Series: Transformers, G1-based (“Blue” AU)
Notes: Lordy, I never thought I'd *cough*"celebrate"*cough* the first birthday of this thing. Ehhe. ¬_¬ Sorry this is taking soooo loooong, but I'm NEARLY done.
Getting a little bit of fuel back inside him didn’t improve Skywarp’s mood very much. Falling out of the sky had been bad enough, but now he’d run out of Pace and could feel himself withdrawing, too, and knew Screamer’d ground him, if he found out.
Slipstream had left Thundercracker in Forceps’ safe hands, and gone to talk to Day. “Day Skawar need to make bath,” he observed, quietly, poking a little blue finger at the greyed wax remaining in little lumps and clots on Skywarp’s plating.
“Yeah, soon as this dust-bowl freezes over,” the teleport agreed, cynically, huddled up and sipping reluctantly on the canister of energon Forceps had waved under his nose. He was hiding his shakes quite well, but sensed that both Screamer and Sepp knew there was a problem. They’d not called him out on it in front of the guys yet, thankfully, but… it was only a matter of time before he had to face the music. For now, they seemed pretty content to let him just sit and pretend to be shaken after his near-death experience.
Slipstream wormed his way up into Skywarp’s arms, and hummed to him; a long, comforting purring noise. “Where Lucy, Day?”
Skywarp rested his chin very briefly against the top of the little one’s helm. “I still need to get her, Spark,” he explained, softly. “I wasn’t…” Strong enough. “…able to find her.”
Slipstream made a little disappointed noise. “Is with Megatron?” he wondered, softly.
Skywarp remained quiet.
“Is okay.” Slipstream bumped heads. “Took me and Dack long time to make a scape, too, needed help.”
What chance do I stand, then? Skywarp wondered, tiredly. Are we going to have to go for a full-frontal assault, or something? Who knows how deep that stupid pipeline has dug his wormhole… “We’ll get her out, right, Squirt? Then we can all go home.”
Slipstream nodded, and hummed. “Day can do anything.”
If only, Skywarp considered, cynically, but remained silent.
Calibrator surveyed the little scene and smirked, wrinkling her nose at Starscream. “Good going, there, oh gracious leader,” she sniped. “You rescue the two you came here to get, and oh! Conveniently lose the other one.” She gave an offhand, melodramatic gesture, and her thin lips curled in a cold smile. “I’m sure you could think of some other way of proving your virility to Megatron, if you’re so determined to make a good impression, rather than contrive a situation where you just have to make yourself into some kind of aberrant hero.”
Starscream gave her a sharp prod with a null-ray. “If you value being awake and alert,” he said, coolly, “then perhaps you’ll invest in a better filter for your vocaliser.”
Calibrator smirked, satisfied at getting a reaction, but obediently quietened down.
Longbeam – never one to refrain from speaking her mind – was also watching him, with a hostile look that she wasn’t even attempting to cover up.
Starscream matched glares with her, hiking his wings. “And what’s your problem, Lanky?” he snapped.
The femme lifted her chin and stared him down. “I’m just waiting for you to say it serves the little brat right and she deserves to be left behind.”
There was a collective noise of insult from the rest of the crowd – even Vector made a little noise of dismay, and hastily put herself into Starscream’s way before he could take his annoyance out on her partner, scolding her wordlessly as she did so.
“I didn’t say that was what I thought,” the bike defended herself, sourly, leaning around the bigger femme. “I was just paraphrasing, to get it out of the way, because I bet you can’t wait to say it.”
“Get out of the way, Vector,” the red Seeker hissed, already charging his weapons and trying to sidestep around her. “I don’t care how much you like her, I’m going to null-ray this little brat, clean into the middle of next week!”
Vector set her jaw and spread her arms. “You’d shoot someone for espousing an opinion?”
“I’d shoot them for flat-out insulting me, yes-”
“Why are you all so outraged? It makes sense,” Calibrator jumped in, sweetly, taking advantage of the discord. “Disobedient little wretch needs teaching a lesson, wouldn’t you say? If not for her coming when she shouldn’t have, all three– all four of you could have gone home long ago.”
“If not for you instilling unhealthy ideas into that impressionable, stupid little head, she wouldn’t have felt the need to come along in the first place.” Starscream swung about, Longbeam forgotten, and took a single step forwards. The analyst stumbled backwards a step, bumping against her warder; Hardline had already set a hand on her shoulder, just heavily enough to make the point that he wasn’t going to let her get hurt, but equally wasn’t going to let her bolt. “She was quite happy to stay behind and look after Ama before you got involved,” the red Seeker went on, through a clenched jaw.
Calibrator forced a smile. “It’s hardly my fault if she believes the word of a stranger more than the word of her family. Maybe she recognised that you’re all either too stupid or callous for her to trust-”
Starscream backhanded her just hard enough across the face to leave a blue smear all the way from cheek to cheek; she coughed up a startled burst of static, and her knees gave way, landing her on her aft.
“Be. Quiet,” he grated, dropping his tones to a gravelly snarl. “One more peep, and you head home offline and in pieces.”
Wisely, Calibrator finally backed down, simmering quietly with hurt static, keeping her gaze down at the sand. The flurry of dismayed glances everyone else were shooting at him were pretty irksome; wasn’t as if she hadn’t deserved it. Starscream swallowed his rage, annoyedly. There were better times for it, he had to admit, and that simpering lug Skyfire could probably be counted on to wind him into a raging little ball of temper soon enough once this… this smeltery… was all resolved.
He glanced down, and met Skywarp’s gaze; his wingmate gave him a look. Not an angry look – a kind of lost, you wouldn’t really, would you? sort of look.
Starscream visibly gritted his denta and glared; his crimson optics almost blazed hotly enough to melt holes in thin sheet metal. Bad enough to be called out, but by his own trine-mate, in front of so many Autobots? Guh. Raging ball of temper was sounding better and better. “No-one is getting left behind,” he grated out, fully aware of just how many pairs of optics were upon him. “If I have to do a swap to get her back – and I’m not above using you, dear Cali, in lots and lots of tiny pieces – I will.”
It was so good to be out of that robotic rat-run at last, Vallory considered, making his way around the cliffs towards the little villages around Amarna. When it was just Mitchell and his stupid plans, it had been workable and almost acceptable, but getting involved with Decepticons was a whole new can of worms that he’d been wanting (very, very much) not to open. Now the can was open, well, he wasn’t going to hang around longer than needed. As Mitchell had far better things to be doing, he’d took his chance and slipped away. Not like Mitch cared he was gone, his former co-conspirator had made it very clear that he thought he was a dithery, introspective, overemotional waste of flesh, and Val could take his money and shove it where the sun didn’t shine, for all he cared-
The small pebbles that scattered down the cliff and bounced off his head and shoulders gave Vallory just enough warning to jump out of the way of the small landslide before it buried him. The pebbles and sand were joined in short order by a large, navy-blue, badly-co-ordinated robot, who ended up on his aft, half-buried in the detritus he’d brought down with him.
…Well isn’t this just a fantastic development, Vallory wondered. Out of the frying pan, and square into the damn fire.
For several long heartbeats, he and the crazy truck-robot just stared each other down, neither moving, neither speaking – and the machine looked considerably more alarmed than the human, his optics rounding out to vivid green discs in his face.
“What do you want, Decepticon?” Vallory demanded, at last, finally recovering his voice and managing – with effort – not to shake. “I don’t owe you nothing, you’re not getting me to go back in there!”
“What do I want, what do you want, fleshling, are you following me cuz I’m not going back there, and you can’t make me!” The words came out in a mostly-incoherent rush. Sand cascaded in a gingery cloud as Deuce attempted to flail up out of his heap. “I’ll squish you before I let you call them to come and get me and make me go back, I’ve had enough of being the punching bag!”
Vallory blinked, slowly, a little startled by the outburst. “…I don’t want to take you back,” he explained slowly. “In fact? I’d be quite happy to never see you ever again. What are you chasing me for?”
“I’m not-… not chasing you.” A few seconds of silent concentration and Deuce managed to untangle his limbs, and extricate himself from the sand. “I’m just going in as straight a line as I can, away from Siphon and away from Megatron and away from you squishy humans,” he explained, pointing, boosting himself back to his feet. “Autobots are hiding over there, right? So that’s where I’m going.”
Vallory gave him a probing look, watching the dark back moving away. “You’re gonna go fling yourself on Autobot mercy?” he challenged, trying not to sound too incredulous. “And hope they don’t shoot you, or what…? You got a white flag squirreled away in there, somewhere?”
The truck hesitated, turned to look back at the human. “A white-… what? Why would they shoot me?”
“I don’t know – because you’re a Decepticon?”
“But I’m not.” Deuce disagreed. “I’m just-…” He cast another anxious glance at the top of the cliff, checking he’d not been followed, then shuffled his feet. “I’m just scared,” he admitted, hollowly. “Scared, and I want out before it kills me.”
Well, Vallory reasoned, he’d never noticed that angry purple insignia on the little truck, and even the bashed up flier they’d nabbed ages ago had worn them, pretty visibly. Maybe that meant he was unaffiliated, or something. “Why now?” Vallory prodded. “Why wait until you’ve pretty much hung yourself on your actions before leaving?”
“There’s enough of ’em about now that they won’t be so likely to notice me sneak off,” Deuce explained, setting off across the sand once more. “That… that stupid Siphon, he’s got new friends, now. Doesn’t want me any more.” Was that a trace of resentment, in the nervous voice? Or just hurt at being dragged along until the was in it up to his neckplates, then cast aside when something better came along? “Not like he cares I’m gone, or anything. I was just useful to keep around to do all the nasty stuff no-one else wanted to do, and now all his prisoners are gone, what’s the point keeping me around?” He rubbed his arms, defensively, and laughed, a nervous little twitter of fracturing glass. “Ah-heh, besides, I’ve been off my meds for an orn or two, and it seemed like a good idea.” The words mumbled back over his shoulder, barely intelligible.
If only I had the same excuse, Vallory considered, sourly. It wasn’t me, it was my antipsychotics.
“So what are you doing, human?” Deuce queried, suspiciously, arms still folded in a self-defensive hug around his chassis, glancing down as the man trotted to catch up. “Keeping watch on me, now I purged all my secrets at you? Just in case I let something else slip that you can pass on to your boss?”
“If I’m honest?” Vallory forced a tired smile, falling alongside and trudging along in the shade cast by the blue giant. “I’m actually doing much the same as you, robot. I’ve worked with Mitchell, and I’ve helped out with his bullshit, and y’know, it’s been making me uncomfortable, what we’ve been doing. I’ve took all I can, and decided I want out.” He looked up and met the green gaze. “Figure it’s safer to be arrested by the Autobots than killed by that blue jet’s buddies, y’know?”
Deuce gazed down at his feet, optics dim, and nodded. “Yeah. That was my thinking, too.”
“Um… Starscream? Sir?”
Whitesides still had a jumpiness about him, so when Starscream span to face him with a snap of what?, irritable at being interrupted, the bike almost leapt out of his plating. “Th-there,” he stammered, swallowing his spark back into his chassis, pointing towards the cliffs.
Starscream let his gaze follow in the direction Whitesides’ arm was pointing, and arched a brow; his one admission of curiosity. Two figures were approaching – one small, human-sized one, and one taller one, just a little larger than a Seeker. The taller one was cringing back, though, almost as if trying to hide (unsuccessfully) behind the smaller one.
“Well well,” Starscream observed, dryly, elevating his voice just enough that he would be heard by the approaching pair. “Just look what crawled out of the woodwork.”
A dozen sets of optics finally turned to follow where the red jet was looking-
“You!” Skywarp launched into the attack so suddenly, he took everyone by surprise; he lunged at the newcomer, virtually frothing at the mouth in anger.
Vallory fled in alarm, not wanting to be crushed between the two, and Deuce squealed and flinched away an astro-second before the incensed Seeker crashed bodily into him.
“What do you want, you filthy bag of smeltings, huh, come to deliver a ransom?” Skywarp’s hands scrabbled over the softer cabling in the larger mech’s underprotected throat, as if trying to claw an answer out of him. “I swear, I’ll pull you to bits myself, with my fragging denta, if you don’t start squeaking right now! Where’s my little one?!”
Starscream cast a despairing gaze heavenwards and flicked a hand at Hardline.
The tank smiled, wearily, stepped up and calmly wrestled the howling Skywarp back off his prey, and Deuce promptly crumpled like a wet paper bag. “Arrest me, arrest me,” he pleaded, convulsing into a ball, cowering on his knees with his hands over his head. “I’m sorry I’m sorry I didn’t mean to get so involved but I couldn’t get out and I was scared and he wouldn’t let me have any of my medication if I didn’t do what he told me and I didn’t want to lose my head on a world full of aliens who wouldn’t understand I only needed my meds and-”
“Shh,” a voice instructed, gently, and the truck’s ribbon of words sputtered away to nothing. “Nobody’s going to hurt you. So long as you co-operate – and I’m happy that you will, because you came to us – you have nothing to fear. All right?”
Deuce glanced up to meet Vector’s gentle blue gaze; two sets of hostile crimson optics bore into him, but their owners’ weapons were lowered, inactive. He averted his gaze, and nodded.
Slipstream had heard the commotion, and finally succeeded in squeezing past the forest of legs to approach his rescuer. Deuce just watched, unsure what he was up to; the sparkling managed a wavery smile, attempting to be brave, and settled himself down just in front of the shaken delivery truck. “Deuce helped make a scape,” he informed Vector, seriously. “To be nice to, please?”
The big femme cupped the little head in one giant blue palm, and stroked his aerials with her thumb, gently. “No worries, Spark. We’ll be gentle, all right? You can stay and watch us, if you like.”
“I stay,” he confirmed, then leaned closer and wondered, hopefully; “Deuce made rescue of Lucy? Is why got out?”
The disappointed, dim green optics told the sparkling all he needed to know, but the truck shook his head, anyway. “I didn’t dare,” Deuce husked, softly. “If they caught me-…”
Vallory waited patiently to one side, until they’d got Deuce secured – once his wrists were cuffed, the blue mech quietened down, apparently content they weren’t going to dismantle him on the spot. He stepped forward and cleared his throat, attracting their attention… and immediately wished he hadn’t. It was like being trapped between the headlights of a series of oncoming trucks, and hoping that the drivers managed to brake before he was crushed. He flinched involuntarily as one of the red-eyed jets glared down on him, advancing a step or two before being blocked by one of the blue-eyed ones.
“What do you want, squishy?” the purple Decepticon snapped, leaning around the flier who was blocking him, and trying to punch him out of the way.
“I want to make you a deal,” Vallory replied, quietly, trying not to cower back. “Listen, I’ll accept it if you guys want to wallop me for what I did. It was stupid, and cruel, but I needed the money, and I didn’t figure it’d go so far as it did,” he said, quietly, lifting his hands and backing up another few steps when Skywarp advanced, making growling noises with his turbines. “But before you stomp me into a red mush in the sand… listen, I’ve got information on our ‘employer’. The guys who put us up to this. If it’ll keep me alive, I’ll do you a deal; I give you my information, you don’t squish me. Ok?”
Silverbolt nodded and stepped forwards, getting just into Starscream’s way, having noticed the irascible Seeker was also bristling, wings quivering. “You have my assurance,” he said, giving the former Air Commander a very pointed look and ensuring he had his attention as well as the human’s, “that you will have our protection – at least, until we return to the Unites States. After that, it will be Optimus’ decision as to how we proceed. Agreed, commander?”
Starscream gave Silverbolt a look that implied a desire to do nasty things to the Aerialbot leader, but nodded. “Very well, human,” he growled. “We’ll protect you – until we find out you’re lying. If that happens, well, whether you’re protected or squished is dependent on who gets to you first.”
Vallory met his gaze, and nodded. “Then I’ve got nothing to worry about, have I?” he agreed, his voice strangling.
“So remind me why we need to pay you any attention now,” Starscream prompted, pacing impatiently. “And not just find a convenient well to put you down while we finish our business here?”
“My, ah, former associate, Mitchell? He’s after the little one,” Vallory explained, wary of the robot’s irritable tones. “Because he can’t go back to our, ah, ‘employer’… without something to show for all the time he’s been dicking about here in Egypt, and the wee one’s pretty portable, right? So long as he can persuade it to go with him, and he’s sneaky enough that I bet he’ll manage it.”
Skywarp gave Starscream an alarmed look. -If he sneaks off with her we’ll never find her!- he reminded, anxiously. -they’ll go beyond the limit of her locator beacon-
Starscream pinged a shushing noise back at him. “And what makes you think he’ll get past the Mighty Megatron?”
“I don’t know. I just-… he’s got his ways, and he’s got some pretty decent tech on his side.” God, Vallory, stop fidgeting, already. “The Boss wants the little one to use for research, right? And the rest of you guys, well, you’re invaders, right? And you’re surplus to requirements, here. He’s got a-… a… ‘Sun Egg’, or something. I dunno if that means anything to you guys.” He surveyed the circle of blank faces; guess not. “It’s some kinda thermonuclear thingie. He’s gonna try blow the lot of you up.”
There was an uneasy twitter of sound in the background, which Starscream irritably flapped a quiet down hand at. “What makes you think I’m going to believe you?” the scarlet jet wondered, darkly, leaning down closer to Vallory and venting hot air at him, meaningfully. “After everything else you’ve done to us?”
Vallory wafted a hand in front of his face, clearly not appreciating the fuel-smell. “If you think you can afford not to listen, be my guest,” he replied, daringly. “But I sure as heck don’t want to get poached when the thing goes off, so if you’re gonna find a well for me, make sure it’s a few miles away, please?”
“Describe it,” Starscream instructed, bluntly.
“Describe this… device,” Starscream repeated, lowering his voice and enunciating more carefully. “Or do you want to admit you’re trying to catch us out? You’ll save yourself a lot of pain in the long run.”
“It’s, uh, purple,” Vallory hastily explained, awkwardly – he’d only seen the damn thing once or twice. “And… squat. Roundish.” He waved a hand near the ground. “Like a flattened ball, I guess.”
“A torus?” the red jet challenged.
Starscream visibly cast his gaze towards the sky. “Like a 'doughnut'.”
“Um… not sure. I guess, maybe? It had a kind of a lid on it, I didn’t get to see under it.”
The jet straightened and huffed, disappointedly. “All right, I believe you. For now,” he accepted, gruffly. “As for you lot – just shut up and listen up, for a breem!” he barked, and the twittering voices faded out, all optics returning to him. “Your current priority is to find this… ‘device’, if it exists. From what the human says, it’s such a low-yield weapon it’ll probably just melt a little sand, but I don’t want to be stood on top of it if it goes off!
“Vector? You’re in charge of Deuce,” he instructed, and watched as – thankfully – she just nodded. “Everyone else – you too, Lanky – get into pairs.” He gestured an arm. “One groundling and one flier, for as many pairs as you can make and so long as you can work out how to quarter the area… no, I don’t expect anyone to try and carry the Superintendent.”
Hardline chuckled, dryly, and inclined his head.
“You three?” He waved an arm at the bikes, then pointed up into the air. “You’re all going that way, and no arguments. Your visual acuity will be best served where you can cover plenty of ground.” There was a quiet twitter of dismay from the three smallest team-members, but all of them nodded. “I’ll be taking Calibrator with me; who knows, maybe we can actually make her useful, for once in her life.”
The analyst glared, but didn’t argue, past the quiet, muttered observation that she was more than the sum of her sensors; she was still smarting from the smack around the face, and apparently not wanting to risk the jet’s ire any more.
As ever, Skywarp hadn’t been paying the greatest amount of attention, and now also didn’t appear to want to help out in the search. Starscream caught his shoulder vent before he could vanish all the way out of reach. “And where do you think you’re going?” he challenged.
“I’m going back to Siphon.” Skywarp didn’t bother even attempting to hide his intentions, trying to peel the blue fingers away from his plating. “I’m gonna sneak in and get Lucy out while everyone’s watching your little flock of idiots flitting about, before that stupid fleshbag lures her away.”
“You don’t even know how to get in,” Starscream reminded.
“Oh pssh, I can teleport-”
“-without a map?”
“Why are you so fragging determined not to let me go?” Skywarp folded his arms, and affixed the other seeker on a glower.
“Because I don’t want you blending yourself with the floor because you can’t see where you’re going!”
“That’s never stopped you letting me jump into the unknown before.” Skywarp tried to wriggle his shoulder backwards, out of the restraining blue fingers. “You’re always saying it should be my decision.”
“Not when I’m the one that’ll have to dig you out, it’s not!” Starscream tightened his grip. “We need to find this-… this Sun Egg, whatever it is, before it goes off. I need you up there, looking.” He pointed skywards with his free hand, and matched glares with the teleport.
“Right, and what if this ‘Mitchell’ guy has left the device in Siphon’s creepy little base? Figuring he’ll blow up Megs too, while he’s after us? I’m not gonna cross my fingers that they just happen to bring Lucy out before it goes off.”
“Warp, he is hardly going to have succeeded in stealing a valuable, high-yield device from us without us noticing,” Starscream scolded. “It’ll be some pathetic little low-power bit of equipment that we won’t even have missed – if it’s even of Decepticon origin.”
“Right, of course, it’s not your little brat down there, is it?” Skywarp flared, and his wingmate actually backed off, startled, releasing his shoulder. “What do you care if she’s squished under millions of tonnes of rock?”
“We don’t even know that this… this device… even exists,” Starscream hissed, although he seemed more irritable about being startled. “What if it’s a ploy from those two?” He jerked a thumb over his shoulder at the two refugees; Deuce had his gaze down on the sand, but Vallory was openly watching them. “They were both Siphon’s loyalists, who’s to say it’s not all a clever trick to get our eye off the ball so they can come and get Slipstream while we’re too dispersed to protect him? Complete their little collection and run off somewhere we’re never going to be able to get at to rescue them?”
“Honestly?” Skywarp waved an arm. “Frag it, Screamer, we could spend orns quibbling over the what-ifs, I want to just get in there and get Button out. I’m just not gonna sit back and hope.”
“That’s typical of you, isn’t it?” Starscream folded his arms and glared. “Don’t think, just do – right?”
“Yeah, pretty much, because someone’s gotta. You’d just keep on pumping out hot air and blather until the stars burn out, wouldn’t you?” Skywarp thumbed his nose. “Anyway, I’m going. Good luck finding the thingy. Park Sepp and Bunches over by TC, if you’re that worried, they’re both big enough to look after him and Seem until we’re done.” He gunned his engines and departed in a whirl of ginger sand.
“Sepp and who?” Starscream challenged the departing thrusters, once the dust had cleared, then shook his head, and turned away into the search.
Mitchell stood with his arms folded at the side of the little underground control room, lounging against a computer terminal, and watched his hosts flit about; they’d got kinda agitated lately, and he figured they must have noticed the robots down by the river were up to something. Megatron was making growly suspicious noises in his un-interpretable native language, so the human had no idea what exactly was wrong (although he had a few pretty good ideas), but if the way he clobbered the pointy-headed red aeroplane-bot was anything to go by, he wasn’t happy.
Well, if it kept ‘em busy and distracted, Mitchell didn’t really care what was wrong. He had more important things to worry about – ’cause this was going to be his last chance, or he was going to have to write the whole thing off as a failure. He could go plead his case to his boss, he figured, grimly, but then he’d have to hand back what remained of the funds, and he felt he deserved to keep it, after all this dicing with death! He guessed he could make himself disappear before his employers realised he’d took the remaining money and run, but then there wasn’t really enough left to make that worth it, either.
That… that idiot Vallory… Mitchell wrinkled his nose, involuntarily. What a moron. The guy had got so stuffed up with misplaced morals that he’d made himself useless. Don’t wanna hurt them, boo-hoo-hoo. It was hard to work out if he was getting woolly over how “human” the invaders were, or he was just too scared of retribution to want to work himself in any deeper. OK, so, the latter was understandable, he figured, but the former? Lordy. They’re just machines. They’re designed to interact with real people, of course they’re gonna be good mimics; doesn’t mean they’re actually all smushy and emotional inside that metal shell.
Whatever the reason, Vallory had took his share of the money, and jumped ship. Going back to the US, he said; going to enrol on a University course and make something of himself while he still had the chance. Yeah, good luck with that, not like the cops won’t instantly jump on you for trafficking illegal weapons, or anything.
At least, Mitchell reassured himself, Vallory had given him a convenient opportunity to cause enough of his own disruption to try and smuggle the little one out. He could play the “sabotage” card – lord above, the traitor has booby trapped the place, must have been working to someone else’s agenda all along, wants to kill you all! He’d already spent the last few days seeding the corridors with electrical faults and little hidden explosive gadgets, to keep them busy, and while they were running around trying to sort out “Vallory’s” sabotage, he could step in, nab the little one, and be gone! It’d be foolproof.
If he could find his target, of course. This new little one was more openly fearful than their first capture; where the little male had grown bold enough to stare down even the most aggressive giants, this one – he’d got the impression it was female – spent most of her time shrinking back, hiding away. They’d apparently started to consider options around upgrading her a size or two – she’d let them one of them (a big, snobby-looking green and purple one) measure her already, but she’d also looked like she was more terrified into immobility than happy to behave. They seemed to have downgraded her spirit at the same time.
…which put him at an advantage, here. He’d overheard Megatron speaking to her about “Squishies”, and she’d not seemed especially leery of discussing them. The little male had been very suspicious of all the humans on Mitchell’s team – even the useless Vallory, of whom no-one in their right mind should have been frightened, had made the little guy edgy – but the girl watched them with no particular concerns. Her fear of the other robots combined with lack of fear of the humans meant that maybe, just maybe, he could extract her.
Right now, she was out of sight, again. Unless someone was actively hanging onto her, talking to her, she seemed to shrink away and find somewhere just out of sight to hole up – like now. No-one was particularly bothered, because she couldn’t find her own way out, especially past all the locks the paranoid little oil-tanker had placed around the joint (which Mitchell oh so conveniently had the codes for), and she seemed less determined to do a runner anyway. She was completely hidden from view, but everyone had a good idea where she might be. He bent down to peer behind the terminal and found the access plate had been removed, leaving a hole just big enough that a small, anxious humanoid could venture inside if they felt sufficiently threatened. Looking a little closer, he noticed the very dim blue-green glow reflecting off the inactive components within.
“Hello there, little one,” he greeted, gently, with what he hoped was a friendly smile. “What’s got you hiding away in there, hmm?”
Two bright pinpoints of blue-green light turned to stare out of the gloom at him, flickering briefly. “Want Ama,” the tremulous little voice said. “Not nice here. Want Ama!”
Ama, Mitchell figured, must be ‘Mama’ – so she wanted her Mom? The idea of machines even having parental units was somewhat boggling, but not something he couldn’t work with. Just… treat the little one like you would any other kid, right? “How about I take you to her, hmm?”
“Not here,” she disagreed, the little lights dimming down to a muted green. “Still in the merry car. Day said to go home, but…” Her voice went quiet. “Still not made rescue yet.”
“Well, that’s no problem. I have an aeroplane,” Mitchell explained. “I can get you back to America.”
The little lights turned back onto him. “To take to Ama? Away from Megatron?”
“Of course.” He smiled, genuinely – resolving to take her somewhere in the US, if not exactly to her Mom. “Come on, hon. If we’re quiet, we can sneak out while they’re busy, and they’ll never notice us go.”
A little dark hand crept out of the gloom and a small set of fingers closed around his.
“There’s a good girl,” he soothed, reassuringly, as the little female crawled the rest of the way out of her nook and tucked up close to him. She was tiny, compared to the giants in this place – he’d seen her sit in Megatron’s palm with no problems – and even pretty small when compared to Mitchell, the top of her little head came only to the midpoint of his upper arm. “Let’s get you out of here, shall we?”
She had her cheek pressed up against his arm; he felt her nod, and smiled privately to himself.
Somewhere above their heads, Skywarp had landed, and now was hesitating on the clifftop, dithering about how best to get in. Even before his annoyed departure (and the deliberate sandblasting he’d given his wingmate), he’d known that Screamer was right – there was a good chance he’d go get himself tangled in the floor – but he was damned if he was gonna let him know that.
He re-ran his GPS and tried to map out the bits he did know. His map of the place wasn’t exactly the greatest, because he’d not been thinking so straight when he’d got out, but he didn’t know where the door was and couldn’t exactly go knock, anyway. At least he knew where the cell was, and that horrible un-… undergr-… corridor. That might be enough. Hopefully. Oh Primus, it better be.
He triangulated his destination, crossed all his fingers very firmly, and engaged his gate…
…The corridor was cool and dark and empty, and Skywarp took a relieved quarter-breem to check he was in one piece and hadn’t accidentally blended any part of himself with the furniture. Quantum entangling a thruster with the ground would have been the least good outcome of this whole mess – hi Siphon, I’m back, and no shackles needed, because my foot is part of the floor! But all seemed fine; he stomped his feet and turned around full circle, to prove to himself he was still mobile.
He peeked out into what looked like the main corridor; good, all clear. It was sorta dingy, and the constricted purplish sides made his claustrophobia flare up, but at least it was wide enough that he could walk down the tunnel without either wingtip catching against the walls, and he found he disliked not knowing where he actually was in relation to everything else a whole lot more.
He stepped out into the corridor, and winced as his hollow heels echoed against the floor. It wasn’t that loud, but in the stifling quiet of the bunker it sounded like a gunshot. Delicately, Warp.
He’d inched his way as quietly as possible down a few hundred wingspans-worth of corridor, before spotting the little electronic device on the floor midway down the tunnel, tucked up in the corner formed where the rough floor met the wall.
Skywarp hesitated near it. He wasn’t sure what it was about it, but he was instantly suspicious of it. Looked sorta like it was supposed to pass as a rock… if not for the flickering diode set in the side facing the wall. Frag. He backed up a step, then flattened himself against the further wall and inched past it. I hope this isn’t the “device” that squishy was talking about-
He noticed the second set of footsteps just too late to do anything about it. Frag. The teleport froze – as if attempting to blend his stygian plating into the golden walls – and after a second a familiar blue figure rounded the corner. His own horrified scarlet optics met with Dirge’s startled crimson stare.
“You-!” Dirge jumped back a step and waved an arm, threateningly; the irritated mosquito tones of charging weaponry already poisoned the air.
“Blinking lights!” Skywarp blurted out, pointing down at the device, and the very instant the Conehead glanced down at the whateveritwas, he teleported past him into the clear spot he could see further up the corridor-
Ooh. More blinking lights, he registered, a fraction of an astro second before the lights stopped blinking and there was an audio-deadening boom-
At the boom from behind, Footloose jumped and crowded closer to Mitchell. “Mits, what that?”
He glanced back over his shoulder, and smiled quietly, satisfied, at the vision of dust and smoke rising from the cliffs behind him. “Oh, nothing…”
And now... for the on-call. BUUUUGH