Series: Transformers, G1-based (“Blue” AU)
Notes: Bah, sorry this one’s taking soooo looooong. -_- I am admittedly nearly finished, just having “motivation issues” and writer’s block (and distractionssss). Bah.
“Future Tense” (the third instalment) is kind of on hold, for now, as I’m planning my NaNoWriMo for this year; “Adverse Camber”. It is going to involve a couple of my OCs (Celerity, Slipstream and Firewire) but I won’t be uploading it here as I’m making it part of my own standalone series. A couple of canons get cameo roles, but they’re not actively named, as such. If anyone’s interested (ha), I’ll be uploading it to my LJ (see my profile for links, if you’re interested – “Aude Sapere #3”)
…Primus, it was dark in here. Dark, and close. That suffocating, overheated sort of dark that seemed to weigh down like something physical, a heavy smothering blanket of it that left an individual unable to tell if he hadn’t just gone blind. Where was he anyway? Skywarp stared out into the darkness, struggling to pick anything out, but all he could tell was that he felt ill, unstable, swallowed up in this cloying tar, and… Primus. Primus. He was underground. They were rocks, weren’t they, picked out in the dim crimson of his optics? He shrank down, involuntarily, trying in vain to work out just how far above him the ceiling was. How stable it was. How likely to all fall down on his he-… stop that.
Worse than that, he couldn’t… couldn’t seem to move anything from the neck down. At least, not well. Not much more than a languorous squirm. Although still partially sedated, he wasn’t so depleted he was bordering on locking up, and his systems didn’t report any overt instabilities – just a little elevated pressure in his coolant lines, gyroscopes just wonky enough to make him feel groggy and off-balance – so it was obviously something external. Maybe it was to do with whatever filth that stupid pipeline had squirted down his intakes. Yuck. He pulled a face at the memory, involuntarily, and winced at recognising that his analytical plating was still completely offline.
His spark felt heavy in his chassis – hot and stressed and constricted by its own magnetic bottle. Must be all that weight of rock, all around him – pressing down, tightening the air. He struggled to draw cool air across his overheating relays, but his vents felt stuffy. Congested. Like there was something preventing them functioning properly. The only air he could draw in was through his primary intake, and his scorching insides ended up heating it before he could get it to anywhere he wanted it anyway.
A light flickered on in a corridor, somewhere – dim, sullen white light, but it was enough to outline the narrow maw of the doorway, and the rough floor outside. And the ceiling, rough-hewed and covered in cracks-… no, not going to look at that. If he looked long enough, he’d convince himself it was all about to fall down on his head and bury him forever.
The soft tread of light footsteps on sand attracted his attention; a shadow stretched its way up the rough floor, advancing on his position, and finally halted in the doorway. The silhouette framed between the rocky walls was fairly short, spindly-looking… and entirely recognisable.
…Skywarp immediately wished he could just sit and look at the rocks again. Being underground was – bizarrely – more appealing than the idea of enduring the tanker’s company.
“Ah, you’re awake at last,” the little mech crooned, sweetly, slinking in through the doorway. “That’s good. I was getting tired of waiting.”
Skywarp glared exhaustedly at him, struggling to think up an appropriate retort, but all that his vocaliser could manage to produce was a dry hiss of distortions.
“Still not feeling so good? Aww,” Siphon cooed, settling into the sand nearby. “Never mind. You’ll soon forget about that. You see, I’d like to introduce you…” His voice dropped an octave or so into a purr, almost seductive in timbre, as he leaned up veeery close to his captive’s face, “to a new friend.”
Skywarp turned his gaze away, silently, feigning disinterest.
“I was worried I’d have to use it all on that dithering lump of worthless blue tin you were all so terribly worried about,” the tanker went on, falsely concerned, coming close enough to press their cheeks together, and chuckling at the repulsed shudder that ran all the way up his captive’s back and made his wings rattle against the wall. “But all he needed was a few gentle prods in the right direction and he self-destructed quite contentedly all by himself. Amazing what a good look at his inner demon could do to him. I don’t think the poor mech realised quite how foul and ugly he really was, under that veneer of nobility.”
“Whh-… whaa’y want?” Skywarp finally managed to bully a few painful, staticky words out of his vocaliser.
“I told you what I want,” the tanker reminded, softly. “I want you punished, for every last insult you dealt out to me. I want to see you debased, and I want to see you broken. I want you pleading with me for clemency. Most of all, I want to see you crawling at my feet, begging for my forgiveness.”
Muted crimson optics met with murky amber; there was a trace – just a trace – of a disparaging sneer in the Seeker’s manner. “…fat chhh- chance-… of thhh-… that.”
“Oh, trust me, dear. I have my ways, and I think you might just be forced to change your mind very, very soon,” Siphon purred, fumbling with his subspace and bringing something out. “Because this,” he lifted a small cube of strangely-coloured energon, “is Pace. Oh, I know what you’re thinking…” He held it dramatically into the shaft of light that struck down from the corridor, and it glowed as though lit from within by a malevolent cobalt. “It’s Blue. And in a way, you’d be right. It’s… strongly similar. One of the backstreet ‘chemists’ in Rustig cooked it up in the aftermath of Cali’s arrest.”
Skywarp stared silently into the cobalt depths, and felt his earlier optimism shrivel – I’ll show that little fragger exactly who he’s dealing with very quickly turned into aw, damn, not that smelt-waste again!
Siphon’s lip curled in a smirk, pleased by Skywarp’s obvious dismay. “It’s like a watered-down over-commercialised version of our beloved Screaming Blue,” he went on, softly. “Nowhere near as powerful, or as addictive. A mech can get off this all by themselves, if they've got the patience and the willingness to make the effort. But you know what? I don’t think you’ll care about that, once you’re on it. All you’ll care about is getting it. And doing whatever it takes to keep your supplies up.”
The tanker leaned closer, and added, in a more hushed voice; “I can keep you teetering at the point of complete emotional and physical breakdown with this just as easily as Screaming Blue. Just have to give you enough to keep you functioning. Enough to keep you hooked.” He ran his fingers tenderly down Skywarp’s chest, and added, in a sweet, seductive murmur; “and I can sit back and watch as all your self-control and composure fizzles away down the drains, and you crawl at my feet like a broken-down empty after your next fix.”
Skywarp bared his denta, grimly. “…go stick a fork in it,” he rasped.
Siphon laughed, softly. “I’m sure I could find somewhere to stick one, if you really wanted me to,” he agreed. “But first, I have more important business to attend to. You ruined my life,” he crooned, sweetly, “so – Primus willing – I’m going to ruin yours. Now open wide…” He tilted the cube toward his prisoner’s paralysed lips. “…And take your medicine like the good little spark you are…”
Skywarp did cut quite the sorry figure, Megatron mused, from the cell doorway.
The little campaign, as it was, had gone surprisingly well. While he’d had no particular desire to put himself in the line of fire for so little gain, he’d had no problem allowing his underlings to do so, and while his idiots had gone head-on into an engagement in which they were massively outnumbered, he’d claimed a good vantage point from which to observe proceedings.
Thundercracker had very quickly been surrounded and removed “to safety” by a cluster of blue and white groundlings. He wrinkled his nose in a sneer - typical Autobot so-called nobility, desperately hopeful that they could fix all lost causes. (Although after everything he’d been put through, and then the crash, it was frankly a wonder the blue jet was still alive, so maybe he did still have a few things going for him.) The Coneheads had homed in on the sparkling, but managed to lose it quite spectacularly and were reduced to noisy posturing, and no-one was bothering to try and wrest the analyst from the clutches of the giant that was guarding her.
The little tanker, however, had rather passed under everyone’s radar, and with a little bit of (apparently well-practised) sneakery managed to snag the sparkling, and by extension her troublemaking parent. The little braggart had actually done fairly well, providing exactly what he’d promised – a plastic-wrapped mostly-Skywarp-shaped bundle of parts, propped against the wall. Humiliated maroon optics stared mostly in his direction and tried to keep up the aura of I’m-a-fierce-and-noble-fighter-cross-me-a
“It would be a terrible shame,” the warlord mused, at last, and actually sounded somewhat genuinely sorrowful, “if this is how it is all to end for you and your brothers.”
“They’re not my brothers,” Skywarp corrected, sullenly, but the assertion was without its usual heat. He knew Thundercracker had taken a small measure of comfort in the whole ‘siblings’ idea. “…stupid pair of fraggers,” he added, darkly, to save a modicum of face.
“Regardless. I accept that you may not believeme, but I always valued your loyalty, Skywarp, and it would be a terrible shame if this,” Megatron gestured a hand at him, melodramatically, “was how you were to end your days. A valueless, drug-addled Empty with no use to anyone, held prisoner just to keep him from joining the enemy ranks.”
Skywarp muttered sourly and dropped his gaze away.
“You were the only of your trine that I could rely on absolutely,” Megatron went on, generously. “What with your wingmates either suffering delusions of grandeur, or else misplaced anxieties. And your… handicap, shall we say…?” Your sheer, utter brainlessness. “…was never a hindrance to your efficiency.”
Skywarp studied his feet, unwilling to meet the tired stare. All this is your fault, Skywarp, he reminded himself. Even right back at the start. So what if it was Screamer squabbled with Megs and ran off, if you’d not got spooked over fragging nothing, you wouldn’t have ended up on Cybertron in the first place and got tangled up with those stupid Policedorks. Wouldn’t have crossed that stupid pipeline, either. No sparklings to prey on your conscience. It’d just be the same old same old, do as Megs tells you, get your aft kicked by the Autobots every now and then, slack off with TC and laugh when Screamer blows himself up again.
“Consider it,” the warlord offered, in the silence, inclining his head. “Thundercracker was on the point of coming back to us-”
“After you beat the ever-loving slag out of him-!” Skywarp flared up.
“-and you may rest assured that this latest… hiccup… won’t have a major impact on the faction hierarchy,” Megatron went on, as if the smaller mech hadn’t spoken. “I’m willing to treat this as just a… a misplaced, emotionally driven outburst. You were placed in a confusing, unfamiliar situation, and behaved accordingly.”
Although his features contorted into an angry pout in effort, Skywarp managed to keep a rein on his vocaliser; the temptation was rising to blurt out all the accusation and obscenity he could think of, to show what he thought of his former leader’s ‘generosity’. “Don’t kid yourself that you know anything about my situation,” he chewed out. “Maybe I’ve actually been taking stock of my options, cuz I’m tired of stagnating, here. Maybe I want to make something of myself, for a change.”
Megatron’s lip twitched, but he didn’t rise to the bait. “Long words and big ideals were never your forte, Skywarp,” he observed, dryly, “so you’ll forgive me, I hope, if I take that statement with a fairly liberal helping of salt.”
“Take it however you fragging well want to,” Skywarp muttered, slumping back down. “After all this, you don’t think we’re going to willingly walk back, do you?” he challenged, daringly, at the broad silver back, as Megatron turned to leave. “This is the only way you’re gonna get me to sit still enough to talk to me in the first place, bundled up like a fragging… factory-second on the floor of a prison cell. I’m sure as fraggery not gonna just hand everything over to you.”
Megatron hesitated in the doorway, and looked back at him. “If that’s how it has to be, then that’s how it has to be,” he accepted, grimly, inclining his head. “Don’t think I won’t find a safer place to put your spark chamber if I have any doubts over your ability to know your place. When you start to behave? Then I’ll reconsider the options I allow you.”
Skywarp’s optics flashed, angrily, and he hunched his shoulders. Having one’s spark chamber removed and placed into specialised storage was the simplest and most secure way of confining a machine – the spark was remarkably stable so long as the magnetic bottle was patent – but it was also the most unpleasant way, particularly to a flier as claustrophobic as Skywarp. The teleport got the distinct impression that was the sole reason Megatron had left the threat hanging over him – and that the warlord also had no particular plans to actually carry said threat out, but had no problems with using it to bully him back into toeing the faction line.
“If not for yourself, and for all the vorns you’ve served the regime so loyally, at least consider it for the sake of your sparkling,” Megatron elaborated, grimly. “She won’t be harmed, but the, ah, ‘ethics’ we instil… will mostly be down to how you choose to behave – or not.”
“You leave her out of this, you half-smelted blob of purge!!” The words that shrieked after the departing warlord would have done Starscream proud in their discordant volume, but didn’t get him to turn back.
Time dragged past with the same interminable slowness as the average speciall-extended-monitoring-shift-as-pu
Although a distant white light cast a tiny glow into the corridor, it had returned mostly to dark, again – the main light in the corridor had been turned out long ago, leaving him with nothing but a forest of shadows, lit by the dim crimson glow of his optics, and his own bleak thoughts for company.
Not looking at it and convincing himself it could just be a really cloudy night sky above his head (not tonnes and tonnes oh Primus of rock) was helping to stave off the worst of the panic attack. His vents were still pumping out enough scorching exhaust to make the air shimmer, but he had retained just enough mental ability to be able to make something like an attempt to think his way out of here.
First thing, get out of this mess of plasticky film Siphon had wrapped him in. Couldn’t exactly do much to help himself while he still couldn’t move. Frag it. The little slagger had done it on purpose, he knew he was the most claustrophobic of the thr-… No, he wasn’t going to think about it. If he thought about how tightly constricted he was, how hot and cramped and airless it was in here, how his vents were straining for cold but the walls were all closing in and-… no. No, stop that, you moron. Stop thinking about it!
He took a moment to rally his thoughts. Please, please, just ignore the phobias for a breem or two? Because this was important. Important-er than getting out to take personal vengeance on the under-clocked bunch of tubes, certainly. If nothing else, payback on Thundercracker’s behalf was more important than his own stupid need to kick some (admittedly thoroughly-deserving) aft.
Most importantly of all, he had to get out of here to rescue that brainless little sparkling that had worked her way inexorably under his plating. My little girl, and by Primus I’m gonna make that stupid green blot of slag rue the day he laid a finger on her. Even if I have to abandon her to Ama’s care, ’cause I’m hardly ideal parental material, that stupid bunch of pipes is gonna learn once and for all that he doesn’t mess with our business and certainly doesn’t poke his tubes into our territory…
And by Primus he’d show that little slagger he wasn’t yet some drug-addled idiot who’d ask ‘how high’ when told to jump. They were so happily (and stupidly) convinced of his supposed lack of ambition and the idea that he’d just roll over and accept his fate (pah! Working with Screamer so long had left him increasingly stubborn) that they’d not bothered with any complex restraints. And they had the gall to call him the idiot! Skywarp craned his neck to examine the stretchy film that held him prisoner; there was far too much of it for him to simply snap it, and trying to rub it off would take far too long, Siphon would be back with the next dose by then… But maybe… although the glow from his optics was hardly ideal to see by, from what he could tell, the stuff looked almost… waxy.
Waxy. Wax. Heat. Flammable! Yes! If there was one thing he was good at, especially in this stressed-out frame of mind, it was getting things hot. He gunned his thrusters, very briefly, produced a very low-level spurt of flame, and watched what happened.
…Nothing. The film was too far away to spontaneously ignite, and running his engines for much longer to heat the exterior casings was probably tempting fate – jet engines weren’t exactly the quietest of propulsion, and someone would soon come looking to see what the noise was about. He wrinkled his lip, unimpressed. Okay, let’s try something else…
Five minutes work rubbed just enough of the film off his legs and just into range of his thrusters. Please work, please work. He managed to cross his fingers, and gave his engines another brief little grumble. Blue flame lit the walls with a faint, chilly gleam… and the film at his heels lit with a surly, smoky little orange flame. Yes, it was working! Ha. Okay, admittedly not working very well, the wax was mostly melting rather than burning… but it was softening and slackening and with a little bit of effort he might just be able to wriggle-
Slag, Skywarp realised, watching as the sullen flames licked up over his chassis. …I’m on fire.
Primus, one of these days you’ll actually think these things right the way through to the end before you go ahead and do it, he scolded himself, his movement taking on a slightly more urgent nature. Okay, fair enough, so the ignition point of his own components was considerably higher than this, but frag, he wasn’t in the best nick and what if there was any energon close enough to the surface to go off?
A few moments of energetic struggle had thrashed him enough slack to fling himself out and away from the foul residue, leaving trails of smoking wax in his wake and trying to pat out the last few flickering orange flames. As if just to complete the cycle of bad luck he was having, the alarm cut in the instant he crossed the threshold into the corridor – an urgent, wailing alert that pounded against his audios and seemed to be shrilling accusation at him, just in case there were any doubt at what had caused it to go off. He could already hear concerned yells from further down the corridor. Aw, fraggit. Just advertise your attempt at escaping to everyone, why don’t you, you prize-winning idiot?
There had to be a way out. He managed a step or two down the corridor before revising his opinion – he’d be overwhelmed and locked straight back up, if he tried to fight his way out. So he had to sneak out. But sneak where? This horrible close-walled little warren could have any number of blind-ends to trap himself in, places to jam his wings across…
Come on, Skywarp, think like Screamer, for a second. Logic, logic. His brow furrowed in concentration. Have to get out. Can’t sneak past. Have to teleport, but I don’t know where I am in relation to everything else. I don’t have a positioning fix, and it’ll take too long to find one even if I can find a computer-
No, no no no, stop. Logic. No earth building is two miles tall! And the little fragger couldn’t have dug his base two miles beneath the surface in the time he’s had between crawling out of the rift and coming here… So just go straight up, to the very limit of your teleport.
But… Lucy. Skywarp managed another step before going back to dithering, by the doorway that led into one of the wider corridors; he could hear Thrust’s irritated voice coming closer. Can’t abandon her to Megatron. If you leave now? You might never get her back. They might steal her away to Nemesis, and good luck getting on there on your own…! Beat. But if you don’t leave now, you’ll never get the chance to come back. They’ll catch you and dismantle you and leave you in a little box somewhere, a disembodied spark going crazy as the walls close in.
“I’ll come back and get you,” he promised, feebly, already triangulating his way out. “I swear. If it’s the last thing I do, I’ll come rescue you…”
Thrust skidded around the corner and gave an angry yell at seeing him on the loose, but before the Conehead could gather himself into a good enough lunge to grab the teleport, Skywarp engaged his gate and was gone.
…it was only when the world successfully reappeared almost two miles beneath his thrusters that he realised the jump would use up the meagre remainder of his fuel.
“Aw, slag it,” he creaked, matter-of-factly, and felt gravity reclaim him.
When all things were later considered, Calibrator had not only had a very lucky escape, she also saved Skywarp’s life (in a roundabout sort of way). She’d been indulging in a careful and enthusiastic program of needling at Starscream’s temper, trying to goad him into a tantrum and dump him into trouble with the Autobots, and he was just on the point of punching her into the middle of the next Vorn… when Forceps intercepted him and spoiled the plan. The surgeon had fairly bluntly “suggested” he might “like” to go and work off his frustrations in some way that didn’t include mangling the analyst – no matter how much better it might make him feel, mauling her probably wasn’t the best of options, especially as they may yet still have a use for her. The red Seeker had matched glares, for a moment or two, then flounced dramatically and took huffily to the air.
…Which turned out to be most fortuitous, when Skywarp unexpectedly appeared a few hundred yards to the east of his position, with all the aerial capacity of a lump of lead. Cali was promptly forgotten in favour of a frantic dash to rescue his stricken wingmate. He fell like a stone alongside him, arms outstretched. “Come on, Warp, work with me here!” he insisted, urgently, beckoning. “We’ve got a few dozen astro-seconds to pull you out of this, engage your turbines!”
“No fuel,” the teleport explained, in a distracted murmur, almost as if in a dream. “Can’t-… can’t get ’em… to turn over.”
“You just need to give them a few astro-seconds,” Starscream insisted, only too aware how quickly the ground was rushing upon them. “You have to have a few dregs left in there. Vapours, even! Just enough to land without spreading yourself halfway across the desert.”
“Used all up,” Skywarp disagreed, with a strained, hopeless grin. “Used it to ’port out.”
“All right,” Starscream despaired. “I’ll try pull you out of this myself. Arms up!” Like some sort of morbid embrace, the red Seeker managed to lock his arms around his wingmate, and felt his engines take up the strain. “Oww. Dammit, Warp, you could try and help me, here! You’re heavy!”
Skywarp made a valiant effort at re-orienting himself in a more flight-friendly way, but his head still sagged and he couldn’t even get his turbines to cycle. “Jus’… lemme splat. Put back together after.”
“Ohh no you don’t. I need your help sorting this whole mess out, I’m not letting you wriggle your way out of having to be useful by smashing into pieces, you stupid lump.”
The scold was clearly intended to needle a little spirit back into him, but Skywarp only managed a half-hearted sneer. “…nice try… sorry.”
The sand loomed ever closer; a smooth blanket of gold that’d be every bit as unyielding as a slab of concrete, especially after hitting it from this height… Starscream had to restrain an anticipatory flinch. Primus. This is going to HURT. His engines were screaming, pushed beyond their normal limits, already painfully overheating, and he knew that he was going to have to make an agonising decision in the next few seconds – save himself, because he wasn’t sure how far he trusted these Autobot idiots to resolve the situation on their own – but that’d mean letting Warp alone smash himself to pieces across the desert… or keep on fruitlessly trying until they both ended up in a tangle of twisted wreckage in this Primus-forsaken Pit-
A large shadow blotted out the sun. Starscream barely had time to position himself between their new ‘assailant’ and the helpless Skywarp and prepare himself for a barrage of laser fire to complete the act of knocking them out of the sky… before a pair of powerful and familiar white arms took hold and a second engine finally began to pull them from their joint nosedive.
They’d got too close to the ground to pull right out of their fall, even with Skyfire’s massive engines helping out. The big shuttle throttled back until he was at the point of stalling, and carefully let them go with a few feet to spare, to avoid coming down on top of them and crushing them. The two Seekers ‘landed’ together with a muted creak in the sand, skidding across the dunes in a whirling cloud of dust; Skyfire managed another few dozen yards before coming down with an oomph! himself.
Starscream wound up at the bottom of his and Skywarp’s little heap, half buried in a dune. He came up ‘coughing’ sand from all his vents, struggling to get out from underneath the teleport. “…Primus alive, Warp, how is it you manage to be so heavy when your tanks are empty…?!”
Skywarp grunted quietly, and tried to prop himself on an arm so his wingmate could get up, but rapidly subsided back to the ground.
In comparison, Skyfire hadn’t taken long to get back on his feet; he approached and offered a hand, which just made the red Seeker angrier.
“I don’t need your help. You stay away! I never asked for your help in the first place!” Starscream snapped, stabbing one finger in a threatening point and promptly losing his balance, going flat on his face and getting his intakes full of sand.
“I know,” Skyfire confirmed, with a polite little inclination of his head, keeping his hand outstretched. “That’s why I didn’t offer it. You’d rather go digging up the desert with your wingmate.”
“Don’t you take that tone with me!” Starscream spluttered.
Skyfire met the hostile crimson glare with as much calm as he could muster. “…you’re welcome.”
Starscream made irritable noises and struggled his way out from underneath his wingmate, still ignoring the hand; Skyfire finally gave up, venting hot air in a very long-suffering sigh, and stepped back out of his way.
Skywarp looked like he was at the point of going right into stasis – his optics were dim and he could barely move, but in spite of that he was managing to mumble, feeble little words that were mostly static.
“What’s that, Warp?” Starscream leaned down closer, trying to catch the words.
Skywarp flickered his optics just the once, before letting them go dim, exhausted. “Jus’ shu’up an gemme someth’na drink.”
Deep below the golden stone cliffs, Footloose sat on the flat grey top of a computer terminal in the small control room, and tried to be brave for Day. She knew he was here, because she’d seen two of the pointy-headed ones carrying him, all hurt and silent with his feet dragging and his head lolling back, and it made her scared that maybe he was broken… but she reassured herself with the idea that Day could do anything. Even when he went to the Autobots, and Aunnie Ausep had to fix him, he’d still got better enough to go find her on his own, hadn’t he? Escaped their jail, and found her, even though he was hurt! So she’d be good, too, and wait for him to come and find her again.
At least the Decepticons here weren’t being too openly threatening, and she could just sit quietly and not feel compelled to run. They were scary, and kept on… looking at her, in a sort of unfriendly, resentful way, but kept their distance otherwise. The scaredy looking little blue truck – she wasn’t sure if he was a Decepticon because he didn’t have the angry purple face – had given her a little cup of energon to rectify her deficit. She sat clutching it tightly in both hands, to keep both body parts from getting shaky and misbehaving, watching Megatron carefully from over its rim.
He-… didn’t seem as bad as Day had said. He was scary, sure, but maybe it was just because he was so big? He was bigger than Day, certainly, maybe even bigger than Hack! And when Hack was grouchy – not often, admittedly, although she and Seem had succeeded at making him furious once or twice – he was scary, and he was a nice policemech. So how much scarier would this big Decepticon be when he got mad? She resolved to be good until Day came and rescued her, so not to have to find out. Aside from that, though… he was stern and serious but not really frightening, as such.
The hoomings were a different matter! Siphing had been talking to them, and they had fairly free reign of the little headquarters, so maybe they were working with him, like Spike and Carly did with the Autobots? They could be pets, she accepted, but they didn’t really look like them. Two of them were quarrelling; she wasn’t sure what about, and didn’t understand their accents very well, but the darker coloured one looked angry with the lighter one, and they kept on pointing at her. She hoped that didn’t mean bad things.
A shadow dropped across her; she didn’t have to look up to know it belonged to Megatron. “What are you watching?” he wondered, gruffly.
She tucked her knees closer. “Suishies,” she replied, softly, still watching them. “They arguing.”
“Squishies, indeed,” he agreed, resting his elbows on the computer so he was bending down closer to her level. “Annoying little bugs, aren’t they? Always getting in the way and spoiling things. Makes you want to just-…” He held up one hand, and made a pinching motion between thumb and forefinger. “Silence them forever.”
She watched his hand, and echoed the gesture. Squish like bug. But it made her uncomfortable, so she let her hand drop back into her lap. “What they angry about?”
He smiled, cynically. “The same thing all humans quarrel over. Money, and who deserves more of it. But they’re really not worth being scared over,” he counselled. “They’re small, squashy, unarmed and weak… They can’t harm you on their own, and we don’t plan on helping them.”
“Am little,” she argued, faintly. “Can be made broken easy. Ausep say so.”
“That’s not a problem. I can teach you to be strong enough to look after yourself. Strong enough that those silly squishy humans can’t hurt you. Strong enough to look after your family, too, if you want, even if they don’t deserve it,” he explained. “Unlike your creators. It’s so typical of those Autobots. They like to keep you little and weak. Easy to control. Now that’s not very fair, is it?”
Footloose shook her head, silently, and studied her little feet. Wasn’t fair. She wanted to be big, but Ama and Ausep always said ‘no, later. Not old enough. Not got enough of speriences.’
“I can make you bigger,” he added, in the silence, and watched as she finally lifted her gaze to meet his. “Stronger. None of that silly, woolly sentiment over keeping you little and ‘cute’.”
She studied her little fingers, then held them up, compared them to his. Hers were small, and weak, with rounded tips and a soft underside for a better grip, each digit driven by a single actuator and a transmission cable at the knuckle. His hands were large, square-tipped, with powerful motors at every single joint. He didn’t have wings, though, and she needed them if she was going to be like Day.
“Need to learn to make fly,” she explained. “Not to be stuck on ground. Day to teach!”
“I can fly,” he argued, watching her carefully, “and I don’t have wings. It’s easy, if you have the right parts.”
“How?” Her head perked over to one side, challengingly.
He patted her helm, lightly. “All in good time.” Keeping the little troublemaker quietly interested would make her less likely to try and escape, especially if there was the hinted promise of flying. “We need to make you bigger, first.”
She huffed quietly and folded her arms. “Always say ‘when big’. Ausep say, Ama say, not Megatron say. Never now, always later! Not fair!” She pouted, and the huffily-folded arms turned into more of an unhappy, self-comforting hug. “Wait for Day to come get.” Her family might be stuffy old meanies who always made her wait for things, but they were still family, and she missed Ama.
“I wouldn’t pin your hopes too heavily on that, little one,” Megatron demurred. “You might be waiting a very long time for that stupid coward to finally pluck up the courage to dare come here.”
“Day not coward!” she protested, nevertheless shrinking down on herself. Megatron had been Day’s leader, for a very long time, hadn’t he? Maybe he knew him really well, and she was just wrong? She banished the thought. “Day can do anything,” she insisted, but it felt more like she was trying to convince herself, not the warlord.
“He couldn’t save Ama, could he?” Megatron went on, smoothly, listening to the complaints from the little female gradually go quiet. “And he hasn’t come to save you, has he? He’s too much of a coward.”
“Not coward.” She shook her head. “Am hurt. Will prove when comes to rescue!” She held her ankles, and gave him her best bullish expression, even though she still looked trembly and scared. “I stay here for.”
He lifted his head, and frowned, just a little. “You’re… staying here… for Day?”
He sounded surprised. She looked up into his face, and nodded, a tiny bit. “Day hurt by Siphing,” she explained, softly. “I stay with ’til made better, then Day to make rescue and both go home.”
“Da-… Skywarp isn’t here, any more. He ran away and left you here with us,” Megatron explained, unusually gently.
She stared up at him, probing his face for any trace that he might not be being truthful. “Making lies,” she asserted, bravely. That was what bad people did, wasn’t it, made up stories? And Day wouldn’t do that. Wouldn’t!
“I’m so sorry,” he said, gently, ignoring the sparkling’s allegation of untruth, and actually sounded genuine. “I wish it didn’t have to be me to tell you they don’t want you any more.”
She slotted her little fingers back into her mouth, anxiously, tucking her feet up. “Not want? Not love any more?”
He shook his head. “They’ve got Slipstream back, so why do they need you, hmm? He’s so much better behaved. So much smarter. So much braver. You’re just a shrunken-down version of that idiot Seeker who contributed so little to your creation – small, noisy and stupid.”
She shrank back on herself. Cali said she was stupid, too. Maybe they were right. Ama was just trying to soothe her rankled feelings.
“You messed up, little one,” he went on, softly. “It should have been simple, but you came along when you shouldn’t have, you put yourself into the line of danger, and you ended up involving everyone. Why ever would they bother going to all that effort coming to find you? You’re a little scrap of tin with no special abilities, and you’re bad. You’re just too naughty for them to want any more. You deserve to come here, to stay with all the other bad machines, where we don’t mind it if you cause trouble.”
She hugged her knees and tried to deny his words. Wasn’t a bad femme, she just made a little mistake because Cali made her scared.
The warlord picked her up, carefully; she fitted neatly in the palm of his hand. “I can make you so much more than you are, little one,” he promised, quietly. “So you can prove to them that they shouldn’t have just thrown you away. If you let me teach you, I can make you powerful – so powerful, no-one will ever be able to hurt you again.”
She looked up, at last… and nodded.