“Not meaning to be rude, sir, but why precisely am I here.”
Prowl glanced up, very briefly, at the small blue mech standing belligerently on the far side of his desk. It made a change that the individual hauled into his office wasn’t red or yellow. (Or both of them.) The mech’s tone of voice said that ‘rude’ was precisely what he meant to be, but Prowl carefully avoided the bait. He instead returned his attention to the pile of report wafers on his desk, and gestured with his stylus at the chair opposite.
“That, Slipstream, is what we’re here to try and figure out. Please sit down.”
“I’d rather stand, if it’s all right with-”
“It was not a request.”
Slipstream vented a curt sigh, crossed his arms firmly across his chassis, and plopped down onto the chair. (It didn’t escape Prowl’s notice that he wasn’t sitting comfortably, but perched right at the front edge, as though preparing for a quick getaway.)
Prowl turned his attention to the pile of report wafers on his desk, and began to leaf quietly through them. He’d read them all already, of course; didn’t have to read over them to remind himself of what they said. It was a useful way to gauge how a meeting like this was going to play out, though – the way an individual behaved when it seemed he wasn’t watching them.
And Slipstream just Could. Not. Sit still. Interesting. Prowl watched from the periphery of his vision as the youngling shifted on his seat and glanced around, uneasily, as though checking for a way out. He could have simply teleported away, of course (and Prowl wouldn’t have been particularly surprised if he had), but in spite of all the over-blown bravado and hyped-up aggression it looked like there was an element of genuine courage in the small mech’s spark. He might not want to be hauled over the coals like this – really, really not want to – but he was going to take it like a mech.
Prowl took a moment to squash the flicker of disappointment. It’d certainly have been easier if Slipstream just took the easy way out. That way, Prowl wouldn’t feel quite so bad when he sent the youngster home, because right now he was struggling to see any alternative outcome to this whole… debacle.
Had it really been less than ten earth days since word had come through from Cybertron that one of Skywarp’s sparklings wanted to visit? No explanation, no rationale, just a very muddled request and something about wanting to learn. Learn what, precisely?
A mixed sort of curiosity and unease had spread rapidly through the Ark. On the one hand, bots agreed that yes, it’d be nice to see the little bit again! The unexpected sparklings had made a big impression on everyone on their last visit – new lives, innocent of war, inspiring a little hope for their species’ continued survival, when it had looked like they were all trapped in an endless loop of the same exhausting aeons of war (and for what?) with their kin.
On the other hand… crashing out of the war hadn’t exactly put Starscream’s trine on much better footing with the Autobots, especially when the trio then hid themselves away in a backwater little district on Cybertron, out of sight and difficult to contact. They could have been plotting anything. Using this whole thing as a big ruse to deflect Autobot attention from what was really going on in the Decepticon ranks. Was the kid being sent to spy on them?
The youngling that showed up on their doorstep was barely recognisable. The sweet-natured scraplet that had so quickly won everyone’s spark had turned into an unsettlingly accurate mirror of his sire – quick with his fists, and even quicker to run his mouth. Slipstream was apparently not here to win friends, but to see how quickly he could goad every mech into a fight.
Prowl finally looked up from his reports, laced his fingers carefully against his desk, and gave the small machine a silent visual appraisal.
Slipstream scowled back, hostility radiating off him like a toxic cloud, his static field bristly enough that it could probably have been felt all the way over at the far door. He’d matured enough – chronologically, at least – for his first upgrade; no longer a protoform but a small grav-cycle, a lightweight speedy alt-mode that didn’t really seem very well suited to the belligerent personality it contained.
His size – or lack thereof, because Slipstream was even smaller than Bumblebee – was no obstacle; he made a valiant effort to succeed at whatever anyone threw at him. The clean, royal blue plating had quickly accumulated scuffs and scratches of other colours. (Polishing said paint transfers out did not appear to be in his schedule. Was he wearing them like a badge, or something?) Tiny purple energon crystals glittered at the edges of a cut just below his left optic; tiring of having to patch up the constant stream of minor injuries the small mech was accumulating, Ratchet had bounced him out of the infirmary and into Prowl’s office before the glue on this most recent injury had even had the chance to dry.
Prowl refused to subscribe to the frankly folklorish belief that the wavelength of a mech’s optics related in even the remotest way to their so-called “true calling”, but even he couldn’t deny that Slipstream’s purple optics now bordered very strongly on the sort of scarlet that no factionless mech would choose unless they were inviting a challenge.
Part of him wanted to give the youngster a good hard shake and demand to know what he was doing. Why was he so determined to ruin the greatest opportunity any Cybertronian had been given – the chance to live, as he chose, without war casting its shadow over him and taking away everything he ever cared for?
The louder, more sensible part sensed that proselytising like that was just going to make the youngster draw even further back, and he’d never get to the bottom of things.
Prowl watched him for an instant, before speaking, carefully; “why are you here, Seem?”
“Well apparently, I’m belligerent and violent and need a time out.” Slipstream hunched his shoulders in a defensive shrug.