Title: Birth of a Prime
Location: Dead End
Date: 12 October 2014
Summary: Drift's having a bad day. HOT ROD IS HERE TO HELP. (Trigger warning for suicide attempts.)
If Cybertron had a darkest pit, this particular smelting yard in the Dead End was probably it. There are piles and piles of junk, as well as shells of dead chasses and stray body parts. There is little to no artificial lighting in the yard, and due to its location directly behind some tall slums, it is nearly always overcast with shadow and almost pitch black most of the time.
The smelting yard is dark and lonely save for the occasional orange burst which signifies the furnace in the center of the whole place igniting and swallowing all the rusted bits of scrap into a large cauldron shaped metal bowl which leaks into the smelting pools directly below.
The entire place is empty and dank... save for one lone figure standing dangerously close to the edge of a plateau just above the smelting pool.
Little does anyone know that the culprit of the clinic bombing is the single silhouette dangling so near to imminent death. Why, one might ask. Murderers don't usually have regrets, do they? Well, they don't, not typically, and not even this one--until now.
The guilt didn't even sink in immediately--after the deed was done and over with--he felt nothing. It wasn't until days later, when the news rolled the story that he began to have his doubts. He saw the story on the bombing and first thought nothing of it. But then.. the obituaries began to roll. And roll, and roll.
Three hundred dead, they said. He hadn't expected half that number. At first, he simply dismissed it. A job was a job, it was done, it didn't matter whether they'd deserved it or not. But then, he was starting to see some familiar faces on the list of those reported dead. Old buddies of his who had been empties on the street with him way back when.
Guilt began to sink in. What would Shift think? She would hate it, for certain. And he'd promised to never hurt her again. He'd failed and what was more is that he's begun to realize the only logical thing for her to do would be to leave him.
So there he stands, on the edge of the end of it all. No more pain, no more misery, no more guilt and no more of this slagging pit called Cybertron...
Hot Rod passes through the Dead End in possession of two things that mark him as out of place: a) the /paint job/ and b) a good mood. There's no explaining the paint job. It just is. It is his burden to bear. The good mood, however, can be sourced just a few paces at his back where freshly sealed deals have been laid to help provision Nyon's restless wannabe insurgents.
Well aware of how out of place he is, he is alert as he moves. They are not his streets, and between one turn and another, he finds himself in the dark. He might move on, but there's a flicker of light from the furnace, a spark that catches Hot Rod's attention. He traces the reflecting gleam of orange off the monochrome of Drift's armoring, then the brightness of his eyes in the dark.
Natives know better. Natives would move on. He never knows better, so why would he move on? Hot Rod strolls over, tips his head up. "That is some Grade A brooding," he sensitively says.
Drift is totally lost in his own thoughts. Suicide isn't exactly easy--but when one is damaged as much as he is, the desire for it trumps fear of death. Consequently, he's completely focused on making himself fall into the smelting pool and doesn't even heard Hot Rod speaking to him.
A klik later, he leans forward and will fall into the smelting pool if Hot Rod doesn't intervene...
This is why people keep telling Hot Rod to think before he speaks: people /throw themselves into smelting pools/ rather than listen to him.
Lacking time even to curse, Hot Rod can only react -- and every instinct he has kicks him in the same direction. He dashes forward to intercept and knock Drift to the side. He hits hard and fast and direct, with only one goal: to get him away from the pool. Doing so /gracefully/ or /gently/ is not on the list. "Whoa, hey!"
Uh-oh, looks like he really did want to die, knocking him away from the smelting pool appears to have pissed him off royally. He turns on Hot Rod, optics narrowed and burning with rage. He leaps forwards, fists clenched and clocks Hot Rod in the jaw, hard.
Not entirely surprised by this development, Hot Rod slides back a step when Drift leaps. It's not enough to spare him him the hit. His head snaps back with the force of it. He shifts, positioning himself between Drift and oblivion.
While Hot Rod's body language reads protect rather attack, everyone knows what they say about the best defense: he surges forward to knock Drift back, away from the furnace. "Okay, hit me, but whatever it is, there's a better answer!"
"..." Drift doesn't say anything. He wrestles with Hot Rod for a moment, then shoves him away and grabs a half smelted red hot strut from the edge of the pool, and tries to spear Hot Rod in the chassis with it. But it may be clear to Hot Rod that this mech's rage and emotions are clouding not just judgement but his frame of mind.
"I take it back," Hot Rod says, backpedaling as Drift strikes, "don't hit me." He twists to the side, just quick enough to avoid being impaled. Hot metal strikes painted flames in a shower of sparks to leave behind a long, burnt scrape across his chassis. He catches the strut near Drift's hands to pull and knock him off balance, pushing him back and away from the pool once again. "Talking? One punch for yes, two punches for no?"
Drift doesn't punch him. It's questionable as to whether he even hears him. He grunts, and grabs Hot Rod by the neck, his grasp like iron and slowly becoming more like a block of zolanium bearing down on flame-o boy. Then, all of a sudden, he lets out a strangled cry of intense frustration and emotional agony and throws Hot Rod aside. He starts running towards the smelting pool again, looking determined to jump in this time.
Hot Rod makes a low noise that is little more than a click in his throat and springs right after Drift. Again. He's quick to recover, and quicker to move. He meets intense frustration with innate stubbornness and emotional agony with -- well, no, that's stubbornness again, actually. This time, when he hits, it's not just to knock Drift away, but to knock him down. Neither does he back off, but grapples, trying to pin him before Drift can go for a third run. He's hesitant to strike back, but shows no such reservation when he goes to tackle and pin. "Please," is all he says.
Drift grapples with Hot Rod for a moment or two, his rage unbridled. "Why the hell do you even /care/?" he rages. Somehow, he manages to free himself from Hot Rod. But he doesn't even make it three steps before he simply falls to his knees, his optics dim. "You don't even know who I am..." he says, his voice cracking a little. He buries his faceplates in his hands.
Ready to go for round three, Hot Rod slumps off a measure of the coiled tension he carries when Drift sinks instead to his knees. A seed of the tension remains, rendering him watchful as he circles closer. He sits down next to Drift, and if he sits between Drift and the furnace, in such a way that he can easily get up -- well, who can really blame him? Without an answer to the first and unable to argue the second, instead he says, "All I know is you have a mean punch. Why don't you tell me who you are? I'm Hot Rod."
"....." Drift heaves a sigh. He's getting talked out of suicide by a guy named Hot Rod. He really must be at the end of his rope. "Yeah, okay, and I just tried to kill you. So why are you even wasting your time?" He avoids optics contact with Hot Rod, instead choosing to stare blankly at the burst of orange light in the distance that is the smelting furnace igniting.
His name is Hot Rod and he has flames on his chest. Only his overwhelming self-confidence allows him to pull of either, much less both, with any degree of dignity -- and even then, others might have some /serious doubts/ about the claim to dignity. He's not so bad, here, crouched in the dark between Drift and the smelting pool. He's less brash and far more empathetic than he might seem by the bright light of day (in that he has empathy at all): "Yeah, but you didn't, and you aren't now. It's cool. I don't think I'm wasting my time. I'd like to know more about you. It doesn't have to be your name, if you don't want."
Drift just gives Hot Rod a very surprised look. "...so, you're just gonna forget about it? Just like that?" he arches a brow ridge at the other mech. He sighs. "No, you don't. Trust me. You really don't." He pulls his knees to his chest and rests his chin on his knees, sighing. "In fact, just knowing about me could get you killed or arrested."
"Yep." Hot Rod settles in his seat on the ground as Drift rearranges to a more fixed position. He certainly doesn't look like someone holding a grudge. His expression is open and easy, focused on Drift as he listens. "That's okay. I'm pretty sure all I have to do is twitch in the wrong direction and they'd be arresting me, anyway. Knowing you will just be one more thing on a list."
Drift optics widen and he releases his knees, both brow ridges arched. Dude, this guy is like the complete opposite of him. But somehow, they're having a normal conversation, even though a few minutes ago he was trying to kill him. "Heh, you too, then? Well I don't need to twitch to get arrested--I'm pretty sure I'm on Cybertron's top wanted criminals list." He sighs. "I used to be a low caste. Then I lost my job and became a drug addict on the streets, doing what I had to to stay alive. I was kind of in and out of random clinics a lot. Then one day, a group of Autobots came and murdered the people I cared about. And well, it was a downward slope from there. Soon, everyone I knew and loved was dead, had betrayed me, was in some Primus forsaken hell, or on the run from the law. Now, I just kill people for a living. I mean, hell, what else is there to do. This place is a miserable pile of slagging /scrap/. " He tosses a piece of rusty metal into the smelting pool bitterly.
That's right. A normal conversation. Hot Rod just files the encounter away for some far future day when he can go 'Remember that time we met and you tried to kill me. GOOD TIMES.' In the meantime, he listens.
Looking, of all things, /impressed/ when Drift says he's one of the top wanted criminals, Hot Rod slowly frowns as he goes on. He has worked himself up to proper indignation on Drift's behalf by the end, but he looks a little uneasy watching Drift toss the metal into the smelting pool. "Yeah. That's definitely a pile of scrap. Caste system's a mess -- everything's a mess. Can't say it isn't. That never should've happened to you. You're doing pretty okay just to get this far on your own like that. The system fails people." Empathy gives way to a moment's quiet fire as he growls, "It fails cities. I see that kind of thing in Nyon, too."
"Okay but what good is it for you to just say all that slag like, 'oh, it's the pits, and that shouldn't have happened, and the caste system is a total failure?' Yeah, it's hella bad, but we all know that. I want change. I want slag like what happened to me to stop. But I don't ever foresee that happening." He stands up, staring at the orange glow in the distance once more. He glances back at Hot Rod, his expression crumpling and greying into one of utter despair. "I'm not doing pretty okay. In fact, I'm not okay at all. The only person on this entire planet that I care about is probably going to leave me. There's nothing left to live for. Nothing."
Hot Rod ca-a-asually gets to his feet as Drift does. He bumps him, shoulder to shoulder, and says, "Let's walk and talk." Walk away, mostly, from that glowing lure before Drift can moth into it again. He settles back on his heels with a broad shrug that telegraphs from shoulder to spoiler to hands. "You're right that talking's just a start. I want change, too. I think it'll happen. I think we have to make it happen. It's going to be slow and probably painful." Or maybe swift and /definitely/ painful. "Look: I'm sorry about your friend. But it sounds like you really care about how messed up things are, too. Too many people think it's okay. It's important that you don't."
He gives Hot Rod a pained look that turns angry and bitter. "No, you don't understand. Of course we all want change and nobody in their right minds wants to keep this slagging system. But it's like trying to empty the Mithril Sea with an optic dropper! You don't even understand how deep and wide the problem is. I mean hell! I've been to the pits and back and that's probably not even /half/ of the slag that goes on. Who are you, just one mech, wanting to change the whole planet?! Do you have a plan? Where are you even going to start?" He turns away angrily from Hot Rod. "I don't want your pity, or sympathy. You can say you're sorry about my friend but that doesn't bring him back."
Uhm, he's Hot Rod. Keep up, Drift. Of course he's going to change the whole planet. "I start with whatever I can do." Admittedly, it's not much of a plan. "You wanted to know what else there was to do: there's that." He speaks with obvious passion that only grows more evident with every word: "Even one drop less is one drop less. One person saved. One more messed up brainwashing clinic torn down. You're right: I don't know how deep it goes. I'm trying to find out. You could help. You don't want pity or sympathy? Okay, but what about a chance to make things better, to get back for your friend, to make sure what happened to you doesn't happen again?"
Of course, Drift doesn't yet know that Hot Rod has THE TOUCH. "..." He looks at Hot Rod. And for the first time, he doesn't look angry, bitter, desperate, or really depressed. His expression is just.. inquisitive. Searching. Searching for what, exactly? Well, not even Drift knows what he's looking for. Except that for the very first time ever he finds what he's looking for, even though he doesn't even really know what it is that he's found.
He sighs, and looks over at the exit of the smelting yard. "...I... am going to buy you a drink," he says to Hot Rod. "And if you don't become Prime and change the entire face of Cybertron for the better--well, you'll just have to owe me a drink."
Hot Rod responds to that shift of mood with growing warmth. He meets the searching look with one of absolute conviction that breaks into a smile when Drift turns his attention to the exit. He whooshes a relieved, sighing sort of laugh. "Ha, yeah. That sounds pretty fair." His agreement is easy and quick. He can afford to owe Drift a drink, as long as it is a cheap drink. "So can I get your name yet?"
Drift smiles a little. He puts a heavy hand on Hot Rod's shoulder, ushering him towards exit of the scrapyard. "Drift," he says. "I'm serious now. You're really going to have to owe me a drink if you don't end up making Cybertron the place it should be." His smile broadens a little. "...Rodimus Prime. Do you like that? I like it."
Does he like that. /Does he like that/. Rodim-- Hot Rod gets a starry, distant look, a dreamy, thoughtful smile. He tucks the name away somewhere deep in his spark. "You know, kind of has a ring to it," he says. Of course he does. He narrows his focus back down to the here and now as they exit. "Drift," he repeats. "Good name." (Not as good as Rodimus Prime, /but what name is/.) "Let's get that drink, talk about how we can start making things right."
"Okay, /Rodimus/," Drift says, a good natured twinkle in his optics suddenly appearing. He laughs. "You better live up to that name."
<OOC> Drift says, "ooh ooh" <OOC> Drift says, "can you name this log, birth of a prime" <OOC> Hot Rod says, "birth of an ego" <OOC> Hot Rod says, "no, that's not accurate" <OOC> Hot Rod says, "he had an inflated ego before" <OOC> Drift says, "baha" <OOC> Drift says, "you mean birth of an egoverse" <OOC> Hot Rod says, "birth of EGO PRIME"