Hey all! 2211Nighhawk here with Child of Jon Snow doing a bit of a co-op. All the credit goes to Jon for the idea and a good chunk of the fic, I just finished it and cleaned it up a bit.
The battle had been long and far too much energon stained the ground, Autobot and Decepticon alike. Prowl stood in the rubble that had once been the Decepticon base, energon dripping from the short knifes he always carried. His doorwings were flared abnormally wide, desperate to search for any spark signatures.
What did I do wrong?
He had been doing this job since war was declared. Three other mechs had been head of tactical before him and they had all terminated with in three vorns. He'd been HoT for almost twenty.
And this was the largest slaughter that he had directed to date.
This is all my fault.
Glancing around the ash and smoke streaked landscape, a hoarse whine escaped his engine. He had been running the data over and over and he still didn't know what had gone wrong.
A sniper had taken out Spire nano-klicks before Decepticon seekers had come out of nowhere, ripping their ranks to pieces and everything had gone downhill from there.
He lost control of the battle within klicks.
And the Autobots had been decimated.
Almost 60% terminated, another 30% critically injured and flooding the medbays. The least damaged had been shipped to other bases in an effort to save more lives that the over-worked medics couldn't keep up with.
His processor was reeling as exhaustion finally took its toll and he sank to his kneebolts, ignoring the energon he was kneeling in.
Everything had gone wrong after his partner had been shot.
After the airstrike.
After commanders were slaughtered.
After he lost control of the battle.
After he lost control.
"This is all my fault." He whispered to the ashes. "This is all my fault."
The numbers and facts said it all. He had gotten those mechs terminated. Everything had to run perfectly. Communication could not break down. And when there was an error in the system, the error was eliminated.
Prowl hissed, dropping his helm lower as his doorwings pinned flat against his back.
He was the error in the system.
His ethnic coding lurched at the realisation and he didn't even hear the quiet pedsteps of another mech.
He didn't register the spark signature until a large servo hesitated over his shoulder guard, then lowered to the over-heated metal.
"Prowl-" Optimus Prime started to say in a voice that seemed to shatter the silence.
"I terminated them." Prowl whispered, staring off in to the distance. He could still hear that gunshot, that blinding pain as the tandem sync was shattered at the pull of a trigger, and how he missed the incoming seekers. "This is all my fault, if I had detected the seekers-"
"Spire was just shot, I'm shocked you're even functional." Optimus cut in. "Having a tandem sync severed that traumatically would have fragmented most mechs."
"This is all my fault." Prowl repeated, the pain in his processor making his helm spin and the energon soaked world reel.
"It's not your-"
Optimus' powerful engine stalled in alarm.
"If there's an error in the system, it is eliminated to ensure the same problem doesn't happen." Prowl said, his voice completely emotionless as he refused to look at the shocked mech beside him. "It's common sense-"
"It's idiotic!" Optimus interrupted. "Prowl what on Primus are you talking about! Eliminate you!? Why in Pit would I even consider that!"
"My ethnic coding prevents me from self-termination." Prowl said blankly, still having yet to move.
"So you want me to shoot you." Optimus demanded.
"If there's a problem in the system-"
"Prowl if you hadn't been here we would have lost everyone." Optimus said.
""If someone else had been here we might not have lost anyone." Prowl replied.
"You don't know that."
"I've ran the numbers."
"Those numbers mean slag to me Prowl." Optimus stressed. "We need you Prowl-"
"I just got 14 hundred mechs slaughtered!" Prowl spat, showing the first sign of emotion since the massacre. Saying it out loud made his coding buck again and he shuddered, threatening to break under the stress of failure. He still had his pistol in subspace. The weapon had been useless in the fight but it was still loaded.
It was in his servo before he even realised it.
But his processor was caught on those condemning facts.
It's all my fault.
Eliminate the error and the system runs.
Optimus caught his bracer before he could bring the gun up and Prowl's gaze snapped to the other mech's before he realised it.
"What do I tell Jazz." He demanded. "And Bluestreak. What do I tell them. That you gave up? Prowl you've supported me since this living Pit started. You're the strongest mech I know and I know for a fact that you can get through this."
Prowl hesitated, his optics dropping.
"We need you. We all do. Nobody else could have done this. Yes, we lost a lot of mechs. But you still saved some and that's what matters." Optimus continued, slowly loosening his grip on Prowl's bracer. "I need you, Jazz needs you, and Bluestreak needs you."
As the grip on his weapon loosened, so did his grip on his emotions. A weak whine escaped him again, quickly followed by a choked of whimper.
"Prowl, it's alright." Optimus said, keeling down beside the other mech and carefully taking the gun from Prowl's limp servo as the mech shook with sobs. "It's gonna work out. You can pull though this."
His last line of defence broke and Prowl found himself leaning against the Prime as he grieved for the mechs that he hadn't been able to save. A spark signature suddenly registers on his scanners and he stiffened, turning slightly to see one of the frontliner's supporting Bluestreak. He was leaning heavily on the frontliner from a gunshot wound to his thigh but seeing Prowl, Bluestreak broke away from the mech to limp toward Prowl.
The black and white staggered to his peds, using Prime's shoulder guard to help him, and started toward the shaking gunner. He wasn't quiet sure who was clinging to who tighter, all he knew was that Bluestreak wasn't the only one sobbing into the embrace.
"Come on mechs," Optimus rumbled, walking up to rest a servo on Prowl's shoulder guard. "Let's go home."