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Screaming Blue Murder, chapter 17

Words words words...

There’s so many things I ought to be doing right now (like being evil and keeping people guessing by not posting), but as I have been doomed to suffer a cold I’m gonna stick with the writing, for now. ;) Well, that or play endless “Spider Solitaire”.

This story has wormed its way far enough into my subconscious that I’m dreaming about it as well, now. Bah. This chapter goes a bit faster than I liked, but I don't think my brain is capable of making improvements right now. It's crashed, like an NHS computer trying to run Lorenzo.

Okay I shut up now.

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Screaming Blue Murder
Chapter 17

Starscream didn’t even wait to be invited before getting himself set up in the main forensics laboratory; he’d taken one glance through the doorway, and made a pleased noise at all the specialised equipment sitting there ready for him to play with. Thundercracker went with him, to lend a little moral support, and Jazz and Prowl hastily followed, mostly just to keep them from causing a riot. (Although Jazz looked like he’d gone along just so he could say that he’d gone along. If the Seeker genuinely wanted to help, then who were they to argue?)

There was the sound of something breaking and a stilted little gasp, and everyone turned to find a startled Calibrator in the doorway, hand over her mouth and a broken glass flask at her feet.

“Apparently, Cali’s not met her new lab partner yet,” Jazz quipped.

Starscream gave him a dirty look, then glanced irritably towards the analyst. “What?”

“I, um-… that is-…” She backed off a step or two, as if not daring pass the threshold into the laboratory. “I’d heard the stories in the news. I thought-… I mean, I heard you were…” She swallowed over her fright, came a little closer.

“Rest assured, rumours of my death are greatly exaggerated,” he wrinkled a lip in disgust. “I just seem to get lucky with who I bump into.”

“How did you survive?” She touched hesitantly at his wingtip, then snatched her hand away, still reluctant to touch the ghost. “I saw the footage-… you were so broken up, you poor thing-!”

“A friend helped me,” he confirmed, inclining his head and stepping away from the uninvited touch.

“Who?”

Unexpectedly, he shook his head. “I promised to keep them out of this. Unless they wanted in. Only seemed, ah…” he pulled a face. “…fair. After they went out on a limb for me.”

“Primus alive, honourable actions from Starscream?” came Jazz’s shocked observation from behind. “Am I in a parallel universe?”

“It was the description of ‘friend’ did it for me,” Thundercracker agreed. “We can’t possibly be in the same dimension as normal.”

Starscream studiously ignored them.

Jazz leaned closer, and wondered, softly; “You know who helped him, right?”

“Right,” Thundercracker nodded. “But don’t get your hopes up, I’m keeping hush-hush about it, too.”

“Actually, I wasn’t thinking so much about that. I was thinking more about what might happen to him if the Blue finds out he helped.”

Thundercracker gave the saboteur a sidelong look, and pursed his lips. “I’ll mention it to Screamer,” he acknowledged. “It’s probably a good idea to warn ‘him’.”

“If he meant enough for your commander to say in public that he felt a vague duty of honour to him? I’d say that was pretty much a certain.”

“Aren’t you going to go out on patrol?” Prowl wondered, watching the red Seeker as he bustled around the lab and investigated where everything was kept.

“What for? Those two are more than capable of doing that,” Starscream disagreed, pointing at Thundercracker and the drowsy Skywarp who’d just appeared in the doorway. “It’d be a waste of my talent to have me here and not utilise it.”

“But aren’t you airhead fliers best placed actually in the air?” Prowl wondered, daringly. “Isn’t that what you’re always boasting?”

“I will have you know I have a background in science,” the red Seeker threatened, over his wingmates’ snickers. “You have more than enough fliers. I am going to work in here.”

Thundercracker smiled, silently. Starscream was obviously back up to processor speed, at last. Not ‘I’m going to help you in here’, but that good old familiar commanding-officer, no-arguments-permitted-or-heeded, ‘I am going to work here, and you will like it’.

“Cali-?” Prowl cast a glance at the analyst, but she shrugged.

“I don’t mind having an extra pair of hands,” she reassured. “I could do with all the help I can get.”

Prowl backed down, with a soft grumble. “On your head be it.”

“So has anyone worked out what Blue actually is, yet?” Starscream examined the exemplar cube of Basic on the workbench, doing a big orbit around it as if reluctant to touch it. It was labelled “medium potency”, and cast a sullen cobalt glow onto the scrubbed surface of the table.

Calibrator shook her head. “Not yet,” she supplied. “We have a large portion of the forensics lab devoted to it, but until this all blew up we hadn’t had the chance to look that deeply into it.” She smiled, embarrassed, and admitted; “Until you crossed swords with them, we didn’t think it was that big a deal. We guessed it’d blow over in a few dozen orns and be forgotten about.”

Starscream made a non-committal noise.

“I have a lot more tests to run before I know exactly how it works,” Calibrator went on. “All I know for sure is that it’s some sort of non-replicating fractal viral that interferes with both a machine’s higher and basal programming.”

“So it messes with both your cognition and your physiology, right,” Starscream nodded. “If it’s a viral, why can’t it just be deleted? Wouldn’t an antiviral patch sort it out?”

“You’d think so,” she agreed. “But the viral recrystallises, and you get more deletions…”

Skywarp settled on the table next to where Thundercracker stood, and waggled his feet, half-listening. “Wish I understood what the Pit they were gabbing about,” he said.

“Eh, you and me both, Warp.”

“You don’t get it either?” Skywarp brightened. “That makes me feel better.”

Thundercracker wrinkled his nose. “‘Better’? Do you need to feel better?” He challenged. “Why are you in such a good mood, anyway? Didn’t you just wake up?”

“Fft. Am I not allowed to be happy? Just because you’re a sullen old git-”

“If this is what being in constant proximity to Autobots does to you, maybe we should pack you off to spend time with them more often,” Thundercracker commented, dryly. “I think I genuinely am in a parallel universe. You’re far too happy for someone who normally still wants to be in recharge, and Screamer is far too ready to help.” It felt almost surreal, seeing Starscream bustling around in an Autobot-run lab, looking like he owned the place, wearing those strange half-Autobot decals on his wings. Rebooting his optics didn’t seem to help.

“I’d agree with that,” Skywarp observed. “Especially since the only place we want to go, where we actually belong, is the one place we’re not welcome.” He slid down from his perch, promptly tripped over his own feet, and tottered unsteadily into Thundercracker. “Oops! Sorry, TC.”

“I think we need to find Warp a job.” Thundercracker steadied his friend. “Being grounded so long has got him all wobbly.”

“So long as that’s all it is, and he hasn’t been raiding my high-grade again,” Starscream deadpanned.

“Would I do such a thing?” Skywarp planted an innocent hand on his chassis.

“In a word? Yes. For goodness sake, TC, get him airborne. Maybe that’ll blow a bit of his stupid out.”
0o0o0o0o0

Skywarp spent their entire patrol in such a distractable haze of excitement, stunts and general aerial messing about that an increasingly irritable Thundercracker called a halt to the run early. They got back to find their commander hard at work; he had loaded all the known facts into a single database, and was poring over it, adding his own thoughts as he went.

“Well?” Skywarp leaned down over his shoulder, peering at the screen as if it’d suddenly leap up and start making sense. “Have you sorted it all out yet?”

Starscream pushed him away, irritably. It was the fifth time Skywarp had done that since the pair of them had got back, and he knew he was doing it just to irk him, now. “It’ll be a lot easier for me to work without you venting your exhaust heat down my neck. Cut it out!”

Skywarp leaped back and put his hands up in a wasn’t me, honest gesture.

“You know, I never thought I’d have missed hearing the pair of you dicker,” Thundercracker observed, relaxing as best he could manage into the little chair in the corner and quivering his wings. “But it’s so nice that we finally have the status quo back.”

Although taking energon in the laboratory was technically forbidden, no-one had the bearings to tell the trio of Seekers to take their ‘lunch’ elsewhere, when they finally elected to take a break. They clustered at the heavy workbench at the far end of the lab, close to the windows, staring out over the city, and spent a breem or two in companionable silence.

Skywarp didn’t look particularly keen on refuelling. He’d had a mouthful or two, but now just sat looking thoughtful, twirling the energon container between thumb and forefinger.

Starscream watched him for a few moments, before leaning towards Thundercracker and commenting, in a stage whisper, “I don’t like that face he’s making.”

“Me either,” Thundercracker replied, equally innocently. “I think he’s gonna strain something.”

For once, Skywarp didn’t rise to the bait. Instead, he glanced up, and wondered, out loud; “Did anyone check that big butch femme that helped Screamer hasn’t had a hand in all this stupid with the Blue?”

Starscream promptly choked on his energon. “What?” he spluttered, after finally getting his vocaliser back under control. “You’re not implying Sepp had anything to do with this? She’s a doctor!”

“And? I was told a hospital laboratory could be big enough to make the stuff,” Skywarp challenged. “And wouldn’t that be a brilliant way to keep from being noticed? Being all self-effacing and kind and helping out the poor liddle broken-up Decepticon, who’d ever contemplate she could be the ringleader?”

“Sepp is about the most inoffensive, harmless femme I know.” Starscream folded his arms. “You’re barking up completely the wrong tree this time, Warp.”

Skywarp looked unimpressed. “So what? You’re thinking the guy in charge of all this must be as big and grumpy and feckoff ugly as that tractor that gave you a walloping?”

“No, I’m thinking it’s a logistical impossibility for it to be her.” Starscream shook his head, irritably. “Do you honestly think she’d have time to be a drugs baroness while she was spending every free minute patching me up?”

“So did she take you to hospital with her?”

“Well, no-…”

“Exactly. You didn’t have an optic on her every minute of every day. She only said she was at work.”

“Oh for Primus sake, Skywarp. Lay off it,” Thundercracker interrupted, before they could get too deep into the argument. “You’re sounding paranoid.”

“It’s still a possibility, that’s all I’m saying,” Skywarp insisted, and twiddled his barely-touched energon with a little smile and a shrug. “You don’t have to be so self-righteous about it all. That’s the thing about science, isn’t it, open-ness to new ideas?”

“If I find out anyone has been slipping Warp the happy pills, I am not going to be impressed,” Starscream threatened, waggling a finger, and only partly in jest. “What do you think about his idea, Calibrator?”

The analyst looked up from her work bench. “What?”

“Are you telling me you weren’t eavesdropping?” Starscream gave her a brows-lifted smirk, and finished his last few drops of ‘lunch’.

She pouted, and averted her gaze, humbly. “Well, it was difficult not to,” she defended herself. “You weren’t making any effort to talk quietly.”

“In which case, you should be able to answer this easily. Is there any chance a doctor could be responsible for putting Blue out onto the streets? From purely a logistical point of view, not a social, emotional point of view.”

“Well, yes,” she confirmed, after a moment’s thought. “A medic would have ready access to the raw materials and the processing equipment, at least, and the medical knowhow to design it. So it’s probably not that outlandish a suggestion.”

“See?” Skywarp poked out his tongue.

“I don’t know if it’s worth also mentioning that we checked out all the hospitals at the very beginning, though. Our searches all came up empty,” Calibrator cautioned. “On the basis of that, we guessed they must be working from somewhere deep in the underground. It’s why we have so many searches running for incidents of stolen equipment, credit searches for unusual transactions, and so on…”

“Well, I’m still thinking we should do a surprise search of the house, anyway. When she doesn’t know we’re coming and can’t hide all the goods,” Skywarp commented, then squinched his optics and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Nnh.”

“…You all right, Warp?” Thundercracker gave him a look.

“Yeah,” Skywarp nodded, and forced a smile. “Just feeling a bit meh.”

“Happy pills wearing off?”

“Oh, shush.”
0o0o0o0o0

“There’s a courier at the front desk for you,” Nightsun had commented, in passing, as Pulsar had trailed her tired way up the ramp at the back of the building, after her shift. “And-… Primus, you look slagged. Get yourself checked over tomorrow. I don’t want you on duty if you’re not in good operating condition.”

“I’m fine…” she argued, but without the energy to fight her corner.

“That wasn’t a request from a friend, Pulse. That was an order from your superior officer,” he corrected, and gave her a hard look. “Don’t make me force you to get a doctor’s note before you’re back on duty.”

“Yes, sir.” She managed a half-smile and salute, but it faded before he was even out of sight down the corridor. She knew exactly what her delivery would be.

The courier, a drab little green-and-brown cycle similar in build to her own model, was swapping small-talk with the officer at the front desk. He looked like he’d seen vastly better days, covered in little dents and patches, but still somehow came across as remarkably chipper, and gave her a broad grin when she approached.

“Miss Pulsar?” He held out a data wafer and a registration board. “You got correspondence. Just need a signature off you.”

“Um… thank you.” She hesitated, briefly, then placed had right hand palm-down on the scanning board the cycle-courier was holding out. There was the descending prickle of static as it read the microscopic wear-and-tear of her armour, then a little musical bleep as it confirmed her identity. She almost wished it’d find a fault and deny she was who she said she was.

“No, no, thank you,” the courier chirped, placing the data-wafer into her hand and grinning so widely the Blue-deprived officer felt halfway obliged to punch him. “Good day, ladies and gents.”

Thankfully, her dorm was empty when Pulsar finally let herself in, leaning with a sigh against the inside wall for a moment, before leaping to her bunk and prying a plate away from the wall by the head of the berth. Checking the content of the communiqué could wait until she’d medicated her irritable mood and jumpy physiology away; three cubes glowed sulkily back at her. Saving the dullest lilac one for Skywarp, because she knew he’d need it by the time she went and made her explanation, she picked out a riot of cobalt Ruin and just stared at it for a while. It was no easier to take – it still felt like a boot to the midsection, left her struggling with diagnostics that insisted she should purge and pumps that wouldn’t let her.

It took her a breem or two to recover enough to turn her attention back to her communication.

Enter password, the wafer prompted, when she plugged it into the terminal at the foot of her berth. She guessed several times, trying a variety of permutations and synonyms for police, Autobot and blue, before finally guessing Skinny, and it let her in.

The content of the message was even shorter than the number of keystrokes she’d wasted trying to guess the password.

12.52.45959:22:12 Recycling plant 4, district west 19. Together. No excuses.

Time, date, location. She read the instructions three times over in silence before realising she didn’t even know if she’d manage to survive telling him she’d intoxicated him.
0o0o0o0o0

“If I find you put sucrose in my energon this morning-”

Thundercracker stared at the purple finger thrust under his nose for a moment or two, then glanced up at his ranting wingmate. “Happy pills have definitely worn off,” he quipped, and it wasn’t lost on him that there wasn’t even a grumble, this time, but a growl. “Why would I want to do that, anyway, Warp? Stupid things like that are your prerogative, I wouldn’t want to clip your wings by joining in,” he went on.

Skywarp bristled at the sarcasm. “I’m being serious,” he snapped. “It was disgusting.”

“Define ‘disgusting’?” Cybertronians had no sense of taste in the way organic creatures would define it, but they could perceive ‘disgusting’ easily enough. One just had to be a little more imaginative in one’s descriptions.

“It was like drinking someone’s purge fluid.” Skywarp made a face. “It destabilised all my systems and it’s given me a headache.”

“You were all right earlier,” Thundercracker went back to his terminal, mapping out a new route.

“Well, it’s obviously taken this long for the sucrose to dissolve and migrate through my filters.” Skywarp folded his arms. “Maybe it was Screamer, being all sour that I was smarter than him.”

“So our illustrious leader can predict the future, now, as well as being generally indestructible?”

“Look, if you won’t take this seriously, I’m gonna go find someone who will-”
0o0o0o0o0

…Argh, if only being confined to quarters wasn’t so boring.

Skywarp felt genuinely lousy. He’d roused from recharge feeling fairly normal, and spent the first few cycles feeling pretty darn great, but as time had worn on he’d gone downhill. Maybe he was getting sick with something. Maybe it was all this slumming it with the Autobots, they were making him physically nauseous with all their over-principled, ridiculous nobility. Even yelling at Thundercracker hadn’t helped his mood, for once.

Whatever the cause, his pumps were jittering nervously inside him, and the last two times he’d tried to refuel, his wonky diagnostics had misinterpreted the energon as toxic. He’d managed to keep a little down at lunch, but when he’d excused himself to go ‘find someone he needed to talk to’, he’d been more interested in finding somewhere private to violently purge his system. Everything was operating wrong. His coolant lines had all over-pressurised, and his gyroscopes were playing merry hell with his balance. He’d walked into a variety of people over the course of the day, and it turned out that the Autobots had even less tolerance of an unsteady Seeker than his wingmates did. Thundercracker and Starscream snerked in a good-natured shove-y sort of way back at him, but the police offers just snarled and kicked him back to his temporary accommodation.

He knew he probably hadn’t helped his own case when he’d told Chief Inspector Hardline in no uncertain terms to “go stick a fork in it”, following the insult with a demonstration of his knowledge of the less-polite Earthly hand-gestures. He smirked to himself – in retrospect, it had been almost worth it, to see the police chief turn all those outraged funny colours. Arrgh, if only being confined to quarters wasn’t so boring. Their room was little more than a glorified cell, with four berths and a rudimentary computer in the corner and absolutely no entertainment facilities whatsoever.

Maybe if he could slip into recharge, his own self-repair systems would correct the problems. Just needed to… to tweak the algorithms a little. Recalibrate gyroscopes against the standardised angle of his recharge bunk. Bleed off a little excess coolant and reconfigure the wonky pressure gauge that must have led to the headache. That’d work. Yeah. He offlined his optics, and attempted to relax.

He got a whole breem and a half before the doorchime jangled its impolite way into his awareness. He glared and kicked the pad to open the door, and glared through muggy optics at the newcomer. The lack of wings meant it wasn’t one of his fellow Seekers, but that was as far as he could make out. “What do you want, Autobot?” he grunted, trying to work out who it was without looking straight at them. Even the dim light hurt his optics, right now, and the lanky figure was scintillating with rainbow haloes.

“I’m not an Autobot, I’m a temporary Neutral, remember?”

Female. Loud. No difficulty working out who that was. Skywarp made another irritable sound, and let his head drop back to the surface of his berth. The room was turning giddy circles in front of his destabilised gyroscopes. “What do you want?”

“I just came to see how you were.”

“Oh, spare me,” he growled, tiredly. “You came to gloat.”

“No, seriously. I came to see how you were doing. I heard you weren’t feeling so good.”

“And wanted to gloat about it, like I said.”

“No, no. I mean, I know what’s wrong with you. I could help.”

“…how could you possibly know what’s wrong with me?” he scoffed, irritably. “You’re a secret medic as well as a spy and all-round fantastic super-cop?”

She made a little noise of disagreement. “No, I know because I brought you your breakfast.”

“And it was disgusting,” he growled. “What the slag did you put in it? If this is some stupid prank from you jealous Auto-dorks, it was particularly unfunny. I feel awful.”

“I know. I’m sorry,” she said, softly. Blue Ruin had filled her with a false courage. “It’s just, um… it’s just what Blue does to you, when it wears off.”

He sat bolt upright. For a moment or two, he just stared, mouth open in a helpless oh of shock. “…that… that was… Blue…?” he asked, slowly. A strange mixture of horrified disbelief and affront had widened his optics into great crimson pools in his face.

An astro-second later and it was as if gravity had inverted. She found herself on her back on the floor, jammed against the edge of one of the bunks, several tons of angry Seeker on her chest, pinning her down. He was incoherent with rage, spitting broken staccato phrases in a primitive Decepticon dialect, and had delivered a ringing blow around the side of her head before she recovered her wits enough to jerk her arms up in front of her face.

“…how dare you. How slagging dare you!” Words finally began to filter through the incomprehensible grinding clicks and staticky whistles. Clawing fingers strafed down her arms, grasped her shoulders, whacked her head against the floor. “What the slag do you think you’re playing at?! Get your slagging arms out of the way-!”

“Please, let me explain-”

“What could you possibly have to say that would explain this?!” His thumbs were pressing deep into the softer metal of her throat, trying to find and pinch off her primary communications trunk. “How dare you think you can just argue your way out of this-”

“At least give me a few astro-seconds to try-… look, here.” She snatched the Basic out of her subspace, and flicked the cube up between them, in front of his face. “Have this, have this, please-” she managed to get the words out without them shaking. “Let me explain and then you can kill me-”

His clawing fingers finally halted, tight on her wrists. “Why the slag would I want more?” he hissed, furiously, leaning down so closely that she could feel the stifling, angry gusts from his vents. His optics were thin chips of scarlet outrage. “You won’t catch me out so easily, this time, femme.”

“Please, I promise, it’s all you can do to stabilise your symptoms.” She didn’t move, kept the Basic in front of her face and her gaze averted. “There’s no cure yet.”

“I would rather stick my head in a recycling mill than have more of that Primus-damned filth,” he said, harshly, leaning down closer to her and planting a palm flat onto her torso. “Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t now rip your power converter clean out through your chest wall.”

“They made me give it to you, I didn’t want to share it-” she replied, and felt the pressure increase, felt a hairline fracture race across her armour and around under her right arm. The cube dropped to the floor, bounced towards the door, and somehow – miraculously – didn’t shatter. “Look, I’m sorry that my principles aaaih!-… aren’t as strong as yours!” she managed to get the words out. “They told me they’d kill meeigh-!”

“You should have been more worried about what I’d do to you-!” Another angry shove, and the internal fracture deepened.

“To be honest, a quick death from you would be far preferable to the long, slow overdose from them-” She squirmed under his weight, scrabbled her fingers against the floor and struggled uselessly to throw him off. “Come on, either do it or don’t do it,” she pleaded. An alert had begun to sound in her mind – just a little more pressure and her chest might fracture right open-

Unexpectedly, he released her – sat up, took his fingers away. His optics still blazed, but his lips had curled in a cruel smirk. “Tch, why should I let you get the easy way out?” he wondered, darkly. “If I have to suffer, so can you.” Very slowly, not breaking eye contact or letting his glare soften in the slightest, he got back to his feet.

She sat up, ran her fingertips along the line of the fracture, and winced. “Look, I didn’t want to have to get you involved, but they didn’t give me a lot of choice,” she defended herself, feebly, keeping her gaze downcast. “If I didn’t get one of you, they’d have killed me, and my principles aren’t strong enough that I’d take a nasty death in preference to just doing as I was told. Especially when it comes to Decepticons.”

“Don’t worry, femme, I believe you,” he cut in, with a cold smile. “I don’t need the sob story. Can’t imagine such a pathetic little bundle of wires wanting to dabble too deeply in Blue through choice.” He positioned himself in the doorway, arms folded and chin up. “I am going to be generous and give you one opportunity to convince me why I shouldn’t dismantle you with my bare hands, then turn you over to your superior with full details of your collusion with the enemy.”

“It won’t get you off it,” she argued, softly, wincing as she crawled to her feet. “Killing me won’t help. You’ll still be reliant on it.”

“This isn’t very convincing, Autobot.” He cracked his knuckles, for emphasis.

“And I have personal contacts,” she added, hastily. “To the central players, the primary dealership. This could be a way in, to break things wide open.”

His optics remained narrowed and suspicious, but his fingers began to relax. Perhaps that wasn’t too bad an idea; use this to get close to the ringleader. If that was possible? If they didn’t hide away and let that damn tractor and his pals do the grunt work.

“Besides, nobody has to know,” she said, in a tone of voice that bordered on seductive. “You only need enough to keep your systems stable. Basic is, ah… pretty… flexible.” Unlike Ruin. “I’m sure you noticed it improved the functionality of everything else, this morning.”

It was true that he’d felt pretty brilliant, this morning. Imaginative, enthusiastic. He stared down at the cube by his feet, then stooped to pick it up – hesitantly, as if afraid it’d bite him. “Feeding an addiction is not a good way to conduct an investigation,” he reminded himself, softly, even though he knew he was seriously contemplating the cube.

“If we fix this, we can get help.”

“You’ll forgive me for pointing out that I don’t much want the sort of ‘help’ you provide,” he growled, sorely, and winced and rubbed the back of his helm. “A ready supply of Blue is not what I want.”

“I didn’t mean that. I meant, help getting off it.”

“You can’t get off it,” he reminded her.

“Not yet, but I have faith in our team,” she lied, and watched his scrutiny of the cube deepen. “There’s got to be a way, and our team will find it. Please?”

Poisoned or not, Blue was still mostly energon. And he was still running deficient. And his systems were still crying out for stability. He briefly shuttered his optics, and cursed quietly and rubbed his temples, before taking a sip.

The change was almost instant. The tired slouch in his back straightened out, and his optics took on a healthier glow. “Hnh, well, okay. It’s… better. I guess,” he allowed, ungraciously – his gyros had instantly settled, the pressure in his coolant lines had eased, and he felt not just normal but better than normal. Maybe it wasn’t so bad. A small price to pay for this sharp clarity. Besides, the problem wouldn’t last too long – they’d beat the producers of the Blue filth into the ground, Screamer would work his science-magic and cure the addiction, and it’d all be sorted out permanently.

She parked her aft onto the berth next to him, warily. “I can take you to the Boss, if you want.”

“The who?” If I go along with her, I can take them out.

“The Designer. The one who created it. He wanted to see you.”
0o0o0o0o0

“Hey, geeks. I’m going out for a while.”

“Out? Out where?” Starscream glanced up. Skywarp was in the doorway, a peculiar, unreadable expression on his face.

“Do I have to get your permission, now, or something?” Skywarp challenged, arms folded.

“No-o, just making precautions in case we have to come out and rescue you.”

“Oh ha-de-ha. I’m hardly going to get in trouble just flying around a bit, am I?”

“Knowing you, Warp, anything is possible,” Starscream turned back to his equipment setup. “So where are you going, aside from just ‘out’?”

“I’ve got a lead. I’m gonna go chase it, see where it takes me. That good enough for you?” Skywarp excused himself, with a vague smile and a one-armed shrug. “Besides, you bunch of super-geeks don’t need brainless little me hanging around causing a problem and breaking the equipment.”

“Not a good enough lead that you can share it with the rest of us?”

Skywarp prft-ed. “It’s a purge-poor lead,” he replied, openly. “But frag, I’m bored as the proverbial wotsit. I’m following this up to stop myself making all your samples up into one big potion and feeding it to the Auto-dorks.”

Starscream gave him an alarmed look, but more to do with the potential to lose all his precious exemplars rather than out of any concern for their hosts.

“I was joking,” Skywarp cast his gaze heavenwards and gave his friend a prod in the chassis. “Stop asking questions and let me get out from under your feet, all right?”

“All right, all right,” Starscream waved him away, irritably; the purple Seeker was far too close to the delicate setup, and he already had a habit of breaking things without having his lack of balance become a convenient excuse. “Get a move on.”

Pulsar was fidgeting outside when Skywarp appeared from the station’s rear doors.

“All right, femme,” Skywarp’s expression hardened into an unfriendly scowl. “I’m gonna fly us there – slagged if I’m going to crawl along at the speed you travel at. We’re going to get there on time, I’m gonna kick someone’s dental plates- no, their entire fragging cortex in, then we head back. Got it?”

She nodded, silently.

“Good. Just keep the frag out of my way, or I might give you a boot between the optics in the process.”

-------

Of course, as ever, still happy to accept suggestions... ;) I still have quiiite a way to go with this, and I'm more than happy to attempt to add things... within reason. ¬_¬

Edit: auuuuuuuuuugh million goddamn billy-fecks outside my flat OUTSIDE MY FLAT *flail* Go away go away giant f'cking flying-walnut insects go AWAY.

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