Non Solum Fugere

Discussion in 'Transformers Fan Fiction' started by Longitudinalwave, Aug 3, 2020.

  1. Longitudinalwave

    Longitudinalwave A Big Fan of (Sound/Shock)wave

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    “I can’t believe that Optimus Prime gave us such a stupid mission,” Slingshot whined. This was the fifth time he had made this complaint in as many minutes, and Fireflight really wasn’t sure why his older brother was so upset. He’d never been to a library before! It sounded fascinating!

    “Slingshot, maintaining good public relations with our human allies is important. They need to know that they can trust us,” Silverbolt replied. He was as quiet as usual-Silverbolt never yelled-but he definitely sounded frustrated.

    “Yeah, yeah, I know we’re supposed to be nice to those humans. But why us? Why not send Bumblebee or Hound or somebody who actually likes them?” Slingshot asked.

    “Optimus said that the humans asked for us specifically, and since we didn’t have anything on our schedules, he said that it would be a good idea for us to go. And I agree with him. After that fight you and Air Raid had with Sunstreaker, we need to earn back some goodwill from our teammates,” Silverbolt replied.

    “But I don’t like dealing with humans. They’re so loud and annoying, and their television is weird,” Slingshot protested. Fireflight didn’t know why Slingshot didn’t like humans. Sure, they hadn’t made the best first impression on any of them, but they were so interesting, and Spike and Carly and Chip were really neat! In fact, if he didn't know any better, he would have said that Slingshot was angry about something else. But that was just ridiculous.

    “What about Prince Jamal? He’s human,” Silverbolt asked.

    “Aww, that ain’t the same! Prince Jamal’s different. For one thing, he isn’t near as whiny,” Slingshot replied.

    “That’s ironic, coming from a guy who’s done nothing but whine since he found out that we’re going to attend a Q and A meeting at a human library,” Silverbolt said. Air Raid laughed loudly.

    “Boy, he got you good, Slingshot!” he exclaimed.

    “Aww, shut up,” Slingshot muttered, clearly embarrassed. After this, he fell silent.

    “Well, I, for one, am excited. An entire building full of books? That’s a dream come true! I can only imagine how much information this library might contain about the aerial aces of the humans’ wars….” Skydive said as Fireflight started to study the clouds. One looked like that fuzzy animal Spike called a sheep, and one looked like one of Ratchet’s wrenches, and one looked like Silverbolt. Fireflight would have smiled had he been in robot mode. It was so nice that there was a cloud that looked like his oldest brother. Was there a cloud that looked like him? Funny, that cloud sure was moving fast….

    “Fireflight, watch out! You’re about to collide with that passenger jet!” Silverbolt suddenly yelled. Fireflight pulled up sharply, narrowly missing the Silverbolt-cloud that wasn’t a cloud at all.

    “Sorry,” he said, although he knew the humans inside couldn’t actually hear him. Then he flew back up to rejoin his brothers.

    “And I suppose that’ll do wonders for our public relations with the humans,” Slingshot remarked sarcastically.

    “I...I didn’t mean to, guys. I’m really sorry,” Fireflight said. He hated it when his brothers got mad at him.

    “It’s all right. I radioed the pilot and explained what happened, and he’s not angry. He said that he was just glad no one got hurt,” Silverbolt replied.

    “You still need to pay more attention to where you’re going, though. If ‘Bolt hadn’t noticed that jet when he did, you would’ve knocked yourself and that jet out of the sky,” Skydive added.

    “I will,” Fireflight replied, thoroughly chastened. Two minutes later, they landed in the field behind Masonville’s Public Library and transformed. Before Fireflight could start looking around at the field, Skydive grabbed his hand and led him towards the back of the library, where a makeshift stage had been set up. A human female was standing on the stage.

    “Hello. You must be the Aerialbots. I’m Alyssa Brown, the library’s director. I’m so glad that you were able to make it,” she said. Silverbolt smiled, knelt, and gently shook her hand.

    “We’re glad to be here, Ms. Brown. I’m Silverbolt, the leader of the Aerialbots, and these are my brothers, Skydive, Air Raid, Slingshot, and Fireflight.” Fireflight took a closer look at the woman. Her brown hair was pulled into a tight bun, she was wearing a black pantsuit, and she wore thin, wire-rimmed glasses. Despite her small size, she was rather intimidating, and Fireflight hoped that he wouldn’t make her angry.

    “Hi,” he said quietly.

    “Hello,” she replied.

    “So, uh, where are the other humans?” Slingshot asked.

    “They’re still inside the library. You Autobots are very popular, and we didn’t want you to get mobbed the moment you arrived. They’ll come out to meet you as soon as you’ve gotten onstage,” Ms. Brown replied. The Aerialbots climbed onto the stage, and Ms. Brown walked off and into the library. About two minutes later, a large number of humans exited the library and gathered around the makeshift stage. As soon as the crowd had congregated, Silverbolt stepped forward.

    “Hello, everyone. My name is Silverbolt, and I’m the leader of the Aerialbots. We’re honored that you invited us here, and we look forward to talking with you and answering your questions,” he said. The humans applauded politely, and Fireflight smiled. It was nice that the humans seemed happy to have them there.

    “I’m Skydive, and I’m our team’s tactician,” Skydive said. Then he gestured to Air Raid, who grinned broadly and added,

    “And I’m Air Raid. I’m the cute one.” The crowd chuckled, and Fireflight stepped forward.

    “I’m Fireflight. I’ve never been to a library before. What’s it like?” The crowd laughed again, although Fireflight wasn’t sure what he had said that had been so funny.

    “Well, as soon as you finish your Q and A session, I’ll show you around and you can see for yourself.” Fireflight recognized the voice as coming from Ms. Brown, and he smiled. Maybe she wasn’t so scary after all.

    “Thank you,” he said. Then he glanced at Slingshot, who was supposed to introduce himself now. Instead, Slingshot crossed his arms and scowled. After a few seconds of awkward silence, Silverbolt sighed and took over his introduction.

    “And this is Slingshot, out sharpshooter.” Slingshot gave a very half-hearted wave, and Silverbolt shot Slingshot a glare that Fireflight was pretty sure would lead to them having another argument later. For the moment, however, he turned back to the crowd.

    “All right. Now that you know who we are, feel free to ask any questions that you might have. We will ask you to raise your hands so that we can address everyone’s questions, but you can ask as many questions as you like, and if the answer is confidential, we will tell you. What would you like to know?” he asked. Almost immediately, about fifty hands shot up.

    “Oh, my,” Skydive murmured. Fireflight guessed that he, much like Fireflight himself, hadn’t been anticipating that many people raising their hands at once. Silverbolt, however, just smiled and pointed at a person standing in the second row.

    “What do you think of working with Optimus Prime?” the person asked.

    “Working with Optimus Prime has been a great experience. I’m sure you’ve probably heard that from every other Autobot who’s been interviewed, but this is one of those cases where the banal answer is the true one. He’s an incredibly wise, compassionate individual ...” Silverbolt said. Fireflight tried to pay attention to what his oldest brother was saying, but then he caught sight of a little girl with golden hair and then a little boy with black, curly hair and an older human with a four-legged animal that he thought was called a cow (or maybe a dog) and then he saw a female human with a really colorful piece of cloth tied around her neck and started to wonder what that was. It looked so soft! He wondered if maybe she would let him hold it. A few seconds later, his attention wandered to a nearby tree, which was really pretty and had nice, colorful leaves.

    “Isn’t that right, Fireflight?” Air Raid asked suddenly, pulling him out of his reverie.

    “Um, yeah. Sure,” he said quickly, trying to cover up the fact that he hadn’t heard anything that had been said in the past five minutes.

    “Fireflight can be a little spacey,” Skydive explained. Then he pointed at another person in the crowd, this time a little boy with an Autobot logo on his shirt.

    “Which one of you is the fastest?” he asked.

    “Air Raid. But that’s only because he’s the only one of us reckless enough to routinely travel at top speed,” Skydive replied.

    “Hey, if you’ve got it, why not flaunt it?” Air Raid asked.

    “Cool,” the boy said. He had a big smile on his face. Eager to make up for having spaced out, Fireflight quickly pointed at the raised hand of the person with the cow (or dog). After another human said something to him, he asked,

    “What’s it like to fly yourself? I was a pilot in Vietnam many years ago, and the feeling of flying an airplane never really leaves you. How does it feel to be a plane?” Skydive looked thrilled at that news-this man might be one of the flying aces that he loved to read about, Fireflight thought. With that in mind, he let his older brother answer the question.

    “It’s a little hard to explain, actually. I mean, we’ve all been flying our whole lives, so we’ve never known what it’s like not to fly. However, if I had to pick a word to really describe what it’s like to be able to fly, I guess I would have to say that it’s freedom. There’s nothing like it,” Skydive replied.

    “I see. Thank you,” the man replied. The Q and A session continued smoothly until a male human in a leather jacket asked,

    “How do we know that you can be trusted? You Autobots say you want to help us, but for all we know, that could just be a ploy to get us to trust you. Why should we cooperate with a bunch of heavily armed giant robots who have just added five military jets to their ranks?” Before Silverbolt could answer, Slingshot suddenly stepped forward.

    “We’re the only thing standing between you ingrates and the Decepticons! Do you think you could take them on? All us Autobots work our tailpipes off keeping you safe, and if you don’t appreciate it, I’d be happy to leave and go someplace else!” The crowd murmured unhappily, and Silverbolt frowned.

    “Slingshot, that was entirely out of line,” he said sternly. Then he turned to the crowd and added,

    “I apologize for my teammate’s incredibly rude reply. While we are indeed saddened that some of you don’t trust us, there are no grounds for being rude after we were invited here as guests. If you wish to end this session, we will, and I promise we will cover any costs that might incur.” The crowd seemed to receive Silverbolt’s words well, and Ms. Brown said,

    “Thank you, Silverbolt, but that won’t be necessary. Most of us are grateful for all you Autobots do for us and for this chance to spend time with you. I think I speak for most of us when I say that we would be glad if you finished the session.” Silverbolt smiled, and Fireflight felt relieved that he wouldn’t miss out on getting to see the library.

    “When these robots take over, don’t say I didn’t warn you,” the human in the leather jacket said as he stormed off. Fireflight felt a little hurt that the man didn’t trust them. He and his brothers and the other Autobots would never hurt humans! Well, maybe Slingshot and Blades might, and the Dinobots and Sunstreaker didn’t like humans, either, but Silverbolt and Hot Spot and Optimus Prime would make sure that they never hurt anyone other than the Decepticons. After another thirty minutes of answering questions and trying to stay focused, the Q and A session came to a close. Most of the humans dispersed, and Fireflight and his brothers left the makeshift stage. Skydive immediately struck up a conversation with the man who had flown a plane in one of the humans’ wars upon leaving the stage, while Air Raid showed off to a crowd of children and Silverbolt thanked people for attending. For his part, Fireflight started looking around for Ms. Brown. He couldn’t wait for his tour of the library, and it couldn’t start without her. Luckily, she found him before he got distracted.

    “Hello, Fireflight. Are you ready for your tour?” Fireflight quickly turned to Silverbolt.

    “Can I go, Silverbolt?” He asked his oldest brother eagerly.

    “Of course, Fireflight,” Silverbolt replied. Fireflight beamed and turned back to Ms. Brown.

    “I can’t wait to start!”

    “You’re a little big for our doors, but our back entrance is just big enough that you should be able to get in and out if you’re careful,” she said as she led him closer to the library. After a few minutes of very awkward maneuvering, Fireflight found himself in a brightly colored wonderland. It was so pretty!

    “Wow, this is amazing!” He was vaguely aware of the fact that his head scraped the ceiling, but he was so enthralled by all the colors and shapes that he didn’t care.

    “I’m glad you think so, Fireflight. The counters, where our patrons check out the books that they borrow, are to your right, and the children’s area is to your left. The movies and CDs are past the checkout counters, and the nonfiction books are across the room from you, as are the novels intended for older readers. Do you have any questions?” Ms. Brown said. Fireflight was shocked at the sheer variety of materials that were available here. He’d never seen so many datapads-er, books-in his life! This was so exciting!

    “Could I check things out?” he asked eagerly.

    “Well, you’d need to get a library card first, and you’d have to be very careful not to damage anything considering your size, but I don’t see why that couldn’t be arranged,” Ms. Brown replied. Fireflight beamed. Thirty minutes later, he carefully excited the library with a digital library card and four different human books.

    “Thanks for the tour, Ms. Brown!” Ms. Brown smiled.

    “You’re quite welcome, Fireflight, and I look forward to seeing you again soon.”

    “I’ll probably be coming with him again next time,” Skydive said.

    “So there’s another bibliophile on the team? That’s wonderful!” Ms. Brown exclaimed, puzzling Fireflight.

    “What’s a bibliophile?” he asked.

    “A bibliophile is a book lover,” Skydive explained.

    “Oh! I like that word! It sounds really neat.” Ms. Brown laughed.

    “You’re both welcome at my library any time. Good-bye, and good luck,” she said.

    “Good-bye, Ms. Brown,” Fireflight replied.

    “Thank you for having us,” Silverbolt said, as he knelt and shook Ms. Brown’s hand again.

    “You’re welcome….and good luck keeping your team in line. They seem like they can be a bit of a handful,” she replied. With that, the Aerialbots transformed, took off, and flew back to base, where they were met by Optimus Prime.

    “Sir!” Silverbolt saluted.

    “At ease, Silverbolt. How did things go?”

    “Overall, the Q & A session went very well, sir. The humans, with one exception, were thrilled to have us there, and Air Raid, Skydive, and Fireflight were great with them. In fact, Skydive and Air Raid did so well that it might be a good idea to send Skydive on the next visit to the local nursing home and Air Raid on the next visit to a local school. Skydive loves listening to the stories of the past that the older humans tell, and Air Raid’s great with the children. Oh, and Fireflight actually went on a tour of the library and has a library card now. Slingshot was difficult, and I will discipline him for his behavior as soon as we return to our quarters, but otherwise, things worked out perfectly, sir,” Silverbolt replied.

    “Excellent work, Silverbolt.” Fireflight smiled. It was good to know that their leader appreciated all the hard work Silverbolt put into leading them.

    “Thank you, sir,” Silverbolt said. With that, Fireflight followed Silverbolt back to their quarters, trying not to squirm with excitement at the prospect at reading books with such pretty pictures in them. Humans had so many neat ideas, and printing books on funny pieces of carbon-based material was one of them. Upon their arrival back to their quarters, Silverbolt dismissed Air Raid, Skydive, and Fireflight, and Fireflight bolted to the room that he shared with Skydive, eager to look at all the fascinating things in his new books and to avoid the argument Slingshot was probably going to start with Silverbolt. Fireflight didn’t like when Slingshot got angry with Silverbolt. It really worried him, and the idea that his brothers might not like each other made him sad. Then he noticed the pretty plant that Hound had given him a present, and the funny-looking “Cabbage Patch Baby” that Carly had given him, and the picture of him and his brothers on the day of their creation, and the neat-looking “mobile” that Wheeljack had made for him, and the pretty rubies and emeralds that Powerglide’s friend Astoria had given to him, and the giant smiley face drawing that Swoop had given him, and he smiled. It was so nice of his friends to give him such interesting things to look at. He vaguely remembered that he had been worried about something, but he couldn’t remember what it had been. Oh, well. It probably didn’t matter, not when he had new books to look at! He eagerly started reading one of them, and was lost to the world for the next thirty minutes. Then Slingshot started yelling really loudly.

    “Well, if you don’t want me around, then FINE! I’m leaving!” he yelled. Fireflight heard a transformation noise, and then the sound of engines igniting and a jet taking off. Scared, he ran back to their common room to see a stunned-looking Silverbolt and no Slingshot. A few seconds later, Air Raid and Skydive also entered the room.

    “I take it that Slingshot left in one of his fits of pique?” Skydive asked. Silverbolt sighed and shook his head.

    “Unfortunately, yes. I know he doesn’t like being disciplined, but he doesn’t seem to understand that I have a responsibility to Optimus Prime to keep my team in line,” he said.

    “What’s pique?” Fireflight asked, but everyone ignored him.

    “Hey, Skydive, ten credits says that Slingshot comes crawling back in less than two hours,” Air Raid exclaimed.

    “Make it twenty, and I will take you up on your wager,” Skydive replied. Silverbolt frowned at them, and Fireflight whimpered. He didn’t like it when Silverbolt got upset with his brothers. Why couldn’t they all just be happy?

    “Air Raid, Skydive, this isn’t a game. If Slingshot keeps flouting my authority like this, High Command will think that I’m not fit to lead,” he said.

    “So? Prime would never put any of the four of us in charge, so who would he replace you with? Omega Supreme? He's too slow. Powerglide the minibot? That dopey Dinobot Swoop? No way,” Air Raid replied casually.

    “I don’t think Swoop is dopey. He’s really nice,” Fireflight said, but, as usual when everyone was sad or mad, he was ignored again.

    “Air Raid is right, Silverbolt. You have complete job security, so it doesn’t matter what the Autobots think of your performance,” Skydive said.

    “Skydive, we’re Autobots, too,” Silverbolt protested.

    “Tell that to them ,” Skydive replied, puzzling Fireflight. Sure, they hadn’t gotten along with the other Autobots at first, but that was over. Wasn’t everyone friends now?

    “Yeah! The humans treat us like Autobots, but nobody else does. Every time I enter the common room to hang out, it gets all quiet, and when I ask if anyone wants to hang out with me, everyone suddenly has stuff to do. A couple of them are nice, but most of them seem….I dunno, nervous around us, I guess,” Air Raid added.

    “Air Raid is correct. The Autobots do not trust us. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have been reading in a corner of the Ark and overheard them talking about us behind our backs,” Skydive added. Fireflight frowned. Skydive wasn’t suggesting that the other Autobots didn’t like them, was he?

    “What did you hear them say?” Silverbolt asked. He sounded sad, and that made Fireflight sad, too. He just wanted everything to be okay!

    “All sorts of things. They say that Slingshot and Air Raid would betray the Autobots in a sparkbeat if the Decepticons offered them an opportunity for bigger thrills, that Fireflight is an idiot who shouldn’t be allowed out of his quarters because he poses too much of a danger to others, that you’re an incompetent leader who lets us get away with murder because you cannot control us, and that I am….well, basically Onslaught with wings; cold, cruel, and calculating,” Skydive replied. He sounded mad.

    “Who’s included in this “they”?” Silverbolt asked, now sounding even more sad.

    “Cliffjumper, Gears, Brawn, Huffer, Powerglide, Sideswipe and Sunstreaker, Tracks, Grapple, Warpath, Red Alert, and Ironhide,” Skydive replied, as though reciting from memory. Skydive was really smart, and he could remember lots of things that Fireflight couldn’t, but Fireflight didn’t know why he had wanted to remember something sad. Silverbolt frowned.

    “I’m going after Slingshot,” he said. With that, he left the room, and Fireflight trailed after him, hoping that he would be able to make Silverbolt happy again.

    “Don’t be sad, Silverbolt. We all know you’re a good leader, and Optimus Prime does, too,” he said. That was what was important, right?

    “Some leader. If I was half the leader Hot Spot is, I wouldn’t have half the base calling me lazy and incompetent,” Silverbolt replied. He sounded angry.

    “Maybe Skydive misunderstood. Maybe they were joking, or they didn’t say what he thought they said,” Fireflight replied. Silverbolt just shook his head.

    “Skydive doesn’t make that kind of mistake, Fireflight,” he said, and Fireflight frowned, because Silverbolt was right. Skydive didn’t usually get things wrong-but if he wasn’t wrong, then that meant that a lot of the other Autobots didn’t like him and his big brothers!

    “But….but you’re a great leader. Why wouldn’t they see that?” Fireflight asked.

    “Maybe because it’s not there to see,” Silverbolt replied sadly.

    “Of course it is! You’re so smart and brave and kind and-”

    “That’s enough, Fireflight! I know you’re trying to help, but the only way I can fix this problem is by getting Slingshot back to base on the double. Go back to our quarters.”

    “But-”

    “I said go back, Fireflight,” Silverbolt said. He still didn’t yell, but he did sound mad, so Fireflight reluctantly obeyed and went back to the Aerialbots’ quarters, where he promptly started to sob. Why were the other Autobots mad at him and his brothers?

    “There, there. We will be fine, Fireflight,” Skydive said as he patted Fireflight on the shoulder. Fireflight just cried harder.

    “Yeah. We don’t need the other Autobots anyways, so who cares what they think?” Air Raid added. He was trying to sound tough, but even Fireflight could tell that he actually cared a lot about what the other Autobots thought and was sad that they didn’t like him.

    “But...but you said they don’t like us! I don’t want them to not like us!” With that, he ran into his room, where he could cry in peace.

    After a good long cry, Fireflight calmed down...and then noticed the nice things that his friends had given him. Suddenly, he had a really good idea! Maybe if he gave presents to all of the Autobots, they would stop being mad at him and his brothers, and Silverbolt wouldn’t be scared and sad anymore! That was a great idea! After all, one of the books that he’d gotten from the library had said that doing nice things for others was a good way to get them to like you. Now all he had to do was figure out what all of the other Autobots wanted, and then everyone would be happy again! He quickly left the Aerialbots’ quarters and headed towards Teletraan One. Teletraan One knew everything, so it could probably tell him what gifts to give to the other Autobots. He almost got distracted by a particularly shiny piece of metal and a funny-looking, moving tube thing and Sunstreaker’s paint job, but each time, he remembered that he had a really important mission and managed to stay on track. When he arrived at the supercomputer, he was relieved to find that no one else was around. Good. He didn’t want to ruin the surprise for anyone.

    “Hi, Teletraan One. Can you tell me what kinds of things the members of this unit like? I want to give them all presents!”

    “Compiling list of hobbies,” Teletraan One replied. Five minutes later, a list appeared on the screen, and Fireflight downloaded it into his personal files.

    “Thank you, Teletraan One!” he exclaimed. He walked into the common room, sat down at one of the tables, and started reading the list. Hound: enjoys Earthen flora and fauna. Okay, that was easy. He’d get Hound a pet! Hound loved animals! Jazz: enjoys Earthen music. Fireflight smiled. Earth music was really neat. He could see why Jazz liked it. Blaster: also enjoys Earth music, particularly “rock” music. Fireflight pondered this for a minute. If Jazz and Blaster both liked music, then he could probably get their presents from the same place. Powerglide: enjoys model planes. Fireflight smiled. He liked model planes too, so he knew where to get them. That wouldn’t be too hard. Grapple: an architect and artist. Loves to construct. Oooh, he’d buy Grapple a LEGO set! Wheeljack: enjoys inventing. Hobbies are dangerous; aiding him in them not advised. Hmmm...then maybe he could get Wheeljack a first aid kit for when his hobby exploded. Sunstreaker: enjoys admiring himself. So, a really big mirror, then? Fireflight could do that! Sideswipe: Enjoys playing Earthen “video games”. Air Raid had a lot of those...maybe he could buy Sideswipe one from the place where Air Raid got his. Brawn: a collector of the Cybertronian Heroes toy line; is currently missing only the exclusive “X-Treme” figure. Getting a toy from Cybertron would be challenging, but surely he could find someone who had that figure! Tracks: enjoys New York City, wants to see a Broadway show. Fireflight nodded. Broadway tickets it was! It sure was a good thing that he’d never spent any of his money. (Every member of the unit was given a certain amount of money each month to spend on recreation for their off-duty time, but he had never actually used any of his...at least until now.) Huffer: an engineer. Enjoys reminiscing about Cybetron. Maybe he could give him LEGOs too, so that he could make a replica of Cybetron. Gears: enjoys getting tune-ups. Fireflight figured that he could get the grumpy minibot a giftcard for an auto repair shop. Maybe that would make him happy! Warpath: enjoys sharpshooting. How about a dart board? It wasn’t exactly sharpshooting, but it was similar. Cliffjumper: enjoys collecting guns. Fireflight didn’t think he could purchase a gun without permission, but he could buy him a NERF gun! Ratchet: enjoys parties; would like to experience Mardi Gras. At this point, Fireflight realized that he should probably be making a list of things to buy so that he didn’t forget anything. He quickly wrote down everything he had already thought of and then added purchasing party supplies and masks to the second list. Bumblebee: enjoys collecting “stuffed animals”; has a particular fondness for bears. Well, that would be easy. Stuffed bears weren’t hard to find. Bluestreak: enjoys talking; would like to own the game of Catchphrase. Another easy one! Maybe this wouldn’t be as hard as he thought. Red Alert: has no hobbies; suggest purchasing him a security blanket. Fireflight frowned. Poor Red Alert. Maybe a blanket would make him less worried all the time. On to the list it went! Grimlock: enjoys being in charge; would like to own a crown. Finding one in his size might be difficult, but Fireflight was sure he could do it! Prowl: enjoys games of strategy. Suggestion: buy him a game of Risk. He’d get that when he got Catchphrase. Ironhide: Would like to have a romantic evening with Chromia. That would take some time, but Fireflight thought he could manage it. And he could buy Ironhide flowers for her, too! Spike had told him that girls loved flowers. An hour and a half later, Fireflight had reached the end of Teletraan One’s list. The last item on the list read: Optimus Prime: Autobot leader. Suggestion: give him a hug. Fireflight smiled. That, he could do for sure! Now that he knew what everyone wanted, he deleted the file he’d downloaded from Teletraan One and returned to his quarters, where he found Slingshot.

    “Silverbolt says I have to apologize to you, so I’m sorry for running away and making you upset,” he said. Fireflight beamed. Slingshot was back! That was all that really mattered.

    “I forgive you. I’m really glad you’re back,” he said. Slingshot gave a slight smile.

    “I’m glad to be back, kid. Anyway, Silverbolt stuck me on punishment duty until the end of time, so I gotta split. See you around,” he replied. Before he could leave, though, someone let out a really loud shriek.

    “SNAKE!” Slingshot and Fireflight exchanged a confused look and then ran in the direction the scream had come from to see who was screaming. They quickly found a group of Autobots, all of whom were gathered around the funny-looking, moving tube thing he’d seen earlier. The group included Red Alert, Inferno, Beachcomber, Windcharger, Bluestreak, and Hound. Red Alert looked both really angry and really scared, so Fireflight thought that he was probably the one who had screamed.
    “Yep, that sure is a snake, Red Alert...and quite a beautiful one at that,” Hound said.
    “I KNOW it’s a snake! What I want to know is how this hideous, tubular, carbon-based life form got past my security system!” Red Alert screamed.
    “Easy, Red old buddy. Even a snake as big as that one can’t hurt Autobots,” Inferno said. Red Alert glared at him.
    “That’s not the point, Inferno! The point is that it shouldn’t have been able to get past my security system! For all we know, the entire security network has malfunctioned, and the Decepticons are going to attack any minute! If a snake can get in, so can our enemies!” Red Alert exclaimed. Fireflight frowned. Poor Red Alert. He always seemed so upset. Hopefully he would like his security blanket once Fireflight found it. Suddenly, he heard a loud snicker, and then Sideswipe emerged from a storage room, laughing loudly.
    “The look on your faceplates….it was priceless!” he exclaimed. Red Alert glared at him.
    “Oh, yes, because tricking me into believing that we might be at risk for a Deception attack is absolutely hilarious, I’m sure,” he spat.
    “Are you kidding? It’s comedy gold!” Sideswipe exclaimed. Then he started laughing even harder….only for the smile to slip off of his face when Prowl arrived.
    “What is going on here, Sideswipe?” he asked sternly.
    “Why do you always assume that things like this are my fault?” Sideswipe replied.
    “Because they usually are. What happened?”
    “This impudent, irreverent, insolent cretin used a snake-a snake, of all creatures!-to make me think that my security had been compromised!” Red Alert exclaimed.
    “C’mon, Red, it was only a prank. Can’t you take a joke?” Sideswipe asked.
    “Our security is not a joke!” Red Alert yelled. Inferno put his hand on his friend’s shoulder, probably in an attempt to calm him down.
    “Easy, Red. You’re okay,” he said gently.
    “Where did you get a snake that large anyway, Sideswipe? I’m pretty sure the snakes around here don’t get that big,” Hound asked.
    “The local zoo,” Sideswipe replied. Then he looked nervous, glanced at Prowl, and added,
    “What? I was gonna return it.”
    “It doesn’t matter if you were going to return the snake, or what your motives were for pulling this stunt. Our security is of the utmost importance, and tricking Red Alert into thinking that it had been compromised is both potentially dangerous and cruel to him. You’re going to the brig for the next three days, and then you’re going to be on security duty with Red Alert for the next two weeks to make up for what you did to him,” Prowl told Sideswipe. Sideswipe just shrugged. Fireflight would’ve been very upset if he’d been put in the brig, but Sideswipe seemed to take getting in trouble in stride. Then he seemed to notice Slingshot and Fireflight and frowned.
    “I get three days in the brig and two weeks of punishment detail for a stupid prank when these ‘Con sympathizers got off with a slap on the wrist for trying to defect? How’s that fair?” he snarled. Fireflight whimpered. Sideswipe was usually so happy. It was scary to see him angry, especially when it was directed at him.
    “First, I’d hardly call nearly being killed by Megatron a “slap on the wrist”. Second, the Aerialbots were less than three weeks old when they “attempted to defect”-which, incidentally, was more of a naive decision to try to talk with the Decepticons than an actual attempt at treachery-and understood very little about our cause or the war. You, on the other hand, are a mature mech, who knows and fully understands the Autobot rules but still chooses to break them. The two situations are not at all comparable,” Prowl replied.
    “Not at all comparable? I pranked Red Alert. They were playing nice with the enemy! Of course, I don’t know what else you’d expect from a bunch of Seekers,” Sideswipe exclaimed.
    “Who’re you callin’ a Seeker, ya stupid groundpounder?” Slingshot exclaimed.
    “Slingshot, you shouldn’t be fighting with him. Silverbolt won’t like that,” Fireflight said. He didn’t want the Autobots to have another reason to be mad at them!
    “Why not? Fighting is what Seekers do, isn’t it?” Sideswipe asked. Fireflight frowned. He and his brothers weren’t Seekers. Seekers were Decepticons, and they were mean. He wasn’t mean, and neither were his brothers! Well, Slingshot could be mean sometimes, but not usually.
    “Sideswipe, cease antagonizing the Aerialbots, or I will increase the amount of time you spend in the brig to a week,” Prowl said. Sideswipe glared at him.
    “Why are you sticking up for them? Can’t you see it? They were modeled off of a Decepticon body type. They tried to defect the first chance they got. They talk like Seekers, they think they’re too good for a bunch of grounders like us, and nobody ever punishes them for anything! There’s never been a Seeker in the Autobot army, and for good reason! How long do you think it’ll be before they follow their programming and defect for real?” Slingshot frowned.
    “I. Hate. Megatron. I ain’t a Seeker, and I don’t care what scrap you spew about my “programming”. I saw what he does to innocent mechs. I will never follow him, ya hear me?” Sideswipe laughed coldly, and Fireflight shuddered.
    “Say what you want. It’ll convince Optimus. It’ll convince Prowl. It might even convince Red Alert. But it’ll never convince me. You’re a Seeker, and you’re all the same. You think you’re better than all of us because you can fly, and once you realize that we won’t put up with it, you’ll go running to Starscream. Your kind already destroyed my old home. I’m not gonna let you destroy my new home, too-Decepticon,” he said.
    “That’s it. You’re going in the brig for a week and a half,” Prowl said. With that, he put stasis cuffs on Sideswipe and led him out of the room. An awkward silence then descended over the room as Fireflight started to cry. His brothers were right-some of the Autobots really did hate them, and that made him very sad.
    “Does anyone else wanna accuse us of bein’ Seekers?” Slingshot demanded.
    “Of course not. Sideswipe shouldn’t have said the things he did to you,” Hound replied.
    “Yeah. I don’t think you’re traitors or anything, because you’re all pretty nice. But-please don’t get mad-I can kinda understand why a lot of mechs think you might be. I mean, you look a lot like Seekers, and the Seekers did a lot of damage on Cybertron. Most Autobots are used to thinking of anyone with your design as the enemy, and the fact that you didn’t know any better and liked the Decepticons at first didn’t help. It’s not right to call you traitors, ‘cause you’re really nice for a bunch of aerials-” Bluestreak babbled. Slingshot frowned and cut him off.
    “Nice for a bunch of aerials? What’s that supposed to mean?” he snapped. Fireflight was equally confused. What did their frametypes have to do with being nice?
    “I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just that you’re so smart and well-spoken and nice, and it’s weird because most aerials are Decepticons, who aren’t nice at all even though you are, and Brawn is always talking about how Silverbolt is so well-behaved that you’d never know he was a Seek-” At this point, Hound interrupted.
    “Bluestreak?”
    “Yes, Hound?”
    “As Spike likes to say, “put a sock in it”. You’re just making things worse.” Bluestreak ducked his head, clearly embarrassed.
    “Sorry,” he whispered.
    “I forgive you,” Fireflight replied. He knew Bluestreak hadn’t meant to hurt them. Much like Fireflight himself, he just spoke without thinking. A lot.
    “That’s great, Bluestreak. Now, if you’ll excuse a pair of stupid, violent Seekers, we’re gonna go back to our room where we won’t bother the rest of you,” Slingshot snapped. With that, he dragged Fireflight back to the Aerialbots’ quarters and stormed off to the room he shared with Air Raid, leaving Fireflight with his sad feelings. His brothers were right-some of the other Autobots really didn’t like them, and for a reason he really didn’t fully understand. He had to go through with his plans to give the other Autobots presents now. It was the only way to make the other Autobots realize that they weren’t mean because they were jets.

    A few days later, Fireflight was called into Silverbolt’s office (which was really just his room).

    “Yes, Silverbolt?” he asked. Silverbolt sighed, and Fireflight noticed that he looked really sad. Hopefully, Fireflight’s plan to make everyone like them would work, because if it did, it might mean that Silverbolt wouldn’t look so sad anymore. He had already managed to find about a quarter of the items on the list, and he figured that he’d manage to get something for every one of the Autobots by the end of the month.

    “Cliffjumper has been accusing you of treachery. Do you have any idea why he might be doing that?” Silverbolt replied. Fireflight frowned. He knew that Cliffjumper had a habit of accusing various Autobots of treachery, but he had no idea what he might have done that would’ve gotten him accused.

    “Cliffjumper’s saying I’m a traitor?”

    “I’ll take that to mean that you don’t know why he’s been accusing you.”

    “Nope. Sorry I don’t know, Silverbolt,” Fireflight replied. Silverbolt sighed again, sounding really tired.

    “It’s not your fault, Fireflight. If anything, it’s mine. Maybe if I had been a better leader, the other Autobots would respect us by now,” he replied.

    “It’s not your fault, either, Silverbolt,” Fireflight said quickly. He didn’t want Silverbolt to blame himself for the fact that the other Autobots didn’t like them. Silverbolt had always done everything right! A few seconds later, Skydive entered the room. Fireflight didn’t know where he had come from, but he assumed he must’ve overheard them talking.

    “Fireflight is right, Silverbolt. It doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do. Because you look like the enemy, some Autobots will always treat you like the enemy. You’re as loyal to Optimus Prime as any of the Autobots, but it doesn’t matter. You look like a Seeker, so the best you can hope for from them are backhanded compliments about how much you don’t act like a Seeker,” he said coldly. Fireflight frowned. Surely things weren’t that hopeless!

    “It’s not like that, is it? They don’t really hate the way we look so much that they’ll never like us, do they?” he asked. Silverbolt patted his hand gently.

    "No, of course not, Fireflight. They're just not used to us yet, that's all," Silverbolt replied. Skydive frowned.

    "Don't lie to him, Silverbolt. It's not going to matter how long we're here or how much time the Autobots have to get used to us. To some of them, we'll never be anything but a bunch of potential traitors. And I for one have no desire to bend over backwards to please a group of prejudiced bullies who will never see past the fact that we have aerial alternate modes," he said.

    "Skydive, we have to get along with them and convince them that we're trustworthy, no matter what it takes. It's our duty as members of this army to prove to our teammates that we can be relied upon. Optimus Prime expects it of us."

    "Do you really think that Optimus Prime expects us to just accept being ostracized and insulted by our own supposed allies, Silverbolt?"

    "No, I think he expects us to stop picking fights with the other Autobots. Slingshot and Air Raid give just as good as they get. You know that, Skydive!"

    "If you call losing your temper and punching Sunstreaker after he's insulted and threatened Fireflight for ten minutes because of a slight scratch to his paint "picking fights", I suppose." Fireflight whimpered at the memory. Sunstreaker was scary when he was mad.

    "Sunstreaker's a frontliner. He's been through a lot, especially at the hands of Seekers," Silverbolt said weakly.

    "And that gives him free reign to threaten Fireflight with mutilation?"

    "He wouldn't have really-"

    "It's Sunstreaker, Silverbolt. He absolutely would have." Silverbolt sighed wearily.

    "I...I need some time to think. You're both dismissed." Skydive saluted and exited the room.

    "Bye, Silverbolt. I hope you feel better after you do some thinking," Fireflight said. Then, he, too, left the room...only to hear Silverbolt let out an exhausted-sounding groan.

    "What am I going to do?"

    Fireflight, eager to help make Silverbolt feel better, returned to his room and continued his mission to buy presents for all the Autobots. A few hours later, after he had found Brawn and Seaspray’s presents, Air Raid commed him excitedly.

    “You gotta come see this, Fireflight! It’s awesome!” he exclaimed.

    “Where is it?” Fireflight replied.

    “At the shuttle bay-you know, where Cosmos’ room is! Get down here!” Air Raid said. Fireflight rushed to the shuttle bay. When he arrived, he was greeted by an amazing sight. Standing in the shuttle bay with Air Raid and Cosmos was a really big robot, one even bigger than the Dinobots. After a few seconds of staring, Fireflight waved at him.

    “Hi! I’m Fireflight! Who are you? I’ve never seen you before,” he asked.

    “I’m Skyfire. It’s nice to meet you, Fireflight. I don’t recognize you, either, so maybe you came to Earth while I was off on my latest scientific voyage,” the huge mech replied.

    “Skyfire! It’s good to have you back!” Cosmos exclaimed.

    “It’s good to be back, little friend. When did our unit increase its aerial ranks?” Skyfire said.

    “About two months after you left on your exploratory voyage, the Aerialbots-all five of them, including Fireflight and Air Raid here-joined our ranks. We needed troops to combat Megatron’s new team of cars,” Cosmos explained.

    “I see. Well, it’s nice to have a few more flyers in the ranks. Would you mind introducing me to the rest of your team?” Skyfire said. Fireflight was surprised, but happy. It was nice to have someone who actually wanted to meet them.

    “Sure! Follow us!” Air Raid exclaimed. Fireflight quickly commed Skydive, Slingshot, and Silverbolt to ask them to meet up with them in their quarters, and then ran to catch up to Skyfire and his brother. When the three of them arrived in the Aerialbots’ quarters, Silverbolt, Skydive, and Slingshot were already there, and when they saw Skyfire, all three of them looked impressed.

    “Hello. I’m Skyfire. When you were recruited into Optimus Prime’s unit, I was on an exploratory mission in space, and as such, we haven’t yet met. I take it that you are the other three Aerialbots?” Skyfire said.

    “Yes. I’m Silverbolt, the grey-and-black F-16 is Skydive, our resident bookworm and tactician, the Harrier with the orange head is Slingshot, and I see you’ve already met Air Raid and Fireflight. It’s good to meet you, Skyfire,” Silverbolt said. He and Skyfire shook hands.

    “Likewise, Silverbolt. It’s good to finally have some more aerials around,” Skyfire said. Skydive looked at him oddly.

    “You aren’t upset that we look like Seekers?” he asked.

    “Skydive! There’s no need to accuse Skyfire of thinking something like that!” Silverbolt exclaimed. Skyfire sighed.

    “Silverbolt, I understand Skydive’s question perfectly. I am fully aware of the animosity some Autobots bear towards aerials, particularly Seekers. I’ve been on the receiving end of it myself, after all,” he said.
    “You have?” Fireflight and Air Raid asked in unison.

    “But you don’t look anything like a Seeker,” Slingshot said. Skyfire shook his head.

    “I may not look as much like the Seekers as you do, but I’m still an aerial...and, more importantly, I was a Decepticon aerial for awhile,” Skyfire replied.

    “And they haven’t chased you out of the base? With the exception of Silverbolt, we admired the Decepticons at first, and we still get called traitors for the one time that we attempted to talk to them rather than fight with them, even though we only did that because we didn’t fully understand the war and its history yet. I can’t imagine how they’d treat an actual ex-Decepticon,” Skydive said. Skyfire smiled, but it was a sad smile.

    “Before the war, my best friend and I went on an exploratory mission of an uncharted planet. We were both scientists, and we had worked together for a very long time. We trusted each other implicitly. During the expedition, I was swept up by the planet’s polar winds and buried alive for millenia. A few years ago, my best friend returned to the planet, discovered that I was still alive, dug me out of the ice, told me that a war had started, and asked me to join his side. Due to our long friendship, I trusted that his side was the right one...and I was wrong. The planet was this one, Earth, and my friend was Starscream. When I discovered that the Decepticons weren’t what I had believed them to be, I switched sides and joined the Autobots, but the damage had been done. The Autobots knew that Starscream had been my friend, and that, combined with the fact that I had joined the Decepticons for a while, forever branded me as a traitor in the optics of some of my allies. Because of that, I go into space as often as I can. I do not wish to cause them distress, and having me out of sight is easier for them,” he explained.

    “That’s so sad,” Fireflight said.

    “It isn’t so bad, little one. I’m a shuttle. We’re used to our own company,” Skyfire replied.

    “You were friends with Starscream ?” Air Raid asked. Skyfire gave that sad smile again.

    “Yes, I was. He was...different before I was entombed in the ice all those vorns ago, kind and funny and brilliant. I don’t know what happened while I was in stasis, but whatever it was, it changed him into something I don’t recognize,” he said quietly.

    “Why hasn’t anyone told us about you?” Skydive asked.

    “Probably ‘cause they wanted to make sure that he didn’t give us any additional treacherous ideas,” Slingshot replied. Silverbolt frowned.

    “Or because we never asked,” he said.

    “I can’t speak for everyone, but I can assure you that Optimus Prime, at least, wouldn’t use my past as a reason to keep me secret from you. Silverbolt’s right, they probably just forgot to tell you about me since I was away and you never knew to ask about me,” Skyfire added.

    “If you say so. You seem like a pretty smart guy, especially for someone who was dumb enough to be friends with Starscream,” Slingshot replied. Skyfire laughed.

    “I’ll take that as a compliment,” he said.

    “So, what happened on the expedition you just returned from?” Skydive asked.

    “You really want to know?” Skyfire asked, sounding surprised.

    “Of course,” Skydive replied, and Fireflight sat down and waited eagerly for Skyfire’s story to begin.

    25 more presents from Fireflight’s list and four days later, Fireflight was awoken by shouting. Since one of the voices belonged to Silverbolt, who never yelled, Fireflight assumed that the base must be under attack. In response, he grabbed his gun and ran into the Aerialbots’ common room to see Silvebolt standing between a terrified-looking, injured Skydive and an absolutely furious-looking Sunstreaker and Cliffjumper.

    “I don’t care what Skydive did or didn’t do. It can’t justify you hurting him like this!” Silverbolt exclaimed. Upon Silverbolt pointing this out, Cliffjumper started to look guilty.

    “I didn’t mean for him to get hurt when we confronted him… but you’re all plotting to betray us! Skydive ordered Fireflight to start buying weapons, which is why he’s been on Teletraan One so much, and then convinced Sideswipe to prank Red Alert so that he would get locked up and one of our frontliners would be out of commission when you attacked. Then he called Skyfire and told him to return from his mission in space so that you would have backup when you all turned on the Autobots together!” Cliffjumper exclaimed. If the situation hadn’t been so serious, Fireflight would have giggled. Cliffjumper’s idea was just so silly!

    “Sunstreaker, don’t tell me you believe that crazy theory. You pride yourself on your intelligence,” Silverbolt said. Sunstreaker shrugged and turned to Cliffjumper.

    “Get out of here, little buddy. I think things are about to get ugly, and one of us needs to be able to warn the other Autobots about Skydive’s scheme,” he said.

    “You got it, Sunny,” Cliffjumper said. As soon as he left, a creepy, Decepticon-like smile spread across Sunstreaker’s face.

    “You’re right, Silverbolt. I may hate aerials, but I don’t believe a word of that crazy theory. That’s not what matters, though. What matters is that Cliffjumper does...and that’s exactly why I told it to him. True, he cries wolf so often that no one would believe him on his own, but with me and Ark hearsay backing it up? It’ll be enough to get the higher-ups to at least suspect something’s up, and when I come to them with injuries from trying to stop your attempt to switch sides, well...it won’t look good for you. You’re going to pay for putting my brother in the brig, you filthy Seeker!” he said. The last comment was clearly directed at Skydive.

    “But you don’t have any injuries,” Silverbolt said. Suddenly, Sunstreaker lunged towards Fireflight and grabbed his gun arm. In a panic, Fireflight tried to pull free from the Lamborghini, and the gun went off. Sunstreaker then staggered back, a ragged hole in his side.

    “I do now. I didn’t really want to involve you or this dopey kid in my plan to get revenge and remove three dangerous aerials from our ranks, Silverbolt, but Skydive forced my hand. If he hadn’t stumbled onto my plan before it was ready, I wouldn’t have had to implicate you all in it...but as it is, I’m afraid none of you are going to avoid being expelled from the ranks. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some dangerous traitors to report,” Sunstreaker said. With that, he left their quarters, sneer still plastered onto his face.

    “I didn’t mean to hurt him!” Fireflight wailed.

    “I know you didn’t, Fireflight. What happened was not your fault. Skydive, what is going on here?” Silverbolt replied. Skydive shook his head.

    “Sunstreaker is finally acting on his grudge,” he replied.

    “ What grudge?” Silverbolt asked.

    “The grudge he has against aerials in general, and us in particular. Do you remember when Slingshot and Air Raid were sent to the brig for fighting with Sunstreaker, and how I told you that the fight was prompted by Sunstreaker threatening to harm Firefight because Fireflight had scratched his finish?” Skydive asked.

    “Of course. We talked about it a few days ago,” Silverbolt replied.

    “Sunstreaker also got time in the brig, based mainly on my testimony. Apparently, he’d never been sent to the brig for anything before that, and he was not happy that he was actually being punished for something. In Sunstreaker’s mind, that’s a good enough reason to plot revenge against a bunch of aerials right there….assuming that the scratch to his paint job didn’t do it, that is. The fact that we were also responsible for his brother being put in the brig was just the icing on the oil cake. A couple minutes ago, I stumbled upon him creating plans for attacking the Ark-plans with my name on them. When I confronted him, he commed Cliffjumper and made up the ridiculous story Cliffjumper told you. Cliffjumper grabbed me, and then, when I pulled away, Sunstreaker used that as an excuse to beat me up...likely so his story that he had a fight with us would have more weight,” Skydive replied.

    “There’s no way the other Autobots would believe that!” Silverbolt exclaimed.

    “With the way you’ve let the rumours about us spread? Some of them just might...especially if he has apparent evidence and has been shot with one of our weapons,” Skydive replied. Fireflight started sobbing hysterically. How would he ever convince all the Autobots to like him now?

    After several of the worst minutes of Fireflight’s life, a large number of Autobots arrived in the Aerialbots’ quarters, including Sunstreaker, Cliffjumper, Red Alert, Prowl, and Ironhide. Red Alert and Cliffjumper both seemed really upset, and Ironhide was scowling.

    “You’ve got a lot of explainin’ to do, young’uns,” Ironhide said. He looked angry, and Fireflight whimpered. He didn’t like having his teammates angry with him! Prowl nodded, a serious expression on his faceplates.

    “You’ve been accused of two very serious offenses: plotting treason and shooting a fellow Autobot. I personally believe that there is likely a less sinister explanation for what Cliffjumper and Sunstreaker have accused you of, but the severity of the crimes obliges me to investigate you regardless. If, as I suspect, you are innocent of the accusations, you have nothing to fear from this investigation,” he said.

    “How can you think they’re innocent, Prowl? Ratchet already confirmed that Sunstreaker’s wounds came from Fireflight’s gun! Not only that, but Sunstreaker has proof of their wrongdoings!” Red Alert exclaimed, sounding almost as crazy as Cliffjumper had earlier.

    “Sunstreaker’s “proof” might well have been fabricated, Red Alert. His wound is more troubling, but I personally find the idea that Fireflight shot Sunstreaker as part of some treacherous plot to be one of the least probable explanations for it. You can’t let your desire to protect the Autobots lead you to jump to unfounded conclusions,” Prowl said.

    “Unfounded conclusions? They’re perfectly founded! What other explanation is there for why Fireflight’s been using Teletraan One so much?” Cliffjumper exclaimed. Red Alert nodded.

    “Cliffjumper is right, Prowl. Fireflight’s behavior has been most unusual lately. Not only has he been using Teletraan One more frequently, but he’s also been abnormally focused and solitary for the past week or so. If Skydive, Slingshot, Skyfire, and Air Raid have been using him to further some treacherous plan, that would explain why!” he said.

    “Red Alert, I share quarters with all four of my brothers. Do you really think that they could have hatched a plan as detailed as the one you seem to be accusing them of without me noticing and telling someone?” Silverbolt replied. Fireflight sighed in relief. Surely they would listen to Silverbolt! He was so smart and brave and good!

    “Skydive is a genius. If anyone could manage such a thing, it would be him,” Red Alert replied. Fireflight whimpered and tried not to start crying again. Why was everyone so willing to believe that he and Skydive were doing bad things?

    “Besides, how do we know you aren’t in on it? For all we know, your loyal soldier act could be just that-an act,” Cliffjumper added. Ironhide scowled at him.

    “Not a chance, Cliffjumper. Silverbolt’s as loyal as they come. If the other Aerialbots really are plottin’ against us, they’re doin’ it when he ain’t around,” he said. Fireflight relaxed slightly. Ironhide might not have liked Slingshot or Air Raid or Skydive, but at least he knew that Silverbolt wasn’t a traitor.

    “Or he’s simply too weak to stop them. Face it, Ironhide, Silverbolt isn’t exactly the model of an inspiring leader,” Sunstreaker replied coldly.

    “Enough with the wild accusations! This investigation is going to be handled calmly and rationally. If the three of you cannot handle that, I will have to ask you to leave,” Prowl exclaimed. Cliffjumper, Sunstreaker, and Red Alert promptly fell silent.

    “You can b-begin your investigation, Prowl,” Silverbolt said. Prowl nodded.

    “Thank you, Silverbolt. However, before I begin, I will tell you what Sunstreaker claims is going on. He says that Skydive has been in contact with Skyfire for a long time, plotting a strike against us so that you can weaken our forces and then join the Decepticons. Air Raid and Slingshot are allegedly their co-conspirators. They planned to cause as much disruption amongst the Autobot ranks as possible, by picking fights and otherwise causing problems, and they also convinced Fireflight into purchasing weapons for their strike. Then, when Sunstreaker discovered Skydive’s plans, he used Fireflight’s gun to shoot him, but failed to kill him. Skydive himself was also injured in the scuffle. Sunstreaker further claims that Air Raid and Slingshot have already left the base to prepare for the planned assault. Is any of this true?” Prowl said.

    “Of course not, sir. Sunstreaker is lying,” Silverbolt replied.

    “Really? Then where are Air Raid and Slingshot?” Sunstreaker asked.

    “Out on patrol,” Silverbolt replied. Sunstreaker laughed.

    “That’s what they told you, I’m sure, but who’s to say if that’s what they’re really doing? Face it, Silverbolt, it’s my word against yours...and I’m the one with a gunshot wound. You have no proof of what Air Raid and Slingshot are really doing, but I do have proof that Fireflight shot me,” he said. For some reason, Skydive tapped the side of his helm, but Fireflight barely noticed it. He was too upset that he and his brothers might get in trouble for something they hadn’t done. How could Sunstreaker lie so easily?

    “Sunstreaker, you are not in charge of this investigation. Stop interrogating the Aerialbots,” Prowl said firmly.

    “C’mon, Prowl, they’re obviously guilty. I was shot by one of their weapons, I have evidence of Skydive’s plans, they can’t prove what Slingshot and Air Raid are doing on their so-called patrol, and Skyfire arrived not long after my brother, one of our strongest warriors, was put in the brig, because he was waiting for them to call him and tell him that their plan was working! What more proof do you need?” Sunstreaker exclaimed.

    “Proof that everyone you’re accusing of colluding with one another could actually have been in contact with each other.” Everyone in the room, Fireflight included, spun around to see that Skyfire had entered the room. He walked over to Prowl and pulled up some sort of holographic display, one with really pretty colors.

    “This is a record of all the times that I have used my comm link while I was on my last expedition. As you can see, I only used it three times during the voyage: once to tell Optimus Prime that I had escaped Earth’s atmosphere, once to relay information to Perceptor, and once to tell Red Alert that I would be returning to base. Thus, I could not have been plotting anything with Skydive while in space. And before someone accuses me of tampering with it, I will remind you that only an advanced programming expert would be able to alter internal records, including records of personal comm link usage, with any degree of sophistication. My fields of expertise are biology and anthropology, not programming,” Skyfire continued. Fireflight grinned. He had no idea how Skyfire had happened to show up at just the right time, but he wasn’t about to complain about it. A few seconds later, Gears also entered the room, carrying several large packages with him. Sunstreaker tried to slip out of the room, but Prowl grabbed him before he could.

    “You’d better enjoy whatever this is, Fireflight, because it was heavy. My pulleys will be out of alignment for a week,” he whined. Fireflight beamed and opened the first package, which contained a NERF gun, a very large bouquet of artificial flowers, a large book of coupons for an auto repair shop, the action figure he had ordered for Brawn, and a blanket made of pliable metal.

    “Good! It came! Let’s see...the NERF gun is for Cliffjumper, the blanket is for Red Alert, the coupon book is for Gears, and the flowers are for Ironhide,” Fireflight said as he handed each of the mechs their gift. After a few seconds of silence, Prowl actually laughed, something that was a little unsettling. Fireflight hadn’t even realized that he could laugh.

    “Would your recent seriousness and excessive time spent on Teletraan One be because you were trying to buy gifts for everyone, Fireflight?” he asked.

    “Yes!” Fireflight replied.

    “And why did you decide to do that?”

    “Because I wanted everyone to know that I like them , and that me and my brothers aren’t mean just because we look like Seekers,” Fireflight explained. Cliffjumper, who had been enthusiastically admiring his NERF gun, suddenly looked at the ground.

    “I, uh, guess you weren’t betraying us after all. I shouldn’t have jumped to conclusions, and I’m sorry for causing you all this trouble. And, uh, thanks for the NERF gun. I’ve wanted to get my hands on one of these ever since Spike told me about them,” he said.

    “You’re welcome,” Fireflight said cheerily, happy that Cliffjumper was no longer angry at him. Red Alert had wrapped himself up in the blanket and now looked like the human fuel called a burrito. He gave Fireflight a small smile.

    “I apologize for suspecting you-all of you,” he said. Silverbolt nodded.

    “We forgive you, Red Alert. As Security Director, you have to take any potential threat seriously...and the glitch that sometimes causes you to get out of hand isn’t really your fault,” he said. Skydive nodded in agreement.

    “We’re not angry with you, Red Alert,” he added.

    “I’m glad. Thank you for your gift, Fireflight. It was very thoughtful,” Red Alert replied.

    “You’re welcome,” Fireflight replied. Suddenly Ironhide stepped forward.

    “I appreciate you thinkin’ of me, kiddo, but what am I gonna do with a bunch of flowers?” he asked. Fireflight jolted in alarm. He’d forgotten to give Ironhide the other part of his present! Fireflight quickly reached into his subspace and pulled out the note from Chromia, which he then handed to Ironhide. A few seconds later, a big grin broke out on the van’s face.

    “Setting up a date for me an’ Chromia was real sweet of ya, kiddo. You didn’t have to go through all that effort for a cranky ol’ warhorse like me. Thanks!” he said.

    “You’re welcome. I’m just happy that you’re happy,” Fireflight replied. With that, he started opening up the other packages as well, and quickly found Prowl’s extra-large game of Risk, Sunstreaker’s mirror, and Silverbolt’s “#1 Brother” plaque.

    “Prowl, thanks for believing in us,” he said as he handed Prowl his gift. Prowl smiled.

    “Thank you for proving me right,” he replied as he started examining the game.

    “Silverbolt, thanks for being my big brother. No matter what anyone says, you’re a great brother and a great leader,” Fireflight said as he gave Silverbolt his plaque.

    “If anyone’s a great brother, it’s you, Fireflight. Thank you for thinking of me...and for making me realize something very important,” Silverbolt replied.

    “What’s that?” Fireflight asked.

    “You and Skydive have made me understand that I have as much of a responsibility to you as I do to the other Autobots. Expecting you to just ignore being mistreated by the other Autobots isn’t fair to you,” Silverbolt said. Skydive smiled.

    “It’s about time you figured that out,” he said. Then Fireflight walked up to Sunstreaker.

    “I don’t like what you did to us, Sunstreaker. You lied about us, and you made us sad. But if we decide to be mean to you because of it, you’ll probably think that it proves we’re bad. So I’m going to give you your present, and I hope it makes you happy,” Fireflight told him. Then he handed him the mirror. Sunstreaker, for his part, scowled.

    “I don’t need anything from you, Seeker ,” he said. Prowl frowned at him, but before he could say something, Silverbolt did.

    “Prowl, Sunstreaker falsely accused my teammates of betraying the Autobots, manipulated the paranoia of Red Alert and Cliffjumper to achieve his own ends, and injured Skydive when he stumbled upon his plans. I don’t want him to have him expelled from the Autobots in the way that he tried to have us expelled, but I do want to request that he be punished for what he did, and I would also like to ask that the hostility being shown towards my team be greatly reduced. I don’t demand that anyone like us, but I do ask that we be shown the courtesy of not being suspected of treachery or accused of lacking intelligence or manners because of our frame types. I will ensure that my team respects all of you, but I ask that we be respected in return. Skydive, Fireflight, and, ironically enough, Sunstreaker’s actions, have taught me that expecting us to give up everything to please mechs like Sunstreaker is just as unfair as expecting you to give up everything to please us,” Silverbolt said. Suddenly, Optimus Prime himself entered the room, accompanied by Slingshot and Air Raid. First Skyfire, and now Optimus Prime and his brothers. How was everyone managing to show up at exactly the right time?

    “I couldn’t have put it better myself, Silverbolt, and I second your request. As Autobots, we stand for freedom and dignity of all species. It would be hypocritical, and unfair, to deny the dignity and freedom of our own teammates,” Optimus Prime added. At this point, Red Alert exited the room, probably to return to his security feeds and make sure that the base remained safe.

    “Good to see that you’ve finally grown a spinal strut, big brother,” Slingshot said. Silverbolt smiled.

    “You’re not going to flatter your way out of punishment detail, Slingshot,” he replied. Air Raid cracked up.

    “He got you again, Slingshot!”

    “Shut up, Raid,” Slingshot replied, but he didn’t sound angry. Fireflight grinned and turned to Optimus Prime, hoping to satisfy his curiosity.

    “How did you know to come here, sir? Did the Matrix tell you?” Fireflight asked. Optimus Prime laughed.

    “Nothing that mystical, little one. Your brothers had just returned from patrol when Gears commed me, told me about the thoughtful gift you gave him, and insisted that I come and see the extent of your generosity. Your brothers and I promptly headed to your quarters and arrived just in time to hear Silverbolt’s speech,” he replied.

    “It’s really somethin’, Optimus. He bought presents for everyone in the Autobot army, even mechs who were mean to him and his brothers or didn’t trust ‘em,” Ironhide said.

    “It was nothing. I just wanted to make everyone happy so that we would all get along and everyone would trust us,” Fireflight replied. Then he remembered that there was one present on the list that he hadn’t been able to buy, and he hugged Optimus Prime, who hugged him back.

    “There’s your present, sir,” Fireflight said.

    “Thank you, Fireflight. The kindness you showed in thinking of your teammates’ happiness, rather than your own, is a sign of your true selflessness, and I commend and salute you for it,” Optimus Prime replied. Fireflight beamed with pride. This was a wonderful day! After their hug ended, Fireflight turned to Skyfire.

    “If you hadn’t shown up when you did, we might’ve been in big trouble. How did you know that we were in trouble?”

    “You have Skydive’s quick thinking to thank for that. While you were under investigation, he managed to send me a small file explaining your problem and how I could fix it,” Skyfire explained. Fireflight was puzzled for a few seconds, and then beamed. So that was why Skydive had been touching his head!

    “Why, you sneaky little creep, I’ll-” Sunstreaker snarled as he lunged at Skydive. Before he could get very far, though, Prowl managed to slap a pair of stasis cuffs onto him.

    “You’re going to the brig, and you’ll be lucky if you see the light of day in the next nine Earth months. Framing your own teammates for treason is a very serious crime,” Prowl said. With that, he left the room, dragging Sunstreaker behind him. About a minute after Prowl and Sunstreaker left, Red Alert returned, with Sideswipe in tow. Fireflight backed away nervously, remembering what had happened the last time he’d been near Sideswipe, but, much to his surprise, the red Lamborgihni actually smiled sheepishly.

    “Red Alert told me about what you did for us, and, well….I wanna say that I’m sorry for being such a jerk to you. No Seeker would ever give presents to someone who’d never once been nice to them. I’m sorry that I never gave you or your brothers a chance,” he said. Fireflight smiled.

    “I forgive you, Sideswipe,” he said, and he meant it. Silverbolt and Optimus Prime were proud of him, he’d made friends with a number of mechs who hadn’t liked him or his brothers, he was going to get to give presents to everyone, and his life was happy again. This was the best day ever!

    FIN
     
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  2. The Fallen

    The Fallen Rover, wanderer

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    I waited to read this until I had some proper time to dedicate to it, and I wasn't disappointed. It was quite touching, well thought out and executed well. Sunstreaker's arc was also interesting, in that I never pictured him being so underhanded and conniving.
     
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  3. Longitudinalwave

    Longitudinalwave A Big Fan of (Sound/Shock)wave

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    Thanks! I'm glad you liked it!
    My take on Sunstreaker was based on the description of him in his Marvel Universe bio, where he's described as a narcissist with sociopathic tendencies. Since I was focusing on the pre-movie cast, he seemed like the best bet for the main antagonist (since the Decepticons aren't in this story).
     
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