paused suddenly, looking slightly confused as he tilted his head and stared past Michael. “Oh… Hey, Rabbit. Woah what happened to your face?” He waved with a concerned frown.

 

Michael’s heart immediately went into palpitations. He turned quickly on his chair. The force throwing him into a spin. He was stopped when a gentle broken metal hand rested on his shoulder. Rabbit turned him to face the screen again. Manic smile filling his face at the immediate anxiety his presence instilled in Michael.

 

Matt frowned. Turning from the beaten and broken automaton to his friend. “Hey… Mike are you… okay? You look like you need a doctor.”

 

“He’s fine, Mitch.” Rabbit smiled, digging his fingers in the gap between Michael’s collarbone and shoulder. Forcing the engineer to cry out.

 

Matt winced in sympathetic pain. “Hey you’re hurting him. And my name is Matt! I know I’m new, but Rabbit you knew it before-”

 

“Peter!” Michael blurted out breathlessly. Eyes wide as he leaned closer to the camera in his laptop. “Call!... Pe-ter!” He hissed again as she tightened her grip.

 

“But why when-” Matt panicked, turning from Rabbit to Michael.

 

“Bye bye, Mark!” Rabbit sneered as he grabbed the top of the laptop. Bending it backwards. The metal splintering, the screen fuzzing out, the sound glitching.

 

“I’M MATT!-” Was that last sound of their communication before the laptop sparked and fried. The screen going pitch black. Leaving Michael completely alone with her.

 

Her sharp grip on his bone never loosened as she bent at the hip. Putting them at eye level and staring him down with her lone operating photoreceptor. A broken smile creased through her broken face. “No more running, love. Now we talk.”

 

Chapter Text

Peter tried to busy himself as he moved about the lab. Hatchworth stood ever present at the door. Watching it sharply. His body refused to relax, standing firm at attention. Peter would always forget that the bots were partially designed for war. Never did that become more obvious than when someone in the manor was in danger.

 

He sighed, raising his mask to the clock and counting as the second hand sped by. “They were supposed to be here by now. There’s no way we could have made it here so quickly before them.” There was a growing uneasiness in his stomach. Knowing in the back of his mind that something must have gone terribly wrong. “Thats it.”

 

He gave a hard growl, slamming both hands on the metal work table that had been prepped for Rabbit. “I’m not waiting around anymore. We’re going out there to-”

 

“No!” Hatchworth spun on his heels. His voice strong and authoritative. Missing its usual innocence and playfulness. “Spine gave me orders to stay with you. We aren’t leaving this room.”

 

Peter leaned back slightly. His shoulders relaxing as he tried to figure the bot over. “Hatchy… they could need our help.”

 

“Peter how many wars have you been in?” He stated flatly, keeping his posture straight.

“I uh… well….” Peter fumbled, rubbing the back of his neck. “I guess none… really… Unless the Nerf war counts?” He gave an awkward laugh, trying to lighten the mood. It wasn’t working. “Yeah I guess… not… none then.”

 

“You always have a home base. A camp. A med tent. Something you are supposed to come back to. Its a war zone out there. Rabbit and Jon were supposed to be here. Steve knows they were supposed to be here. Spine knows they were supposed to be here. If we leave and they show up? Show up broken? Damaged? Needing repairs? And there’s no one where to aid them.”

 

“Okay okay… I get your point.” Peter sighed, pulling himself up on the work table and dangling his feet. He stared at the chipped linoleum tile that lined the lab, feeling useless. This was a battle of bots between bots. All he could do was wait to fix them.

 

“Its hard being on the base team. We just have to stay prepared for anything.” Hatchworth gave an attempt to be comforting. He was just as worried, spending this dead time reviewing attacks. Rabbit’s weaknesses. He knew Spine would hold back, but he wasn’t sure he would himself. If it came down to it, he would have no choice.

 

~ ~ ~ ~

 

Michael was yanked to his feet with a harsh tug. Held hard pressed against her chest. “My love its been so looooong!” She purred, nuzzling her nose against his neck. Dripping hot oil through his hair and down his back. His cries of pain only seemed to put her in more of a romantic mood. “You always had such a lovely singing voice.” She teased.

 

He was panting heavily between screams. He could feel his heart skipping beats, going so fast he felt like he was a hummingbird. His vision was already starting to blur, he had to escape her, somehow. “... what… do you… want…” Counting the tiniest of victories, he managed to eep something out that didn’t sound like nonsense.

 

She paused her coddling. Her one functioning eye going wide in thought. “What do I want?” As if she had forgotten. She wrapped an arm around his waist, dragging him with her like a rag doll as she paced back and forth. “What did I want?”

 

He gave a pained groan. Unsure if he could get the sentence out again. But she was distracted, she was talking. She wasn’t murdering, yet. As they passed his nightstand his eyes flashed to the half finished pill bottle that sat on top of it. If he could just get his pills, it would help half of his problem.

 

She noticed his hungry glare. Smirking as she dragged him closer. They were just out of his reach, but not hers. “I’m still going through files…” She explained, snatching the bottle from the stand and dangling it above his head. “Trying to catch up on the time I missed… You have some sort of condition now, don’t you?”

 

He winced, unable to explain further. His trembling hands giving up their hold on hers, dropping to his sides as he fought off the pain. She pouted as his head fell. Giving him a hard shake on her hip. “Michael? I’m talking to you!” She waited for a response, not even getting a grunt or groan this time. Her pout deepened  as she grabbed him by the hair on the back of his neck. Forcing it up, the rest of his body falling limply to the ground. “... why would robots covet a human form? Isn’t that interesting dear?” She asked with a tilt of her head.

 

She dropped him entirely to the floor with a heavy thud. Smirking at the noise and opening the bottle of pills. Hastily reading the label and tapping her fingers against its plastic. “They are superior to us humans in every way. They have no hunger, no need or want in order to perform their designed duties. No biological needs to fulfill. They are easily repaired. Parts can be replaced. They are stronger, faster, smarter… and yet they want to be us. Stupid, weak, fragile… Humans..”

 

A thought occurred to her and she threw her head back in a hard laugh. It continued as she knelt next to his unconscious form. She had to put a hand against her mouth to try and quiet herself. Coughing up smoke and sparks. She forgot that this body needed repairs. “This Body…” She started to laugh again. “I suppose now they want to be you. You Humans.” She frowned, running a broken hand through his hair lovingly.

 

Sighing she reeled her hand back. Tipping the bottle into her palm, the little pills slipping into her grip. Very carefully and gently she rolled him on his back, sitting at his side and propping his mouth open. “Don’t worry love… We can both be stronger. Live longer…. I will build us both to perfection.” Using the tips of her matter and oil stained fingers, she shoved the pills into the back of his throat. Closing his mouth and giving him a hard pressed kiss. Forcing him to swallow.

 

~ ~ ~ ~

 

Steve had to pause his climb to take a breath. He could feel his feet sliding on the tiling of the roof. He couldn’t rest, no matter how exhausted or in pain he was. He had to keep the momentum going. He swallowed hard, digging his nails into the tar and lifting his body up the awkward angle. The window was within his sights, almost within his reach. By now his broken foot had gone completely numb. He couldn’t feel his placement, which meant a lot of falls and sliding back, but at least he could still move it from the shin down.

 

He reached up, grabbing a shingle that was loose by mistake. His eyes went wide with panic as he pulled it free from the tar base and losing his anchor. He started to slide quickly back. “No no no no! Fuck! Shit!” Stretching out and reaching desperately for anything. The longer he was sliding, the faster he was going as his weight added to the force. His fingertips bleeding from the rough assault of asphalt and metal.

 

He continued his slew of curses as he ripped shingle by loose shingle from the roof. He wouldn’t look over his shoulder to see how close he was to the edge again. He couldn’t waste that precious time. He made it up to that window once. He could do it again. He lifted his eyes, it felt like time had slowed down so much it was frozen. He could see the broken bits of glass in the window frame, stained with his blood. He was so close! So so close! He could practically reach out and grab it! He lifted his hand slowly. No longer feeling like he was falling, he felt like he was floating. His vision going cloudy, hand stretched farther. It was just barely out of reach. The panic and the pain leaving his mind. Focused so intently on that one escape.

 

His strange peaceful content was interrupted with sharp stabbing pain running up his leg, through his back and into the back of his skull. He threw his head back in an agonizing scream. It died out into a sharp hiss through clenched teeth. Fighting off the tears building in his eyes, his body felt heavy again. The pain was there, again. Gasping for breath through the waves, he blinked back into reality. Lowering his gaze to his broken foot. His sliding was stopped because it got caught on a previously broken and bent up shingle. One he had left for himself.

 

“.... Holy Fhit…” He panted, resting his head on the roof. “Fweep it togeter Fweve…” He commanded himself. His pain was starting to make him delusional. He exhaled a sigh of relief. At least he wasn’t all the way back hanging off the edge again. He would just have to make the climb. Again. “.... fwuck…”

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

Peter sighed in boredom. Laying down completely on the bench long ago. His legs dangling off the edge and kicking back and forth. His mask watching the clock as the seconds and minutes passed by. Hatchworth wasn’t as easily distracted by time. Time was infinite to him. What was the difference between five minutes ago and five minutes in the future? He had spent the majority of his life waiting. That was easy. That was something he knew how to do well.

 

Both of them raised their heads as the phone on the wall gave a shrill ring. Echoing that digital alarm of the past. It must have been at least 20 years old, nobody used that ring anymore.

 

“Oh thank goodness!” Peter hoped from the table, sliding quick on his feet to the wall. “Please be Steve! Or Jon!” He yanked it from the receiver by its cord. It flew threw the air, almost falling to the floor as he caught it. “Hello!?” He screamed before he even placed it to his ear. “Hello? Hello! He-”

 

“Damn Peter. Scream my ear off.” Matt grumbled, his voice pained as he pulled the receiver from his face.

 

“Ah I’m… Sorry about that Matt.” Peter laughed nervously, trying to hide his  panic. “We’re all a… a little on edge here. Michael should be contacting you soon.”

 

“Thats the thing.” Matt coughed. “He told me to call you.”

 

“Call me?” Peter tilted his head in confusion. By now Hatchworth was equally confused. His stiff protective stance faltered as he turned on his heels towards Peter. Listening closely to his conversation.

 

“Yeah… He seemed pretty upset. Rabbit wasn’t as concerned about him though. He said he was fine, but-”

 

“RABBIT!?” Peter shrieked, now gaining Hatchworth’s undivided attention. “Rabbit was there? Did you hear him? Or just see him? Was the Jon with him!? How did you know?” He sputtered off each question at a frantic rate.

 

“Woah woah Peter! Calm down! I saw him! We were in video call? Ya know? On skype? Thats a thing people do when they aren’t terrified of being on camera like you?”

 

“WHAT DID HE SAY!?”

 

“He said!... crap I can’t really remember. He said he and Michael needed to talk? And he couldn’t remember my name. His face was all messed up and broken. He needs repairs, and he looked like he was hurting Michael. Are you sure you don’t want me to come over?”

 

“No! No there’s no need for that.” Peter began to pace back and forth in thought. Nervously scratching over the wood of his mask as he began to tangle himself in the cord of the phone. “Was there anyone else there? Jon? Steve? Anyone?”

 

“No dude I told you… it was just Rabbit and Michael. Are you ever going to tell me whats going on? I can help ya know.”

 

“Thanks for calling Matt! Don’t bother coming! We’re still in emergency lock down! Okay? Bye bye!” Peter grunted another ‘okay’ before he turned to hang up. Arm inches from the base when he tripped in the cord. He hit the floor with a hard smack, sighing as he tried to pull himself from the plastic net. “Here everyone is fighting a rampaging murder bot and I bring myself down in panic and… and-” He growled, ripping the cord in one direction. “TECHNOLOGYYY!”

 

Panting he raised his mask to Hatchworth. “Are you willing to leave and help them now!? Rabbit has Michael! Who knows what he’s-... she’s… What She’s doing to him!”

 

Hatchworth didn’t bend, he didn’t scowl or frown. Staying strong, he merely squinted. “No. We still need a base team.” Still not faltering as Peter groaned. “Spine said he’d take care of it. He-”

 

“SPINE!” Peter shot up, pulling the cord taught from the wall as he pulled. “THATS IT! HE’S GOTTA BE CHARGED BY NOW RIGHT? He could just… do that thing again! Shut him down!”

 

Peter hoped back to his feet, shuffling closer to the wall instead of untangling himself. That would take too much time. He clicked the base, forcing the phone to hang up before making a new call. Tapping his fingers on the counter as he waited for it to ring, instead he was met with a busy tone. “That… that’s impossible.”

 

He lowered the phone, staring at it in confusion. “You can only reach the H.O.W. from an inside line?... Who would be trying to call it now?” He paused, slowly raising his head. “You don’t… think she found it? Do you?”

 

Hatchworth’s eyes went wide, blinking hard. If she did, if she had gotten to the mainframe. She could have unlimited access to anything in the manor. They would be doomed.

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

A heavy thud echoed through the empty halls. At this point he was forced to drag the lower half of his body, the numbness spreading from the center of his spine down. But at least he wasn’t stuck on that god forsaken roof anymore.

 

Steve had to take a small break, leaning against a wall and trying to catch his breath. He sat and glared at the phone hanging just a few feet away. It already felt like he ran a marathon. Ankle and jaw broken, bruised spine, shattered ribs, and now thanks to his climb, his chest and stomach were full of bits of glass. Super.

 

Pressing his palms on the carpet he lifted himself off the ground. Finding it easier to hop to the phone than crawl. He didn’t have to stress his back as much, or accidently push the glass further into his stomach. Inch by inch he made his way. Slowly he stretched a blood stained hand up, fingertips grazing the base of the phone. The pull in his side sent shockwaves of pain that stopped at his waist. Oh that wasn’t a good sign.

 

A few more frantic grasps and a low groan and he knocked it down. Pulling it from the floor and dialing. First and foremost he had to warn Peter. Tell him they weren’t coming. Jon was missing, possibly dead. He growled in annoyance, spitting blood on himself as he was met with a busy tone. “Reawy? Pweter? Wof Cawling you Now?!” Unaware that Matt was on the other end of that line, doing the same thing he would have been.

 

He forced the phone to hang up, taking a deep sigh and dialing again. Plan B.

 

[HELLO. YOU HAVE REACHED QWERTY. WHAT IS YOUR MALFUNCTION?]

 

“Qwerfy… I nweed ‘ou… Fo wake up! Fa Spine!” Steve tried his hardest to articulate the command, knowing how fickle the automated computer system could be.

 

[LOLZ STEVE. YOU SOUND AWFUL. DID YOU EAT COTTON BALLS? THAT IS NOT PART OF THE HUMAN DIET. I SAW THAT ON T.V.]

 

“Nof! NOF QWERFY! I FIDIN’T! I’m hur-t. Wake. Da. Spine!”


[OKEY. DOKEY.]

Chapter Text

Space is fleeting. A vast empty darkness with the occasional sprinkle of diamond stars. It is a vacuum of light. Of thought. Of being. Michael felt like he was floating through it. He could feel the cold air on his skin, the dim lights just out of his reach. He floated on in its vastness, not sure where exactly he was headed. Until he heard his name called from somewhere far off. He swam, as awkwardly as you would expect in space, towards the voice. It sounded fragmented. It sounded digital. It sounded… like Rabbit?

Painfully slow, his eyes creaked open. His pupils shrank in the bright light, blinking rapidly and trying to take in his surroundings. His mind was foggy, unable to remember what had transpired before he fell asleep.

“H-h-hey… You’re awake. Finally.” Rabbit huffed smoke, looming over him with a dark grin. His broken optic sparked. His faceplate tilted off his features just enough to make him terrifying to Michael’s hazed mind.

“R-Rabbit?” Michael groaned, trying to sit up. Thinking he put his body in motion but he barely moved. In fact, he couldn’t move at all. He tried to take a deep breath, more and more of the situation coming into focus. The destroyed room more visible through the fog. Rabbit’s broken face. The blood on his clothes. “What… what happened?”

Rabbit tried to offer him a soft sympathetic smile. He closed his eyes and leaned in, pressing broken lips to Michael’s. His lips tasted like smoke and ash. They were strangely hot, almost to the point of causing the skin on Michael’s own lips to peel.

The one man band’s eyes were wide in shock, trying to pull his head back. Taken by surprise by the kiss. He tried to lift his hands, wanting to push the automaton away, but they were useless. Why couldn’t he move!?

Finally, Rabbit pulled away. A smug grin on his face as he gave a lustful sigh. His happy smile quickly faded once he noticed Michael’s terrified expression. “Oh… right… I’m not me I’m… I’m…” He huffed, turning to the standup mirror. “This idiot. We-We will need to fix that… and you!” He turned back to Michael, playfully pinching his cheeks. “I’m going to need my #1 engineer f-fit as a fiddle for my next big plan.” A greedy smile crept upon his lips, throwing his head back in a manic laugh. Smoke pouring out of his broken vents and filling the room.

Now Michael remembered. Now everything was coming into focus. Now was the time to panic. This wasn’t Rabbit anymore, this was “Holly….” He whispered under his breath. Hoping to go unnoticed as she carried out her fit of madness. He had to get away, but how could he do that when he couldn’t move? He could barely feel the tips of his fingers. She must have done something; something while he was unconscious. Yet even if he could move, his only chance was the matter gun.

He craned his neck, eyes searching the room for it. Last he remembered, it was on the bed, where he was now. Hopefully she didn’t find it. That would make this 100 times worse. Just what they needed. A rampaging evil eccentric genius possessing a war bot… with a gun.

“You know Michael, my d-d-dear…” She coughed, coming down from her hysteria. Her good hand laid across his chest, fingers tapping playfully. “I have decided something. Humans are too vulnerable…” She sighed smoke, tilting her head to one side in thought. “Take for instance how easy it was to ge-get rid of Steve versus Jon.” A smile of reminiscence curled to her lips. Fondly remembering what she thought was their final moments. “You see… the robot proved more difficult to over power in the end… the human was quick and conniving, but he was easy enough to dispose of.” She snickered darkly, already starting to use more robotic terms the longer she stayed in this body. Separating herself from other people. She always had that air of superiority, but this power trip was inflating it. “His bones just shattered in my gr-gr-grip.” She flexed her good hand. “Like splintering wood.”

Michael closed his eyes, breathing heavy as she went on. Peter was right. She was going to kill them all. He swallowed hard, trying to find the courage to keep her distracted until someone, anyone, could come to his rescue.

“I’ve decided something now, my love.” She sighed again, resting the side of her head on his chest. Her crooked cheek leaking hot oil through his shirt. Sparks of electricity flashing over her frame, putting the fear of death in him. She was so close to shocking him again, this time it would be fatal. “Humans. Mankind. Overall, they are mindless, rash, arrogant, greedy. Why should I cater to them? Why should I write papers to satisfy their policies and councils? I’m smarter than every person on that review board!” She sneered, flashing her broken teeth. Gripping the folds of his shirt in her good hand and snapping her head back. Her working optic flashed quickly like a strobe light, forcing him to close his eyes and turn away. “If I was the one in charge. If they had to follow my rules. My restrictions! MY LAWS!” Her grimace twisted into a malicious smile. “Then there would be order.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

[SPINE-Y WINE-Y YOU HAZ A PHONE CALL]

The wires rustled, but the Spine made no movement to unplug. He was only recharged to 65%. Desperate for every tick of life to feed into his battery. If he had to unplug now he wouldn’t have enough to shut Rabbit down if they needed him to.

[SORRY STEVIE. SPINE IS NOT TAKING CALLS RIGHT NOW]

Steve would have loved to play along with Qwerty’s usual games, but at the current moment he was struggling to even stay conscious. He coughed, clearing the pooling blood from the back of his throat enough so he could speak. “Qwerfy… I fon’... cawre… twell… hwim… Wabbit….” He slumped back. Exhaling a heavy breath as his head dropped, the corners of his vision turning black. “Twell hwim… Wabbit… Kiwwed….. Jon… Howwy is…. woose…”

Qwerty grumbled, displaying a worried emote on his screen as he moved towards the pack of wires. Unravelling them against Spine’s wishes and pulling the xeno automaton out of his hiding place.

[SPINE-Y WINE-Y STEVIE DOESN’T SOUND GOOD. YOU SHOULD TALK TO HIM. MAKE HIM FEEL BETTER.]

Of course Qwerty was just a basic A.I. Lacking that ability to fear or worry. Yet, that didn’t mean he couldn’t sense when something was wrong. This was one of those times where he knew something was definitely not right with the human who usually was so chipper.

Spine’s eyes slowly creaked open, flashing that bright green light as he charged. “What do you mean Steve doesn’t sound good?” The panic was quick to set in. They knew not to disturb him. Hatchy, sure. Rabbit, of course. But Steve respected those rules and would only go against any of the automaton’s wishes if it was absolutely necessary.

It took less than a minute for Spine to unplug from the mass of wires, sliver into his body and cross the rusted broken tile to the receiver on the wall. “Steve? What’s going on?”

The human turned from the phone, taking the silence of Qwerty rousing Spine as a chance to try and clear more of the blood from his lungs. He hacked and wheezed, wiping it from his chin as he turned back to the phone. “Howwy….” He muttered, feeling even more faint.

“Steve! What happened to your voice? Your mouth? Are you injured?” Spine spitting out questions faster than he could even answer. Talking over the sound engineers attempts to answer them. “Don’t move! We’ll bring you medical attention.”

“SPWINE!” His voice cracked and wet with blood. Raspy and growing softer by the second.

Spine’s breath hitched in his throat and his back went rigid. He recognized the urgency in his voice. A million flashbacks of thousands of soldiers flashing through his mind with that same voice. That same urgency. Except this wasn’t the war somewhere else. This was his friend. This was his home. This was his brother.

Steve didn’t have time for apologies at snapping, he wasn’t even sure if he could get his words out. Everything was turning black and each breath became more and more painful. “Ho-ll-y…” He spoke each syllable slowly, knowing he needed to hear the whole message. “Shee… Kil-d… Jon… shees… ou-tf…-” With a hard wet breath, his grip on the receiver finally slipped. His eyes shut and with a heavy thud, he slid down the wall and landed on the floor.

“Steve?.... Steve!” Spine frantically screamed. Desperately listening for any sign of life. Slowly his hand crept over his mouth. Coming to the realization that something had gone viciously wrong while he was recharging. Even worse than before. She wasn’t just going after robots now, she was going after the humans as well.

[SPINE-Y WHAT’S WRONG? WHAT DO WE DO?]

Spine was frozen. Eyes blank, staring at the phone held in his hand. Hoping that that wouldn’t be the last conversation he’d ever have with him. He only came back to reality as Qwerty asked the question a second time. “We…” No it wasn’t we. This was his war. He took a deep breath and exhaled a heavy puff of steam. Clenching his hand into a fist at his side and hanging up the phone. “You need to collect Steve. Find him. Get him medical attention, but quickly! She’s still out there. I just need to find where exactly-”

Interrupted as the phone rang again. Eyes wide and hopeful he ripped it off the wall and held it hard against his ear. “HELLO? HELLO? STEVE? We are sending help! Ste-”

“Peter! It’s Peter!” The inventor growled, slightly annoyed. “Stop yelling at me! We have a problem!”

Spine’s core began to race. What more could be wrong? Unaware of the heavy amounts of steam he was expelling. “P-P-Peter! Steve is seriously injured!” Momentarily adopting his brother’s stutter in his panic.

“How do you know that?!”

“He just called here. I… I don’t know if he’s going to make it. She-”

“SHE’S GOING AFTER MICHAEL!”

Spine’s eyes went wide, grip tightening on the phone. He should have known that would be her first stop. He was who she went after when she first woke up. She wanted revenge.

“YOU HAVE TO STOP HER! DO YOU HEAR ME SPINE! STOP HER! BY ANY MEANS! SHE CAN’T KILL HIM!”

He didn’t need to hear another word. Dropping the phone to the ground, not caring that Peter was still screaming on the other end, Spine went running from the Hall of Wires. Thankful that it was on the same floor as the employees private chambers. Steve’s warning last breath repeated itself over and over through his audio circuits. She’s killed two already with Rabbit’s hands. He was not letting that become three. He could only imagine what could be going through his brother’s software right now. If he could see the things she was doing? If they managed to stop her, would he ever recover?

No, now wasn’t the time for what ifs. He was already halfway there, sliding over vintage rugs and crashing against aged walls with every turn. He would not let this progress further. It was time to end it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Michael groaned as he was thrown against Rabbit’s chest. Held up by limp arms and legs like a life sized stuffed-animal. In this case a stuffed human. Oh, he hoped that wasn’t her plan. The waltzing was troubling. The humming was eerie. How could she have been in such a great mood. Of course she could be, she was winning.

A hard laugh and she threw his arm over her shoulder. Letting his hand drape against her back as they continued to dance. “D-d-don’t ever let… anyone… tell you a-a-aren’t a man… because your g-g-grip is weak, my love.” She teased with a snicker, dropping him into a dip and swinging him back up. Giggling mad all the while before pressing a chaste kiss to his lips. Flooding his mouth again with smoke, ash, and burning oil.

This was enough. Dropping his head back and whining. “Just… let me go! Please… nobody needs to know… just… please… I’m sorry…”

“And I’m sorry too, my love.” She snuggled against his cheek. “Did you miss me?... I don’t know… I d-d-don’t remember being dead. Was it hard for you?”

He really didn’t want to answer this question. It was a trap. Why was she being so crazy! She gave him a hard shake, forcing his head to roll forward. Whatever happy mood she was in was now gone. A hard glare and a festering rage behind it was all that was left. He gasped, blinking rapidly and trying to think of an answer. Something she would accept. “Of… course….” He forced a nervous smile.

Her gaze didn’t break, and her smile didn’t return. The broken optic began to flash again and thick smoke poured more heavily from her vents. “ I don’t buy it .” Voicebox glitching and highly digital, only adding to his permanent fear. “But… that doesn’t matter anymore.” A hard blink and the smile was back. “We’ll never be apart… I’ll fix it. There are two more robots walking around.” A quirk of her one working brow and a mischievous smile. “Which would you prefer? I think you would make a very handsome Spine. Don’t you? But then again… I need a new body. And who really wants to be Hatchworth?”

“I think Hatchworth… does…” Michael winced, expecting some kind of backlash. When she was silent, he slowly opened one eye. She was in thought, head tilted to one side and nodding slowly.

“I suppose you are r-r-right. We should have b-bodies of our own… I m-m-m-miss my girlish figure… stuck in this…” She rolled her eye, sticking out an oil and blood stained tongue. “Walking trash he-heap… But that leaves us back to my initial request.” Eye cutting back to him. “I need the blueprints. I need the Archives. I need access to the Hall of Wires.”

Michael took a deep breath. He knew he would regret this. It was against his nature to lie and not help, and to him Holly was still lost. Lost, and needed help. “You… need to take a step back. Accept your fate… stop all this… this violence… Please… Holly this isn’t you. This isn’t like you.”

A hard click echoed through the cranium of the automaton. The one working eye going wide in disbelief. “Accept.. my f-f-fate?” Like some kind of broken sideshow attraction, her head tilted sharply to one side. Snapping a few internal workings as more smoke and oil leaked from her vents. “My fate… is death Michael. I’m dead! WHAT WOULD YOU ASK ME TO DO? GO BACK TO MY BODY?!” Her grip tightening around him. Making it harder for him to breathe.

“If… you hadn’t have… started this… ma-maybe we would have helped you.” He gasped, sucking in tight quick painful breaths.

“Help me? H-H-HELP ME!? I ASKED FOR HELP! ” Her grip had grown so tight on his arm that he could feel the cracking. He couldn’t move them, but he sure as hell could still feel them.

“No, you… you demanded it! But it was a false alarm!” His eyes went wide. She didn’t know. Maybe she’d stop this rampage if she knew. “Holly please… the autopsy came back negative… it wasn’t cancer. You-... you were gonna be okay.”

Her painfully tight grip went lax, almost dropping him completely to the floor. He groaned, struggling to pull himself upright but instead he was trapped hanging between her dropped hands. He managed to wiggle a few fingers, gripping onto her arms. Feeling slowly returning to his appendages as she stood there in shock.

“...t-then that would mean… it was all… for nothing?” Unable to accept the reality of her headless decision. “But I- Dr. Steel, he- he said…”

Michael frowned in sympathy. Managing to offer her broken robotic arm a soft pat. “I don’t know what he told you. I have the reports… somewhere around here. You can even read them if… you want…” His frown deepened further, managing to drag his feet flat on the ground, though still hanging mostly limp in her hands.

“What does it matter n-n-now…” She blinked slow. Starting to come out of the haze, her head rolled straight again. “I have nothing to return to.” Thick puffs of smoke expelled from her vents and once again that hateful snarl curled to her lips. “I have nothing anymore. I am a ghost walking around in a broken shell… and its his fault.”

“What?... No… no wait… thats not true.” Michael panted, wiggling weakly in her grasp. “Look we can… just… talk-”

“It’s too late f-f-for that now.” She huffed, slumping him hard into her side like a mother carrying a toddler on her hip. Broken arm jerking around the torn apart room, digging through the rubbage. “You understand n-now. What’s a-a-at stake… here?” She coughed hard, finding what she needed and ripping it out under the pile of clothes and books. A devilish smirk greased her crooked lips as she swung out the blue matter gun. As if something had clicked in her programming, the momentary phase of emotion was gone, and that bloodthirst had returned. “We need to get us some n-n-new bodies… Ones that w-w-work.”

Please don’t let me be too late. Please don’t let me be too late. Please don’t let me be too late.

Spine desperately pleaded. Praying to whatever mechanical creation of science or magical beast from Kazooland that would have any compassion for this current terrible strain of events. They always worked out in the movies right? They had to work out now, oh they had to!

He skidded to a halt around a corner, expelling heavy steam. He thought he heard voices. One too quiet to differentiate, but the other. The other was definitely Rabbit. He almost wished they still had their weapons installed. It would make this much easier for him, but it would have also made things much easier for her.

He picked up the charge again, running for the broken doorway of Michael’s room. He could see the shadows. Michael wasn’t fighting it. She had him but he wasn’t fighting it! Was he already too late?

“No… no please no-” He nearly tripped over his feet, crashing into the doorway and forcing himself into the room. “STOP! ST-” One hand raised, both eyes wide.

“Spine!” Michael gasped as she wrapped her broken arm around his neck, yanking him off the floor and pulling him against her chest. Forcing the end of the blue matter gun against his temple. “HELP!”

YOU!” She snarled, finger itching over the trigger. The smoke picked up so heavily it was almost suffocating the human. Filling the room with thick dark clouds of brimstone. “BACK OFF NECK-TIE!” She took a step back, dragging Michael with her. Eye darting about the room for a chance to escape.

Spine tried to access the gravity of the situation. Michael was obviously wounded, Rabbit was severely wounded, she had a destructive weapon, him as captive, but nowhere else to go. Besides out the window, but who could survive that?

Chapter Text

Spine’s eyes darted from his brother’s broken face to Michael’s panicked and trapped expression. It felt like time had stopped completely. His core and his processors freezing up. Was it from the shock? Actually seeing his brother so destroyed, with a gun against the temple of one of their closest friends? Or the fact that this wasn’t his brother, only using his brother? His mind was rattling off thought after thought. He stammered, trying to find words to ease the situation. What was he supposed to do? Appease her to let Michael go? Beg her to leave Rabbit alone? Demand that she back down? Throw the gun over?.... or kill her before she had the chance to do the same to Michael.

Holly recognized Spine’s hesitation, huffing dark clouds and adjusting Michael in her arms. “Move back!” She commanded, her voice was shaking. Wait, was she just as frightened? “BACK OFF!”

“Holly… please… don’t-” Michael gasped, making the choice Spine was hesitating with. “We… can… talk about this.” 

“Shhhhh shh shh baby…” She nuzzled her face against Michael’s cheek. “I have e-e-everything… under control…” Her working optic snapped open again, staring Spine down. A small spark travelled over her faceplate as she pulled away from Michael. Whatever human like features Rabbit had that helped the jester bot express so many emotions were gone. Her words fell flat with her face, making her intentions difficult to read. If she wanted to hurt Michael, why was she babying him?

Spine’s eyes darted down to Michael quickly, checking his condition before glancing back to her. He swallowed hard and lifted one hand slowly. He waved it in a sort of calming motion. “Put Michael down… put the gun on the floor… and back away…” He could jump her, but that would risk Michael. With as many injuries as Rabbit had, Spine could easily overpower him. Maybe not even need the shock to force him into shut down. But he could do nothing until Michael was out of her grasp.

“You think I’m just g-g-g-going to sign off? LIKE THAT? L-L-LET YOU KILL ME AGAIN!” She shrieked, waving the gun to one side and taking a few steps back. Michael groaned at the movement, still trying to get his feet up underneath him. “Don’t th-th-think I’ve forgotten about your little tricks!” She barked, single optic flaring red.

You started this!” He couldn’t help but snarl back. Everything building to this one moment, he could have a final showdown with her. For 4 months of agony and torture to his family, and she wanted to play victim?! She wasn’t allowed to play victim! “YOU STARTED THIS ENTIRE THING! WE WERE HAPPY BEFORE YOU CAME IN! HAP-”

“Not happy enough!” She increased her grip around Michael’s throat, nearly choking him with her robotic strength. “If you were happy… why did you want my programming? If h-h-he would have just given me the blueprints! I wouldn’t have to r-resort to this!”

Spine fumbled, having to take a step back. It wasn’t his fault! He didn’t want any of this to happen! He was tricked! No she was right. He brought her into this. He should have known better. He trusted someone so unstable to edit his programming because he was too afraid to ask one of the Peter’s themselves. “We… we didn’t kill you.” Maybe she would listen to that.

“You pulled the plug!” She started to pace side to side, eye darting to the door for a chance to escape past Spine. “You disconnected me from the network!” The anger and rage began to fuel her again. With a sharp twist of her wrist she ripped the gun from Michael’s face and aimed it for Spine. One finger itched over the trigger. This wasn’t one of your normal everyday guns, this was a blue matter gun. It had the power for energy displacement and manipulation. There was no telling what it could do if it hit Spine’s blue matter core. “I was in the middle of an intelligence transference and you DISCONNECTED ME FROM THE NETWORK!” 

“YOU WERE TRYING TO KILL US!” Spine spat back, seeing there was no reasoning with her. He was taking quick breaths, charging his systems and ready to pounce. She wasn’t going to give Michael up, he needed an opening. “YOU HAD YOUR HANDS ON RABBIT’S THROAT!”

“HE TRIED TO STOP ME!” She sneered, her one optic twitching as more and more sparks charged over her faceplate. “He killed my baby! I needed the blueprints! IF YOU WOULD HAVE JUST! GIVEN! ME! THE BLUEPRINTS!” 

She was huffing and puffing, struggling to power her bellows enough to keep that rage going. The injuries were too much, the body she and Rabbit shared was falling apart inside and out. With a hard click of her tongue she straightened her arm, ready to take the shot. “No one will give me what I want! What I deserve! So I’ll take them m-m-myself!”

A single raise of one brow, and Spine decided to take his chances. He arched his back and bent his knees, ready to charge forward. In the time it took him to prepare his stance, Holly had finished taking aim. Her optic closed halfway and her finger began to pull back on the trigger. They had both begun their actions when Michael spoke up, reminding them once again he was caught in the fray.

“... Jelly… stop…” He pleaded, turning up to face her. Hoping somewhere inside that programming she recognized him, like they used to be. Recognized her humanity.

Her eye went wide and her hand slowly fell. “... peanut butter…” It was their nicknames for each other. Strange broken memories flashed before her eyes, stemmed from the pet name. Diluted from the transfer across the network, that was all they were. Broken, fragmented, memories.

The gun had already fired, but its course was changed as she lowered it. Spine was in full sprint, taking her dazed state to his advantage. He winced as the blue matter made connection with his shoulder. He could feel it eating away at his metal, warping it to some liquidated state. His circuits sparking from the pain and his alarms blocking the corners of his vision. The center of his gaze was directed on her. Watching that shift in her broken faceplate. In those few seconds he calculated his exact tactic.

He reached forward with his good hand, his other pulled back in a tight fist. He had to make the swap. The second he felt the fabric of Michael’s shirt in his grip he ripped him back. The force was hard, he knew it would hurt Michael but not nearly as much as she would do to him. He only spared the human a glance out of the corner of his eye as he was yanked down to the floor. Now for the switch, as he pulled Michael back with one arm, the other used the velocity of his throw to move forward. Smashing into the side of her faceplate and sending her flying across the room. She was too dazed from Michael to counter. With a hard crash she flew back into the computer desk. Rabbit’s body hit the wall so hard it left a deep impact crater. Drywall dust littered the room as pieces of molding went flying. 

Spine screeched on his heels to a halt, standing over Rabbit and watching his every move carefully. “Michael! Respond!” He snapped, not wanting to turn his back on his brother to check on him. When he got no response he tried again. “MICHAEL! RESPOND!

“... I’m… here…” Michael managed to cough out. His chest was killing him. His head was killing him. He felt like he had been hit by a truck between her attack and Spines throw. He could barely lift his head off the floor, covered in dust and debris. “I’m here…”

Spine allowed himself a moment to catch his breath. At least Michael was conscious. He’d need medical attention when this was over, but first he had to restrain Rabbit.

Carefully he took a step forward, both fists raised and one charged with that spark. He didn’t have nearly as much power as he had last time, but she was weakened enough already. He’d have to find some other way to keep her down if she overpowered Jon so quickly. 

Rabbit groaned, slowly opening his eye as he tried to get to his knees. The optic was busted, flashing a static snowstorm. The smoke that poured from his broken vents was thicker. His movements, were sharp and jerky. A piece of his metal spine knocked out of place, making it near impossible for him to sit up straight. “YoU… d0n’t kn0w… do you...” His voice glitched and broke at each syllable, making him almost impossible to understand. His head threw back in a laugh that was so raised in pitch it sounded like it came straight out of a horror movie. “So sadLy y0u want3d tO be them.. and yoU are theIr only… pr0tecTion. HoW sad… f0r yoU.

Spine was seething with rage. He shook the electricity from his hand and leaped over the broken office desk, landing square on Rabbit’s distorted legs. “YOU WERE ONE OF THEM!” He hissed, grabbing his brother by his blood soaked jacket and ripping him up off the ground. Their foreheads were nearly pressed together as he spat in his face. “You were so afraid… So afraid of losing your mortality, like a human, instead of facing your fears you turned to hate! Violence! Corruption! MURDER!”

He gave her a hard shake, bashing the back of her head against the ground. She winced at the pain, a spark grazing over her faceplate. One hand crept between them, her palm pressed flat against Spine’s chest. No strength to push him off now.

“YOU BROKE MY FAMILY! Took away two of my brothers! And then you try to make this my fault?! I wanted to be human for their compassion! For their love! For their wonder! For their sense of adventure and romance and curiosity! Everything that you lack! That you gave up! So that you could be one of us!” He gave her another hard shake, almost relishing the sharp cry that emitted from her. “I’ve been through four wars and fought against countless vile and villainous people. It takes so much to reap my sheer hatred that it’s only bestowed on a handful… and you. YOU! Have made that list! I am trembling with rage here and fighting every instinct not to tear you apart and finally be done with this! You don’t deserve a trial! You don’t deserve justice! You deserve the death that you earned for yourself FOUR MONTHS AGO!!

Spine was huffing and puffing. Expelling steam at a fantastic rate it made the wallpaper start to peel from the walls. He watched Rabbit’s face carefully. For once he felt like he had said everything he needed to. A String of angry thoughts that weren’t expressed so clearly rang through his circuits, unable to escape to his voicebox. 

“... then… do it.” Rabbit whispered softly, raising his eye back to Spine’s as it started to go clear again. “What… are you w-w-waiting for…” His voicebox glitched and cracked again. The blue matter that controlled the movements of his face was struggling to turn those battered oil and blood stained lips into a sorrowful frown. “Do it… Spine… just… finish it-it.” She purred his name so sweetly, it took Spine by surprise.

He dropped Rabbit closer to the ground, shaking his head in disbelief. “You-.. You want me to finish it? You actually want me to kill you! AFTER EVERYTHING YOU’VE DONE! Just like that! Make it over!” He stammered for a moment, trying to read her expression. “What game is this now?! You were just threatening to kill Michael to get the blueprints? And now you’re giving up?!”

Rabbit’s body jerked to one side. Broken and twisted hands curled close to his chest and covered his core. He took a hard gasp, expelling thick smoke as his body tremored. “... Spine… please… d-d-don’t let her… again… not again….”

Spine’s eyes went wide and he leaned back. He blinked slowly, keeping his gaze fixed on the broken automaton underneath him. Was this another trick? “... Rabbit?” He asked sternly, not allowing himself the compassion he so badly wanted to give his brother. “Is that you?”

Rabbit gave a sharp cry of pain, clutching his broken arm closer to his body. The one that always gave him problems. The one she deleted the last time. He kept his eye closed, pinching his bottom lip with his teeth to keep himself from breaking into a pained sob. Slowly shaking his head yes. Yes this was Rabbit. 

“Rabbit!” Spine gasped, ready to fall upon him and take him into a tight hug. Drop a thousand apologies for the sheer amount of pain he was probably in, try to explain that none of what she did was his fault. He nearly had his arms around him when he was pushed off.

“No d-d-d-d-d-d-don’t!” The copper bot gasped, putting what little power he had left into pushing Spine away. However much it pained him, he couldn’t let him get close. His eye still covered in soft static and smoke emitting from his vents. “I don’t… know why she gave up… I don’t… but I don’t t-trust it… Spine its how she got-” He choked on a hard sob, covering his eye with a palm. “It’s how she got the Jon…. oh Jon… I’m sorry. I’m s-s-s-so sorry… I tried to stop it. I did. I t-t-tried.”

Spine’s features softened. He fell on his knees just in front of his brother. He wouldn’t let himself completely relax, staying on edge if he needed to pin him down again. He was just thankful to have Rabbit back, at least he wasn’t gone completely. “I know you are. I still need to get you to Peter. He can fix this.” He stood, curling a hand under Rabbit’s broken arm and began to pull him up. “Let’s get you to your feet so we can get you to the lab. Then he can-”

“NO!” With what little energy he still had, Rabbit ripped his arm out of Spine’s grip. He fell hard to the floor, crushing his broken spine with the weight of his metal body and sending a sharp pain through him. He clenched his teeth, preventing himself from screaming. But the tears were in full force. “I don’t… want to be fixed. I don’t de-de-de-deserve it.” He hissed through clenched teeth. 

“Rabbit. Don’t talk like that. We did this once. We can do it again.” Spine stood firm, unrelenting as he pulled his brother up again. “We know what she is. We know what she’ll do. We can get rid of it.

“... a-a-a-and… for what?” Rabbit whined, unable to stop Spine as he was pulled to his feet. The pain in his broken arm began to numb his circuits, or maybe the broken parts of his back was doing that. “We can’t de-de-de-de-de-de-” His head jerked to one side and a hard spark flashed over his face plate. His eye and his jaw spread wide and he let out a strange digital roaring noise. Another hard jerk and he collapsed against the Spine. His eye dimmed and his mouth now squeaked with every movement. “delete her… we tried… re-remember?”

Rabbits logic was infallible. They had tried to delete her for four months and were unable to do so. He swallowed hard, unable to look into Rabbit’s battered face. He adjusted his broken brother against his side and slowly made his way through the room. “There… has to be something… something we can do still.”

“Spine…” Rabbit tried to reason. His eye dropped to Michael’s crumpled form on the floor. The engineer was writhing in pain, both hands pressed firmly to his heart as it skipped beats. He was drooling through clenched teeth, his body trembling as he tried to keep it together just long enough to get medical care. The overwhelming guilt and worry for the one man band only gave Rabbit’s decision more weight. “MmmmmMichael… I’m… sorry… I’m so sorry…” He blinked a few oil tears loose and tilted his head away from them. To ashamed to catch either of their glances. “...I can’t… I c-c-c-c-can’t… let her… hurt… anyone…. again… I c-c-can’t.”

Spine ignored his desperate talk. He turned over his shoulder to Michael. “I’m getting Rabbit to the lab. I’ll get to a prompter and tell Qwerty to send in help and that the threat has been neutralized. Just hold on Michael. Can you do that?” He nodded firmly, only willing to leave when Michael returned his words with a shaky thumbs up, unable to do much else. Spine wanted to stay with their fallen soldier, but he couldn’t risk it. He couldn’t risk abandoning what he thought was a lame Rabbit, for her to suddenly switch gears and blindside them.

“Spine p-p-p-please…” Rabbit pleaded again as they left the room. He wheezed, coughing up a thicker cloud of black smog. For a few moments his words were muted, giving Spine an easier time to ignore him as he dragged him down the hallway. “Sp-ine-”

“STOP IT!” He snapped, jerking Rabbit hard against his side and clutching his hands protectively around him. “STOP ASKING ME! I WON’T DO IT! I WONT!” He allowed himself a brief moment to pause, keeping his head held low as he panted through the rage, his eyes darting side to side. He could hear Rabbit’s clockwork gears sputtering and stalling, fizzling and sparking. It would be so easy, he was so close, but he wouldn’t- he couldn’t.

“I… I made a promise to you.” He muttered quietly under his breath. He pinched his eyes shut, letting those building oil tears fall. “You made me promise we were in this. Together. Until she’s gone… or we are destroyed, together. Wasn’t that the promise?” He ripped his head up, giving Rabbit a side glance out of the corner of his eye. “She took Jon away from us… nearly took Michael. She might have even killed Steve…”

He let out a shaky breath. His voice dropping a full octave as he sighed out. “I can’t let her take you too… I can’t.” This whole scene felt familiar. Exactly like back in Spine’s programming, only the roles were reversed. The overwhelming sensation of loss and fear was taking over. Spine squeaked on a cry, trying to hold it together as he lugged Rabbit through the battered hallway. He couldn’t allow himself to break down now. Both of them looked over the damage she left behind silently. The blood and oil on the walls, the broken furniture, portraits ripped down and torn.

“... o-o-okay…” It was barely audible. You had to strain your ears. It was muttered with a shaky breath as they descended the stairs to the labs. However small it was, however weakened, it held such weight. Spine was sure again, they could end this. They could finally be rid of her. Somehow.

Chapter Text

How long did it take? How long did it take her to completely destroy them. Jon was gone, only pieces left behind and trails of oil. Steve still in critical condition and taken away in an ambulance. Michael not far behind him. Even with Rabbit as damaged as he was, she still fought Spine all the way down to the lab. Up until she was strapped down on that same operating table and Peter forced him to shut down.

 

They were back at the bottom again. Rabbit forced to stay offline while Peter tried desperately to delete her. The restraints were on at max and repairs were only minimal. Just enough to keep him from shutting down permanently. Spine thought Rabbit would have put up more of an opposition to go offline, like she did. Instead he seemed relieved at the idea. Between the discomfort and the pain of overloaded circuits and the internal war he was waging against her, going offline meant one less thing to worry about.

 

The lights flickered above their heads from an unusually powerful surge. Peter let out a frustrated growl, jumping back from the computer he was working on. With a flicker and a small puff of smoke it blew. Just like the ones from four months ago when they first tried to delete her. Spine immediately moved in with a fire extinguisher, putting out the small circuit fire and set the burnt out tower next to the rest of the pile.

 

“It can’t handle it.” Peter sighed, running a hand through his auburn hair. “... I can’t access her. Whatever her program is made of I can’t get into it… its… different. It’s not like an actual program.” He groaned and spun on his heels, falling to sit in the wheeled office chair and spin.

 

“Did you reach your father yet?” Spine’s tone was cold and flat, sounding more like a vintage version of himself. He barely blinked, optics glued to Rabbits smoking form on the table. Even though his battery said he was at 50%, he still felt drained.

 

Another exasperated sigh from the inventor as he spun in the opposite direction. “Nothing. I’ve tried his cell, their hotel… I even called the B.R.O.W.N. and they just said he was in a meeting. It’s been a week.” He exhaled heavily, pausing his spinning before he got too dizzy. “I’m worried… usually he would have let me know what was happening. Even mom would have called me by now, at least let me know how the conference went. It’s not like you get called into the B.R.O.W.N. and have to explain why your robot left a giant crater in Seattle after terrorizing a music hall everyday!” He threw out both arms, tilting his head to Spine.

 

A puff of steam expelling from his cheek vents was the only reaction Peter would get from the automaton. It’s still too soon to make even the most oddly placed jokes about the previous incident. Especially since they were still dealing with her.

 

“Yeah soooo… “ Peter turned away from both bots. He began to nervously press his fingertips together. His mocking tone faded to a softer one. “There’s still… one more problem.” He took a deep breath and slowly released it. How to break this news.

 

“He’s offline. Which means she can’t use his body to terrorize us. But she is super pissed off. From what I could see, before she blew up my computers, she’s uh… she’s… she’s deleting him.” A chill ran through the air. Peter hung his head even lower, rubbing what would be his forehead of the mask. “She’s livid and desperate… from what I could interpret through the code. She’s determined to take Rabbit down with her.”

 

Spine had expected this. After all, it was what she did to him. She wanted to delete every part of him so that she could take over. She had no body left, only Rabbit’s. They were fighting for control of it. “How long does he have?” His tone grew even colder. They were on the countdown now.

 

“Well… I mean, Rabbit’s doing a good job of blocking her. She doesn’t have that Program 2671, so its slower. But its also her, so she’s more precise. She knows we know she’s there. She doesn’t have to hide. She’s going right for his operating system. He’s built up extra security, and the firewalls we installed, but she’s tearing through them.”

 

“How long?” He asked again. His voice much softer than the first time. He blinked rapidly, trying to shake free the build of oil in the corners of his optics. He held his jaw tight and swallowed that painful lump in his throat.

 

Slowly Peter forced himself to stand. Being much shorter than Spine, he had to reach to place a soft hand on the automaton’s shoulder. His voice forgiving and tired. “... I think you should find Hatchworth and bring him in to see him… I don’t think Rabbit can survive the night. Even if I wipe him completely and reinstall the back up of his memory, she’s still there. Attached to his core, his S.O.U.L….. I can’t fix that. I’m-... I’m sorry. We might…. we might have to say… good bye.”

 

Spine stood still for what felt like an eternity to Peter. He could hear the clicking of gears and the sputtering of mechanics. If the automaton couldn't quite verbalize his protest to it, his body was. "Spine I'm-... I'm sorry. I-"

 

The titanium bot expelled a harsh hiss of steam as he grabbed Peter's hand roughly by the wrist. He threw his gentle touch off, his brow schooling into a deep frown. "It's not time for that yet. There's still so much we could do!"

 

Peter took a deep breath. He knew out of all of them, Spine would object the loudest. “Name one thing.” He crossed his arms over his chest. “I’m more than willing to put forth the work but I’m out of options here.”

 

Spine’s eyelids drooped momentarily. An exasperated sigh of steam expelled from his vents. “I… I don’t-” He had nothing. He was too tired, too worn down to think. “Back ups. We could… make back ups.”

 

“I did that. WE did that! The first time! Do you think I would have missed something so obvious?” Peter huffed as he marched around the small lab. “She was in every version, because she’s not like other programs.”

 

“Fine!” Spine barked back, feeling the tension and desperation build. “What about the… the readme file? The one Rabbit had. For the first time.” His voice grew quick and sharp as he listed off options as fast as possible.

 

“It only worked with Program 2671.” Peter gave an exasperated sigh. “We’ve run anti-virus scans. We’ve moved her to the virus vault. She just breaks out of it.” He waved both arms as he spoke. “We’ve restored his system nearly a dozen times- which… unfortunately also wiped some memory files as you know.”

 

Spine’s shoulders slumped forward as he slowly nodded his head. Of course he knew, he was the one to give the final okay on that. It seemed like it had worked, at least for a little while.

 

“We’ve even tried making a more powerful program to overwrite her and uploaded it.” Peter sighed and shook his head. His feet dragged as he moved back to a work bench, sitting on the edge and letting his long legs hang freely. “She eliminated it in less than a second.”

 

Spine slowly nodded his head. At first the words went over his head, but then something caught his attention. “... another program?... a more powerful program.”

 

His eyes slowly widened as the thought dawned on him. Rabbit can’t fight her alone, but together. Together they might have a chance. He could download himself into Rabbit’s mainframe. Like Peter said, she didn’t have Program 2671, she was alone. They could make it two versus one.

 

“You’re thinking of something terrible, aren’t you?” Peter’s voice like a spotlight in the darkness, zeroing in on Spine’s body language. “Spine?”

 

Spine stayed quiet as he contemplated what could happen if he shared his plan. Peter could be hesitant to take such a risky chance. Spine was already calculating the odds of eliminating her. They weren’t good, but whatever they were- they were better than Rabbit doing this alone.

 

“Peter…” He spoke after a long silence. He took a deep breath, checking Rabbit’s offline form with the corner of his eye before he directed his attention back to the inventor. “I want to-... I want-.... I’m going to go into his mainframe.”

 

“Spine-” Peter lept from the table and scrambled up to the taller automaton.

 

“-And help him.” He continued, closing his eyes and refusing to let himself be interrupted.

 

“-That’s not a good idea-

 

“Two are better than one.” He stated firmly. He clenched his fist and his jaw, his spine straightened and he took a deep breath. “I promised him Peter.”

 

“I know that. We all know that.” Peter growled woefully, throwing both arms out in exasperation. “Are you willing to risk your own life? To save him? What about Hatchworth?! What about-... What about me? And… and the family.” Though the mask on his face couldn’t express it, his voice trembled with the emotion. You could hear the struggle to hold back imaginary tears behind the mask.

 

He slumped his shoulders and dropped his head. Both hands scratching down his neck. With a soft whine he fell forward, pressing his forehead against the center of Spine’s chest. The weight of the Walter name felt so heavy on his shoulders. This was his first chance to prove himself, and he was losing all of them, one by one, to her.

 

“Spine… I don’t want to say it either, to… to say goodbye to Rabbit but-” He shuddered, slowly rolling his head side to side. “I already lost Jon…. I know I can’t fix Rabbit… I can’t… I can’t lose you too. You’re my family… please. Reconsider this.”

 

One would think Spine would be upset to have his logic questioned, but the soft smile on his face only showed how touched he was. Slowly he set a hand on each of Peter’s shoulders. His thumbs rubbed small circles into his sweater. “Peter.” A name that had such a deep meaning in his life, the Spine had to pause as fond memories flashed before his optics. He chuckled lightly and shook his head.

 

“Peter. I’m over 100 years old. Rabbit and I both.” He side glanced to the automaton on the table. That sadness crept back into his voice again. “Our duty is to protect you. Protect this home… and protect each other. You have done everything that you can. It’s not your fault… and it’s not a failure. Understand that.”

 

He tried to stay stern with the youngest of all Peter Walters. The lecture he spoke felt so hauntingly familiar. Not only was he speaking with 6, but he was also speaking with 5. And 4, and 3… and 2. And everyone in between.

 

“You did not fail.” He spoke firmly, sounding off each syllable as he gave Peter’s shoulders a shake. “This is too far out of control. The only thing left now. Is to fight her on her own playing field. To take Rabbit back from her… I am fully aware of the consequences should we not succeed. But-” He paused and took in a painfully sharp bit of breath. His arms wrapped around Peter’s shoulders and pulled him tight into his metal chest. He clutched him tightly, soothingly, like a parent, like his father would- were he present. “-but… It’s a risk I must take.”

 

Peter breathed heavily, wrapping his own arms around Spine’s middle. If the automaton was willing to give the embrace, he was more than willing to accept it. “I’ll miss you….” He muttered between hidden sobs.

 

“I’m not saying goodbye just yet.” Spine tried to stay positive, as desperate and cliche as it sounded.

 

“You… you have to at least… tell Hatchworth.” Peter sniffled.


Spine’s eyes went wide and he fell back on his heels. Hatchworth. With everything that had happened. He was so eager to dive into the enemies fires, he forgot about Hatchworth. His speech for Peter wouldn’t work on the bronze automaton. He bit back a heavy breath and his processors began to whirl quickly. “Don’t worry…” Spine muttered, slowly stroking a soothing hand down Peter’s back. “I’ll… talk… with him.”

Chapter Text

I have not updated this fic since 2014. THAT'S 6 YEARS AGO! And this thing still haunts me! When I started writing this fanfiction I wasn't working and didn't have any other original works to do. I was an avid SPG fan and loved the community. Then, like all things in life, it changed. The band did things I didn't like. The characters began to change and I thought I couldn't continue my story because the canon kept changing. Eventually I started working full time and disappeared into my OC's tumblr. Then got off tumblr for a long while.

 

Even with all this I always thought about this story. I had some good scenes I still love that I never got to write. It was going to have another whole book after this one where the fanbots of the community got together to fight Holly and her bots in some epic thing. Then I just ended up writing my own fanbots, and then my own fancharacters.

I want to end this. It may not be the ending I had dreamed of in the first place but I think that's better. I was trying to do too much at once. I need to keep it simple and just for these characters. So I am writing again. I have the next chapter already done and once I have it proofed will upload. But I will give a few warnings.

 

I AM NO LONGER IN THE SPG FANDOM OR CARE ABOUT THE BAND. At this point these characters have evolved into something of my own creation so I will continue with that.

I HAVE NOT UPDATED ANYTHING TO MATCH HOW THE BAND CHANGED! As I was writing this Rabbit had started transitioning. I have some scenes for the start of this. I know that regarding current times, Rabbit has changed. I 100% support anything she wants to do with her character and design and everything. That being said, this was written 7 years ago. I am not going back through and changing pronouns and scenes just to match. I don't know how they handled how Rabbit transitioned in the canon but as far as my understanding is her programming was always a girl, but her body couldn't adapt to it and with the rules of the times it was easier to use male pronouns than female. By the end of this It should be righted. I think. Not there yet. 

BAND MEMBERS CHANGE? I think some people left or came back. I don't know exactly who is in the band atm but again, this was written for whatever the band was doing 7 years ago.

WHEN WILL YOU UPDATE? When I have the time. Again I work full time and have other creative projects. These next chapters may feel like they are going fast but that is because I want to give it an ending. I'm not just putting something out there. I have already structured and planned this for years. I'm just finally getting a chance to put it down on paper.

WE DON'T WANT THIS ANYMORE KTHXBYE. That's fine. I understand wholly that most fans have moved on from this story and the fandom in general. I still get notifications on this though so I know some people are reading it. I'm writing it for me to finally get it out of my head. I'm writing it for Holly because despite being a villain, I feel for her and I don't think I ever got a chance to show why she did this. To explain herself. I'm also writing this for Rabbit because she is a strong character FOR ME. I put her through so much and I need to give her an ending she deserves. Whether she survives or not, I'm still on the fence on that one.

 

So please don't send me any hate. I know this has been far too long for anyone to really still care, but please enjoy. Maybe it will bring a few new readers. I'm really proud of this work and it's still one of my favorites. The playlists always bring me back some of these amazing scenes and I want to finish. Thank you for your time and your support. I'm hoping to post the next chapter maybe this weekend if I can get someone to proof for me.