Dead Mechs Tell No Tales
“I’ve got your payment, Mindwipe.” Bonecrusher set down the four energon cubes he was carrying next to one of the pillars, about halfway to the mystic’s perch. The Constructicons were stationed on Cybertron for the time being, and rumours had brought Bonecrusher to Mindwipe.
Mindwipe’s apartments were … unusual, to say the least. Scrapper might have found them interesting, at least from a design point of view. For Bonecrusher, the word ‘rococo’ kept coming to mind. Mindwipe owned an unusually large segment of the Sixth Sector underground. Most of it seemed to be taken up by twisty corridors. He probably had personal quarters and who-knew-what else nestled into his web, but the one room that everyone knew about was his audience chamber.
It was designed to be impressive. Bonecrusher understood this at a glance, and, out of spite, subsequently failed to be impressed. The room was large, octagonal, and sheathed in some type of material that absorbed what little light there was. The ceiling was two floors high, and held up by deceptively delicate-seeming pillars. What little Bonecrusher could see was painted in cursive designs, and there was some type of gauzy material draped around. Where Mindwipe procured such a decoration, Bonecrusher had no idea. The floor was done in mosaic tiles, and the pattern spiralled towards the centre of the room, where Mindwipe was seated on a low couch, flanked by two diffuse lights – the only source of the chamber’s dim illumination.
Crossing the rest of the space, stopping only a few metres from the mystic, Bonecrusher wasn’t surprised to see the couch was padded. He had no idea why it was cushioned, except that it fit in with Mindwipe’s overall eccentricity. Bonecrusher decided it didn’t matter. He needed something, and if the only one who could give it to him was a bit weird, he was stuck with it. “I’ve got a question for you.”
“I bet they do,” agreed Bonecrusher, who leaned down slightly to stare Mindwipe straight in the optics. “But I’m here right now, and I’m willing to pay for an answer, so do your thing.” He knew that looking straight at Mindwipe was potentially one of the stupidest things he could have done – Mindwipe was a hypnotist as well as a medium, – but he wasn’t going to stand back and be sassed by a Transformer who didn’t have direct command over him, and moreover, had such a wimpy title as ‘mystic’.
Mindwipe let Bonecrusher contemplate his rather dangerous position for about thirty seconds, then settled back into the cushions. He didn’t say anything, but everything in his pose said, “Well?”
The demolitionist stood back again. “To make a long story short, I’ve been dead. Got blown to bits in an energon pipe explosion while standing at ground zero. The other Constructicons – all five of them – felt me die. Nearly killed them too, but they hung on, rebuilt my body and, I don’t know, re-sparked me or something. Anyway, I’m standing here talking to you now.”
Bonecrusher paused, and when Mindwipe didn’t say anything, he continued: “Thing is, I don’t know if I was revived or just recreated. I mean, the Constructicons, they’re my gestaltmates, they’re my bondmates, they’re everything. Everything I am, or ever was, is in them. Everything …”
He trailed off. Mindwipe’s expression didn’t change. “And you want ..?”
“You can contact the dead, so the rumours have it. I want to know if I’m really me, or if Bonecrusher’s actually dead and I’m just a slagging good copy.”
“It will take time to check,” said Mindwipe. “Maybe several days.”
“I’ll be back here tomorrow, same time,” Bonecrusher promised and left.
If nothing else could be said for them, Constructicons prided themselves in their punctuality. Bonecrusher did return exactly when he said he would, but there was something different about his entrance. The day before he had strode into the chamber as if the universe owed it to him; today he shuffled – not timid, but not confident. “Listen, I’ve been thinking …”
“I have your answer, Constructicon.”
“Wait!” Mindwipe waited. Bonecrusher covered the distance between them and stopped, not wanting to have to shout across the chamber. “Wait. I’ve been thinking it over. I … I don’t think I want to know the answer.”
Bonecrusher glared at him, his customary temper pulling him from his nervousness. “What do you mean, ‘why not’? Why the slag do you think I don’t want to know?”
The mystic smirked. “You’d rather not know than find out you’re just a copy.”
“Wrong.” Mindwipe stopped smiling, which made Bonecrusher take up the expression. “Wrong, wrong, wrong, Mindwipe. I don’t care who I am, particularly. I’m here now, and that’s all I need. It’s just that if I find out who or what I am, so will the other Constructicons. They put a lot of effort into bringing me back, and they’ve all convinced themselves that I’m the same person they’ve known for nine million years. They wouldn’t have done it if they thought they were just going to get a copy – they wanted their gestaltmate back.
“But if I am a copy, I’m a perfect one, and there’s no way for even them to know that I’m Bonecrusher Two. It’d hurt them to think they failed, might even harm the gestalt. Bonecrusher One wouldn’t want them hurt, so Bonecrusher Two – if that is me – doesn’t want it either.”
He shrugged. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m just Bonecrusher. I had doubts, but then I realised that I couldn’t be anyone else. Keep the answer; I don’t want it.”
Mindwipe nodded. “Very well, then. I assume you want your payment back?”
It was then that Bonecrusher realised the energon cubes were still sitting where he’d set them the day before. He scowled at them, then turned back to Mindwipe. “You knew all along I wouldn’t … Ah-h-h, forget it. Keep the energon and I hope you choke on it.”
The mystic watched Bonecrusher stomp out, and smirked again.