Title: Return to the Fold
Location: Dead End
Date: 10 March 2015
Summary: Onslaught goes to bring Blast Off out of his self-imposed exile and back into the Combaticons.
++ Dead End ++
There are times in a person's life when so many bad things happen, one after another in rapid succession- /so many things/ that a certain numbness sets in and they just sort of... give up. A time when the fight has left them and all they can do is simply sit on a rooftop and stare blankly up into the sky. The stars are there and they are the one constant in Blast Off's life. The other parts of his life are much less constant. The shuttleformer finds the star he once showed to Shiftlock, telling her that it would always be up there in the sky reminding him of her- and the simple fact that he knew she was somewhere out there, like that star, was enough for him. Even if they weren't together. It was enough. And now... Shiftlock is dead. Her star lives on- but she does not.
That's not all of it. A mech who doesn't tend to trust anyone, he DID trust Starchamber. A fellow Combaticon who dropped from the sky and came on hot and heavy. Pressed him for intimacy during a time he was suffering PTSD from Feint's mental torture. Finally, hopefully, he agreed. He did find some healing- but then she broke his spark in so many ways. She MOCKED him at his most vulnerable, and in his anger and hurt he renounced not only her but ALL Combaticons. That's it, he's done with them. Even his own people cannot be trusted- the one thing he thought would always be there. Again- just like Shiftlock- it is gone.
Lastly- in a culmination of Shiftlock's death, the person he cares most about almost died here a cycle ago, filled with suicidal grief over Shiftlock's death. Whirl. Yes, /Whirl/, believe or not... somehow Blast Off and Whirl managed to find themselves in each other's arms- due to their shared love of Shiftlock. Again- LOOONG story. Upon hearing of Shiftlock's death, Whirl tried to commit suicide by Decepticon (seeing how he IS the Decepticon's Public Enemy Number 1) and called out for the Cons to come kill him. Blast Off came to try and stop him, but there was already a crowd of both Autobots and Decepticons and all Blast Off could do was watch as Whirl floundered and fought. Watch as he was shot and pretend not to care. Thankfully, Whirl was whisked away before Decepticons could kill him, so Blast Off was spared losing the two people he cared most about on the exact same day. But now here he is, feeling as alone as he ever has in his life. Odds are Swift Blade is around somewhere, but he doesn't know that. All he sees- are those stars he's staring numbly up at.
"You were not trained to sit on your aft and look up at the stars."
Onslaught's presence is announced with a statement that is so matter-of-fact that it actually has to be a fact. He's standing on the rooftop, behind Blast Off, with his arms crossed over his chest. His optics are narrowed and annoyed as he stares at the pitiful excuse for a Combaticon that's in front of him. He honestly can't even imagine how this one is still alive. It has to have something to do with the rest of the world having horrid luck.
"Mech up, Blast Off. We have work to do." That's right. Onslaught is immediately going into business mode. He knows all about what has happened and why Blast Off is being such a nancy bot. He just doesn't care. There are certainly much more profitable and fun things that could be going on than this foolish wasting of time. Like they are doing right now with this conversation that's about to happen.
Blast Off has that little prickle on the back of his neck indicating that he's got company- right before that voice booms behind him. He freezes a moment, face still upturned and catching the starlight. Then his optics dim somewhat, and his head shifts only slightly- mainly to get a better view of another star, expression blank if slightly petulant. His voice is completely flat. "....Why? Where have you been?" He hasn't seen Onslaught- or any of the other Combaticons- in awhile, wrapped up as he has been in his own business.
Onslaught almost glares at Blast Off for the moment. What has just been said to him was completely and utterly disrespectful. And, well, it will clearly not be tolerated. Which is the look that's on his face. Considering, though, that Blast Off is not exactly going to be paying enough attention to see it, Onslaught takes advantage of the situation and approaches with a calm stride.
"I /was/ going to give you the benefit of the doubt. I /was/ going to allow you a chance to compose yourself and reassess your priorities." Onslaught stops behind Blast Off. "But then you had to go and disrespect me. /Your/ leader." And that's the moment that Onslaught's leg swings out and he kicks at Blast Off with enough power to kick him right off the side of the roof. "That's a mistake you won't be making again."
Blast Off is so wrapped up in his own misery and numbness he just really doesn't care right now. Yes, yes, he ought to be more respectful to his Commander, but where was Onslaught lately anyway? No, Blast Off has been alone, and his own kind betrayed him. He's feeling like he doesn't owe Onslaught a thing. Somewhere deep inside this feels all wrong to him- he's got millenia of history working with his Commander and his team, and they were the one group he always had loyalty to. But now... meh.
Or at least it WAS meh- until Onslaught strides up behind him. He gets another sense... this time of /impending doom/.... right before his Commander lands that kick in his back. Sitting there like he is, he isn't quite able to dodge it, and it knocks him clear off the roof. "GAHHH!" the shuttleformer's metal armor cracks and groans from the impact- the other Combaticon is immensely powerful, and a glass cannon like Blast Off is going to feel it. He goes flying, but fortunately for him- he CAN fly. Anti-gravs kick in instantly and he catches himself halfway down to the ground.
Now HE's ticked. It seems like life has been kicking him around a lot lately- and now /Onslaught's/ joining in the fray? The shuttle's ionic blaster comes out of subspace and he shoots right back up to hover in the air- where Onslaught can't easily reach him. Violet optics blaze with the first sign of life they've had in quite awhile. "I REPEAT. Where the slag were YOU lately? I've LEFT the Combaticons. They sure haven't done ME any favors lately. Except BETRAYAL." Of course, he's thinking of Starchamber.
And then suddenly: Seeker. Where did that come from? In reality, Swift Blade had been tailing Blast Off for a while now, keeping out of range of conversation and what not. So she knows nothing, really, about what was going on. Watching the other mech /kick/ Blast Off from the roof was hard to miss, however, and so she jets over there, transforming in time to land a short distance from Onslaught on the same roof. He might notice that she is a little...underarmed...for a general Seeker.
Tilting her head to the side, she regards the mech; she's never met him before and doesn't know him. Still, the first thing she says is, "Was that entirely necessary?"
For all intents and purposes, Blast Off is talking to a huge cannon. That's right, Onslaught has drawn his weapon and he's holding it up for Blast Off to speak right to the barrel. He doesn't look as though he's ready or willing to fire but he does look as though he's intending to make a point. And that point is that somebody better calm their aft down before Onslaught puts their aft down.
"Silence yourself, Blast Off. You will have plenty of time to glitch and moan about your horrible life after." Onslaught seems to be even a little bit excited at this particular moment. It's a very rare sight to see Onslaught's optics as bright as they are in this moment. "We have a job. One that cannot be done without you. But I need you at your best. Not... whatever this is."
Onslaught almost turns the moment he hears the Seeker land. But he's not concerned about her in this moment. "Fly away. This is Combaticon business." Onslaught keeps his focus on his kin. As well as the hand cannon. Just in case.
Blast Off keeps his optics on Onslaught as well, tensing as he finds a face full of cannon pointed his way. And something just sort of rises up in him- an anger and frustration at the /impotence/ he's been feeling lately. Maybe there IS a little fight in him after all- the sight of Onslaught-and the kick in the back- seems to be bringing it back right now. His own weapon is still in his hands, and he lifts it to point at his Commander. They are frozen there in place a moment, optics locked and weapons ready. When Swift Blade arrives she will find them like this- and the shuttle's gaze remains focused on the other mech. "Swift Blade.... he is right. This is Combaticon business." He appreciates her concern, but some things need to be dealt with, and his anger about Starchamber and what happened to Combatron still boils inside.
"....At my best? At this point I'd say I'm at my best. I've survived assassination attempts, back-stabbing from my own kind, bounties on my head, torture by enemies while in jail and nearly having my spark removed again, lost people I care about... and I AM STILL STANDING. What the PIT do you want? What /job/? Didn't you hear? I left the Combaticons."
"I'm afraid, in all good conscience, I can't do that..." Swift Blade says, her tone trailing off to show she doesn't know /exactly/ who this is. After all, she knows Blast Off is part of a team, but the only one she knows by face /and/ name is Swindle. This is obviously NOT Swindle.
Then she turns towards Blast Off, barest trace of a smile flickering on her face. "If you have left the Combaticons, then can it still be considered Combaticon business?" she inquires. "Would it not just be /your/ business with /a/ Combaticon." Tilting her head to the side, she purses her lips. "But if you truly wish me to bow out, I will do so." Note, she's waiting for Blast Off's response more than Onslaught's.
"I'm going to give you a chance to think about what you've just said. Because as far as I'm concerned, you don't leave family. Because if you did, I'd have to kill you. And if I kill you, then I'm not going to have the best sniper I've seen in millenia watching my back. And that's just something I can't see myself not having."
Onslaught stares at Blast Off for a long moment before loosening the grip on his cannon and letting his arm fall to shove it back into the bowels of subspace. "Now. Let's skip past all your personal feelings, because they don't /actually/ matter in the grand scheme of things, and move along to the possible solution. A solution that involves your commander, that would be me: Onslaught, not only allowing you to live but also the opportunity to get back the life that you had. Before you became this prattling whiner." Onslaught plants his hands behind his back, showing no fear and no anger. "This is not the soldier I remember. /That's/ the mech I want to talk to."
Swift Blade gets ignored only because Onslaught is in the process of trying to get his soldier back on track. He'll kil-- er, deal with her, in a moment.
Blast Off is ITCHING for a fight. He's tired and frustrated and angry and just looking for an excuse to have at it- even with Onslaught, as foolish as that would probably be (on several levels). His violet optics flash a deep purple and his trigger finger tenses as he just waits for the /slightest/ reason to pull that trigger.
Then Onslaught does the one thing that defuses that tension, lowering his weapon and leaving himself wide open for attack. A display of trust (and possibly a trick, knowing Onslaught he always has a plan B).
The shuttleformer stares at his Commander for a moment, still /wanting/ that fight... but Onslaught's not giving it to him. Family. Best sniper. Watching his back. The weapon in Blast Off's hand slowly lowers, until it finally hangs at his side. "I... Well, I just.... I'm not /whining/, I've had...I /left/ the Combaticons after Starchamber's treachery, and I...." He blinks. Stops.
More calmly now. "What did you want to discuss with me?"
Swift Blade doesn't mind being ignored overly much. After all, she's much more interested in what Blast Off has to say. Sorry, Onslaught, you're just not THAT important to the Seeker femme. Not yet at any rate.
Her attention is mostly on Blast Off, and she smiles just a tiny bit as he seems to calm down. "Starchamber is but a single femme; she is not the full sum of all your people. Her treachery was hers alone," she says solemnly. "Would you blame /me/ for something another Seeker did?"
"Starchamber has been taken care of. I have a lock on her location and I can mobilize Decepticon troops to destroy her and anything in their path at a moment's notice. The only Combaticon's treachery you need to worry about is mine. And I don't do disloyalty. Not to when it comes to my brothers." Onslaught would never admit it but Vortex, Swindle, Brawl and even Blast Off are the only things he cares about in this world. A glance into his optics might show just a glimmer of this but there will be no speaking of it. Ever.
"Listen to me. There is a place for you, Blast Off. And that place is under my command. That place is next to your brothers. That place is by my side doing what we do best: Giving Them Hell." Onslaught actually smiles at that thought. "We have an opportunity to be at the forefront of the birth of greatness. Change is coming to Cybertron, soldier. And when change comes, I want you standing there... with me... with your brothers... watching as those that did not choose wisely are dealt with accordingly."
Onslaught takes a step closer to the edge of the roof and closer to Blast Off. "Isn't that what you want?" Onslaught slowly extends a hand. Join him, Blast off. Come home.
Swift Blade brings up (yet another) of her very good points, and Blast Off gives her a little side glance at that question. "Well... /no/, but she was my kin, and I was foolish enough to trust her because of that, and then..." He looks bitter again as his words fade away. "Anyway, I just thought that..."
The shuttle's words halt mid-sentence as Onslaught steps forward. Blast Off stares at his long-time Commander, his optic ridges furrowing down with an intensity he hasn't shown for several cycles. It's like he's drinking in every word Onslaught says, considering and weighing it, and debating the taste. And as the other Combaticon speaks, Blast Off's spark, which has felt so dead and numb lately, begins to flicker back to life. With it, some of that old Combaticon pride, too.
Slowly, the shuttleformer sinks down, his anti-gravs settling him gently back towards Onslaught on the rooftop. "...Yes."
Swift Blade looks frankly relieved. Whatever Onslaught did, whether it was the words or the kick, seems to have worked. She had been trailing Blast Off for some time now, but she had wanted to let him sort things out for himself. But, she has only known him for a fraction of the time that Onslaught has. And it never would have been her style to kick him off a roof, that is for certain. Either way, she gives him a nod of encouragement as he rejoins Onslaught on the roof. For now, however, she'll stand back a bit.
"Excellent. That's the Blast Off I know." Onslaught takes another step towards Blast Off and reaches out to plant a hand against his shoulder. "Report to base as soon as you finish up with your associate here." Onslaught gives a nod to Swift Blade. No snub this time! "We have much to discuss."
With another pat on Blast Off's shoulder, Onslaught turns to start walking away from the both of them. He clears enough of the roof before he stops and raises a finger. "Ah. One more thing."
Onslaught turns back around and seems to be holding a small trigger in his hand. He presses the button on it and there will be a sudden and overdramatic surge of electromagnetic pulse energy that courses through the entire frame of Blast Off, originating from the spot where Onslaught has patted him on the shoulder. There's enough voltage to put Blast Off in Cruciatus Curse style pain. And also lock up his joints so he can't do nothing but FEEL THE PAIN.
"Don't ever pull a weapon on me again." Onslaught's optics narrow with anger before he tosses the trigger off onto the roof (probably for Swift Blade to handle) and then makes with his exit. Fools.
Blast Off glances to Swift Blade, but his focus right now remains on Onslaught. His Commander, a fellow Combaticon, and someone who has never betrayed him. He doesn't mind the pat on the shoulder- in fact he gives Onslaught a nod. "Yes," There's a pause. "Commander." Blast Off's mindset has been successfully switched back from LONE WOLF to WOLF PACK. A pack of Combaticons.
And speaking of wolves, and wolf pack hierarchy, the moment Onslaught says *one more thing* Blast Off has that little impending sense of doom. He /did/ pull a weapon on his Commander. Time for the wolf leader to do a dominance display. That spark that was soaring sinks just a bit- and sure enough, the shuttleformer finds himself facing another weapon- of sorts. He freezes- there's not much point in trying to fly away, nor would that neccessarily even be wise right now. Mindset placed back into soldier mode, he has only time for his optics to flicker once towards his shoulder before he's suddenly slammed with agony, writhing in pain on the rooftop. Well, as much as locked up joints allow, and a muffled cry of pain.
Swift Blade looks less relieved as Blast Off goes into paroxysms of pain. Somehow she gets the feeling that this is going to undo Onslaught's words, rather than cement them. Is that how leaders around here keep loyalty? Through pain? But she isn't stopping to consider this. No, the thoughts are racing through her mind as she tries to pick up the trigger and press it in hopes of turning it off. Oh please, make it turn off! Fighting someone in battle is one thing, but this is an entirely different matter and not at all to her liking. A mental note has already been made to keep a close optic on this Commander of Blast Off's...this Onslaught.
As Onslaught disappears, there's a couple of Decepticon Raiders that de-cloak out of nowhere on the rooftop. When their stealthing drops, they're both holding photon rifles that are pointed in Blast Off and Swift Blade's direction. Each of them smirk as they rise to their feet and make with their exiting after Onslaught.
Another plan has come together.
Blast Off just sort of writhes in agony on the rooftop until Swift Blade presses the trigger. The pain stops and the shuttleformer pushes himself onto his elbows with a gasp. He just sort of lies like that a moment, adjusting and ventilation system cycling heavily until he can start to get up again. Rolling up to sit on the roof, he can finally rest there, arms draped over his knees.
He looks up at the Seeker. "...Thank you." Another moment's rest and he pushes himself back on his feet, looking out towards where Onslaught was last. Then he glances back to Swift Blade, who does not look too happy about that. He gives her a shrug. "....I /did/ pull a weapon on him." His hand comes back to scratch at the back of his helmet. "And we were..." he blinks. "We /are/ an old military unit." He's not happy about it, but by now? He's used to this. They ARE Combaticons, after all.
HE is a Combaticon.
Swift Blade is not a Combaticon. She's not used to a pack mentality. For millions of years there was just her, and her master. Millions of masters. She was her own constant through all that. So this sort of thing is beyond her ability to understand, perhaps. But that trigger, that was the kind of thing her masters used to keep her in line, and by the set of her shoulders, it should be obvious to Blast Off that she's highly disturbed by what she just witnessed. "Are you alright now?" she asks quietly. The presence of the cloaked figures is not lost on her either. Yes, she's definitely going to have to up her training.
Blast Off nods. He can see she's tense, and he can understand why. But as a Combaticon he's more inclined to see it as simply discipline. He could always just leave. And yet now, funny enough? He doesn't want to. He's not adverse to a little pain. Not if it means he's got a place to call *home* again.
"Yes. I'll be fine." He's quiet, with a lot to digest on his mind. "Onslaught is a good Commander. He just doesn't tolerate weakness- or disloyalty." The shuttle's optics narrow thoughtfully. "And Combaticons /should/ be loyal. It's what... we're supposed to be. What we were. What..." Well, the old team he had was ALWAYS loyal. "What we are. It's always been us vs. the world- he just needs to know I have his back." Blast Off shrugs and starts walking towards the roof's edge.
"Weakness is subjective; disloyalty less so," says Swift Blade cautiously as she follows Blast Off with her optics. "Still, his response seems a bit disproportionate. You pulled a weapon, yes, but you didn't actually inflict any pain on him. He didn't meet your aggression on an equal level; he exceeded it," she points out. "But, these are your people and you know them far better than I do." Pause. "And they know you better than I do. So if this is acceptable to you, then so be it."
Blast Off stops at the roof's edge, and the faint trace of an ironic smile plays on his lips, under that faceplate. He doesn't look at Swift Blade as he replies, "True. But then again, he's Onslaught." Like that explains everything. The shuttleformer looks down at the street below, still somewhat subdued- but despite the shock he just had, he's also looking a little more alive and sharp than he did before. "Yes, it is acceptable. You heard him- I'm a smelt of a good sniper, and he needs me." He lifts an optic ridge and turns to look at the Seeker. "Despite appearances, perhaps, we are... family. And as long as they have my back... I have theirs. All of them." He lets out a small *huff*. "Even the annoying ones. Like Brawl." Pause. "And Vortex." Another pause. "And Swindle." Ok, so they're all annoying, but family is like that, right?
"Anyway, I should go. It sounds like there are plans I need to be part of." And Blast Off sounds happy to be needed.
Swift Blade nods her head. "They will take care of you then...as long as you fall in line?" she asks. "You're looking better already, more alert. And that's what you need to be. Maybe I'll go and actually get some rest." She had been tailing him for quite some time. "Just try to still be around and in one piece when I wake up. You still have a lot of teaching to do."
Blast Off definitely appears to have a grin under his faceplate now. "Indeed! I'll have you shooting nail heads from five miles away. You have the best shooting instructor this side of Cybertron- maybe beyond!" Yes, the ego is returning now. He gives her a small salute of thanks, then steps off the edge- and towards home.