Transformers: Gemini

Discussion in 'Transformers Fan Fiction' started by Fairlady_Z, Jun 14, 2008.

  1. Fairlady_Z

    Fairlady_Z Official Voice of Flareup

    Sep 27, 2005
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    Disclaimer: I don’t own Transformers, Hasbro does. Please don’t sue.


    Fairlady Z

    Author’s Note: This story takes place sometime in between G1 season 2 and TFTM, around the year 1999/2000 as is a pseudo sequel to The Art of Death (which you can read by clicking on the fanfic link in my sig). Main characters are Sideswipe & Sunstreaker, Ratchet (who narrates a decent portion of this story), also Fastlane & Cloudraker. But expect a lot of movie/season 3 and even season 4 characters getting cameos as I’m trying to integrate the newer characters with the old as a backdrop for this story as well as some (hopefully) good stuff for the Moonbase crew characters (including the ill-fated shuttle crew, sniff). Also this isn’t a songfic, but I had Stan Bush’s “When I Dream” from his Shine album stuck in my head (with a few minor lyric modifications from “girl” to “bro”) while I was coming up with the plot to this fic so you could considered a sort of “theme song” for this fic I guess. I’m also trying something new, posting these chapters as they get written rather than finishing the story and posting it all at once. I want to see how this story develops more organically from reader comments and suggestions. So consider this a work in progress and enjoy.

    Chapter 1

    The humans tell a legend of a pair of twins. Warriors born hailing from the city-state of Sparta. If their sister, Helen of Troy, was the most beautiful woman who had ever lived, then her brothers were the most handsome of men. The twins made their living as pranksters, rogues, and fearsome fighters sailing away on adventures to new exciting destinations. One twin a refined horseman, the other a rough and ready boxer. The legend named them Castor and Pollux. They were inseparable in all but two things – war and death. For one was immortal and one was not. And when war came for the dual kings of Sparta, one ruler would lead his troops into battle while the other stayed to govern at home, and each king kept a twin by his side. Even so, the twins were determined to never be apart. When Castor died in battle, Pollux prayed to their father-god, Zeus, to share his immortal gift with his brother. So moved was Zeus, it was granted. As a reminder of their bond of love, the twins were placed together in the sky. The star of Castor burning yellow-white and the star of Pollux burning red-orange forever as the constellation Gemini.

    From the personal log of CMO Ratchet:

    I know I’ll be forever haunted by the moment the twins first heard the orders issuing their separation. I thought the whole idea insane, which was probably how I got recruited to end up there in Prime’s office when he told them to help soften the blow. As if that were slagin’ possible! Half the command staff needs to smelt themselves over this one! How can I be expected to do my job when I get summarily overruled concerning my assessment of the psychological welfare of my own patients!?!
    Greater good my aft! Desperate situation? That what happens when you back a pair of twins into a corner and expect the CMO to deal with the fallout. Cowards!

    That’s why I’ll never forget when Prime told them. In that flashing astrosecond before the anger could blaze in their optics, even before the fear gripped them and the disbelief set in, before they could say a word, I saw the shocking question in their mirrored countenances – “What did we do wrong?” “Haven’t we been good soldiers?” “Why have we been given this punishment?” They couldn’t begin to fathom a reason, only reach out to each other in desperation in the most subconscious and primitive of plans to stay together. In seeing those shocked faces, I missed the moment of their joining, but ebony and gold hands clung so tight they might well fuse themselves together in the hope of anything not separating them. I’m not sure Prime even noticed, so subtle was the initial linking, but that grip only continued to strengthen as their orders were explained. I wondered if it was going to take all my medical skills to pry them apart.

    Not in ten million years would anyone guess Sideswipe and Sunstreaker were “just” being promoted.

    In some ways, I can’t blame Prime for his decision. I know in his spark he agrees with me, but he has to look at the larger picture. What’s the sanity of two Autobots when the Decepticons now control over 75% of Cybertron? I don’t need to be reminded of that! I see the results every slagin’ day in my medical bay that say we’re losing this slagin’ war! We need the troops to be better trained. We need the twins to be in two places at once. It’s even the conclusion an objective CMO should probably come to. Maybe I am finally getting old. Playing favorites? Caring more than I should? When did I stop thinking of the Ark crew as patients and start seeing them as friends…especially those two twin terrors? But I’ve seen what makes them at their best is being a team. Can a team still function when it’s been torn in half?

    But any arguments the twins offered up in their defense Prime had already steeled himself against, maybe because I’d already made most of them already myself. The orders still stood. Sunstreaker would come under Optimus’s command (along with myself) up to Cybertron, while Sideswipe would stay under Ultra Magnus’s command here on Earth at the newly constructed and almost completed Autobot City. So I have to slagin’ wonder if the real reason Prime needed me in his office was to fix him in case the twins decided on a double team mutiny right there. However, the truth is, once they realized the futility of their argument, they couldn’t tear out of that office fast enough. Maybe they just didn’t want to waste an astrosecond of the time they had left together.

    * * *

    Sideswipe sped a little ahead of his twin in such a tight formation with his brother that he appeared in danger of pulling off his namesake at any moment. Yet, the vain, golden Lamborghini showed no fear of such a move happening, completely trusting in the steadily remained closeness of their proximity at speeds of 280 mph. A sight sure to marvel the best of human stunt drivers. Sunstreaker’s only concern was to overtake his brother and regain the lead of mere inches.

    Just as Sunstreaker tied up the lead, Sideswipe spun out away from his brother. Sunstreaker shifted into reverse to compensate, feeling the wear on his tires as Sideswipe’s spin kicked up a cloud of dust. That would cause them both to need extra polishing later, one more thing to sour Sunstreaker.

    “Watch it!” Sunstreaker yelled, but it came out half-hearted, a concern so small in light of everything else.

    Sideswipe transformed off his spin, clicked on his pile drivers, and pounded them into one of the great standing rock formations in the desert canyon they’d driven to. Sideswipe swore as he worked, throwing out every curse he could think of until they echoed nearly as loud as his pile drivers off the canyon walls.

    The twins knew the canyon well. It was a place many Autobots came to race without rules or to blow off steam. Sunstreaker had even drawn the canyon once in one of his notebooks, but that had been years ago, the yellow Lambo remembered as he settled himself down on a large, flat boulder. He lay back with his legs dangling over the edge, staring out at the canyon walls. Sometimes he would get up and practice movements from a combat kata.

    Some might wonder why Sunstreaker didn’t share the open fury of his brother over their current predicament. But the twins were a contrast of movement and motion. If Sideswipe lashed out, Sunstreaker inwardly seethed. If Sideswipe made a loud protest, Sunstreaker silently stared you down. If Sideswipe pounded relentlessly, Sunstreaker pounced with calculated strikes. Sideswipe knew that whatever he dished out to the canyon rock wasn’t half as scary as what currently went on in Sunstreaker’s mind. He glanced at his brother lying on his slab, face up, appearing like he was peacefully tanning like a human in the baking heat, while in reality his twin reviewed how to take apart opponents in his mind. It seemed a gift of Sunny’s sparked from his history as an artist and knowledge of anatomy to spot the structural weaknesses in someone’s armor, sometimes within astrominutes of meeting them, and deduce how to then use that knowledge to produce the most surgically deadly of attacks. His imaginary slaughters today did not focus on Decepticons, Sideswipe surmised.

    “A lousy mess!” Sideswipe yelled, quoting one of his favorite movie lines, after countless hours of pounding and swearing. It seemed a lackluster conclusion to all his other words, but the phrase spoke code to his brother that signaled they were in the worst of twin situations. “So who do we blame for blame for our slagin’ promotions anyway?”

    “Does it matter?” Sunstreaker didn’t budge from his deceptive state of recharge on his rock, optics dark and off.

    “It does if I want to know who gets spared these pile drivers through their head.”

    Sunstreaker smiled at the thought of his brother’s crude but dirty and effective methods. It was worth humoring him. “Shall I tell you who’s first?” He didn’t need to look to know Sideswipe’s ready for blood response as they engaged in their speculations. “Ironhide?”

    “Check!” A pile driver pounded the air hard and firm. “Rustbucket always hated us anyway. Always has had Prime’s audio. Probably hates the idea of promotion though and just wanted to break us up.”

    Tougher than most on exostructure, but old, slow, go for the joints with multiple swift attacks, Sunstreaker calculated. “Perceptor?”

    “Any doubt?” Two quick swipes to the air. “Slagin’ science department head has no business voting on us anyway. Probably thought he was doin’ us a favor with ‘promotions’ too, being high and mighty since Magnus promoted him over Wheeljack.”

    Shatter the lens, take out that canon weapon, then doesn’t stand up well in hand to hand. Delicate parts. A easy takedown. “Prowl?”

    No sound. A hesitation. “It’s not logical to break us up.”

    Sunstreaker snorted, air passing through his exhaust ports. “His trash compacted logic would never take our bond into account.”

    “Prowl has a brother. And a cousin.”

    Sunstreaker paused from his mental consideration of how to best tear off a door wing for an astrosecond. Prowl was an odd lot in that he too fought alongside family in this war – Smokescreen and Bluestreak. But Prowl had no emotions as far as Sunstreaker could see, guided only by logic and strategic victory. Sides was grasping at straws ‘cause he couldn’t understand the coldness of Prowl. It wasn’t logic that could separate them, it was insanity! As one often accused of insanity himself, Sunstreaker knew the grim irony that gave no comfort whatsoever.

    “Same creator only, it means nothing more. You know that.”

    A chuck of the rock Sunstreaker lay on shattered close to his head. Sideswipe did know and responded in kind startling his brother. Sunstreaker abandoned his mental mangling of Prowl as his optics snapped on wide and blue. He’d leave Prowl to Sides as he held up an arm to prevent any rock chips from pelting his helmet, only to worry about the dents and scratches they’d leave on his arm instead.

    Great! He scowled. Was he really going to miss getting collaterally damaged by his brother when he went up to Cybertron…? Slag, yes! Was anyone on the command staff on their side? Well, a few. “Jazz?”

    “No way!” Sideswipe arms lowered for a moment, Making Sunstreaker’s slab temporarily safe again. “He knows we’d never last alone.”

    Sunstreaker could only nod. Jazz was a true friend. “Blaster?”

    Sideswipe paused for an astrosecond, but decided, “Safe. Mr. Loud & Proud wouldn’t let us down. The communications department likes us.”

    “And the medical department, apparently.”

    Sunstreaker sat up from his slab. The twins looked at each other and burst out in mirror images of raucous laughter. Their staunchest defender on the whole base might just be the one who claimed to hate them the most. Someone who truly did know them inside and out.

    “Primus bless Ratchet,” Sideswipe said as their laughter died down.

    The twins could only imagine what the spitfire medic must have said in those command sessions or privately to Prime. Despite being there to back up Prime, it was clear whose side Ratchet was on.

    So far, the scales determining the twins’ demise seemed evenly balanced, but then there were the newcomers. In all the transferring of troops between Earth and Cybertron in recent months and the building of Autobot City, the establishment was changing. The days of the Ark crew being Earth’s lone defenders were long gone. Case in point, Autobot City’s soon to be city commander, Ultra Magnus.

    “The ringleader!” Sideswipe wagered before Sunstreaker could say the full name.

    “You think?” Sunstreaker would have thought their separation spearheaded by an old adversary like a certain Datsun already mentioned, but the way Sideswipe’s pile driver pistons pumped again, he listened to his brother’s theory.

    “He doesn’t even know us! He’s just staking his claim, changing the guard like he did with Wheeljack. Command wants us in two places at once, so sure, promote us, rip us apart. What does he care!?”

    The pile drivers sounded louder, ready to tear into something again. Sideswipe was done talking and their little guessing game, and finishing off Sunstreaker’s slab felt like a good place to start. Sunstreaker stood and placed a restraining hand on Sideswipe’s forearm. The red twin gave a dangerously quizzical look to the yellow one, Sides wasn’t going to be held back. Sunny whipped out an energon blade from subspace and they smiled in unison. Sunstreaker needed a release. This rock was a particular resting favorite, not just of him, but of quite a few Autobots. Being assigned to Cybertron, who knew when Sunny would ever see this rock again, or this canyon, or even Earth?

    It felt cathartic to destroy something he wasn’t going to be coming back to any time soon. The brothers made quick work of the slab boulder all too swiftly, something to remember them by. Whoever came out to the canyon next would notice a few changes from their redecoration (as they always did after the twins’ latest trip out here.)

    Sideswipe dropped to his knees, exhausted from all his pounding. Sunstreaker sat down beside him to rest. The pile drivers slid back, but Sideswipe wasn’t about to rest when he still had anger to work out of his system. He whipped his flare gun out of subspace and gave a wicked lopsided grin. Sunstreaker shook his head at the though of his twin who couldn’t stay motionless for more than two astrominutes. He unsubspaced his electron pulse gun and grinned back with a “think you can beat me, punk” expression.

    They spent the next hour or two shooting up the canyon. When they got bored challenging each other with their own weapons, they switched and came up with a whole new set of dares until they expended the energy packs of both weapons. Examining their handiwork, Sideswipe volley shots covered a wider area of damage, but Sunstreaker’s precision bursts caused more pinpoint accuracy.

    Sideswipe passed the depleted electron pulse gun back to his brother. Sunstreaker reached out for it, and then decidedly pushed it back into the red twin’s hands.

    “Keep a part of me with you.”

    Sideswipe’s face hardened, mouth set in a thin line. “We will - ”

    “ – fight this! I know.” Sunstreaker gave a small nod and a reassuring countenance. He raised up the flair gun a little keeping it close to him and motioned. “Just in case.”

    The red Lambo let out an angry snarl and grabbed for his gun with one hand while shoving Sunny’s gun back at him with the other. The yellow Lambo was just as determined not to accept or relinquish. They struggled for a few astroseconds before deadlocking, both with a hand on each gun, and stared each other down.

    Sideswipe’s impatience caused him to shout out first. “I am not lettin’ them take you way from me Sunny! I won’t!”

    “I won’t either, Sides!”

    “Then why act like they’ve already won!?” Incomprehension laced Sideswipe’s face.

    Sunstreaker’s optics darkened to a royal blue so cold they were almost black. Was Sides accusing him of cowardice? Him!? Teeth gritted and jaw servos ground. He paused to make sure he had his brother’s attention, but the silence only agitated Sideswipe more.

    “Because, I. Don’t. Beg!” Sunstreaker leaned in close and hissed. “They’ve made up their minds. Our orders stand. That’s not gonna change. I am not gonna play their smeltin’ game!” Sunstreaker saw his brother looked ready to pound something, pile drivers or no, such was the vibrating tension of his frame. “What would you have us do!?”

    Sideswipe’s face pained in reflection of everything his body felt at that moment, wanting some sort or release, but not sure who or what to target.
    “Leave! We could just leave! You and I, and never come back!” the red Lambo blurted in desperation.

    “Desertion?” Sunstreaker asked giving it half an astrosecond of serious thought before steeling himself again with his own ideas of no compromise. “I. Don’t. Run. Either!”

    Was Sunny accusing him of cowardice? Him!? Sideswipe swore a shouted litany in Sunstreaker’s face in rage at everything which Sunstreaker endured with an immeasurable, dark expression.

    “I AM NOT GONNA LOSE YOU!” Sideswipe’s last word came out as a half choked sob, still staring into his brother’s optics.

    He suddenly felt a hand on his. Or was his hand on Sunny’s? He couldn’t tell.

    “You never will.” The bitter shade of blue and intensity of Sunstreaker’s optics didn’t change. However, their coldness wasn’t for Sideswipe but for those that had done this to them, the red Lambo now knew.

    Sideswipe also knew that when they promised each other something, it always came true. The tension filled vibration and need for movement, to lash out, that filled his frame, vanished. It took him an astrosecond to realize.

    “We will beat this!” Sunstreaker said.

    “How?” Sideswipe looked questioningly at his twin.

    “I don’t know. “But we will always - ”

    “ – be together!”

    The word “somehow” lingered between them.

    They both looked down, neither sure of just how ebony fingers had ended up intertwined with gold ones again or who had started it, only that neither wanted to let go. They saw the guns they had been fighting over too.

    “Take it…” Sunstreaker held out his electron pulse gun.

    Sunstreaker would never beg anything…except of his twin.

    “For luck?” Sideswipe reached for his brother’s gun with his free hand.

    “Yeah, for luck.” Sunstreaker accepted his brother’s flare gun in turn. They both subspaced their new weapons.

    “Of course, what you really should have asked for is this!” Sideswipe pulled out his rocket pack.

    “I am not taking that gaudy, unpredictable, flying piece of slag to Cybertron!”

    “Come on, try it!”

    “No way!”

    “Then we’ll go for a ride together!”

    “Forget it! You’re nuts, scrap-for-brains!”

    “Since when has that ever stopped me?”

    Sideswipe’s lopsided smile should have been a warning. The red Lambo flipped a switch on his rocket pack. Before Sunstreaker knew what was happening, Sides had somehow strapped on his pack one-handed and Sunny found himself yanked into the air by the hand he still had fastened to his idiot brother’s. They kept going up until they hovered about 100 feet above the canyon floor.

    “Put me down!” Sunstreaker kicked about in the air.

    “Let go!” Sideswipe suggested.

    It was hard to tell what was louder after that, Sunstreaker’s swearing or Sideswipe’s laughing. Then, in a crazier move, Sideswipe cut the power to his rocket pack sending both twins plummeting to the ground with a terrible double smack cushioned by nothing but rocks and sand, just enough to cause a stimulating shock to the system, but no real damage done. It didn’t stop Sunstreaker from complaining for ten minutes about potential dents, damaged paint, etc. etc, etc, as Sideswipe laughed with a maniacal quality from the sudden rush he’d just experienced.

    “You really are slagin’ crazy!” Sunstreaker said. “Maybe getting sent away from you for a while has its bright side after all!”

    The brothers had landed flat on their backs, making a “V” shape between them. Sunstreaker expected another dent in his helmet from an attempted slugging by Sideswipe for that last comment, but it didn’t come. Instead, he felt Sideswipe’s head rest on his shoulder.

    “Don’t even joke about that!” the red Lambo said.

    Sideswipe raised his left arm up bending at the elbow and Sunstreaker felt his own arm rise too, his hand still attached to his spark-brother, still connected even after that crazy scare. Sometimes the subconscious depths of their bond amazed even them as he felt Sides’s squeeze. Sunny squeezed back, and though he couldn’t see it, shared his twin’s smile.

    By now, the day was late. Neither of them wanted to return to the Ark yet, so they stayed there in unspoken agreement watching the sunset and then the stars come out. Sunstreaker loved the beauty of it all. He knew it would be one of the things he’d miss most about Earth. He wondered after a while how Sideswipe could remain still for so long. Perhaps the exhaustion of his earlier activities had finally set in. Or maybe his stillness was just the lingering melancholy of their situation. Or maybe he had some unknown injury from their fall, but a quick inquiry if Sides’s was okay met with a cheery “just fine” with Sides still resting peacefully by his side. Still, to entertain his brother, Sunstreaker found himself pointing out the shapes of the Earthling constellations and telling of their legends.

    Sunstreaker pointed with a finger off their joined hands, dragging his brother’s arm across the sky with his. Right now, he moved them above the belt of Orion and a little to the left, pointing out what looked like two stick figures connected by a crossbar with two stars of similar intensity for their heads.

    “The humans call this one Gemini.”

    “What’s that mean?”

    “The Twins,” Sunstreaker said as casually as possible.

    He felt a shifting and lifting off his shoulder as Sideswipe sat up to stare back down at him.

    “It’s true.” The yellow Lambo hoped his attempts to keep from chuckling at Sideswipe’s surprised expression didn’t make him think he was joking.

    Sideswipe lay back down against Sunny as before and studied the constellation again. “Why?”

    Sunstreaker told him the legend.

    “Just like us,” Sideswipe mused when his brother finished.

    “Yeah, I always thought so.”

    “Why didn’t you tell me about this one before?”

    Sunstreaker wasn’t sure. Stargazing had never been Sideswipe’s thing and when Sunstreaker gazed at the sky and remembered he wanted to share the story, he’d always been alone. The stars weren’t just something you told someone about, not stars this special. They had to be seen in a place like this canyon. He’d come to see Gemini as some sort of guardian, watching over the two of them. He knew it was silly, but he couldn’t help thinking of Castor and Pollux’s eternal promise and how those stars might as well have been named after them. Yes, something very much appealed to Sunstreaker about being placed next to his brother in the heavens, shining eternally bright enough for the whole universe to see.

    Sideswipe felt his brother’s shoulder rise and fall in a shrug beneath him.
    “We needed a night like this, together.”

    “So which one’s me and which one’s you?” Sideswipe squinted at the stars above him.

    “Pollux-red and Castor-yellow.”

    “So I get to be the immortal one? Cool.”

    Sunstreaker pulled their joined hands to the left with a satisfying jerk on his brother’s arm and pointed. “That one’s you.”

    Sideswipe jerked just as hard to the right in retaliation. “And that’s you.”

    “Yeah, that’s us,” Sunstreaker murmured. “So we’ll always be up there, together, looking out for each other…even if we’re apart.”

    The twins in the sky looked down at the twins on Earth, or maybe it was the other way around, pondering their existence in two places at once.

    “Just promise me you’ll come back to me from the stars, Sunny. I don’t want the sky to be the only place I see you again.”

    “Only if you promise me you’ll stay immortal till I return, Sides.”

    Gold and ebony squeezed harder, shaking on that deal. The Autobot Gemini then drifted into recharge hoping life in the sky together would be bearable in the meantime until their eventual reunion.

    To be continued...
  2. VAwitch

    VAwitch G1 GeekGirl

    Oct 16, 2006
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    Beautiful. I look forward to seeing how this evolves. Their twin-bond has always been one of my favorite aspects of the fic-fandom.
  3. Backscatter

    Backscatter Autobot Brainmaster TFW2005 Supporter

    Mar 24, 2003
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    Good start and a touching story between the brothers. Looking forward to more
  4. Freyabeads

    Freyabeads TFW2005 Supporter

    Jul 23, 2006
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    I printed and read this on the train today. Loving it so far! Keep it coming!
  5. Motor_Master

    Motor_Master Lets the balls touch

    Jul 30, 2002
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    New Hampshire
    I liked it a lot.
  6. Fairlady_Z

    Fairlady_Z Official Voice of Flareup

    Sep 27, 2005
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    Sorry for the long wait to update. Here's chapter 2! The "spying" incident Hot Rod refers to is told in my other story "How Can I Say I'm Sorry?" And yes, I'm finally using the "proper" spelling of Elita-1 now that's been sorted out by giving her an official toy. Thanks to all who have reviewed this story so far, it's the encouragment of reviewers like you that keeps us fanfic writers writing. Enjoy!

    Chapter 2

    Data report of incident #2814: Kup, Chief Security Officer, Autobot City

    Turbo-revin’, circuit glitched, red rusted, acid covered, central processors still stuck in the pre-golden age menaces! In my day, slaggers who do this would have been oil drummed out of the Autobot army. I remember this one bot, Hammerhead, way back when who…the thing was even if ya’d ship ‘em off to the front lines to do all your dirty work, he’d always come back full of battle lust and ready for more. It’s nothing new. Bots like that, sometimes they want it so bad they turn, just so they can keep fighting,…like Hammerhead.

    ‘Course Sentinel never had to deal with two of ‘em at once. The only way to control such dangerous tendencies is to discipline them while still young, make them feel part of the bigger whole, the greater cause. And if that doesn’t work, at least give them something worth staying online for and come back home to. Which is why the sooner those two over buffed, diode blowin’, twins are separated, the better off we’ll all be and I’m not just saying that ‘cause of the gaping hole in my chestplate or the desire for some peace and quiet, no matter what Ratchet thinks. Though speaking of the latter, I do appreciate the doc’s efforts to limiting visiting hours if only to keep the Dinobots at bay. It may be a custom to give a present of vegetation to those in need of repair on this planet, but the less uprooted trees gifted to Hot Rod and I in the medi-bay the better, though we appreciate the sentiment.

    One last thing Magnus, go easy on the lad on this one. Yeah, he stepped over the line, but he was only coming to my defense, and given the downright psychotic tendencies of those Lambos we came to be on the receiving end of, I really can’t implicate his impulsiveness on this one.

    Data report of incident #2814: Hot Rod, Cavalier, Autobot City

    This was so not my fault! How can I be accused of assaulting a superior officer when up until a day ago they were the same rank as me? You saw what they did to Kup! How could I not do something? They’re insane! How do bots like that get promoted anyway? Wish I could be the one to go with Optimus Prime to Cybertron instead of building half of Autobot City by myself it feels like. Guess that’s one advantage to having my arm ripped off. Won’t have to do that for a few days,…unless my punishment for this is going to be building the other half of the city by myself. (By the way, I’ve learned my lesson about spying in the conference room, okay. Thanks for keeping that between us Magnus, and Kup.) I hope Kup’s right about that separation punishment thing. If you ask me, my “new superiors” should be the ones stuck on construction detail, not me! Being stuck with Kup in the medi-bay listening him complain and tell stories about some bot called Hammerhead should be punishment enough, right? (But please don’t tell Kup I said that.) You should see the daisies Daniel brought us though, a lot nicer than trees. (Though don’t tell the Dinobots I said that either.)

    * * *

    When the twins arrived back at the Ark the next morning, they were met with the depressing task of clearing out their room so they could move to Autobot City where Sunstreaker would catch a shuttle sometime next week for Cybertron. Needless to say their arrival at Autobot City, Alaska did not put them in the best of moods. The trouble began when one of Grapple’s amply, widely designed corridors still proved to be two small for the twins’s liking as walking shoulder to shoulder Sunstreaker shoved past Hot Rod and Kup coming the other direction.


    “Out of the way, hot shot!”

    “It’s Hot Rod, and you need to learn some manners!”

    “You gonna teach me some, hot head?”

    Hot Rod balled his fists.

    “It’s not worth it, lad.”

    “But Kup - ”

    Sunstreaker punched one fist into the palm of his other hand.

    “Sunny, don’t - ”

    “Why not?”

    “I’d advise against that,” said Kup, “The penalty for fighting is - ”

    “Is what? What can you possibly do to us that hasn’t been done already!? Endless monitor duty? Take away my cans of wax? Lock us in the brig?” Sunstreaker laughed in Kup’s face. His body stayed poised to counter any sudden moves Hot Rod made. “Been there. Done that till it’s Groundhog’s Day. So do your worst you relic ready for the scrapheap!”

    The lines on Kup’s face hardened, making him appear even more angular. His deep set optics under his hooded brow showed unimpressed annoyance and no sign of intimidation, a rare sight for many who encountered Sunstreaker’s anger.

    “Well,” said Kup, sizing up the yellow warrior who towered over him and stared him confidently in the optics. “I could make sure that you spend a few more months many even years posted up there on Cybertron away from your brother.”

    Not even Sunstreaker registered how fast Sideswipe’s pile driver punched through Kup’s turquoise midsection, just under the chestplate and out the back side, impaling the security chief.

    “KUP!” Hot Rod charged at Sideswipe, but Sunstreaker blocked his way in the crowded corridor.

    Sunstreaker twisted just enough to avoid the collision. He then flung out his arm that halted Hot Rod’s momentum and tossed the flame colored Autobot back the other direction where he slammed against the wall. The move was executed with all the concern of one swatting a fly. Sunstreaker was about to turn back to his brother, when he heard the powering up of a weapon. Hot Rod wasn’t one to give up easily. He had dropped down on one knee from his fall, and not sure what else to do, locked one of his sleek exhaust port guns on the murdering red Lambo, but again the yellow one blocked his path. Any shot from this range would be pointblank.

    Hot Rod hesitated. Sunstreaker saw it as inability to fire and decided to call the rookie out on his audacity to hold a gun in his face. The yellow Lambo tilted his head, smirked menacingly, and made the slightest feign forward to “say boo.”

    Bad move!

    Hot Rod fired, but being startled made his warning shot come too close and clipped Sunstreaker’s audio. The fire caught the attention of Sideswipe who retracted his pile driver from Kup’s body at his brother’s cry. Kup moaned and slid to the floor, immediately forgotten by the twins, but not by Hot Rod who called the old timer’s name again.

    His momentary hope that Kup was still online caused enough distraction to allow Sunstreaker to cross the distance between them in two quick strides and rip off the offending arm that had shot at him. Hot Rod held his dismembered arm, which still hung on wires, close to his body. He warily eyed the Lambos who seemed to have suddenly lost all interest in him now that the threat he possessed had been “neutralized.” Sunstreaker tried to determine the extent of the damage to his own audio while Sideswipe inspected it for him.

    And that’s how Ultra Magnus and Springer found the four of them a few minutes later drawn by the sound of Hot Rod’s gunfire.

    * * *

    From the personal log of CMO Ratchet, Excerpt 1:

    That was Monday.

    Tuesday, it was Cliffjumper that landed in the medi-bay.

    By Wednesday, it was decided something had to be done.

    I tried to warn them about splitting up the twins, but then no one listens to me, do they? And who get to clean up the slaggin’ mess? Me! That’s who! Sometimes it’s a wonder our troops even make it onto the battlefield when they pull stunts like this. All of them should have known better!

    Kup can’t pin the blame on the ‘youngsters’ this time. Age knows no bounds for stupidity. As a ranking officer, you don’t make comments that exacerbate an already tense situation. If Magnus’s unit thinks they can come in here, shake up the established order, and not expect a backlash, then they all need to run a diagnostic on themselves, pronto! Those twins are like being around a walking pair of bombs anyway. Pull the pin of separation and their primed, not diffused. So Hot Rod blunderingly stepped on a twin landmine and Kup took his finger off the bomb trigger. Slagin’ wonderful! The only surprise was that Sideswipe exploded first. And again, who’s left with the clean up?

    I’m a doctor, not a slaggin’ waste recycling bot!

    Thanking Primus for small mercies, the wounds were clean. I’ll give the twins credit for that. Sideswipe’s pile driver deliberately missed all of Kup’s vital systems and Hot Rod’s arm required a simple reattachment, just enough to drive their point home. Much to Hot Rod’s protest, he was out of here and fit for duty the next day. Though I’m sure he’ll have some reason to be back in here by next week. That impulsive red cavalier lands himself in as much trouble as a certain red Lambo I could mention. Primus help Wheeljack if those two cross paths much while I’m away.

    Cliffjumper’s repairs are more difficult. I’m guessing he couldn’t keep his mouth shut so one of the twins decided to rip out his vocal unit. I’ve heard neither will own up to which one did it, but the unit’s removal as opposed to a crushed throat resembles Sunstreaker’s handiwork, though I’ve started to wish Kup had been the casualty instead, ‘cause if I have to listen to one more “storytime” of his I’m gonna turn off his vocal unit until he’s fixed and out of here.

    And if anyone thinks I’m showing any favoritism, I’m gonna do the same to Sunstreaker the next time he bugs me about fixing his audio. Let him stew for a few days. I have a million things to do before leaving for Cybertron and now thanks to those slagin’ twins, I have even more repairs to make. I have my own ways of keeping those two in line that doesn’t involve sending one of them to another planet. Sunsteaker knows that if he wants to be “pretty” again he’ll have to wait till my schedule is open. I gave orders to my staff he’s not to set foot inside this medi-bay until Kup is gone. I’m not risking Kup and Sunstreaker in the same room, and making Sunstreaker wait until the damage his brother caused is fixed should give them both pause against any more fighting for a while. Let a little ego blow and hearing loss be a good lesson that I am Chief Medical Officer of the Autobot army! I will not stand for the deliberate dismemberment of troops needed to fight a war that I’m expected to repair as easily as Spike does for Daniel when he cries over his latest broken toy!

    When people start thinking that’s all a medic is good for, it may be a sign there’s a reason why we’re currently losing this war.

    Excerpt 2:

    The command staff remained just as divided as before when it came to an appropriate punishment for the twins. If the twins were hoping their actions would cause a demotion in their rank so they could stay together, they were sorely mistaken. Separation seemed to be the only discipline they responded to. Kup, once he was up and about again, argued for denying them access to each at all until the shuttle launch. I was clear to point out how that type of thinking had blown up in everyone’s faces already, particularly his. The others took up views in between with leanings towards one side or the other. Optimus and Ultra Magnus ultimately agreed that a moderate “weaning away” of the twins from each other was the best solution. Their duty shifts would be coordinated to be separate and get them working independently of each other, but how much time they choose to spend together in their reduced, off duty hours remained up to them.

    I knew it was going to take more than a week to ever wean those two away from each other, but Prime was right that their energy focus would shift from aggression to being too busy draining ever last drop of quality the twins had out of their time left together, much like that first night their orders had been received and they’d taken off for “Primus knows where.”

    Excerpt 3:

    The day of the shuttle launch arrived too quickly for everyone.

    I spent the last few hours again going over all the important things I’d already discussed with First Aid, Grapple, Hoist, Wheeljack, and Perceptor in the medi-bay, trying to make sure none of us had forgotten anything. They unanimously assured me we hadn’t. I think they’re under the impression I’m working too hard. Correction, I know Wheeljack thinks it. He even pulled me aside to voice his concerns. But the responsibility for everything ultimately falls on my shoulders. Still, I take comfort in the fact that I’m leaving Autobot City in the most capable of hands. Wheeljack has earned the position. Hoist and Grapple will help him though this. Still, it was a sad parting for all of us. Wheeljack’s been my trusted right hand and best friend for vorns now. We’ve been partners the same way Hoist and Grapple have been. While I trust First Aid as my new partner, it won’t be the same without ‘Jack. I wondered what challenges were going to await me with a new medical staff on Cybertron. I gave my list a final onceover and gave everyone gathered a nod of completion. Then we all headed out for the shuttle launch.

    Our shuttle was a standard model, similar to the Ark, but with all the technological updates one would expect with four millions years of advancement. I’ve spent the last fifteen years on Earth since our reawakening just catching up in my own branches. It’s not as much as one might suspect. Most advancements deal with ways of conserving energy and resources, problems I’m already improvising solutions to on a daily basis. Anything really useful I’ve already thought of and implemented myself. Earth’s energy resources are far greater that Cybertron’s. With the exception of some techniques I’ll only be able to pull off with new equipment back home, I have a feeling I’ll be forced to be even more resourceful once we get to Iacon. If being a medic on the front lines has taught me anything, it’s how to be inventive and unconventional. I think I’m about as un-by-the-book as you can get, but it’s also what makes as good as I am at my job, without trying to be modest.

    Nearly everyone was there to say farewell aside from the skeleton crew still on duty, and even they’d be tuned into Blaster’s countdown very soon. I saw Wheeljack, Hot Rod, and Kup say goodbye to the Dinobots. Kup refused to tell one more story as they tried to get the Dinos to board. Kup may try my patience, but I do respect him as a war veteran and my Dinobots have taken a real liking to him and his young sidekick. Wheeljack told me to take care of our creations. I told him they’ll probably end up taking care of us. Primus, I’m going to miss everyone, but Wheeljack most of all. I saw our Aerialbots boarding as well, chatting about how eager they were to return to Cybertron. I wondered if ‘Jack and I will get a chance to build any more Autobots together again as we said goodbye to each other.

    All around I saw similar partings, some bots happy to be going or staying, others not so happy. I saw Hound’s reluctance to leave as Mirage wished him well, wanting to come along. I heard Spike tell Bumblebee that he wanted to join us once Prime is able to fully assess the Decepticon threat on Cybertron and we’re able to make some headway, but that he can’t leave Daniel and Carly right now. Nearby them, Brawn laughed along with Cliffjumper as Huffer and Gears tried to top each other coming up with reasons why it’s not a good idea to be on Cybertron right now anyway. It was their way of coping with staying behind and seeing their friends go when they’re both terribly homesick.

    I spotted Prowl in conversation with Smokescreen and Bluestreak. Bluestreak suddenly hugged Prowl, and despite his startled expression, Prowl took it with unusual stride, patted his cousin on the back, and assured him and his brother he’d keep in touch. I overheard a similar promise from the other direction, or at least I thought so as Sideswipe and Sunstreaker promised to “Alexander Graham 3:00AM” each other, whatever that meant, in their coded twinspeak. I couldn’t help watching them clasp each other on the back and then gold and ebony fingers released each other unable to hold on any longer as Sunstreaker backed up the ramp waving goodbye. Mirage, who’d just watched Hound board, waved as well and took a step closer wondering if he should offer any support to Sideswipe, but decided it best to give the red Lambo his space.

    I decided to board next. I considered telling Sideswipe I’d look out for his brother, but it somehow seemed inappropriate to spoil the somber mood. I settled for catching his optic and gave him a knowing nod. Sideswipe responded with the twitch of a smile.

    Inside the shuttle, most of the passengers had already taken their seats, such as Prime, Ironhide, Elita-1, and her unit. Elita had come for a rare visit from Cybertron to discuss tactical planning that led to Prime and the command staff’s decision that Prime was needed to lead the forces on Cybertron and to take this current crew back home with him to try and fortify Iacon before the Decepticons are able to capture our capital. The Aerialbots and Protectobots had filed in next. I passed by them as Slingshot made a joke about not riding in Omega Supreme this time, I frowned and took a seat next to Jazz. The last few stragglers fell in behind as Prowl did a headcount and there was a scramble for the remaining free seats. The Dinobots thankfully had their own cabin for reasons of size as well as sanity.

    Sunstreaker sat alone in the very back, a row behind Hound. The shuttle’s engines fired. Both Hound and Sunstreaker watched the growing distance of the world below, first of Autobot City and soon of the planet Earth. As we broke orbit, they still looked back for their own reasons, long after the rest of us could no longer see a speck of blue and white in the black sky. Jazz caught me staring at them more than the view out our own port window, but then Jazz had the window seat. He offered to switch with me, but I shook my head. By now, I was curious to see who was going to look back the longest. No one was willing to bother either Hound or Sunstreaker for a long time, but eventually Brawn decided to switch to the empty seat next to Hound and cheer him up. Soon, Hound was engaged in pleasant conversation.

    Sunstreaker looked back the longest, but eventually he unsubspaced line and tablet and began to draw, a more frequent sight over the years since Grapple’s art show. He stayed that way for the entire rest of the trip to Cybertron, occasionally glancing out the viewport again, alone and quiet. So quiet, to the point we might not have noticed he was even there, as if we could see right through him. And everyone, I guess, was content to leave him like that. Even Sunstreaker, for once, didn’t seem to mind being invisible.

    To be continued...
  7. Fairlady_Z

    Fairlady_Z Official Voice of Flareup

    Sep 27, 2005
    Trophy Points:
    Thank you to VAWitch, Backscatter, Freya, & MM, and to all who have PMed me for all your encouragment. Your comments are so appreciated and always make me want to put up the next chapter faster. This is for you! And keep spreading the word to others who may enjoy this story. All you silent visitors, thank you too! Don't be afraid to leave a comment and say hi and let me know you exist, it only takes a few minutes. Feedback to us writers is like air to other people, we live off of it. :D 

    Chapter 3

    “Seems the road goes on and on and it never ends.
    And in my heart where I belong is there with you.
    You know I’d be right by your side, if I only could.
    But on a train car fate I ride.
    Now it seems I count a million miles away, till I’ll be comin’ home to you.
    (Bro) I wanna but there’s one more song to play.
    So for now I’m gonna close my eyes, pretend you’re here with me.
    And I’ll be with you…when I dream.”
    Stan Bush

    Dear Pollux,

    Just in case you get word I’ve been court-martialed within the next few solar cycles it’ll be because I’ve murdered my new roommate. Yes, you read that right – a Primus-forsaken, smeltin’ ROOMMATE!” The slightly less than end of the world news is that they choose the bot I’m most least likely to murder to share my living space with, so it’s likely we’ll both see you again after all. Hippocrates is indeed blessed by Primus.

    It’s bad here, Sides. Iacon’s more crowded with refugees than the old gladiatorial arenas used to be with fans. You can barely drive down the corridors for nuisance of running over some Micromaster (fuel efficient, ant-droid road kill is more like it). They’re everywhere, slagin’ things!
    So crowded here and still…I’ve never felt so alone.

    Please be in the sky tonight,

    * * *

    From the personal log of CMO Ratchet:

    Where do I even begin? Home sweet home! It always looks better from space.
    We had to come in on a tricky angle to avoid Decepticon spy satellites and jamming signals. Using the moons as cover, we were able to shield our descent until we could communicate with Iacon. The message was short for fear of interception. We learned two things right off the bat, (in addition to gaining clearance to land). One, they were really glad to see us. Two, thanks to the Decepticon Occupation, the majority of the planet’s population of Autobots and neutrals had fled to one of the few safe haven city-states left and, as the human say, there was almost “no room left in the inn.”

    I saw Prowl and Prime exchange a few words. Then Prowl called Jazz over and the two of them briefly left the cabin together. As soon as we landed, they returned and passed out room assignments. That’s when I realized how my good deeds of gallant defense in the face of idiocy were to be rewarded. Given this outcome, I think I should have just kept my slagin’ mouth shut. Sunstreaker and I eyed each other with expressions ready to take each other apart, before he looked away again, still broodingly silent. I wasn’t so quiet as I cornered Jazz in the cabin, not allowing him out of his seat next to me and waited until everyone else had disembarked.

    “Sunstreaker? You stuck me with Sunstreaker!?” I stood, blocking the way to the isle.

    “Hey, man. We did the best we could,” Jazz looked up at me, spreading his hands apologetically.

    “So which of you came up with this slagin’, smeltin’ - ”

    “We both decided it was the most logical - ”

    “Logical? To stick the CMO with a homicidal combat instructor? Why the slag am I not with First Aid!?”

    Jazz leaded back, propped one foot on his other knee, and draped an arm over the back of his seat, making himself comfortable as if he might be there a while. “You gonna rant, doc, or are you gonna hear me out?”

    Jazz cocked his head and looked at me in a way that made me wish I could see the optics behind that visor of his to help me deduce what had possessed him to reach the conclusion I should room with a sociopathic twin-bot. I folded my arms over my windshield and gave him the same glare I’d given Sunstreaker. It was a look my patients knew well when they pushed me too far, but Jazz appreciated my silence more.

    “We made it simple as possible. The Protectobots and Aerialbots are staying together, just like the Dinobots. ‘Cept for Hot Spot and Silverbolt, they’re roomies for the sake of, well, room. But no point in breakin’ them up when they’re not used to it.”

    “So brotherly love trumps me spending more time with my medical assistant. Interesting change of reasoning.”

    “Hey, doc-bot,” Jazz poked a finger in my direction, “We were both on the level as far as the twins went, but I win my battles where I can. Prowl wants to keep Defensor and Superion ready to go at an astrosecond’s notice if need be and I agree.”

    “Fine,” I nodded. “That still doesn’t explain why I’m stuck with slagin’ Sunshine!”

    “You stood up for him.”

    “That doesn’t mean I want him for a bunk mate!” I spread my arms wide.

    “Do you think Sunny wants anyone for a bunk mate either? We both know there’s only one bot qualified for that.” There was no need for Jazz to say who. “If I thought I could get away with givin’ Sunstreaker his space, you know I would, but not even Prime gets that privilege this time. Who were we supposed to pick, man? You know he wouldn’t last one day with practically anybody on this shuttle.”

    I raised an optic ridge and folded my arms again wondering what made Jazz think I was one of those exceptions. “What about you?” I asked narrowing my optics. “You’re someone he calls a friend, right?”

    Jazz remained silent for a longer than I cared for period of time. “If by friend you mean someone he’s willing to tolerate for extended periods of time…”
    “I mean friend in whatever way someone like Sunstreaker defines it and if you don’t qualify, I don’t know who does!”

    “You qualify too then,” Jazz said quickly. “We all have to make some sacrifices here. I got stuck with Cliffjumper if it’s any - ”

    “I’ll trade you, you coward!” I leaned in until Jazz was up against to viewport window with nowhere to hide. He held up his hands again in protest.

    “Easy, Ratch, don’t tune me out yet.” Jazz lowered his hands and sighed. “I’d do it man, but the truth is, you’re still Sunny’s best match. He trusts you, both twins do. That’s not an easy thing to earn from bots like them. They trust you every time they enter that repair bay.”

    I opened my mouth to retort, but paused. I was a medic. If those two twin terrors wanted to be repaired, they had to trust me and my staff. And considering how often they needed repaired…well it was that simple, wasn’t it? I wasn’t sure if Jazz was taking advantage of my natural compassion, but I didn’t have a snappy answer that time and backed off the Porsche. My expression remained sour, but Jazz unsubspaced a list of the crew with his notes.

    “Look at that and tell me you’re not the best choice out of those names.”
    I looked it over with a grumble as Jazz relaxed again, folding his arms behind his head and leaning back. I handed the list back to him with a grunt a few moments later.

    “We cool now?”

    “If I end up attacked by a Lambo - ”

    “I know man, we trade I promise!”

    “No, I promise you that not only will I then have a room to myself but also an overabundance of spare Lamborghini and Porsche parts. Capiche?”

    There are times I’m told, I put the fear of Primus into other bots and I did my best to recapture that now. Had Jazz been human, I hoped he might have blanched a whiter shade than his paint already was. Instead, he smiled a shaky grimace that at least let him know I meant business, until he realized he’d gotten what he wanted and that smile spread into a confident coolness accented by that visor that hid any worry from his faceplate and suggested nothing could go wrong. He gave me a thumbs up.

    “May I? I think they’re startin’ to miss us,” he then jerked that same thumb motioning if I’d unblock his path. I moved out of his way. He turned to me just before disembarking and said, “Everything’ll be cool, Ratch. If anyone can do it, you can. Look at this as an opportunity to find out what makes Sunstreaker tick without havin’ to be up to your elbows in wires and circuits.” Then he exited the shuttle.

    I’m not sure how much of my swearing he heard on the way out.

    A young guide showed me to the repair bay. I didn’t need one to remember my way to my own former place of residence. I guess the bots here figure that after four million years, I’d forgotten my way. But unlike them, we of the Ark spent those four million years in stasis lock. In my mind, it’s been sixteen Earth years since I’ve last been home, not to mention a few short visits in between. However, my guide, a femme by the name of Minerva, was eager to make a good first impression on her new superior so I didn’t say a word.

    Given the brief report from a bot named Cerebros (one of the ranking officers left in charge by Magnus while he’s been gone) upon our disembarking and the crowded state of Iacon itself, I expected to be pulling a long first night in the repair bay. (That could be one way to avoid my roommate by working opposite day and night shifts.) Minerva grabbed my hand with a beaming smile after we recoded the door to my voiceprint and pulled me inside the infirmary that stood stark empty of patients.

    She told me talking at a speed Bluestreak would find normal that my new staff worked overtime making repairs to present me with this wonderful surprise upon my arrival. I couldn’t help but smile, say thanks, and to pass it onto the others. The empty repair bay was indeed a comforting sight, especially after a long trip to Cybertron. I hadn’t been looking forward to stepping foot inside. Part of me had been dreading the worst. I also knew it wasn’t going to stay this way for long so I’d better enjoy it while I could. But at least I knew I had a good staff backing me up.

    “So where’s the party?” I asked Minerva, which is my own first impulse after clearing out the repair bay. Sometimes I crash, but more than often those that know me will attest to my preference to celebrate.

    I guess my reputation hadn’t preceded me in that department because Minerva said, “Most of the medical staff is recharging for the night, but if you want to meet them now instead of waiting till tomorrow -”

    I shook my head and waved her off, holding back a sigh. I can’t blame a hardworking staff for needing their recharge. Still, I’m going to have to teach this staff a thing or two about rewarding a job well done. Aren’t these bots even younger than I am? Pulling an all-nighter with the high grade on top of an all-nighter of work never stopped me at that age, let alone now. Tempting as Minerva’s offer is to wake them, I let it pass.

    There’s a lounge at the far end of the repair bay. The other end opens onto my office, just like I remember, and off the office is the door that leads to the CMO’s private quarters. Not so private anymore with a new roommate I reminded myself. Might as well get this over with, I thought as Minerva talked again telling me what I already knew as she led me through my office showing me to my quarters. Maybe I could just set up a bunk in my office if worse comes to worse, provided there was even room inside it. My office was, in human terms, “a postage stamp.”

    The door swished open and sure enough, Sunstreaker was already there, having used the hall entrance to “our” quarters, and unpacking. His optics narrowed at the sight of Minerva.

    “Oh,” Minerva said. “I didn’t know you had company. Is this your assistant?”

    From the way she eyes the golden robot I got the feeling she hoped he was and that she’d be working side by side with the handsome mech in medical, but Sunstreaker positively scowled at the idea of being mistaken for my nurse and shot me a look fit to kill. It was a look Minerva missed as both bots looked to me expecting introductions.

    “No. Sunstreaker, this is Minerva, one of my new staff. Minerva, this is Sunstreaker, frontline warrior and combat instructor for the Autobot army.”

    Sunstreaker struck a pose, crossing his arms and smiling at the femme now that she knew his true rank and function. Slagin’ great! The last thing I needed was those two flirting with each other! But Sunstreaker’s smile captured none of Sideswipe’s charm. Minerva snapped to attention thinking Sunstreaker was inspecting her combat readiness on the spot and sizing her up.

    “Sir!” she said and saluted, much like she did upon her introduction to me by Cerebros.

    Sunstreaker’s face went blank and his optics widened for an astrosecond at being addressed as such. Then his wolfish smile grew again, deciding he liked the sound of the word. He nodded his approval, continuing to look her over though with what intent I wasn’t sure. A predatory look like that could mean he really was sizing her up her combat capabilities as much as it could he fancied her and I really didn’t care to know which.

    “Get some recharge, Minerva,” I said in an attempt to break it up. “You and the staff did a good job today. I look forward to meeting them tomorrow.”

    “Yes, sir.” Minerva turned her attention back to me with a smile and headed off back through my office with a bounce in her step.

    Sunstreaker stared after her until the door closed, a smile still on his face.

    “I don’t think she’s your type,” I said.

    Sunstreaker’s smile faded and he fixed me with another hard stare and went back to his unpacking. The yellow Lambo had taken a bunk close to the wall for which I was grateful. (It looked like an extra berth someone had moved in from the repair bay in anticipation of “doubling up.”) Meanwhile, my old bunk stood right where I remembered. Perhaps my roommate was being accommodating in his own way or perhaps he just wanted to keep as far away from the repair bay and what I and it represented as much as possible and that proved to be only as far as the other side of the room. In contrast to my office, my quarters were slightly larger than average which helped. Ah, the perks of rank. The room felt both bigger and smaller with a roommate added. Perhaps there was just enough room to stay out of each other’s way, but these were the CMO’s quarters and therefore mine. I felt the need to lay a few ground rules up front.

    “I’m sure you don’t like this any slagin’ more than I do, but we’re stuck with each other, so if we’re going to survive this, I am making a few things crystal clear right now,” I addressed the room at large certain Sunstreaker would hear me whether he chose to or not. “One,” I pointed to the door at the far end of the room. “That is my office. You are not to set foot in it – ever, or the repair bay beyond it while I am working unless you yourself are injured. Two, you are not to take anything from my office or my repair bay that you have not specifically asked permission for.” I knew that was a warning better suited to the other twin with his pranks, but one could never be too sure. “You will not bother me in any way, shape, or form while I am working and that includes any distracting hobbies. If you want to play video games or watch movies, that is what the lounge if for. Finally, you will not be painting the walls of this room or my office or the repair bay.”

    At that, Sunstreaker’s head finally snapped up to face me. A bit odd, I thought, that that of all things should get his attention.

    “These are technically the CMO’s quarters and I like my walls the boring gray they are. Find your creative outlet for such elsewhere on this base. Is all I’ve said clear? If so, we have an understanding for getting by.”

    Sunstreaker continued to stare me down with the same murderous stare he had since getting off the shuttle. It was already getting old and wasn’t going to work on me.

    “Is there anything you need from me that you’d like to add to the list?” I said slowly, half regretting anything it might prompt him to demand of me, but realizing it was only fair to ask.

    Sunstreaker’s optics narrowed as if testing me on that statement. Then he looked away in consideration, then back at me, then away again as if unsure what to ask for. That’s when I realized he’d never had to explain it to a roommate before. Sideswipe had always just known what Sunstreaker needed. Finally, he settled for motioning to his stuff, pointing to me, and drawing a kill gesture across his neck. I wondered about the silent treatment and how he hadn’t said a word to anyone since boarding the shuttle (at least no one to my knowledge) and what he hoped to achieve with that. But I saw his optics searching me for confirmation.

    “Fair enough,” I said. “I don’t touch your stuff, you don’t touch mine. I don’t bother you, you don’t bother me?”

    I didn’t feel like playing charades with Sunstreaker, but he nodded firmly before turning back to the rest of his unpacking, ignoring me again. I knew we’d achieved a tentative peace for now. Who could say how long it would last though?

    * * *

    Something felt…wrong. Something was…missing. He reached out with his spark and felt…nothing? He’d felt it as a dull ache for a while, but now he sent out his message expecting a reply, but…nothing! How could there be nothing in reply?





    * * *


    I’m not sure which woke me, the screaming or the thrashing. But given that this was the first thing I’d heard my roommate say since we’d left Earth, it was probably the screaming. We bots don’t normally dream, but we can when stressed or emotionally over stimulated, or in Sunstreaker’s case - have nightmares. No need to wonder what about.


    I quickly prepared a sedative, but wouldn’t need it if I could wake him. Sunstreaker kicked and felt for something above him that seemed just out of reach. His voice tinged with panic. I moved cautiously to his berth.

    * * *

    Sideswipe’s bunk! Where was it? He couldn’t feel it. He couldn’t feel his brother’s spark! WHY? Where was his brother? What was -

    “Sunstreaker. Sunstreaker.”

    A hand on his shoulder, familiar with its gentle touch. “Sideswipe?” He reached out to touch it back, his hand closing around his brother’s. He reached out again with his spark for the pulse of his twin. Searching…searching…still nothing! He felt nothing from the presence behind him save the fingers resting on his shoulder! It wasn’t his brother!

    * * *

    I placed my hand on Sunstreaker’s shoulder, calling his name, hypo-syringe at the ready. But Sunstreaker surprisingly calmed under my touch and reached his hand up to mine. I figured out why as he murmured his brother’s name. Not quite, I thought, but willing to let him think me so if it helped. I marveled at the comforting effect one twin thinking the other nearby had, even though I’d seen it many times over the vorns as their doctor. I smiled as the golden hand tightened around mine strong and…vice like. Crushing. Painful!
    In one swift move, Sunstreaker awoke, leapt off his berth, and slammed me into the wall, his forearm crushing into my throat, accusing blue optics manic and inches away as he demanded to know –


    “On...Earth,” I choked out.

    “WHY! Where is – where am -”


    Sunstreaker shook his head, confused. I still held my syringe in my other hand and tried to maneuver it to subdue him. The glint of it caught his attention and he pounced on it, stripping it from my hand. The hypo went skittering across the floor.

    “What have you done with my brother!?”

    Sunstreaker slammed me into the wall again then released me, running for my office door. I scooped up the syringe again and followed. Sunstreaker stood in the empty repair bay as if expecting to find Sideswipe in some state of trouble, even more confused.

    “Nothing! Nothing’s happened to Sideswipe. He’s safe! Sideswipe is perfectly safe on Earth. He’s not here. You’re on Cybertron. Remember.”

    The yellow twin had his back to me. I wondered if he would stay that way long enough to give me one more chance with the hypo-syringe.

    * * *

    Sideswipe wasn’t in the infirmary! Where was he? Earth? So far away! Was it true? Earth! It was true! Slagit! But why couldn’t he feel him? His spark! Why? Was it because he was so far away? Cybertron. Slagit! He couldn’t feel his brother here!

    * * *

    “I KNOW!” Sideswipe faced me with a snarl before I could make my move. “I know, he’s not here and where I am.” He lowered his voice and eyed my syringe with contempt. “I’m fine. You don’t need that slagin’ thing anymore, doc.”

    I looked him over with a quizzical optic. Sunstreaker looked anything but fine, though he no longer appeared to be in a dream state. I knew any chance to sedate him was gone now. He wasn’t going to let me get near him again tonight and, as I tested the cables in my hand flexing them, I realized that I didn’t want him near me either. Sunstreaker was indeed awake and back to his wary self again. My hand felt a little bruised, but otherwise alright. Sunstreaker watched me and motioned to his own throat as if asking how mine was. A bit tender, but no real damage. I gave him a nod which he approvingly returned. I curiously realized it was his way of apologizing for the unintentional attack as I lowered my hypo.

    “I need some air,” Sunstreaker muttered excusing himself with no further explanation and I saw no reason to follow. Not this time anyway.

    I didn’t realize at first that the challenge of rooming with Sunstreaker wasn’t sharing a living space with one twin, it was also sharing with the ghost of the other one. I hadn’t planned on quarters for three.

    * * *

    Dear Pollux,

    Where are you!? I searched for you all night at the Stellar Galleries and I couldn’t find you! The stars of home don’t form the same shapes as seen from Earth. I can’t have lost you so soon!

    Send me a reply,

    * * *

    Dear Castor,

    I’m still here! I’m the immortal one remember ;-) …immortally bored. You’re going to have all the fun pounding Cons. I just know it! :-(

    Don’t hurt the doc-bot! You’re not immortal. I need him to keep you in one piece. He promised me!

    I tried keeping your bunk warm, but I couldn’t. Mine got cold. I went looking for you, but the sky was overcast. Don’t do that! Tell the clouds I’m in no mood for hide and seek. And I hate recharging in the rain. And you’d hate it if I rusted, right? But I’m not recharging in that room again without you. It’s too slagin’ big alone. All it does is remind me you’re not here anymore, Sunny. And I can feel that in my spark without another slagin’ reminder.

    Send clear skies and sunshine please,

    To be continued...

    Notes: While I plan on integrating several season 4 characters into this fanfic, Minerva was definately an unplanned one, but I needed a medic and she popped to mind. So I still don't know where things might be going with her. Originally, Sunny was going to room with Jazz, but since the story was always going to include Ratchet's pov, it made more sense to stick the two of them together. Yeah, I'm sure my Sunny and Ratchet muses hate me for that one. :tongue:  And you know things are only going to get worse before they get better. The Dr. McCoy reference last chapter was intentional. It's hard sometimes trying to keep Ratchet from not being too much like TFA Ratchet. I plan on showing Sideswipe back on Earth too (Ultra Magnus fans, be afraid, be very afraid ;) ), but Sunny has a tendancy to monopolize the spotlight in my mind. I find Sideswipe the harder to write of the two. Weird, cause I always liked Sides better growing up.
  8. Fairlady_Z

    Fairlady_Z Official Voice of Flareup

    Sep 27, 2005
    Trophy Points:
    Chapter 4

    Dear Pollux,

    It. Just. Got. Worse. Today, I met some of the glitches I’m in charge of whipping into shape. Wouldn’t trust my life to any of them, let alone bet credits on them in a fight. This is what I was promoted for?!? Most of them aren’t even worth mentioning except Fastlane and Cloudraker ‘cause, well, when you see the included drawings you’ll understand.

    Speechless yet? They’re called clones. That means artificially induced spark splitting. Decepticon science, but Autobot “perfected” so I’m told. Didn’t know twins like us were in such high demand, did you? Some slagin’ science experiment to be figured out! Like second-rate science could ever know what makes us tick! If this is all the Autobot army thinks we’re good for….

    Anyway, let me tell you about what those clones tried to pull today…

    * * *

    Sunstreaker drove back from the Stellar Galleries earlier than he wanted, but a night of fruitless searching in the sky had left him frustrated and aching. Dull and constant emptiness right where a part of him should be, just lost beyond his consciousness, the part called Sideswipe. It was like when Ratchet flipped off one of his senses for repairs, optics, audios - only in this case the switch turned off something inside his spark. He didn’t know how else to describe it, as he hurried off a subspace communiqué to his brother to be sent out with the next batch to Earth. The twins were always used to being in two places at once. But now Sideswipe was missing from his spark. Sideswipe was only on Earth and Sunstreaker was only on Cybertron. And the Gemini was nowhere to be found. Being in only one place at one time, what Ratchet had said, it should have sounded logical. The twins understood the concept of “apart” well enough, but this new thing made no sense to Sunstreaker who had no concept of “alone.” Neither twin did.

    Sunstreaker had buffed and polished himself to golden perfection back in his quarters. Ratchet hadn’t been around. Gazing in the mirror, nothing looked wrong at all. He was fine…and yet, as much as he was able to shine away his faults to the point none could be seen, he still knew something deep within him was broken and needed fixing.

    That gleaming exterior was all anyone saw when Sunstreaker met with Hardhead early that next morning to begin inspection and combat training of the base’s personnel. Hardhead’s explanation of exactly what Sunstreaker’s job was remained sporadic at best. Most of the base’s personnel were a mishmash of veterans, academy graduates, and enlisted mechs off the street who just wanted to do their part in their function of expertise. Most had seen combat of varying degrees. Sunstreaker’s responsibility was to mould this variety of bots into cohesive units capable of working together and teaching those who didn’t have much combat experience to be prepared in a variety of techniques.

    Hardhead wasn’t much of a talker. Sunstreaker stopped asking questions when Hardhead’s answers grew more concise, until a one or two word response was all he got. Hardhead’s curtness was genial enough, but he was obviously a bot of action and didn’t like giving long winded explanations.
    Sunstreaker also sensed he was being sized up for his combat worthiness by Hardhead as well, who might resent someone like Sunstreaker muscling in on his responsibilities and territory, forced to play subordinate to one of Optimus Prime’s senior staff that (thanks to Sunstreaker’s promotion) made him the superior officer, despite Hardhead being one of the senior officers left in command by Ultra Magnus. Sunstreaker, however, liked his newfound power that just having been a member of the Ark crew now carried.

    Sunstreaker smiled inwardly at the line of troops standing at attention ready for him to inspect as he entered to combat gym and Hardhead introduced him. He hoped to make a spectacular entrance.

    * * *

    Data report from Fastlane, Autobot Clone (with interruptions from Cloudraker)

    The new combat instructor hates me and I’m not sure why.

    “Us. He hates us. And it could have something to do with us almost being late for our first combat session with one of Prime’s senior staff.”

    “No it was Hardhead who chewed us out for that one, remember,” I shot back at my annoying brother, Cloudraker, who looked over my shoulder while tried to write. “He already thinks we’re weird. I doubt he even told Sunstreaker about that.”

    “Hardhead did tell Sunstreaker we were troublemakers. And you did prove him right, starting with insulting Sunstreaker.”

    “All I said was he was too shiny -”

    “You said, ‘How can anyone that shiny ever have been in a real fight?’ ”

    “Well, can anyone blame me? The instructor, Sunstreaker, was so sparkly that he practically glowed like a source of energon itself. Everyone though so. I heard them chuckle. What was the point of showing up to a combat class looking like he was fresh off the assembly line. Even Headhead didn’t know what to make of him. I only had the courage to voice it. How could I know Mr. Shiny had the sensitive audios of a communications bot. Then again, his are pretty big.”

    “And after your comment, ‘Shiny’ proceeded to show us how he stays that way by using diffusion techniques to keep his opponents hands off him and kick the afts of everyone there.”

    “Actually, he stared a lot first…at us.”

    “Yeah, that was…creepy.”

    Truth is, everyone stares at us, being clone twins. Only ones of our kind. Well, there are some Decepticons or two made from the same science we were, but who cares about them. The point is, we’re unique. I always love it when mechs think they’re seeing double and the expressions they get. And Shinystreaker was no exception.

    “What are those!?” he blurted out loud enough for all the room to hear.

    “Twins,” Hardhead said, as if that explained everything.

    I smiled at Shiny and tried not to laugh. I think even Shiny wanted to tear Hardhead a new one the way he looked like he wasn’t being let in on the joke. But that’s Headhead for you, our old academy instructor, a bot of few words and shiny was too shocked as he just continued to stare.

    “B-but they’re identical!”

    Well, duh! Not only was Shiny stumped by us, but he was clueless about what a twin even was, though I think those organic creatures on Earth have something similar.

    “Clones,” Hardhead clarified. “Autobot science. Don’t understand it, but these two are here. Kinda fascinating, huh?”

    That’s when Shiny got this look of disgust that…I don’t know…made him see us like we were some kind of lab specimens as he came closer to inspect us.

    “It was downright creepy was what it was,” Cloudraker said, interrupting my writing again. “Like he hates us for just existing and it didn’t help that you tried to trick him.”

    “Aw, c’mon, it was fun!”

    “Not when I end up doing transform-ups. Or when you tried the same trick on two other instructors in one day!”

    “Maybe I pretend to be you to help make up for the fact you have no sense of humor.”

    I heard Cloudraker make a frustrated noise and stalk away for a while.

    Seriously, how could I resist? Switching identities is classic. I just wish Cloudraker weren’t such a spoilsport and wouldn’t play along. What can I say though? I like being the center of attention. Most instructors it ends up driving hexagonal nuts. Shiny…I dunno…maybe if Cloudraker had played along… Anyway, at first I thought he might be comin’ around. So as he inspected us, I decided to introduce myself.

    “I’m Cloudraker!”

    “No, he’s not. He’s only trying to fool you, sir. He does this all the time.”

    “I am not, Fastlane,” I said, realizing Cloudraker was going to be no help this time, but sometimes if I call him by my name it helps the illusion. “You’re the one who -”

    “See, he’s trying to trick you right now, sir.”

    “Don’t listen to him!”

    “He’s lying!”

    “ ‘He’s lying,’ sir.” It never huts to remind my flustered brother of the proper etiquette.

    “What! I am not!”

    “ ‘I am not”, sir!”

    “I’m sorry, sir.”

    By this point, we were beyond apology as Shiny looked back and forth between the two of us, bemused or maybe just confused, studying us for any differences, but not in this mode he wouldn’t find any. Like he was so shocked to realize we’re identical. Of course, that still didn’t stop Cloudraker from trying to turboweasel his way out.

    “My idiot brother does this all the time -”

    “He’s just making excuses, sir.”

    “Shut up! I’m not – Sir I -”

    It was at that point, Shiny wasn’t sure what to do. He turned away to get Hardhead to intervene or something. Hardhead called us to attention and spoiled the fun.

    “Recent academy grads. No one’s learned to tell them apart, yet. Not that it matters. They’ll respond to either name.”

    That’s when Shiny got mad, staring at us real hard, like he had met his match and we were a challenge to him, a puzzle he couldn’t solve. That’s when he gave us an order and we got stuck doing transform-ups.

    “It was a challenge and that’s how he figured it out,” came a voice from behind me, nearly making me drop my datapad. It was just Cloudraker again.

    “Don’t do that! You’re a plane, so why don’t you go hover somewhere else? Like over there.”

    “Yeah, I’m a plane and you’re a car. That’s how Sunstreaker, or Shiny as you call him, figured out who was who.”

    “He just got lucky! There’s no way he could have known that before hand. Of course if you’d played along -”

    “Did you see the way he was sizing us up the whole time you were blabbering? He was testing a theory. It was creepy, like he was trying to dissect us just by looking at us!”

    “And here I thought you started shaking because you were scared of him.” I laughed, but my brother fell silent and I realized I’d said something wrong. I turned to face him. “Sorry I…slag. Did it really start that early?”

    “Yeah, but it didn’t really get bad until…”

    “You need more air?”

    “I always need ‘more air.’ ” Cloudraker gave me a faint smile. “But I’ll be fine until the doc gets here. You’re the one who’s injured.”

    I looked at my hand that I could barely move as I was writing my report with my other one.

    “I’ll be fine,” I said trying not to wince at the pain.

    “Now who’s lying?” Cloudraker asked, coming over to my side as we waited outside medical in the lounge. “ ‘Shiny’ is our nemesis.”

    While we were stuck doing those transform-ups, Shiny made his way back to the head of the line.

    “You,” he said and motioned to a gray robot.

    “Camshaft, sir.”

    “Attack me.”


    Shiny responded by grabbing Camshaft and flipping him to the floor. It happened so fast!

    “Never hesitate in battle,” Shiny said and looked up at the blue-winged robot next in line eager for a fight.

    “Do better,” Shiny told him.

    “Dogfight,” the blue mech informed him as he threw the first punch. Shiny dodged it as Dogfight overextended, overbalanced, and fell over with the smallest push from our new instructor. I admit, I laughed.

    “Never be in such a hurry that you’re sloppy either.”

    It sounded like contradictory advice to me, but Shiny didn’t dwell on it as he moved on down the row to an orange and yellow mech. We all waited to se what would happen next. And waited. And waited.

    “Well?” Shiny asked.

    “I have to find the perfect opening first.”

    In some ways I couldn’t blame the guy. Shiny was handing us our afts one by one. Or maybe Camshaft and Dogfight just didn’t know how to fight, not like my bro and I did. I admit, I didn’t know any of these mechs. We were all Autobots, but none of the others seemed academy trained like us. Cloudraker and I would show Shiny what we had. Little did we know not everyone, including us, would get that chance today.

    “I’m not even going to ask your name,” Shiny told the orange and yellow mech, “because in real combat you’d be dead by now. Pathetic!”

    “But -”

    Shiny held up a hand to silence him, shaking his head. His face had the same disgusted look he’d given us before. He moved on, but the next mech in line suddenly wasn’t there.

    “His name is Crosshairs.” We were all surprised to hear the words came from behind Shiny, as he blocked a punch at the last second from a white and maroon mech.

    “And yours?” Shiny punched back, but the mech dodged it.

    “How about I tell you if you beat me?”

    The words were bold, but they seemed to be what Shiny wanted as he smiled. I know who all of us were rooting for at that point and if any of us saw any of the white and maroon mech’s moves coming Shiny’s way, we weren’t going to warn him. We watched the two of them dance around each other for a little while. It didn’t last long though as Shiny delivered a punch to the other mech’s gut that white and maroon wasn’t prepared for. Shiny finished him off with a two-fisted chop to the back and stood triumphantly over…

    “Getaway,” the mech relented.

    “But no escape this time.”

    “That wasn’t diffusion. I want to learn what you just did,” Getaways said as he got back on his feet.

    “Think you can keep up?” Shiny raised an optic ridge.

    “I know I can.”

    “Never get overconfident with your opponent,” Shiny warned, his smile from the skirmish now faded.

    “We’ll see,” Getaway said and stepped back in line.

    But I liked Getaway even if Shiny remained unimpressed. I began to anticipate our turn. The fact that no one had been able to punch Shiny yet didn’t worry me.


    “Well, it didn’t worry me much, okay Cloudraker.”

    “Was that before or after he fought Hardhead?”

    “I still think we could have taken him if -”

    “If what? ‘Shiny’ may be shiny, but he proved he’s a great fighter.”

    “Don’t you have your own report to make out or something?”

    “Yeah, but it’s so much more fun to watch you write yours. Besides, we only need one between the two of us.”

    “Well, in that case,” I shoved the datapad in my brother’s direction, “you can take dictation for us.”

    “I thought Shiny only hurt one hand.”

    “He did, but you know I’m not used to writing this long with my other hand.”

    “You are such a protoform, Fastlane,” Cloudraker teased, but he took the datapad anyway.

    “It’s the least you owe me after I gallantly defended you.”

    Cloudraker shook his head. “My hero. Still think you could take Sunstreaker after even after what he did to your hand?”

    I didn’t respond. Okay, so maybe Cloudraker was right.

    “But thanks for standing up to Shiny like that bro.”

    “Anytime,” I smiled.

    My turn!” A gray, white and orange mech balled his fists, chomping at the bit to fight. “Name’s Sprocket! And I already know how to pit fight like that!”

    Without hesitation, Sprocket smiled and launched himself an attack fit to kill. Even though Shiny was a fellow Autobot, Sprocket didn’t hold back. Our new combat instructor smiled back just as menacing and waited for the right moment. Instead of countering force with force, he countered Sprocket with a classic diffusion technique, something a bot would learn in Fighting 101. But it was what he did next that impressed us. He did something, I don’t even know what, that immobilized Sprocket from getting up, just by touching him in a certain place.

    “Never announce what style of fighting you intend to use on your opponent.”

    “What was that last technique?” Sprocket asked, while still looking up at Shiny from where he’d landed on the floor.

    “Circuitlocution,” Sunstreaker said, “which you will all be learning. My job is to teach you glitches how to fight with real battlefield techniques. Your enemy doesn’t care about anything but destroying you. Your job is to destroy them first by any means possible. Anyone who can’t stomach that can leave now, ‘cause you’re not going to be any slagin’ use to anyone if you can’t stay alive. Diffusion’s only useful for deflecting blows so you can remain ‘shiny,’ which is never a bad thing, but only if you’re so good that the enemy can’t touch you. Not one of you has been good enough to even scratch my paint! You want me to fight dirty, you have to fight dirty yourselves. And always have more than one trick in your arsenal if you want to win.”

    Shiny casted a glance in Hardhead’s direction. I doubt our old academy instructor had any use for finesse, but he grunted in approval at Shiny’s mention of “real world battle techniques.” Shiny scanned down the students for their reactions too. Camshaft looked worried. Dogfight was eager. Crosshairs held a sour expression. His hand went to where a gun would have rested if not currently subspaced. Maybe he was a gunner, not a fighter or something. Getaway was calm and listening, while Sprocket hung on Shiny’s words, ready for another fight at an astrosecond’s notice. But all I could keep thinking was that my bro and I were next and we’d show Shiny and all of them that even if we couldn’t beat him, we’d hold out longer than the rest.

    So you can imagine how I felt when Shiny passed right over us without saying a word and started walking back over toward Hardhead. Now I know instructors like to keep their students guessing sometimes, but it was like we weren’t even there to him. Though he had to know we were there, because we were still doing those slaging transform-ups! Didn’t he need to know what we could do? I couldn’t help myself.

    “Hey, what about us?” I blurted to that gleaming back that nearly made me sunblind the way the light bounced off it and I ceased my transform-ups long enough to raise an hand and shade my optics.

    Shiny stopped and turned, sending one more blinding glare of light at the movement. I refocused and saw his tightlipped, contemptuous expression.

    “Did I say you were done with those?”


    “Eighty more then for stoping and talking without permission.” Then he walked away like we were nothing again.

    It took everything I had not to say anything at all. I saw Cloudraker shaking and gritting his teeth. At that moment, I thought it was because he was as angry as me, or maybe at me for giving us more punishment. Otherwise, I would have noticed the signs of his distress earlier. As it was, Shiny managed to remain the center of attention as he motioned to Hardhead.

    “Care to help me show these glitches how it’s done?”

    Good old Hardhead grunted in response. There was never a time he wasn’t ready to fight. This was a sparing match all of us couldn’t tear our optics away from. I tried to hurry through the rest of my transform-ups so I could enjoy it to the fullest. I might have skipped a few, but for once I was glad our instructor paid us no notice.

    Hardhead smiled and stepped into position. His heavy footsteps echoed around the room, more than eager to see what Sunstreaker was truly made of and how worthy Shiny was of being his superior and to pound the perfection out of him if he wasn’t. Sunstreaker grinned as if he’d finally met a worthy opponent, or maybe that malicious glint in his optics just meant he’d enjoy taking down someone who could last more than an astrominute against him.

    “A round of energon says Double ‘H’ takes Shiny,” I whispered to Cloudraker. All I got back was an indignant “Shhh!” so I ignored to him to finish up his transform-ups or whatever and watched the fight. I should have known better than to ignore Cloudy like that though.

    For the moment, however, I watched Hardhead advance. His bulk was meant to intimidate, not that Shiny was a small mech by any means, but compared to Hardhead, it was obvious who the winner was in terms of brute strength. But it wasn’t sheer mass that made ol’ Double ‘H’ intimidating. I’ve seen bigger mechs than Hardhead, it’s the fact that every inch of him was reinforced with twice as thick titanium steel as everyone else. All of Shiny’s fancy moves wouldn’t mean a thing if he couldn’t find an opening. They played a game of advance and retreat as Shiny would move in hoping to get in a blow, testing the armor, then forced to draw back before he got pounded. To his credit, he didn’t seem worried about that though, swift enough that Hardhead couldn’t touch him as he would always dance out of range, patiently waiting for his next attempt to strike a real blow. I had to admit, I was expecting Double ‘H’ to have a bigger advantage, but the two were evenly matched.

    There were audible clangs as Shiny’s fists made contact with Hardhead’s impenetrable armor, but even he wasn’t stupid enough t o got for a head shot. Double ‘H’ just smiled. He was used to such frustrated reactions. But his inability to touch Sunstreaker proved equally stalemate. We wondered how much longer this could go on, unaware that each probe of Shiny’s caused him to recalculate his strategy as Double ‘H’ ’s blows loomed ever closer. It looked like Shiny’s speed was slowing down.

    A big hand descended and Shiny twisted. This time Double ‘H’ connected with a glancing blow hit to Shiny’s back. Shiny ignored it as he continued his arc under Hardhead’s arm, coming up behind him. Then before anyone could register his movement, Hardhead grunted as the heat from an energon knife Shiny had pulled from subspace bit into his neck. I gasped as my intakes cycled. Tough as Double ‘H’ was, he was just as vulnerable as anyone else in that position. Just like that, the match was over, but any Autobot knew he’d employed the lowest trick to do it. Weapons were forbidden in basic hand-to-hand training, unless specifically stated beforehand.

    “Cheater.” Hardhead tried to find a way to maneuver out of his predicament, but the lock Shiny had him in was such that even if he didn’t have the knife, he was in the perfect position to snap Hardhead’s neck. The blade was additional insurance and Shiny grinned like a turbofox.

    “Doesn’t make you any less dead, does it?”

    Hardhead was forced to relent, but Sunstreaker didn’t release him yet. He issued a well-placed kick to the back of Hardhead’s legs as the big green mech sank to his knees, having lost sudden feeling in his limbs. A final act of circuitlocution to finish the job. As poor Double ‘H’ worked out trying to feel his legs again, Shiny let go of his opponent, subspaced his knife, and addressed us again. Whether out of awe or shock, most of us were dumbfounded except for Sprocket who clapped. I think that mech might be missing a few cogs somewhere.

    “Anything goes in combat. There is no honor, no fair play, only death. Do better than your enemy and you’ll survive. Don’t let them yield or surrender. You do whatever it takes to win. The good news is, you protoforms have me to teach you how to do that. Understand.”

    Despite Shiny’s arrogance, the lessons by example were starting to sink in as there was a murmur of “yes sirs” all around, well, except from Cloundraker beside me. Maybe that’s why Shiny chose to start the next round of demonstrations with him.

    “Cloudraker,” Sunstreaker addressed the jet on my right, “time to show me what you’ve got.”

    But Cloudraker didn’t respond. He transformed back to robot mode, from doing the last of his punishment exercises, but he stayed down and shaking, unable to rise. That’s when I realized I had to do something, so I stepped forward.

    “That would be me,” I said.

    “Nice try Fastlane,” Shiny smirked, “but the game’s over.”

    “But he’s not -”

    “I don’t care anymore! He’s first, not you!” Shiny pointed to my still shaking twin.

    It was a good thing the superior smirk disappeared too, because I wanted to slap it off him. Couldn’t he see that something was wrong with Cloudy and that I could are less about jokes!

    “He’s not well!” I helped Cloudraker as he struggled to stand.

    “I-I’m fine, Fastlane,” Cloudy tried to shake me off, but his vibrating only got worse. “Just a dizzy spell, I’ll be -”

    “No, you won’t!” I protested.

    “He says he’s fine,” Shiny echoed my brother’s words to my horror as he watched us with growing impatience. He could wait until he rusted for all I cared.

    “I need to do this,” Cloudraker urged.

    Bless my bro! He always tries to be brave about his fear, but I knew he was just being stubborn.

    “Hey!” Cloudraker interjected, but he continued taking dictation. This part wasn’t easy for either of us. It was a good thing we were alone in the waiting room so no one else could hear.

    “Then we’ll take him together,” I said, still holding onto Cloudraker.

    I didn’t know Autobot optics could grow a shade that cold as Shiny’s blue ones turned almost white. In that astrosecond I knew it wasn’t just my defiance he hated. Could such a perfect looking warrior really despise weakness so much?

    “One at a time,” the words were an order in themselves.

    Cloudraker tried to step forward, but collapsed to his knees with a cry. Shiny moved forward, but I blocked the path to my brother.

    “Get up!” It was another command, but Cloudraker continued to moan. “What the slag’s wrong with him?”

    “He’s a jet! Being inside makes him claustrophobic!” I blurted, explaining it all.

    “Inside where?”

    “Anywhere if it’s for too long!”

    Any spark of curiosity turned again to disgust from Shiny. He looked away, maybe trying to get confirmation from Hardhead who was still numb and rtying to stand himself so he could come over and help sort this out. But the real disgust was with myself for not noticing Cloudy’s plight earlier. I normally notice the signs of my bro’s panic attacks a lot sooner. But not even Double ‘H’ knew about them. We always did our best to hide them back at the academy. And this was the worst one I’d seen in a while. But Shiny didn’t care about any of that.

    “Pathetic! Well, he’s just going to have to get over it. Out of my way!”


    “That’s an order!”

    I stood firm.

    Shiny stepped forward like he was going to push past. That’s when I –

    “Let him have it?” Cloudraker said, raising an optic ridge. “Assaulted a superior officer in violation of a direct order in the gallant defense of your brother?”

    “How can it be assault when he caught the punch and crushed my hand!?”

    “That’s what Shiny called it.”

    “And you really think that’s going to stand, especially if Double ‘H’ has anything to say about it?”

    “Maybe that’s why Shiny ordered us to hightail it to the medical bay before ‘H’ could protest.”

    “More likely Shiny didn’t want to have to deal with the two of us anymore, weaklings he thinks we are.”

    “Just as well. I could wait to get out of there for clear skies anyway.”

    “Think anyone minds that we took a detour outside on our way to medical?”

    “Who cares! I needed to fly for a while,” Cloudraker smiles at me. “I’m just glad you’re here with me and not stuck in the brig.”

    “Next time Shiny swore we would be, but yeah, getting injured is worth it, if it means I get to stay with you.”

    So there’s our report. As you can see, we were totally not a fault and just looking out for each other, like any brothers would or since most Autobots don’t have one, any fellow Autobot would for his fellows in the face of –

    “I am not writing that down!”


    “Do it yourself. I’m done dictating. Besides, the doc’s finally calling us.”

    “He’s staring at us.”

    “They always stare at us.”

    Anyway now you know why and how Shiny became our nemesis and all I can say is for the next class is game on!

    * * *

    From the personal datalog of CMO Ratchet:

    Of all the things to walk into my repair bay today. There is no escape, even up here on Cybertron, from twins apparently.

    I guess you could call them a “highlight” to an otherwise slow medical day, slow in terms of repairs that is. The paperwork is another matter. Infinite refugees that need endless processing and check-ups, yet seem to have lost most to all of their previous medical records in the ensuing chaos of fleeing to Iacon. Not that I can blame them for that. I’m used to having little to nothing to go on in assessing a patient’s condition. Still, you’d think Cybertron would have made some strides against excess bureaucracy in the last four million years and of all the things to survive back up systems for medical files might be of paramount importance. But no! Which means I’m starting from square one with a lot of these neutrals, while trying to create a brand new medical database that ends up eating my time with even more paperwork, which good as my new staff is, explains why they’re still exhausted when according to them, there hasn’t been a full medibay in quantum cycles. Still, I know how these things work. Come the next attack, they’ll be another wave of refugee patients to repair and the processing of records will get even further behind, a never ending cycle of war and paperwork, which explains how bored and sick of it all I had to be already to consider Fastlane and Cloudraker the most interesting part of the day.

    It only made me want to hit the high grade even more. Maybe after I finished this stack of slagin’ reports.

    Smelt it! I headed to the senior staff lounge. When I got there, I poured a mug, wondering how the home brew tasted these days beyond field rations.

    I took a sip and savored, tasting of nostalgia and the more metallic tang of Earth energon. Much as I enjoyed some of what we had come up with on our adopted planet, nothing beat Iaconian in my processor. Not that the base carried anything of very high quality. But it was a taste of home that gave me the first true feeling that I was glad to be back on Cybertron. For the moment I could let my guard down and relax.

    The senior staff lounge was filled with faces both old and new, but all familiar. By new, I meant those with recent promotions as opposed to anyone Magnus had left in charge. If they chose to relax, they did it in a separate place, I guess. I reached for a seat at the table where Prowl, Ironhide, Cliffjumper, Bumblebee, and Brawn sat. I was surprised to hear them in conversation about, you guessed it, everyone’s favorite “highlight.” I should have known!

    “So I turn around an’ there’s another one behind me! A second one who swears he’s the first one and that m’ optics need an adjustment. I jus’ ‘bout thought ‘im right and started runnin’ a self diagnostic ‘til I realized I weren’t seein’ double, that they were double. What kind of microchip was their creator chewing on when he created those two little smeltin’ identical little slaggers?” Ironhide complained.

    “I surmise the purpose of their creation was to instill those very emotions of confusion for distraction purposes against the enemy.” Ironhide glared at Prowl. He was looking for sympathy not a lecture. Not that Prowl was the type of bot to console anybody. “That these clones choose to utilize those same techniques against their instructors is…” Prowl took a sip of energon, choosing his words more carefully than usual, “problematic.”

    “So what’d they pull on you?” Ironhide asked, suddenly interested that perhaps he wasn’t the only officer who had fallen for something. Prowl continued to sip his energon thoughtfully.

    “Determination of individual identities was threatening to take up more instruction time than expected.”

    “Uh huh. How much time?”

    Prowl paused to take renewed interest in his drink, but the optics of everyone at the table weren’t going to let his stay silent for long.
    “I am confident I will come up with a solution to apply within the next few solar cycles.”

    “Ha! A few daysssh! Your big procccceshsor has no idea who’ssss who doesssh it?” Cliffjumper leaned his small body as far as he could across the table as he could, trying to get in Prowl’s face. He sounded like he’d already past the high grade limit his frame would allow, wanting to take advantage of the better blends being a senior officer supposedly got. I could have told him they were much the same. Prowl ignored Cliffjumper until he’d drained the last of his own mug, trying to keep a tight reign on his own emotions. Smiles and chuckles stared back at him from all of us.

    “Jus’ wait until you have yer first encounter with’em short stuff,” Ironhide said, still having his own shame to live down, though he appreciated the company in Prowl, even if Prowl didn’t. There was nothing Prowl hated more than a puzzle he couldn’t solve.

    All of us were drowned out though by the sudden guffaw that erupted from the back of the lounge. Genuine laughter, the first since his arrival back on Cybertron, made Sunstreaker’s presence known. His quiet presence was not one I had noticed upon entering the lounge. Sunstreaker had chosen an unobtrusive chair in the back half facing away from the table to work on his drawings. This odd habit of invisibility he was developing disturbed me. But now all optics turned their attention to him. It still took a full astrominute or two for Sunstreaker’s laughter to die down. The duration of it making Prowl and Ironhide more uncomfortable the longer it lasted.

    “I can’t believe you fell for all that slag!” Sunstreaker shook his head, unable to quit the smile that lit up his face in a pleasant way not normally seen.

    “I supposed you have the solution all figured out?” Prowl’s optics narrowed skeptically.

    “Besides the obvious?” Sunstreaker chuckled, threatening another round of laughing amusement.

    Prowl’s brow ridge creased.

    “Alright, genius,” Ironhide demanded. “What’s the answer?”

    “One’s a car. One’s a plane. Hardly identical. Maybe you need that diagnostic after all, old timer.” Sunstreaker’s smile changed to his more familiar malicious smirk before he turning back to drawing as he stretched the fingers in his left hand, trying to avoid a cramp and switched the stylus to his right. How long had he been at that in the past few solar cycles, I wondered.

    “Why you -” Ironhide rose out of his chair, swaying a bit as he did. He’d apparently been knocking back a lot more energon before I got here.

    “Ironhide,” Prowl warned, placing a hand on his arm, but frowned at Sunstreaker, still trying to calculate how he had deduced what Prowl hadn’t about the clones.

    I had done the same double take as everyone else when Fastlane and Cloudraker had appeared in my medibay. The alt modes were well hidden, but the structural differences of their transformations became noticeable even in robot form to a trained optic like mine as I’d given them the onceover. It didn’t surprise me at all that Sunstreaker, as a twin himself and with his keen attention to detail, could spot the difference between another pair. Such identity tricks had always been a favorite of the Lambos in their early days with Prime’s unit. Not that they were as identical as the clones in robot mode. But their similar alt modes, the occasional yellow paint the normally red one liked to sport, and the number of “S’s” in their names (especially when one insisted he’d been called by the wrong name again) kept us guessing those first few lunar cycles. Everyone was sure it was Sunswipe and Sidestreaker or whatever until Sunstreaker himself (as would become the custom for many of their pranks) got tired of their antics and made his individuality known by sheer force of his “glowing” personality and attitude not to be mistaken for “second best” by anyone. So it made perfect sense that Sunstreaker found everyone’s failure to tell the clones apart to be hilarious. And if the clones were anything like our Lambos, this was only the beginning of their pranks. I hid a smile behind my raised glass of energon which I sipped.

    Ironhide sat again, but added, “ ‘Course, makes sense now. I’d a’ sent them to the brig if I’d a’ figured out which one to send sooner. But you prefer sendin’ anyone who annoys you to medical, don’t ya? Just like Kup and Hot Rod!”

    Sunstreaker’s head snapped up from his work to face Ironhide’s accusing glare. The yellow Lambos’s jaw was grim and tight, so tight the gears ground together, always a bad habit of Sunstreaker’s that he still had, even after the number of times I’ve warned him about the repair involved in wearing those gears down. All optics were on the golden mech again as word of Sunstreaker’s latest misconduct had gotten around.

    “Fastlane disobeyed a direct order and is guilty of assaulting a superior officer. I was well within my authority,” Sunstreaker gazing coldly back at Ironhide. Kup was a good friend of Ironhide’s. It was uncertain when, if ever, he would forgive the Lambos for what they had done, permanent damage or not.

    “Hardhead’s report stated as much,” Prowl said, currently neutral, until he was sure he had all the facts.

    “Does that authority include makin’ an example outta a fellow Autobot who’s clearly outmatched? From what I heard, Fastlane, if that’s which one it was, never laid a finger on you. You caught that punch easy!” Ironhide jabbed an accusing finger. I didn’t miss his calling into question Sunstreaker’s ability to gage which clone had assaulted him as well as his command ability.

    Sunstreaker’s optics narrowed.

    “It’s the medical emergency involving Cloudraker that concerns me and how you ignored it until Fastlane intervened,” Prowl studied Sunstreaker for a reaction, but Sunstreaker just continued to stare down his accusers. “I would have thought you of all mechs might have been more sympathetic to the plight of this twin given your own -”

    “He don’t care Prowl!” Ironhide snapped. “Don’t you know by now? He don’t care about anybody but himself an’ getting’ his way! So he mutilates a cadet for ‘disobeying orders.’ Like those Lambos know anything about obeyin’ orders in the first place!”

    Sunstreaker gritted his teeth. Ironhide rose again, less shaky this time, but still using a chair for support. Sunstreaker crossed the lounge ready for a fight. Ironhide motioned him on with a hand. Prowl stood, seeing what was brewing. I stepped between Ironhide and Sunstreaker, breaking them up with a hand placed on each of their chestplates.

    “Power down now!” Prowl demanded. “That is an order!”

    “This ends now,” I added. “Or you can both say hello to your new roommate. I am done repairing for the day!” I glared at each of them for as long as they continued to stare at each other as the astroseconds dragged past. I heard the strain of cables as Sunstreaker clenched and unclenched his fists. Ironhide’s remained balled tight.

    “Disobey orders?” Sunstreaker kept one optic on Ironhide, but turned his head slightly to take in Prowl at the table. “Yeah, I’m really disobey orders a lot, coming here, alone, to Cybertron away from my brother who’s still stuck on Earth, sir!” Sunstreaker spat, letting the obedience linger at those he blamed for posting him here. He knocked my hand away from his chestplate and stalked toward the door. He was almost gone when a voice rang out behind him.

    “Forgetting ssshomething?” Cliffjumper held up Sunstreaker’s drawing pad from the arm of the chair where he’d left it.

    The lounge remained stark silent as Sunstreaker turned back to the red minibot holding the prized possession.

    “Well, come n’ get it!” he dared in a slurring voice.

    Primus! This was the last thing any of us needed.

    “Wonder what I’d find on thissssh ssssshecurity blanket?” Cliffjumper teased a finger over the button that would light up the display of whatever Sunstreaker had last been working on. Unlike the oversized Earth tablets made from pulped trees, the metal Cybertronian tablet was a lot cleaner and more efficient to work with. They were the standard preferred by most inventors, architects, and artists of our culture. Sunstreaker had taken to favoring it again since his return to Cybertron. “Wouldn’t be picturessss of the brother you’re pining after would it? Afraid to be on your own?”

    “Enough, Cliffjumper!” came Prowl’s command as Sunstreaker loomed ever closer toward the minibot.

    Cliffjumper just stared up at the yellow Lambo towering over him now, apparently beyond fear in his drunken state. “Wat’cha goooonna do? Silencssshe me like you did lasssht week? Doc won’t like that.”

    So it had been the yellow rather than red twin’s handiwork like I’d figured and from the way Sunstreaker’s jaw gears ground, he was contemplating it again or worse. Only the knowledge that three senior officers would witness the crime this time gave him pause.

    “Be careful Cliff, never stopped ‘im b’fore,” Ironhide put in. “Violence is all he understands.”

    “Muffle it Ironhide,” I said. “You don’t want to be next. I might just let you stay silent.”

    “Ooh, techy, Doc.”

    “I came here to get a peaceful mug of energon, not more repairs!”

    “Good luck with that with this crowd,” Brawn muttered.

    “Anyone who starts a fight will have more than a trip to medical to worry about,” said Prowl.

    “Just give it back ‘Jumper,” Bumblebee urged.

    After a moment of consideration at the sour faces around him and less for the murderous one above, Cliffjumper relented held out the tablet.

    “Wassss jus’ havin’ ssshome fun,” he said as Sunstreaker snatched it up with such force that either it hit Cliffjumper or he was so drunk he just fell over. Either was the minibot ended up on his skidplate as Sunsteaker stalked out of the room.

    “Good riddance!” Cliffjumper called just within audio shot and Ironhide gave an approving “hmmph.”

    It was only a few astrominutes later when Jazz walked in.

    “Hey, just got off the ol’ punch out. I miss anything good?” He poured a mug and caught the looks that old him he was someone late to the party. “What?”

    As Jazz was eventually filled in and talk droned on about a subject I was tired of, I tried to let my processor wander and concentrate on my energon, but questions about my medical opinion on the clone twins incident brought me back. Cloudraker’s phobia was a subject of some concern and interest. There was nothing I could do for it on a physical level, seeing as the attack had passed by the time they’d made it to medical. I did give orders for him to go and see Silverbolt for some mentor counseling. Though their fears stemmed from different places, their shared experiences should prove beneficial to each other.

    I also gave both clones a standard check-up in addition to repairing Fastlane’s “crushed” hand. The damage was delicately deliberate, not unlike Kup and Hot Rod’s injuries, done to send a message. If not for the excess pressure damage in a few key spots, Fastlane’s injuries would have amounted to the similar bruising I’d experienced myself at my roommate’s hands the night before and would have been considered low priority to earn Fastlane a few hours in the brig first for his insubordination instead of accompanying his brother to medical. And for Cloudraker’s peace of mind, I’m sure he was glad to have his brother in his time of distress. Rare was it for Sunstreaker and Sideswipe not to come into my domain together, even if only one was the injured party. The other always wanted to be there to keep a vigil, refusing to leave, even over the most minor thing until repairs were done or I was forced to kick one out for getting in the way or for his own well-being. From what I’d observed of Fastlane and Cloudraker, they operated just the same. Twins were twins.

    It made me curious for a moment. Fastlane’s assault on Sunstreaker had resulted in an easily caught punch, so why injure him? Some would say that was just Sunstreaker getting his point across. But I wondered…and it didn’t even occur to me until thinking back over Sunstreaker’s precision technique…that maybe that injury had been to keep Fastlane out of the brig and with Cloudraker in medical without anyone knowing why. Was the motivation for the injury subconscious even to Sunstreaker? How many times had Sunstreaker or Sideswipe “remembered” an old injury they’d forgotten about so they could stay and watch over their brother when I threatened to kick them out?

    Then again, the way the clones talked about their new shiny nemesis, maybe Sunstreaker’s disdain for seeing the very thing he was missing flaunted about as a constant unknowing reminder in the clone twins really was a warning against pulling typical twin behavior against him. Maybe I was letting my own medical curiosity get the better of me. Maybe there was nothing to it. Precision was always part of Sunstreaker’s m.o. Still, I wondered…it was worth keeping an optic on. Till then, I’d keep such thoughts to myself.

    When asked follow-up questions about my opinion regarding Sunstreaker’s “growing aggression” Jazz was keen to point out that my roommate hadn’t killed me yet. The others seemed to agree that Jazz and Prowl had chosen well regarding room assignments. I wasn’t going to mention last night’s “incident” that might prove them wrong, to spare my own embarrassment as much for doctor/patient confidentiality. Brawn mentioned to Jazz my “threat” to pair Ironhide with Sunstreaker seeing it more as a joke. I didn’t take it as lightly. My concern over Sunstreaker’s aggression had as much to do with its cause as much as its effect and I made certain to reiterate what that was. I remarked that Sunstreaker was a more pleasant roommate than Cliffjumper and Ironhide were if tonight was any indication and extended my condolences to Jazz and Brawn for being stuck with them. Drunk or not, I found their behavior tonight out of line. If any of them feared the golden warrior for a roommate I said they might want to ask themselves why and what they had to regret. By now Cliffjumper had passed out, my mug was empty, and I had not managed to relax. I was tired and had paperwork to get back to. (Joy!) I excused myself and headed back to my quarters.

    My roommate had beaten me back, choosing to retire here rather than go anywhere else. I considered doing my work in my office. But I really hate that office and Sunstreaker was content to ignore me completely, sitting on his bunk and leaning against the wall, drawing yet again. He responded to my brief greeting only snapping his optics up long enough to confirm it was me and not some unwanted intruder and grunted a hello. Then it was back to engaging himself in the world of whatever his current subject was. I settled on my own bunk and grabbed the top datapad off a too-tall stack I’d brought in and engaged myself in the wonderful world of paperwork.
    I’m not sure how long I remained in that world before the noise started. Just the occasional grunt or two at first that turned into a growl and an increasing creak of cables lasting long enough to reach annoying. In my distraction, I looked over at my roommate and watched him for an astrominute and, after a brief scan, quickly deduced the problem. I sorted out and grabbed the proper tools I needed then proceeded to his side of the room.

    “Let me see,” I demanded, knowing I wouldn’t get any peace until I had fixed it.

    Sunstreaker gave me a suspicious look at first and tilted his tablet inward toward his chest so I couldn’t tell what was on it, just to be on the safe side, I guess. But from vorns of being my patient, he knew what I was really after as he thrust out his left hand for examination. I sat down on the end of his bunk to work and for a closer examination. Just as I thought. The paint was scrapped off his knuckles and the cables were jarred and strained from hitting fist first into an impenetrable surface, like Hardhead’s reinforced armor from their earlier sparring match. Despite winning, he hadn’t escaped unscathed and like a proud warrior had chosen to ignore his “minor” injury, pride winning out over vanity. It was the same reason I bet I hadn’t seen Hardhead yet either.

    The injury might have gone unnoticed for a while too if not for Sunstreaker’s favorite hobby. I’d noticed the oddity earlier in the lounge as Sunstreaker had tried drawing with his right hand. Transformers are by nature ambidextrous. Such a thing wouldn’t have been a bother to anyone else. The Lambo twins are different. Sunstreaker was what humans referred to as a natural lefty, favoring that side for everything from weapons use to drawing. Sideswipe in complete mirror image favored the right. It was not something your average doctor would know to look for, but vorns of knowing the Lambos had keyed me into many of the unique indiosyncracies of their siliconology. In fact, I’d recorded earlier that day that Fastlane and Cloudraker showed a preference as well, only both favored the right side, perhaps a result of the cloning process instead of the natural spark splitting of the Lambos.

    I tweaked the cables and ran an exodermal regenerator over Sunstreaker’s hand. That would take care of the worst or it and put things back in working order. Perhaps some soreness lasted, but it was well deserved, especially if he insisted on immediate use after fixing. Sunstreaker didn’t care as he flexed his left hand and then tested out some strokes with his stylus. He said a quick but approving “thanks, Doc” before getting right back to work, leaving me none the wiser about his subject matter.

    I wish I could have been as enthusiastic about my own work. The simple repair job had been a more welcome distraction than I’d anticipated. But those under my command expected me to at least put in an effort for this hopeless task.

    I’d gotten through another full datapad and a half before the frustrated noises started again from Sunstreaker. I glanced over. The left hand was fine, erasing furiously. Ah, an artistic problem. I tried to ignore it as the noise ebbed then grew then ebbed again.

    A loud thud impacted the wall a few feet away from my bunk putting me on alert. I looked down. Sunstreaker’s tablet. I thought about confiscating the thing for some peace and quiet, but knew that would fly as I picked it up off the floor. It had landed face up with the light display still on. An unfinished drawing of Sideswipe stared back at me. So Cliffjumper had guessed right. I couldn’t completely hide my smile as Sunstreaker hurried across the room to retrieve his tablet, countenance sour as ever. He knew I’d seen his work.
    “It’s good,” I observed, holding the tablet back out to him.

    Sunstreaker shook his head with a snort. If he thought I was humoring him, I wasn’t. He reached for his tablet back. He let out a frustrated sigh as he saw his drawing again.

    “What’s wrong with it?” I asked.

    We both stood there each holding an end of the tablet and studied the picture. It was what I assumed to be a typical pose of Sideswipe. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary to me except that the face was unfinished, having been drawn and erased several times. Why that would be reason to throw it into a wall I wasn’t sure, unless it was just Sunstreaker’s perfectionist tendencies.

    “I can’t get him to smile,” Sunstreaker confessed.

    He sighed, this time with a sudden weariness that made me wonder when the last time he had recharged was. He’d disappeared last night and wasn’t in our quarters when I’d woke the next morning. Had he recharged in that time at all since his nightmare? The lack of it could certainly be a contributing factor to his behavior lately.

    “Why can’t I get him to smile!?” Sunstreaker’s frustration returned as he started at the picture wanting answers. “I shouldn’t have a problem drawing my own brother! That’s ‘what’s wrong with it!’ ” He snapped and glared at me, but I realized it was directed to the room in a general lashing out at the nearest thing and not just at me.

    How should I know what the slag his problem was? I frowned, wanting to glare back, but I looked down at the drawing again. I knew nothing about art, but I knew what Sunstreaker was trying to capture – that cheeky grin of Sideswipe’s that always tried to hide a much more innocent being than he really was.

    “What usually makes him smile?” I asked, trying to remember the last time I’d seen Sideswipe with that expression. It was hard to think of Sideswipe without that automatic smile immediately coming to mind. I gave up, being too tired to care. I was about to suggest that my roommate get some recharge so he could focus in the morning. Before I could mention it, Sunstreaker became intensely thoughtful in his expression. He looked at me in such a way I that I could see the lightbulb going off and the cogs turning.

    “Thanks, Doc,” he said, (wow, my second of the night) prompted by whatever revelation my words had led to. It was a revelation I was not going to be let in on either as he took his tablet back, but I was rewarded with a smile. No smirk or anything reminiscent of his usually countenance, but something handsome and genuine. A rare gift from someone like Sunstreaker. It was Sideswipe’s smile and yet, not. So much alike and yet so different, a mirror image. It was the type of smile you couldn’t help but return, so I did. Hmm, had that been the answer Sunstreaker had been looking for?

    I knew I wasn’t going to get through another datapad tonight so I decided to turn in. How long my roommate stayed up due to his second wind of inspiration, I don’t know. When I woke the next morning, I saw something new tacked on the wall above Sunstreaker’s bunk, a drawing printout of him and his twin, together and laughing.

    * * *

    Dear Pollux,

    There are times when the doc-bot can be a genius, whether he knows it or not. Not that I’d ever tell him.

    I was worried when I couldn’t draw you, Sides. Had I lost your image in my mind as well as the feeling in my spark? I didn’t even want to go there. Every time I tried to picture you happy it was like some fading memory. Then something Ratch said made me realize why.

    You wouldn’t smile if I wasn’t there with you. When you smile in those pictures, it’s always ‘cause you’re looking at me. So I drew us together so we both have a reason to smile again. I’ve sent you one too, since the sky won’t cooperate for either of us, but I haven’t given up.

    Never alone,

  9. Swiftcat Prime

    Swiftcat Prime Good always triumphs!

    Sep 14, 2009
    Trophy Points:
    I just love how the Lambo twins are so close, and a rare smile from Sunny. I do feel sorry for Fastlane and Cloudraker, I love their nickname for Sunstreaker "Shiny" :lol 
  10. Fairlady_Z

    Fairlady_Z Official Voice of Flareup

    Sep 27, 2005
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    Thanks. The nickname thing just sort of happened. But it seemed to evolve into a trait of theirs, kind like how Sawyer on Lost has nicknames for everyone.
  11. Anodythe

    Anodythe Well-Known Member

    Mar 31, 2008
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    Makes me want to hug all 4 twins. Okay not a real good idea, but you've written them with such grace and feeling. The Lambo twins are becoming fully "metaled" out and the clones have just begun to show their individuality, while at the same time displaying twin characteristics as Sunny and Sides. I see S and S becoming more independent and mature during their time of seperation. Should they ever be together again, the old spirit will be there, but it will be more well-rounded and less disruptive. Though I think they will always be pranksters.
    Well you've lashed me to my monitor with this story...hope there is more soon!
  12. Fairlady_Z

    Fairlady_Z Official Voice of Flareup

    Sep 27, 2005
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    Thank you so much for the comments, Anodythe. The twins have so much potential (all of them), but Sunny and Sides especially, I would love to see a cartoon that shows them as the well-rounded badafts all us fanfic writers know them to be. As for them being apart, it's really a journey of discovery, some things will turn out for the better forcing Sunny and Sides to interact with bots they normally wouldn't, devloping more as individuals etc (kicking and screaming along the way), but I think the bond between them will end up even stonger in the end as well.
  13. Black Oracle

    Black Oracle Black Convoy's Dark Angel

    Jul 2, 2002
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    The latest chapter was beautiful! Fairlady Z, you have a gift for delving deep into the minutest of character details. Things about Sunny's behaviour and actions can be so very revealing to an observant and knowing eye (or optic!). This story is an intricate and in-depth exploration of Sunny and Sides' unique twin bond.

    There were many things i really liked in the latest chapter: Sunny's encounter of another set of twins (Cloudraker and Fastlane) and the unknowable effect they may have had on him, the flammable tension between Sunny and Ironhide, and Ratchet's personal analysis on Sunstreaker. And you capture all the characters perfectly, from their dialogue to their actions.

    The Castor and Pollux nicknames you use Sunny and Sides between them is touching as well. I am caught between disapproval and sympathy for Sunny after reading this last chapter. I don't like the stubborn, proud and aggressive tendencies that Sunstreaker displays, but once you take us beneath those superficial traits, we realise Sunstreaker is highly vulnerable and missing something he needs desperately. You've managed to produce opposing feeling in me for him. Now that's what i call really good writing!

    Also, i liked that you used the TFA idea of 'transform-ups'!
  14. Fairlady_Z

    Fairlady_Z Official Voice of Flareup

    Sep 27, 2005
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    Wow, thanks so much Black Oracle for commenting here as well as Sunny is a very polarizing figure and getting the balance, particularly when writing from Ratchet's pov can be tricky. But that's also what makes Sunny so fascinating to write about. I'm so glad you think I pulled it off. I got a lot of inspiration from the TFA Auto Bootcamp ep, glad someone commented of that.

    Next chapter: Meanwhile, back on Earth with Sideswipe...
  15. Anodythe

    Anodythe Well-Known Member

    Mar 31, 2008
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  16. Fairlady_Z

    Fairlady_Z Official Voice of Flareup

    Sep 27, 2005
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    I meant coming soon.;) 
  17. Anodythe

    Anodythe Well-Known Member

    Mar 31, 2008
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    Hmmm...gotta stock up on more popcorn, and some tissues, yeah they may come in handy. Oh and root beer...I like root beer...and some more popcorn...:popcorn 
  18. Fairlady_Z

    Fairlady_Z Official Voice of Flareup

    Sep 27, 2005
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    Finally another chapter! I've decided to post some scenes as full chapters instead of doing them as scene breaks in longer chapters so I can get some of these up faster. But the plot keeps evolving. Thanks to Protoman who's innocent but continuity laden question of "Is this set before or after Scamble City?" sparked solutions for a much needed plot thread for Sideswipe. The short answer is it's set before.

    Chapter 5

    Meanwhile, back on Earth…

    Dear Mary-Kate,

    At least you’re training troops for war. I have no idea why I’m even posted here! Nothing happens! I’m training mini-bots for Primus’s sake. Mini-bots! It’s not like we’re understaffed, but this place feels like a ghost town with all the unfamiliar faces. The new command acts like this new base is going to solve all our problems, fight our battles for us. Sounds like running away and hiding to me. Sounds boring…and you know how I get when I’m bored.

    That is why I have decided to put Operation: Vicki into full effect. Let those in power who would separate us tremble! If all goes well, I’ll be seeing you again sooner than you think. Who says I’m “the nice one?”

    I remain as always your loving brother,


    P.S. Those pics! Clones, really? Aren’t you glad we don’t look like that? We both know red is so not your color. We’ll have to show them when I get up there what true style is all about. As for the other pic,…thanks. I’m smiling right now if you need another reminder, but only for you. It’s your smirk I feel more like wearing these days.

    * * *

    Sideswipe blocked his opponent’s punch, slid his arm around Hot Rod’s back and spoiler and threw him over his hip to the ground. The match was his. Sideswipe walked back to his corner of the ring, hoping the other mech would finally take the hint that he couldn’t win.

    Defiantly, Hot Rod got to his feet. His frame strained against his wounds. He put a hand to the latest, a pulled cable in his side. But once standing, he said the same thing he had said the past five times he’d gone down.

    Sideswipe signed, while another part of him smiled at having the closest thing to a worthy opponent since he’d begun his role as combat instructor for Autobot City. Mini-bots posed no challenge to him. He was forced to sit back and them spar each other. He corrected what felt like the same elementary mistakes that those programmed to be scientists, medics, and the like make all the time. Sideswipe often wondered how he had the patience to endure it. It sucked, being a combat instructor who didn’t get much chance to fight in his classes. And Sideswipe had a lot of anger to work out of his system with Sunstreaker being a world away.

    Hot Rod was different. The youth was about his size, unskilled compared to Sideswipe, but he had some moves. The red Lambo could attest to it as he rotated a stiff shoulder joint Hot Rod had locked up and nearly dislocated. Hot Rod proved easy to distract though. For every time he executed a good move, he’d leave himself open in another way to defeat. Hot Rod’s greatest battle trait, or maybe it was his most annoying, was that the cavalier simply refused to quit. Ever.

    Each time Sideswipe put him down, Hot Rod just got right back up again. Every. Single. Time.

    Who could say what fueled it – bravery, foolhardiness, revenge for the earlier incident with Kup? This might as well be round two for both of them. Hot Rod still owed the red twin, who he blamed over the yellow intercessor. And Sideswipe was happy to take out his aggression on any that had shot his brother and chose to hang out with bots like Kup who had voted for “the dreaded separation!” There were only so many practice drones Sideswipe could trash without repercussions. Supplies were low and Wheeljack could only repair them so fast. Not that Sideswipe cared, but practice drones, as he told his students, were still no substitute for the real thing.

    Sideswipe walked back to the center of the sparring ring patterned after an Earth sport called boxing. He liked Hot Rod’s spirit, but enough was enough! This time Sideswipe would make sure he didn’t get up again.

    Hot Rod learned from his past mistakes. He was a quick study. Instead of charging in like the last time, he tried not to be impulsive and let the instructor come to him. The next time Sideswipe tried to flip him, Hot Rod held onto his opponent and stuck a foot out, planning it on Sideswipe’s chestplate. Hot Rod fell on his back as he threw Sideswipe, flipping him into the ropes. Sideswipe bounced into the ropes and slid to the ground. Hot Rod knew Sideswipe would recover quickly, so he hurried over to finish the job while his instructor lay stunned.

    As Hot Rod came close and bent down to check, Sideswipe played robo-possum. He grabbed Hot Rod around the neck, bringing him down to his level. The two struggled in a sea of red, scarlet and burgundy vying for the upper hand. Sideswipe, while capable preferred to use none of his brother’s finesse. The red Lambo was a brawler who liked to fight dirty. His right hand slid back to be replaced with a piledriver as he twisted on top of his opponent. He had no intention of really using it, but it was a sure sign the match was his. He’d turn it on, just for maximum effect. He hoped his opponent would finally concede to his teacher as he smiled a lopsided smirk.

    Hot Rod was pinned. He couldn’t move much of anything the way Sideswipe held him down. As Sideswipe switched to his piledriver, he only had astroseconds to act. He was able to free one arm just enough. With Sideswipe’s weapon pointed at his chest, Hot Rod raised his arm to point at Sideswipe’s helm. The sight of the piledriver powering up before Hot Rod’s optics was met with the sound of cavalier’s exhaust port gun powering up next to Sideswipe’s audio. Hot Rod wouldn’t fire, but his point was made. He smiled back with his own devilish gleam in his optics.

    It was a stalemate.

    Sideswipe didn’t retract his smile. If he couldn’t beat his opponent, then taking him down with him was the next best thing. The two of them were frozen in a deadlock. Now it was a contest of who would withdraw first, and both were too prideful to let it be him. The watching mini-bot class new to Earth stood just as frozen, not sure what to do, if they should call for help or what. They were still getting used to Sideswipe’s unconventional level of violence in his teaching. They didn’t know if this was par for the course or if they were about to witness a potential murder. With Sideswipe, one could never tell. And Hot Rod was an x-factor of unpredictability in his own right.

    “Bang, you’re dead!” the pleasant voice came from a green mech in the doorway. “Both of you, from the looks of it. Match over.”

    With relief, the mini-bots turned to see the base’s second-in-command enter the gym. Sideswipe and Hot Rod didn’t take their optics off each other, but Sideswipe acknowledged the new arrival.


    “Need a word, Sides. It’s business.”

    After another astrosecond of staring each other down, both red mechs powered down their weapons, conceding the end of the match as a tie.
    “Next time,” Hot Rod said.

    “As if,” Sideswipe promised as the two rose and Sideswipe dismissed the class. The mini-bots hurried out.

    “Nice work, Roddy.” Springer congratulated the youth giving him a high five once he stepped out of the ring and off the raised platform it sat on. “It’s not every bot that can fight Sideswipe to a stalemate. Keep it up and you might beat him one of these days.”

    “Ha!” Sideswipe laughed. “In a real battle, I’d have shot him the first time he tried to get up.”

    Springer shook his head. “He’s just jealous,” he told Hot Rod.

    “Really, and I just thought he was a show-off,” Hot Rod countered with a smile.

    “Takes one to know one, kid,” Springer grinned and watched Hot Rod leave. He turned back to Sideswipe still in the ring. “I’d keep my optic on that one.”

    “He fights dirty. I like that. But he’s sloppy, impulsive, -”

    “He’ll learn.”

    “He knows a few moves. You teach him a few tricks out of the Wrecker playbook?”

    “Not just a few. He’s practically one of us. Kid’s a natural.”

    Sideswipe cocked his head in a skeptical way. “If he’s current recruiting material, the unit must really be hard up for troops.”

    “No more rookie than a certain pair of twins when they first joined from what I’ve heard. He reminds me a lot of you actually.”

    Sideswipe scowled in a way that would have been more appropriate coming from his brother. Springer knew the red mech considered himself the best in his own way as much as his twin when it came to fighting, from their shared time in the Wreckers together. Springer had come in close to the end of the twins’ time with the unit, but once a Wrecker, always a Wrecker. Those who served and survived knew there was no such thing as an ex. But as far as Sideswipe was concerned, that kid was nothing like him. Wrecker training did not mean Hot Rod was an actual Wrecker, only that Springer was his mentor and saw that potential in him. Sideswipe did not. And Sunny would have easily wiped the floor with the punk, just like before, had he been in the ring instead, Sideswipe was certain. Sometimes, Sideswipe thought that Springer enjoyed pushing his buttons to see if he could make him as sour as Sunny.

    “So what the slag are you and your protégé doin’ here on earth instead of on Cybertron with the others?

    “I like command.”

    “You were in command.”

    “I mean this command. I needed a change and Roddy needs the off world experience.”

    “Welcome to Planet Mudball the boring, then! Seriously, did you know that’s what humans named their planet? The rest are named after gods from what Sunny tells me. But this one, their home, they couldn’t come up with anything good. How weird is that? Same thing with their sun and moon. And tell me that the real reason you’re here has nothing to do with that pink femme, whatshername.”

    “Arcee. And you don’t stand a chance with her.”

    “Says you.”

    “And part of the reason I’m here involves top secret doings that go beyond even your new clearance,” Springer said in a way that made Sideswipe forget about femmes and curious to find out about what he wasn’t supposed to know. It would be just like Springer to goad him like that.

    “Does it have anything to do with whatever the slag command wants now that is worth interrupting my class for?” Sideswipe draped his arms over the rail ropes of the ring.

    “No. Ultra Magnus has called another meeting of the all the bases senior officers.”

    “Another one!?”

    “Yes, and he send me to get you so you wouldn’t conveniently forget it, like you did the last one.” Springer spoke business, but his voice held a hint of amusement.

    “How about you make me. I’ll go if you can beat me like your protégé couldn’t.” Sideswipe gave his most charming smile, but with his old colleague it was already a lost cause.

    “No time. Meeting starts now. And you are coming.”

    “Or else what?” Sideswipe dared.

    With one jump, Springer leapt up into the ring and over the ropes to stand beside Sideswipe, such was his leg power.

    “You never quit, do you? Come on.” Springer clamped down a hand on Sideswipe’s wrist and jumped back down, forcing Sideswipe to follow and grab a corner post to vault over the ropes with before he fell out. “Don’t make me drag you the whole way. It would only embarrass both of us.”
    Springer tugged, but Sideswipe knew how to get out of a wrist lock, and pulled away. While he hoped he wouldn’t be so stubborn, Springer expected no less from the seasoned warrior.

    “You really think it’d be that easy?” Sideswipe said. He waved the hand that had been captive a minute ago as a taunt.

    “Don’t make me break out the stasis cuffs.”

    “You’d have to get them on me first.”

    “And I told Magnus we were getting ‘the nice one’. I know Kup doesn’t believe that thought and neither do I. You are such a pain, y’know that.”

    “I aim to please.” Sideswipe shrugged, then snorted. “They and their slagging meeting can go to the pit for all I care!”

    “Such language.” Springer chided and looked amused again. He reminded Sideswipe of Jazz and how nothing seemed to faze him, always cool, but the green mech had an extra macho bravado that allowed him to be more annoying.

    “I figured that’s what you’d say. I know you don’t think any punishment is worse right now with Sunny away -”

    “It’s not.”

    Springer continued as if he hadn’t been interrupted. “But you really don’t want Kup to break out his secret weapon.”

    “Secret weapon?” Sideswipe raised a skeptical brow ridge. “You mean these meeting aren’t punishment enough?” Sideswipe tried to joke, but he wondered about Springer’s warning about pushing the new security chief too far. There was nothing Kup could do, he decided, that was worse than what he was already enduring alone. Still,…Springer didn’t warn without good reason. Sideswipe figured he could easily combat whatever Kup could through at him.

    Springer caught the hint of doubt though as Sideswipe looked away, lost in thoughts of missing his brother, towards the corner of the gym. Sideswipe had set a bunk up there. He refused to sleep in his new quarters without Sunny around though. If Springer noticed the odd set up, he didn’t say anything about it.

    “I tried to tell Kup just the stasis cuffs wouldn’t work for this job though. Which is why I brought this.” Springer unsubspaced a taser that now appeared in his hand. “Unless you think you can move faster than I can shoot, can we go now?”

    Springer sly grin dared him to make that first move. Sideswipe signed knowing when he’d been beat.

    “Fine,” he grumbled. Giving a flourishing bow he said, “Oh, after you.”

    “Oh, no. You first. I am not charging out of here and having you sneak off behind me like you did with Mirage two weeks ago. Now march!” Springer prodded with the taser in the door’s direction.

    Seeing he was currently out of options, Sideswipe reluctantly resigned himself to facing the dreaded meeting before him. He was beginning to understand why bots like Ratchet and Prowl were always so stressed out. Any perks Sideswipe thought he might find in his forced promotion were quickly countered by the structure of command, or at least Ultra Magnus’s view of it.

    He was expected to spend time in weekly meetings the City Commander insisted on having where Sideswipe was kept prisoner for hours listening to the most boring details of daily production and the like of Autobot city that he could care less about. Perceptor was the worst with his droning lectures about maximizing energy efficiency and trying to figure out the effects Autobot fuel consumption in Alaska would have on the local environment and junk. Medical reports from Wheeljack and Hoist, building updates from Grapple, the list went on and on. Magnus said it was important that everyone in the command staff know what was going on so they could be informed, discuss things, and offer feedback. Sideswipe had no idea how to offer feedback on scientific gobbledygook that he didn’t even understand in the first place. He was often reduced to nodding dumbly in agreement while trying to look like he wasn’t about to slip into recharge by time his turn usually happened as he’d got caught doing a few weeks ago. Surely, Ultra Magnus could have gotten his updates one on one, privately, in his own office, or something. Wasn’t that how Prime did it?

    Also, what the slag did Ultra Magnus expect him to report anyway? The training progressed, slow but steady. They would be ready if they ever got to see some action. If being the key word. Sideswipe didn’t even know why he was here. Surely, he was needed much more for training troops on Cybertron, y’know, where the war was actually going on…as opposed to Earth where nothing happened anymore. All the Decepticons were practically gone as far as Sideswipe could figure. Why did they need to waste all this time and effort building a home away from home? The Ark had been home enough for Sideswipe. Yet, with all the new Autobot reinforcements, command decided a bigger base was needed. But Autobot City could never be home for Sideswipe without Sunstreaker. He may be part of the senior staff now, but there was no way he was “kissing the aft” of the new establishment that kept this frontline warrior away from the war and away from his brother!

    Oh sure, the “logic” of it had been explained to him. The Decepticons still raided Earth for energy. He was better acquainted than Sunny with Earth customs. He knew how to fight in this terrain unlike the new arrivals having been on Earth longer, etc. They were poor excuses. There were any number of bots who could instruct Magnus’s troops on Earth. Sideswipe knew he belonged on Cybertron with his twin and he was going to do everything in his power to make his new commander’s life a complete living hell until he had no choice to send him away for his own sanity. And while another meeting of droning lectures went on, he would plot and he would plan in ways both big and small to get himself kicked off this planet and get the band back together.

    For the first time going to a meeting, Sideswipe smiled. It was the smile of the devil himself. A storm was coming, a storm of a twin-bot scorned. Springer must have been happy enough with his quarry marching in front of him, because had he seen Sideswipe’s countenance, he might have feared upon seeing the birth of something sinister - Operation: Vicki.

    * * *

    Operation: Vicki was to be sheer simplicity in its execution. Do whatever it took to convince Ultra Magnus that keeping Sideswipe on Earth equaled to nothing short of living hell and Magnus would be begging Prime to transfer Sideswipe to Cybertron. Any and all methods would be employed. Nothing would be considered beneath him in his pursuit of his goal. The key was to start small and work up to a grand finale.

    The name of the operation stemmed from Sideswipe’s favorite movie. Of all the car chases and big explosions one might expect an alien robot to favor amid the mass offerings that served as entertainment on planet Earth, they could never match the sheer joy Sideswipe found in the 1961 Disney classic, “The Parent Trap.” Not even the horrible revelation that Hayley Mills was only one person could dampen it. Sunstreaker considered his brother a sentimental jerk for liking it, but Sideswipe didn’t care. He found such movies fascinating, that an alien culture could capture the relationship he shared with his brother so closely. Cybertron didn’t have anything in its media dealing with twins. It was just too rare. But Earth had a plethora of it, which made for a very interesting movie collection the twins had. And right now, Sideswipe planned to use his favorite film to send a message. Only instead of ejecting the unwanted Vicki from Susan and Sharon’s life, by inflicting the worst set of pranks known to man or bot, Sideswipe planned to be the one to get himself ejected all the way back to Cybertron.

    * * *

    Ultra Magnus just couldn’t win.

    Whoever had placed Sideswipe in charge of movie night must have thought it was a good idea at the time. After all, it was said the twins always picked the best (and often pirated) movies to show…until now.

    No one thought anything was wrong when they got a “Double Impact” of Jean-Claude Van Damme or Jacky Chan the following week. The smarter ones started sensing a theme around the time Arnold and Devito’s classic aired. The complaints started around the time Hayley Mills got her turn in the spotlight. By the time Sideswipe had gotten to the second week in a row featuring the Olsen Twins, his audience was in open rebellion.

    The message Sideswipe had been trying to send was not lost on the command staff either. When Kup had tried to put someone else in change of movie night, Sideswipe promptly filed a counter-complaint that the security chief had no right to interfere in his official duties as morale officer. Actually, it had been one of Prowl’s better ideas to help keep the twins out of trouble by giving them some input into the Ark crew’s leisure activities. Over the years it had just become an accepted routine. Who knew? Sideswipe was allowed to keep his posting, though “twin” movies were banned for the future. Obediently, Sideswipe was true to his orders. The next offering proved to be a hilarious comedy appropriately titled, “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?”

    Ultra Magnus just couldn’t win.

    But it was Hot Rod, who officially declared war…the prank war that is.

    I still need some ideas for pranks for upcoming chapters! Any good ideas please PM me. Thanks to Anodythe who gave me one already.
  19. Anodythe

    Anodythe Well-Known Member

    Mar 31, 2008
    News Credits:
    Trophy Points:
    Oh goody... I'm back from vacation and have just received my most recent delivery of popcorn...bring on the pranks!!!
  20. Fairlady_Z

    Fairlady_Z Official Voice of Flareup

    Sep 27, 2005
    Trophy Points:
    Chapter 6

    Dear Fred,

    Are you sure one of those clones isn't on Earth already? Because I think I have one by the name of Hot Rod. Would you believe there is a red hellion on this base almost as devilish as me? And he acts like he wants to take away my title. Slagin' upstart is trying to steal my thunder. And I am not going to let it happen. You hear me!

    And I know why I hate him. He reminds me too much of me. I can stand living with you, but another me? Forget it! That's why you're my twin, not my clone. Gah! How do Fastlane and Cloudraker even live with themselves being both? I have declared war!

    Already the winner,



    Hot Rod was not having a good morning, which stood in contrast to the exhilarating night drive he'd come back from. It wasn't sneaking out and it wasn't against the rules technically. It was well understood that there were times when an Autobot need to get out for a while and just drive. Everyone did it. He just felt the need to do it more than most. Abusing a natural privilege as Kup liked to put it. But then, Kup's alt mode was a battered old pick-up. He wasn't a sports car. He couldn't understand the sheer thrill. Luckily for Hot Rod, Blurr, Springer, Arcee, and a lot of the Ark Crew bots did get it.

    Okay, so maybe his comings and goings for such jaunts could be better logged than a hasty shout to the night guards as he sped his way in or out of the city, sometimes not waiting for them to lift the entry/exit barrier which he only smashed through anyway. Really, what was the point of those thing when the were so easily broken? Like they could ever keep a Stunticon out, let alone keep Hot Rod in. Probably, it came down to yet another of those weird Earth vehicle regulations they were forced to adopt for the sake of "blending in" and good interspecies relations.

    Hot Rod liked humans, really he did, a funloving, creative, ingenious species in spite of their delicate carbon based frames. Yet, some of their laws and culture he would never understand. Why was 200 mph considered an abnormally fast speed when some human build their vehicles with much faster tolerances in mind? Why were early AM hours considered a bad time to take Daniel out on a simple sightseeing joyride? Even though he always obeyed the traffic laws for his safety, well mostly anyway, but something about inappropriate timing and the human recharge cycle for five-year-olds had only landed him a long lecture from Carly instead. Day or night didn't make much difference to a Transformer when they recharged, but apparently it made a big difference to the Earthlings. It has something to do with carbon based bodies absorbing essential nutrients from their sun, as Perceptor had once explained it, beyond that Hot Rod hadn't paid attention to the boring details.

    So he'd been alone on his nightly drive and felling refreshed. It allowed him to be the first to the wash rack on such mornings and take as long as he wanted with the hot water. Or at least he thought he'd been the first. As soon as the shower got going though, Hot Rod found himself getting covered in a spray of gold paint. Slagin' wonderful! Someone had pranked the wash rack, and intended or not, he'd been the unfortunate victim as the unwanted paint job dribbled down his helm and frame in a sticky mess. He watched his Autobot symbol disappear, washed over with yellow goop and blending into his beautiful flames of valor deco he wore proudly that would now a complete repaint if he didn't find a way to wash off this gold glop before it dried. To his luck, only one shower had been pranked and he'd had the misfortune of choosing it, but he was able to wash away the offending prank before it got stuck gumming up his joints and gears as well leaving him looking like a gold drenched idiot. And yes, he did use up the last of the hot water getting himself back to normal. After which, he promptly left the washroom and attended his duties not wanting to give the unpleasant experience another thought.

    But that wasn't to be the last of it as a few hours later he found himself called to Ultra Magnus's office with a less than happy Kup there as well wearing an expression that left Hot Rod to wonder what exact was he in trouble for this time.

    Somehow, they were under the delusion that the shower prank was his fault! First, the security camera showed Hot Rod as the only one to enter and exit the wash rack around the time the prank was suspected to have been set up. Perfectly explainable just by the time he liked to take a drive, Hot Rod thought. It wasn't his fault if bots had adjusted to Earth time already and weren't up at that hour. Second, there was no evidence of him falling victim to the prank as he claimed, and if it was true as Hot Rod said, he was then asked why he hadn't immediately alerted security before anyone else could fall victim to the prank as protocol demanded.

    Hot Rod hadn't reported anything because he was never much of one for protocol anyway as Kup and Magnus should have known by now. He would have remembered to tell Kup eventually, but he'd just wanted to forget the whole thing for a while, pride wounded that he'd been a victim of the prank. Plus there was the part of him that still enjoyed a good prank himself and didn't mind seeing a few other bots fall prey to the same thing he had before Kup stopped all the fun, which led to point number three.

    Hot Rod was indeed something of a prankster himself and while he wasn't responsible for every prank that had occurred in Ultra Magnus's command back on Cybertron, a good 7 out of 8 times Hot Rod was to blame. The problem with having that reputation then meant that he was Kup's chief suspect, even though all the evidence against him was circumstantial. Humans called it he "boy who cried wolf" syndrome, as one of Daniel's favorite stories illustrated it. Hot Rod had denied doing enough real pranks that even now when he was innocent, Kup and Ultra Magnus didn't believe him anymore, even when he told the truth.

    Surely, he wasn't that good a liar that Kup couldn't tell the difference when he really was innocent, could he? So he asked, which only led to Kup getting angrier at the accusation that he was being "lazy" at his job and that Kup being a victim of the prank himself (if the specks of gold paint missed under Kup's arm were any indication) meant that the security chief's judgment was clouded in this instance. Plus, Kup hated cold showers.

    Any attempts to appeal to Magnus fell on deaf audios. Magnus, though he did admit to Kup's potential lack of objectivity in this case, didn't think anything detracted from the "evidence," circumstantial or not, making a strong case against Hot Rod, given his reputation. Not to mention there was also the issue, even if he was innocent of the prank, of failure to follow protocol and there destruction of yet another entry/exit barrier from last night's driving jaunt. Hot Rod's discipline was still lax, and when it came to matters of discipline for Hot Rod, Magnus always differed to Kup's judgment, being the one who had the greater experience handling the rowdy youth.

    The end result was yet more time on construction detail to the point Hot Rod wanted to find out about the union laws on this planet and how much in violation his superiors might be by this time. It also gave him plenty of time to wonder about who really was guilty for the wash room prank and had it been accidental or intentional that he'd been a victim. In the end it didn't matter, whoever it was, Hot Rod decided as he moved what felt like his eightieth load of heavy girders, was going to know what true humiliation was.


    Sideswipe was annoyed. Hours had passed and he had yet to be accused of anything regarding his prank. Surely, his bad reputation preceded him. Maybe the new establishment was slower on the uptake than he thought or Sideswipe was just bored. Regardless, he felt the need to speed up the process.



    The last person Kup expected to come walked into his office. Kup looked up from his computer screen to see Sideswipe standing in front of his desk. The red Lambo leaned casually against the edge twirling a pair of stasis cuffs (he'd gotten from Primus knows where) around his index finger. He wore an expression a shade too cheery. "Just the bot I wanted to see," he said.

    "What the slag are you here for?"

    "Lock up, of course."

    "Regarding what?" Kup's voice was gruff, but businesslike as he eyed the red hellion with suspicion. The phantom pain of last month's gaping chest wound reminded him never to lower his guard around this bot again.

    "Me." Sideswipe quit twirling and plopped the cuffs on the desk. He held out his wrists in a willing to submit gesture. "You'll want to use those. I'm very dangerous."

    Whatever desired effect Sideswipe hoped his antics would have on the security chief was uncertain, but after an astrosecond of blank staring Kup simply pointed at the door.

    "Get out! I don't have time for games."

    "And no time to finish your shower either from the looks of it." Sideswipe cocked his head, studying a spot visible just under Kup's arm.

    Kup's optics briefly darted to the spot in question where some flecks of gold paint stood out against his turquoise blue finish. Kup had been an unfortunate victim of Sideswipe's prank just as Hot Rod had noticed before. Nor had Kup had enough time for a through cleaning as he'd been more intend on finding the perpetrator of the prank at the time. However, the security cameras in the public washroom had been tampered with in a classic feedback loop to cover the prankster's tracks. Still, Hot Rod hadn't been Kup's only suspect, just the most obvious. "I've been a very bad boy," Sideswipe confessed with a mock pout only a femmebot could love. He lowered his optics to the cuffs on the desk again."

    "So, you're willing to turn yourself in?" Kup glared at him, still skeptical.

    "The way I figure it, I'm due a few good hours in the brig."

    The security chief promptly swore when he realized Sideswipe was not going away. Kup gave him a look that said he'd like to lock Sideswipe up for much longer than that. He rose from his desk, took the stasis cuffs in hand to reacquire the stolen item more than any reason Sideswipe had planned, and led Sideswipe in the direction of the cells. Kup stoppedin front of the nearest one and unsubspaced a device not unlike a metal detector human cops used on Earthling, only this one searched subspace. Sideswipe frowned, reluctant to assume the position, but he knew the routine well enough from Prowl, but Prowl was never this pushy.

    "All right, all right," Sideswipe put his hands up as Kup continued his scan. If he hoped to find any incriminating cans of gold paint actually on Sideswipe…

    Kup's device beeped right on cue. Sideswipe knew this part of the drill too. The device emitted a signal and a beam shot out lighting the entrance to Sideswipe's subspace pocket in a color of the ultraviolet spectrum that made it visible to the naked optic. Sideswipe reached carefully to remove its contents when Kup stopped him.

    "I'll do that," Kup said. It was a normal procedure and Prowl had been a stickler about it in the beginning and still always confiscated weapons and prank items, but he allowed Sideswipe to empty out his own subspace pocket. Kup wasn't that trusting yet, being one of the new guys and all. Sideswipe then remembered his exchange with Sunny and felt a sudden urge not to give up a part of him. His posture turned warningly aggressive and Kup's frame language changed with equal caution, still remembering the impaling wound he'd received from the very robot in front of him.

    "I can do it myself!" Sideswipe snapped.

    "Fine." Kup backed off just enough to keep his "perpetrator" calm. "But I want to see all of it. Everything! And this had better not be another joke, lad. I don't have Prowl's so-called patience."

    Carefully, Sideswipe did pull out a can of gold paint. He had it just in case to help with his self-incrimination, but he hadn't expected so much doubt from the security chief. He'd honestly expected Kup to jump at the chance to lock him up, despite the head games Sideswipe was playing with his eagerness.

    Kup took the can. He sprayed a little on his finger and tested it against the dried specks under his arm everyone seemed to notice he'd missed. He grunted, satisfied that they matched.

    "Believe me now?" Sideswipe asked.

    "I believe you're even crazier than I figured you for already given the first impression you left through my midsection. That's quite an accomplishment lad. Guess I owe Hot Rod an apology."

    Kup looked at Sideswipe like he wasn't sure what to make of the red Lambo, as he took the rocket pack from him too, but the feeling seemed mutual as Sideswipe's ego became dented.

    "I like to be noticed. Or are you so bad a detective that you really had no clue it was me, and blamed that…that slagin' wannabe?" Sideswipe tried to hide it, but Kup noticed it, or he just didn't care from his response.

    "Oh, I've heard of your reputation, if that's what you mean. I had my suspicions, but you're not the only pranking red hellion I've had to deal with in my time. You're just the first criminal I've known who wanted to be in lock-up. You could have saved me a lot of trouble next time if you'd just tell me your prank before hand, then I can lock you up before the crime is even committed."

    It was Sideswipe's turn not to know what to make of Kup this time. He spoke with a certain weariness like he'd seen and done everything the universe had to offer and given Kup's age he probably had. To Sideswipe, he looked beyond ancient. Sunny would be expecting him to fall apart at any astrominute. But there was some bafflement in Kup's voice suggesting Sideswipe that there was something in the Lambo's very essence that Kup had never encountered before as he shook his head, even if his pranks were. No big, Sideswipe would just have to up the ante next time with his own unique flair. He was thinking about what he could do and almost missed Kup's next word.



    Oh, right. Another part of the routine. Sidswipe started to do as told, unsubspaced the weapon, and then froze remembering it was Sunny's gun. There was no way he could hand it over.

    No! No! No! No! "No!"

    The sudden thought was so consuming that he also almost missed the folded paper that had fallen out of his subspace compartment when he'd taken out the gun. Sunny's drawing. The same paper that Kup bent down to pick up (out of courtesy or curiosity Sideswipe didn't care) and looked back up as him at the outburst.

    "Don't touch it!"

    Kup froze with his hand inches above the paper seeing the electron pulse gun Sideswipe now pointed at him. The old warrior saw the manic look in the red soldier's blue optics. He didn't know what about the paper (or gun) had set the Lambo off this time and changed his carefree demeanor so fast, but he knew that look. He'd seen it on many a bot in battle and he'd seen it before on Sideswipe astroseconds before getting impaled on a piledriver. A gunshot through the middle would be a lot less precise. Fortunately for Kup, he was a firm believer in letting experience be the greatest teacher. He was a seasoned veteran who'd talked down many a bot in similar situations before.

    "Easy, lad." Slowly, not making any sudden moves, Kup spread his hand wide showing he wasn't touching the paper. "It's yours. Take it. I don't need to confiscate that."

    He kept his voice level and maintained optic contact, but his left hand stayed poised on the nozzle of the gold paint can. Hardly a match for an electron pulse gun, but prepared to blind and distract Sideswipe for vital seconds if he failed to talk him down.

    Sideswipe appeared to see reason as he slowly reached for his precious paper before snatching it up with amazing speed and stashing it away in the invisible pocket it had dared to fall out of. Sideswipe's fingers disappeared and reappeared as he attempted to find a more secure position in what was now otherwise empty subspace.

    "I do still need to confiscate that gun." Kup maintained his authority, taking advantage of Sideswipe's momentary division of attention, though the gun remained steadily pointed in his direction.

    No!, Sideswipe thought again, but he knew he had to relinquish it. It was just temporary. He would get it back, but…it was Sunny's gun! The only tangible piece of his brother he had left. He offlined his optics for a click, desperately searching the void with his spark for any part of his bond with his twin. Just like all the other times in the month since Sunny's departure he came away with nothing. Why! Distance was the only excuse he could even think of, but even that made no sense because what was distance when it came to the realm of the spark, especially when it was split and shared. It made no sense! And now, he was being asked to give up the one piece he could still hold onto when he promised he'd keep it close by.

    And yet…his new nemesis had no idea how much the gun meant to him. Then he realized he wanted to keep it that way. He'd almost lost it over Sunny's picture. The last thing he wanted was to give anyone blackmail fuel to use against him. The wreck he felt himself becoming without Sunny around threatened to break him just behind that lopsided smile that no one would be any wiser about because all these thoughts passed through Sideswipe's mind in the span of a nanoclick. He lowered his head in resignation, then behind that same grin again, he hid his thought and handed over the gun to Kup for confiscation.

    It was only for a few hours, right? And keeping the gun in the same room still classified as close, right? He'd just try to ignore the locked locker and energon bars that would keep him and Sunny's gun from being quite as close together as they should be. If Sunny ever chewed him out about it (if he ever found out about it) Sideswipe would simply deck his brother and remind him that it was a small sacrifice in the bigger scheme of Operation: Vicki's just cause.

    Kup sensed the change in Sideswipe's demeanor, no longer putting him on high alert as he accepted the gun.

    "And I'd better not find out that paper is plans for your next prank or you'll wish I had confiscated that too," Kup warned, but with a gruff ease that was meant as further diffusion of the previous tenseness.

    "As if I'd carry my grand schemes in such an obvious place," Sideswipe said, once again playing the charmer. He was glad that Kup did have no clue as to the truth of Sunny's drawing of the two of them together from an early communiqué he'd hade a printout of. Mental images of still blowing a hole in Kup made him smile though as he was beginning to see the fun his brother found in such imaginings. It kept him mentally occupied as Kup locked away the beloved weapon and made a call to Hot Rod via internal radio for a quick apology for thinking the cavalier the guilty prankster. From the end of it Sideswipe could hear, the young bot had already been serving out a hasty punishment for being the original suspect. Sideswipe's smile grew, thinking it couldn't happen to a more deserving bot.

    Kup finally led Sideswipe over to the nearest cell which Kup could easily keep an optic on from his desk. However, Kup stopped short of activating the energon bars and checked his internal chronometer.

    "You piston-blowin', sneaky turbofox!" Kup looked up again to see Sideswipe still grinning that annoying grin that Kup's glare suggested he'd like nothing more than to wipe off his face. So he did. "You'll enjoy all the time you want in the brig…after we attend the latest senior staff meeting starting in just a few minutes."

    It was Sidedswipe who then cursed as the smiling security chief led him away to bureaucratic doom. So far, Operation Vicki was not quite going according to plan.


    In Hot Rod's estimation, apologies usually worked better before he'd been forced to suffer a three hour shift of manual labor. Call it common courtesy for being, y'know, completely innocent of all charges. Well, all prank charges anyway.

    Kup did at least make up for it by giving him the rest of the day free without duty shifts and a promise not to get into any real trouble which Kup only half believed, but he knew Kup's guilt over getting the wrong man was enough to make him let it go for now. Kup was busy enough making Sideswipe's life miserable which suited Hot Rod just fine, for he only had one goal in mind now – out prank the prankster.

    So it worked out perfectly that Kup and Sideswipe were away at a meeting. Kup had changed the security codes last month, thanks to Hot Rod sneaking into one of Optimus Prime's top secret meetings. As a result, getting into Kup's office might have been a problem. It would have, if Kup's taste in passwords weren't so obvious. Oh, it was nothing likely for a Decepticon to figure out, Kup was way too good for that. But for those that knew Kup well (and had been regaled with as many war stories as Hot Rod had whether he had a choice or not) it only took a few tries to discover the new one. For once Hot Rod was glad he knew what an Ickiyak was as the door swished open to admit him.

    It took a few more tries with a different password, but the code Garius 9 gave him access to the storage locker as he found the prizes he sought in Sideswipe's possessions – gold paint, a gun, and best of all, a rocket pack! This was going to be fun.


    Dear DeVito,

    I almost committed murder today – twice! I'm starting to wonder if in all this time spent away from you the universe is trying to compensate by making me become like you. If you start having any particular me-ish tendencies be sure to warn me at once.

    The first victim would have been the slagin' security chief. That might technically count as finishing what I started though. The other victim to finished off would have been that "clone" of mine.

    But victim #1 wanted me to give up your gun Sunny. Yeah, okay, it was part of being in the brig, but still…it took nearly all I had not to just shoot him instead of handing it over. And victim #2 thought it would be hilarious somehow if during marksmanship training you gun just happened to fire gold paint and then "borrowed" my rocket pack for a quick getaway all of which he stole from the storage locker somehow. And believe me I made sure to let victim #1 know how I felt about his abilities as security chief over that one. Anyway victim #2 didn't realize the rather short time limit on Mr. Rocket Pack. So when he landed, lets just say I was waiting for him and it was a very good thing that gun was full of paint at the time. My "clone" is going to need another shower, after I ordered him to spend the rest of the day on construction detail. So much for his day off. Ha! And to think Kup thought Hot Rod was responsible for my prank in the first place. Ah, sweet irony and perks of rank.

    I could get used to this…almost. I have to laugh to starve off the rage I feel Sunny. And I feel it there constantly, under the surface, my new companion. How do you deal with it, Sunny? If this it what it feels like to be you…it scares me…not what I might do…but how long I can hold out without you around. But then you at least showed up in the sky the other night, so maybe I can last a little longer.

    Trying not to terminate anything in the meantime, but still smiling,


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