Abi Scott (keaalu) wrote,
Abi Scott

IT BEGINSSSS (oh noes)

Title (chapter): Future Tense (01)
Series: Transformers, G1-based (“Blue” AU)
Rating: PG-13
Notes: I have no notes! Haha. Whee. Apart from to apologise for the slow start. HMM. It's probably going to go veeerrrry OOC but WHATEVER. ¬_¬

Future Tense
Chapter One

In the 'kitchen' area of a large residential unit in one of Deixar's suburbs, desk sergeant Pulsar sat humming unmusically to herself and sorting through a heap of brightly-coloured squares of fabric, distractedly watching the news with one portion of her attention, and listening to Footloose chattering mindlessly with the other.

Even now, almost four solar orbits after her disastrous one and only unwanted trip to Earth, she still couldn't quite believe how good it felt just to be home. So her home district was hardly prime real-estate, so what? With nothing attractive to try and lay claim to, the fighting had passed around it on all sides, and Deixar had emerged relatively unscathed from a war that was definitely dwindling into its terminal stages. The place was run down and derelict in a lot of places, and the inhabitants weren't far off being destitute – but it was in better shape than a lot of the planet, it was comfortable, and the residents were upbeat, optimistic about rebuilding.

The little police-bike herself hadn't yet quite regained the strength – physically or psychologically – to properly return to work; light desk duty was still about all she was capable of, in spite of her efforts to get her life back on track and back to normal. She was at least back to her usual crisp, tidy self, resplendent in her renewed blue and white colour scheme, and usually wearing a shawl at a jaunty angle across her shoulders to make her remaining injuries – her still-absent right arm – less obvious.

She wasn't completely over her mistreatment at Siphon's hands, either – in spite of all her best efforts, she still found it very difficult to go dormant enough to defragment, without eighty percent of the time waking up after a breem or two in a blind panic, convinced she was about to have those thin, clawing fingers probing down her throat, feeding her noxious chemicals and scratching out another handful of components…

But she'd at least grown comfortable letting Skywarp within arm's reach again. Just catching sight of a large, dark-coloured mech no longer made her feel like screaming, and just having someone bump against her didn't send her into a full shaking retreat. Letting him get silly and "handsy" was still off limits, but for once he was actually being patient.

The first clue that Pulsar got that someone had arrived home was the sound of Forceps' study door closing. It was a quiet little click, not the resounding crash of anger that usually meant one of the twins (or their sire) had annoyed the burly surgeon, so she guessed all must have gone well at the hospital. Footloose's rapt attention was on her computer terminal and she was making no attempt to get up, if she'd even heard the new arrivals; no help there, then, thank you, Lucy. The little Policebot hastily twirled the cap back onto her energon flask, to stop the precious, volatile fuel being lost in the event the container was knocked over (because Primus knew Footloose had the capacity to be every bit as clumsy as her sire), and went to see what was going on.

As she'd guessed, there was no Forceps in sight, the big surgeon having retired to the (comparative) sanctity of her study. Instead, an unfamiliar little blue gravity-bike stood in the main doorway, a couple of footsteps into the lounge, his arms spread, apparently waiting for her to appear. "Well?" he prompted, and gave a little twirl. "How do I look?"

Pulsar couldn't help the broad, pleased grin that lit up her dark features, and gave the stranger a hug; a very familiar static envelope harmonised with hers almost immediately. "Very dapper, Slipstream. How does it feel?"

Her sparkling hugged her back, and rubbed cheeks. "I don't know yet," he admitted. "I think I'm still too excited about it. Still feel like my fuel lines are full of bubbles!"

The little protoform had departed for the district hospital early the previous orn with his aunt, so excited about the impending upgrade that he was barely able to sit still. His family had gathered together enough credits to be able to afford to get both the twins an upgrade, now their harmonics were mature enough to cope with the transition, and Slipstream was first on the list. (Footloose, determined that she must at all costs have a set of wings, had been told in no uncertain terms that if she didn't want to ground-pound for a while, she'd have to wait until she was bigger. Not that it stopped her whining.)

"So have you tried it out yet?" Pulsar wondered, holding Slipstream at arms' length and giving him a thorough visual once-over – not that Forceps would have let even the smallest physical flaw slip past her attention, she just wanted to get a good look for herself.

He shook his head. "I wanted to, but Forceps said I had to wait until I had someone to look after me, just in case anything went wrong." He gave one of his nervous, excited little laughs, still quivering all over in anticipation, and squeezed her hand. "We bumped into Whites on his beat earlier, he said he'd come over later for me."

"That's good. I wouldn't want to keep you waiting." She tightened her own fingers in response. "You'll probably vibrate yourself to pieces, the way you're going at the moment."

Slipstream chuckled, excitedly, still quivering, and didn't argue the fact.

"Well, come on then, bitlet." Irrespective of the fact that he was a fraction of an inch taller than her, now, both her sparklings had reconciled themselves to the fact they would probably remain 'bitlet' from the rest of eternity. "Let's get your tanks topped up, eh? Be a bit embarrassing if you fell over in the middle of your first run."

By the time they reached the kitchen, Footloose had woken up to the fact that he was back. She squeaked excitedly and launched herself at him. "Seeee-meeee," she crooned, latching her arms around his torso and rubbing their cheeks together. "You look all grown up and official, like Ama."

"Steady on, Lou, I don't want paint-transfers already!" he chuckled, hugging her back. "At least, not from you."

"Yeah, 'cause all the femmes will just be falling over themselves to get to know you, now you look like every other bike in this friggin' neighbourhood," she snorted, tugging on his aerials; her brother ow!-ed in alarm and tried to shake her off.

"Play nice, Lucy," Pulsar warned, gently. "If you have to maul your brother, can you at least wait until he's topped up his tanks?"

The smaller femme pfft-ed loudly, but obediently let go. "He doesn't mind, do you, Seem?"

"Apparently not...?" Her brother carefully nudged his bent antennae back into shape, giving Footloose a rueful smile and settling opposite her at the table. "She just doesn't like the fact she's the runt of the family, now."

"Oh I see, it's like that is it?" Footloose lifted her nose, aggressively. "Tell you what, Seemy, soon as I get my wings-... I'll race you, and I'll show you what 'runt' really means."

Slipstream cocked his head and waved a hand, airily. "Yeah, well, I won't put my life on hold waiting for you."

Footloose pursed her lips and narrowed her optics to a glare. "Well that was below the ejector valve." She turned the reproachful look onto her dam. "Ama-"

Pulsar knew what that face meant. "Don't. Even start."

"I'm not starting anything. I already know you're all gonna make me wait forever before you'll let me have an alt-mode." Footloose hunched her shoulders, and rolled her almost-empty energon flask between thumb and forefinger, sulkily, swirling the warm, volatile dregs around the bottom. "It's not like I'm gonna mess it up."

Pulsar sighed and shook her head, deftly removing the cap from the larger storage vessel with her one good hand. "I'm not going through it all with you again, Footloose. You know what Sepp told you."

"Yeah yeah I know." Footloose thumped her elbows down on the table and dropped her head heavily into her palms, sullenly. Her voice descended into disgusted mutterings. "It's still not fair. You're just making excuses. I bet Screamer could design something really easy, if he tried."

"It's not about whether he can, or not, it's about you being patient." Pulsar set the chilly flask down on the table in front of Slipstream, half-listening as he acknowledged it with a quiet thank you. "And not going out of your way to annoy him, because he gets enough of that from Day, and it's a guaranteed way to make him not do it. We're not going to bend the rules specially for you."

The instant his dam's back was turned, Slipstream gave his twin a smug little smile over the top of his flask. Footloose made more outraged noises and hefted her own empty container, on the cusp of hurling it at him.

"You break another one, Lucy, and I'll make you buy the replacements," Pulsar scolded, not even having to look around to know what her offspring were up to. "Either you stop squabbling with Seem, or you go to your room until your mood has improved."

Slipstream nodded agreement, and poked out his tongue, amusedly.

"But Ama-!" Footloose's voice increased in pitch to levels that would have done Starscream proud.

"…And you can stop egging her on, Slipstream. You're not some squeaky clean little innocent in this, either."

"Yes, Ama." Slipstream took refuge in his flask to hide his embarrassed grin.

"You two ain't causing a ruction again, are you?" a new, brash voice wondered, from the doorway; everyone glanced over to find a large black and purple flier silhouetted in the doorway, his impressive wingspan almost forcing him to turn sideways to get through the door.

"Day!" Footloose squeaked, and the two (former) sparklings immediately attached themselves to him, clicking excitedly, quarrel forgotten.

"Hey, Sparky! And heeey, Seemy..." Skywarp approximated a little wolf-whistle noise, and snerked when the youngster's optics flushed a vivid lilac-white, embarrassed. "Nice job they did, there. Just a shame about the colour. Why couldn't you have picked something nice, like purple?" He winked. "Seriously. You're wearing the look well, kiddo."

"I feel like I'm all legs," Slipstream argued, quietly, with a sheepish smile. "Still doesn't feel right, yet."

"Ah, give it time." Skywarp gave him a cuff around the audios, with a grin. "You've not even been in it a whole orn, yet. At least you're not walking into walls." The big teleport hesitated and gave him a exaggeratedly suspicious look, as though checking for scratches. "Or are you?"

Slipstream knew the abstract joke was referring to Celerity, whose systems had rejected all the dimensional primers that came with her refit and led to her being clumsy for a good hundred orns or so. "Not yet," he confirmed, with a sort of wary confidence.

Noticing Pulsar glanced over his shoulder for the third time in almost as many seconds, at last Skywarp caught her optic. "If you're waiting for TC, he's not coming over just yet."

Her gaze latched with his, anxiously. "Has something happened?"

The teleport grinned. "Nah, he's caught up in paperwork. Panacea finally agreed to sign him off." He impulsively scooped her off the floor and span her around with a laugh. "No more of that Pit-damned headshrinkery."

"I have no idea what you just said!" Pulsar laughed, alarmedly, reflexively kicking her feet. "But I'll assume it's a good thing-!"

The bigger machine gave her a decisive squeeze and a long, serious kiss on the lips before plonking her roughly back down on her feet. "No more visits to the psychiatrist," he explained, grinning all the way from audio vent to audio vent. "Pan says he's as 'fixed' as she'll ever get him."

Well, that explained the scintillating mood he'd brought home with him, she acknowledged, amusedly, wobbling to regain her balance. "That's great news," she laughed, genuinely. "I bet he's relieved."

"Last I saw, he was, ah, celebrating with Pan." Skywarp winked, meaningfully. "You know what that means."

Pulsar shook her head, despairingly. "Yeah, and it means nothing at all like what you're insinuating. Can't you go a day without innuendo?"

Skywarp smiled, sweetly. "I could try, but it'd be awful boring."

In the first few orns after their return to Cybertron, Starscream had got his wingmates signed up with a psychiatrist – and not just any psychiatrist, but the head of the entire psychiatry department, Consultant Panacea. I need my trine back at full health, so I don't care about cost, just getting them all better. Although he groused bitterly about it and how they never appreciated it, everyone knew he'd have done the exact same thing if given the chance to re-do it. (Besides, how does a former air commander plot righteous vengeance against his former leader with his trine in pieces?)

Although Thundercracker had understandably taken a lot longer, Skywarp was – predictably – first back on his feet. For a few dozen orns he danced a very fine line between complete recovery and total emotional crash-landing; it was all my fault, I started this, I couldn't find them fast enough, I let Siphon escape, I'm slow and stupid and I deserved everything that has happened. A combination of logic and reassurance convinced him that it wasn't all his fault, and that none of what happened was unfixable, and everyone was on the road to recovery, and…

Plus, of course, he'd very rapidly come to the conclusion that actually? Being a stay-at-home parent? Wasn't so bad as he'd thought. Kinda okay, actually. Especially as it was less "stay at home parent" and more "lazy unemployed bum with a couple of sparklings to get into bad habits I mean keep out of mischief." Starscream very quickly got exasperated with their antics and banned both of Skywarp's "little minions" from his laboratory.

"So," the teleport wondered, loudly, "have you two troublemakers managed to bully Ama into having her arm reattached yet?"

Pulsar glared at him, good-naturedly. "Just because I only have one arm doesn't mean I can't give you a good punch in the faceplates."

He smiled sweetly and closed his fingers delicately around her wrist. "Care to review that statement, oh squeaking one?"

She growled and made a mock lunge at him, snapping her denta at the air close to his nose.

The snap took him completely by surprise and made him jerk backwards, then laugh rudely. "Feisty today, huh?" He cupped a hand around her 'blinker' sidelight, and used his fingers to strum lightly across her sensitive little array of antennae. "How about…" He leaned down close and murmured near her audio. "We dump the bitlets on Screamer, and go for a little 'fly'? I even made sure I'd got a baffle, just in case."

The feel of his rough fingers on her antennae was… nice… but it flared up a mess of other feelings in her chassis and after a tense little smile, she pushed him gently back anyway. "Not right now."

He huffed a sigh, dramatically, and obediently took his hand back. "Even if I promise not to accidentally make any more sparklings with you?" he wheedled.

"Even if." She gave him a terse, uneasy smile, backing out of arm's reach. "I'm sorry, Warp. I just-… not yet. Maybe soon."

They both knew that 'soon' was rather over-optimistic, but Skywarp didn't argue the point.

"Fine, then. I'll go see Beemer," he retorted, at last, as if to save face. "How could she possibly resist a handsome specimen of masculinity like myself?"

"You know my sister prefers femmes."

He grinned, lasciviously. "I know. I also know Surefire's back for an orn or two, and I'm hoping if I get 'em over-energised and interested in each other, I'll get lucky."

In spite of her desire to remain stern and glaring, Pulse couldn't help the snort of laughter that escaped. "You're just a letch. However did you survive on Nemesis, without all those femmes to ogle?"

"I don't know, actually." He offered up a studiously serious face, arms folded, thoughtfully stroking his chin. "I think I spent a lot of my time trying to glue Screamer to his desk. Or paint-bomb him funny colours."

"…nice to know you were just as dedicated to work then as you are now."

He gave her a broad, smug grin.

"All right. You," she gave him a stern swat on the wing, hard enough to sting, "need to remove our squabbling offspring from beneath my feet before I take more drastic measures to get them to behave."

Slipstream was already up on his feet and gazing hopefully out of the window into the narrow alley behind the property. "Whites is due off shift any minute. He said he'd come with me for a spin around the district, remember?" He glanced back at his parents, and smiled, shyly. "To help me get used to my new alt?"

Footloose muttered something disgusted, and folded her arms against the table with a meaningful thump.

Skywarp grinned. "Job done, then. No more squabbling. That was easy!"

"All right, Smart-aft, let me rephrase." Pulsar huffed a sigh. "You need to take Lucy out for a while, firstly so she stops feeling hard-done-by, and secondly stops getting in my way, so I can do my laundry."

"Pfft." Skywarp flicked the tassels on the swirly blue shawl tied at a jaunty angle across Pulsar's shoulders. "It's not like anybody's forcing you to wear those silly things."

"Well perhaps I like wearing them," she retorted, semi-defensively.

"Well perhaps Earth's made you go funny in the head."

She gave him a swat, and glared. "Glad to see you feel comfortable with joking about what Siphon did to me."

Skywarp gave her a faintly reproachful smile. "You know that's not what I meant."

Pulsar looked away, just a little, almost apologetic. "Well you can be difficult to interpret, some days-"

"Whitesides!" Footloose's gleeful squeak broke through the awkward atmosphere.

Being a significantly smaller mech than Skywarp, the Policebot stood up to the obligatory Greeting Maul a lot less easily – his legs almost gave way beneath the weight of nearly-grown sparklings that attached themselves to him. "All right all right! Steady on, you two, you're going to knock me flying," he laughed, trying to keep up. "It's good to see you two troublemakers too. Still running poor Ama ragged, I see?"

Pulsar made a face. "Thank Primus you're here. I need you to try run down some of his excess energy, get him some practice with the new alt," she instructed, waving a finger in Slipstream's direction. "He's only been home a few breems, and he and his sister are already driving me to distraction."

Whitesides gave his former room-mate/adopted-sibling an affectionate smile and bumped cheeks in greeting. "Oh, I'll tire him out, no worries there," he promised, with a wicked grin. "We'll give that new alt of his such a workout, he won't know what hit him. He'll get in after we're done, and be far too busy recharging to want to fight with Lucy."

"Tire him out how?" Skywarp challenged, catching Whitesides' arm as he passed.

The smaller mech belated realised the possible implications of his wording, and his optics flushed a vivid cyan, alarmed. "N-not like that!" he gabbed, hastily. "I-I just mean take him for a ride. I mean a run round the block! I-"

Skywarp planted a hand over the smaller mech's lips, which managed to convince him to shut up. "How about quit digging, bikey," he suggested, amusedly, leaning closer. "Or I'll start thinking what they say about you is actually true."

"Da-ayy," Slipstream groaned, embarrassed, and pushed past him.

Whitesides looked a lot like he wanted the ground to open up and swallow him, mumbled something apologetic, and hastily scuttled out after his 'nephew'.

The instant the door closed behind them, Pulsar turned to glance at Skywarp, and arched a brow, amused.

"What?" the teleport challenged.

She just smiled, vaguely, and shook her head. "Just… take the bitlet out for a fly, will you? She's getting fidgety."

Footloose gave her a resentful look, but didn't argue.


Seeing Slipstream racing excitedly away down the main street didn't improve Footloose's frame of mind – in fact, it made it positively sour. Proper little green-eyed monster, Skywarp considered, privately, but didn't say so out loud. He'd almost – but only almost – suggested that well, maybe they ought to hold off on Seem's alt, too, just for a little while, so the two troublemakers could whine about how unfair it was together? But then he reasoned that wasn't especially fair, either, especially since Seem had no ambition any higher than ground-pounding his way around the planet's surface for the rest of his days-

"Day?" Footloose leaned closer to Skywarp's audios, sprawled out over his back. "When am I going to get my wings?"

Skywarp vented air in a sigh, genuinely tired, watching as the ground dwindled below. "Please don't start this all again, Lucy," he said. "You already know what I'm gonna say, 'cause we're telling you the same thing at least three or four times an orn."

"I know," she whined, and bumped her helm against his. "I just-... It's not fair. Seem's got an alt-mode, now. Why can't I have one?"

"Oh, so you changed your mind and don't mind ground-pounding for a while, eh?" He glanced backwards and met her muted green optics.

"I didn't say that!" She couldn't quite decide if she wanted to glare at him, or just look melodramatic and dispirited.

"Well, I pretty strongly remember us telling you it was bike or patience, and there was gonna be no budging until you're bigger."

"But he's leaving me behind! He's gonna get a job, and a partner, and move out, and I'll still be stuck at home, getting under yours and Ama's thrusters and getting yelled at by Screamer," Footloose complained, darkly, then muttered something quiet, vented a melodramatic sigh, and let her chin come down with a bump to rest on Skywarp's shoulder, exaggerating how unhappy she was.

Skywarp caught his sparkling's mutter, and had to offline his vocaliser before he could snap at her for it. You just like him better than me.

"Come on, Sepp explained it, and even I get it and I'm stupid," he said, diverting his irritation down an alternative channel. "Your protoform is too small, right now. You need two upgrades in size, and a new power handling system, then the time to stabilise your harmonic to each upgrade. That's aside from needing to be big enough that you won't just… blow your thrusters straight off, the instant you try and get airborne."

"So I can be bigger! You can tell Screamer to get Auntie Sepp to make me bigger! Pleeease, Day." She rubbed cheeks with him, as if that'd somehow sway his opinion. "It's not that big a deal is it? Seem's bigger! He didn't need time to stabilise-"

"Damnit, Button. Just accept a no, for once in your life." He glared at her, at last, and he felt her arms tighten around his neck as she cringed away. "Sepp told you why we can't upgrade you to a Seeker model yet, and she told you what'll happen if we try putting a big old thruster complex onto those little stick-legs of yours. I'm not gonna have you messing yourself up for the next Primus-only-knows-how-many Vorns just because you couldn't be patient. Besides." His voice softened. "I'm looking forwards to teaching you to fly, so I kinda want you bigger, too. We're gonna have to be patient together, huh?"

Footloose made an uninterpretable little noise that could have meant anything from suspicion to satisfaction with the answer, but she at least seemed mollified, for now.


Starscream was off-duty, but that didn't stop him working. He stood at the edge of the rift, poking at a seismograph; there had been a fair bit of suspicious activity, of late, and he wanted to check out exactly what was going on. The last thing anyone wanted was for the rift to become active again, after the district had skated through the entire war pretty much unscathed.

"Go set these up over the other side of the Rift," he instructed, dumping a case of tools into Skywarp's arms the instant the dark Seeker had landed and dropped his passenger off. "I need to take some topological measurements."

"Well hello to you too, Screamer." Skywarp pursed his lips with a glare. "I don't even know what these are, and you'll probably tell me I did it wrong."

"Well, you don't need to know what they are to go put them over there. I coded them all with the right co-ordinates, and they go flat side down. If you can get them to balance on their domes, I'll be impressed."

Skywarp snorted and kicked off, deliberately scattering gravel at his wingmate.

"And that wasn't a challenge!" Starscream yelled at his departing thrusters, and got a rude noise in response. "And what's wrong with you?" He directed his attention down at Footloose. "You better not be the reason Warp's in a bad mood, or you can go back home now."

Footloose shot him a dirty look, settling on the broken edge of the Rift and dangling her feet.

"I see. Sulking again."

"No I'm not," Footloose retorted, quietly, arms folded, kicking her heels and watching as Thundercracker glided in. "I only said how I want to fly. It's not that much to ask, is it. You're all making such a big deal out of it."

Starscream made one of his contemptuous noises and shot the youngster a dirty look, nodding an abbreviated greeting at his blue wingmate. "Well you'll just have to be patient," he growled, waving a stylus for emphasis. "It's not like you'll be waiting that many Vorns."

"Vorns? But I only-"

"I know. Guess what, we don't always get what we want. I only want to lead the Decepticons. I fought Megatron for thousands of Vorns, trying to achieve what I wanted, and look where it left me." He spread his arms, disgusted. "A reject little Empty with wings, scraping to get by in a reject district on Cybertron, defeated and stupid." He glared. "You want wings? FINE. As soon as you're big enough to handle the power levels needed, I'll get you fitted with them, then you can fly as far away from me as possible. If I never have to listen to your whining ever again, it'll be too soon."

His words ended with a snap, and Footloose just gazed up at him, startled into a wide-eyed, frightened silence.

"Just-… get her out from under my feet, will you, TC?" he snapped, irritably.

"What's got your afterburners all pinched up, I wonder?" Thundercracker cast his gaze skywards, but obediently picked the small femme up; she immediately snuggled up against his chassis, vibrating softly. "C'mon, Button. Let's go for a wander."

"Didn't mean to upset him," she explained, barely coherent through the fizz of static distortions.

"Well, we did tell you 'no' quite a lot of times already, huh," the blue jet explained, gently, using a fingertip to scratch at her aerials, and she calmed at the little affection. "Maybe it'll be a good idea to let them tell you when they think you're ready, from now on, eh? It's not like they're going to forget. You're not going to be stuck in that little protoform forever."

He felt her nod, where her head rested against his shoulder. "I jus' don't like it when he yells at me like that," she explained, feebly.

Funny what things got under their plating, Thundercracker mused, ascending gracefully back to the cool crosswinds that played across the district. She'd take a scolding without so much as a flinch, but being told to go away reminded her of the time she'd spent on Earth and usually upset her.


"So where's Lucy gone?"

"Off with TC. She was annoying me." Starscream didn't even look up from his controls, as Skywarp reappeared from his task. "She's worse than you at taking a hint."

"Thanks." Skywarp wrinkled his nose and just managed to resist the urge to tweak the seismograph's controls while he waited. "Couldn't you just-… you know." He gave his wingmate a little look. "You're the geek, right? Maybe just make her a couple of little antigravs, or something? Just enough to get off the ground? So she quits whining at us."

Starscream gave his wingmate a stern jab with his stylus and made him jump back. "I'm not bowing to your little brat's whining because she thinks she's hard done by," he snapped. "She's not gone without anything since we got home, the least she can do in return is learn a little patience."

"Whoa, hey, easy up, yeah?" Skywarp groused. "I was only asking, Primus. What harm does it do? Not like I just asked you to go play chicken with Menasor or anything."

"Ha! Well just remember we're stuck here because of you, Skywarp," the red Seeker snapped, at last. "Stuck here in this frigging... nowhere land, eking out an existence with Neutrals and Autobots, because you decided it'd be a good idea to play around without using protection and got Squeaks sparked up. So don't you try and act like we owe you something!"

Skywarp backed off, clearly hurt. "How many times do I have to say I'm sorry before you believe me?" he asked, pouting. "I just didn't think-"

"That's always your problem! You never do think!"

"I meant, I didn't think it'd be a problem." Skywarp folded his arms, glowering hotly. "How was I supposed to know that the one single fragging time I got to interface with someone in the last few thousand Vorns, it'd have these sort of consequences?"

"Well maybe you should have investigated things a bit better before flinging yourself at the first bit of kibble to show the vaguest interest!"

"Yeah, of course. You're right again, as always." Skywarp made a gesture that implied adjusting a pair of glasses. "I'm sorry, miss, I know this is all kinda spontaneous, and all I wanna do is try and get you come hard enough to offline, but would you mind if we investigated the potential outcome of the situation before we got to bonking?"

He had to duck hastily as a spanner came flying at his audio vents.

"I dropped every ambition I ever possessed to get you two worthless idiots back on your feet!" Starscream barked, stabbing a finger in a point. "And this is how you thank me? By acting like it's no big deal?? By just-… just seeing what you can get out of me?!"

"That shouldn't matter to you, as it's all you care about anyway," Skywarp shot back. "It's not like you ever cared what we think. If it's not servicing your ambitions, you don't wanna know."

"...You wouldn't know ambition if it got up and shot you in the aft!"

"Well maybe that's good, because look where 'ambition' got you!" Skywarp drew little air speechmarks for emphasis.

"...second in command of the entire Decepticon army, just in case you forgot."

"Yeah, because that was worth it. Career prospects were awesome, huh." Skywarp folded his arms, dramatically. "Second in command to a leader who ignored the few good ideas you had in favour of doing things his own way and fragging things to the Pit without fail every time. Besides, in the unlikely event you ever got to the top of the heap, how long do you think you'd have lasted before I dunno, someone like Blitz offed you, huh? Awesome job prospects there, oh gracious leader!"

"Because crawling at his feet and agreeing with whatever he said in the hope that he didn't slag me was so much better option!"

"Well what do you want me to say?" Skywarp demanded, at last, throwing up his hands. "Well golly, Screamer, I sure am sorry me and TC didn't say something before you pissed most of your life away, chasing after ambitions that anyone with even half a functioning cortical relay would know were completely out of your reach!"

"The only reason you didn't say anything is because you don't have half a functioning cortical relay!"

"At least I used to know when to shut the frag up, Screamer! So I didn't spend most of my life in sick-bay, slagged by the leader I kept trying to stab in the back! Even the fragging Autobots knew you weren't so much brave as just fragging unable to find a good enough leash for your vocaliser!"

"Well why don't you go sign up if you suddenly respect them so much?" Starscream stabbed an arm in the vague direction of the space-bridge. "Prime can't wait to get us all on board, why don't you go earn a few points by getting you name on the list first?!"


"...They're yelling again," Footloose commented, quietly, noticing the flailing arms and gestures below.

"Yeah, I know, Button," Thundercracker agreed, softly. "They just... Well, neither of them knows when to back down, I guess."

"I didn't mean to upset him."

"Aw, don't be like that, Lou." He lifted a hand and felt her fingers brush against it. "It's not your fault Screamer's got a spanner jammed up his thrusters."

"He wasn't yelling until we got there."

"Your uncle's just tired," he soothed, gently. "He works too hard, destabilises his systems, and feels like smelt until he can get everything running smoothly again. And Day's never really been known for his tact, huh? They're just... rubbing each other up the wrong way, as usual."

He listened as she sighed, and felt her nod again.

"Come on. Let's see if we can track Seemy down. See how he's getting on. We can laugh at him falling over. Yeah?"

She managed a tired snerk and bumped heads. "That's mean," she pointed out, then; "ok! Let's."


Way above, unnoticed by all but the sharpest of eyes, a small meteor – if that was indeed what it was – began to scuffle its way across Cybertron's thin atmosphere.

...Whether it would remain unnoticed for much longer seemed unlikely.

Tags: - sbm3: future tense, character: skywarp, character: starscream, character: thundercracker

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