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"Warped", Chapter Three

A/N: I shall say it now. This chapter completely kicked my aft. :falls over:

Ugh. Sorry. I didn’t want things to move quite as quick as they have done, but my brain melted while I was writing it, so… I guess this is as good as I can make it. :\ And it's even more OOC than the last chapter, so egh, I figure that's just the way this one's gonna go.

Additionally, I shouldn’t be allowed to listen to music while I’m writing this. I end up associating the most irrelevant, inappropriate tracks with it.

“Put my hands over your eyes, but you peek through…”

Okay, so it’d fit better with the end of the storyline (and makes a very surreal image :P ) Speaking of which, I have no frickin’ idea how I’m going to finish this one. Oh well!

------

Warped
Chapter Three

It was a good job he’d lapsed into recharge with his back propped against the wall, Skywarp mused, because he would have fallen clean off his berth at finding the small face with far-too-bright-for-this-time-of-day green optics a fraction of a handsbreadth from his own nose. “Primus!” He jolted hard in alarm, and jerked his hands up, and only just halted his shove before he sent the sparkling flying. “Don’t do that!”

“Day!” Footloose greeted, oblivious to the violence that had almost been dealt on her small body. “Awning!”

“All right, all right. Hello, Trouble,” he sighed, tiredly, as she clicked greetings and butted her small head up under his chin. “So I didn’t hallucinate the pair of you, after all.”

Slipstream was awake, but still tucked down alongside the big teleport’s wings. He flickered his optics, and wiggled his fingers in a ‘hello’, but seemed content to stay where he was, sleepily placid compared to his sister. Thundercracker was still oblivious, flaked out on his front… but not for long. Footloose sprang all the way between berths and landed square on the back of his left wing. He gave a grunt of startled shock, and shoved himself partially upright fast enough to send the small machine sliding all the way to the floor with a squeak.

It took a second for the blue Seeker to work out they weren’t under attack, and when the world came back into focus he groaned tiredly and let himself slump back to his berth. “Her first alt-mode should be an alarm clock,” he groused, glaring. “I tell you, if she makes a habit of that, I’m gonna petition for a new room, Megatron be damned.”

Skywarp watched as Footloose did a careful, thorough investigation of the room. “Might not have to worry about that, if Screamer gets his way.”

“Anyone would think you’re getting all paternal and having second thoughts, Warp.”

“No-o.” Skywarp did that thoughtful face that usually had his friends running for cover. “Just… wondering when the ‘cooling off period’ will end.”

“The what?”

“You know, the period where you’ve gotta decide if you still want something? That.”

“Oh, for goodness-…” Thundercracker covered his face with one hand and shook his head. “Warp, they’re not toasters.”

“I know, I know,” Skywarp accepted, hands raised. “I just-… I-… TC, I don’t know. What if I don’t want to give ’em back?”

“This isn’t exactly prime sparkling-raising habitat, you know.”

“Exactly! Why do you think it's so hard for me to decide?!”

Footloose had stopped in the middle of the room, and was watching both out of alert optics. “Where Sta’zim?” she wondered, at last, and the reason for her circling at last became apparent.

“He gets a room to himself,” Thundercracker replied, sitting himself up and rubbing his shoulder. “One of the perks of rank, means you don’t have to slum it with your underlings.”

“Doesn’t mean we can’t get to him, though,” Skywarp commented, thoughtfully.

Thundercracker gave him an optics-narrowed look, recognising the glint in the dark Seeker’s crimson gaze. “I wouldn’t. You want her to get fried?”

“I didn’t say anything.” Skywarp put his nose in the air.

“Oh, you didn’t need to…”

0o0o0o0o0o0

Starscream hadn’t been particularly welcoming of his morning greetings, Skywarp mused, ambling down the corridor towards the air commander’s lab. After giving his wingmate’s audio a good chewing – which Skywarp had ignored with the ease of long practice – the smarting red Seeker had squirreled himself away inside and refused to talk to anyone called Skywarp for a cycle or two. A little prodding and a half-hearted apology or two had coaxed a snappish response out of him, which the teleport took to mean enough time had passed for him to pretend nothing had happened.

Once safely within the screened confines of the laboratory, he popped his cockpit open so Footloose could get out. “All right, Button. Out,” he instructed, giving her a little shove when she didn’t immediately emerge. “You’ve got your own little legs, you use ’em.”

Footloose grumbled quietly on landing, but soon had her attention taken by the room. It reminded her a little of Spotweld’s surgery, but it was full of far more exciting things… she headed off to investigate the closest large glittering piece of electronica.

“Great,” Skywarp grumbled, folding his arms. “Now I feel like Soundwave. Figure I'll be giving him less of a hard time, from now on.”

Starscream gave him a quick (and deliberately obvious) visual scrutiny, from the top of his head to his feet, and back up again. “I would say you look like him too, but that’s not fair on Soundwave,” he said, dryly, ignoring the irritated noises that came from his wingmate. “I’d only worry about it if you catch yourself telling her to ‘eject’. Where’s the other one, anyway?”

“Left him with TC. They’re too big to carry ’em both about in my pocket.”

“I’m debating whether I should be glad you left the well-behaved one behind or not. It means we can keep a better eye on this one, but equally we probably didn’t ought to have her in a room full of delicate electronics and combustibles…” Starscream directed his attention back at the little femme doing a long, slow orbit of the room, assessing where everything was. “You touch anything, and there will be trouble,” he threatened, waving a finger for emphasis. “I have enough problems with Skywarp breaking things he shouldn’t even be going near, I don’t want you following in his footsteps.”

Footloose gave him an anxious glance and put her fingers back in her mouth, but didn’t stop her investigating.

“Psh. They wouldn’t have worked anyway, and you know it,” Skywarp argued, amusedly, referring to the devices his own curiosity had consigned to the scrapheap. “I just saved you from wasting all that time on lost causes.”

“So when are you going to save me from wasting time on you?” Starscream deadpanned, giving him a dry look.

“Oo-hoo, low blow, Screamer, low blow.” Skywarp gave him a ‘friendly’ slap on the back and almost sent him sprawling over the desk. “So what are you doing, anyway?”

“Trying to ramp up the output capacity of this.” Starscream gestured to the little communications wafer that lay gutted on the table.

“Is that the one you swiped off Hardline?” Skywarp leaned closer to peer down at it.

“It’s the one he gave me when we left, yes,” Starscream confirmed, making sure he emphasised the corrected part of the sentence. “It’s got all the relevant bandwidths, but it’s nowhere near powerful enough to get a message all the way to Cybertron, and I really want to avoid using Nemesis’ communications arrays in case anyone should, ah… listen in.”

“Wait, what exactly are you saying, here? You want those Policedorks to come and help out?” Skywarp gave him a nose-wrinkled look. “You don’t think we’re capable of doing this ourselves?”

“No, I want those ‘Policedorks’ to come and get your two little brats, so they’re out from under our thrusters.”

Skywarp narrowed his optics and folded his arms, defensively. “Aw, come on, you can’t still be sore I got her to go wake you up-”

“…!! Jumping all over my wings is not the sort of wakeup call I appreciate!”

“-Besides, they’re my little brats,” Skywarp went on, ignoring him. “And if I want them here, I’ll keep them here.”

Starscream gave him his best long-suffering look. “I’m trying to be a realist, here,” he explained, irritably. “I know I’m expecting a bit much of you, but have you even once paused to think about the logistics of this?”

“What logistics do we need to think about? Where we’re going to swipe enough energon to feed ‘em with?”

“I’m thinking rather more about the fact that they’re a liability, Skywarp,” the red Seeker glared up at his wingmate. “Having them around puts us at risk.”

“Oh, you’re not still thinking about old Buckethead, are you?”

Starscream gave his optics such an obvious roll it was almost audible. “Yes, Skywarp, I am thinking about him – which is a good thing, because you, in contrast, seem to be hoping I’ll do enough thinking for both of us, so you don’t have to do any! And as for you, I told you not to touch that!”

Footloose leaped away from the device she was trying (and failing) to secretly poke at as if it was hot, and attempted to culture an air of nonchalance. “Not touched!”

“Well, contrary to what you think, I have been thinking about the future,” Skywarp chased, sulkily. “Yes, if they’re going to learn what it means to be a Decepticon, so they can choose what they want to be when they mature, I’m going to be the one to teach them,” he explained, tiredly, reciting his proclamation in such a manner that made Starscream think he’d known it’d be asked and he’d been rehearsing it already. “But is it a big deal if the boss helps out a bit?”

“You don’t think that’s the only thing he’ll do with them, do you?” Starscream challenged. “Okay, so imagine you’re your usual idiotic, argumentative self. Who do you think he’ll direct the wrath of his cannon at, to get you – or any of us three – back into line?”

Skywarp gave him a glare, but the pennies seemed to be dropping, at last, and his carefully belligerent expression had faded into a dismayed pout. “You said yourself you didn’t think he’d hurt them.”

“No, I said I didn’t think he’d kill them.” Starscream vented hot air in a long-suffering sigh, and turned to face his wingmate. “Warp, this just isn’t going to work. They have to go back. We can’t leave them to their own devices here, because goodness only knows what they’d get into without a pair of mature optics – present company excluded – keeping watch over them. We can’t operate in the field, either, not with them underfoot, and we certainly can’t take them into any situation where they – and, by extension, us – will be put into danger. Are you starting to get the idea?”

Skywarp had already very much got the idea, but was happily playing the idiot. “We could leave them with Vantage, he seems to get on well with little sparks,” he suggested, sulkily.

“Every single time? And how long before the Autobots follow us to the Space Bridge and find them? You think they’d ignore their usual ‘noble’ principles and let them stay with us?”

“All right, so we could… take it in turns to stay behind,” Skywarp proposed. “Easy. Right?”

“Oh, so you’ve already asked TC if he’s happy to play nursemaid to your little brood, have you?”

“Nnnot in so many words, no.” Skywarp rubbed the back of his helm, evasively.

“And don’t you think it’ll make Megatron even more suspicious, if there’s only ever two of us in action at any given moment?”

“You could put some sort of positive spin on it! Come on, Screamer, you gave him Blue and not only made him think it was Shockwave did it by sending us tainted stock, you got him crawling before you fixed him, and he didn’t kill you for it! How hard is it to spin something like this in our favour?!”

“By your reticence to commit to one thing or another, I’m forced to assume you’re happy to be a stay-at-home parent,” Starscream snapped, finally losing his patience. “I’ll stop wasting my time working with this.”

“Oh, hey, wait!” Skywarp startled into alertness, as if stung. “That wasn’t what I meant!”

“Oh really, funny how you’re suddenly being decisive now.”

Skywarp glared, and hunched his shoulders. “You know I don’t like it when you back me into a corner,” he grumbled.

“So for once in your life try and culture a little responsibility!” Starscream threw his hands up, exasperated. “The little ones have to go back – if only so they don’t turn into a bargaining chip to get us to do what we’re told. Once we’ve raised the police, we can get them to wait near the Cybertron end of the Space Bridge until we’ve got the sparklings hidden, and shipped them over. And if after all that you’re still set on helping find Squeaky, at least we’ve got some processor room to come up with a good excuse to head back home ourselves. Right?”

Skywarp studied his fingers, and nodded, silently.

“For once, I’m not doing this just to be an aft,” Starscream added, more quietly. “I’m trying to keep us in control of the situation. Once we lose control to Megatron, getting it back will be next to impossible. Right?”

“Right,” Skywarp sighed, then glanced up and wrinkled his lip in a teasing sneer. “You’re still an aft, though.”

Whether she sensed they were talking about her, or whether not being allowed to touch had stifled her curiosity, Footloose had drifted back towards her family. “We find Ama now?” she asked, softly, tugging at the closest set of fingers, which just happened to be blue.

Starscream glared down at her, and she abruptly let go of his hand and backed off, posting her fingers back into her mouth. He sighed, tightly, and forced a smile that for once didn’t look more like a snarl of bared teeth, and picked her up. “Not yet, but soon,” he lied. “Once it’s safe.”

She shrank back against him. “Not safe here?”

“Not safe enough,” he corrected.

0o0o0o0o0o0

Three Terran days passed happily in a similar vein, without problems. Leaving the twins unattended was sadly a necessity on occasion – but Skywarp had found a good hiding place for them, and putting the fear of Megatron into them wasn’t too hard, so neither sparkling had felt obliged to go investigating the corridors. (Footloose seemed particularly in awe of the giant warlord, going instantly quiet when his name was mentioned.)

The greeting the three received when they finally got back was typically exuberant – family reunited, all still safe, so here’s a lapful of sparklings – and it took them a few breems to calm down enough to have the energon that Skywarp had ‘found’/stolen for them. While the little ones refuelled, Skywarp and Thundercracker tended to each other’s war-wounds – mostly just scorchmarks, but Thundercracker had a peppering of shrapnel embedded in the back of his wing which took a good cycle to get out, and by the time Skywarp was finally done, Slipstream had settled into recharge in an amused Thundercracker’s lap.

Footloose was still awake, albeit looking dozy. She plopped her chin down on Skywarp’s knee and gave him a woeful look. “Day Skawar?” she said, ensuring she had his attention. “Why no find Ama yet?”

Skywarp was sitting back against the wall, a half-cube of energon balanced precariously in one loose hand. “Eh? What?” He onlined an optic, and looked down at her.

“Come here so you help fine Ama,” she explained, doing her best little wounded voice and crawling right up onto his knee. “Say will help, but still here!”

“We’ve got to think of a reason to go back, Lucy,” he explained, slouching back against the wall and letting her climb up to rest her head on his neck. “If we don’t, Megatron might not let us back.”

She approximated a little electronic snort noise.

“Hey, hey, don’t you make those rude noises at me. You don’t want to stay here, do you?” He felt her shake her head. “Well, this is my home. How’s it different if you drag me away from here?”

“But here nasty!”

“Well, I know I don’t have the tidiest of habits, but that’s a bit mean.”

She wriggled closer, and clicked quietly. “Meg’tron here,” she corrected.

“Ehh, well, there is that, I guess…”

0o0o0o0o0o0

The two Seekers hadn’t been the only machines injured in the latest scuffle with the Autobots – Megatron himself had lost his gun arm altogether after an unhappy meeting with the business end of an industrial rock-saw. It took several cycles for Hook to finally decide he was done repairing the warlord – reattaching an arm was a tricky procedure at the best of times, and not helped by the Constructicon’s fernickety nature – but the waiting Soundwave didn’t complain. He had nowhere else to be, and it gave him plenty of time to think without the chatter of his Cassettes interfering with his own thoughts.

Finally Hook emerged, his face pinched in distaste. “The ingrate wishes to see you,” he sniped, as he passed, just loudly enough for the target of his ichor to overhear.

Soundwave ignored the insult towards his commander, and moved into the doorway. “Mighty Megatron,” he greeted, bowing his head steeply. “How may I assist?”

The warlord glanced up from the data-wafer in his hand, and muttered something inaudible before flicking a hand in a summoning gesture. Obediently, the blue mech stepped over the threshold, and listened as the door hissed softly closed behind him.

“The walls have too many audio-sensors, on Nemesis,” Megatron explained, at last setting the wafer aside. “It is a sad situation where machines may not talk in private without the fear of someone listening in…”

As was his wont, Soundwave elected not to comment, particularly since he’d spent the past three Terran days engaged in exactly that. “How may I assist you?” he asked again.

“I’m anticipating that you may at last have something on those damned Seekers. Something conclusive on what they’re up to. To not put too fine a point on it,” Megatron growled, darkly, “those three couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery, under normal circumstances, if you’ll pardon my use of the human vernacular. And yet!” He waved an accusatory finger. “They seem to be managing quite successfully to run rings around us right now. And I want to know what they’re hiding.”

Soundwave hesitated, for altogether too long.

Megatron’s brows drew tight, and he lowered his head like an angry bull looking for an excuse to gore someone. “Well, Soundwave?” he ‘suggested’, softly. “Do you have something for me, or not?”

Oh, Soundwave had something, all right. Something huge. But now it came to the crunch, he found himself unsure whether or not he should let the warlord know. Something he’d caught one of the Seekers grumbling about had given him doubts about the best course of action-… “Probably irrelevant,” he decided, at last. “The usual sneaking. Nothing more.”

“I will decide what is and what is not irrelevant,” Megatron hissed, softly. “What do you have?”

Of course, he could lie, he knew, but Megatron was particularly unforgiving of that, lately. He already seemed to see conspiracies everywhere, adding a real one to the mix wouldn't help. Crossing his fingers that everything wouldn’t now go Pitwise, Soundwave silently depressed one of his buttons, and allowed a recording to answer for him.

“Primus, Skywarp, if you try really, reaally hard next time, you’ll find somewhere even smaller and even more cramped for us to meet up in!” The bass voice was obviously Thundercracker, and he sounded uncomfortable. Judging by the hollow tone to his voice, and the slight echoes, they were probably in a storage locker on the lower decks, somewhere.

“Well, I’m very sorry,” Skywarp retorted, sounding not in the least bit apologetic, “but it was getting kinda hard to find places to meet up that Megs or Soundwave didn’t have their beady little optics on. They know all our usual meeting spots.”

Megatron pursed his lips, grimly, although Soundwave wasn’t sure if it was just at the usual Seeker-skullduggery, or just being called “Megs”.

“Besides,” Skywarp went on, more quietly. “This is probably the last time we’ll have to meet up like this, right, Screamer?”

“With luck, yes…”

Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper conspiracy without that red-painted traitor leading the way.

“I’ve made contact with Hardline. He’s going to keep a couple of officers deployed close to the Space Bridge so we don’t have to go to all this trouble raising Cybertron again. All we have to do is get the little ones to the Space Bridge-”

Wait, what was that? Little ones?

“-and make sure they’re well hidden in whatever junk we’re sending back to Shockwave – he must be used to Rumble’s antics by now, the unannounced arrival of an pile of old spare parts is hardly going to be a surprise.”

“And what if he gets hold of them?” Thundercracker reminded. “Come on, Screamer, Shockwave’s not gonna pass up that chance to ingratiate himself a bit further into Megatron’s good books.”

“They’re both small enough that they can slip past him unnoticed, if they’re careful, and in the event he does spot them, they’ve already proved they’re fairly competent teleports.”

Megatron had already narrowed his optics, thoughtfully. No wonder they’ve been sneaking about more than normal…

“Guys, I don’t like this plan,” an unnaturally quiet Skywarp finally put in. “We’re gonna get caught, and Megs is gonna get his greasy fingers on them.”

“Ohh, if only you knew how prophetic your words will prove to be, Skywarp,” Megatron breathed, softly, and bared his dental plates in a wolfish smirk.

0o0o0o0o0o0

No-one suspected a larger plan had been put into motion when Skywarp got himself landed with an unexpected cycle of monitoring duty again, while Motormaster - who should have been on duty instead - was supposedly having a systems-check. It was just considered to have thrown a small spanner into the plans; the trine had planned on splitting up into their assigned reconnaissance paths like normal, until most attention was elsewhere, then coming back together close to the Space Bridge and rendezvousing with Vantage, who was a willing (if reluctant) member of the team. Once the sparklings were safely through the bridge, they’d get back on patrol and deny anything had happened, if asked. It'd just take them a little longer to reunite, now, that was all...

Slipstream had looked severely perturbed at the idea of flying, again, but had nodded quietly and allowed himself to be settled in Thundercracker’s cockpit; the more sedate blue Seeker had seemed most appropriate to carry the jittery little groundling.

Footloose had gone with Starscream; she’d squeaked excitedly at the idea of getting out from ‘nasty Nem’sis’ again, and hadn’t needed much urging to scramble into the red Seeker’s cockpit. She’d already earned her first scolding for not sitting still.

“You’re all clear for takeoff, guys,” Skywarp confirmed, from the monitor room. “Be seeing you around, right?”

“Right,” came Thundercracker’s confirmation. “Watch yourself. We’ll meet up asap, okay?”

“Okay.” Why did it feel like someone had their boot pressing down on his vocaliser, Skywarp wondered? Nothing going on. Shouldn’t be so jumpy. “Take care of yourselves.” He sat and watched the red blip and the blue blip migrate off to either side of the screen, and finally vanish. They’re okay. They’ve gone. They’re out of reach now, right? Right? He sat on his hands, to keep himself from fidgeting.

“Why, Skywarp. Just the machine.”

Aw, slag. Skywarp turned to look over his shoulder to find the mech he’d been most hoping to avoid framed in the doorway.

Megatron smiled his sweetest smile – the sort of smile that usually made machines flee in terror – and beckoned. “Come here, if you would.”

“Aaa-ha-ha, hello, Mighty Megatron!” Skywarp laughed, nervously, failing to keep from looking anxious. “How can I help you, your mightiness?”

“Come here,” Megatron repeated, softly. “We need to have a little chat.”

“I’m, ah, I’m on duty,” Skywarp argued, vainly. “I’m sure I have nothing you’d be interested in, sir.”

“It would be wisest for you to allow me to decide that,” Megatron reminded, watching as the Seeker’s crimson gaze roved hastily across the room – looking for an escape route, perhaps? “Motormaster? If you would be so kind?” the tyrant flicked a hand at the Stunticon leader, who was conveniently lurking in the corridor.

Skywarp bolted, but too late. A large dark foot inserted itself between the Seeker and freedom, and he went sprawling.

“You may tell your comrade,” Megatron commented, delicately, as the Stunticon closed his large fingers on the Seeker’s wing and hauled him up off the deck, “that he can either come peacefully, and preserve a modicum of dignity, or he can continue to act the sparkling and be carried all the way to my office. Entirely his choice, of course.”

“I’ll walk, thanks,” Skywarp retorted, shakily, drawing himself unsteadily to his full height and trying to stare the larger mech down.

Motormaster pfft-ed, unimpressed, and gave his rival a firm boot up the backside the second his back was turned, sending him sprawling again.

Megatron smirked down at the groaning jet. “Much as it amuses me to see it, flinging yourself at my feet will not help your case,” he observed, dryly, as the dark flier picked himself up and tried not to look like he would rather be anywhere but here, hustled along the corridor in front of his leader.

“Sit,” Megatron gestured a hand at the solitary chair in the centre of the room, when they finally reached his sparse ‘office’.

“Thanks, but, uh, I’d rather stand-”

“It wasn’t an invitation, it was an instruction,” Megatron cut in, and watched as Skywarp all but fell into the chair.

“So, um, wh-what did you want to see me for?” Don’t fidget, don’t fidget.

“I have a few questions for you, but that can wait a moment. First we shall set some parameters for this meeting, because there are two ways we can do this, and I do not desire any, ah… misinterpretation,” Megatron said, calmly, pacing sedately back and forth in front of the dark Seeker, who was trying (and failing) to maintain his air of lazy nonchalance. “We will try the easy way first of all. If that is unsuccessful, we will move onto… harder methods. Do we have an understanding?”

“Yes, Megatron.” Skywarp forced a grin, but it looked more like a grimace of alarm. Harder methods of what?! “No problems there!”

“Good. Now please also tell me…” Megatron halted his pacing, and ran his fusion cannon almost tenderly down the teleport’s chest. “Are you going to behave yourself and just tell me what I want to know? Or am I going to have to beat it out of you the same way I have to get information out of your wing-commander? I would hate to be forced to use violence on my most loyal.”

“Uh-uhm, y-yes, sir.” Attempting to maintain a lazy nonchalance became an attempt just to maintain a little dignity. Skywarp shrank back against the chair’s hard surface, tensing his fingers on the arms hard enough to leave dents. “What do you want to know?”

“You and your beloved wingmates have been overheard-”

The teleport’s face visibly fell. Slag.

“-talking about, how shall I put it? Little ones. And I would like your explanation.”

“There’s nothing to ah, to explain. It’s, um, it’s just little, you know. Gadgets!” Skywarp lied, frantically, and the cannon pushed very slightly harder against his chest. “Little things! Starscream wanted us to test them!”

“Don’t lie to me, Skywarp. I heard your discussion in its entirety,” Megatron’s voice descended a further few notches. “I know you were not talking about gadgets. I want to know exactly what you were talking about, and I would also like it if you stopped treating me like your own species of idiot!” He gave his cannon an angry shove to accompany the last few words.

“It’s nothing, they’re nothing!” Skywarp blurted the words out, preoccupied by the whine of heating coils in the long, black barrel. “Nothing at all…!”

“Just how long did you three traitorous heaps of smelting think you could sneak around and keep something of this kind of magnitude from me?” Megatron went on, as if his officer hadn’t even spoken. “This is my ship. I have my senses everywhere. If you’re up to something, I will hear about it. I will see it.” He wrinkled his lip in a sneer and closed the gap between the mouth of his fusion weapon and Skywarp’s face by another few inches. The Seeker had tensed up all the way, by now, and was vibrating very slightly in fear, wings buzzing. The air had taken on the heady stink of ozone and superheated ions, and a familiar red heat pooled around the cannon’s mountings. Mmm, how easy it would be to finally wipe this treacherous little insect from his campaign… but… no. He was still desperately short of warriors. He would have to be imaginative to get the teleport back in line for once and for all. “So confirm for me what I already strongly suspect, and I may not melt out what little remains of your worthless central processor.”

Skywarp stared down the mouth of the weapon and whimpered, pathetically. “There’s nothing more to tell you!” he pleaded, fingers wrapped around the rim and trying to push it away backwards, but it sizzled painful heat against his hands and Megatron had the edge of strength. “It’s nothing. It’s just… inventions. Gadgets. Nothing!”

Megatron gave him another shove, irritably, and straightened. “I see we’re going to get nowhere with this…”

He may have backed off, but Skywarp knew it was not to let him go. He was here until the pale giant was done with him – a baffle stopped him teleporting, and the warlord would gun him down before he was even halfway to the door. So he sat tight, shoulders hunched, and waited for whatever new twist was coming-

The main screen on the terminal at the front of the room lit first with a sullen indigo glow, then divided into two video feeds; the bright dots of Starscream’s thrusters were framed in the top half, and Thundercracker’s in the bottom.

“Now, Skywarp. We’re going to play a little game,” Megatron oiled, pacing like a caged tiger behind the teleport. “You choose a target,” he leaned down over Skywarp’s shoulder, and watched with a morbid satisfaction as the trembling jet flinched away from him. “And I shoot it down.”

For a full few seconds, Skywarp was sure he must have misheard. “Sh-shoot-… sir? What?” he stammered.

“Isn’t it an easy enough concept for even your outdated processors?”

Skywarp barely heard the words. Shoot one down. Shoot one down. What does he want me to tell him, how can I get this to work in my favour? Can I get it to? Oh, Primus, let me think like Screamer for just a minute! Can I logic an answer?! But there were too many variables. Ignoring the fact they had one each, was he going to shoot down the one that had them, or the one who didn’t? Was he going to shoot them down so he could catch them, or not shoot them down so they were undamaged? Did he want the little ones for himself, to train up as his own little protégés, or did he want to cleanse and sanctify the noble Decepticon history by wiping the unholy little mongrels off the face of history?

“Either you choose a target, or I do,” Megatron snarled, softly, right into Skywarp’s audio. “Which. One. Has. them?”

“I don’t know what you mean!” Skywarp bleated, frantic, running all the way through his woefully inadequate dictionary of excuses for something that might, might get him off the hook. “They’re just on patrol, like you instructed!”

“A machine does not have to be a telepath of Soundwave’s ability to know you are trying very hard to cook up an appropriate excuse,” Megatron snapped. “You will not win this. So I ask again. Which of your two dear co-conspirators is of the lesser value to you?”

Logic. Logic. Please, Primus… Out of the three of them, Starscream always had been and probably always would be the most skilled aeronaut. He’d probably have the edge in a surprise attack, and survive a crash well enough to fight back. And Footloose was with him – he’d not known either of his sparklings for long (a fact he was trying not to dwell too hard upon), but it had been long enough to know Slipstream would probably happily freak out completely and never ever allow anyone to fly with him ever again, falling from the sort of altitude Thundercracker cruised at. So that left only one choice.

“It’s Screamer,” Skywarp husked, at last, defeated, head hanging. “Starscream’s got them.”

Megatron smiled, satisfied, and turned to the radio. “That wasn’t so hard, now, was it?” he cooed, with a knowing smile, and thumbed the control. “Blitzwing? Astrotrain? Yes. Shoot both of them down.”

-----

Edit: Crap, another tune has added itself to the arsenal of inappropriateness. (Bryan Adams - "You're Still Beautiful To Me") The lyrics are about as relevant as tits on a fish, but I like the tune, so nyeh. Plus, because one of the characters is particularly NOT beautiful at this point in time, it's kinda smushy and crap and makes me feel like drawing it.

*slaps self* Augh.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
_silverfox
Oct. 8th, 2008 04:59 pm (UTC)
Um, Megatron, you're still short on troops. Do you think it's a good idea to shoot two of them at once ... Well, I guess Megatron being Megatron he probably does.

Poor Soundwave, though, he didn't want to give away the sparklings, but now Skywarp only knows that he did.

And I doubt Footloose would be happy with an alarm clock alt mode. It doesn't fly! ;)
keaalu
Oct. 12th, 2008 11:13 pm (UTC)
My alarm clock flies. Right across the room, every morning! ;)
_silverfox
Oct. 13th, 2008 03:33 pm (UTC)
... But then the alt mode is obviously unsuitable for Slipstream! :P
jill_dragon
Oct. 9th, 2008 01:52 am (UTC)
In all honesty, I do think this chapter was a little rushed I would have liked to see more of the seekers struggling to deal with the kids and keep them hidden (maybe it would be a good opportunity for you to write in the "Buckethead" comic XD). Maybe in a re-write?

I'm not sure I like the Decepticons using human idioms, it just feels jarring especially in light of what they think of the human race (Megatron especially). Given that Cybertronians seems to have their own colloquial language it seem almost un-nessesary to me for them to borrow human sayings.

Other than those things it was a great chapter ending with a killer cliffhanger. I can't wait for the next part. :)
keaalu
Oct. 12th, 2008 11:12 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it was the whole "can't think what to put in" that killed me. :P *arglebargle*

As for the idiom, that was mostly me being amused by the saying, for which I apologise. ;) I couldn't think of an equivalent that fitted, so I just said arf, I'll switch it out later, if I come up with something better. (And promptly didn't think of something better... egh.)
jill_dragon
Oct. 13th, 2008 12:57 am (UTC)
You've got a pair of very young, curious kids, a trio of bachelor seekers that know _nothing_ about raising kids, and they're all running around trying to keep said children safe from the rest of the (very dangerous) base and hidden from a psycotic tyrant - what can't you write about? ;) It's a recipe for pure comedy.

Off-hand? I'd like to know how they're feeding the kids given how tightly energon is being rationed. And you can bet that Footloose wandered off at least a few times to go exploring. Imagine everyone's panic. :D For some reason I think Thundercracker and Slipstream would get on well together. I have a soft spot for TC - maybe because he gives off a sense of being the only half-way stable and sane person on the ship. ;)

I know sometimes you get a creativity burn-out, that happens to me from time to time at my Pern RPG group. I find that the best thing to do is to sit back and give things a rest for awhile rather than forcing yourself to write. You shouldn't feel pressured to churn out as many chapters in as little time as possible.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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