Title: The Price of Loyalty
Fandom: Transformers 2007
Rating: PG-13 for general maturity of content
Summary: Before factions, before strife, before there is even a name for them, Megatron creates the first Decepticon. Pre-war.
Word Count: 4,316
Disclaimer: The concept of Transformers and the characters Blackout, Megatron, and Frenzy are property of Hasbro and not used for profit here. This sandbox isn’t mine, I’m just playing in it.
Notes: This is an origin story--though it may seem so initially, Capacitor is not an original character, just a canon character renamed. Though I suspect it’s fairly obvious who, I’m not sayin’, lol. (Thanks to levade and dramadramaduck chat for naming help, by the way!)
Capacitor had an appointment with one of the most powerful people on Cybertron, and he was running late. He made a note to get his chronometer recalibrated when he was done with his meeting, but he knew he’d find it accurate; he had no excuse for this. He was simply running late.
He made sure the entrance to his personal quarters was locked and appropriately encrypted and turned, assuming his transform with a lunge and lifting into the sky above the residential sector he made his home in. Times like this, he was glad he was flight-capable. He could only imagine the frustration of ground-bound mechs when they had somewhere to be and were constrained to the paths laid by Kaon’s streets. Capacitor could disregard that, his only concern monitoring for and making sure to avoid the other airborne mechs sharing the sky today.
Keying the coordinates into his navigation system, Capacitor banked, angling not for the administrative buildings in the center of Kaon but the military complex that made up the western district of the city. The number of other flight-capables airborne increased as he drew closer, and he had to power through a squad drilling directly over the base itself. He had no time for niceties, to dodge around them--their fixed-wing transforms were more agile than his own, and he massed more than they did anyway. Let them make room for him.
Transforming as he touched down, Capacitor approached the door, lifting his palm and allowing the plate that covered his data-port to slide aside. He pressed his palm to the jack beside the door, input the passkey he’d been given, and stepped in when the door slid open.
He’d been here before, knew where to find his client, and without hesitation made his way to the audience chamber. He’d managed to arrive only slightly late; perhaps the tardiness would be overlooked.
The last thing he wanted to do was incur the wrath of Cybertron’s Lord High Protector.
The chamber where he was to meet with Megatron was fuller than he’d expected. Capacitor didn’t recognize any of the other mechs milling around, nor the one currently hovering by the Lord High Protector’s throne, presumably speaking to him. He ignored the lot of them; he was here by request, after all.
The Lord High Protector looked up from the tiny mech addressing him with animation, and with a single peremptory gesture, silenced him and waved Capacitor through the crowd. He passed through the crowd as he’d passed through the squad of drilling flight-capables outside--they were little, they weren’t explicitly summoned, and they could make way for him.
"Do you have the commission for me?" the Lord High Protector asked, sitting tall in his seat. Capacitor nodded once. Carelessly, Megatron reached and plucked a datapad out of the hands of the little mech still hovering agitatedly at his knee, clearing it without even looking at it and holding it out. Capacitor took it, connected it to the same jack in his palm that had let him into the building, and downloaded the schematics into it. He hesitated long enough to make sure the files had transferred without corruption, then handed it back.
Megatron waved away the mech with finality as he lifted the pad, beginning to peruse what Capacitor had brought him. The crowd was thinning slightly, some mechs turning to workstations lining the walls, some standing and waiting, he presumed, for their own chance to meet with the Lord High Protector. The little one, less than half Capacitor’s mass, had stormed from the room in pointed objection to being so summarily dismissed.
"And these systems, once implemented, will meet the specifications I gave you?" Megatron asked after a few nanoclicks, with the air of someone who might be able to understand the blueprints after taking a good, long look at them, but certainly couldn’t have interpreted them sufficiently in this little time.
Capacitor nodded, familiar enough with the tone to play along. It was common in clients who hired him for sophisticated jobs--after all, if they could rewire mechs the way he could, they wouldn’t have had to hire him--but no one wanted to look stupid. "Of course," he said.
"Very good." A twist of Megatron’s fingers and the screen cleared, the datapad collapsing into a compact cylinder that could be easily tucked away in a storage compartment. "You may go. Your payment will be credited to your accounts before you return to your quarters. If this proves adequate, you’ll be receiving further contracts."
"Thank you, Lord Megatron." Though he refused to allow it to show, Capacitor felt a swell of pride. He had no doubt his designs would satisfy Megatron, and the promise of more work was as pleasant to leave with as the prospect of payment.
The designs must have satisfied him, because Capacitor was almost immediately contacted to design another energy conversion system for the Lord High Protector. The contract wasn’t as comprehensive as that first full-body schematic had been; it was largely concerned with increasing the efficiency of the integrated recharge arrays for the ranged weapons Megatron’s troops were trained in. It wasn’t Capacitor’s field of expertise, but he was adaptable.
More than adaptable, apparently. Megatron’s approval of the design was unequivocal, though he did little more when he saw it than nod and hand it off to one of his other engineers with terse instructions to, "Implement this, immediately."
He’d dismissed him then, but Capacitor received a series of successively more challenging military contracts, largely upgrading pre-existing systems. He found himself in meetings with the upper echelons of Megatron’s command staff, sometimes the Lord High Protector himself, discussing the needs of the troops, and of Cybertron, and what he was expected to do to help.
It was strange, how quickly he was caught up in defense affairs. Capacitor had never thought he’d be a military contractor, but here he was.
Megatron was not precisely what he’d expected, either. Like most mechs, Capacitor hadn’t known anything more about the phlegmatic leader of Cybertron’s military forces than what was shown on the newsfeeds. Silent, forbidding, distant, he was an ominous and enigmatic figure compared to the open and inviting Optimus Prime.
He was all of that in person, but there was a passion there as well, and that was what caught Capacitor by surprise. Though reserved and not inclined to expansive displays of enthusiasm, there was nevertheless an animation to his movements, to the way he spoke, a low fervency that belied his dedication to his position. He wanted nothing but the best for Cybertron, and was willing to do what he had to do to keep the planet they all called home safe. Capacitor was honored to work under him, and endeavored to surpass himself with each new contract he turned in.
When Megatron summoned him anew and he was directed to the Lord High Protector’s private office, Capacitor was surprised. He’d never met with him anywhere but places that were at least nominally public, even if it was a limited public--his audience chamber, the room where he held his staff meetings. As far as he knew, Megatron invited people into his office proper but rarely. Capacitor couldn’t help a certain sense of accomplishment as he stood in front of the door, marked with Megatron’s personal sigil, inputting the access code on the keypad beside the door and waiting for the acknowledgment before stepping inside.
Megatron was seated behind a desk of simpler design than Capacitor would have expected. No, he realized, not simple--understated. There was an expansive window opening over the military complex behind the desk, the panes dulled now almost to opacity. One wall was covered with a series of maps of the major cities of Cybertron, the other a bank of streaming video surveillance monitors and newsfeeds, but what really caught Capacitor’s attention was the floor.
There was little in Megatron’s office by way of art or decoration, or even furnishings, beyond the desk and its attendant chairs. Instead, the space was dominated by an incredibly detailed, true-to-life mural of Cybertron, as seen from beyond the atmosphere. It was impressive enough when Capacitor saw it as a painting--then it moved, just slightly, a barely perceptible shift. Flashchips, he realized, and then he realized something else. This was a real-time picture of their home, turning in space. He couldn’t even imagine the type of labor that went into installing and programming something like that. It was beyond impressive.
The Lord High Protector didn’t seem to notice it. He was looking intently between one monitor inlaid in the surface of his desk and another standing on the corner. He waved Capacitor in without looking at up; gingerly, as if afraid to damage the flashchips, he crossed the breadth of Cybertron and stood before the desk.
"Take a seat," Megatron muttered, sounding distracted. His fingers were clattering against the inset monitor, manipulating something on the screen. Capacitor carefully controlled the urge to try and steal a look at what he was working on, and distracted himself by glancing back at the single chair sitting before the desk. Like most furniture intended for general use, it was midsize, build for average-sized mechs. Capacitor was far from average. He had never been able to ascertain precisely why his creator Powerarc had installed his spark in a protoform that was so damn big, though she’d claimed it was practical. His neural circuitry, his electrical relays were packed in insulation far superior to average mech’s, which Powerarc had assured him explained the excessive mass. (His personal hypothesis was that, not being the most petite mech herself, she just wanted someone around who was bigger than she was. He’d never been blunt enough to ask her outright.)
The chair was too small for him. He shook his head, declined the offer politely, and waited.
After a few clicks, not even long enough for his most sensitive servos to start to protest, Megatron cleared the inset monitor with a decisive swipe of his fingers and looked up at him. "Do you trust me?"
The question was not what Capacitor had anticipated. "...Excuse me, sir?"
"Do you trust me, Capacitor?" He stood, and without giving him time to answer, spoke again. "Do you trust that I know my function, that everything I do is for the good of Cybertron?"
He was caught off-guard, and unsure what sort of answer the Lord High Protector was looking for. He ticked it over for a nanoclick, considering, then answered carefully. "You wouldn’t have been granted the position if you didn’t deserve it, Lord Megatron."
Megatron fixed him with an inscrutable look, eyes flashing in the gloom of the room. "Diplomatic," he said finally. He spoke just as carefully as Capacitor had. "Cybertron needs me, Capacitor. She doesn’t know it yet, but she does, and I will serve her. I anticipate, thought, that certain...measures may be called for, measures that won’t be well received by Cybertron’s public. Deception is called for to implement them. I want to know if I have your discretion, Capacitor, and if I can rely on your assistance."
It took him a moment to unravel the careful phrasing and realize that Megatron was asking if he would help him in a task of questionable legality. It took him a moment more to realize that a prospect that should have concerned him didn’t. He’d seen Megatron’s dedication first hand. He was honored to be working so closely with him. He trusted him.
"You have it, Lord Megatron," he said, as formally as possible.
The Lord High Protector nodded once, satisfied. "I want you design me an integrated weapons system," he said without further deliberation.
Integrated weapons systems were theoretically plausible, but had been outlawed in the Cybertronian military almost since the advent of the technology. It was too dangerous, the reasoning had gone--and still went--to equip a soldier with a weapon that couldn’t be removed from his person. Pistols and rifles could be taken away from mechs unqualified to wield them, but a cannon built into the fabric of a protoform couldn’t. It wasn’t worth the risk.
It would be a difficult project. He’d have no precedents to follow, no pre-existing schematics to use as a spring-board. He wouldn’t even be able to call in a consult with Powerarc or any of his other colleagues. But if he completed it...
Well. He was no politician, but he could imagine what that would to for Megatron’s estimation of his worth. Clearly, the Lord High Protector was planning something, something big, and Capacitor knew already that he wanted to be a part of it.
"Give me the parameters," he said.
"Do you trust me, Capacitor?"
He looked up from the schematic he was modifying, sensing the gravity in Megatron’s tone and setting the fine-tipped stylus aside. "Of course I do, Lord Megatron," he said, treading just as carefully as the first time he’d heard this question, so many cycles ago.
Agreeing to designed integrated weaponry for Megatron had changed the relationship between them palpably. Megatron had moved Capacitor into the research quarter of Kaon’s military complex, and visited with him often, monitoring the progress of that first design, and all the ones after. When he wasn’t present, he was in meetings, and more often than not Capacitor was there as well, listening and absorbing and taking what he heard from the Lord High Protector’s top lieutenants and turning it into weaponry. Some few of them were privy to the true function of his presence, and these became his new colleagues as he struggled to found a new field of weapons technology by himself.
It was beyond difficult. It was so trying at times he was convinced he was going to fritz his processor permanently, that he was tempted to quit, to pull out of the project entirely and tell the Lord High Protector to find someone else to place his trust in. But he persevered, and it was worth it to feel like he was doing something, making a real contribution.
He looked at Megatron now, and wondered what fresh challenge he would lay before him.
"I need a lieutenant, Capacitor," Megatron said. He sat back in the chair that Capacitor had installed in his workshops for him, one specially designed to fit his form. "Not a military lieutenant, not one of those flunkies appointed by Prime and the Council," he continued, as if anticipating objection. "I need a mech of vision, one who understands my plans for our world."
The Lord High Protector’s eyes had been distant, but focused on him now. "I want you, Capacitor," he said, blunt as ever. "But I need to be sure I can trust you."
Capacitor was silent, listening intently, processor racing to keep up with the words. "Of course you can trust me, Lord Megatron," he said. You do already.
He shook his head briskly. "To trust you, Capacitor, I need to know that you trust me," he said. "I need you to prove it."
"Prove it, sir…?"
"I’ve a programmer who’s been working on a patch to modify core programming," Megatron said. "I want to implement the finished product on you."
That was interesting. There were numerous software patches of various complexities available on the market, primarily targeted towards mechs looking for a career change outside their primary function. Disbursement of them, however, was strictly controlled; reprogramming oneself was dangerous. It appeared weaponry wasn’t the only field the Lord High Protector was stretching the limits of his authority in.
"What’s the purpose of the patch, sir?" Capacitor asked neutrally.
"To introduce military capability into civilians," he said immediately.
It was logical. If he understood him correctly, Megatron was looking for an aide, and an aide to he commander of Cybertron’s military force had to be well-versed in the military himself.
He knew it was a singular opportunity, and to take Megatron up on it would offer him a kind of influence he could only imagine currently. After all, as Capacitor, what was he? A glorified electrical engineer, whose greatest achievements would never be publicly lauded. As aide to Megatron, he could be more.
"I need an answer, Capacitor," the Lord High Protector prompted. "I have other candidates I need to discuss it with if you decl--"
"I accept." It probably wasn’t wise to interrupt Megatron, but he didn’t want to even risk him considering anyone else. No, this honor was his, and his alone. He deserved it. "I’ll take the patch. I’ll do it, Lord Megatron."
"Good." He rose from his chair and crossed to where Capacitor sat. His hands fell to his shoulders, and suddenly Megatron was jacking forcefully into the access ports there. Automatically, protocol initiated to resist him, to slam the Lord High Protector out of his systems, but with an effort of will he controlled the reaction. Had to prove he trusted him, after all.
"Finish your work, Capacitor," he whispered directly, feeding a location and an access code into his processor. "Then meet me for the upgrade."
Though tempted to rush, Capacitor took his time modifying the design. He had no intention of shirking the job, rushing the finish just to meet Megatron sooner. Only when he was convinced it was complete, as refined as he could make it, he backed the file up on the terminal and in his own processor and dispatched a copy directly to Megatron’s personal account in the system. Making sure to lock the workshop with his personal encryption key, he set off.
The address Megatron had uploaded into him was in another wing of the military research department, a section he’d had little reason to venture into before. He found he way to the designated chamber--the Lord High Protector was absent, but there was another mech in there, slightly smaller than average and covered with an excessive number of spiny protrusions. He stood at a wall-mounted console, tapping rapidly at a control panel on a shelf pulled from the wall.
The mech turned, looked him up and down--mostly up--with a critical eye. "You’re the one he picked, then?" he asked.
There was something dismissive in the mech’s voice, as if Megatron had made a poor choice, and Capacitor bristled. "Yes," he said shortly. "Is this patch yours?"
He nodded and immediately turned back to the console, shifting his weight on his feet restlessly as his fingers played over the keyboard. Capacitor vented in annoyance, releasing air from one of his secondary cooling systems with a hiss, and scanned the room. The only interesting feature was the plinth in the center, like an oversized medical berth with an excessive amount of machinery hooked into it.
Before he had too long to contemplate it, the door mechanism murmured quietly and Megatron stepped through. Both Capacitor and the mech that had failed to introduce himself turned, the programmer bobbing a nod and while Capacitor inclined his massive torso towards the Lord High Protector slightly.
"Capacitor, Frenzy," Megatron acknowledged. He turned to address the smaller mech, apparently designated Frenzy. "Is it ready?"
"It’s been ready, Lord High Protector," Frenzy said, something in his tone turning the title into a slur. Capacitor bristled at the insolence--didn’t this little glitch know who he was talking to? Megatron didn’t seem bothered, however, ignoring him as he gestured for Capacitor to lie on the plinth.
"Have you ever been patched?" he asked him as Frenzy’s typing at the terminal picked up speed.
"You have to be deactivated to input the new programming," he told him briskly. "Frenzy’s qualified to perform the implementation, so do as he says. I’ll return when you’re reactivated to see how it takes."
"Very well, sir," Capacitor said, masking the hint of dislike he’d already acquired for Frenzy.
"Frenzy, don’t break him," Megatron snapped to the programmer. Then he was gone, the door closing behind him as if he’d never been.
Capacitor stared after the departed mech, and couldn’t help but feel a touch of trepidation that the actual procedure wouldn’t be performed in the Lord High Protector’s presence. He trusted Megatron; he did not necessarily trust this jittery little mech.
"You want that berth to be comfortable," Frenzy said distractedly, still typing, "you adjust it yourself."
He didn’t relish the thought of undergoing this reclined on an unshaped platform. Exposing the jack, he connected his palm port and uploaded a collection of stats; with a sound not unlike that of transformation, the berth restructured itself. Capacitor climbed on and settled back, easier to do with the surface programmed to accommodate him than it would have been otherwise.
"Open all your ports," the little mech snapped peremptorily. "I have to be able to jack into all your systems."
He hesitated, but suddenly uncertain about this, then toggled the mental switch that slid back all the little access hatches. Immediately the plinth connected everywhere it had contact, and Frenzy had abandoned the console to pull cables from storage compartments and plug them in everywhere else. His designation was apt, Capacitor thought, watching the quick, jerky movements of the smaller mech’s fingers.
Returning to the console, Frenzy started working again. "I’m shutting down your secondary systems first," he said distantly, as if telling Capacitor what he was doing was a professional courtesy he’d rather not exercise. "Be working my way up to the primaries." He turned to flash a nasty grin his way. "You’ll probably be out by then."
Already the status feed, a constant graffiti littering his visual field, were changing, reporting as minor preceptors and rarely-used subroutines started shutting down. It was disconcerting, not being in control of the shutdown like he was when he went down for recharge voluntarily, but he disengaged the defensive firewalls that wanted to shut him out just after they began to boot anyway.
"Good," Frenzy said from his console. "I was worried I was gonna have tell you to stop being an idiot and fighting me."
Again, Capacitor bristled, and again he said nothing. He definitely didn’t like the programmer, but--tactile nets going down, quadrant one, quadrant two, quadrant three...--it was too late now to protest. He settled into the surface of the plinth and waited.
"Shut-down routine," Frenzy muttered, sounding bored. "Proceeding without a hitch. Moving into primary subroutines now." Finally he turned away, fingers still fluttering over the keyboard though he wasn’t looking. His expression was almost maliciously gleeful. "You have no idea what you’re in for, you stupid fra--"
The readouts scrolled across his vision before he’d even activated his visual perceptors. Everything was coming up normal, system after subroutine after protocol, all booting in the proper sequence without complication.
He knew why he’d been offline, recalled the procedure that had been performed on him, the patch that was supposed to have been installed. Had it gone successfully? Would he be able to tell, would he feel different--
Lord Megatron. Lord Megatron had said he’d be present when he reactivated. Without a thought, he brought his visual sensors online and tried to sit up. Warnings shrieked, both inaudibly and as little shocks of pain from the dataports in his back and shoulders as he began to disconnect from the jacks built into the plinth.
"Lay back down," rumbled a voice he immediately recognized, and he obeyed without question, even before it continued with, "Frenzy’s not done with you, yet."?
Automatically, those connections that had loosened reattached. He was conscious of the smaller mech, still at his damn console, aware of the probe swimming around in his systems, but only cared to concentrate on Lord Megatron.
The Lord High Protector had a portable screen in his hand, and dropped his eyes to it now, presumably studying a copy of the same readouts scrolling Frenzy’s monitor. "The reprogramming went well," he remarked, sounding casual. "Preliminary feedback indicates everything rooted as expected." He looked up. "State your designation, soldier."
He stirred slightly, mindful of the connections now that he’d been warned against severing them. It was a simple query, one he knew he’d answered countless times before without a nanoclick’s consideration. Now, though, he paused, and it seemed his processor had to whirl into overdrive to provide the answer. An aftereffect of the patch, he presumed, dismissingly the difficulty. His name came to him finally.
"Blackout, my Lord," he said.
He nodded. "Fitting. I like it." The statement confused Blackout--hadn’t this always been his designation?--but he didn’t question his Lord’s words, and after a moment, he continued. "State your function."
"Serving you, my Lord."
Lord Megatron made an impatient sound. "Your specific function, Blackout."
"Protecting my Lord Megatron from threats. Otherwise unspecified martial assistance, at your discretion, my Lord. Weapons design."
Another nod, and Lord Megatron made a note on his monitor with a fingertip before passing it over to Frenzy. "I want a full diagnostic report on him in my hands in a cycle," he told the programmer shortly. "I expect to be impressed."
"You got it, Lord High Protector." There was that note of insolence again, the same one Blackout had noted before, and he twitched as if he were planning to lever himself up and off the platform.
"Know your place, slagger," he snarled. "Speak to Lord Megatron with the respect he deserves."
Both mechs were staring at him, and there seemed to be something akin to amusement on Megatron’s face. "In a cycle, Frenzy," he reiterated, not looking away from Blackout. "Don’t fight him, Blackout, I want these results." He turned, and without waiting for a response he was gone.
Blackout was convinced he should have gone with him, but he was content to wait, and to do what Frenzy asked. After all, his Lord had given him an order.
Notes: Before anyone says anything, I know the Frenzy here is described as significantly larger than we see him in the movie. In my headcanon, Cybertronians are capable, under the correct circumstances, of swapping their sparks and processors from one protoform into another. When Frenzy the programmer becomes Frenzy the hacker, he chooses a smaller body for reasons of stealth, going from about Bumblebee’s size to the size in the movie.
Just thought I’d mention, before anyone goes and accuses me of being delusional~ [lol, defensive.]
There. Maybe now this persistent desire of mine to flail my arms and go “MEGATRON’S LYING TO YOU, YOU GLITCH!” will go away. XD;
All feedback welcomed and appreciated~. Thank you for reading!