Slipstream tosses in her berth, talons clutching at tangled sheets of polypropylene microfiber and silver mesh, illuminated by pale light filtering through the frosted window. She had tried to go out
. She had thought she was better. Yet, everything seemed to bring her focus back to uncomfortable subjects.
A faint flick sounds and then, "...Go get your mule. You let him get away from you? Ha ha ha." A mocking voice speaks from the adjacent sitting room, and flickering, cool light spills through the open doorway, onto Slipstream's berth. She has her own small collection of trophies mounted on the wall above: a pair of swords, a blade stained with energon, a length of chain, spare guns...one small shelf is conspicuously empty.
An almost-familiar, gravely drawl replies, "Ya see that's what I wanna talk to ya about. He's feelin' real bad."
Slipstream's sentiments exactly. "What the frell?"
"My mule. Ya see, he got all riled up, when you went and fired those shots at his feet." There is a low clatter from elsewhere in the penthouse, which Slipstream associates with preparation of ener-tea.
"Who's there?" She demands as another mocking voice asks, "Hey, you makin some kind of joke?"
Slipstream stands, she can see there is a spaghetti western projected on the wall of her sitting area. The drawling cowboy is wearing a poncho, and continues, "Mn mn, no, ya see, I understand you men were just playin around, but the mule, he just doesn't get it. Course if you were all to apologize-"
The door is ajar, but Slipstream moves directly to the utility area, phasing through two walls to get there. She doesn't quite have control of the phasing, and finds herself missing her helmet and shoulder guards, looking down at a perfectly prepared cube of ener-tea. Men laugh mockingly, "Ha Ha ha. Ah ha ha. Ha ha ha ha. Ah ha...."
"T'spark was that?" Slipstream shouts.
Chiming music plays from behind, followed by curiously vocalized speech, "You're in close quarters with a 'bot for long enough and you pick up things."
Topspin had said the same thing, but that was not Topspin's voice!
"I don't think it's nice you laughin. Ya see my mule don't like people laughin. It's the crazy idea you're laughin at him. Now, if you'll apologize, like I know you're going to, I might be able to convince him you really didn't mean it."
Slipstream turns slowly and sees her Sound Wave action figure seated on an over-turned tea cube, atop the table in the sitting area, apparently watching a western and enjoying his own curiously tiny cube of tea.
Bang bang! Bang bang bang!
"Y-you!""I am Soundwave."
"You are Sound Wave
! I got you last year! You're made in China
!""Irrelevant. I am here so that you can take your own advice. Further exposition will not be needed."
"I don't want to talk about it!""Don't pen up your pain. It'll only eat away at ya."
This is one of the things Lockdown had said to her, the last time they had been alone together. "Finish your tea."
The tea cube is in Slipstream's left hand, and she lifts it with her right, to sip. It – the pain – has been eating her. Nibbling away byte after byte. Leaving her processor glitched and her recharge cycles disrupted and incomplete.
Sound Wave gestures to one of the two seating benches. "Slipstream, recline. Operation: psychotherapy.
She sits on the bench, with her tea, but does not lie down. She glances toward the wall-screen. "Is this all supposed to mean something? I guess, the guy in the poncho represents Lockdown. And these amigos are Him. What? Does that make me the frellin' mule?""It means I like Westerns."
Slipstream puts her tea cube down on the table, then flops back along the bench. "I don't even know where to begin!""Tell me about your creator."
Low chiming music begins to play...Sing my angel of music
"I still don't really understand what happened between him and Megatron. Even having a certain amount of Starscream's data, I don't have his specific memories of events. It's like getting the summary. But, that dynamic, what it became, frightens me! I'm not some frail, weak thing! But, it is frightening, especially after I saw some of the other Starscreams. Totally 'but for a butterfly flapping its wings, there go I'!" Slipstream rants. "Go on,"
Sound Wave tones calmly from his tea cube perch.
Slipstream throws up her hands to emphasize the incomprehensible actions. "The way some of them cower...I don't know...on one hand, I understand the importance of challenge and proving oneself within the faction, but then, on the other hand, I find the endless failed attempts embarrassing and pointless and-""Illogical?"
"Yes! I was going to say intransigent, but: yes. Though, the others complicate matters. I wonder: do they cower because their Megatron truly is any better than they? Did they fight so hard they were broken? Or, did they not fight enough? And when I see them, I start to think my Starscream is pretty awesome in comparison!""This frustrates you."
"Of course! Because then it means the loser has sorta done right!""He made you."
"To be a frellin weapon! Oh! And, so he could leer at me in narcissistic wonder?! Not acknowledge that I have any other trait but that difference
! And then, I'm supposed to feel better
, when he stops looking at me that way and just moves on?!""As you did."
"I don't want- But- That's part of my point, too. I've been genuinely worried that I'll become him. That I'll do all those same things. I am
Starscream, in a way. What if...?""Your fear is illogical. Decepticons are not slaves. It is your choice to submit or to fight, as Slipstream.
"Yes, but....""No 'but'. Vocalize your choice."
Slipstream sighs deeply then speaks, "I claim and defend my power choose; to find my own fate. I am Slipstream. I am not Starscream. I can be as fluid in my methods or allegiances as I like. I choose not to seek pain. I choose not to rebel out of spite...anymore...probably. I may choose to submit, but to maintain that it is by choice, I will fight.""Now, tell me about Lockdown."
Slipstream shakes her head. "No.""You can say it."
The music chimes...in all your fantasies, you always knew
Slipstream shutters her optics. "He- Lockdown removed my choice. He acted against my will. I was, for that time, unable to stop him. I-I was the victim.""How does that make you feel?"
Sound Wave tones.
Slipstream's talons clench. "Bad. Defeated. Betrayed. Like I'm not me
anymore. Destroyed. Like I couldn't admit it happened; that somehow it was my fault, because that way I wasn't a victim. But, now I know it wasn't my fault.""Knowing is half the battle."
The other half is deciding whether, knowing Lockdown's judgment was impaired, she can trust him, again, or not.
Slipstream tosses in her berth, talons clutching at tangled sheets of polypropylene microfiber and silver mesh, illuminated by pale light filtering through the frosted window.[ooc: The title (and a few lines) comes from the music for post: Nightwish – The Phantom of the Opera. Response is loosely inspired by Transformers Animated episodes 37-38 Human Error and by a creepy doll post. The western movie dialogue is from a scene in A Fistful of Dollars.]