Fandom: Transformers: Prime
Summary: Knock Out is a freelance medic-- he works alone and he likes it that way. But when he finds a corpse that isn't as dead as it ought to be at the bottom of a pile of bodies, it puts his entire careful operation at risk.
Chapter: 01 || 02 || 03 || 04 || 05 || 06 || 07 || 08 || 09 || 10 || 11 || 12 || 13 || 14 || 15
Notes: Set way before what we see in the show and nowhere near Earth. Contains copious amounts of worldbuilding and headcanon. Many thanks are due SixthClone and Elemental for beta-reading this for me!
In retrospect, Knock Out really should have realized that the four dead mechs and their fifth nearly dead counterpart represented the bulk of this particular Decepticon combat unit. It was unusual for teams to boast more than four or five mechs unless there was an extensive and well-defended emplacement to support them; their ranks had been thinned too much by both Autobot attrition and their own strict hierarchy, and there just weren’t as many Decepticons these days as there once had been. Add into that the frequent necessity of Decepticon groups out here in the fringes to move and relocate, and big units just weren’t common.
The only response he got when he pinged the base for clearance to land was an automated acknowledgment. Normally there should have been someone on the comm to confirm his approach manually, but here there was no one. Just silence on the other end of the line, despite his repeated requests for a response.
It was very possible, he realized, that he was carrying the last living member of this particular squad in the hold of his ship.
Well, he couldn’t circle up here forever, and he wouldn’t be able to get out of this system without energon and fuel. With the mental equivalent of a flick of his fingers, he activated a series of particularly handy subroutines and sat back in the pilot’s cradle to let the programming work. A mech of his rank really shouldn’t have had access to codes like the ones he'd just beamed down to the base below; he’d bought the package for an exorbitant fee from a very slick arms dealer not long after he’d broken from his assigned unit and struck out on his own. The purchase had nearly beggared him, but he'd never regretted it.
It didn’t take long for his ship’s systems to bypass the automated failsafes and get clearance to land. Knock Out couldn’t help but be quite pleased with himself as he guided it down for the landing. If his survivor really was the last remaining mech in the squad, he’d have free run of the place. It would be nice to be able to stock up without having to bargain dearly for everything.
He powered down his ship and disengaged, first mentally from its systems and then physically from the cradle. He paused for a few moments in the cabin behind the bridge to check on his hip, then dropped down into the hold. His patient was right where he’d left him, the big form hardly even shifted in the restraints, and the faint signal from his spark still hadn’t deteriorated.
“You can hold out for me a little longer, can’t you?” Knock Out asked, smiling broadly and patting the insensate body on the nearest available piece of plating. “Just a quick look around, I promise, then I’ll get to work on you.”
He pulled a datapad out of a storage slot and brought up the ship’s manifest. These days, it was as much a list of what he needed as of what he had on board, and he was quite excited about the possibility of finally checking off some of the items on it after ransacking this base.
His excitement was probably why he wasn’t paying attention to his personal scanners as he keyed open the hatch with one hand and strode out into the hangar.
Certainly it was why he didn’t notice there was actually a mech in there with him until the distinct whine of an energy weapon powering up reaching his audials. The whine was accompanied by words, deep and raspy with static: “Take another step and I blow out your spark.”
Knock Out froze, but only for the instant it took him to canvass the room; when he moved, it was to dive behind a haphazard stack of storage crates heaped off to one side. He grunted as he hit the ground, rolling over his shoulder and coming up in a crouch behind the makeshift cover.
The mech swore, but at least he didn’t open fire. “State your designation and unit affiliation,” he boomed.
“It’s logged in your base’s Teletraan unit!” Knock Out shot back, not bothering to mask his annoyance. Even one mech present meant he couldn’t have his way with the base’s supplies, and he didn’t appreciate having his elation so aggressively drained away. “Which someone should have been monitoring, by the way!”
The other mech laughed sharply. “If no one was monitoring, how did you get in?”
The question threw Knock Out for a loop, but he recovered quickly. “A Decepticon doesn’t share his secrets unless he has to,” he said, forcing the lilt that usually came so naturally.
There was a grunt from the other mech, but nothing else. No threats, no boasts, no weapons’ fire… Knock Out took a risk and rose to his feet, stepping out from behind the crates with both hands showing.
His assailant was leaning heavily against the wall. One hand was still a blaster and that blaster trained on him immediately when he left his cover, but the other was clutched against a very obvious wound in the stranger’s side. He was injured. Well, that explained why he hadn’t been attending the comm, then. Probably explained why he wasn’t being more aggressive right now, too.
“Calm down, my friend,” Knock Out said, his voice quiet, his smile broad and as friendly as he could make it. “We’re on the same side here, aren’t we?” He gestured at the weapon-hand. “ Why don’t we dispense with this unpleasantness, hm?”
The mech bared his dentals in a grimace and forced himself to stand upright, away from the wall. “Why don’t you tell me who you are and what you’re doing here first?”
“The designation’s Knock Out,” he said, according the other mech a flourishing bow. “And you happen to be in luck, friend—I’m a doctor.”
“I’m not your friend.” The other mech’s optics—red, of course, but overbright in his dark face and flickering slightly, roamed Knock Out’s body. He resisted the urge to preen, though it wasn’t difficult; there was no appreciation in the stranger's gaze. “Hn. You’re the freelancer.”
“My reputation precedes me, I see.” Seeing that it was having approximately no effect on the other mech, Knock Out dialed the harmless-and-friendly act back a few notches and stepped up his serious-and-dependable instead. “Looks like you took a nasty hit, there. Care to let me have a look at it?”
Blunt fingers twitched against the wound—ooh, that had to hurt—and the mech scowled at him. “I do my own repairs.”
“Of course you do.” Knock Out repressed the urge to roll his eyes, but it was a near thing. If the idiot wanted to try to deal with the ragged hole in his side on his own, he was welcome to. He crossed his arms and shrugged. “What now? Not still trying to decide if you want to shoot me, I hope.”
Bright optics flicked down to the weapon, the barrel of which had drifted to the floor. There was a moment’s hesitation, and then the other mech gave his arm a shake and when it fell to his side it was a hand again. It was a big hand attached to a powerful arm, Knock Out noted with the distracted part of his processor that always and ever would notice things like that. Then again, the mech it was attached to was massive, so of course the arm would be big. Every part of him was. It really was a shame that his black and gray paint-job was so damn drab, even a little highlighting could really bring out the most impressive parts of the other's hulking physiology--
Ah, but he wasn't here to offer a cosmetic consultation, now was he? He really couldn't afford to be distracted right now, not even by thoughts of what he could do with a little chrome or bright paint. He put the speculations firmly out of mind.
“Don’t need your services here, freelancer,” the big mech was saying, waving a hand. The motion was dismissive and very fluid, and his other hand, still pressed against his side, was the only concession he was currently making to his wound. “Why don’t you move along, hm?” He was trying to sound casual, but voice was still strained, laced liberally with tell-tale static. He was doing pretty well acting like he wasn’t hurting, but Knock Out was too experienced in the art of inflicting pain on others not to be able to recognize the signs of it.
He shrugged again. “No paint off my plating. If you don’t want to take advantage of my services, that’s your loss. But—” He pivoted on one heel and gestured at the open hatch of his ship. “—I’ve got something of yours to offload before I go.”
That little statement was enough to provoke a more genuine reaction from the other mech, although it was only a puzzled blankness. “…Something of mine?”
“A survivor.” Cocking one hand on his hip, he looked back at the big Decepticon. “Blue and white fellow, very striking orange face?”
“Breakdown…” he whispered, his naked surprise obvious. He clamped down on the expression, but only after a moment, and the stiff attempt at indifference wasn’t fooling Knock Out. “How?”
“I make a habit of scoping battlefields,” Knock Out said, trusting his own attempt at indifference to actually be convincing. He was quite practiced at it, after all. “I see things other mechs miss.”
“That’s not what I meant.” The big Decepticon wasn’t looking at him anymore, his optics fixed beyond, on the ramp into the ship. “He shouldn’t be alive.” He started walking, favoring the leg on the injured side noticeably.
Knock Out stepped into his path and held up his hands, palms out. “Ah. I wouldn’t if I were you.”
Injured he may have been, but the big mech was still strong enough to sweep Knock Out aside. Trotting along in his wake as the other stalked towards the ship, Knock Out carefully avoided the fine trail of energon droplets he was leaving behind him on the floor. The other mech's systems were laboring audibly as he limped along. The distress was obvious enough that when he pitched over into stasis lock on the ramp, it didn't surprise Knock Out at all.
Well. Wasn’t that inconvenient? Getting a mech that large off the ramp and onto a transport sledge by himself was going to be a trial.
At least the big wingnut hadn’t managed a look at what else was in the hold before he collapsed.
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