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Auuuugh it bit on my poor abused brain and bullied me into writing it. ¬_¬


     They called it “compassionate leave”, because of her recent bereavement, but she didn’t need any special mind-reading ability to know they – well, the DC – actually meant “don’t come back in until you think you’re up to working normally without having another breakdown mid-arrest, and I’ll suspend you from duty if you don’t freaking accept the offer of paid leave.”
     So eight-… no, nine orns later, now, she found herself once again on the couch in the living room, curled up, watching the morning news, trying to pretend everything was normal and any minute now he’d knock on the door and grin embarrassedly, and cook up something passably not totally stupid about ending up somewhere he didn’t ought to have and having to walk all the way back with a broken leg and a mangled communicator-
     There was a knock on the door. She bolted from her seat so fast she was almost flying, miraculously retaining her balance over the back of her seat, and only actually stopped when she collided with the door itself. Even as she was scrabbling for the lock, dismal inner realist was scolding her that it couldn’t be him because he was dead and to at least put the freaking retainer on because a friend would have known her mood and called ahead first.
     There were two unfamiliar machines standing just down on the street outside. That is, unfamiliar in that she couldn’t say she knew them personally, but far from visually unfamiliar. Decepticons of this calibre were far from unrecognisable, especially to small, frightened Autobots! Should have put the retainer on the door, stupid.
     “C-can I help you?” she wondered, cringing back and trying to resist the urge to slam the door in their faces – if she just spoke to them, she might get out alive. If she slammed the door, it wouldn’t keep them out, and it might – heck, probably – would lead to shooting. She secretly sent out a ping on the police band, requesting help.
     “If you value that measly little Autobot spark, sure!” the purple one replied, almost jovially, pushing past her and into the living area of her small home. “We just want your help with something.”
     “My help?” That was a bad sign, a very bad sign. She backed off as the silver one advanced; he closed his fingers around her arm and shoved her roughly indoors, and lazily kicked the door closed behind him. “I-I don’t know what I can help you with-” Run, run, the window’s still open-! But while she dithered, Astrotrain moved smoothly up behind her and caught both arms.
     “We just want a word with your lover, brightling,” Blitzwing soothed, cupping her cheek in one large hand. “You tell us where he is and we might be persuaded to let you off without too much of the rough stuff.”
     She shuddered and drew back. “I don’t know where he is.”
     “You’re going to have to do better than that!”
     “Please, I swear. I don’t know where he is,” she quailed. Telling them he was dead might work in the short term, but it would probably mean they doubled their efforts against the remaining two.
     There was a crack! of pain and her head snapped sideways; she sensed there’d be a big sweep of purple across her cheek, now, as her destabilised optics refocused in time to see him straightening from the blow. “You’re gonna have to do better than that, femme,” Astrotrain explained, unnecessarily, from behind. “You two have been joined at the hip since you left Earth.”
     “…cuz we’ve been watching, see,” Blitzwing took up the explanation. “Trying to work out what it was you pathetic little Autobots offered that was better than Megatron could give, as you seem to have snared all three of our little Seekers away so easily. So when you say you don’t know where he is? We’re figuring you’re lying.”
     “Why would I lie to you?” She shrank back from him, although that unfortunately took her closer to Astrotrain. “You’d kill me if I lied-!”
     “Well, that much is true, I guess,” Astrotrain accepted. “But then you’re an Autobot. Not exactly known for your brains, are you? Besides.” He lowered his head and spoke directly into her audio. “You and he might be, how can I put it? Gearing up a little plot of your own against us. We wouldn’t wanna give you the chance to let it come all the way to fruition now, would we?”
     “But I swear, I’m not-”
     “Okay, I’ll tell you what we’re gonna do,” Blitzwing decided, his voice descending into a snarl. “You and us? We’re gonna make a little relocation. Then you get one last chance to squeak, Squeaky, before we make it so you can’t ever squeak again. Right?”

* * * * *

     “A junkyard?” A horrible black feeling had already bubbled up in her chest, like someone had wrapped cloying, sticky tar all the way around her spark. “What are we here for?”
     “We’re here for this!” Blitzwing smiled and patted the big construction. “This is a garbage compactor. I’m sure you’re familiar with it? Squeezes useless garbage down into neat little cubes for storage, before they get ferried off to a recycling plant somewhere to be strimmed into components that can be used.” He used one foot to nudge a long-discarded cube at the machine’s outlet point. “All nice and tidy, see?”
     Astrotrain was already advancing on the hopper; she bucked and kicked in his restraining hands but could never have had the physical strength to throw him off, and it seemed they’d already heard about her siren because that had absolutely no effect on them whatsoever, aside from a little flinch when they hadn’t desensitised their hearing quite enough. Her captor cupped a hand around her throat and squeezed, gently; she choked in pain and her alarm died in a gurgle of broken sound, and he used the momentary distraction to heave her up and over the side, into the machine.
     “Now,” Blitzwing folded his arms and lounged casually against the top of the inlet, gazing down at her as she threw herself frantically around the smooth sides of her small prison. “One last chance, femme. Spill it, and we might let you go.”
     “I don’t know where he is,” she croaked, trying to stay upright on legs that threatened to collapse underneath her. She braced her hands against the filthy, scraped sides of the device, and wondered how many unwilling ‘informants’ these two had disposed of in this way. They must be blocking my pings, why is no-one answering?! “He’s missing.”
     “Missing? How so?” Astrotrain challenged.
     “He’s just… we don’t know where he is. I promise. I wouldn’t lie to you! I swear, I don’t know where he is. Please, please let me out-” Her voice hitched in a half-sob of static. “Please. I promise. I won’t tell anyone about you. I don’t know where he is. I’m sorry…!”
     Blitzwing hmph-ed and gave her a long, critical stare before dropping back to the dirt outside to talk it over with Astrotrain. She heard them talking; they made no effort to lower their volume so she couldn’t hear. Perhaps they wanted her to hear.
     “What if the little scrap of tin is telling the truth, huh? That he has done a runner from everyone, and no-one knows where he is?”
     “Well, that’ll make it easier to get rid of the other two, won’t it? Evenly matched! Two against two.”
     Astrotrain gave a laugh in agreement. “Yeah, and boy am I ever going to have ‘words’ with old Thundersparkler.” His voice lowered into a hiss. “Nobody does that to me and gets away with it.”
     “All in good time, my friend, all in good time. We’ve got to crush them emotionally before we can put the boot in. Imagine Megatron’s face when we drag those two snivelling bundles of pathetic all the way back to Nemesis! We’ll break their minds, first.” Another ripple of unkind laughter. “All right, well, we can’t leave Miss Squeaky here to purge her spark to whoever finds her and spill out everything she’s heard. Fire up the generator and lets hightail it out of here…”
     No. No! Oh Primus they couldn’t-…
     Her thoughts were interrupted by the low, sweet purr of a powerful engine; a new vibration started up through the soles of her feet and there was the soft hiss of hydraulics and pistons carefully moving into position for the start of a new cycle. There was the low crack of laser fire and the dwindling sigh of flier engines, and she knew that they had. They’d dumped her here and left her to die.
      Why wasn’t anyone answering her pings?! Static bubbled from her vocaliser. The sides had already begun to move; old gears scraping together, pistons whining from under-use. Help. HELP. She shrieked the words out both inaudibly over the police waveband, and audibly, as loud as she could get her broken vocaliser to go, hoping, hoping someone was close enough in range to answer. Please pleaseplease help me helpmehelpme!
     She braced her arms against the sides, but didn’t even make the gearing whine in protest. It was as if she weren’t even there. And of course, that was exactly what this machine was designed to do – crush unyielding bits of old metal down into usable chunks.
     Maybe if she got down as small as she could get, it’d be just enough to save her. If she made herself as close in size as she could to one of the resulting cubes, because she wasn’t a big femme-…!
     She huddled down in the bottom of the compactor, curling up into the tightest bundle she could manage, terrified static boiling uncontrolled out of her vocaliser, sending out a frantic flood of pings on all the bands she could access, and hoped that if anyone found her it’d be before the machine had finished its deadly caress.
      Oh Warp, I hope if this is it for me we can find each other again in the Matrix-

* * * * *

     Slipstream had already followed his dam’s outpouring of frantic communications to the junkyard. Her uncontrolled comms had been hard to pinpoint, and even harder to narrow back to the source, and he was dismayed to find that he was the only one to have got here. Maybe he was the only one stupidly brave enough to have followed the lead, after filtering the words Blitzwing and Astrotrain out of the disjointed flurry of surplus code and meaningless strings of un-interpretable characters.
      At least the triplechangers weren’t here, he consoled himself, frantically probing the shadows for the glint of purple and silver. But where was Ama?
     He turned in the direction the low grumbling engine sound was coming from. Oh no. Oh, no, they couldn’t have, could they? He staggered over to the control panel and watched as one of the red lights on the scuffed display turned amber. Cycle 75%. Fuck. Running out of time. He clutched for the emergency stop.
     …The button had been shot out. He tore at his antennae, frantic. The only way of stopping the machine would be to let it complete its cycle. Maybe he’d be lucky, maybe she was small enough-
     No! No, he wasn’t going to just cross his fingers and hope, he was going to do something. Was going to stop it! He snatched up a jagged piece of old construction equipment and attacked the control panel. He might not have a button to stop it but if he killed enough of the controls, a safety override might kick in and automatically reverse the gears. Machines like these had to have inbuilt safety features, right? Right?! To prevent them overheating if a piston failed, to prevent them keep squeezing and burning out once the cycle completed if a pressure sensor gave out.
     He tore through the wiring like a self-aware chainsaw, burrowed all the way through the series of parallel control boards and spaghetti of coloured cables. Sparks flew and sizzled against his enamel, and pain flashed through him as the loose ends of broken cables shorted against his armour, but he wasn’t about to stop. A tiny bit of hurt was a welcome exchange if it meant he could just stop the program-
     The machine gave a siiigh, as if of effort, and the pistons stopped. The sudden silence was deafening – like a physical pressure on his audios. He lurched upright and clutched for the control panel – the lights were guttering, where he’d torn through their connectors, but just legible.
     The display board said the machine was 95% the way through its cycle. 95%. 95%. He almost cried. He’d got here in time and still hadn’t managed to stop it. There was a hiss and a clunk as the hydraulic rams began to depressurise, and something fell with a low slithering thump from the reject ramp. He almost didn’t dare look, but forced himself to.
     Laying in the dust in a slowly spreading puddle of spilled lubricant and glittering energon was a small, crumpled blue and white cube.


...um... oops?

Edit: 'Cuz I'm feeling morbid, I'm gonna unlock it. ;) No, I know it won't make a whoole lot of sense, but pssh.


( 51 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 25th, 2009 08:58 pm (UTC)
!!!! Pleeeeese tell me you aren't going to add this to your next story!
Jan. 25th, 2009 09:03 pm (UTC)
*is like totally innocent of all charges*
Jan. 25th, 2009 09:06 pm (UTC)
Hah! A likely story! *glares*

In all seriousness though, something that bugs me a bit about Pulsar is how she always ends up being the damsel in distress. She's supposed to be a freakin' cop, surely she isn't _that_ helpless.
Jan. 25th, 2009 09:10 pm (UTC)
*is blaming it on Exie* ;)

Nah, I probably won't use it, and for the same reasons. ;) It was just something my subconscious said "Write this down NOWWWW". I mean, the way I have it set up at the moment is such that it goes from Warp's "jump into the unknown" straight to the time in the future when he reappears. Ergo, any "inbetweeny bits" would prooobably have to be a bit, I don't know, standalone? Or referred to, or whatever.

That and I just have a habit of beating the crap out of my characters, so go figure.
Jan. 25th, 2009 09:16 pm (UTC)
Far be it from me to condemn character torture, I know I love doing it to my RP characters at Dark Fort. *laughs evilly*
(no subject) - muffins_of_god - Jan. 25th, 2009 10:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - keaalu - Jan. 25th, 2009 11:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - muffins_of_god - Jan. 25th, 2009 11:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 25th, 2009 10:47 pm (UTC)
XD Hey! I didn't tell you to make her into a cube! I STILL blame that one one you! :P
(no subject) - keaalu - Jan. 25th, 2009 10:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - muffins_of_god - Jan. 25th, 2009 10:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - muffins_of_god - Jan. 25th, 2009 11:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - keaalu - Jan. 25th, 2009 11:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 26th, 2009 11:10 pm (UTC)
But ... but ... but ... now they're completely without parents! Nooooo!!!!!
Jan. 27th, 2009 11:07 am (UTC)
It's ok, one's just missing and the other's kinda square-looking. She's being meaningfully employed as a paperweight at the moment!

Uncles will look after them. ;)
Jan. 27th, 2009 02:30 pm (UTC)
But does that paperweight job pay enough to support two children? ;)
Jan. 27th, 2009 04:03 pm (UTC)
I don't know. Depends whose desk she's on, I guess? Orr... I guess at least they always know where she is, now. ;)
Jan. 27th, 2009 07:17 pm (UTC)
I still can't read this without killing myself laughing at how quickly the conversation dissolved into 'teh randomness'. XD

Beware the flying cube! XDDD
Jan. 27th, 2009 07:30 pm (UTC)
Bwahaha. >:D "Sanity? What's that?"
Jan. 27th, 2009 09:48 pm (UTC)
Something we all lost a long time ago, clearly. ;)
Jan. 28th, 2009 06:32 am (UTC)
I blame the medication I'm taking for my shoulder....Keaalu just exaserbates (WOW I misspelled that.) the crack.

And we love her for it ♥

Jan. 28th, 2009 07:07 am (UTC)
Yes, our lives would be so much duller without Keaalu. :)

BTW M.O.G. (hehe!) is your journal friends-locked? I can't seem to be able to read it no matter which browser I use.
(no subject) - keaalu - Jan. 28th, 2009 12:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - muffins_of_god - Jan. 28th, 2009 11:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
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