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Screaming Blue Murder, Chapter 32

A/N: Once again, ff.net seems disinclined to notify my readers of the update, or me of any reviews. Bah!

...yes, the great lady can kick some serious aft when she feels so inclined. Bwahaha.

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Screaming Blue Murder
Chapter 32

Jazz watched from his hiding place as the tractor dumped his unwilling cargo down on the short conveyor to the recycling mill, head towards the heavy grinding plates, and secured him with a light twist or two of metallic webbing. The latter looked rather like overkill; Skywarp just lay there, completely inert, one arm draping out across a wing, staring blindly at the sky. A rash of sickly olive-green smears scuffed over his dark paintwork, so there’d obviously been a struggle, but he didn’t look so badly damaged that he’d be completely helpless.

There was a collar around the teleport’s neck, though, studded with bright purplish-blue diodes glowing antagonistically, and it didn’t take much to put the two things together and conclude the silver device was what was keeping the flier so powerless. Of course, it could be a trick, Jazz recognised, but even Decepticons weren’t usually the sort to jam their heads into recycling plants just to catch their enemies out.

Luckily, Fatigue and Calibrator had their attention elsewhere, apparently exchanging anxious communications about the police with Siphon on the main gate. Jazz slunk his way along the far side of the mill, keeping low to the ground so he was less visible over the top of the conveyor, just out of their direct line of attention. The conveyor itself was moving traditionally slowly, the heavy plates grinding quietly against each other, and Skywarp lay where Fatigue had dumped him, a good arm’s length from the mouth of the mill, so he had maybe half a breem to carry out his rescue-

… I’m putting myself at risk to save the life of my mortal enemy, here. Hope Primus is taking note of all these good deeds!

“You watch yourself, because if I’m busy blowing the field generator up, I’m not going to be able to snag your aft out of the fire if it gets too hot for you,” Jazz quipped, softly, by the downed flier’s audio, but didn’t even get a grumble in response. That couldn’t be right. “Skywarp? Hey, you okay in there, buddy?” he hissed, ignoring the urge to laugh in hysteria at exactly what he was just saying. “Speak to me.”

The dull maroon gaze managed (with difficulty) to come around and focus on him. “…get-… get thisss… mmmantle… off me…” Skywarp fizzed out, his voice mostly just angry static.

“Do you know how it comes off?” Jazz wondered, softly, examining the fine silver.

“…don’t… caaare… jussst…”

“All right, all right. Before you get a killer headache, right?” Jazz put out a hand and ran his fingertips carefully around to the back of the collar. “Okay, I think I found something-”

“Hey, what do you think you’re doing?”

Jazz jerked his head up at the exclamation, sensing impending doom advancing on him. Fatigue had already got halfway across the short distance separating them, his massive green hands balling into fists-

“Aw, slag,” Jazz snatched his hand back and leaped away… but had already snapped the clasp at the back of the collar open. “You’re on your own, Seeker!”

Fatigue gave a low yell of annoyance and grabbed for Jazz; the smaller mech ducked easily under the ponderous grab, dodged away backwards.

“Can’t you do better than that?” Jazz chirped, keeping just out of range of the clawing fingers. It was keeping the tractor’s attention on him, and – more importantly – off the suddenly-animated Seeker struggling his silent way out from under the webbing.

Skywarp had waited until Fatigue’s attention was distracted away from himself before bringing his systems all online. Those grind-plates were altogether too close to his head, now – get the giant’s attention back too soon and he’d probably sit on him just long enough to-

A shadow loomed up over him. Frag! It’s not Fatigue I should be worrying about right now, but Cali-!

“I will not just stand back and watch while you ruin this!” the analyst said, shakily, hefting an oversized mallet above her head. “You’ve caused us problems for far too long.”

“Now just wait a minute-!” Skywarp yelped, alarmed, clawing his fingers frantically over the webbing and scattering shreds of silver wire everywhere.

The whine of actuators was Calibrator’s only response as she put all her strength into a swing.

Skywarp threw himself sideways off the belt so hard that he almost broke his neck on landing, and the mallet crunched down on the conveyor, a fraction of a hairbreadth from where his head had been an instant before. He cursed the pain that shot all the way up his abused wing as his weight came down hard on its margin, but didn’t dare allow himself the luxury of nursing the injury – any second now, that mallet might try and smack his head off again! He threw himself back at the conveyor, weapons whining as they charged, hoping to get his counter-attack in first.

He needn’t have bothered. Calibrator was wise enough to know when to cut her losses and leave; she’d already fled, skidding around a corner and just ducking in time to miss the strafe of laser fire that chased her from the irate Seeker she’d left on the floor.

Unfortunately, the shots attracted Fatigue’s attention…

“Hey, Warp, duck!” came Jazz’s yell, from behind.

Rather that turn to look, or argue the order, Skywarp just did instantly as he had been told, and the strike that had clearly been intended for his head sailed gracefully past and thunked into the side of the mill. Accompanied by the indelicate music of Fatigue’s cussing, Skywarp lurched away to one side and out of reach of the massive fingers that grabbed for him.

“Hey, Fatty, can’t you do better than that?” the teleport sneered, from just out of reach. “No wonder Cali’s so far out of her league, with mechs like you on her staff! Even I have more processors to rub together than you do!”

Fatigue bristled at the insult. “How about you come back here and say that, you little coward?” he snarled, advancing.

“Oh, now now, no need for rude names,” Skywarp scolded, rudely, goading the tractor closer. “As Starscream would say, you’re confusing cowardice with prudence. Why would I come closer to insult you when I can do it just as easily from over here where you can’t quiiite reach me?”

“Fine. Allow me to rectify that!” Fatigue balled his hands into tight green fists, and moved closer-

Skywarp rolled his optics, exaggeratedly, and allowed the tractor to make two useless swings at him that stood no chance of connecting before making his own move. With an athleticism that would have done an Olympian proud, he launched himself into the air, twisted gracefully at the waist… and blistered the most jawbreakingly beautiful kick around Fatigue’s jowls. Components audibly crunched on impact.

Fatigue gave a long, low grooan of pain, his cortex completely destabilised by the blow, and toppled gracelessly backwards, to crash down so hard the floor actually shook.

Skywarp hung in the air, thrusters purring just enough to counterbalance his weight. “Well, come on, Auto-dork.” He turned on Jazz, not savouring the brief victory. “Where’s our fragging backup got to? Have you told them? And what about that generator?!”

“In case you missed the fireworks, I’ve already killed the field generator,” Jazz argued, grimly. “Blew it up into lots of little tiny bits! There’s no way she’ll repair-”

“Haven’t you learned anything about her over the past couple of dozen orns? She’s playing this to win, and she’s always got a backup plan. She’s got at least one extra generator,” Skywarp argued, fidgeting. “Primus only knows where it is-”

“I’ll find it,” Jazz reassured, and quirked his lips into a grin. “If there genuinely is another one, it’ll be on the readouts for the power grid somewhere. So you just go do your thing – if you think you’re capable of doing it without getting your tailfins so singed again! – and I’ll do mine.”

0o0o0o0o0

The other two Seekers were circling irritably when Boxer finally shouted up to them. “Nightsun confirms the field is down! You can make your approach any time you like, and we’ll follow on behind you.”

“In that case, if you’d all like to excuse me,” Thundercracker drawled. “I’m just going to go knock on the door, see if anyone’s home.” Beat. “You might all want to cover your audios.”

“What did he mean by that?” Boxer challenged.

“I’d just do as he suggests,” Starscream revved his own engines, amusedly. “I’m going after him. In the unlikely event that no-one’s home – or at least no-one who wants to let us in – we’ll need someone with a key.”

Taking a risk, here, Screamer,” Thundercracker confided, as they wheeled about to get a good approach run. “What if the field isn’t down?”

We’re helpless, sparking heaps of paralysed machinery on the other side, that’s what,” Starscream replied, dryly. “Come on, we’ll just have to hope it worked. The longer we worry about whether it did or not, the longer they’ve got to make counter-measures!”

Hn. Guess I’ll go knock on the door, then,” Thundercracker observed, already accelerating away. “Better pull up if you see me fall out of the sky!”

Starscream snorted, but hung back at a slower cruise. He passed back over the heads of the assembled police force just as Thundercracker hit the appropriate airspeed-

The blue Seeker swept so low and so accurately over the wall it was a bare handsbreadth between his underside and the jagged walltop. It was almost as if he’d thrust his nosecone through an invisible balloon; the air deformed around him and trailed in a shock-front away from his wings, and the painful boom that followed the visible disturbance a moment or two later could be felt right through the fuselage.

The sonic shockwave shattered every window in the locality, and Starscream resisted the urge to laugh out loud as the Blue operatives all fell about in disarray, hands over audios and trailing streamers of coolant and energon, leaving their weaponry unstaffed – Thundercracker was already wheeling about for another run, purplish laser fire raining down from his broad wings. It left the gate completely unattended. Perfect. He gunned his thrusters, and made his own approach, focussing his cannons on the two small artillery emplacements on the walltop.

Aw, no fun. The attendant mechs had already jumped for it, rather than sit and face the wrathful several-hundred-degree-heat of Starscream’s lasers. The red Seeker splashed a little high-intensity laser-fire around the artillery itself, melting controls and emitters into useless lumps of molten metal, and the heavy doors, but didn’t hang around to inspect his handiwork. There was plenty of quarry inside that would be worth chasing…

Down by the main entrance, Forceps briefly appraised the door. Solid, heavy, massive alloys, all welds and rivets… Starscream and Thundercracker’s combined firepower had blackened and dented it, but it still formed an impregnable barrier between the plant and the police, and the Seekers were far too busy tearing the place up inside to come back and help remove it altogether. “Looks like it’s down to us to finish the job, then,” she commented, dryly.

“We’ll never get that open,” Boxer groused.

“Not if you just stand there staring at it like some half-sparked scrapheap, we won’t,” Forceps barked, already pressing her shoulder up against it and putting her considerable strength into a push. “Come on, put your back into it! Hardline, you too!”

Boxer pursed his lips, looking less than impressed at being told what to do by a civilian – Hardline offered a wry grin and an apologetic one-shouldered shrug. Starscream’s null-rays had killed the motors holding the gates closed, so all that was against them was the sheer weight of the massive structure… All three machines were struggling, power converters whining with effort, by the time they finally managed to get the huge slabs of metal to move, squealing back along their tracks as if wounded.

“Good job I came along,” Forceps snarled, staticky with effort, watching from the periphery of her vision as the gap slowly widened. “Just the little bit of extra strength you needed…”

Boxer made a noise that could have meant anything, all his own energy going on moving, not speaking.

Hardline was first through the widening gap, and squeals of alarm issued from behind the doors – apparently the Codustral employees hadn’t anticipated the arrival of such a heavyweight.

Nice of you to finally join the party!” Starscream commented, sweeping overhead and adding to his tally of arrests (although arrest was a little tenuous, he was just mowing them down in big swathes and apparently leaving it for the lower ranks to do the actual cuffing and reading of rights). “If I’d known you were actually going to turn up, I’d have been more serious about saving you some!”

“Oh, wouldn’t have liked to spoil your fun,” Hardline replied, gruffly, casually sweeping away the little cluster of addicts that had bravely (but ultimately futilely) gone against him. “Let’s just get the place cleaned up, shall we?”

With just one purpose in mind, flier and tank moved steadily down the main artery towards the centre of the plant. The Chief Inspector was wielding his cannon with an accuracy that would have been lethal if not for the fact that it was filled solely with detergent. Still, high-pressure soapy water was just as effective at incapacitating a machine as Starscream’s nullrays, and between them the pair were cutting a swathe through the assembled Codustral loyalists.

The whole operation very quickly turned into more of a “mopping up” exercise, in both senses of the word. Once downed by Hardline’s water-cannon, or Starscream’s null-rays, most of the fallen addicts very quickly folded and gave up, allowing themselves to be put into cuffs and guided away with barely the slightest whisper of complaint. It annoyed those who’d been looking forward to a running gun-battle, but proved that most of Calibrator’s “staff” weren’t fighters and had probably been roped into fighting with the threat of cutting their supplies off.

Pulsar had made her own fair share of arrests, but was now feeling distinctly surplus to requirements. It had very quickly become less ‘arrest’ and more ‘herd up the stragglers’, now the primary assault force had moved deeper into the plant in search of the genuine loyalists.

Celerity had performed a quick team reassignment, and dispatched half the constables to work on rooting out anyone who might be hiding in the perimeter district. Pulsar’s assigned area had already been comprehensively swept by Hardline – as evidenced by the soapy floor, which made her skid – and so far she’d found only one small, terrified protoform, who’d all but thrown himself at her feet and pleaded to be arrested. After that one, though… nothing. She’d continued inward, watching in the periphery of her vision as Longbeam did the same in the zone on her right, and Whitesides struggled briefly with a frantic addict in the plot of land on her left. The roar of Seeker engines had faded to a muted thunder in the middle distance; glancing up, she could see the three arrows performing their deadly aerial ballet, all flashing laser fire and graceful aerobatics. She forced herself to ignore the temptation to just stand and watch.

She’d managed to cover half her zone, approaching the area where the first of the refineries hulked in the centre of a knot of pipework, when the faint, familiar voice reached her audios. Sounded like… was that Cali? The formerly well-spoken voice was almost unintelligible, almost garbling, and full of static. The Policebot ducked down behind a rickety old wall, before she could be seen, and sneaked closer.

And almost walked smack into Siphon. By some weird quirk of fate – perhaps Primus was watching over her, after all – the tanker had his back to her, and Pulsar sucked back a gasp of alarm and ducked back behind her low wall before he had the chance to notice her.

“Siphon? Siphon, where are you? I need you! Get here now!” The fracturing voice turned out not to belong to Calibrator in person, but rather came over the radio; she sounded like she was on the verge of outright panic. “This is our last chance to get out of here, and I need you with me!”

“We can’t abandon the place-… Cali, we can’t!” the tanker pleaded, miserably, running his fingers over the control board in what was almost a parody of a comforting caress. “All that work, we can’t just-”

“If we don’t get out of here now, we never will,” the analyst interrupted, helplessly. “We can start again, if we can’t salvage anything here, but we have to get out of here before they catch us. All three warbirds are in the air. Fatigue is too deep in the fighting, and Deuce is too high. We’re the only two left, and we’ve lost control of the situation. We have to get out!”

“What about the backups?” he pleaded. “Fire up the backup generator and close the field-”

“There’s too many inside our borders! Have you seen the way they’re destroying our defences?” Cali’s voice fractured into frightened static, briefly. “They’re mowing our people down like weeds. We can’t hope to repel that sort of firepower. If we try and re-initialise the damping baffle, all we’ll do is trap ourselves behind it. Please, Siphon. Help me. We have to move.”

She keeps saying ‘We’, Pulsar noticed. Is Siphon closer to this than just one of her goons?

“All right, all right. Stay calm, Cali. I’m on my way. I’ll be right with you-…”

There was the sound of shifting plates, reconfiguring armour, and when Pulsar sneaked a glimpse around the edge of the wall the tanker had transformed to his alt-form and was moving smoothly and silently down the long aisles towards the side of the plant, shielded from prying eyes by the layers of piping above him.

Pulsar seized her chance – he might lead her to Cali, and she could ping someone for backup once she knew where the ringleader was – and as silently as she could manage, gave chase.

0o0o0o0o0

All three Seekers had come together in the same portion of sky, by now. They were working to their own patterns, twisting and dipping wings and somehow managing to avoid not only each other but also each others’ laser fire.

“Screamer! I’ve got your tractor friend pinned down here!” Skywarp chirped. “Want me to off him for you? I’ve got a couple of nice little heat-seekers with his name all over ’em.”

Starscream made an inarticulate noise of disgust. “You ‘off’ him and I’ll ‘off’ you,” he threatened, abandoning Hardline’s team to look after themselves. “He’s mine…!”

“Psh, touchy!” Skywarp wheeled around and got out of the way anyway. “Calibrator’s down here somewhere, too, you want to try deal with her while you’re at it, or do you think I might just be competent enough to do that?”

“You go after the skinny one, Warp,” Thundercracker instructed, chasing Starscream. “Else we’ll lose her. I think I better stick with Screamer, or he’s just gonna get himself murdered again.”

“Oh, so I don’t get any backup, even though I’m the one going after the ringleader?”

“…you need backup to deal with a femme?”

“It’s not just a femme, that stupid pipeline’s gonna be with her,” Skywarp grumbled, as if to excuse himself, but was already veering away in the direction he guessed the analyst had taken. “Fine, I’ll manage on my own, again.”

Something pinged against his firewalls. Positioning data? He looked more closely at the ground, and spotted the tanker – speeding towards Codustral’s distant border, away from the fighting – and a few astro-seconds behind him was a chip of white-and-blue armour.

Should have known she’d be in it somewhere, he thought, amusedly, dipped his wings and gave chase.

His departure was ignored by his wing-mates – Starscream had far more important things to do. Like some sort of hellish steel peregrine, he simply cut his engines and fell from the sky, arms outstretched, fingers clawed, lips open in a silent howl of rage.

The caterpillar tractor had no inkling of what was descending like scarlet doom above him until – at the very last second, when it was far too late for him to realise what was happening and dodge – the Seeker gunned his engines with a falcon shriek of power.

Fatigue’s gaze shot upwards, lips open in an oh of shock-

They slammed together with a shriek of twisting metal and fracturing plates, armour screaming as it ground together. Momentum allowed even the lightly-built flier to take the tractor right flat on the ground, and Starscream had delivered three vicious punches to his face before Fatigue recovered enough of his wits to throw him off.

“Why the slag won’t you just die?” Fatigue roared, grabbing for him, but Starscream was already back on his feet, cannons singing hotly.

“I guess I’m just inconsiderate,” the flier spat back, bringing his nullrays up-

Fatigue kicked out just in time, sweeping blue thrusters out from under his opponent, and Starscream’s shot went wide, strafing past Thundercracker and missing him by a hairsbreadth, and exploding a crate of old parts. Debris showered down like a hail of hot shrapnel.

“Then this time I’ll make sure I finish the job,” the tractor promised, bringing his weight hard down onto the pale wings and transforming his arm into some sort of mining tool. “The only way you’ll get out of here is in a couple of thousand tiny bits!”

“Hey, how about take on someone who can actually fight back?” A streak of bright lilac fire strafed across his face, sizzling close enough to singe the pale enamel.

Fatigue growled and made a swing at him, but the agile Thundercracker was just out of arm’s reach. “How about you come a bit closer, then, you skinny coward?”

“Ohh no, you don’t get me that way,” Thundercracker scolded, half-amused, delivering a flurry of highly-accurate shots to a dozen joints in his armour.

A deep growl simmered up out of Fatigue’s vocaliser, but he still didn’t shift his weight. “You’ll run out of power eventually, Decepticon,” he taunted, hefting his mallet. “If that’s the best you can do, I’ll be getting back to business with your brother, now. You’ll get your turn in good time.”

Getting hit by a piledriver of that size wouldn’t just hurt, it’d probably comprehensively destroy half his cortex, Starscream realised – but his null-rays were still pinned. Thundercracker was getting valiantly closer, trying to keep distracting the big bastard, scattering shots of white-hot laser-fire over him, but even though his attention was spaced between both Seekers, Fatigue still hadn’t got off him.

Got to think of something NOW Starscream, he told himself, urgently, watching as Fatigue swung an arm and clipped a trailing wingtip, staggering Thundercracker to one knee and throwing his aim off. Let’s see, the weight’s mostly bearing down on your wings, you can still move your legs-

Even as the mallet was descending towards his head, Starscream jerked his feet up, and gunned his thrusters right in the giant’s face.

Fatigue gave a long hideous bellow of pain – ‘blood curdling’ would be an appropriate Earthly phrase, Starscream considered – and the howl rose in sickening pitch as the blinding white heat from the blue thrusters blistered first the paint and then the underlying alloy of his faceplates. The giant threw himself backwards, lurching his weight frantically away from the source of the pain and freeing his opponent’s wings.

Starscream lunged to his feet and backed up until he was just out of reach, but he needn’t have bothered. A fading yellow glow pooled out from around Fatigue’s fingers, and droplets of melted alloy had scattered down across his heavy abdomen-

Lips set into a thin line of anger, Starscream picked up a convenient, sharp bit of scrap metal, and sauntered closer. “Any last requests?” he asked, his voice descending to a poisonous hiss.

“…oh… slag… you…” The agonised words choked out of the broken creature’s vocaliser.

“How about slag you?” Starscream snapped back, hefting his stake. “This is for Warp,” he snarled, bringing the metal down hard across his opponent’s brutalised face and exploding his one remaining optic crystal. “And for Sepp.” The next blow cut across the tractor’s vulnerable throat, turning a groan into a thin hiss of static. “And for me.” He twirled the stake very briefly and stabbed it down like a sword into the top of Fatigue’s spinal complex.

A spasm hard enough to jerk the stake right out of Starscream’s hands passed violently through the fallen machine, and he slumped slowly sideways to the ground.

“Is he dead?” Thundercracker wondered, advancing warily.

“Not quite,” Starscream confirmed, darkly, examining a second piece of old scaffolding and approaching the tractor from the opposite side. “I’d ask if you wanted the honours, but I’m feeling particularly selfish today.”

“No, no, go ahead. I wouldn’t want to spoil your fun,” Thundercracker confirmed, darkly, taking a step back out of the way.

“You wouldn’t kill me,” Fatigue wheezed, his broken vocaliser spitting static. “You won’t kill me. It’s not what you Policebots do-!”

“Probably true.” Starscream lifted his piece of scaffold higher. “Except you’re forgetting one thing?”

“What?”

Actuators whined softly as the red Seeker gathered all his strength behind the final blow. “We’re. Still. Decepticons…!”

0o0o0o0o0

…It was a quiet, unpleasant little voice that attracted Forceps’ attention.

The perimeter had grown quiet, so she’d followed at a respectable distance as the assault front moved towards the centre of the plant, keeping herself out of the way and patching injuries as needed. She didn’t particularly like the place – the muted noises in the distance were making the avenues of pipes increasingly sinister, and even before the words had drifted to her audios she’d sensed she wasn’t going to be able to keep away from the frontline for much longer.

…look, Police, you can either sit still, and I’ll make it a bit less painful, or you can keep on fighting and it’ll just get more and more uncomfortable, see?”

Forceps narrowed her optics; the voice was unpleasantly familiar. One she’d heard just the once before, but once had been more than enough. She followed it, softening her footfalls to as close to inaudible as she could manage, but needn’t have bothered. The source of the words was too busy to be paying attention to the potential for being stalked by large green surgeons.

Whether he’d got better with his aim or the helicopter had just got that smidgen too low, it was impossible to tell, but regardless of how, Deuce had managed to get Nightsun out of the air. Around the corner, and mostly obscured by a wall and a tight clustering of overhead pipes, the truck was half-mauling half-dragging the struggling Policebot towards a storage facility and Primus-only-knew what sort of ugly fate. The lightly-built flier was already looking considerably more the worse for wear – his jaw hung slack, apparently no longer able to close it properly, and his convulsing arms were propped against the truck’s forward canopy, trying feebly to push him off.

Deuce seemed unimpressed by the feeble show of defiance, taunting and scolding by turns as he dragged his prey along. He had already been busy wreaking hell on the delicate rotor-blades, kinking two into a concertina, the other two twisted into a sick parody of a bow, and the small laser-knife he had in his hand promised more long orns of carving and snipping and slow destruction until Nightsun’s spark finally gave out.

“Put him down,” Forceps instructed, sternly, attracting the attention of both mechs.

Deuce sneered up at her. “Well well, if it isn’t the gunless wonder. Hey, nursebot,” he leered at her. “Lovely to see you again, and looking so well! You must have found an excellent surgeon! I tell you what, how about you stand back and let me finish off this waste of good armour, and I might even be persuaded to spare you, this time.” He licked the knife, meaningfully. “I always wanted a playmate.”

Forceps bristled. The fact the truck was probably so high on Blue he was right out of the stratosphere was no excuse for this. “I told you to put him down,” she repeated. “I won’t tell you again.”

“And I told you, no,” Deuce stared her out, his lip wrinkled in distaste. “I won this, fair and square. I’m entitled to do what I want with it!” As if to demonstrate, he lowered the knife, and casually snipped off one of Nightsun’s antennae; the helicopter jerked against him and struggled with a briefly renewed vigour.

Forceps felt something inside her snap. She was not one for violence, but this casual brutality would not go unpunished. “In that case, I believe you owe me a rematch!” she said, loudly, advancing on the delivery truck. She planted a massive hand down on Deuce’s shoulder and span him round, forcefully separating him from his prey, then put all her considerable strength behind her arm and delivered a splintering punch right in his faceplate.

Deuce howled in shocked pain and fell away from them, staggering as far away as he could manage before his knees buckled and he landed awkwardly, half on his thigh and half on his aft. “How dare you…!” his voice had gone shrill in shocked outrage. “How DARE you hit me!!” He snatched a pistol from his subspace, but only managed to jitter the laser sight all the way across her face and scorch a dull black line across her shoulder before a kick sent it spinning out of reach.

“I’m sorry, didn’t I win this, fair and square?” Forceps spat, chasing him. “Don’t you make the mistake of thinking that because I have no gun that I am unarmed and harmless.”

The giant green monstrosity was already bristling with inbuilt surgical tools, and Deuce’s nerve failed him. He threw himself upright and managed a few lurching steps away before a quick slash from a surgical laser sliced through the back of his right knee, cutting the hydraulics and effectively hamstringing him, staggering him back to the floor with a whimper.

“Get away from me!” he shrilled, his optics wide and blazing vivid green with fright, and kicked out at her. “Leave me alone!”

She narrowed her optics and snipped his other knee. “No kicking,” she instructed, softly, watching him flail and sob and try uselessly to reach his pistol…

It didn’t even take half a breem of work to completely subdue the truck. She carved him up with a beautifully surgical precision – still completely in one piece, but with a series of neat little snips that cut all his primary actuator relays and effectively immobilized him. “Are we even, now?” she wondered, softly, referring to their last meeting, which had left her almost as totally paralysed.

Deuce ignored the question, and just continued to bleat about how unfair it was and how dare she do this and he was going to call the full force of vengeance – and the law! – down on her.

“Look, either you cease that infuriating whining,” she suggested, softly, very close to his audio, “or I shall take steps to neutralise your vocaliser as well. Is that clear?”

Deuce swallowed his latest complaint with a strange little urble, and fell obediently silent.

“Good boy,” she praised, dryly, gathering him up off the floor and manhandling him into place over one shoulder. “Now.” She crouched by the injured helicopter, and offered him a hand. “You still functioning okay, Nightsun?” she asked, gently.

Nightsun clutched for her arm, and nodded, shakily. “I’ll live.”

“Come on,” she hauled him to his feet; he made a valiant effort at standing on his own, but was reduced to clinging to her like a sparkling trying its legs for the first time. “We’ll find you somewhere safe to park your aft until this has blown over and we can get you to hospital.”

“Should be helping,” he argued, tottering along beside her.

“You are helping,” she confirmed, and gave him a wry smile. “You helped me remove this jumbled heap of spare parts from the game before he got the chance to slip the net.”

0o0o0o0o0

When Starscream finally got bored and turned away from his quarry, it was to find the Chief Inspector standing nearby, arms folded across his broad chest, lounging against a convenient wall.

“Are you two quite done?” the riot tank asked, calmly, watching the pair of Seekers approach.

Starscream glanced over his shoulder at the greying heap of caterpillar treads, and nodded. “We’re done.”

“Good. Because I could do with a hand over here.”

“You’re not going to arrest us?” Starscream’s lips pulled into a sneer.

Hardline shrugged. “Self-defence, so far as I saw,” he said, offhand. “Where’s Skywarp?”

“Chasing Calibrator, last I heard,” Thundercracker supplied, opening a channel to his absentee wing-mate. “Hey, Warp? Where have you got to?”

Oh at fragging LAST,” came the exultation, loud enough through the channel to make the blue Seeker wince from the feedback and rub his auditory antenna. “I was beginning to think you were NEVER coming!” Triangulation data followed thick and fast.

“Whoa, whoa, steady, Warp,” Thundercracker waved his hands, as if it would somehow stop the flood of positioning information. “I asked how you were getting on, not where you were!”

The flood of data slowed, hesitantly. “…What? You’re not coming?” Skywarp was almost pleading. “Aw come ON, surely you’ve dealt with that tractor by now?

“…yeah, but only just-”

So come on come ON, you guys, they’ve already left the plant, they’re gonna be out of the district as well, soon!” Skywarp despaired. “I need you as backup or I’m gonna lose them! If you’ve kicked that fragging tractor’s aft, come help meee.

“Look, I’ll try and round some of the guys up,” Thundercracker promised, chasing after a departing Starscream. “But we’ve made a load of arrests so far, there might not be many left without their hands full!”

Aw, let the police deal with that load of old rubbish! You and Screamer will do fine! I. Need. Backup!

“For now we are police, Skywarp, remember? I know you can’t see from that angle, but it says so in big letters right across your wings! And we’re already busy-”

Augh, TC-! Fine! I’ll do it myself! But it’s gonna go horribly wrong, I just know it,” Skywarp groaned, snappishly, and cut communications.

0o0o0o0o0

Pulsar’s hunt had taken her further than she’d wanted, faster than she’d wanted. They’d already left Codustral a good breem or two ago, and were now racing down a mostly abandoned street lined by derelict old housing towards the next district.

Siphon must have known she was behind him, but didn’t seem inclined to react to the knowledge, concentrating on his driving. Calibrator clung to his roof for dear life, her long, spidery fingers pressed into chinks in his armour, but even she didn’t seem too disturbed by their pursuer – she’d glanced back once or twice, but as soon as they’d made it past Codustral’s perimeter fence she’d lost interest. They were clearly both in silent communication, and obviously didn’t care that the territory they were now moving in was claimed by one of the minor factions and fairly hostile to anyone that wasn’t a gang-member. Pulsar, on the other hand, was painfully aware of it – Celerity had lost three members of her team in here some vorns ago, and only got out herself by the enamel on her skidplate. (The remains of her officers had been posted back to the force in small portions over the next hundred orns or so. Pulsar didn’t want her own return to the station to be in pieces in a cardboard box.) It was only the fact that she’d got this far already, and didn’t want to waste the effort, that compelled her to keep moving forwards.

Got to stop him somehow, she thought, helplessly. Head him off, or turn him back, or something! But how in Primus’ name do I do that? I can’t stop and shoot him, because he’ll be gone before I can draw my pistol. Got to get ahead of him, somehow…

She gunned her engines and put on a dramatic, desperate burst of acceleration. Get past him before he gets to the rift, got to get past him before he gets to the rift. Once he was across bridge over the jagged ravine that formed the border, and into the neighbouring district, he’d be lost. She was already far away from her comfort zone, could feel the hostile optics of unfriendly machines watching her, and no-one seemed to be answering her pings for backup. All she could do was try and head him back into their home turf, cut him off, force him to double back on himself. She nosed closer, wincing as his anti-gravity emitters kicked loose detritus into her forward sensors but determined to just get past him.

Siphon was not so stupid as he often came across, however, and he had an excellent, unimpeded view of the road ahead. He didn’t react to the advancing policewoman until it was a fraction of an astro-second too late for her to counter it, and deliberately fishtailed, dramatically, clipped her front end just hard enough to send her into a skid-

-right through a gap in the crumbling retaining fence, and over the rift. The huge fissure in the ground yawned up beneath her.

She transformed mid-fall, snatching helplessly for anything that might save her – the broken remains of a bridge, old power lines, the crumbling rock-face, anything.

Focus, FOCUS, she pleaded, inwardly, but her phobias screamed louder than her sense of logic. This was the sum of all her worst fears – great heights, and falling from them – rolled into one single agonising whole.

The jagged ground rushed up to meet her face, and impending painful doom screamed in her ears.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
alectorfencer
Sep. 7th, 2008 02:50 pm (UTC)
Oh god! LJ is so complex. Help! *lost* *___*
keaalu
Sep. 7th, 2008 02:55 pm (UTC)
Where are you losted?
alectorfencer
Sep. 23rd, 2008 07:41 pm (UTC)
Everywhere! XD
_silverfox
Sep. 7th, 2008 11:10 pm (UTC)
Hm ... always thought Siphon was the scariest of the lot. So I take it he's going to get away while Skywarp rescues Pulsar?
keaalu
Sep. 8th, 2008 12:47 pm (UTC)
...Yeah, Siphon's got crazier as the thing has gone on, I think.

And I'm saying nothin'... ;)
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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