Security detail around the Fortress was mostly pointless these days — had been for so many vorns now —, but Lyzack still took pride in diligently attending to it. She was the Decepticons’ last bastion of defense, and nothing so simple as boredom or an existential crisis would keep her from her duty. Staring into the endless void of the Dark Nebula for the slightest sign of an Autobot incursion or — Primus be willing — a rescue party was far too conducive to needless thoughts, but she’d brave it time and time again for the good of her people.
And maybe she could do with some time to herself, away from her dear Empress and all those other mechs who didn’t have to worry about being the last warrior of a besieged citadel.
“It’s ‘Esmeral’, Lyzack. You can call me Esmeral,” the Empress had insisted so many times in that soft, deep voice of hers, but Lyzack couldn’t shake the formality, the distance that provided. It felt like if she called Esmeral by name the ground would crumble on her and those soft, mushy, unprofessional feelings would fall into the open, never to be hidden again.
But, in her lonely prowl, Lyzack could indulge her most treacherous thoughts. She was her brother’s sister after all — she wanted , and wanted hard.
She wondered as she scanned deep space from the roof of a tower on the far side of town whether her brother had any success in his attempt to claim the title of emperor to himself, and what would be left for her if — when , she reminded herself — he ever did. Would Deathsaurus survive, imprisoned, or would he be executed? Either way, what would be of Esmeral? Would her Empress suffer the same fate as the wretched Emperor? Would she be left alive, free? Would she be there for Lyzack to dry her widow’s tears and serve and love forever and ever?
It was an ugly, jealous thought, she admitted; it painted the Empress as helpless and an object to be had, and that couldn't be further from the truth: Deathsaurus might command their army, but the Empress was the de facto ruler of the people. Leozack could oust him with some effort, but not her, and that simultaneously frightened and excited Lyzack. Her Empress was an indomitable, endlessly compassionate spark beloved by her subjects in a way her husband or Leozack could never be.
Lyzack was loyal to her brother, that was unquestionable, but vorns of separation and isolation had shifted her worldview. At this point in space and time, the Empress was real, concrete, and Leozack was but a memory of times long gone. She knew that made her devotion shaky at best when compared to her Empress and her eternal fidelity to the mech that abandoned all of them, but for that she felt no guilt, only longing for her liege to waver, even if just a little.
Maybe she already did, Lyzack thought, when she let her large, powerful hand linger a little too long on Lyzack’s shoulder, when she confided in Lyzack her doubts and fears about the returning of their troops, when she looked down at Lyzack with that soft look in her optics and a sad smile on her lips… It probably wasn’t real, but Lyzack could dream.
A full-body shiver racked her body and rattled her plating. No, this wasn’t a line of thought she could pursue. She should never assume to besmirch the Empress’ honour like this, and she should not lower herself so much as to accept a role as a simple concubine. No, Lyzack was a warrior, best of her kind, the defender to her brother’s avenger — she was not a helpless lovelorn hatchling.
The sound of flapping wings broke the deathly silence of the outer city and had Lyzack instinctively withdraw her sword from her subspace, ready for battle, but the sight that met her was none other than her Empress's mighty beast mode closing in near.
Esmeral landed gracefully on strong digitigrade legs and tucked her wings close to her body, but didn’t bother to transform. Her gaze lingered a little on the weapon, but quickly returned to Lyzack's embarrassed face. She cut off her knight's stammered apologies with a touch of her beak atop the snout of her helm.
"It's good to see that our exile hasn't dulled your edge," her voice was rich and fond as she spoke, "It's been too long."
"Yes," Lyzack sounded out, more mechanical speech than synthesised, "Far too long."
"We expected you back eight breems ago. I know I’ve no reason to worry, but I thought I’d check on you," she moved her gaze to the bleak, starless sky, “We’ve lost too many to the madness of the Dark Nebula, I wouldn’t want to lose you too.”
Even though she rationally knew her Empress meant that they couldn’t lose their very last great fighter — outside the Empress herself, that is —, Lyzack could feel her spark burning just a little bit brighter, hotter , like it could be this void's sole shining star. She craned her neck to take in the shadowed profile of Esmeral's face and long, svelte neck — she wasn’t as absurdly large as her husband, but the Empress was a size class all her own for a beastformer —, and reworded that previous thought: Esmeral was the Dark Nebula's shining jewel, green and hardy like her namesake.
"You won't lose me," Lyzack said, transfixed, "Nothing can keep me from coming when you call."
Esmeral looked down at her with an appreciative click and finally changed to robot mode, now not standing quite as tall, but still almost twice as big as Lyzack. She moved to take Lyzack's hand in hers — delicate and intricately decorated but with diamond sharp claws and untold strength — and gently pulled her down as she sat on the roof's edge.
"I hope I never have to test that."
The Empress stared deeply into Lyzack's face with an intensity that made Lyzack's secondary optics dart around in distress while her primaries, wide open, struggled to hold her gaze. She couldn’t know , could she? Lyzack felt an edge of coolant flush through her lines to soothe her anxious circuits, but it didn't help any. She knew she'd disappoint her Empress when the time came to aid her brother in his struggle to take power.
But for now — and possibly forever , her pessimistic side added — her Empress held all of her in this lonely void, even if without a resolution with Deathsaurus Lyzack couldn't hold her as well. She leant into the large wing wrapped around her back and whispered into the Empress' side:
"You'll have me. You can always have me."
The wing tightened around her as they stared into the starless expanse of their makeshift prison.