Title: Then and Now: the scientists
Fandom: Transformers Prime
Summary: Mirrorverse AU. The former archivist still knew his ancient lore, especially when it came to the blood of Unicron.
A/N: With some recent talk on what SG/Mirrorverse!TFP humans would be like, finally gonna try to share my ideas on that--I just cracked and going to like whenever-I-feel-like-it one-shots in a collection.
Disclaimer: I own nothing related to Transformers Prime.
Before Cybertron's fall
Keeping notes was part of Ratchet's job. And so they were regularly kept for the Protoform X project at the Omicron labs. Starscream had seemed to be a success, his spark apparently rendered indestructible by the experimental procedure with dark energon and variations of synthetic energon, rather than destroyed by it like the seekers before him. Starscream had been the first to survive. It was natural for Ratchet and Elita-One to assume that Starscream's trinemates could possibly share in that success due to hereditary code. And so they underwent the procedure next.
And so they died next.
The rest of the seeker squadron were tested, despite no close hereditary ties to Starscream. They died as well.
Only Starscream survived.
Ratchet, Elita and the other Autobot scientists realized Starscream's spark had a preexisting mutation, something so subtle they had missed it before, but apparently so critical. Ratchet felt some regret over that–there was no conceivable way to determine if the mutation of Starscream's spark had been a catalyst for the indestructiblity experiment, or if his spark had always been indestructible. It did not stop Ratchet from wanting to find a way.
But again Ratchet admired Optimus' intelligence, and devotion to ancient lore. Optimus had ordered Ratchet and Elita to test the myths that noted dark energon's ability to raise the dead.
And so Starscream's trinemates and comrades were injected with dark energon, under very controlled circumstances. Security held against the reanimated seekers' fury. Ratchet was entranced. It was all very promising.
Optimus gave another order: have the reanimated seekers and Starscream fight. The objective was to observe the reanimated seekers' abilities and to hone the only live and indestructibly sparked one. Starscream was all they had to show for the Protoform X project's original goal, and could still be a useful tool to Prime. The reanimated seekers predictably fell into line, their increased aggression levels accomodating Prime's order. Starscream was less inclined, but was still forced to actually engage in the whole thing; it wasn't as if anyone would really step in to save Starscream from being ripped to shreds by his former trinemates and comrades (he would survive such physical trauma of course, but Starscream's pain receptors were still active).
Ratchet dutifully reported on it all: reanimated seekers not mindless--show signs of predatory sentience-- though no higher functions comparable to what they possessed when fully alive before--but reanimated Thundercracker and Skywarp possibly recognize Starscream, keep observing closely; Starscream struggles under pressure, but steadily improves--devises traps for the reanimated seekers--employs fast evasive maneuvers--mild nature, but aggression level also steadily increasing....
Though the seekers had been Unaligned and never with the Decepticons, the lab staff took to nicknaming the reanimated ones the Terrorcons. Ratchet found it a useful shortened label.
Ratchet had always regretted how it all ended.
When he and Elita were called away to Optimus' side as the war intensified, the Omicron labs were lost as the Terrorcons finally broke out of their cells. From what information Ratchet was able to glean, the Terrorcons overran the place, slaughtering all the remaining Autobot staff, slaughtering everyone but Starscream of course. The destruction they wrought triggered emergency lockdown mechanisms that sealed the lab shut, preventing the Terrorcons or Starscream from completely escaping. If only they had stayed locked, but Megatron had to foil that too. It wasn't until the Decepticon leader crashlanded at the space station that anyone was able to escape at all, though Ratchet assumed Megatron and Starscream rather regretted the Terrorcons' freedom. The reanimated seekers took to prowling the skies and raining destruction down on anything in their path. Though Ratchet had practical concerns for Prime's military and reclaiming Prime's property, he was still rather curious about the Terrorcons' hunting patterns, wishing to track and observe their movements, their behavior in an environment more open than the Omicron labs.
And though Ratchet was impressed with Shockwave's technology that purged the dark energon in the Terrorcons, fully deactivating them, he still regretted the loss of the Terrorcons one by one. Such fascinating creatures, and still with untapped potential.
After Cybertron's fall
Ratchet was in awe when Optimus finally returned to Earth, for he was not alone. He brought two Terrorcons, the reanimated forms of Starscream's trinemates Thundercracker and Skywarp. Had they survived the Decepticons' attempts to exterminate them all? And they were much more sentient now–with the higher functions they had when alive, able to hold a conversation and express individual characteristics. Their aggression levels were still heightened, Ratchet could tell–they were just now restrained somewhat under the individuality: Skywarp's sunny, eccentric nature and Thundercracker's bored ennui. Best of all, they obeyed Prime. What had Prime done to revive them, to return their higher functions, to control them? He'd clearly done something. Ratchet was again filled with admiration for his old friend, his leader, his Prime.
Optimus did not rush to explain. Ratchet had to be patient. But that patience was tested even more when he'd caught the surveillance footage in one of the Autobot underground bases, once Optimus quickly moved away from the screens and left the room. Footage of three human youths dead from experiments and getting prepped for dissection were sitting up again with Thundercracker and Skywarp quietly talking to them, Thundercracker more subdued than Skywarp's hushed eagerness. Rewinding the footage showed the reanimated seekers pierce each of the human youths with a shard of dark energon. Skywarp later admitted with a sheepish grin that he'd teleported into the cargo hold and pilfered some dark energon to see how it interacted with the human corpses. And that was another thing, Skywarp and Thundercracker now had more innate special abilities--teleportation to Skywarp, phasing through matter was Thundercracker's domain. Was it them specifically, had they possessed mutations in their sparks after all? Or would all Terrorcons get such special abilitiess when re-injected with dark energon?
Perhaps more importantly, could dark energon reanimate all forms of the dead?
And these humans–they showed none of the signs of predatory savagery Thundercracker, Skywarp and the other reanimated seekers had shown before, showed no lack of higher functions. They retained their native tongues, their individuality right after their reanimation. The first obvious difference was species–but how could humans retain such higher functions straight off the bat while Cybertronians could not? Perhaps it had to do with the humans' smaller size in relation to the dosage of dark energon? The humans had a lesser capacity to harbor higher functions, and thus that was easier to retain, while Cybertronians' capacity for higher functions was larger, thus more difficult to maintain? Cybertronians were more effective in combat, thus their increased receptiveness to predatory savagery?
Finally Optimus gave Ratchet some explanation, though not about the reanimated humans–that had been a surprise to him too (though not entirely an unwelcome one). Optimus merely said that he found the Terrorcons' discarded bodies on some deserted moon, inside a Decepticon escape pod. He'd re-infused them with a tweaked mixture of dark energon and synthetic energon variations, and "bound their coding to his will," though the particulars of that, Optimus refrained from explaining (for the moment, anyway). But Thundercracker and Skywarp's return of higher functions had initally surprised Prime as well. He'd expected them to return to their former status once he had refilled them with dark energon, not change like that.
Theories were spawned. As far as knowledge went, Thundercracker and Skywarp were the only Cybertronians to be twice reanimated like this–perhaps on the second time, Cybertronians regain their higher functions. Perhaps it was the tweaked dark energon mixture combined with synthetic energon variations that had caused the change. Perhaps it was Prime's successful binding them to his will that had done the trick.
But Optimus was stricter about experimentation this time, and though it grated, Ratchet would not disobey his Prime. Thundercracker and Skywarp were under his control, and Optimus did not wish to jeopardize it. The Prime judged that it was enough for the reanimated humans to fall in line via Thundercracker and Skywarp, whom they had an immediate connection to. Human or Cybertronian, all the reanimated figures were drawn to each other in some way, sharing purple optics, purple eyes, sharper teeth, more clawed hands. Ratchet wondered if Thundercracker and Skywarp had something of a hive mind with the reanimated humans just as they apparently had with their fellow Terrorcons years before. And if so, perhaps Optimus was counting on that; for if the humans' wills were bound to Thundercracker and Skywarp's, they were bound to his as well.
Ratchet watched surveillance footage of Thundercracker and Skywarp's hunting lessons with their humans Darby, Nakadai, Esquivel in the more isolated caves of the underground bases. With Optimus' approval, Thundercracker and Skywarp brought back live humans for the three reanimated ones to practice on. Watching the violet-eyed humans stalk and kill the non-violet-eyed ones through the caves, Ratchet had to conclude they also had heightened aggression levels under their individuality.
Bulkhead was distressed to find the reanimated humans' new fangs could devour metal and gave them the taste for it, but Ratchet was fascinated. Like the scraplets, also violet-eyed–had those scrap eaters always had a connection to dark energon this whole time? Oh, Thundercracker, Skywarp, and the other Terrorcons had always taken to biting metal, but they had never been observed consuming it. Now Skywarp crowed with delight over his "little fleshlings' healthy appetite" and fussed over having them properly fed, while Thundercracker regarded them with a quiet fondness.
Arcee was at her wit's end when both the reanimated humans and seekers made little devices and scraps of metal skitter alive with their dark energon carefully bled out, but it had only reminded Ratchet of the Omicron labs.
Optimus did not allow anymore dark energon to be used for more experiments in reanimation, and he did not explain, though Ratchet assumed his Prime wanted to preserve their stocks of that volatile matter for as long as possible. Ratchet only questioned Prime when necessary. He trusted his judgment.
And Ratchet rather thought Thundercracker, Skywarp, Darby, Miko, and Esquivel were adequate enough for observing dark energon's effect on the dead.
A/N: I have been wondering for a while what would happen if Dark Energon mixed with a dead human, especially after learning Earth's/humanity's connection to Unicron. Checked out Homunculi in Fullmetal Alchemist for inspiration, both the first anime adapation and Hiromu Arakawa's original story/second anime adaptation. I've also wondered about sentient Terrorcons/Cybertronian zombies, so that theory was also written in with dead/undying/reanimated Thundercracker and Skywarp here in this Mirroverse. And also wondered about the creepy purple-eyed scraplets.... More details on the deal with the reanimated Transformers/humans later. TBC in Then and Now: the experiments, which should be more Mirrorverse!Terrorcon!TC and Skywarp's POV.