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"Warped", chapter two

A/N: yes, I shamelessly filched a couple of comments people had made in various places in this chapter. ;)

And I'm not saying ANYTHING about the cryptic bit. Suspicious guesses will probably be right. ;P

And yeah, I apologise that it's gone a bit (hugely) OOC. :\ This was actually a knida hard chapter to write, so... go figure.

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Warped
Chapter Two

For a very long quarter-breem, Skywarp sat and examined the blank monitor.

Much as he hated to admit it, Vantage had piqued his curiosity. Yeah, so it probably was asking a bit much for it to actually be something out of the ordinary, because to Vantage, perpetually stuck guarding the space bridge, everything was unusual – but then the guard’s way of showing his interest in something was usually along the lines of OMFP LOOKIT LOOKIT! ROFLROFL and they usually ignored him. For him to actually be moderate and thoughtful about it suggested it actually was something at least vaguely important.

Couldn’t just ditch his post, though. Megatron would yell at him even more loudly than he’d yell if he caught him recharging on the job. Gotta think of someone who can cover for me. Skywarp frowned, and rubbed his nose; there were really only two choices who could be relied on not to squeak to the warlord, and those were either of his wingmates. And neither would be happy about his request.

Starscream was ‘debriefing’ Megatron – well, that was what he called it, although it was probably more like rubbing his face into his mistakes and gloating about exactly what had gone wrong and what would have been done better if he’d been in charge, while the tyrant’s fusion cannon was offline and he still had the chance to do so without getting toasted.

Thundercracker would be down in their shared dorm, probably recuperating after his own narrow dicing with disaster. He’d almost had his wing shot right off by some new Autobot weapon, and that had left him sore and grouchy. Skywarp fidgeted. He knew Thundercracker was more than a smidgen peeved at him personally, since it had been a shot aimed at him that had knocked the blue Seeker out of the sky – teleportation was a wonderful tool for skipping out of the way of things at short notice – and he didn’t really want to pester, but… While Thundercracker would probably chew on his audios, Starscream could be counted on to physically bludgeon him a new one. So Thundercracker it was.

-TC?- he pinged. -You awake?-

There were a few long seconds of waiting, and finally a gruff, sleepy response came over their private channel. “Well, I am now. What do you want, fragger?

Skywarp made a face. Great, he IS still pee’d off. “I, er… listen, something’s come up. I wondered if I could ask a favour off you?”

If you’re gonna ask me to do your duty shift for you, you can just frag off without even bothering asking.

“Well, er… Not even for a cycle or two?”

G’night, Skywarp-”

“No no, wait, wait! This might be important!”

Oh, this seriously isn’t fair. I’m running on vapours already, you can’t expect-

“You can rest up here, we’ve got hookups and everything under the monitor console! Please, TC, I’ll make it up to you.”

“…You never really grasped the idea of monitor duty, did you?

“Aw, come on, TC, nothing ever happens. Those stupid Auto-dorks are far too busy building trees and befriending the Squishies.” Skywarp pinched the bridge of his nose and muttered frustratedly under his breath for a moment. “Look, I promise, I’ll make it up to you! I’ll do you two shifts as payment,” he offered, hopefully. “That’s fair, right?”

Silence greeted his words.

“…right, TC?” he coaxed, nervously. “Um, and you can have some of my high-grade?”

Still silence.

“Half of it? Most of it?” Skywarp chased, sounding more worried by the second. “TC, come on…! Aand…” The longer the silence at the other end of the line got, the more desperate he was starting to sound. “I’ll stay off the squishy internet a whole lunar cycle! I won’t hack into anywhere important or post rude messages on government websites or anything…! Come on, TC, what more do I have to give you, sacrificial offerings of my own spare parts? Pleeease?”

Well, I was going to accept your first offer, I just wanted to see how far I could get you to string it out if I didn’t answer,” Thundercracker finally replied, drolly, and laughed at the spluttering angry noises Skywarp made in return. “All right,” he growled, amusedly, at last. “You do me three shifts in return – because you still owe me for that time ten orns ago, when I dragged your ungrateful aft out of a river before you flooded your temperature regulator – and I’ll do your shift now. Just give me a minute to get there…

“Did I ever tell you how much I love you, TC?” Skywarp said, and made relieved smoochy faces at the monitor.

No, you didn’t, and I’d kinda prefer it to stay that way.

0o0o0o0o0

Far below, beside the giant, flattened metallic torus of the space bridge, Vantage was waving; the silver groundling had made himself a perfect target for any prowling Auto-dork, the way he stuck out like a shiny silver beacon in the rocky landscape, so Skywarp figured it was probably safe to land. He dipped his wings and pointed his toes, and landed gracefully nearby.

“This better be good!” the teleport ‘greeted’, irritably, advancing up the rocky hillside. “What’s so important you couldn’t just tell be over the radio? I’m taking a risk coming out here without authorisation, Megatron’s already threatened me with a leash and I don’t want to be confined to quarters for the next terran month.”

“Ehh, well… You’ve, ah… got visitors,” Vantage explained, awkwardly, unconsciously backing away from the prickly flier.

“Visitors?” The teleport quirked a brow. “So why didn’t they tell me they were coming? Why’d they rely on some halfwit ground-pounder to relay the message?”

“Well, this halfwit ground-pounder at least got the message to you with no problems, unlike those last couple who came through,” Vantage groused, and glanced back over his shoulder at the heap of supplies Shockwave had apparently just sent back. “I bet they never even got their message across, yet, did they? Besides, these new ones are kinda small, and a bit linguistically-challenged, so I figured they could do with a bit of help.”

“What?” Skywarp gave him a look. “Vantage, you’re going in circles. If you’re just fragging about, I will not be held responsible when my foot gets inserted up your rear turbine.” He waved a finger under the guard’s nose.

“Aw, lay off.” Vantage bravely swatted the hand away. “I told ’em to stay hidden until you got here, just in case you had an attack of the honourables and brought Megatron along. I was figuring you’d want to decide what to do without him venting exhaust heat down your neck the whole time.”

“What to do with who?”

Vantage directed his attention back at the heap of supplies. “Hey, you two? You gonna quit hiding sometime, or what? He’s here.”

For a second or two, there was nothing. Then there was a shifting rustle, and two empty solvent cans and an energy brace slid off the top of the heap, and at last a little dark head with probing greenish optics appeared from where its owner was hidden at the middle of the pile. “This am?” it asked, quietly, looking sidelong at Vantage for confirmation. The voice was extremely juvenile, and… perhaps female?

The guard nodded, just once.

There was a brief flicker of purplish light as molecules were ionised and forcibly deformed, and the little machine reappeared in the clear spot in front of the pile, closely followed by a second, fractionally larger one – possibly male? The heap of supplies groaned and all slumped in on itself, now the small bodies weren’t holding it up, making the little mech jump and cling closer to the femme.

Seeing them both teleport was a worrying development. His unique spatial skills were one of the few things Skywarp was pretty good at, and also a rather rare ability – something Megatron had tried hard to replicate on several occasions, but never really succeeded at. If those Auto-dorks had somehow managed to carry off an effective gating system-

He wasn’t given much time to contemplate it. The smaller of the two – although not smaller by much – came forwards with her head canted over sideways, and enquired, quietly; “Skawar help?”

Skywarp perked both brows, and gave them both a long, hard, suspicious look. “All right, I give up,” he admitted, at last, straightening to glare at Vantage. “What’s the joke?”

The guard quirked his head sideways. “I… don’t know?” he replied, as if trying to work out what the test was. “Should there be one? Look, they just appeared out of that heap of old junk, and asked for you.” Vantage spread his hands, peevishly. “At least, that’s what I worked out, eventually. I figured maybe you knew something! I don’t know how they got past Shockwave, I don’t know how they got onto the space bridge, I certainly don’t know why in Primus name they want to see an underclocked airhead like you! Just that here they are, and they do. So how about you sort it out, and stop asking me stupid questions?”

“Oh, send ’em back to Shockwave,” the teleport instructed, dismissively, waving a hand and turning to face back down the hill. “He’ll know what to do with ’em. Might even make him more inclined to watch who he’s letting through the space bridge, in future.”

He got three whole steps before there came the stroppy little uu-whup! of a siren from somewhere behind him, and he froze up completely, foot still upraised. Siren? Squeaky has one of them. Don’t tell me they’re here for her? Kinda small for Policebots. Or maybe she’s shrunk? Or-…A horrible thought struck him, and he felt his jaw sag. Aw, no. That’s GOT to be a mistake-

“Er, Skywarp?” Vantage coaxed. “You okay?”

He realised he’d been stood like an idiot with his mouth open and his foot still in the air for a full few seconds, and let the recalcitrant thruster slowly back to the ground. Then turned around, very slowly, very carefully, and studied the two little blobs of mismatched armour a little more intently.

Siren: check. Flashing lights: check. Teleport? As if seeing it with his own disbelieving optics hadn’t been enough, they’d got past Shocky somehow. And… were those stubby little winglets, on one, as well?

His first thought, as the unappealing truth slowly revealed itself to him, was oh, slag.

The thought that immediately followed it was oh, SLAG, and he actually backed off a step, clipped the back of his foot against a low outcrop, and landed with a low whump on his aft in the dirt.

The diminutive femme took it as an invitation to try again, came forwards with one arm outstretched. “Skawar?” Her small face was set in a dedicated little frown of effort.

He put out a hand, still not quite able to shake the stunned expression from his own face, and she slotted her tiny fingers into his large palm.

“Please tell me you’re not what I think you are,” he said, vainly. “Because it’s really gonna make my life difficult if you are.”

The small mech had grown braver at seeing his little friend approach the giant and not get squished. He sneaked up behind her, using her as a shield, and rested his chin on her shoulder. “Day?”

“That was kinda what I didn’t want you to say,” Skywarp groaned, and rubbed his optics. Slag. Slag slag slag. These two are MINE. What in Primus name do I do now?

The little femme climbed up onto his leg and caught his arm. “Help find Ama,” she said, cryptically, tugging at his fingers. “Come with?”

He stared down at her, about to gruffly deny he wanted anything to do with either of them, and... felt his resolve waver in those big, round optics. “Iii… guess I better take you home, for now,” he sighed. “Primus only knows how I’ll sneak you past whoever’s on monitor duty, but Screamer will know what to do with you…”

“So. You did know something, after all,” Vantage pointed out, already back in his favourite seat, feet up, watching the Seeker approach.

“Huh. You so much as think of breathing a word of this to anyone,” Skywarp threatened, smiling sweetly, “and your aft is mine. Got that?”

Vantage nodded, warily. “Not a word,” he agreed, with a sloppy salute.

“Good.” The teleport gave him a condescending pat on the helm. “And I can also promise that you won’t even see me sneaking up on you, if I ever have to come remind you of the terms of the arrangement.” It was a fact not lost upon him that the little femme was waving excitedly at Vantage from her perch on his dark shoulder, and the silver guard was waving back. Oh well. I figure that means I can trust him.

“So, uh… what am I supposed to call you two, anyway?” Skywarp wondered, pulling a face as he picked the little male up as well.

“Slipstream,” the little mech explained, patting a hand down on his small chest. “That Footloose.”

“Button!” Footloose insisted, leaning down off the dark Seeker’s shoulders.

“Button?” Skywarp gave her a look.

“Cute as!”

“I don’t even need to guess whose idea that was,” Skywarp grumbled, ambling away downhill and rumbling his thrusters. “Let’s get you away from here before the Auto-dorks catch wind of you.”

“No fly?” Slipstream asked, quietly, shrinking back against Skywarp’s chassis.

“No fly?” Skywarp echoed. “What’s that supposed to mean? I’ve got to get back somehow-”

“No fly,” Slipstream repeated, turning his face away.

Skywarp pursed his lips, and thought back to the time they’d spent on Cybertron. “You scared of heights, or something?” he guessed, thinking about one of the phobias Pulsar hadn’t tried to hide.

Slipstream nodded, silently, trying to mould himself against him.

“Well, I can’t exactly walk back,” the dark Seeker explained, tiredly, feeling a faint vibration starting up in the tiny body. “Or swim, for that matter, because there’s a big old bit of wet between us and home. Um. Okay, let me think…”

0o0o0o0o0

Where… where was-… what had-…

what…?

...ohh, pain. Pain. Everything was so hot. After those blissful, numb nanoseconds of returning consciousness, her diagnostics pulsed another chit of data up from her sensor-grid, and ohhh did everything hurt. Not just that raw, unrelenting heat that slowed every processor until it felt like it was flowing through old engine grease, it felt like she’d taken a one-way trip through the primary grind-plates of a recycling mill.

Why was it so hot? So tortuously difficult to do anything, to just get her optical circuitry to respond, her optics to come online. The world that revealed itself to her was nothing more than a blur of dull ginger, with a shifting, yielding floor. The air was rank with high-smelling chemicals and burnt circuits… was that all just from her?

She groaned inwardly, unable to flex her vocaliser and tell the world about her hurts. Her central processor had already overheated and enforced stasis twice, if her diagnostics were to be believed, and her vocal circuitry was still recalibrating… Of course, it was still damaged, wasn’t it?

Wait, no – no, it hadn’t been the heat that had so completely ruined her vocaliser, that had happened before the heat. No, it had been the fingers – the long, thin, spidery fingers that had probed like a hunting xenobiotic into her mouth and on down her throat even as she arched her back and kicked and tried to struggle free-

Pain was a rash of damage warnings all down her left side. She finally vented a long, thin electronic warble of pain and tried to squirm herself out from under the crippling weight that crushed down on her back, her arms.

“Hey- oh, hey! …waking up…?”

Words came to her in a distorted, jangling mess. It sounded almost like-… no, it couldn’t be. Must be yet another trick-

“So hit-…!”

“…’t want to hurt-”

“Just do it! …I have… shut her up, I’ll… more than hurt…”

Dark blurs – someone’s feet? – came briefly into her field of vision, but there was a flash of pain, oh such pain! And the world went dim again.

0o0o0o0o0

The return to Nemesis was… weird. Slipstream had tucked himself away in Skywarp’s cockpit, and was now clinging on like grim death, busy vibrating his fright at being so high up off the ground. It had been intensely distracting, at first, but rerouting power away from the affected circuits toned down the problem. The longer they were airborne, the less the sparkling was shaking, anyway – perhaps getting used to it, or perhaps just too tired. There wasn’t enough room for both little ones to fit in his cockpit, but Footloose was content to sit on his shoulder and hang on to his shoulder vent, so long as they didn’t go too fast.

Getting them aboard without being noticed was going to be the fun part, Skywarp mused, unimpressed. It was rapidly coming up to the time for a shift-change, and if he remembered right, Ramjet would be taking over. If he was lucky, Thundercracker would be still there… -TC? Still monitoring?- he pinged.

-Yeah. You back then? -

-Kinda-

Beat. -Want me to stay on shift? -

-Please. Cover for me? -

-Owe me big time, now, Warp-

-Much love!-

-Quiet, you. Sending tower up-

“Have to come home!” Footloose instructed, as they circled, watching as the docking platform rose like some sort of malignant purple fungus from the unfriendly waters.

“Wait, what. You two little blips of nothing came all this way just to get me to go ‘home’ with you? Whose silly idea was that?” He pointed his toes at the docking tower and came to a graceful halt on the landing stage, carefully extracting the tight little Slipstream-coloured bundle of limbs from his cockpit. “Squeaky, I’ll bet. Can’t handle the pressure, or something.”

“Ama Sweeky lost,” she corrected, sombrely, with a little whup! of alarm as she finally lost her grip and slid off his shoulder. He was already turning to catch her, and watched as she automatically teleported herself closer to the ground to soften the impact. Obviously had some experience in falling off things, he figured. Screamer would no doubt have something droll to say about that.

“Help us find!” Slipstream explained, clinging to his leg.

“Okay, so… let me get this straight.” He waddled into the lift, his sparklings still hanging off his thrusters. “You two decided – all by yourselves – that you’d come here, to a whole different planet, to find me – a Decepticon, who you should be damn well scared of – because you want me to help you find that annoying little Autobot that helped make you?” He groaned and covered his face with both hands. “Primus. One of these days I’ll get the chance to have a little bit of meaningless fun that doesn’t end up having giant repercussions.”

0o0o0o0o0

Ramjet had arrived late as usual, and looked puzzled but not particularly interested to find Thundercracker instead of Skywarp sat with his feet up in the monitoring room. They swapped places with an almost unfriendly bit of jostling, and Thundercracker emerged into the corridor to find Starscream waiting.

“Our mighty leader has called a meeting,” the red Seeker explained, irritably, nursing a new silvery dent in his forearm. “I think he’s in the mood for blaming everyone else but him for his latest failure, again.”

“He’s already blamed you, then?”

“Blame I was quick to absolve myself of.” Starscream smirked and demonstrated the silver on his knuckles. “For once he elected not to argue the point.”

“The fact we dragged him off the battlefield in pieces and Hook has only just patched him back together has nothing to do with it, of course?”

“Of course!”

-Guys? Need you-

Thundercracker gave Starscream a look, following him into the lift to the command centre. “Did you just hear-”

“Yeah, he pinged me as well,” Starscream interrupted, dryly. “I wonder what sort of mess he’s got himself into now?”

“Do you think we should-”

“No, he can wait. If he’s going to skive off somewhere and let us take any flack for his absence, then he can wait.”

Half a breem passed in peace before there was another slightly more irritable ping, just as they passed through the door into the crowded control room and edged along the sides to their positions at the front of the assembly. -Important!-

-Wait- Starscream pinged back, annoyedly.

-Seriously important-

-WAIT-

The retort was inaudible, but conveyed its disgust accurately enough.

At the front of the room, Megatron surveyed the assembled Decepticons, and narrowed his optics, grimly. “Where’s that idiot Skywarp got to?”

The two Seekers present swapped looks, and shrugged, innocently clueless expressions on their faces.

“He’s been in the monitoring room for a while,” Thundercracker suggested. “I imagine he’s gone to recharge.”

The warlord narrowed his optics. “And what makes today different to all those other times he’s happily sat up in the monitoring room and slacked off up there?” he growled. “Please don’t take me for an idiot, I know exactly what he does when he thinks no-one’s watching.”

“Of course, sir. My apologies.” Thundercracker dropped his gaze, humbly.

“You’re not covering for him, by any chance, Thundercracker?” Crimson optics narrowed, suspiciously. “If I find out he’s up to another of his idiotic pranks-”

“Me, sir?” Thundercracker touched fingers to his cockpit and produced the single most guileless, innocent expression yet recorded for a Seeker. “After everything the fragger’s put me through? There is a limit to my patience.”

Megatron gave one of those guarded, wordless growls that could have meant anything, but didn’t challenge him any further. The blue Seeker was familiar enough with the unspoken you’ll-be-for-the-high-jump-as-well-if-I-find-out-you’re-lying, anyway, without it needing to be said.

The “meeting” itself was short and suitably to-the-point. Megatron roundly lambasted everyone present, and when no-one had the good manners to look suitably chastised he gave Starscream a good whack around the audios for having the nerve to actually stand quietly and not back-chat him. How dare he mock him so openly! It was a good job he was in a good mood or Hook would be patching up another fusion-burn over the overconfident air-commander’s delicate wings! Everyone got dismissed with a single highly-dispersed crack of low-yield violet laser fire that stung the derma, and the announcement that Megatron was sick and tired of looking at them, the flock of prize idiots…

“Well?” Megatron growled, the instant he and Soundwave were alone.

“They are hiding something,” Soundwave confirmed, quietly.

“What, exactly?”

“Data: insufficient. Impossible to tell. Even they do not seem to know what Skywarp is doing.” Soundwave paused, and considered. “They cover for him anyway.”

“Keep a very close watch on them,” the warlord instructed, softly. “I want to know what they’re playing at the instant you know.”

0o0o0o0o0

“I could suggest we lay bets on exactly what idiocy our dear wingmate has got himself into,” Thundercracker quipped, ambling out of the lift onto the dormitory level he shared with Skywarp, “but I know he’d still manage to surprise us.”

“And that is not the sort of humour we should use when Warp is the subject,” Starscream scolded, following him through the doors. “Tempting fate is an exercise I would prefer to avoid.”

Thundercracker rolled his optics, and stabbed his fingers carefully down across the number pad to unlock the door to his quarters. The door slid back to reveal Skywarp sitting on his berth, legs crossed in front of him, his back and drooping wings to the door.

“Warp?” Thundercracker took the lead into his and Skywarp’s shared quarters. The lighting was low, and the place was quiet, and it all just felt… odd. “Everything okay?”

“If you pestered us in a meeting and dragged us down here for nothing-” Starscream added, standing in the doorway with his arms folded across his chest.

“You guys remember when we were on Cybertron last, right?” Skywarp wondered, not looking up. “About… half an Earth year ago?”

“Hardly going to forget that. What about it?”

“Well, er…” He finally glanced back over his shoulder, and his optics had a funny subdued glow to them. “I kinda… had an… accident. With Squeaky.”

There was a second or two of silence. Then-… a pair of small, round, slightly purplish-blue lights appeared under the lower margin of Skywarp’s wing, and blinked up at them.

“Whoa,” Thundercracker jumped, startled, and backed into Starscream in the doorway. “What are you doing bringing strangers aboard, Warp? And-” He narrowed his optics. “…They’re pretty puny, aren’t they?”

“I only brought them back so you two could help me work out what to do with them,” Skywarp retorted, tiredly, allowing the owner of a second set of small lights clamber up onto his shoulder to ogle the array of wings in the doorway. “I wasn’t going to leave my-… ahh, them…with Shockwave.”

There was another of those long, uncomfortable pauses.

“Oh. My. Freaking. Primus,” Thundercracker breathed, horrified, noticing Skywarp’s slip, and successfully putting two and two together. “Tell me they’re not sparklings.”

“We-ell… I would, but I know you don’t like it when I lie to you…”

“Primus alive, Skywarp! Every time I think we’ve finally plumbed the very last depth of your stupidity, you come up with yet another new and inventive way of proving me wrong,” Starscream despaired, glaring exhaustedly at the teleport. “Didn’t the concept of taking precautions ever cross your half-clocked processors when you were playing around with Squeaky?”

Skywarp studied his fingers, guiltily. “Um, well… no?” He glanced up at his wingmate and half-smiled, sheepishly. “At the time? I was kinda preoccupied, and, ah… it… never really occurred to me.”

“What did you think was going to happen, merging sparks without the appropriate baffles in place?! Idiot!” The red Seeker gave him a stern swat around the back of the head. “Do you even attempt to think further ahead than your next break? And what in the Pit are you doing bringing them back here?” he added, angrily. “Do you want Megatron to get his hands on them, or did you think you could somehow hide them from him right under his nose?”

“Well, maybe I brought them back for him,” Skywarp sulked back, folding his arms and almost dislodging Footloose from his shoulder. “I am supposed to be his most loyal Seeker, right? A powerful gift for the mighty warlord.”

“Oh yeah, that sounds pretty likely,” Thundercracker scoffed. “You get hold of something genuinely valuable, and you go hand it straight over to Megatron, who’s world renowned for his respect for rare, valuable things.”

Skywarp dropped his gaze back to his lap, irritably. “I didn’t know what else to do, all right?” he defended himself, sulkily. “I could hardly ask you to come out and meet me at the space bridge without Megs getting suspicious, and I wasn’t going to leave them there all on their own. Those stupid Auto-dorks might have found them, and I’d never get to the bottom of things if that happened.”

“What is there to get to the bottom of?” Thundercracker wondered, perching on the side of the berth next to him. “Unless you’re wondering why Squeaky should elect to dump them on you, because you’re hardly ideal parental material.”

“Ama Sweeky los’,” a little voice explained, and the blue Seeker looked sidelong at the sparkling on the teleport’s shoulder; she was watching him veery intently. “Day help fine!”

Skywarp gave both his wingmates a despairing look. “See? What the Pit can I say in response to that?” he demanded, tiredly. “They want me to go back to our homeworld, to look for Squeaky, who for all we know might have done a bunk because she’s not ready to be a parent, either! I just… rrgh!” He rubbed the heel of his hand into his optic, and looked genuinely beaten. “I don’t know what to do, guys. I could really do with you actually helping me instead of calling me rude names, for once.”

“A good kick in the skidplate would be the most help,” Starscream sniped, glaring, but his expression had marginally softened. “All right, all right. I’m on board – but only because I know there’s no way you’ll puzzle your way through this on your own, and leaving you to your own devices will only spell disaster. TC?”

“Poetic justice, huh? We’ve had to look after Warp this past few thousand vorns, now he gets a turn at it.” Thundercracker gave the little femme a vague smile – who had climbed her investigative way over to his shoulders, by now – and spread his hands in a shrug. “All right. I’m in. Besides,” he smiled, sheepishly. “These two mini-Warps are kinda cute, anyway.”

“Tizzy?” Footloose asked, peering round at the pale face, and there were amused snickers from the other two. “That name?”

“TC,” the blue Seeker corrected, with a dry smile. “Thundercracker.”

“Dacker,” Footloose tried again.

“All right, that’s probably close enough for now,” Thundercracker clucked, gently, nudging a knuckle up under her chin and listening as she chirped back at him, reassured. “Y’know, I agree with Screamer, Warp. I don’t think we should tell Megatron,” he mused, quietly, removing the femme from his shoulders and offering her back to Skywarp. “Aside from the fact he could probably crush both of them with no effort whatsoever, if he felt that way inclined, I also don’t think they’d stay sparklings for very long.”

“You don’t think he’d kill them, do you?” Skywarp glanced up, automatically lifting his arm out of the way so Footloose could tuck in alongside his wings.

“I think TC means – and I agree with him – that the chance to mould them into the ideal warriors would be too great to pass up.” Starscream nodded his agreement with his wingmate. “Indoctrinate them so early they don’t think to question the validity of his campaign.”

“I’m so glad you both said that,” Skywarp grinned, half-heartedly. He looked like he wasn’t entirely sure if he should force the twins to go recharge somewhere else, or look pleased that both his unexpected brood had elected to snuggle closer, and had a confused semi-sneer on his face. “I’d hate to be forced to kick both of your afts if you were thinking about giving them to him.”

“Regardless of who does or does-not tell whom, we are going to have to decide what to do pretty damn quick,” Starscream cautioned, softly. “Because I think we can all be pretty content in the idea they won’t stay secret for long. In the unlikely event they manage to remain unseen, the resident mindprobe will probably root the information out.” He gave the twins a look. “Getting them home – and getting them to stay there – will be the better option.”

“Get home,” Slipstream agreed, quietly. “And find Ama.”

“What do you want to do, Warp?” Thundercracker coaxed. “You’re a partner in this as well, and they’re your little ones. You can’t leave it to us two to decide it all for you.”

Skywarp dropped his gaze into his lap, and shrugged, awkwardly. “It would be nice to know she’s okay,” he admitted, then added, to save face; “then we can give her these two back. Right?”

“All right. Before we even try to go, we’re going to have to cook up a pretty damn good reason to go back to Cybertron,” Starscream considered, warily. “Because I don’t think Megatron will fall for ‘we were a bit homesick, boss’. And until then? We should try hard to keep them with us at all times. If someone’s going off-base on a routine patrol, they can take one with them. Avoid leaving them unattended at all costs. And there will be ground rules,” he directed his attention down at the two infants. “You two will behave yourselves, or you will find the rules are tightened. Understood?”

The two sparklings swapped looks across Skywarp’s chassis, then huddled closer to him, nodding.

Starscream examined Slipstream from a distance; the small optics had dimmed almost all the way into a sullen cobalt, but they watched him back just as intently. “Well, I suppose at least it explains what happens when you put Warp and Squeak’s sparks in a blender,” he deadpanned. “I dread to imagine their adult capabilities. Teleporters with voices that could shatter mountains.” He winced. “Primus, even just imagining the Doppler effect on a siren moving at supersonic speeds is giving me a headache.”

------

Edit: Oops, fluffed a tag. Fixed!

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
_silverfox
Oct. 2nd, 2008 05:50 pm (UTC)
Awwww, so much cuteness! I almost wish they'd stuck with Tizzy, though. *imagines Autobots desperately looking for lost sparking toy as that can't possibly be a Decepticon's name*

And Starscream, you've got your optics on the wrong twin, Slipstreem will probably actually obey the rules. I doubt Button will for very long, though.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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