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Title (chapter): Warped (13)
Series: Transformers, G1-based (“Blue” AU)
Rating: PG-13
Summary: In which Skywarp gets his wing repaired, and a certain red loudmouth swallows his pride enough to ask for help.

Warped
Chapter Thirteen

“All right, Warp. Park your aft here,” Forceps gestured to the berth the teleport had got up off earlier, now it was free of all the cleaning detritus, “and let’s get a look at your wing.”

Skywarp gave her a suspicious look and folded his arms. “You want to look at my wing when you’re still limping?” he complained. “How about physician, heal thyself, first-”

Sit,” she repeated, more firmly, and he tch-ed and cast his gaze heavenwards… but did as told. “And don’t slouch like that.”

“Would you like me to salute, as well?” he sniped.

“If you think it would help, and if it means you’re quiet, go right ahead.”

Skywarp hrf-ed and managed to sit still and quiet for all of a quarter of a breem. “How long do you suppose it’ll take to fix?” he wondered, craning his neck to try and see what she was doing.

“Well, that’s what I’m trying to find out – if you’ll sit still and let me get on! Now stop twisting round, you’re setting all your plates out of alignment.”

“I am sitting still, what more do you need?” he challenged, hurt, and turned to face front again, sulkily. “Maybe I should just shut myself down, would that meet with your approval?”

“Day unhappy?” Footloose wondered, finally having lost interest in her fish, scaling his leg so she could sit in his lap.

“Day grumpy,” Forceps filled in, before Skywarp could answer. “Maybe you’ll have better luck getting him to sit still, he seems to listen to you.”

“Why Day to sit still?” Footloose had already climbed up to Skywarp’s left shoulder, and gazed down at where Forceps was working. “Aunnie Ausep to make better?”

“She’s trying to,” the surgeon confirmed, tiredly, and turned her attention back to Skywarp. “Sorry, Warp. Looks like the whole thing’s going to have to come back off.”

“What?” He almost fell right off the berth in alarm, sending Footloose tumbling, and gawped at the big femme for a second or two. “How about you just frag off?! You’re not taking my wing off!”

Forceps gestured a hand, irritably. “Your ‘wing’ is such a mess of weld and bad connectors, it’s hardly worthy of the definition. If you ever want to transform again? It’s got to come off so I can pare it all back down to clean substructure and rebuild it.”

“But I don’t want you to take it off,” he whined, only too aware how juvenile he sounded. “Can’t you do it bit by bit, and leave it on there?”

She sighed. “Well, yes, I probably could,” she accepted. “But you’d have to remain grounded for the duration of it, it’d more than likely be painful, and slow going – I’m talking several orns, minimum – and I know firsthand how patient you are.”

Skywarp looked torn; he fidgeted for a moment, chewing his lip. “How quick could you do it if you took it off?”

“Provided Ratchet has the parts I need? An orn, maybe two at the longest.”

“All right.” He settled back down on the berth, and sat on his hands to keep from fidgeting; Footloose used the temporary stillness to climb back to his shoulder, clicking anxiously at him. “All right. If I didn’t want to fly again as much as I do, I’d totally not be letting you do this,” he defended himself, as his sparkling rubbed cheeks with him. “So just… get on with it, already?”

She patted his shoulder, and sneakily gave him another shot of painkiller. “I’ll make it as painless as I can.”

“…right.”

Painless it might have been. Sensationless it wasn’t. Rather than the sharp burn of a laser scalpel simply cutting through the plating, it was an irritating sort of pickpickpick sensation as she worked her way carefully down, slowly releasing clips and catches and disengaging plates and unplugging microcables and crimping off fuel lines. He wasn’t sure which he preferred. At least if it hurt, he could have ground his denta together and ridden it out. This was like… was like… just… waiting for it to start to hurt. Any minute now it’d go from pickpick to owowfriggingow and he’d give her an involuntary punch around the chops and get her boot in his chest for the trouble and-

“All right, that’s it.”

There was a sensation of weird lopsidedness and he had to put out a hand to stop himself heeling to the left. He glanced to the right and watched with a morbid curiosity as the large plaque of mostly-black armour was placed carefully to rest on the berth alongside him. “That’s it? What?”

“All right, allow me to elaborate. That was the easy bit,” Forceps corrected. “Now I can work on your wing in peace. Let me just get the raggedy bits here cleaned up so you don’t go catching them on anything…” She brushed a palm down the torn wing margin, examining the damaged edges. “…and you can go do whatever it is you do when not getting under my plating.”

Skywarp hissed softly and closed his fingers into a fist, only just resisting the urge to shrink away from her. “How about hurry up about it, femme?”

“Whoa,” a little voice from the floor said. “Looking kinda lopsided, there.”

“Hello Spike hooming!” Footloose greeted, from her high perch on her sire’s shoulder.

Skywarp wasn’t so impressed to see him. “You again.” He glared down at the human. “How about you keep your ugly mush out of my face, and I won’t be tempted to give you flying lessons off the end of my foot?”

Spike baulked, and backed off a step or two. “I thought you wanted asylum?”

“Not from you pesky fleshies I don’t.” The black Seeker made a spirited attempt to shoot laser beams from his optics.

“Play nice, troublemaker,” Forceps told him, irritably. “And try sit still, while you’re at it.”

Make me, femme.” Skywarp stuck his nose in the air.

“Oh-ho, is that a challenge I hear?” She popped her knuckles, meaningfully.

“You’re not allowed to hurt me, I’m your patient,” he reminded, but got himself comfortable again. “…and- ow! I said not hurt me, be more careful with that scalpel.”

Spike watched as Forceps worked. “So what’s the difference between you and Ratchet?” he wondered, as she carefully pared the ragged edges of Skywarp’s bad side back to clean, smooth metal.

Forceps gave Skywarp a quick swat around the back of the head for snickering impolitely before answering; “In what way?”

“Well, you’re both doctors, kinda, right? And you both fix robots up when they’re broken… but you call yourselves by different titles.”

“I see what you’re getting at… I’m a surgeon, whereas he’s a doctor, but we both – on the face of it – look to do much the same thing, that’s what you mean?” She glanced down to see Spike nodding. “Well, the difference is down to how specific we are. Ratchet’s a generalist, I’m a specialist.”

“Doesn’t make it much clearer.”

“Well, think of it this way. All of us have a finite amount of memory, just like you do. We can’t be good at everything. Ratchet’s an emergency physician, which means he has to know little bits of everything, and be fairly good all round – it’s when things are a bit off from the norm that he’d have to start looking at databases and books. Right, Ratchet?”

“Sounds fair,” the medic agreed, in the distance.

“I, on the other hand, am a specialist. I trained for surgical medicine only, which means there’s not a whole lot of physical damage I can’t tackle purely from my own knowledge, but… If someone comes to me with a virus? I’ll probably just stand there and stare at them.”

“Not to say she won’t just stand there and stare at you on a normal day as well,” Skywarp quipped, and earned another swat around the audios for his trouble. “Ow.”

“So if you’ve all got a similar amount of memory space,” Spike wondered, edging back out of range of a kick, “what does that mean for Skywarp?”

“I wouldn’t go too far with that line of enquiry, if I were you,” the dark Seeker pointed out, expression souring. “Ratchet or no Ratchet, I am gonna give you a boot, in a minute.”

Spike took another large step backwards, making sure he was out of reach, folded his arms and lifted his chin, boldly. “I was only gonna ask why it is that you’re so stupid,” he sniped. “It’s common knowledge, so what’s so bad about asking?”

Skywarp was right off his seat and advancing in seconds; Forceps snatched out an urgent hand and secured a tenuous grip on a trailing wrist, while Spike wisely put a berth between them.

“Lemme go, femme!” Skywarp snapped, using his free hand to try and pry the green fingers from around his arm. “I’ve got a bug to squish!”

“You’re not going to do any squishing while I’m around,” she corrected, hanging onto him. “Aside from the fact you’d need another bath afterwards and I know how much you love them, it’d make it doubly hard to repair you with you back in the brig. And as for you…” She directed her most irritable look at Spike. “He’s hard enough to get to sit still under normalcircumstances, so will you kindly refrain from winding him up?”

“I was only curious,” Spike defended himself, petulantly. “And it’s a well-known fact, so why’s he so up tight about it?”

Skywarp made more noises and struggled to unlatch the restraining fingers, but the hand just tightened. The human was just out of reach of his flailing thrusters.

“Now now, he’s not stupid, exactly.” Forceps elevated her voice very slightly to be heard over Skywarp’s protests. “Warp might not have university-level smarts in that dark helm, but what he’s good at, he’s very good at. It’s just unfortunate that it’s quite hard to demonstrate it without him just doing it,” she explained, and was relieved to notice his struggling determination to stomp on the human was diminishing. “Skywarp is an, eh, how can I put it? An obligate navigator. To teleport safely, he has to know exactly where he’s going, and the layout of walls and large objects at his destination. The only reason he comes across as lower in intelligence is because he has a comprehensive, dynamic internal positioning system that’s pretty much second to none.”

“Me and my stupid maps,” Skywarp grumbled, sourly, folding his arms and leaning huffily back against his berth. “Sepp, you’ve gotta give me more brains.”

“That’s probably a bad idea,” she replied, dryly. “Doesn’t Starscream always say if you had brains you’d be dangerous? Especially given some of the ‘maverick’ ideas you’ve been known to come up with.”

He glared halfheartedly at her. “You might think it’s so funny, you just try living with it,” he griped, quietly. “Always being last to get things, always needing stuff explained a dozen times before it just makes sense. I’ve lived with my stupidness for so frickin’ long, I don’t want it any more! I don’t want my stupid useless maps, I don’t want my inner-GPS. Even my teleport is pretty frigging stupid since everyone seems to be able to stop me using it, right now…!” His voice had turned into a frustrated snap. “I’ve got a brain full of Cybertron and I don’t even live there, any more! Probably never gonna live there any more! So you tell me what’s the point of still being the butt of everyone’s jokes, huh? Little Stupid in the corner who never gets it?”

Forceps had kept her fingers pressed gently on his shoulder vent and, after another few moments of staring at each other, managed to coax him to sit. “We’ll sort something out,” she promised. “If you really, really don’t want your teleport any more-”

“I really, really don’t wanna be stupid any more,” he corrected.

Shh. As I was trying to say, if you really don’t want your gate and all the maps that go along with it, any more,” she repeated, once he’d shut up. “Then I’ll see what I can do about retrofitting you. But. It’ll be a major change. I want you to be certain about it before we do anything. All right?”

He studied his fingers, and nodded, huffily.

The open contempt had faded from Spike’s face, by now. “You mean you never get lost?” he wondered, stepping back out of Ratchet’s way as the Autobot medic approached. “Not ever?”

“Right,” Skywarp confirmed, sullenly. “But then neither does anyone else on this stupid mud-ball.”

“Don’t you believer it, me and Bee are always getting lost,” Spike admitted.

A dry grin had softened the Seeker’s scowling face. “Yeah, but you’re a little fleshbag and he’s a little groundling Auto-dork, so that’s no surprise,” he quipped, first leaning to one side to see around Ratchet, then giving the medic himself a suspicious look. “What are you doing with that?”

Ratchet had a low-intensity laser ablator in his hand, and an Autobot stencil tucked into a belt-clip he wore around his waist; the laser was normally used for stripping corrosion from damaged plating in preparation for the application of new components – or repairs – but Skywarp knew he wasn’t at that stage just yet, and he was getting a bad feeling about what the medic had come to do.

“Optimus asked me to do something about these,” Ratchet replied, evenly, tapping a finger against the fierce purple insignia on Skywarp’s wings and confirming the uncomfortable Decepticon’s suspicions. “So I thought I’d come do it while you had nothing better to do.”

“Aw, now hang on just a moment!” Skywarp whined, leaning back away from Ratchet and the laser. “Don’t take my badges off, they’re all I’ve got left…!”

“Your choice in the matter is a bit limited, I’m afraid,” Ratchet cautioned, gently, setting a duster and the stencil down on the berth next to him. “We’re not about to force you to wear the Autobot symbol, but aside from that? You can either be a Decepticon in the brig, or Neutral and out of it.”

“…But I don’t want to be some silly irresolute uncommitted neuuuu-” He caught Forceps looking sideways at him with an arched sardonic eye-ridge and lost his nerve. “Ah that is, I want to keep my allegiance…”

“After everything Megatron did to you and your brothers, you still feel the morbid need to remain loyal to him?” Ratchet checked the settings on the ablator, and carefully applied the emitter to the margin of the purple insignia.

Skywarp’s pout turned into a sneer. “Oh please, I can still be loyal to Decepticon principles without the smallest shred of loyalty towards that overblown treacherous old Buckethead,” he snarked. “That miss-clocked idiot we’ve been calling ‘leader’ can’t even remember what he’s fighting for, any more.”

“So what are you fighting for?” Ratchet challenged; keeping the Seeker talking seemed to be distracting him from the tickling scratch of paint being removed.

“Enough energy to rejuvenate Cybertron, obviously. Duh.” Skywarp gave him a look. “What have you been fighting for since you hightailed it here from our home, huh, Autobutt? The freedom to build trees and make friends with squishy aliens?”

Ratchet elected not to rise to the bait; instead, he flicked the duster open and wiped it carefully down the clean silver patch on the former Decepticon’s wing, removing any residual paint fragments. “There. Sit still while I fetch the enamel.”

Skywarp sighed, softly, and examined it. “Now that just looks odd.”

“Silver,” Footloose commented, first leaning down off his shoulder then letting herself tumble ungracefully to the berth to get a closer look. “Day not Decepticon, Day am a blob.”

“Thanks for that, Button,” he commented, with a tired smile, and pinged her aerials.

She squeaked her amusement, then climbed into his lap and held the Autobot stencil up next to his face. “Looks same,” she observed. “Sulky.”

“Don’t you get any ideas,” he threatened, over the abbreviated chorus of impolite snickers. “Or I might be forced to squish you, instead of that pesky fleshbag...”

A breem or two later found Skywarp melancholically exploring the seemingly-endless orange corridors, after Ratchet had booted him out of the medical bay for a little while. “If you want people to believe you’re serious about this political asylum thing, then you better get to meeting your new ‘shipmates’ and proving you’re not a threat,” he’d said. “Now out! Go amuse yourself for a while. I need to get Sepp’s repairs finished off.”

He had ambled around the corridors for a little while, letting Footloose take the lead; most of her chatter fell on inattentive audios, but so long as he made interested-sounding noises in the pauses, she seemed happy enough. It was difficult not to get twitchy – being unarmed and slap-bang in the middle of enemy-… no, former enemy territory, with all this damned orange everywhere, was making him jumpy. The enamel on his wing wasn’t even dry yet, and he still felt the urge to scratch a big triangle into it, just to remind them that he wasn’t a pet. Something to be sympathised with. Because Primus, that was the worst of it – the way that half of them looked at him with open pity on their faces. Contempt, hostility, anger… he could deal with them! This stupid mushy Autobot sympathy and concern and forgiveness was making him teeter on the brink of flying into a rage and walloping the bolts out of someone.

They ended up in the galley. He settled in the corner of the room with a small flask of energon, keeping as much to himself as he could manage, and tried not to meet anyone’s gaze. It was not because he was afraid to, per se, but because patience and moderation were never his forte. He didn’t do so hot on staring matches without getting frustrated and trying to bludgeon his opponent into submission, and guessed that trouncing one of his hosts wouldn’t go down too well.

Instead, he studied his fingers where they wrapped around the brushed chrome of the flask, ensuring his thumb obscured the little red Autobot insignia, and appreciated the sharp, cool sensation of clean, well-filtered fuel filling his relays again. Damn, he’d forgotten how good that felt! Not just the cleanliness of the energon, after orns of nothing but that grimy, foul-burning rubbish, but also the luxury of sitting peacefully and savouring it, not having to choke it down as fast as he could before the gunfire started.

“Day?”

He glanced sidelong to find Footloose watching him, with that sort of floppy look about her she usually had when she was in low spirits. She’d already negotiated her way around all the other friendly faces in the room, knowing exactly where she wanted to go, and now stood by his feet with her arms up for a hug.

Skywarp winced and glanced surreptitiously around the room, noticing the growing number of optics fixed on him, wondering what he’d do, and picked her up off the floor, holding her at arm’s length. “What?”

She whined wordlessly and stretched her arms towards him, wriggling.

“You mean you want me to do silly mushy stuff in full view of the Auto-dorks?” he challenged, perking his head to one side. “How’s that gonna help my reputation?”

Dayy,” she complained, half-scolding, half sounding like she was going to cry, and kicked her feet. “No stupid.”

“All right, all right…” He rocked his chair back onto two legs and hooked his heels up on the countertop, propping his shoulders against the wall behind him, and set her down on his chest. “No stupid.”

She immediately settled herself against his bent arm, tucking herself against him. “Want Ama,” she said, very softly, setting her head up under his chin and curling against the top curve of his cockpit.

“Oh, I see, now you’ve got what you wanted, I’m not good enough, hey?” he teased, giving her a prod in the winglet, and felt her wriggle closer.

“Want Ama and Day,” she corrected, tiredly. “An’ Seem an Dacker an Sta’zim an-”

He placed a finger over her lips. “I don’t need the whole family tree, Button. I want ’em all around, too,” he murmured. “We’ve got to find ’em first, though.”

When we go find?” She glanced up at him. “Jas says to go, but never when.”

“Soon as I’m all fixed up. No point in us going to rescue ’em if I’m falling to bits, right?”

“Day do anything,” she argued, quietly.

He couldn’t help the grin. “You want to embarrass me in front of the Auto-dorks, or something?” he wondered. And I wish you were right, little one. Then we wouldn’t be stuck here, in limbo, just… wondering.

“Don’ like Uth,” she said, quietly, after a breem or two of comfortable silence, her fingers straying back into her mouth. “Want Ama be here with Day, to go home to Cy’tron.”

“Aw, I thought you liked this mud-ball, with all its dirt and squishy aliens.”

“Dirt make mess. Too much bath,” she complained, quietly.

“Oh, I agree with you on that one. Way, way too much bath,” he agreed, with a soft chuckle. “This place is kinda designed for the Starscreams among us. Any old excuse to visit the washracks.”

Footloose was quiet for a moment. “Is where Sta’zim gone?” she wondered, hopefully. “To make bath? Was much dirty.”

“I don’t know.” He ran his fingers along her little antennae, absently. “Knowing him, he’s having better luck finding us than we’re having finding him.”

“Jas say Hoomings took.”

“We-ell, that’s… possible, I guess. But what would they want with a grumpy old squealer like him? He’s probably took himself, in search of soap.”

She giggled quietly against him, and he noticed her little optics had dimmed all the way down to a low, murky pond green.

“Come on, Trouble.” Skywarp rearranged his arms a little, to stop her sliding to the floor, and unhooked his feet carefully from the table. “Looks like it’s bedtime, for you now.”

“No bed,” she protested, but her head sagged sleepily and bumped against his shoulder as he stood.

“Yes bed. You need to defragment that little brain of yours. I don’t want you all cratchity if we’re gonna go look for Screamer, tomorrow.” He sneered very briefly at the disbelieving Autobot faces watching him, as he passed.

“I come with?” she wondered, hopefully.

“If you behave yourself, maybe. And if you go to bed tonight.”

Ratchet was still busy with Forceps, when Skywarp passed the threshold into the medical suite; the Seeker mouthed I’ll be quiet at the hostile glare from the older mech, who didn’t look particularly satisfied at the answer but got back to work.

“No bed. Stay with Day!” Footloose insisted, squirming.

“Aha! Now, see. What if Day wants bed?” He settled on the sideboard next to the fishtank, and hooked his thrusters up onto a convenient stool. “Say goodnight to your fish.”

“No bed,” she repeated, but the words were more static than anything else by now.

Next time Ratchet glanced up, anxious at the lack of noises, he found both Seeker and Seeklet humming softly in recharge by the wall. He gave Forceps a suspicious look. “What did you do to him, last time the pair of you met up?!”

0o0o0o0o0

Microsurgery on such a tiny piece of electronic equipment was going to be hard under normal circumstances, Thundercracker mused, let alone with all this sand around. He’d tucked the stolen communications wafer safely inside his chest cavity, alongside the memory plates of his quinary processors, and left his body to get on with fixing it. His self-repair nanites had reported almost immediately that it was indeed reparable, but that some of the filamentous microcircuitry was torn, and for them to do it all by themselves was a bit like asking the Seeker to repair an oil pipeline on his own, without the supplies to do it. It would have been easier if he could nudge the circuits back into alignment and the nanites make the appropriate connections, but he was already muddled from Siphon’s chemical trickery, and he didn’t trust himself not to break it any further.

He’d worked out very early on that the wafer was insufficiently powerful to get a message all the way through the rock that surrounded them all by itself. Even piggybacking the signal off his own more powerful but damaged relay wasn’t working. He was going to have to somehow get the thing into an external relay – code it with nanites and a prerecorded signal, and keep his fingers crossed that Warp or Screamer picked it up before anyone else found it and squelched it.

There was a confused grumble and the whine of overtaxed cooling fans from across the cell, and he realised that the slumped heap of formerly-white plating was finally rousing from her sedated slumber. Deuce had brought her back some cycles ago, laid her carefully out by the wall and scuttled off before Thundercracker could challenge him. The blue Seeker wasn’t entirely sure what had been done to her, because there was no new damage, but it wasn’t as if there was a need to rush to find out; leaving her in peace to sleep off the sedation in her own time had seemed fairest.

Thundercracker pushed himself upright, wobbled precariously on his thrusters for a moment before recovering his balance. “You okay, Squeaky?” he wondered, hoarsely, taking those few steps to her side to check her over.

Pulsar startled, involuntarily, and flinched away before she realised what she was doing. “Sorry, Thundercracker-… I just… you-… made me jump,” she apologised, looking back up at him, and he sensed she wasn’t being wholly truthful.

“It’s started, hasn’t it?” he observed, hollowly, crouching.

“Wh-what’s started?”

Thundercracker shook his head, reluctantly. “Maybe I can bribe Deuce to get you out before Siphon goes too far with this.”

“No-… no, it has to be Seem,” she argued, alarmed. “Not me, it has to be the little one! We can’t let Siphon do things to him-”

Thundercracker shook his head. “I think Seem is pretty safe at the moment. If that sociopath was going to do anything to him? He’d have started to do so before now. And he might just forgive you escaping – it’ll still play into his hands if you’re out in this condition, it’ll still serve to get Skywarp mad.” He sagged to the sand, tiredly. “Plus, if you’re out? You’re out of reach. Of him, and of me.”

0o0o0o0o0

Morning revealed that the surreal change in personal situation had not, as Skywarp had half-hoped, just been a hallucination from too much dirty fuel. Footloose had treated him to a particularly energetic wakeup call, climbing all over him until he finally groaned and flailed his arms and roused all the way out of dormancy.

Forceps, on the other hand, had apparently worked all the way through the night, and had just been waiting for him to be in a fit state to have his wing reattached, so now he was back on ‘his’ berth, trying (and failing) to keep still while Forceps worked, swinging his thrusters. She’d first carefully replaced the bulk of the various transmission lines emerging from his wing-stump, so there was enough for her to work with, leaving him looking like some sort of noxious, many-tentacled sea-creature had set up home in the ragged plating, and was now laying fresh silver armour plates out in the space between him and his repaired wing.

A very low-power ping of positioning data bounced off his firewalls.

Skywarp jerked his head up.

“What’s wrong?” Forceps wondered, noticing his sudden animation.

“Wait, wait…” He lifted a hand in a be-patient gesture. C’mon, Screamer, just confirm that was you. He relaxed his firewalls a little.

A full breem passed with nothing, and Forceps had already got back to work when another ping at last came through – and this time it was words. It wasn’t Starscream’s voice, as such, but it was certainly his tone and mood. -Come get, lazy fragger-

Skywarp immediately pinged back. -Not dead!-

-Yes Warp, am talking from the Matrix- came the response, and you could almost hear him roll his optics. -Just come get-

-Can talk?-

-Transmitter broken. Get to radio- Starscream instructed, and pinged his wingmate a wavelength.

-Be right there!- Skywarp leaped off the berth, trailing wires and triggering a curse from his surgeon.

“Huh? Where’s he going?” Ratchet challenged, just managing to catch a glimpse of the purple thrusters before they vanished out of the doorway.

“I have no idea.” Forceps was already giving chase, but her heavy frame could never have been said to be built for speed. “I’ll tell you when I catch him.” Then added, softly; “if I catch him.”

Skywarp knew exactly where he was going, thanks to his guided tour the previous day; he skidded around the corner, literally throwing up sparks, and into the monitoring room, barging through Red Alert in his haste to get to a radio.

“Hey, hey! You’re not allowed in here!” the security chief scolded, trying to tug Skywarp away from the comms terminal, but the Seeker was just big enough by comparison that he was perfectly able to fend him off with one arm, and completely ignored him. “I swear, if you’re here to sabotage anyth-… help! If anyone can hear me, I need a hand in here…!”

There was the clump of several sets of footsteps from outside; Red Alert turned his best, most pleading glance towards the doorway, and watched as Forceps – followed by a handful of concerned Autobots – brushed past the curtain.

“You!” Red Alert pointed at the surgeon in the doorway. “I bet this is all your doing!”

“Please, don’t you start as well,” she despaired. “I assure you, I had nothing to do w-”

“So what’s he doing?!” Red Alert interrupted, flinging an arm in Skywarp’s direction.

“I have no idea.” Forceps peered over Skywarp’s shoulder, and watched him punch in a wavelength, excitedly. “Looks like he’s trying to contact someone, wouldn’t you say?”

“Contacting who? Megatron? Can’t you stop him?!”

“Will you bunch of idiots quit talking?” the teleport scolded, giving them a glare. “I can’t hear! Screamer? Starscream, are you getting this?” He tweaked the dials, gently. “Come on, talk to me.”

“…Skywarp?” At last a familiar voice came from the console speakers. Starscream sounded exhausted; his voice was a thin, staticky buzz and almost unintelligible. “At last…”

“Screamer!” Skywarp sagged into the chair behind the terminal, relieved. “Primus, I’d begun to think you were dead. You don’t know how good it is to hear your scratchy old voice, right now! Where are you? Are you all right?”

“Can you just stop flapping your lips and come and get me?” Starscream obviously didn’t realise he had an Autobot audience, because he didn’t make even the slightest effort not to sound as utterly ground-down beaten as he felt. “I’m filthy, I hurt all over, and I’m tired, and I’ve been out here in the middle of Primus-knows-where for Primus-knows-how-long. I just want a bath and a rest. Is that too much to ask for?”

“We’ll come get you! I’ve got your location, sit tight and we’ll be there as soon as possible.”

“What? Who is ‘we’?”

“Just you two wait a minute, we’re not bringing him back here, are we?” Red Alert hissed, quietly, shooting Forceps a dirty look.

There was a pause, and when he finally spoke again, Starscream’s voice was soft, suspicious. “Who’s that in the background?”

“Umm, that’s just thingy,” Skywarp replied, evasively. “You know, What’s-his-name. Security guy. Forceps is here!” He changed the subject, retreating back into safe territory. “Want to talk to her?”

“She is?” Beat. “Where are you, anyway?”

“Why do you always want to know the irrelevant things at the most inopportune times?”

“What’s irrelevant about wanting to know where in Primus’ name you two have holed up this time?!”

“We’re with friends.” Forceps leaned down over Skywarp’s shoulder and spoke into the microphone, using her best no-nonsense tone of voice. “Once I’m done fixing Warp, we’ll come and get you. All right?”

“Fixing him? What’s he done to himself this ti-”

“All right?” she insisted.

Beat. “All right,” Starscream replied, grudgingly. “Maybe I can bribe these useless humans for an electrical pickup while I’m waiting. A little astrophysical data to help their research should do it…” His voice descended briefly into staticky mutterings. “Just… hurry up about it, would you?” he wondered, grimly. “Please?”

0o0o0o0o0

A vibrant evening had begun to draw in by the time Forceps was finally satisfied with her handiwork and let Skywarp up. Both knew that by the time they reached Starscream’s co-ordinates, it’d be well into the night, but in a way that would work in their favour – it’d mean that there was less traffic about, and fewer prying eyes to notice the odd assortment of vehicles making their slow way back to the Ark.

“I’m sorry it’s me that has to tell you this, but, ah… I wouldn’t expect a friendly welcome back,” Jazz warned, reluctantly, watching as Forceps settled herself into an unfamiliar new alt-mode. “We didn’t particularly want it to become common knowledge, who you’re heading out to fetch, but, eh, well… people talk, you know? The idea old Screamer might be dropping onto our doorstep very soon isn’t sitting well with too many folk.”

“I’d anticipated such an eventuality,” Forceps agreed, softly, revving her engine and checking her systems. “We’ll try to be discreet about it, right, Warp?”

“What?” Skywarp looked up, still in his root mode, trying to juggle Footloose onto his shoulders. “Was that important? Because I kinda wasn’t listening.”

The surgeon diverted her attention back to Jazz. “Never mind. I’ll just hit him if he misbehaves,” she commented, dryly. “All right, you two troublemakers. Ready to move out?”

“I was beginning to think you’d never ask,” Skywarp exulted, melodramatically, and folded suddenly into his alt-mode with Footloose still perched on his shoulder vent; she squeaked in alarm, but landed square in his open cockpit, exactly as he’d planned. He was gone like a streak of purple lightning, venting a bloodcurdling whoop! of triumph as he went.

“I wouldn’t wait up for us,” Forceps deadpanned, and rolled off down the track, following the dwindling pinpoints of the teleport’s thrusters.





I'm not normally superstitious but this is effing stupid. Now everything at home is afting well playing up. :( I got in from work and my fire alarm is making little "pip" noises and I don't know why - I was never given a manual for it, and it's mains-run so it can't be the battery. And... argh. *flail*

This is NOT what I wanted to come home to after a day of feeling blegh at work.

Update: It's the afting backup battery that's making it peep. *flails*

Update2: AAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrgh *flails* I CAN'T GET THE AFTING BATTERY COVER OFF. *rages around*
"Pull out power plug from back of smoke alarm"???? HOOOOOWWWW? *tears up the manual she just downloaded off the intertubes because the previous owner of the flat didn't leave it behind*
"Gently tug connector to be sure it is attached properly" - if hanging my whole considerable fecking weight off the thing didn't remove it, what's "tugging gently" going to achieve?!

Update3: AT FREAKING LAST. Battery has been changed. I swear, I will cry if this hasn't worked, because my hands really hurt from clawing at the thing now. :(

Last update, I promise. The pips have stopped. ALLE-FREAKIN-LUJAH.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
_silverfox
Dec. 22nd, 2008 10:02 pm (UTC)
Yay Starscream! ... Hmmmm ... Every time he gets knocked out for a bit any leaves his wingmates alone he finds they've formed an alliance with Autobots when he returns. If I were him I'd start to wonder. ;)
keaalu
Dec. 23rd, 2008 04:00 pm (UTC)
lol, yeah. They're going to give him a complex. ¬_¬
"You want me to be Autobot by proxy, is that it?!"
muffins_of_god
Dec. 23rd, 2008 05:57 pm (UTC)
*chin in hand, thoughtful* I dunno, Screamer. I always thought your purple emblems clashed with your oh-so-stylish paintjob. You may want to rethink your allegiences....for looks.
_silverfox
Dec. 25th, 2008 08:17 pm (UTC)
LOL! "Do I look like an Autobot? Do I behave like an Autobot?"
jill_dragon
Dec. 22nd, 2008 10:33 pm (UTC)
You could be like the hotels that don't have a 13th floor and just not have a 13th chapter. ;)

In regards to the chapter, I didn't think it was possibly for there to be a worse patient than Starscream, but it looks like Skywarp just proved me wrong, lol. The moments with him and Footloose were just adorable however. I can hear all the Autobot logic circuits fritzing. XD

It looks like no one has found Megatron's tracking device yet, am I right? So if the Decepticons are watching, Skywarp is going to lead them straight to Starscream.

I can just see Starscream getting pissed and yelling at 'Warp to _never_ take anything from Hook at face value.
keaalu
Dec. 23rd, 2008 04:04 pm (UTC)
Heh, funny you should say that but in my block of flats they skip over number 13 as well :D It goes 7, 9, 11, 15. AND that'd save me having to remember to retitle every chapter when I upload a new one, because the prologue got in as "1" (grr).

Yeah, Skywarp's still wearing the tracker. I don't want to say too much and give away spoilers, though. ;)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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