Discussion in 'Transformers Fan Fiction' started by Meta777, Mar 11, 2013.
Aw, poor Starscream
Ratchet's temper continues to be rather amusing..
The door to the control room slid open, and Starscream swaggered in, placing his hands on his hips and he stopped and stood before his fellow Decepticons, who glanced up at his arrival, Nighttrace fluttering in behind him and darting off to one of the consoles. The jet was in a better mood now; that talk had certainly vented some heat, and now he felt the old confidence burning through him, ready to face off against the inevitable arrival of Airachnid.
Nevertheless, Soundwave, Barricade and the ambient Seekers remained a bit sceptical. Starscream was a literal vortex of emotional highs; his renewed demeanour of a powerful commander could easily dissolve into a rage if they said anything that could set him off. And his mood swing in light of Airachnid's oncoming visit was certainly one that had struck them more potently then other tantrums.
Still, they may as well test the waters; Soundwave, somewhat cautiously, asked: "Starscream, are you feeling better now?"
"Much better, my communicative friend." Starscream replied, a bit exaggerative but nevertheless sincere, as he strode over to his chair, adding: "While I may dislike this upcoming assignment oh so kindly granted to us by Shockwave, I can very much deal with it, as any efficient and competent commander should."
Barricade muttered something most likely derogatory, but Soundwave was more tactile in his response, simply asking: "So, why has this assignment invoked such disdain from you? You're not normally one to back down from a Conciller's request."
Starscream sank down into his chair, considering for a moment, as a zealous flare lit up in his optics and his claws flexed menacingly, before he declared:
"Put bluntly, Soundwave, I fragging hate Shockwave. I wish that acid would spontaneously form within his valves and melt him from the inside out, I wish for a rock to fall upon his head and crush his head, I wish for a Driller to burst from the depths and consume him, slowly and painfully, and whatever other tortures and brutal yet amusing deaths I could think of!"
A brief pause as his speech of damnation sunk in.
"That's very blunt."
"I know, right?"
Soundwave, his curiosities satiated, returned to his monitoring, perhaps regretting ever asking the jet about his problems, while Nighttrace simply rolled her optics, flicking her antenna in acknowledgement of the jet's Shockwave-devoted tirade. Barricade's reaction, however, was the most startling.
There seemed to be a sudden glint of understanding in his optics, a rather surprised expression on his face, as if he had seen something he had been oblivious to before. Everyone knew he was always the one complaining about things, hating just about everything, but Starscream's declaration of loathing seemed to have struck a particular neural in his processor.
Finally, after a long moment of this contemplative change in demeanour, he stood up and said, shockingly calm and polite: "Starscream, I hate everyone equally- No, that's a lie, I hate everyone and some more than others. But never before have I seen such a focussed hatred upon a particular fragger since.... since my own hatred of Hound! Starscream, would your hatred honour my hatred by joining me in a game of Super Plasma Adventure?"
Starscream was surprised. Everyone in the room was surprised. But then the jet shrugged and cheerfully declared: "Barricade, I would like that very much."
And then he jumped over, seized the second controller, and the two of them swiftly focussed themselves on the screen, which lit up with cheerful colours and odd beepy music.
Soundwave and Nighttrace exchanged an absolutely gobsmacked glance, unable to comprehend this bizarre development, before Soundwave noted: "That was quite possibly the weirdest thing I've ever seen in my life."
".... Bet you three cubes they'll be hating each other within the hour."
Nighttrace raised a brow, perhaps doubting the Lamborghini or questioning his choice of betting subject, before nevertheless accepting the bet and shaking the car's hand in confirmation.
Now, all the Decepticons could do was to wait for the arrival of the harbinger of Shockwave's new experiment.
Eventually, Hound came to a stop at the edge of a small canyon, a rusted-red and brown area of rock and dust, quite far flung from human settlement and certainly remote for whatever purpose the lieutenant and three other Autobots had come here to do. He turned around so his front faced the oncoming vehicles, the Beetle and the tanker truck coming to a stop just before him, as the helicopter cautiously and awkwardly lowered himself beside the yellow car, rotors up whipping dust much to the other's annoyance.
Nevertheless, once all of them were settled, and three of them were waiting for the fourth to begin, Hound finally spoke: "Well, Autobots, we have come here for an express purpose. In light of recent events that have had a negative implication about certain understandings of what Decepticons may do-"
The Beetle sank on his wheels slightly.
"-Jazz and I have decided that some productive education is in order! So, Bumblebee, Evac, Grimlock and I will now officially begin your combat training."
Bumblebee transformed instantly, springing to his forming legs as he hollered, head emerging from under the hood with optics wide and eager: "Oh wow! You mean actual combat training with actual combat?"
The jeep wagged his windscreen wipers in a so-so fashion, replying: "Well, not actual combat, Bee, more like going through the basic schematics and all that. But rest assured, we will be building up to that."
The jeep transformed then, the back half splitting and compacting into legs, doors folding into the back, the front folding down into the chest, the wheels sliding up behind the shoulders and his head unfolding as lights from the roof grill locked around the wheels. Flexing his arms slightly, Hound motioned for the other two to transform, which they did, and said: "Now, into the crevice, everyone. I'd rather we remained out of sight of possible observers, and as a precaution, I brought this."
He opened a compartment on his abdomen as the other Autobots moved to the canyon's edge, and pull out a silver orb, which he placed on the ground and idly tapped on the surface. Instantly, a wave of energy expanded from it, forming into an exact holographic replica of their environment.
"Oooh, a holographic probe!" Evac nattered excitedly. "Perfect for short-range camouflage, often used in providing cover for scouting parties!"
"Exactly. This will stop any humans finding us, and more importantly, stop the Decepticons from barging in."
"Fantastic." Grimlock snorted. "May we get to the task at hand now?"
Not even waiting for an answer, the truck idly leapt off the edge of the ravine, dropped like a stone and landed on his feet in an impressive rumble and a sharp crack of the rocky ground under his feet. Hound revved slightly, rubbing his head in annoyance, before jumping off after him, followed by the eager Bumblebee and Evac, who in his cautiousness opted to slow his descent with a spin of the rotors.
Once they were at the bottom, Hound directed the two rookies to stand in the centre of the ravine, Grimlock stalking off to the side, and once they were all in a position deemed acceptable by the lieutenant, he began:
"Now, rookies, our job here is to teach you strategies for use in both ranged and melee combat, and provide you with an understanding in both Decepticon tactics and fighting styles, so that you will both be prepared for either Decepticon traps or an actual fight. Now, Bumblebee, your recent conflicts against Barricade and Starscream have shown that your style, as expected, is to utilise your natural agility to outmanoeuvre and close the distance against your opponent. Evac, your size and strength would befit a style of straight-up brawling, utilising superior force over an opponent. I'm going to help refine those particular talents, as well as educate you on alternative strategies."
The two young Autobots were shivering in excitement, bouncing up and down slightly with their optics flashing in eagerness.
"Oh boy, this is gonna be great!" Bumblebee hollered.
"We're gonna learn how to be awesome fighters!" Evac squealed.
Hound smiled: "Yes indeed, but first, let's have a quick test. You see Grimlock there, behind you?"
The rookies turned briefly, glanced at the impassive truck, turned back to Hound and nodded, curious now.
Hound's smile widened: "You have three minutes to take him down, or get taken down by him. Time starts-"
"Take down Grimlock?!"
It was over before they could even move. In a smooth manoeuvre that should quite probably be impossible for a beast of his stature, Grimlock slid in between his 'opponent's and with an effortless pivot on one foot, swept out Evac's legs with his tail and bonked Bumblebee's back with his head, bringing them both down to the ground in but mere seconds.
The rookies, of course, were all but screaming rusted murder: "OW! My legs! HE BROKE MY LEGS!" "OW! My face! MY ADORABLE FACE!"
Hound stared at the shrieking youngsters, instantly regretting his idea considering who it had involved, before stating to the amused truck: "You could have given them a sporting chance."
"They aren't going to learn much if you just beat them down each time."
"Yes they will, they'll learn never to mess with Grimlock. What more important lesson is there than that?"
"Of all the times for you to develop a sense of humour."
With that, he moved over to the still flailing rookies and promptly assisted them to their feet, musing: "Okay, that didn't go quite as planned-" Grimlock gave a snort from behind him, and he felt that pang of annoyance again. "-So I think I'll skip the whole sparring aspect and just move on to outlining the basics."
"Yeah." Evac grumbled, wiping dust off of himself. "Basics like not setting Grimlock on us."
Hound rolled his optics, before stating: "Yes, of course. Alright, I think maybe some testing of your knowledge may be in order."
Both of them groaned and sagged a bit, as off-put by the prospect of questioning as they were at getting into a scuffle with the berserker. But Hound knew it was best to get the boring stuff out of the way first when dealing with rookies, so the quicker he got it over with, the better.
"Alright, Bee first. What parts of a Decepticon would you aim for?"
The scout paused, perhaps surprised at combat-orientated questions over whatever he had been imagining, before he bounced up and replied: "Joints and optics!"
"Very good. Aiming for sections of flexibility, or one's sensory systems, is a useful strategy for both disorientating foes and striking a vulnerable area. But keep in mind, our enemies know this as well. Never give them an opportunity to focus on a weaker section of your frame. Now, Evac, if you were fighting a Decepticon in this area, what environmental factors could you take advantage of?"
The helicopter hesitated, glancing around frantically: "Um.... I could.... Oh! I could throw dirt in their optics!"
"You could. As Bee also mentioned-" The car beamed in pride. "-Aiming to disable the optics is a useful strategy. You could also attack the walls of the ravine itself, and bring a rockslide upon your foes, forcing them to either dodge it, leaving them vulnerable to your next attack, or end up getting buried. Good one, Evac. Now-"
"Urgh, this will take forever at this rate." Grimlock snapped, stepping in and pulling Hound's attention away from the rookies, the jeep tensing up at the prospect of being challenged by the larger Autobot. "Questions should be saved for briefings at the ship. We must be practical in this area for maximum productivity."
"Overviewing combat knowledge is-"
"Is not nearly as useful without the actual manoeuvres behind them." The truck interjected, rearing up slightly to assert his superior size over the jeep.
Hound rose a brow, before revving and replying: "You're right, Grimlock. Actual manoeuvres would be good. Rookies, watch closely."
Quick as a flash, Hound bent down, scooped handfuls of dirt, and with a flick of the arms, tossed the gritty substance right into the crimson optics of the other Autobot. The rookies yelped in shock and promptly backed away swiftly when Grimlock roared in anger, rearing up and lurching around violently in an attempt dislodge the optical blockage.
The jeep grinned slightly as he stepped out of range of the angry truck, noting cheerfully: "As you can see, the foreign particles in his sensitive optical sensors have proved useful in disorientating him and rendering him quite vulnerable-"
Grimlock swung round and slammed his tail into the jeep, effortlessly smacking him into the ravine's wall, the unlucky lieutenant making quite a dent in the rock.
Bumblebee hollered in shock: "Hound!", and wheeled over to assist his dazed mentor, Evac joining him in helping to pull the jeep out of the indent and propping him onto his feet, Hound shaking a bit from the force of the impact.
Grimlock shook the last of the dirt from his optics, revving in restrained fury, and snarled: "Important lesson, rookies. Just because a foe is blinded, it does not mean he can't hear pretentious nattering."
The two younger Autobots hesitated, before Bumblebee said: "Okay, lesson learned, but I think that was a bit harsh, Grimlock."
"He threw dirt in Grimlock's optics."
"And you smacked him into a wall, quite nastily too, both to him AND the wall! Jazz says that two wrongs don't make a right."
Grimlock huffed in annoyance, but nevertheless did not retort, and Evac added, as Hound dazedly muttered something or other: "You know, this whole training thing might not go as smoothly as Jazz had hoped...."
When Slipstream returned to the control room, having made sure the med-bay was as neat and tidy and shiny and clean as it could be, she was pleased to see that the atmosphere no longer retained the intensity of Strascream's anger, and was instead more relaxed. The jet himself and Barricade were playing video games on a console, Nighttrace and Soundwave seemed to be discussing something and the Seekers went around checking the ship's systems.
Smiling, she sauntered over to one of the Seekers and asked: "Seeker, has the forge been repaired yet?"
"It has." The drone replied obediently. "It needs some time for recalibration, and when that is complete, we will continue with the refining procedure."
"Oh, excellent! I do like it when things are running smoothly."
Pleased, Slipstream headed over to the main console and brought up a holographic display of the ship's orbit around the planet, stared at it thoughtfully for a moment, before asking: "Soundwave, has Airachnid sent any specific coordinates for her space bridge?"
"Not yet." The car replied casually, not looking up from the monitor. "But I have sent a message to Shockwave's facility requesting that the space bridge should be activated aboard the ship rather than Earth, to prevent the Autobots detecting it."
"Sound logic, Soundwave." Slipstream replied. "Avoiding Autobot interference is always a good thing."
"While it detests me to speak of the particular individual coming to visit us today, I must ask, Slipstream, how you came to know of old Shockwave's wretch?" Starscream asked, rather condescending in his addressing of the medic.
Slipstream revved in indignity, but Barricade beat her to the punch, growling: "Friends before war, friends in Flight Vector, friends on separate career paths, all that good scrap."
"Sometimes I wish you two would just-"
What the angered jet wished those two would do, no-one found out, for Soundwave chose that moment to interrupt the condescending words with: "Message from Shokaw; space-bridge is locked onto the control room's coordinates above Earth atmosphere, ready for transport."
"Oh fantastic!" Starscream snapped, as he reluctantly got up, putting his controller down as he ordered: "Save that; we'll come back to it later. Decepticons, prepare to welcome our guest of honour. Soundwave, give the go-ahead for transport."
As Barricade reluctantly turned off the game, grumbling to himself, and Soundwave tapped a response into the console, Starscream moved to his chair and sat down within it, Slipstream and Nighttrace moving to stand/hover beside the main console, the Seekers standing to attention, as they faced the space just before the door.
"Preparing to transport." The Communications officer said. "Receiving space bridge.... now."
Instantly, there was a flare of bluish-green energy appearing before them in a vortex of glowing energy, a distinctive humming sound filling the room as the swirling portal hovered and crackled, and then, there was a flash of white, and into the room stepped Airachnid, bearing a silver case in one hand.
She was tall, taller than Nighttrace and the cars though not quite reaching the level of the jets, and her torso seemed quite bulky atop the lanky double-jointed legs, large rectangular wings upon her back, and the deep colours of black and dark green added a shadowed nature to her appearance, a dark entity before the swirling bridge of light.
And then the space bridge dissipated in a sombre whine, and Airachnid gazed around, red optics flashing with analysis as they ran over the Decepticons before her, and the quarters they stood in. There was a strong sense of her judgement in her sweeping optics, and most of the Darksyde's crew felt a tad defensive in face of it.
Except of course for perhaps the only one who had actually been looking forward to this visit. Slipstream dropped the formal pose, stepped forward, arms spreading wide in greeting, tailfins wagging, as she cheerfully declared: "Airachnid! It is so good to see you again! Welcome to the Darksyde!"
And instantly, the scientist's demeanour shifted into a sincere fondness, and she raised a hand, which Slipstream grasped with the spindly fingers of her ray-arm, and fondly replied: "It is a delight to see you too, Slipstream. Tell me, how goes your hunt for energy?"
"Fine, thank you. We've established a reliable process of building up our resources in preparation for the upcoming harvest."
"Good to hear; after all, the more energy we can procure for our Master, the better."
"Absolutely! And how about you? Any scientific breakthroughs, other than the one Shockwave desires to be tested?"
Airachnid made to reply, but then a frustrated Starscream stood up and snapped: "While I am happy for your joyful little reunion, time and other necessary matters compel me to request that you actually get on with the point of your visit, Airachnid."
The scientist's demeanour was judgemental again, a cold dislike shining in her crimson optics, as she idly stepped past the taller Decepticon to face the commander: "Oh, forgive me, Starscream. How could I have ever thought to neglect you in favour of other Decepticons?"
Starscream's optic twitched as he snarled: "Spare me your scrap. What is Shockwave so anxious to test, how are we to test it, and how long will it take because quite honestly I profusely dislike your presence here."
Airachnid smiled a taunting smile as she waved around the silver case, as if daring Starscream to reach for it and find out what was inside. "Patience, Starscream. We'll get right to the point, shall we?"
She moved over to the main console, switched off the display with a casual tap of a button, and set the case upon it, a flick of her hand motioning the other Decepticons to come closer. Barricade and Soundwave came forward to look, Slipstream standing beside her friend, Nighttrace hovering over and Starscream reluctantly abandoning his chair to see what awaited them.
Airachnid eased her claws into a niche atop the case, and split it open, the metal giving out a small hiss as it opened up, and from within emerged a tiny sort of table, upon which sat three ovular black devices, rounded and smooth save for a web-like pattern upon their surfaces.
The Decepticons stared at them for a moment, looking over their simple yet intricate design, wondering on their purpose, musing on what had prompted Shockwave to create such things, before Barricade finally asked: "What the Pit is it?"
Airachnid rolled her optics and answered: "This, little soldier, is what Shockwave calls a Battle-Inducement Nodule. They're sophisticated processor-altering attachments based on an older design used in a previous test subject. The idea is enhance combat reflexes, strength and aggression to produce superior fighting talents in those whose skills in combat are.... less than desirable."
Her optics flicked towards Starscream, who revved at her in response, before continuing: "Using them is simple; attach them to the back of the neck, and when in combat, have their data chip initiate link and activation, and the nodule will commence alteration, dampening preservation mechanisms and increasing aggressive tendencies, making for a more effective and brutal warrior."
She folded her arms and nodded in finality, as her audience considered her description. Nighttrace seemed impassive, Slipstream was torn between unease and intrigue, Barricade looked quite excited, Soundwave was calculating and Starscream just plain dismissive.
Finally, the Communications officer spoke up: "So essentially, these nodules produce a berserker response in their host."
"That is correct."
"It seems a bit risky." Slipstream mused, leaning down to better study them. "Hampering the sense of preservation in favour of aggression. Has Shockwave considered possible repercussions of such a tactic?"
"He has." Airachnid replied, more acknowledging of the jet then the car. "If injuries and wounds become too severe, the nodule, which monitors the frame's condition via its link with one's data chip, will reverse its effect, replacing the desire to fight with a need to retreat."
"Oh, oh good. Less trouble for the medics then, if they know when to flee."
"Gotta say, it sounds pretty good." Barricade stated eagerly, optics flashing with the fantasy of increased power and rage from such small little things. "Just stick it on the neck and then you can go as crazy as the Autobot's pet monster. I like it."
Nighttrace remained silent, simply shrugging when Soundwave looked at her with the silent question of what she thought of it.
Finally, Starscream folded his arms and snorted: "A performance enhancement. Of course Shockwave would be so eager to develop technologies devoted to such a concept, considering the obvious lack of fighting skill and refinement he would possess, locked up in that lab for so long. What makes him, and by possible extension you, think that any self-respecting soldier-" He glared at Barricade, who glared right back. "-would think of taking on these glorified rage-inducers?"
"I am fairly certain that any warrior confident enough in their own skills would refuse the offer." Airachnid replied coolly, examining her claws as if fully addressing the jet was beneath her. "These nodules are simply to improve those who desperately need an edge in combat."
"Right, let these little devices do the work instead of refining one's talent. Good idea, right there." Starscream snapped sarcastically. "And now Shockwave desires us to test them. Is he scared that if he tried them out on his own drones they might well go full rage-mode and destroy his headquarters?"
"To be fair-" Soundwave interjected. "-That is a very possible risk. It is more logical for Shockwave to determine such a device's efficiency outside of areas of importance."
"Right, because Shockwave doesn't have his own remote testing grounds or something-"
"Regardless of why he chose your crew, the fact is that you have a confirmed Autobot presence here." Airachnid said, interrupting the other two, her tone relaying her words as if repeating a basic concept to sparklings. "A lone scouting ship is a useful target to practice upon, given they have no local reinforcements."
"But the problem there, Airachnid, is that the Autobot ship is far too well camouflaged." The Raptor snapped, quite frustrated with this whole topic. "And I doubt they will so easily fall for another decoy run."
"Then we will wait for as long as it takes for them to move into the open." Airachnid replied sweetly. "I can spare a few days to wait for our victims to emerge, and I'm sure you have no objections to me staying upon your ship until I am absolutely required to return to Shokaw."
The look on Starscream's face was one that must have just witnessed the apocalypse.
"Oh, that'd be wonderful!" Slipstream stated excitedly, wagging her tailfins frantically. "It'll be great to catch up on things, and show you the delightful aspects of this planet, and maybe get some alternative ideas for Operation Harvest."
"Oh, you even have an operation planned." Airachnid replied cheerfully, flashing a taunting wink at the still horrified Starscream. "Good to know! Well, I'd like that very much, Slipstream. Why don't we return to your quarters and chat while your delightful comrades scan for any signs of the Autobots?"
"Absolutely! Let's get to it!" The jet giggled, and with that, turned and strode towards the door, Airachnid closing the case and sauntering after her, before the medic added: "And Starscream, remember that a bad temper aggravates your processing circuitry!"
"Oh shut up, Slipstream."
Another giggle, and with that, the two flyers exited the room.
Soundwave turned to his commander and warned: "Starscream, Nighttrace has already had to speak with you once. Don't make her do it a second time."
"I'm not angry at all." The jet snarled, shaking in seething anger as his optics flashed and twitched. "I'm perfectly calm, see, no problems at all except for SARDONIC LITTLE WRETCHES GETTING ALL IN MY FACE ABOUT SHOCKWAVE'S SLAG!"
Nighttrace shook her head in disappointment, and Soundwave asked: "Starscream, would you like to play a game?"
"I WOULD LOVE THAT- Hey, where'd Barricade go? He was supposed to be playing with me, and he's gone!"
Now, at first, the other two were far too shocked at Starscream's instant mood swing to really listen, but then they considered his words, looked around, and realised that, yes, Barricade had gone. Huh.
Airachnid and Slipstream was strolling down the corridor, and the scientist was stating: "-And I for one am impressed that you haven't gone crazy yet. Starscream and Barricade on one ship? It must get hectic."
"Oh, it does!" Slipstream replied cheerfully, waving her hand airily. "But they do have their good points, and Soundwave and Nighttrace are good company, and- Oh, would you excuse me for a moment?"
The jet smiled, and then, with sudden speed and ferocity that had the other Decepticon jolting backwards in alarm, spun round and flung her legs outwards, kicking out at the air, yet resulting in a loud clang. Airachnid was utterly perplexed, both at the motion and at the fact it yielded some kind of a result, when there was a shimmering of energy and Barricade decloaked, sprawled across the floor with a dent in his chest, groaning something in anger and pain.
"Don't you fragging follow us to see what we discuss, you impudent waste of Energon!" Slipstream shrieked in anger, waving her ray-arm at him threateningly. "Go away!"
"Ah, you're no fun!" Barricade snapped, getting to his feet and quickly scuttling away before she could try to shoot him. "Boring, boring, boring!"
She actually did shoot after him, a burst of orange energy from the ray that nearly hit his feet, bursting behind him in a flare of power as he made good on his retreat, before the medic restrained herself, powered down the offensive aspect of her ray and, with a forced smile, gestured to move on and said: "Shall we?"
"Sure, no problem." Airachnid replied quickly, perhaps just a bit uneasy about the whole sudden rage and shooting fiasco. "I have heard a few horror stories about him."
"Urgh, believe me, they're all true." But she was smiling though, as though it was a factor that was, however annoying at first, ultimately amusing.
"Does he really try to implement curses words in every sentence?"
"He doesn't try, he's refined it to a fragging art."
"Okay, now we're gonna try a bit of target practice, just to get an idea of your strengths and weaknesses regarding projectile weaponry and aiming ability." Hound said, moved to stand beside the two waiting rookies and activating his holographic generator. Instantly, five little images of Starscream appeared, each replica bearing a large smile and a targeting icon on their chest.
"Grimlock's gonna show you how a veteran handles small moving targets." Hound said, as he started shifting the jets around, and Grimlock stepped forward, unfolding his hip blasters and leaned his front half down slightly to provide better clearance for his weapons. "Ready, Grimlock?"
"Grimlock was sparked ready."
The jet instantly started moving faster, practically blurs in the air, and both Bumblebee and Evac were bewildered by their speed. But Grimlock was hardly as disorientated; in a smooth and swift calculation, he fire two blasts, both of which struck a jet right where it was heading, the unlock holograms instantly dissipating. One tried flying over Grimlock, but he not only angled a blaster upwards to take it out, he still managed to shoot down a fourth one trying to flank him.
The fifth one moved even faster now, but Grimlock had it covered; one shot forced it to dodge, only to end up colliding with the second, and with that, the tanker truck's challenge was complete.
"Wow! That was epic, Grimlock! How awesome can you be to take out five of them just like that?! Awesome!"
"I wish I could shoot Starscream lots of time that good!"
Grimlock idly retracted his grins and smugly blew out a breath of flame, pleased with the praise of his skills, as Hound displayed some more mini Starscreams and said: "Alright, good shooting, Grimlock. Bee, it's your turn. Prep your stingers and shoot down the Screamers."
The scout instantly wheeled forwards excitedly, unsheathing his electrical weapons and promptly throwing out a veritable storm of bolts; flash of electricity whipped by the Starscreams, occasionally taking one out, and only when all of them had finally vanished did the Beetle cease his wild shooting spree.
Grinning, he turned to the others and eagerly asked: "Well, how'd I do?!"
Hound and Evac exchanged an awkward glance. Grimlock simply nodded cheerfully, optics flashing in amusement, before the jeep finally said: "Um, good, very good. Okay, Evac, your turn."
As the car wheeled over to stand next to Grimlock, excitedly nattering about how awesome he was shooting down all the Screamers, Evac stepped forward and prepped his welders, fire idly emerging from the barrels as he prepared to take on the next display of Starscreams.
Raising his arms, he carefully lined up his targets and fired small balls of flame, methodically and accurately taking out each one in a few moments. When he'd finished, his fellow rookie applauded him, Grimlock huffed out some of his own fire in silent musing and Hound noted: "Good, Evac, very good. Okay, let's list it out. Bumblebee, you shoot fast, but you don't take the time to aim-"
"WHAT. I do! I do aim! I shot them all! I did!"
"-And Evac, your aim is very good, but you gotta be faster with the targeting, alright? An actual opponent is gonna be mobile, so you need to be even quicker then they are."
"Oh, okay, sure!"
Hound grinned slightly: "It's actually quite funny; one rookie is slow but precise, the other's fast but wild. Maybe I should just fuse you two together and get a perfect rookie! Ha!"
Bumblebee and Evac stared at the smiling jeep, exchanged a glance, resumed staring at him for a moment until his smile faded and he felt awkward, and then the helicopter said: "That's kind of demeaning to us as individuals."
"A bit, yeah."
Hound revved awkwardly and muttered: "Sorry. Guess I... well, you know.... sorry."
Note: We know Evac has welding barrels on his arms, and now we see he can use them as makeshift flamethrowers! Huzzah
Barricade's a sneaky rascal :3
Barricade being amazed at Starscream's hatred for Shockwave has to be one of the best things that has happened since you started writing this story.
I physically felt the awkward in the training session scenes, I kid you not. Especially in that last bit. Poor Hound, he meets canyon walls and poorly-received jokes today. At the same rate, Grimlock was unfortunate for having dirt thrown into his optics, but I didn't feel, eh, quite as sorry for him. XP Here's one thing I noticed, though, and it's that Ratchet and Jazz and everybody else's animosity toward Grimlock is somewhat justifiable. While in the past, with similar characters, there's been absolutely no real reason for society to hate him other than his appearance, Grimlock can be genuinely unlikable as we saw in his brusque behavior with Hound. In the former case, the cliched everybody-hates-him-because-he-looks-different scenario is usually just mean-spirited and meaningless. But here...while Grimlock does have a good side (at least in his friendship with Bumblebee), he is legitimately tart and rude. I also appreciate that, while he is reasonably irritated, Hound stays in character by not quite as blatantly showcasing his malice...at least not in dialogue.
I agree with transformerswars, Barricade's empathy had to be one of the best revelations in TFM to this date. I just love imagining Barricade standing up and with uncharacteristic calmness, invites a usual social adversary to a video game over a mutual feeling. I dunno, I just can't stop loving Barricade. He's so cool in so many perverse ways. Additionally, speaking of Decepticons, I still don't have a problem with Airachnid. In fact, I pretty much like her. I'm reluctant to form a set opinion because she's evidently only just shown up, but so far, she's cool; what can I say? No unlikableness that I detect. And I definitely hear her speaking in Kelly Hu's voice.
Really good chapter, especially with the Decepticon situation. The pacing has been great so far.
When she had mentioned that she would prep the med-bay, Slipstream had not been understating her dedication to 'making the place look good'. Never before had the other Decepticon's least favourite room looked quite so prim and polished; any and all loose items lying about had been placed in their respective compartments, the berths and their accompanying medical struts gleamed in the ceiling light, an optic-appealing shine to them and the whole area simply exuded an aura of order and cleanliness.
Needless to say, given she worked in a similar environment, Airachnid was quite impressed, as she idly strutted around the room, examining the recently tidied and spruced-up quarters of the medic with a keen optic. It was amusing, really; this sense of order was a stark contrast to the Slipstream she remembered from the time they spent under Commander Blackout.
She turned to the taller Decepticon, who was watching her with an eager and apprehensive expression, and laughed slightly: "Slipstream, you don't need me to tell you the med-bay looks good."
"I know, but, I do like to make a good impression for my guests." She replied quickly and cheerfully, wagging her tailfins slightly as she moved forward, grinning. "Show that I can maintain a clean base as easily as a commander can!"
"Absolutely." Airachnid chuckled, settling herself down on one of the berths, idly tracing a claw over the smooth metal. "Though, and not to undermine your efforts, I'd imagine anyone can maintain a cleaner base than Starscream."
Slipstream rolled her optics: "That sounds like something Barricade would say."
"Primus help me, I'm becoming one of them already." Airachnid laughed, as the taller Decepticon, sharing in the humour in her joke, joined in, settling herself down on the other berth, before the scientist continued: "But to be honest, Starscream is hardly the most amiable of hosts."
"You should see what its like to actually live on the same ship with him."
"Heh, I'd rather not, Slipstream. So, onto more engaging topics; tell me, are the rumours true? Is the infamous berserker really here on Earth?"
"Grimlock? Absolutely. Barricade's tangled with him twice, and came out the worse each time. To be honest, I was quite apprehensive, putting it mildly, when I found out he and the Lieutenant were here on the planet, but so far, confrontations with them have been though our own machinations rather than unpleasant surprises, which is better than average."
Airachnid nodded in agreement, before noting: "I assume said machinations were decoy traps or something like that?"
"Yep, leave a trail, let them follow it, voila, see if we can take some Autobots out. So far, no kills to add to the list, but there's always next time."
The scientist nodded again, before getting to her feet and idly perusing some of the compartments, apparently curious as to what gadgets and tools the medic kept in her storage. As she went through this, Slipstream asked: "So, how are things on Shokaw?"
"The usual; conceptualising, inventing, testing, finalising, producing. See what new gadgets, upgrades or modifications we can make to either weapon or wielder."
The jet tilted her head, a tad amused at the abundance of more sophisticated words in the sentence and the almost list like fashion in which her friend had relayed it, before replying: "Grimlock was a test subject in the Abominus Initiative, wasn't he? They wanted to see if they could implement feral instincts from an alien form into Cybertronian processors, right?"
"You've done your research." Airachnid replied approvingly, turning to face her friend with a small smile.
"Well, who doesn't know that story? They wanted monsters, they got more than they could handle!"
Airachnid laughed at that: "So true. It's funny that when we want something, we don't know when to stop wanting it. Or something like that. But I'm curious; do you know the full story behind the Abominus Initiative?"
"I know the basics; it was established on Shokaw by Conciller Thunderwing, to create super-soldiers, develop new weapons against the Autobots. But when the experiments continued to fail, when it started taking up more Energon than it was worth, he was executed for failure and wasting resources. Shockwave revitalised it to its current state of reasonable success."
"All true. But I'll tell you something scandalous, Slipstream. Thunderwing wasn't executed for mere failure; there was a deeper reason for his death."
Slipstream's optics widened in surprise, which prompted a rather amused smirk on the other flyer. There had been more to the past Conciller's death than mere failure? Now this was news to the medic; as aforementioned, she knew the basics behind the rise, fall and rise of the Abominus Initiative, but this new concept of something more was definitely foreign to her.
Thankfully, Airachnid, though rather tormenting of others, at least knew not to keep her comrade in such suspense, and thus moved closer and leaned in, and whispered: "Thunderwing was executed, because he was planning to betray Lord Megatron."
Slipstream gave a dramatic gasp: "No! Really?! Wow, I, I never expected that. Thunderwing was always so... devoted!"
Airachnid simply shook her head and continued: "Only devoted to expanding his own power. He hoped to use the Abominus Initiative as a cover, provide enough warriors and upgrades to keep Megatron happy and occupied, whilst he saved all the greater modifications for what he had hoped to be an army of enhanced warriors who would allow him to seize control. But our Master is not without his precautions; he had slipped a spy into Shokaw, who uncovered Thunderwing's plot and exposed him. Oh, he tried to defend himself, tried to claim innocence, but Lord Megatron is no fool."
"And so he had him executed." Slipstream mused, tapping her chin with a thoughtful finger. "I suppose there is a relief in that story; I was always scared one could meet their end simply by not providing desired results after that show, but I suppose treason is a much higher offence."
"Well, you wouldn't want to disappoint the higher ranks regardless."
"I know that well enough, Airachnid."
Both their optics flickered to her asymmetric arm, and the scientist amended: "Of course."
A moment's pause, a moment to consider new topics to discuss, before Airachnid noted: "You know, when I heard about your.... how would you put it?"
"Okay. When I heard about your unfortunate event, I was honestly quite scared. You were only on your first mission, and already I wondered if someone would come to tell me my best friend had been killed in action. But what a surprise I get. You come back with a new arm and a new path in mind, and then you were training to be a medic! To be honest, I had never really expected you would ever chose such a career!"
They shared a chuckle, before the jet replied: "Well, I suppose I learnt a thing or two from that mishap. And Pit, I could say the same for you! Who would have guessed the battle-hungry Airachnid would take up science?"
The other flyer laughed: "True. We are quite different compared to who we used to be."
"Two wild recruits eager for glory and the spilt Energon of Autobots?"
"Something like that."
They laughed again, before the medic cheerfully said: "Well, as long as you're staying for however long on Earth, why don't we pick out an native vehicle form for you? I bet I can think of some forms that would look good on you."
"Slipstream, any form would look good on me."
"That sounds like something Starscream would say."
"Oh, the atmosphere of this ship, it's making me viral, infecting with their less-than-amiable traits! Help me, Slipstream!"
The scientist made a show of twitching and clutching her chest as the jet giggled exuberantly at her antics, and for now, both were free of the responsibilities of the Darksyde and Shokaw; simply two friends without a care.
The holographic Starscream darted around the air, silently laughing as it easily dodged the bolts of electricity sent at it. Bumblebee revved in frustration as he continued throwing out blast after blast at the pest, but Hound's manoeuvres easily outclassed the scout's sense of aiming.
"Focus, Bee." Hound said patiently, as Evac and Grimlock offered support to the Beetle. "You can't just spray and pray, you have to secure a good lock on your target."
"I'm trying, but he's really fast!" The scout protested, firing another volley after the hologram, which easily dodged the wild attack. "He keeps dodging!"
"C'mon, Bee-" Hound assured him. "You're faster than any old Decepticon! Just lock on carefully and take him down."
"Yeah, Bee!" Evac hollered. "No Con can outspeed you!"
"Grimlock agrees." Grimlock added. "But Grimlock suggests that you try to force him to retreat from one line of fire into the other."
The car narrowed his optics in concentration and applied his friend's advice to his strategy; he focused one arm into firing after the jet, chasing it though the air, and aimed his other arm at just before the jet's trajectory, unleashing a flare of electricity that should hopefully intercept the jet-
It veered upwards, easily avoiding what should have been the finisher, and cackled.
Bumblebee revved his engine in utter frustration and all but threw away the concept of strategy and aim; his stunners turned on his arms, adopting a diagonal pose, and when he brought his arms together, their tip connected and instantly began spinning his wheels at a frantic pace, his stunners charging up a truly potent blast, energy crackling as he built up the power between his arms.
And then, with a cry, he pulled his arms apart and unleashed the built-up sphere in a massive pulse of electrical energy that expanded across the space before him, utterly obliterating the now not-so-arrogant hologram in a wave of electricity.
The air briefly shimmer in remnants of the charged attacks, a few stray bolts flickering for a moment, as the Beetle sagged slightly, revving heavily with exertion and optics flickering with surprise, the wheels in his arms finally slowing down, as his stunners continued to spark slightly.
Hound, Evac and Grimlock stared blankly at such a display as the car regained himself, rather stunned at the impressive power they had just witnessed. They just stood there, slack and staring, as Bumblebee raised himself upright, observed the air for a moment, before he spun round and cheerfully cried: "I got him! I actually got him! That was awesome! I didn't even know I could do that!"
"Neither did I." Hound said, unsure whether to be stupefied or proud.
"It was really cool. Combination of charged particles coerced together plus increased kinetic energy from wheels equals super blast!" Evac hollered.
"Pretty cool." Grimlock said.
Bumblebee beamed with pride, and Hound nervously chuckled, making a mental note never to really frustrate his apprentice again: "Okay, maybe that's enough for target practice today. Why don't we try something else? Less.... strenuous!"
"Hooray for non-strenuous!" Bumblebee hollered, pretending to know what the word meant, wheeling around in a circle as Hound stepped away from the group and turned to face them.
"Okay, next up, I'm thinking we should try out some melee moves. Grimlock, step forth if you please; you're going to be the rookie's punching drone."
Grimlock rolled his optics, nevertheless flexing his jaw in what might be seen as a theropod's version of a smile, and stomped over to the jeep, turning around and sizing up his dual opponents, as if challenging them both to attack right there and then. Bumblebee simply grinned widely and flexed his wing mirrors slightly, whereas Evac's rotors clacked together nervously.
"Okay, Evac, you're up first. Try and hit Grimlock." Hound said cheerfully, moving to a safe distance. "Don't worry about hurting him, you won't even come close. Just show how you'd attack a Decepticon."
"Um, okay." The helicopter replied, a tad nervous, but nevertheless shifting over to the other Autobot. Though they were both reasonably matched in sheer size, Evac's bulk was geared towards his height, compared to the truck's length, and thus he leaned over the berserker, hesitatingly prepping his fists and wondering how to start off.
Grimlock tilted his head and cocked a dismissive brow at him, while Hound offered: "Just go for a basic punch, Evac. Don't worry, you're not gonna hurt a bot as experienced as him in this exercise."
"Easy for you to say." Evac muttered to himself. "You're not the one preparing to punch Grimlock."
Still, he did not want look like a coward or a fool in front of the lieutenant or his fellow rookie, and thus, swung his arm down towards the truck's head, being sure to keep a tab on the velocity of his swing in case he actually did hit and hurt the other-
No need to worry. Grimlock smoothly weaved his head out of the way and moved back slightly, outside of his close-quarters range, smugly puffing out some exhaust. Evac blinked in surprise, before nervously chuckling and moving forward to another go. His next swing required him to lean down a bit, aiming for the side of the truck's head, but again, he easily avoided the half-sparked attack, dipping under it and again moving out of range.
Feeling less nervous though, more relaxed in the knowledge that Grimlock was not only avoiding him, but not biting his arm off, Evac decided to keep it up, moving forward and repeatedly swinging to and fro, the truck weaving out of the way each time. Hound and Bumblebee watched the show, the jeep analytically observing and the Beetle cheering them on, offering support to both his friends in turn.
Finally, satisfied with what he had garnered, Hound declared: "Alright, that's enough, Evac. Unless you're actually starting to enjoy trying to punch the metal out of poor Grimlock."
The helicopter paused, quickly replied with an affirmative and darted over to the jeep, who then patted his apprentice on the shoulder and said: "Bee, your turn. Show him who's boss."
"Don't I always?" Bumblebee sniggered, wheeling up to face off against the amused truck, who snorted: "In your dreams, Bee."
Bumblebee was fast, very fast, darting forward near instantly and aiming a jab at Grimlock's chin, but the truck had experience and a certain agility to his advantage, and he simply shifted to the side, easily evading the scout's attack. Bumblebee seemed surprised at this, before grinning with the thrill of a challenge and wheeling in for another strike, which, again, was easily avoided.
"Grimlock thought you were the fastest." The truck mused, as he spun out of the way of the next assault, optics flashing in enthusiasm. "Don't tell Grimlock you're slower than Grimlock."
"I'm just taking it easy on you." Bumblebee replied coolly, grinning widely as he attempted to go for the truck's legs. "If I wanted to, I could easily trip you up."
"Bet you couldn't."
"Bet I could- Oof!"
The scout had moved too fast when moving in for the next strike; when Grimlock shifted out of the way, he kept his leg outstretched slightly, and the scout ended up tripping over his large claws, landing face first in the dirt with a squeak of shock.
Evac instantly laughed, then just as quicky stopped himself before it became apparent, as Hound sighed: "Okay, that's enough. It's all fun and games until we start getting tripped."
"Good show, Bee." Grimlock stated approvingly, leaning down and picking up the disgruntled car, hefting him back onto his wheels. "A little more speed and you could have made a nice skid mark."
"Oh ha ha, Grimlock." The scout pouted, wiping the dust off of himself, but nevertheless giving a small smile. "Glad I could be so entertaining."
The truck simply chuckled slightly, as Hound stepped forward and declared: "Well, that was enlightening. Seems, obviously enough, that you, Bee, are more of the speedy kind of puncher, and Evac, you're more big swings and brute force. Now that we've established basic strengths, we can only improve on them."
"Of course, improvement would be much more apparent if we had an actual Decepticon to practice upon." Grimlock mused. "If only we had captured one of them; it would have made a welcome punching drone."
Hound rolled his optics and shook his head: "Of course you'd prefer that. But there aren't any Decepticons here, Grimlock, and quite honestly, I'm glad for that."
"Now this is interesting." Soundwave mused, examining his console closely. "Nighttrace, can you come and confirm this for me?"
The UAV, curious, flitted over and hovered by his shoulder, peering down at the console, observing the data being shown upon it. After a moment's examination, she leaned back in surprise, before turning her head to him and flickering her antenna slightly.
"Excellent, so I'm not seeing things." The Lamborghini noted, tapping some buttons quickly, before getting out of his seat and moving over to the main console, promptly bringing up a holographic display of Earth. "Starscream, while I hate to interrupt your playtime, you may wish to see this."
"Depends; could it in any way accelerate Airachnid's departure?"
"I would assume so."
The jet revved a bit, before shrugging and getting up from his seat, setting his controller down and leaving Barricade to play on his own, before striding over to the main console, Nighttrace fluttering over to join them, and folded his arms, observing the hologram and asking: "Well, what is it, Soundwave?"
The car tapped a button, and a yellow highlight appeared on the purple sphere, based in some remote little section in one of North America's countries. The jet perked a brow in curiosity, before glancing at Soundwave with a bewildered look.
"It is a curious phenomenon." Soundwave said coolly. "But data indicates this anomaly is a localised surge of intense electrical energy; it was there for a few seconds, then dispersed. There are no human devices present in that area, and no natural ability of the planet to produce such an effect, except perhaps in a particularly odd thunderstorm, but the weather in that area is perfectly calm."
Starscream took in the information and mused on it for a moment, as did Nighttrace, and then the UAV offered: "Autobots."
"Possibly." Soundwave replied. "But what could they do to produce such an effect? Some kind of new weapon their scientist developed? I doubt it. Electricity is as hazardous to them as it is to us, if not carefully restrained, and this was certainly not restrained."
"It is worth investigating, and perhaps a good opportunity to get our guest's test over and done with. If the Autobots are trying to create some sort of new weapon, it would be productive to stop them."
"Very well. I shall notify Airachnid."
Starscream nodded as Soundwave prepped a communication, before turning to Nighttrace and stating: "While this is going on, I want you to go to the forge and see if it's ready to begin refining again. And Seekers-" The two nearby drones stood to attention. "-You two shall accompany myself and Airachnid on this test run."
"Wait-" Barricade interjected, pausing his game and looking up at Starscream with a perplexed expression. "-You mean you're gonna test one of those rage node things? I thought you wouldn't ever want to risk your shiny bumper in one of the one-optic freak's tests, Screamer."
"I may disagree with the concept of their purpose, but as commander, it is an obligatory duty to nevertheless determine their efficiency, as per the Conciller's orders." The Raptor replied coolly, as Nighttrace fluttered out of the room. "So shut up."
Barricade huffed again, and Soundwave quickly checked the time. Ah damn, over an hour. Guess Nighttrace won the bet....
A few moments later, Airachnid and Slipstream entered, the former declaring: "So, an Autobot presence has shown up? Excellent! The sooner we test the Battle-Inducement Nodules, the better. Tell me, who will have the honours of trying them out?"
"Myself and two of my Seekers." Starscream replied coldly, as his two drones moved to stand beside him. "We will investigate the anomaly at this location, and if there is an Autobot presence, we shall annihilate them."
"Excellent!" Airachnid stated cheerfully, strutting forward and picking up the silver case that contained the interesting little devices. "Then let's not waste any more time, Starscream. Slipstream, would you care to join me in monitoring the nodules should there be a battle?"
Starscream seemed ready to protest, angered at Airachnid impudently asking something of his own soldier, but the jet noted this and quickly reassured the Raptor: "It would be good if I came along, Starscream, just in case there are any injuries in the field that could hamper the return to the ship."
He fumed slightly, but nevertheless decided to avoid any further argument and snapped: "Fine, fine. Let's just go now, before the Autobots run away or something."
"I want to come and kill Autobots!" Barricade hollered.
"SHUT UP, BARRICADE."
The five flyers, the commander first, followed by the drones and then the amused scientist and the giggling medic, exited the room, leaving Barricade to grumble and curse as he returned to his game, and Soundwave just shook his head and wished, for once in his life, he could just relax without such shenanigans going on.
Eventually, a communication reached the Zeta-1, providing the space bridge coordinates for the shipment of Solanor the Lieutenant had requested. Gleeful, Jazz announced he would be back soon, and had left the ship as fast as he could to meet up with the delivery, leaving Ratchet and Wheeljack in the control room.
The tow truck was looking up stuff on the Internet or something, while Ratchet had decided simply to monitor.... well, whatever was up to monitor, he supposed. His leg and hips ached slightly, but at least the brace would keep them secure until Evac returned.
He revved slightly, a tad indignant now. Jazz had some neurals, sending his apprentice off with fragging Grimlock of all bots on a combat exercise. Sure, Bee and Hound would be there with him, but still. He was not at all comfortable with the idea of his poor rookie facing off against the berserker, even in learning. Grimlock simply lacked any concept of restraint or mercy.
Bah, his paranoia was speaking to him again. Ratchet shook his head and told himself to have faith in the lieutenant; Hound wouldn't let anything happen to either of the rookies, not in a lifetime. But if Grimlock was consumed by the rage that fuelled him, he admitted that he knew no way for Hound to stop him. Urgh, if only his leg wasn't still healing! He should be there, keeping an optic on things, not stuck here on this ship just hoping that nothing would go wrong!
Ratchet revved in frustration, cursing Jazz's foolishness and hoping that the others would come back without any bite marks or gouges or whatever the uncontrollable monster might be coerced to do. One part of him considered that maybe he was being too harsh on Grimlock; surely his friendship with the younger scout could coerce calm and restraint in him!
The other part simply pointed to all the mutilated corpses of Decepticons that he had seen over the years. He shivered-
The monitor beeped suddenly, and the holographic display came up, startling both Autobots with a slightly jolt of movement (Ratchet winced when a brief flicker of pain hissed at him), and upon the surface of the blue image of Earth, right at the coordinates of the training session, there was a yellow highlight, which incoming data described as a sudden surge of electrical energy.
"What in Primus' name?" Ratchet muttered, before turning to the surprised Wheeljack and asking: "Did you register that?"
"Freak electrical surge? Yes indeedy."
"Well, we must investigate immediately! It was at the sight of the other's combat practice! What if it's some kind of Decepticon weapon?! What if Bumblebee's stunners malfunctioned and expoded?! WHAT IF-"
"Ratchet, please. Enough with the ranting and the guessing and the whole losing your processor. I'm going to take an educated guess, not a paranoid random guess, and say Bee was simply showing off with his fancy little shockers. You know he can charge them up for larger blasts, right?"
"I do know, but still, why would-"
"I just said, probably showing off. Look, I'll bet you, when they get back, he wheel in and shout about how awesome his big blast was. I literally bet you, like, ten cubes of Energon that's what he'll do."
"But it's still a potent surge of easily detectable energy! What if the Decepticons pick it up?! What if Bumblebee has paralysed them all?! WHAT IF-"
"Ratchet, shut up. I'm sure they're fine. If there was trouble, they'd call us; Bee does have insulating systems, remember. And I doubt the Cons could have picked it up. It barely lasted a second, and they're probably busy sorting through their trash to bother with random occurences."
"But.... what if..."
"They're fine, Ratchet." Wheeljack huffed, rolling his optics as he returned to his browsing. "Stop being so paranoid."
The Hummer hesitated, revving nervously, before he looked back at the display and the highlighted anomaly it showed. Primus, stuff like this made him uneasy. But he had to have faith, right? If he could have faith Grimlock might not escalate combat training into a massacre, if he could have faith that Hound would watch over his apprentiece, then he could have faith that this unexpected occurrence might be harmless, right?
Notes: You had one job, Wheeljack. Goddammit.
Writing Slip and Airachnid is a lot like writing Skyla and Elesa, except you trade Meta's crazy shipping for robots
Barricade is such a child
Cade is cool in my book!!!
This will backfire horribly.................I know it!!!
Um okay wow Slipstream.
Anyway, I guess you could say I was shocked at the revelation of Bumblebee's newly found ability.
Anyway, in all seriousness, I really was surprised. Bumblebee's pretty much been sort of a Fragile Speedster the whole time for me, a soldier who's fast and can dodge a lot, but can be taken down with direct hits because of his lack of skill or whatever else; he was especially a Fragile Speedster when he was battling against Wasp until he got the upper hand. I guess he's more of a variant than a complete fit of the trope because he doesn't take one hit and go straight down. But his strength being his speed along with his relatively weak weaponry (doesn't really effect the big guys) kind of put him under that category for me. However, he's evidently capable of more if he can do that charging thing with his stingers, but I see that there's a downside to the added power--it takes energy, amirite? He was a little tired from exertion after it had happened. Which means, that when he uses it in the future, he has to be careful or else he'll burn too much energy. I think. It makes sense on the same principle with Barricade's cloaking and Arcee's speed thing.
I suspected that Decepticons would eventually get involved in the mess, and I was not disappointed; I find it interesting that it was indirectly Bumblebee's fault that their location was revealed and that the scanners picked up his electrical surge. I wonder how the Decepticons will find the Autobots even through Hound's hologramming...if they do, that is. But in the latter case, good luck to the Autobots. Surely with Grimlock they'll be okay.
Ratchet's paranoia, while justified in this case I guess, is just...eh. I could see that getting old if I lived on the same ship as him. Can't really blame Wheeljack for writing it off, I mean, there's no getting used to the terrible imaginings of the veteran medic.
Author's Notes: Hi all! Sorry for the massive delay of the next chapter of Star's Screams, but it's been kind of hectic around my joint, dealing with new babies, the end of college, moving house and a whole lot of chores!
I'll do my best to shove time aside for Transformers Meta as soon as possible, but you'll have to forgive me if it takes a bit longer.
But, to make up for the lack of actual update, I will post the synopsis and a brief sneak peek of episode six! Enjoy!
Episode 6: With their new plan in place and retribution on their minds, the Autobots prepare to take the fight to the Decepticons, who hope to exploit their newest advantage.
"The Autobots are probably planning out their counter-strategy as we speak." Soundwave noted dryly, shoving Barricade aside as he addressed Starscream, yellow visor repeatedly shifting between optical variants as he spoke. "They will not sit by and wait for our decoys as they have done before; logic dictates they will take the offensive before we can continue with Operation Harvest."
Starscream stroked his chin in thought and nodded: "Yes, yes I believe you are right, Soundwave. Before we continue with our plan, we must prepare our own counter to whatever plan the Lieutenant initiates. They could well be infiltrating human society, manipulating the organics in their new army! Or perhaps experimenting on this world's creatures to create organic super-soldiers! Or-"
"Or their ship is on the move." Nighttrace said, earning everyone's attention, all optics looking towards the UAV, who was pointing to the display upon one of the side consoles.
Indeed, when the commander went for a closer look, he noted the highlighted trail of Energon-nitrate, originating from the continent of North America and heading upwards towards the atmosphere.
A certain thrill of eagerness flowed through his neurals and Starscream, optics flashing with excitement, declared: "Decepticons, it appears the Autobots have acted much faster than we expected! I believe they are flying right up to confront us directly. Well, it's a fight they're looking for, let's not be hesitant! Barricade, Soundwave, Nighttrace, take control of the ship; you will handle the direct fight between our vessels. Seekers, prepare to deploy for orbitial combat; if you are able to, infiltrate the ship and get to down to the business of crew assassination. It would be an ideal pleasure to capture the Autobot ship for our personal use. Slipstream, Airachnid, I trust you extracted everything useful?"
"Absolutely." Slipstream declared. "We have all the information we could need."
"Excellent. Then, you may commence with... purging."
Airachnid's optics flashed gleefully as, for once, she gave a respectful bow and replied: "Commander, it would be a personal pleasure."
Okay, sneak peaks satisfy me.
It's sort of a tease, though. Like oh gawsh, I can see that there is some action coming up.
I love this pacing. <:'D
Take your time, though now I'm really excited to see the next chapter.
"Okay, now this is something I've been wanting to test out for quite a while, so you'll understand if I get a bit excited about this."
Hound did indeed seem quite excited, optics gleaming and tires spinning, and Evac looked appropriately concerned, Grimlock appropriately disinterested and Bumblebee appropriately sharing his mentor's enthusiasm. While there had been mishaps, the younger scout felt this whole training thing hadn't been as bad as it could have been! Heck, he was learning some neat new stuff after all!
Still, he wondered what exercise had gotten the jeep so excited. Anything that made Hound excited should definitely excite Bumblebee too, since they did share a fair amount of common interest in many things. Maybe it was a super neat new fighting technique or even an actual weapon instead of mere stunners!
Okay, to be fair, he adored his stunners, but still, an actual weapon would be cool to have too.
But he and the other two were quite surprised when Hound requested: "Grimlock, Evac, you two are gonna having a shoving contest! Given you're both incredibly strong compared to the rest of us, I wanna see who's the stronger between you! So.... voila, shoving contest!"
There was a brief silence for a moment, and once more, a variety of reactions was provoked in the lieutenant's audience. Bumblebee revved cheerfully, quite eager to see such a face-off between the two largest Autobots (though he knew it was certainly his best buddy ever who would win) and Evac squeaked in horror, optics widening and rotors clacking frantically, utterly horrified at the very thought of trying to match Grimlock in a test of sheer force.
The truck's reaction, utterly deadpan, was the only one with a vocal addition: "You're joking, scout."
"In a test of strength, it's painfully obvious that Grimlock is clearly the superior. Evac may match Grimlock in size, but he is a flyer, not a warrior; aerial mobility compromises sheer force."
Hound rolled his optics, before focussing on a strategy other than mere request and cheekily replying: "Good excuses, Grimlock, nicely thought through. Well, if you're too fearful of perhaps losing-"
The truck moved so fast that the two rookies jumped back in shock when he got right up into Hound's face, crimson optics flashing with anger and sharply hissing: "You accuse Grimlock of being fearful?! Of losing one of your little games to a rookie medic?!"
"Of course not! I merely assumed, since you were so vehement-"
"Never assume Grimlock would ever be fearful, of anything! If you wish to see a test of strength, then Grimlock will be happy to indulge!" He snarled, before stepping back to one of the more open spots and snapping: "Well, Evac, what are you waiting for? I have impudence to disprove."
Evac whimpered something that sound like 'help' at his fellow rookie, but Bumblebee could only shrug, not quite interested in challenging the older Autobots over this, and also wishing to see this for himself. His only hope for aid gone, Evac was resigned to his fate and thus shuffled over to the truck, who was whipping up dirt with annoyed flicks of his tail.
The helicopter braced himself before the truck, before noticing a possible impediment and quickly stating: "Um, but Hound, how can we push each other? His arms are kind of.... too small."
He flexed his own larger arms to emphasize his point, and for a moment, he truly hoped that Hound was acknowledge this and say that he wouldn't have to challenge Grimlock in such a fashion that might irritate the berserker further.
But alas, the jeep just grinned and said: "Push against his head. He's got a tough neck, so don't worry."
The truck snorted slightly, probably glorifying his own physical traits in his head, Bumblebee giggled a bit, and the helicopter couldn't help but mutter upon hearing that response: "Not really him I'm worried about..."
Well, that was that. Better get on with it.
Grimlock leaned his head down so that Evac could better brace his hands against him; the helicopter flinched a little at feeling the small spiky protrusions on the truck's armour, and both steadied their legs into the ground, systems bracing as they readied for the push.
Hound declared: "GO!"
Instantly, Evac was caught off-guard by the sudden force he was up against; Grimlock was shoving forward with all his might, and the helicopter was honestly getting pushed back much faster than he should be, his feet dragging into the ground, leaving notable gouges in the dirt, in an effort to regain his stability.
Oh, this wasn't good, not at all! He was losing so fast already! Primus, Hound just had to see who was the stronger, didn't he?
Hydraulics wheezing, he struggled to push back against the more aggressive Autobot, systems flaring with effort as the truck continued to shove him back, almost reaching the canyon wall at this point. Bumblebee was hollering in excitement as Evac dug his feet in as deep as they could go into the ground and shoved with all his might, Hound himself indulging in a cheer for the helicopter.
His arms wheezed from the effort to hold the berserker back, his rotors rattled rapidly, and Evac was fairly sure he might break a neural at this rate. Of course, he couldn't say he was surprised that Grimlock wouldn't hold back, deny mercy in even a mere competition; proving his superiority was practically built into the truck's processor. Gosh, he really wished he didn't have to do this.
But they were cheering him on, weren't they? Granted, Bee was more focussed on his closer buddy, but still, they were nevertheless cheering him on. Maybe he hadn't a hope in the Pit of matching Grimlock, but he was not going to lose so easily, not when he had at least one cheer to take in!
Grimlock's red optics flashed in slight annoyance when Evac was suddenly no longer as easy to push; in fact, the helicopter had managed to regain his bearings enough to all but halt the furious advance! Even with the pressure upon his frame, Evac felt a thrill of amazement; he wasn't getting shoved into the wall! He was actually strong enough to hold his own!
The two titans revved furiously as their match of strength became more intense, rotors rattling and exhaust pipes smoking, and Bumblebee and even Hound felt quite a thrill of excitement; regardless of the curious musing that had brought about this competition, the escalation of effort was powerful even to the observers and instilled an quite anxious desire to see the outcome.
Evac was grinding up the ground with how deeply he driving his feet into it, and a new sense of determination drove him to put as much effort as he could into this push, shoving back against the berserker with a force he had hardly ever exerted before. Grimlock responded in kind, a rumbling growl shaking his frame as his claws dragged up the ground itself in his own powerful push.
There was an aura of power being exuded now, as the observer's cheers intensified, as the larger Autobots struggled against each other, starting to exert far more strength then they typically would, capable of unveiling their greater power in face of a foe who could easily endure it-
And then Grimlock ended it, a sudden surge so swift in its execution that Evac had no hope of recovering or compensating, and the truck shoved the helicopter straight into the canyon wall with a loud crack of metal impacting stone, Evac yelping in shock as Grimlock asserted his superiority, before the berserker recoiled at last, optics flashing with triumph.
Bumblebee gave a low whistle, rather surprised by the sudden victory, as Evac dazedly pushed himself out of the imprint on the wall, flexing his rotors tenderly, and Hound seemed a tad shocked, before shaking his head and stating: "Well, you didn't need to be so rough, Grimlock."
"Consider that the next time you challenge Grimlock's strength." The truck snapped, flexing his tail with annoyance. "Now you have your answer, scout; Grimlock is tougher than a rookie. What a surprise."
"A hurtful one." Evac muttered, but nevertheless feeling a hint of awe that he had lasted as long as he had, shuffling back towards his fellow rookie, who rewarded his efforts with a pat on the leg and a wide grin, as Hound retorted: "Well, forgive me for just being curious, Grimlock."
"This is combat training, not a Pit full of answers to whatever meaningless musings you have-"
"It's hardly meaningless, we observed a great deal of strength on Evac's part-"
"Strength inferior to Grimlock's."
"The only thing inferior is-"
What aspect of the berserker was inferior, they did not find out, for Hound suddenly froze mid-sentence, his entire frame halting in any and all motions for a brief second, just as the sound of a jet soared overheard. Even as the other Autobots quickly tensed, all looking upwards, shocked by the noise, he turned his head upwards, and deployed the telescopic visor atop his forehead, the dual lenses covering his optics and extending upwards for a telescopic view.
Grimlock was instantly alert now, frame tense and hip-mounted blasters extending: "Where is it?"
Hound paused, starting upwards, telescopic visor whirring softly as the lenses rotated, assessing the sky above, before he stated, calm yet cold: "Holographic generator stopped them from seeing us. But I've got a tab on five Decepticon flyers circling the area."
Bumblebee and Evac exchanged a frightened look, as Grimlock snarled: "Grimlock sees them now. It's definitely Starscream, and whatever cronies he's brought with him. They're scanning for us, no doubt."
"They can't be, they don't even know we're here." The jeep argued, withdrawing his visor, blue optics dimmed in unease and apprehension. "Starscream must be here for some other purpose..... You don't think they've located Jazz, have they?"
"Impossible. The space bridge hasn't arrived yet."
"What do we do then?" Bumblebee asked nervously, prepping his stunners in case one of the jets suddenly came at them, blue optics searching the sky intently to see the five flickers of darkness in the bright blue above. "Do we fight them? I know we've just been training, but-"
"No, we're not fighting them, not with you two at risk." The lieutenant declared, shooting a brief glance at his apprentice, defensive and cautious. "We'll see what they do; if they land, we'll use the hologram as cover to make an exit. If they leave, well, we leave too. Either way, we're not engaging them."
Bumblebee nodded in understanding, and Evac revved a bit in relief, figuring he'd had enough troubles for one day. Grimlock didn't argue with the Lieutenant, but his crimson optics flashed nevertheless as he intently studied the circling jets, clearly desiring to launch a missile or two at them.
But unfortunately, the Decepticons did not leave; they circled downwards, Starscream leading the way, before transforming in mid-air and landing just outside of the hologram's range, somewhere beside the canyon out of their sight. Evac and Bumblebee exchanged a brief glance, reminded of their favourite game, Theritron Hunt, and how quickly that concept had taken a far darker path.
Hound, staring intently at the ridge, as if expecting a Decepticon's head to pop into sight and shout hello, whispered: "Alright, let's move. Quietly now."
Grimlock nodded and headed down the path away from the Decepticon's landing point, Bumblebee grabbing hold of the truck's tail and allowing himself to be towed after him, Evac nervously tip-toeing behind them, mindful of his size and how much noise it could make, with Hound taking up the rear.
As the Autobots sought to make their escape, Starscream, staring around the area, snapped: "Well, here we are! So where is the source of the disturbance?!"
"I don't know." Slipstream mused, stepping over to the ravine and peering in. "There's no residue to be detected, no sign of an Autobot presence. Maybe it was just a glitch in the console, or some freak Earth phenomenon-"
"No, even on a volatile rock like this one, there aren't any random bursts of electrical pulses in the middle of nowhere." The commander snapped, scanning around intently. "They were up to something, I'm sure of it! Waspinator, deploy!"
Panels on his back shifted aside and he ejected the insectoid drone, who buzzed cheerfully in acknowledgement and soared upwards, compound optics engaging a variety of scanning forms as the larger Decepticons below waited for the drone's report.
Hound had heard the jet's declaration, froze in place and growled, the other Autobots pausing to hear him out: "Scrap, he's released that drone of his! Waspinator's optics can crack through holograms!"
And indeed, the drone twittered excitedly, extending a beam from its optics that began to break up the holographic field of the deployed generator, and Starscream hollered: "Well, what do you know, they were up to something after all! That's what you get for doubting me, Airachnid!"
"I didn't even say anything-"
"SHUT UP AIRACHNID. Decepticons, into the hologram! The Autobots are trying to cloak their escape!"
Starscream and the Seekers shifted forward, already extending their weaponry, as Slipstream and Airachnid exchanged a glance, shrugged and followed them as Waspinator continuing to deactivate the hologram buzzed after its master. As the Seekers moved to each side of the ravine, Starscream jumped into the canyon and cried gleefully: "I see your tracks, Autobots! Can't hide forever!"
"Who said anything about hiding?" A voice declared, and Hound stepped out from behind a rocky outcrop, energy pistol clutched in one hand and optics narrowed dangerously at the jet, who paused in his stride and sneered, glaring down at his smaller opponent.
"Ah, Hound himself, the infamous hologrammer. Tell me, are you the actual Hound pushing aside his inherit cowardice, or a fake hoping to distract me?"
Hound paused for a moment, before he sighed: "Alright, you got me. Just a distraction. Surprise!"
The hologram vanished, and Starscream, anticipating the attack, spun round and opened fire behind him, laughing gleefully as his Null Rays fired recklessly, whipping up dirt and rock with their powerful blasts, the Seekers on either side above him also raining down their firepower.
But when the dust cleared, there was nothing.
The jet was perplexed: "What? But he implied an attack from behind! Where is it?! Where are they?!"
Waspinator was buzzing again, having evidently answered that second question, and the jet quickly linked into the processor of his drone, combining their optical feeds to see through Waspinator's eyes; the thermal vision displayed three heat signatures running away as fast as they could across the ground, a fourth racing to rejoin the crowd.
Starscream bursts into laughter for a moment: "Oh, so that WAS the real Hound! Such decepticon and trickery! I love it!", before his thrusters activated and he soared into the sky.
The Autobots were running as fast as they could away from the Decepticons, Hound declaring: "Alright, transform and roll- NO! The drone's breaking the hologram again!"
And indeed, the projected field intended to mask their escape was breaking up, the large wasp flying above them, a beam from its optics disrupting the illusion, and before any of them could transform, or shoot the bug down, there was the flare of thrusters, and Starscream landed in front of them, all four Autobots halting in face of the obstruction, the rookies yelping in shock, Grimlock snarling and Hound silently cursing his luck.
"Well, well, look who Hound brought with him on his little field trip!" The Raptor laughed, flexing his arms and claws and baring his Null Rays, as the Seekers jetted in and landed on either side of the Autobots, Airachnid and Slipstream maintaining a safe distance from the site of possibly conflict. "The oh so mighty berserker, and two little rookies! This day just got marginally better!"
As the truck continued to growl at the jet, the rookies slinking to his side for protection, Hound stepped forward and stated, as calm as he could manage, restraining his fear for the younger Autobots: "There's nothing of interest here, Starscream. Just a field trip, as you said."
"Nothing of interest?" The jet laughed, raising his hand up as Waspinator swooped in and transformed into a pistol-like weapon, which he caught and casually levelled at the Autobots. "Oh, there is much interest here! You and the berserker, for one! What joy there will be when the annoying hologrammer is declared as dead, and what glory for me when I present your animalistic friend's head to Lord Megatron!"
Grimlock snarled, leaning forward in a readiness to charge, but managed to maintain his position, his desire to protect the vulnerable rookies overpowering his inherit rage, as Hound snapped: "We don't have to fight, Decepticon. Even you wouldn't taint any sense of honour you have by slaughtering younglings!"
Starscream tilted his head, as if endeared by such a comment, and replied: "Well, that is a fair point. I'm not particularly inclined to kill rookies. It's the old rule, isn't it? Try your best to avoid murdering medics and youngsters, they are more innocent, yada yada. So fine; we'll just take them prisoner, extract a few secrets about your plans from them, maybe re-educate them to Megatron's vision. But you and Grimlock are fair game, Hound!"
Hound retorted: "Fair game is only fair in your data-pad, Starscream, when it's helpless and unable to fight back."
In the distance, Airachnid gave out a loud: "Ooooooh!", and the jet snapped: "You dare insinuate I can only destroy weak targets?! Foolish Autobot; you have sealed your fate with your impudence!"
Hound made to retort, or to raise his energy pistol, but Bumblebee wheeled forward before he could, a sudden daring in his optics as he levelled his stingers at the jet and snapped: "No-one's fates are getting sealed today, you jerk! if you want to fight Hound and Grimlock, you'll have to fight me too! And maybe Evac if he feels like it."
"No, I'm good."
Starscream raised a brow, as the older Autobots exchanged a surprised glance, Airachnid and Slipstream exchanging a brief note about how overconfident rookies were amusing, before he said: "Oh, I remember you. Bumblebee's the name, right? You were the yellow twerp who had the audacity to attack me alongside your friends. I admit, I quite admire your bravery in the face of a greater foe..... Okay then, change of plan, you die first."
He raised his Waspinator-gun and fired, a powerful pulse of yellow energy emerging from the barrel, aimed right at the scout, who sought to dodge as Hound cried out in alarm, attempting to shove his apprentice out of the way, but Grimlock was already on the case; swinging his massive frame around, Grimlock placed himself between the scouts and the blast, his thick armour shaking as the pulse impacted upon his side, searing his plating, but otherwise ineffective against his raw might.
With a roar of utter fury, fire coating his jaws, Grimlock charged at the jet, who gleefully shrieked: "Seekers, engage nodules and attack the Autobots, leave one of them alive for interrogation! The monster is MINE!"
It was pointless to fire again, so the jet threw his gun up into the air, the drone transforming and darting upwards, before the giants collided head-on, Starscream flung to the floor with the truck upon him, claws shoving the savage jaws away before they could crush his head, furiously wrestling with the enraged Autobot.
The Seekers did as instructed, tapping into the Battle-Inducement Nodules placed on the back of their necks, the devices smooth black lines suddenly glowing bright orange as they did, and instantly, the drones were overcome with an incredible burst of sheer rage that permeated their neurals and influenced their processors. Enpowered by the brutal sensation, the Seekers moved in for their targets with incredible ferocity.
Hound really did not want to engage the enemy in such a matter, with two Seekers coming right for him and the rookies; he did not want to risk them in such combat, especially the elite drones commissioned by Starscream himself, especially when said drones were apparently being strengthened by whatever nodule the jet spoke of, but he had no choice. It was fight or die, and he'd be damned if he let the rookies perish under his watch!
With only the hope they could work together as efficiently in battle as they did on their video games, Hound declared, aiming his pistol at an incoming Seeker: "Evac, Bee, take out the other one! Work together, play smart, don't falter! Go!"
He fired his pistol, right at the drone's head, but it ducked the assault and kept on coming, deploying lethal blades from its arms. The other drone was also going for Hound, and this was its first mistake, for it was utterly unprepared for Evac quickly obeying Hound's order and swinging his massive arm around, catching it across the face with a hefty punch that sent it staggering backwards.
Evac was stunned: "Oh wow, I actually punched it!"
"That's good, Evac." Bumblebee hollered, wheels spinning and engine revving as he darted by, peppering the purple armour with blasts of electricity. "Now KEEP PUNCHING IT!"
"Oh right, of course!"
The helicopter moved in and again threw his arm forward, striking a blow against the flat torso of the jet with a resounding clang, but his third punch was not quite to his favour; the jet threw up its flat arm, easily deflecting the blow, Evac's arm sliding across the smooth metal ineffectively, before it brought up its other arm and swiped at him, knocking him back a few steps as the claws raked over his head, earning a squeal of pain.
Bumblebee was on hand, though, outright ramming himself into the larger Cybertronian's leg in an attempt to bring it down, but alas, it didn't work; the jet remained stable and kicked out, knocking the car onto his back with a loud thump of metal impacting dirt. The Seeker changed targets, again heading towards Evac, and brought its leg up, delivering a powerful kick that knocked out the helicopter's legs, forcing him onto the ground, before raising its arms, ready to crash them down onto the Autobot's head.
But Evac was resilient, and he managed to throw his arm out, backhanding the jet's abdomen and forcing it back, just in time for Bumblebee to jump onto its leg and jamming his stunner into one of the two joints, declaring gleefully: "Electricity bill, pay up, pay up!", as he shocked the limb, further disorientating the Decepticon.
As the rookies struggled against their foe, the battle between Grimlock and Starscream was intensifying; circling one another like territorial predators, they repeatedly struck at each other's, the jet's long arms clawing at what they could reach, the savage jaws and bladed tail striking out with a fanatical lust for spilt Energon. So far, only glancing blows had been achieved, and this was quite annoying to the berserker.
"C'mon, animal, I know you're more ferocious than this!" Starscream taunted, deflecting a swipe of the tail. "Where's the battlefield covered in fire?! Where's the unbridled fury?! Are you scared of hurting your friends, Grimlock? Are you as wary of collateral damage as the Prime who commands you?!"
The truck roared in fury, lunging at Starscream in a reckless charge that the jet, having planned this manoeuvre, easily sidestepped, one slinging under the Autobot's neck, the other around the torso and, securing his struggling foe, he powered up the thruster on the right foot, before activating it in a stream of fire that propelled his knee right into Grimlock's underbelly with a powerful crunch of dented metal.
Despite the throbbing pain at his underside, Grimlock barely even reacted to this powerful blow, simply throwing himself to the side, dragging Starscream along with him in a roll that flattened the jet under his bulk, flipping his legs over in time to catch the ground and regain his footing, but before he could capitalise on this brief advantage, Starscream was already rolling back onto his feet, a look of frustration marring his features as he readied for the next attack.
Grimlock unleashed a blast of fire, but Starscream leapt over it with a jet of his thrusters, ramming himself into the truck with impressive force, sending the Autobot staggering back as the jet flung his fists out wildly, striking the truck's head again and again, shrieking: "I'm just as strong as you, Grimlock, just as big, but I'm faster, and I'm smarter, and I-"
Grimlock spun with the next hit, pivoting his body around, and his huge tail slammed into Starscream, right across the face, the jet's sentence cut off by his own drawn-out groan of pain, Energon spilling from his mouth, before he was flung to the ground with an upheaval of dirt.
Flames licking at his teeth, Grimlock snarled: "Talk too much."
As the trio of battles went underway, Hound leaping to and fro to avoid the berserk swipes of the Seeker's blades, Evac and Bumblebee struggling to overcome their own Seeker and Starscream and Grimlock lunging at each other, Slipstream and Airachnid, Waspinator perched on the former's shoulder, observed all of this with mild interest, the scientist poring over a data-pad in her hands.
"Well, the nodules seem to be working efficiently. Battle instincts have been increased by around fifty percent, which is very good, much better than initial tests indicated." Airachnid mused. "Of course, the Seekers are drones, and thus not quite as absorbed by emotion as true Cybertronians, so it really depends on when Starscream activates his for me to get a good grasp of the nodule's effectiveness."
"Should we really be just standing here watching?" Slipstream asked, idly petting Waspinator as she noted the helicopter's surprising power when he managed to take a hit to the chest and retaliate with his own blow. "I could easily throw in some support fire."
"This whole exercise is merely to test the nodules, Slipstream." Airachnid replied. "Interfering would hamper results. Besides, I doubt the Autobots will survive this conflict; when the Seekers destroy their inferior opponents, they can help Starscream eliminate the berserker, so it all works out."
"I suppose so. Still, perhaps it would be good if I sent a few shots at the hologrammer, considering how annoying that whole hologram business can be. I bet you I could head-shot him from here-"
Her comrade suddenly perked up, before darting a finger to the side of her head, clearly answering a com-link, and stating: "I'm a bit busy, Soundwave. Make it quick."
Slipstream tilted her head in curiosity as Airachnid listened to the reply. What could Soundwave want right now? Another fluctuation detected? Barricade trying to convince a Seeker to arm-wrestle again?
Airachnid then stated: "Oh no, I can go check it out. I'll have Slipstream monitor the nodule's efficiency in my place. I'll call you back if there is anything of significance there."
She nodded, and the com-link went silent, and she turned to the curious medic and asked: "Would you mind monitoring this business for me, Slipstream? Soundwave's picked up a space bridge signal, so I'm going to go investigate."
"Sure, no problem. Have fun!"
Airachnid leapt into the air and transformed after passing the data-pad, soaring off into the sky with an impressive roar of the thrusters, whipping up dust in her take-off. Slipstream watched her go, before turning her head back towards the fighting and muttering to Waspinator: "I still think we should just shoot the hologrammer, considering the threat and annoyance he represents. But alas, we have to just sit back and see how the test goes."
Waspinator simply twittered.
"Now this is interesting."
Soundwave was again feeling a sense of curiosity, courtesy of the readings coming up on the monitor, the unmistakable energy signature of an open space bridge portal, unconfined and free upon the planet's surface, specifically a rather isolated section of wilderness on the continent of North America, near one of its human habitats and very near the location of the electrical surge that Starscream was currently investigating.
He was perplexed, of course, not only because he had not considered the Autobots to be foolish enough to broadcast a space bridge signal in the middle of nowhere, but for how brief the signal was: One mere second after its detection, it vanished. What could be so quickly transported that only a second's space of an open bridge was required to adequately deliver?
Of course, there was the possibility that nothing was being transported, and that was the quick burst was an Autobot decoy, hoping to lure any curious Decepticons into a trap. This option seemed the most likely, given how the Autobots would probably wish to either attempt to remove an opponent or more out of the equation, or a distraction from whatever that electrical surge had been.
Soundwave idly considered his options, before finally giving into curiosity and sending a message to Airachnid:
"Airachnid, this is Soundwave."
"I'm a bit busy at the moment, Soundwave. Make it quick."
Indeed, he could hear the faint rumble of conflict over the channel, the sounds of gunfire, clangs and some kind of roaring, and he quickly continued: "The ship has detected a brief space bridge signal near your location. I was wondering if anyone was available to scout, but if you're busy-"
"Oh no, I can go check it out. I'll have Slipstream monitor the nodule's efficiency in my place. I'll call you back if there is anything of significance there."
"Understood. Soundwave out."
No sooner had he disengaged from one conversation, when Barricade interjected with his own: "Another random flux? Primus, what kind of slag are the Autobots getting up to? Hey, maybe I should go down and check it out, maybe see if there's some slagging 'Bots for me to dismember!"
"I hate to disappoint you-" Soundwave snorted, returning his attention to the console. "-But Airachnid is already investigating. You won't have to go anywhere, Barricade."
"..... I hate all of you."
In the dusty wilderness, a fair few miles or so from Hound's training exercise, a gleaming silver Pontiac Solstice raced over the ground, whipping up clouds of dust in his wake and scattering any ambient organics in his way. He was thrilled to be able to move faster than usual, lacking the other vehicles on the human roads, not to mention there was a certain intensity to reaching the location of the transfer and retrieving the Solanor before the Decepticons picked it up.
But he doubted any Decepticon could intercept him at this point; even the fastest of their flyers wouldn't reach him in time, not with the whole actually-detecting-the-signal part and atmospheric entry and all that to contend with. By the time any jet got here, he'd be long gone.
Of course, he questioned why the Autobots at Iacon had been so insistent on briding the Solanor to this dusty place rather than anywhere closer, or heck, on the ship itself, where the signal would be cloaked by its holographic shielding. They might be looking out for him, refusing to take the risk of the Decepticons detecting the signal anyway and finding his ship and thus placing it reasonably close and reasonably distant to maintain cover.
Or they were idiots. He internally grinned at that one.
A few more minutes of driving, slowing down a bit to appreciate the view of the sun shining down on the rough but endearing wilderness, until he picked up the sudden burst of energy that signalled the activation of a space bridge portal, a couple hundred metres in the distance. Motion trackers picked up the movement of a lump of metal chucked through the portal, and then it closed.
Quick and efficient, just the way he liked it. With an extension of arms out of his front, doors flipping outwards onto the appendages, he flipped his frame upwards, already stretching his back out into legs, compacting himself into robot mode and landing on the ground with as dynamic a pose as he could manage, arms spread out, on one knee and leaning forward, a large grin on his face as his tires clicked into his back and his visor gleamed in the sunlight.
When you do something, do it with style.
Straightening up, he idly meandered over to the smooth sphere of black metal, the lump of Solanor that beckoned him with the promise of a successful operation, and his grin widened as he bent down and picked it up. It was lighter than it looked, and it would certainly fit quite easily into his vehicle form. And not a Decepticon in sight! Easy as pie, as the humans would say.
He turned back to face the way he came, tossing the Solanor up and catching it a few times to test out its lightness and solidity; as resilient as any lump of Cybertanium should be! At last, he had the means to finally get on with the very purpose of this mission! Pleased, he-
The explosion right at his feet sent him flying, heat searing his silver armour as the Solanor sailed out of his hands and bumped to a stop by a nearby rock, undamaged but a tad dusty now. The Solstice landed hard, his frame scraping against the ground as he grinded to a halt, groaning in slight pain and surprise as he struggled to regain his bearings, his processor a tad rattled.
The sound of powerful engines surged by, and his visor picked up the sight of a Cybertronian jet circling around for another attack, a black/dark-green sleek vehicle that was most definitely angling for another fly-by. Fortunately, Jazz was quick on his feet, and avoided the missile shot his way, the projectile harmlessly impacting empty space as he rolled to his feet and unsheathed his energy pistols, bringing them together into sniper form and firing after the jet. The first two shots missed, but the third clipped a wing, and the Decepticon was forced to move down to avoid a fourth blast.
Understanding the need to get the Solanor to safety, and quite displeased that the response time of his foes had been so fast, the Lieutenant aimed to make a run towards the metal, but the jet was coming his way again, moving low to the ground, and before he could bring up his sniper, the Decepticon fired a missile and transformed, twisting into robot mode as the Autobot was forced to dodge the explosion that had been hoping to blow him into bits.
He quickly spun round and brought his gun, hoping to catch the Decepticon off-guard, but alas, the flyer was already lunging at him, lanky double-jointed legs propelling it towards him, claws outstretched and in the ensuing evasion of the swipes, his rifle was knocked out of his hands, sent flying by the force of the blow and landing a fair distance away.
Jazz growled with frustration as the Decepticon straightened up from the lunge and turned to face him, a smug grin on a face he now recognised as that of the assistant of the Conciller called Shockwave.
The Decepticon spoke now, a sultry and arrogant tone that sent a thrill of annoyance through his neurals: "The famous Lieutenant. I must admit, you're not quite as observational as reports indicated."
"We all have our off-moments, Decepticon." He replied coolly, prepping his fists and arms in a defensive manner akin to an Earth boxer, as the flyer flexed her sharp claws in response to the challenge. "Airachnid, isn't it? Primary assistant to Shockwave, correct?"
"Absolutely. And you, of course, require no introduction. The lethal right hand of Optimus Prime himself." Airachnid said smugly, red optics nevertheless narrowed as they studied him, the two Cybertronians slowly circling each other as they considered the next phase of the conversation, a possible distraction and opening for the next attack.
"I'm flattered." The Solstice stated. "So, I presume you picked up that space bridge signal?"
"I was in the vicinity. And lo and behold, I've encountered the Lieutenant himself trying to scavenge some Solanor. Hoping to start a solar foundry on Earth, Autobot?"
"Nah. But if I told you what it's really for, that'd go against the whole secrecy factor of an operation, wouldn't it?"
"Absolutely. Well, if you aren't keen to tell me, I suppose we should get back to the whole fighting each other part, since I'm quite keen to take your Solanor for myself and of course, to present your corpse to Lord Megatron."
"Of course." Jazz sneered, prepping himself for the brawl to commence. "I hope your melee is as good as your missiles."
"Oh, it is." Airachnid replied cheerfully, and with that, she transformed, but not into the jet, no; something worse.
Instead, her chest split apart, a new head emerging and folding upwards as her wings folded inwards, sharp legs extending from her abdomen as claws unfolded from her arms, falling forward, the new legs catching the ground as her primary legs folded together, extending and arching upwards, unveiling a lethal stinger, forming a terrifying mode superficially similar to an Earth scorpion.
In her bestial form, the insectoid head of Airachnid glared menacingly at him, baring the powerful claws and stinging tail, before unleashing an audio-piercing shriek and charging, utterly intent on tearing the smaller Cybertronian.
Jazz spared a second to chuckle: "Jet. Scorpion. Airachnid. Frag, that's clever."
And then the fight for the Solanor was on!
Notes: This isn't the final chapter, despite the five-chapter pattern so far, since I screwed up the second one's timing! One more to go before the next episode!
We already knew Waspinator can see through holograms, but now it can break them down too, and turn into a powerful gun! This makes it an even greater asset to Starscream
Airachnid's arachnid bit is now a scorpion. Scorpions are cooler than spiders. Just ask Scorpion! "GET OVER HERE!"
Kick Airachnid's aft, Jazz. :U
This certainly leaves me anxious for the next chapter, though I was delighted by the length of this one. It might have just been me, maybe, but I felt that it was longer. In any event, things sure did escalate at a torturous, shall I say, progressive pace...yeah, that makes no sense. But the suspense was written well is what I mean, I was sitting on the edge as Waspinator was breaking through the hologram projection.
But, I have confidence that the Autobots will make it through alright...hopefully, with minimal casualties. But even though half of the justice team is composed of rookies, it's not like they have absolutely no skill...I mean hey, Evac saved the day in the beginning of the season and Bumblebee came close to getting the upper hand over Barricade in the fourth episode. Besides, those Red Shirts of Seekers drop like flies.
Except, of course, for the when they're on steroids. O____O
Well, I guess we'll have to wait and see how it goes.
Jazz jumped backwards, swiftly evading the swing of a massive claw as the scorpion move in for the attack, and he spun effortlessly landing on his feet and prepping his fists, before darting in, evading another swipe and lashing out, his fist grazing the side of Airachnid's bestial head. Alas, his attack yielded no results, and he was forced to jump away again before the tail could swing down and shove the stinger through his head.
Now, it was obvious he was at quite a disadvantage; he was not at all used to fighting an arthropod-based form, his weapon had been tossed away and Airachnid was ensuring that he stayed well away from it, and the Solanor was lying there in the open, useless to his cause and vulnerable to theft from any other Decepticon in the area. In short, he was in a pretty bad position.
He was vaguely reminded of the time he'd been stuck in the Sea of Rust, hunted by a particularly persistent Driller; the same sense of difficulty was present here as it had been there, as well of course the animalistic opponent. The thought of that old dilemma did give him a bit of hope; if he could escape from the greatest predator ever to emerge from below, then he could certainly beat a Decepticon pretending to be a glorified bug.
He darted to the side as the Decepticon lunged, but this time, she was ready for the evasion; her tail lashed out at where he had been moving to, and though it was thankfully not a direct hit, the bladed end grazed at his side, sparks flaring up at the contact and a flare of pain flowing through him. It didn't pierce his armour, nor did it draw Energon, but it still hurt.
Okay then, maybe that bit of hope might be feeling a bit awkward now.
She came at him again, but this time, he darted towards her; the sudden offence caught her off-guard, having expected his typical evasion, and it resulted with his foot planting into her face, earning a shriek of pain as he followed up the kick with an upwards leap, shifting his arms back to grab his feet as his legs bent, before spiralling downwards and delivering a potent knee-crusher to the Decepticon's back.
Airachnid shrieked in pain at the intense blow, the armour on her back dented from the attack, as Jazz leaped off of her, grinning widely; now that had been a high-risk, high-reward! He didn't normally take gambles like that, preferring to have a sense of control to his actions, but damn if it didn't feel good when it paid off-
One of Airachnid's spindly beast legs struck out, and this time, she scored a direct hit, as the clawed tip stabbed into his abdomen, the Solstice yelping in agony and shock as the claw dug in, before ripping itself free, earning a healthy tear upon the silver armour that immediately began leaking Energon. Jazz staggered backwards, clutching his stinging wound, only to receive a claw swinging around and smashing him across the torso, denting his chest and cracking a headlight, the car knocked back by the powerful blow.
He struggled back to his feet, rather unsteady and certainly cursing her, as the Decepticon gave a feral chuckle and move in to continue the attack, tail arching and ready to strike.
Quick as a flash, the stinger struck out at him, but the Autobot had only been exaggerating his pain; the doors upon his arms flipped out and he used them like a shield, deflecting the deadly stinger and giving him a chance to grab the Decepticon's tail and, as hard as he could, land a punch in the closest joint, jerking the vulnerable section with a flare of sparks.
Airachnid shrieked in anger and swatted him away with her claws, a hefty blow that sent him crashing into a nearby boulder, splitting the rock in half at the force of impact. He groaned in pain, gasping his head in one hand to still the spinning sensation in his processor. Urgh, this wasn't good; every time he landed a blow, she struck out with a stronger one. He really wasn't cut out for punching a scorpion.
Speaking of which, she gave another feral laugh and headed towards him, claws snapping and tail flexing in anticipation for ripping him apart. And honestly, it didn't look like her desire would be denied; Jazz's wound was taking its toll, as the exertion of combat continued to force Energon out of it.
Jazz briefly wondered if this might be the end, slaughtered by a random Decepticon in the middle of nowhere in the attempt to secure his team actual progress for their mission. A depressing thought, the idea of his comrades losing both their leader and the means to secure energy for the off-world forces. Maybe Hound would take over in his absence, or maybe Grimlock would take advantage of the empty niche and seize command himself.
Oh, Jazz did not like that concept one bit; it made his engine rev and his Energon boil. He was not going to let that Autobot take over his mission, his ship, and exercise his desire to extort humanity's resources! Not if he could help it! Not while he might still fight!
And as it just so happened, the lump of Solanor was nearby. And he knew exactly what to do.
Airachnid lunged, aiming to sink her jaws right into his face, but then, her eagerness to rip his spark apart was suddenly shifted into shock and pain when a solid lump of metal smashed right into her face, briefly jerking her jaws to the side and drawing a brief spurt of Energon, disorientating the scorpion and throwing her attack off-course. What the Pit just happened?!
The Solstice grinned, as he forced himself to his feet, the lump of Solanor in the grasp of his grappling hook, a bit of Energon decorating the smooth metal from where it had smashed into the Decepticon's head. While hardly its ideal use, the Solanor was now serving a different purpose, as the end of a makeshift flail.
Hefting his grappling line around, he swung the lump of Solanor around his head, building up momentum, and before Airachnid was fully recovered from the initial, he brought the lump of metal down, smashing into her face and shoving her right into the dirt with an upheaval of dust and rock.
Satisfied with his excellent turning of the tables, Jazz grinned to himself, retracting the grappling line to get the Solanor safely into a hand, before he hollered: "Nice try, Decepticon! See you next time!", and made a mad dash for his sniper rifle, extending his grappling line to retrieve the weapon so he didn't have to just run all the way to it. He considered staying to finish the fight, but in light of ensuring the Solanro's safety, plus attending to the wound on his abdomen, he decided it was much more productive to retreat for now and see if next time yielded more satisfying results.
So, quite enjoying the fact he had managed to get out of that situation with his usual flair and versatility, he transformed into vehicle mode, his cargo stuffed into his backseat, and he drove off back towards the ship as fast as he could.
And when Jazz drove as fast as he could, in an isolated area with no humans to see him and no desire to be slow, he moved so fast he was practically hundreds of metres away, a hefty trail of dust thrown up in his wake, by the time Airachnid pulled her head out of the dirt and made note of his retreat.
The scorpion gave a low growl of annoyance as she observed the rapidly disappearing form of the car in the distance, barely visible with all the dust the Autobot had whipped up, flicking dust off of her face. What an annoyance; she'd been so close to finishing him, and he'd had the nerve to turn a lump of metal into a weapon. She supposed she could admire such improvisation in a quite fatal situation, but really, it was more annoying.
She considered shifting into her jet mode and pursuing him- Even at his fastest, he couldn't match a jet-, but at this point, he'd secured enough of a speed advantage that he'd probably reach his ship and prep defences before she could finish him off. But not that it mattered; as Slipstream had pointed out, there was always next time, and besides, he wasn't the only Autobot out in the open.
Her expression of frustration shifted in one of amusement, and thus she settled on letting him go. Why bother chasing a rather half-sparked fight when she could sit back and enjoy the Lieutenant's pain upon hearing that four of his soldiers had meet their end at the claws of Starscream and his Seekers?
With this in mind, she activated her communications and contacted the Communications officer: "Soundwave, this is Airachnid. The space bridge you detected was the Lieutenant, collecting some Solanor. Sad to say he escaped, but rest assured, his fellow Autobots will not be so lucky."
"Very well, Airachnid. Thanks for the update."
"My pleasure. Airachnid out."
The com-link went dead, and thus she reared up and looked into the distance, gazing after the shifting dust, malice flickering in her optics.
"Good fight, Lieutenant." She purred confidently, as panels on her body began to shift in preparation for a transformation. "But you were merely a distraction. Our real operation here will pain you much more than my claws did."
Laughing to herself, the scorpion jumped into the air, wings extending, and transformed into jet form, before blasting off into the sky back towards the site she had come from.
The site where the other Autobots would meet their fate...
Put bluntly, the fight wasn't going well at all.
Hound hit the ground hard, but managed to roll himself back onto his feet and jump aside just in time as the Seeker's foot slammed into the ground right where his head would been. The miss did not deter the drone, for it simply swung its blades round, aimed right at the jeep's torso, and he again had to leap back before it cut into him, the jet continuing to lunge at him in whatever induced frenzy it was experiencing.
Now, Hound had fought Seekers before. They were as strong and as fast as their master, and capable of independent strategizing in the heat of combat, and in short, pretty difficult to defeat. But never had he fought one that was so savage, so aggressive! They were normally rather tactical and cautious, but this one had thrown any sense of tactics out of the observation pane! Whatever device Starscream had concocted to make them more aggressive was certainly working.
The blades came at him again, and he darted to the side, firing his energy pistol at the jet, the shots impacting against its side, but alas, this did not wound nor deter the drone, and it simply swung its arm around, catching him in a powerful backhand that sent him sprawling across the ground, groaning with exertion as he forced himself back up before the Seeker could take advantage of the hit.
This was bad; the effort to keep on the move, the effort to recover from each intense blow, was wearing on him. He'd burned through a decent chunk of power with those hologram ploys, while the Seeker's energy levels were only enhanced by whatever process had upgraded it, and it would surely outlast him at this rate. Unless he managed to pull off something really good, this was a fight he wasn't going to win.
The Seeker's thrusters activated, and it lunged at him, but this time, Hound was ready; he rolled under the wild attack, spun back to his feet and unsheathed his shoulder rocket-launcher. Even as the Seeker was turning around, he'd locked on and fired.
The missile flew straight and true, and struck the Seeker right on the chest in a burst of fire and shrapnel, sending it staggering back from the force of the blow. For a moment, he felt a touch of relief that maybe he might have turned the fight around.
Except the Seeker was still standing. Yes, its chest was dented and black from the blast, but other than that, it was undamaged and utterly intent on paying him back for it.
Hound muttered: "Oh frag me."
On the other hand, the fight between the other Seeker and the rookies seemed to be in the latter's favour; Evac had managed to get behind the jet and grab his foe's arms, restraining the struggling jet with all his might. Bumblebee had taken advantage of his friend's impeding the drone and was perched on the Seeker's chest, gripping a shoulder in one hand and rapidly punching its face with the other.
"Take this! And this! And that! And this! And this too!" Bumblebee hollered as he repeatedly punching the drone, the jet's head jerking with each hit, as Evac cheered him on. "You're not so tough!"
It was a good feeling; their teamwork had practically rendered their foe helpless, and there was a thrill of eagerness in both Autobots that this may well be the first Decepticon they ever managed to defeat in a straight-up fight!
The drone's rage, however, was intense, and these pests, taunting it and hampering it, only increased said rage. The nodule was doing its job well, and with a burst of fury, the Seeker activated its thrusters. Instantly, Evac howled with pain and staggered back, releasing the drone, when the burst of fire seared at his armour, smoke rising from the blackened metal.
No longer restrained, the Seeker raised an arm, grabbed Bumblebee by the leg and dragged him off of it, before swinging the unlucky car around and smacking the disorientated helicopter with him, both rookies crying out in pain at the forced collision. Again, the Seeker swung its smaller victim around, a flare of sparks rising when Bumblebee's torso impacted Evac's head, the helicopter crashing to the ground from the force of the blow.
Disdainfully, the Seeker tossed the car away, Bumblebee hitting the ground hard and rolling across the dirt before grinding to a stop. With a groan, he tried to raise himself off of the floor, before his systems gave a pitiful wheeze and he slumped.
Satisfied, the Seeker turned to the other rookie, who was struggling to his feet, and seized the Autobot by the neck. He struggled to free himself, but the Decepticon promptly began to punch him across the face, striking this way and that in painful blows that rattled the unfortunate Autobot's processor, before it threw him to the floor.
Evac groaned slightly, defeated.
Victory satisfied the Seeker, and the rage withdrew for a moment, allowing it to observe the other battles taking place; the green Autobot was not doing well, its fellow Seeker easily forcing the jeep into a near constant retreat, whereas the fight between Starscream and Grimlock was more even, both brutes dealing blows as good as they got. Nodding, the drone moved forward to assist its master.
Starscream spun round, his leg kicking out and catching Grimlock across the head, stunning the truck for a moment, giving the jet the opportunity to move in and ram his foe, sending Grimlock staggered back. He recovered quickly though, and swung his tail around, slashing at Starscream's hip with a flare of sparks. Taking advantage of the jet's pain, he then struck out with a thick leg, kicking the Decepticon in the torso and knocking him to the ground.
Jaws aching with the lust for Energon, Grimlock moved in to finish off his victim, only to be distracted by gunfire peppering his armour; the Seeker had joined the fray, machine guns and shoulder turrets blasting the Autobot. Enraged by such impudence, the berserker changed targets and lunged at the Seeker, who anticipated this and dodged the frenzied charge, before swinging a leg up and kicking Grimlock's side, staggering the Autobot and providing more space for the Seeker to continue blasting him.
However, the truck was not so easily harmed by such an attack; he simply swung his head around, charging up searing fire in his jaws, and unleashed a potent fireball that crashed into the Seeker, sending it flying back and scraping across the dirt. The Seeker got back to its feet, only to receive two missiles from Grimlock's hip blasters, staggering the drone backwards, its chest torn open by the attack and exposing vital circuitry.
The nodule's additional feature immediately activated, replacing the desire for violence with an urge to flee, and before the Autobot could finish off his weakened foe, the Seeker transformed and flew away as fast as it could.
Frustrated by the interruption and his foe's cowardice, Grimlock made to return his violent intent to Starscream, only to realise that if the Seeker had in turn changed targets, then it might have overcome the other Autobots. He turned his head around and noted the prone form of the rookies; any panic he might have experienced was thankfully alleviated when he noted they were still moving, struggling to get back up.
At least they were alright, but it seemed the third Autobot was not quite as lucky.
Hound cried out in pain as the Seeker's talons dug into his armour, the foot having successfully caught him off-guard after dodging the blades, before the Seeker flew up and came back down, carrying him with it and slamming him into the ground. The impact dented his armour and rattled his systems, his energy pistol knocked out of his hands and clattering away. Seeing that the Autobot offered no more resistance, weakened and helpless, the Seeker stepped back and raised its sword for the finishing blow.
As he gazed up at the purple Decepticon with the gleaming blade Hound realised he was going to die. Hound realised Bumblebee would no longer have a mentor, Jazz would no longer have a lieutenant, Wheeljack would no longer have a rock. So many things left behind, so many things he could never account for again.
Part of him wanted to scream, scream for everything he was about to lose, all the things he would never see, the things he would never see again. Part of him fought to remain silent, to face his end with dignity, to not allow weakness in this final moment. There was enough weakness in defeat; it was no necessary in death.
He only hoped it didn't hurt too much-
And then a bladed tail tore through the Seeker's torso, the jet's back arching, arms falling limp as the thick limb shoved through its chest, scattering torn metal everywhere, the long blade covered in Energon, the bright lifeblood splattering across the shocked Hound.
The Seeker was suspended on the fatal appendage for a moment, optics flickering wildly, limbs jerking around, before, with a disdainful snort, Grimlock swung his tail around, flicking the corpse off of his limb. The jet crashed to the ground, twitching violently for a moment, before finally going still.
In just a mere second, Hound's death had been replaced by the Seeker's end, and he was safe, unharmed, alive. It was almost unbelievable how swiftly fate had changed, and it was an astonishingly relieving sensation, one that soothed his anxious spark and reassured his fearful processor. He gave a low rev of relief, and squeaked: "T-Thanks, Grimlock."
But alas, there was a problem; as Hound got back to his feet, Starscream was also recovering, rearing upwards and glaring after the truck that had dared to floor him like that, before a look of shock spread over his face when he saw the corpse of the Seeker lying by the berserker.
He was still for a moment, comprehending the first confirmed Cybertronian death on Earth before him, before his frame began to intensely shake, his optics flaring wildly, a sheer rage overtaking him as he howled: "YOU TWISTED ANIMAL! YOU MURDERED MY SEEKER! HOW DARE YOU!"
His thrusters ignited, and in a deranged fury, he flung himself at the truck, crashing into him and sending them slamming to the ground, his fists furiously punching and clawing at his struggling foe, howling: "DAMN MONSTER! ABOMINABLE FREAK! YOU'LL PAY FOR THAT, YOU WASTE OF SPARK!"
Hound backed away from the furious fight as Grimlock lashed out with his legs, knocking the enraged jet back and giving him time to get back up; such violence from even the Decepticon Raptor was utterly shocking to him, and he promptly decided that it was better for Grimlock to handle such an opponent himself.
Starscream furiously slashed and kicked at his foe, who snapped his jaws at the jet, trying to lock them around his enemy, in a terrifying recommencing of their battle. Energon splattered from whatever wounds they inflicted on each other, whether by the Decepticon's claws tearing at the Autobot's neck, or a frenzied stab of the tail impacting the grey abdomen of its target.
Slipstream herself, monitoring from the side-lines, had been quite horrified when the Seeker had died, and as her commander furiously maintained combat with the perpetrator, she stated coldly to Waspinator: "Test or no test, this insolence is not going unpunished!"
She raised her ray arm, charging orange plasma between the spindly fingers in a sphere of power, and aimed it right at Hound, who was watching the fight, utterly unaware of the Decepticon targeting him. It was almost too easy-
"No you don't!"
An electric blast struck her arm, temporality disorientating the neural net within it, and her aim ended up misaligned, her blast premature; the plasma blast fired, but completely missed the Autobot, who promptly became aware of an additional enemy and swung round to face her, rocket launcher reloaded and aiming at her.
Even as Slipstream cursed the yellow Autobot that stood nearby, the one that had ruined her attack, she also noted the helicopter, back on his feet, moving towards her, fists prepped and ready. In short, she had gone from an outside supporter to the target of three enemy soldiers within mere seconds. Oh dear.
Waspinator buzzed away, promptly deciding to save itself, leaving her to face the enemy alone. But even as Hound readied to blast her, even as Bumblebee moved to attack her legs, even as Evac charged in to join the assault, she quickly garnered a way out of this situation.
As quickly as she could, she lunged for Bumblebee, who had made the grievous error of moving too close, and seized the smaller Autobot by the leg, dragging the struggling car up to her level and, holding him in front of her, shouted: "Don't you dare, Autobots, unless you want to take your friend down with me!"
Hound and Evac froze, and even Grimlock's attention, locked in combat with Starscream, was roused by the shout. Turning away from his foe, the truck looked over and saw his best friend in the clutches of a Decepticon.
Such a sight birthed a fear he had never known. And a fury more potent than any other.
With a roar of intense rage, he swung his tail around, smashing it into Starscream and sending him crashing across the ground, before he lunged, charging as fast as he could towards the Decepticon that dared to grasp Bumblebee in such a manner, fire spewing out of his jaws and he moved in for the kill, desiring nothing more than to rip apart the pathetic pile of slag, melt it down into nothing and crush all that remained!
Slipstream saw the berserker charging and her confidence changed to terror. While any other Autobot would hesitate to attack in seeing a comrade taken as a hostage, that monster would not care one bit how many of its comrades died in its desire to rip apart its enemies. Slipstream's prisoner would not at all help her in diverting the animal's Energon-lust, and she had to do something quickly before it reached her, far faster than an Autobot that size should be.
So, she decided to just run. But not on her own.
She leapt up into the air, taking the small Autobot with her, and transformed, even as Grimlock attempted to follow her into the air, jaws snapping for her legs, the other two Autobots also moving in, in an attempt to reach their friend. Bumblebee was suspended in mid-air for a moment, crying out to his fellow Autobots in fear and desperation, reaching out for them, but it was too late. The F-117 Nighthawk jet behind him finished the shift, transfusion tubules emerging from the jet's underside and promptly wrapping around him, securing him to the Decepticon just as the thrusters reached full power-
And then, in a blaze of fire, the jet was gone into the sky, taking Bumblebee with her, far out of their reach.
"NO!" Hound cried, reaching outwards regardless of the immense distance between his hand and the Decepticon, Evac falling to his knees in horror as Grimlock hit the ground hard from his jump, howling in anger, horror and frustration as fire burst from his mouth. The jeep staggered to a stop, staring out pitifully into the sky, arm falling uselessly to his side, as the fear began to spread throughout his neurals.
Bumblebee was gone. The Decepticons had taken Bumblebee.
And he had been helpless to stop it. Useless to prevent it.
He fell to his knees and whimpered in disbelief and horror and pain.
Grimlock fell into a demented frenzy, lashing out at everything around him, fires burning the ground as his claws and bladed tail ripped up dirt and rocks; another jet was flying towards them, and upon noticing it, he instantly began shooting at it, prompting it to swiftly change directions and fly off after the thief, before he swung round and roared at Starscream, who was struggling back to his feet after the potent blow he received, Waspinator buzzing around its master.
Enraged, the berserker charged at the jet, who noted the absence of any support that could help him, and with a snarl of annoyance, he decided to abandon the fight; leaping into the air, Waspinator fitting into his back compartment, he converted into his Raptor form and engaged his thrusters, flying away at Mach speeds, leaving the furious Autobot in the dust, Grimlock howling with anger and firing after the retreating jet, furiously exhaling flame and roaring at the sky.
As Grimlock lunged at the only available target, the corpse of the dead Seeker, and began to rip it apart in his rage, savagely tearing it into pieces in his anguish, Evac forced himself back to his feet and staggered over to the dazed Hound, and murmured: "Oh, oh Hound. Will... will he be okay? Will Bee be okay?"
Hound didn't answer. He just sagged, and let out a low, anguished wheeze.
He didn't know, and Evac realised this, optics dimming in fear and sadness, with only the sounds of the berserker's agonised fury disrupting their pained silence.
"Can't believe I pulled that off!" Jazz bragged, holding up the Solanor proudly, as Ratchet attached a regenerative patch to his wound. "She had me on the cables, but I managed to turn this hunk of goodness into a flail! You should have seen me, I was so damn awesome!"
"Not as awesome as the time I grappled up onto the Decepticon ship and blasted their main console, I bet." Wheeljack snorted, nevertheless looking quite impressed at the Lieutenant's lucky escape.
"Shut up, Wheeljack, my quick thinking and quicker driving was far cooler than that." Jazz laughed, grinning widely at the tow truck as he tossed the Solanor to him, the other Autobot easily catching it.
"Doesn't matter who does the cooler stuff." Ratchet noted, gripping the console for support as he pushed himself upwards, his leg brace shaking slightly, a smile on his face. "Now we have the means to truly begin our mission!"
"Absolutely." Jazz replied cheerfully, wincing a bit as he felt the patch over. "This is a pretty good victory, Autobots; I held off a Decepticon from grabbing our goods, and we can get to business as soon as the others get back-"
The main console began to beep, indicating an incoming communication.
"Well, speak of Unicron, and he will call." Wheeljack chuckled, as he moved over to it and tapped a button. "Hello, Wheeljack here. Everything going okay, or is Grimlock being grumpy as usual?"
In light of their pleased mood, in light of the positive atmosphere, in light of the hope the Solanor had provided, none of them, not even Ratchet, could have been prepared for what they heard next. Evac, sounding utterly helpless, fearful and uneasy, whimpered:
"Wheeljack.... the Decepticons captured Bumblebee."
"Ooh..... where am I?"
He blearily remembered the sensation of speeding, speeding much too fast, so fast it must have jarred his processor a bit too much. There had been.... fire, fire somewhere, and a sudden sensation of a lack of air pressure.
It was bizarre.
He shook his head a bit, regaining his bearings, and looked around. The room he was in, sat up against the wall, was very dark. There wasn't a light anywhere, and no additional features beyond plain walls, ceiling and floor. It made him uneasy.
He tried to move, but his body did not cooperate. Though he could shift and jerk around a bit, it appeared his arms were fastened to the wall by some kind of clamp. He kicked his legs around a bit, noting they weren't restrained, not that it mattered, since they weren't going to help him get loose anytime soon.
In short, he was stuck. Not as stuck as when Barricade and Soundwave had held him prisoner, but still pretty stuck. Which wasn't a good sign, not a good sign at all.
At first he wondered if he was having some kind of weird dream, but then Bumblebee remembered that he and the others had been fighting Decepticons, and one of them had grabbed him, flown off with him. That had certainly not been a dream.
So, that must mean-
And all of his fears were neatly summed up when the door opened, casting light across him and revealing the image of a tall black Decepticon, with wings on the arms, lanky legs under an angular torso and what seemed to be some kind of gun for an arm. The Decepticon entered the room, Bumblebee tensing up in fear as it leaned down to observe with bright green optics.
A tiny part of his processor noted that green optics meant the Decepticon was a medic, and thus unlikely to hurt him. The rest of his processor reminded the tiny part that Decepticons were Decepticons regardless of their job. He shuddered.
The medic-jet-Decepticon tilted its head, studying him for a moment, before smiling and stating, in a surprisingly kind voice: "Well, glad to see you recovered so quickly. I was a tad worried atmospheric exit might have negatively impacted on you, but I detect no anomalies in your systems."
He was a bit surprised that she was speaking to him so nicely, considering she was, you know, a Decepticon, part of the enemy faction so bent on exterminating his own, but he put it down to simple medical professionalism and remained silent, staring at her with tense apprehension.
She stood up to her full height, almost as tall as Evac, and noted: "Well, welcome to our ship, scout. Take it from me; you'll be here for quite a while. I imagine Starscream will no doubt be delighted to learn everything you may know about your fellow Autobots!"
She smiled sweetly at him, the kind of sweet that only had a rotten core buried underneath, before she grew disinterested and stated: "Well, I'd love to stay and chat a bit more, but I have work to do, fixing up the Seeker you and your friend were so happy to damage. See you later, and don't even bother trying to escape or anything like that. Cliché line, I know, but rookies do need consistent reminders."
With that, she turned and strode out, but not before adding: "As my commander would say; ta ta for now!"
And the door shut, leaving him in darkness.
Bumblebee considered everything for a moment. He was now a prisoner aboard a Decepticon ship. Said Decepticon ship contained a whole horde of savage murderers, including the procotic jerk who was so obsessed with hurting Hound. He had no means to contact his friends, no means to let them know where he was and no means of getting out on his own. And the medic all but confirmed that Starscream, possibly the nastiest of said savage murderers, would be probing his processor for everything he knew about his friends, the Autobot's mission and strategies and other information.
Bumblebee summed up his current situation in a single sentence.
Starscream was not at all pleased, and he was making that very clear as he shouted at Airachnid:
"Well, if that wasn't a complete waste of time and resources, I don't know what is!" The Raptor shrieked, waving the hand holding his nodule in front of an impassive Airachnid. "Your stupid little experiment not only failed to yield any decent results, not only failed to kill even a single Autobot, but it lost me one of my Seekers! Do you know hard is it to get replacement Seekers nowadays?!"
The other Decepticons, excluding Slipstream who was busy repairing the surviving Seeker, were gathered around the outer consoles, most of them watching their commander's rant, Barricade merely playing a video game, disinterested in the jet's screeching.
With intense disdain, Starscream tossed the device at her, the nodule bouncing off of her forehead with a high-pitched clink and fell to the floor, bouncing on the metal and rolling away. As Airachnid winced and rubbed the slight ache on her head, Starscream continued his rant: "Shockwave's always been full of slag, but this one takes the cog! What an absolutely stupid concept! Portable berserk buttons, bah! My one didn't even work! What a pathetic waste of research and resources!"
"Hardly, Starscream." Airachnid snapped, glaring up at the taller Cybertronian with absolutely disgust and dislike, her typical sardonic demeanour replaced by sheer vehemence. "The nodules that did work provided positive results, proving their science is not only feasible, but quite efficient. It's not my fault you or your Seekers are so incompetent as to-"
The jet lashed out, his fist slamming into the jet's chest, shoving her back a few steps with surprise and slight pain, a rather prominent dent in her dark armour. The other Decepticons winced, Soundwave voicing a call for restraint, but Starscream ignored them, leaning in towards the outraged scientist and snarling: "Do not ever accuse me of incompetence on the battlefield again, you absolute wretch! I will not suffer blame for Shockwave's stupid inefficient projects! Now kindly call Shokaw and arrange for a space bridge for me to kick you through!"
"As much as I would adore to do that, Starscream." Airachnid snarled, clenching her hands into fists and strongly desiring to jam her claws into his optics. "I'm afraid I must remain for a while longer to verify my results and compose a report for Shockwave. But believe you me, the instant I'm finished, I'll be happy to exit from your pitiful command."
Starscream revved in anger, before he turned away and stormed over to his chair, throwing his arms and shouting: "Fine, fine, whatever! Just get out of my sight already!"
Airachnid promptly performed a very rude hand gesture at the unaware jet, before turning on her heel and storming out of the room, muttering curses and flexing her wings. As the door snapped shut behind her, Nighttrace fluttered over to Starscream, who was fuming and muttering his own curses, and flicked her antenna to earn his attention.
When he turned angered crimson optics to glare at her, she stated: "Your test-run was not all unproductive, sir. Slipstream informed me that we now possess an Autobot prisoner in the form of the rookie scout, Bumblebee."
Barricade's attention was finally earned, and he leaned up, optics wide and surprised, before a smile of unmatched malice spread across his face. The jet himself was still for a second, taking in the news, before he suddenly leapt to his feet, a sudden smile widening over his features, and the UAV was honestly quite shocked at his rapid change in demeanour. So was Soundwave, apparently, because she heard him exclaim disbelief at the Raptor's bout of happiness.
Starscream turned to his Decepticons and hollered: "Are you serious?! Really, truly?! EXCELLENT! We possess an Autobot prisoner! Ooh, perhaps our endeavour as not as inefficient as I had feared. If we have a prisoner, we now have a means of extracting additional knowledge regarding our enemy's agendas and soldiers, and we also have acquired a lovely piece of bait for the Lieutenant to come chasing after!"
Turning to Soundwave, he declared: "Maintain constant monitoring of Energon-nitrate levels in the Earth's atmosphere; I have no doubt we have certainly roused a desire for retribution in the Autobots! And have Slipstream and her sorry excuse for a friend probe the yellow twerp for any information-"
"Aw, c'mon!" Barricade snarled, rising to his feet and flexing his claws, a look of eager cruelty and annoyance on his face. "Never mind those two, let me have the honour of picking that little scraplet's processor apart! It'll be my great delight to rip out every secret he has, and then toss his mutilated corpse at Hound's feet! Oh, the howl of agony that idiot will give when I tell him how I killed his stupid rookie-"
"NO." Starscream snapped, shutting down Barricade's rant and earning a howl of angered protesting. "I need Decepticons with actual restraint and tact when dealing with interrogation! Not a vulgar brute like you! Now shut up and deal with it; Slipstream and Airachnid will handle the prisoner!"
"ARGH FRAGGING JERK I HATE YOU!" Barricade screamed, before Soundwave smacked him and request he shut up now.
Satisfied with his assertion, Starscream sat down in his chair, idly tapping his claws together as he mused on his plan of action, giggling to himself in his rejuvenated excitement, Nighttrace hovering off to one of the consoles, as Barricade sat down and resumed his game, feeling very angry and frustrated.
Soundwave leaned over and muttered: "You know what I find weird?"
"How a stupid fragger like you can survive without a processor?"
"Ha ha. No, I find it weird that Starscream claims his nodule did not work, yet when I went over the Seeker's footage of the battle, he went into a rather berserk state when attacking Grimlock after the other Seeker was terminated. Don't you find that a bit bizarre how he denies the actual berserk button failing to activate despite his, well, berserker reaction?"
"I don't care. Tell it to someone who does care!" Barricade snapped, finally having enough of all the idiots in the room as he got up from his chair and stomped off to the door, leaving the Lamborghini to contemplate his commander's odd denial.
Why would Starscream not admit to his own rage?
Meanwhile, outside in the corridor, Barricade paused for a moment. He considered just going to the brig right now and torturing the Autobot for fun regardless of what Starscream said, but it really wasn't worth getting the jet riled up. Maybe he could convince Airachnid to let him have some fun with the Autobot when they finished extracting info from him.
Oh, he hoped so; the very thought of paying that little jerk back for tiring him was just too good a concept to pass up. And even better, the pain of the rookie would hurt Hound so much, and Barricade did adore any possible scenario that could hurt his hated nemesis.
"Ooh, I can't wait to see you again, Hound." Barricade sneered to himself. "I'll enjoy your agony when I tell you what happened to your apprentice, right before I enjoy tearing the life out of you..."
With glee at the thought of Hound's suffering, the shock trooper lifted his hand and gave a low chuckle of cruel anticipation as he observed Starscream's Battle-Inducement Nodule clutched between his claws.
Notes: And the plot thickens! Will Bumblebee be okay? Can the other Autobots save him? What is Barricade planning? And where is my Dr Pepper?!
I love it when characters use their vehicular parts as weapons. Jazz deflecting an attack with his doors and the Seeker burning Evac with its thrusters are part of that love
Time for a quick question for the viewers: Now that we've hit our first quintet of episodes, which episode is your favourite and why?
All of Transformers Meta so far as been written ingeniously with gracious pacing and storytelling and character development, but to me, this is definitely the best chapter you've written so far. Everything about it was just so dang perfect--the progression, the suspense, the emotion, the action was all conveyed so well that it invoked utter shock upon me. I did not see this coming. I did not see this coming at all. So when the climactic part of the story arrived, I was literally shaking in the same terror that the characters felt, and you better believe I was sitting on the edge of my seat.
I don't know if I was more immersed than the average person and if it's just me, but I felt a part of this chapter and it was so dang intriguing; I can't exaggerate that enough. Just the pacing was so...it was so perfect. It built up to a plot twist that, again, I was not expecting at all. I don't know why I hadn't guessed it...I guess I wasn't really expecting anything. When the oddity arose of the Autobots suddenly charging directly at the Decepticons from the last teaser, I assumed it was just some crazy idea of Wheeljack's.
My poor little Bumblebee...kid just can't cut a break. Especially when you had Jazz all happy and the atmosphere was so light and casual and then ALL THE SUDDEN WE FIND OUT SOMETHING TERRIBLE HAS HAPPENED. Thanks, that inclusion was perfectly heartbreaking.
Q: Favorite episode?
A: I love them all for different reasons, it's difficult to choose! D: I might say Cloak and Stinger because I thought a lot of the characters had good characterizing subtleties and developments...I also loved Planetfall because it was a great introduction, and you always remember the pilot. :3 But honestly, this episode might actually be my favorite, just because it was written like some kind of Alexandre Dumas novel. It caught me so off guard. It was awesome in a terrifying way.
Now I will slowly and painfully die inside until the next episode.
EDIT: The whole "Wheeljack would no longer have a rock" thing, all serious aside, that was actually really funny.
Bee will make it an appeal to someone's better nature!!!
Though on the outside he's being optimistic......he was scared for the kid and upset on the inside
Episode 6: Bee Free or Bee Gone
Synopsis: With their new plan in place and retribution on their minds, the Autobots take the fight to the Decepticons, who hope to exploit their newest advantage.
She didn't know where this rain had come from; one moment, the sky had been a pleasant blue, but then the next, a black layer of dull clouds swept over the bright sun, blotting out the light and bringing with it a massive downpour that was already dotting the ground with puddles, droplets continuously splashing everywhere as the pitter-patter of the rain rang through her ears.
Thank goodness she was nice and dry under the bus-stop, even with the rather nagging noise of the water hitting the top of the small structure. There wasn't any wind to blow the droplets into the makeshift shelter, which was a colossal relief. She really did hate it when one's rain hide-out was compromised by a traitorous gust.
The thought made her chuckle, but she nevertheless wrapped her arms around herself, rubbing softly to produce some heat via friction. Rain always brought a subtle chill with it, a chill she was never particularly fond of, and the next bus would take at least fifteen minutes to arrive, only adding the time spent in said chill.
Ellen Sherriff sighed softly as she observed the rainfall. On the bright side, her walk today hadn't been impeded with that whole getting-lost factor she'd underwent a few days ago, so at least she had gotten back to the bus-stop before this rain could have caught her. Still, not the best way to end a walk.
But heck, it had been fun while it lasted. And no weird splashes in any lakes as well, so that had been good. She grinned to herself and leaned back against the panelling slightly.
Though, she was still curious about that nice guy in the Pontiac Solstice who'd been kind enough to let her hitchhike back to town on that aforementioned got-lost day. Jazz had been the name, she recalled, not his real name, of course, but his nickname. She remembered thinking how well it suited him; the car and his personality both added to a sense of rhythm to him.
It was silly of course, to get all fondly reminiscent over a guy she'd met only once for a short while and hadn't seen again, a simple fluke of human interaction, but still, she'd liked him. He was the kind of guy one could easily get along with, and a rare honest decency she didn't see much nowadays.
So, why not? She kinda hoped she'd meet him again one day. Doubtful, but still, hopeful.
Sitting up slightly, she then turned her musings onto that big splash she had heard during the walk that had led up to her meeting with Jazz. She'd watched the news closely, but nothing had ever come up regarding anything odd in that area. While some of her friends considered her paranoid for researching the weird things she heard or saw, Ellen preferred to think of it as being properly secure on-
She became aware of headlights approaching in the distance, and thus she sighed in relief. The bus was early, and in this weather, such a scenario was much appreciated. She stood up, ready to wave it down if she had to, pulling a rather battered wallet out of her pocket, and then she properly identified the vehicle.
A silver Pontiac Solstice.
Aw, no way.
Astonished, she stared at the oncoming vehicle for a second, before quickly darting out her arm and waving at the car, which began to slow down upon seeing her, a sense of excitement promptly filling her. Gosh, speak of the devil all right! Barely a moment's muse ago about Jazz, and suddenly here he was again! She never did note the vehicle's licence plate, but who else in this area had such an expensive model? No-one, that's who!
Obviously Jazz wasn't going to park in front of a bus stop, so he came to a stop a couple of metres away from it, and Ellen swiftly grabbed her backpack, slinging over her head to cover herself from the rain and darted over to the glistening vehicle, paint as sleek as ever even in the pelting rain, the driver's window sliding down as her quick jog easily brought her to the car's side.
"No way, Jazz! I can't believe it's you again!" She called excitedly, almost slipping on the wet pavement as she came to a stop at the door, utterly ignorant of any rain slipping past her bag's rather meagre defence, pleased to see the rather amused smile on his handsome face, those pitch-black sunglasses as lustrous as ever. "Do you remember me? I'm-"
"Ellen Sherriff, I believe. Nice to see you again!" He replied cheerfully. Or at least, what he must have thought was cheerfully, and that's when Ellen's enthusiasm sagged a little.
Something was wrong. Even though he was smiling, there seemed to be a kind of forced quality to it, a sense that, under normal circumstances, he wouldn't certainly not be smiling. And his tone contained an underlying.... pain? Some kind of sadness, certainly. It was actually unnerving; her previous encounter with him had been a much happier affair with a much more sincerely cheerful chap. What had happened?
He must have noted her brief pause, because he asked: "You alright, Ellen? You're kinda staring."
She hesitated, a tad unsure, before she finally asked: "Are, are you okay? You seem kind of.... off."
Not that she'd really know if he was off or not. She'd only ever met him once before. But he had left an impression, an impression of this very light-hearted fun-loving man, and that impression did not quite match this current sombre undertone.
However, her guess proved accurate; the second she had phrase her question, his forced smile dipped into an unsure frown, almost biting his lip. Perhaps he was inwardly cursing how obvious he'd been; she couldn't see his eyes through those glasses, but there was a sense of a certain pain flickering in them. The soft purr of the car's engine seemed to dip slightly, almost reflecting its owner's mood.
Finally, he replied, no longer trying to keep up cheeriness, instead a soft tone of mourning: "It's.... complicated."
"Do.... do you want to talk about it?" She asked, glancing at her watch and back at the bus-stop when he looked up at her in surprise. "I have a few minutes before the bus comes, so.... if you need someone to talk to- If you want, that is! I don't mean to-"
"No, no, it's fine, it's just..." He replied quickly, rubbing his head almost nervously, unsure of himself, before he sighed softly and said: "Something... something bad has... do you want to sit in the car? Not fair to chat to you while you're getting soaked."
The car doors unlocked, and, thanking him, she darted around to the other side, opened the door, swung her bag by the seat's front and quickly settled into the seat, as comfy as it had been the first time she had ridden in the vehicle, and snapped the door shut behind her. The chill and wet of the weather outside was replaced instead by a gorgeous heat radiating from the car's ventilation and she gave herself a second to sigh in relief, before returning her attention to Jazz.
He twiddled his fingers, utterly unsure of how to start, before he sighed and stated: "Well, something.... bad... has happened to a friend of mine. He's in a bad way and I.... I don't know what to do about it."
Ooh, that wasn't good at all. Ellen recalled Jazz had mentioned some friends before, including one who had been... burned or something? Was it the same guy? A different one? Either way, her sympathy was aroused and she asked: "What happened?"
"My friend got.... hurt, hurt badly. He's in, in the hospy-tally- No, no, hospital, I'm getting.... He's hurt bad and they say he's.... he might not-"
Jazz shuddered slightly and she felt a sharp spike of pity flare up for him. Why was it bad things always happened to the nicer people?
"Everyone generally expects me to know what to do when things don't.... when things don't go the way we planned." He murmured softly, leaning back in his seat, shuddering ever so slightly in whatever conflict hissed in his head. "But I don't know.... I don't know how to help him... I don't-"
She was tempted to touch his shoulder, some sense of hoping to comfort him tickling at her, but she restrained herself, given he might not appreciate it, and said: "Oh, Jazz, I'm so sorry. I really am sorry. Bad things don't deserve to happen to nice people like you."
He seemed a tad surprised at such a sincere compliment, looking up at her with what must be slight shock behind those dark glasses. Was he really so pressured with the responsibility of being a, a leader of his group of friends that a compliment from a stranger seemed alien to him? Her sympathy for him increase.
"But... bad things do happen." She continued, softly examining her hands, clenched together slightly. She certainly knew that. "And when they happen, to people we care about, all we can do is be there for them. Let them know we'll always be there to help them and care for them."
He dipped his head, acknowledging her point, but nevertheless muttering: "But what if... what if you're afraid... you can't be there?"
She hesitated, considering both her answer and what kind of dire situation had fallen upon his friend, before she said: "I guess we can only hope then. Hope they'll be alright. But I don't think you should be worried, Jazz, worried about not being there. He's got a great friend in you. You'll be there for him, and even if not physically, at least you'll be hoping for him too."
There was silence for a moment as he considered her words, and she felt quite surreal, sitting in a warm car along a road on a rainy day, offering advice to a man struck by tragedy that had been nice enough to give her a ride home before. Gosh, even though it had nothing to do with her, she was quite moved by his plight, sympathetic to both him and his friend who, by the sound of it, could well be lying between life or death.
Her eyes stung a little, so she quickly scratched at them with a finger. Poor Jazz.
He sighed softly, murmured something to himself, and when she glanced at his sombre figure in curiosity, he straightened up slightly, looked at her and smiled. It was a smaller smile than the one he had greeted her with, but it was honest and thankful and it made her heart flutter just a tiny bit. Oh boy.
"You know, I needed that." He said sincerely. "Maybe I just, I don't know, needed someone else to help me out. A different opinion or... I dunno. But thank you, Ellen. Thanks for listening."
She smiled: "No problem. Thanks for... thanks for letting me sit in the warm car!"
He laughed at that, and it made her laugh too and the atmosphere lightened up from almost grey mourning to a much more positive air.
"You sure you want to catch a bus, by the way?" He asked her, glancing at the bus-stop as she quickly looked at her watch. "I could drop you off if you want-"
"No, no, it's alright, don't worry." She offered, sensing that this was the part where she bade farewell again and reaching for her bag, smiling widely in light of the return of that cheerfulness present in their first meeting. "I've probably bothered you enough already."
"Not at all. I think you really helped me out here, Ellen." He replied, grinning now, still burdened with whatever pain his friend was going through, but at least relieved slightly. "Pleasure to see you again."
"And you, Jazz. Best wishes to you and your friend." She replied, hositing up her bag and opening the car door, the sudden chill of the rain making her shiver a little. "Thanks for the warm car!"
"And thanks for helping me out!" He replied, and with that, she slipped out into the cold, shut the door behind her and raced for the small shelter, waving frantically at him as the engine's purr revved into a powerful growl, and before she knew it, the Pontiac Solstice drove off into the downpour, soon vanishing from sight.
She was feeling surreal again, as she slipped back under cover and onto the small bench, staring after the fading red glow of the car's rear lights. Who'd have thought she would have met Jazz again? Who'd have thought she'd have actually helped him out in a time of emotional fear? Wow.
She'd been around for a fair while, around twenty-three years, and she had to say, she'd never quite met a guy like him.
Ellen Sherriff crossed her fingers for a third time, hopefully under better circumstances.
Jazz hadn't really expected to run into that human again, but to be honest, he was glad he had. His processor wasn't in a good shape right now, and maintaining his hologram in order to talk to his hitchhiker had at least helped to force him back on track, particularly with the fact she had lent some sincere advice to him. Always be hopeful.
But it was difficult. It was so difficult.
Bumblebee was in the clutches of Starscream. For all the jokes about his shrieking and ego and back-stabbing, the infamous jet was nevertheless a brutal and savage Decepticon, and no rookie deserved to be at the mercy of such a cruel Decepticon.
It hurt him deeply, the failure of not being able to save the scout from the Decepticons. if he had been there, if he could have helped his comrades, could have stopped their enemies.... And it enraged him, that Starscream and his cronies would dare lay their hands on one of his friends, an innocent rookie at that! Bumblebee didn't deserve whatever cruelties those savages had in mind, and Jazz felt a strong urge to plant his sword right through Starscream's face the next time he saw him.
But the failure, the anger, it couldn't compare with the sense of dejection within him. What if it was too late? What if they had already killed Bumblebee, dumped him like a used piece of scrap in some far-off location? What if their ship had retreated back to Decepticon territory, to prevent any chance of the Autobots rescuing the scout?
It pained him. It dug into every neural in his body. The same pain he felt everytime a fellow Autobot died, a fellow Autobot was captured. It always hurt, even after so many years of warfare, even after witnessing so many friends die in battle or in the med-bay. So many sparks snuffed. And all he could do was hope Bumblebee was one of those lights extinguished by the War's merciless brutality.
Hope, just like Ellen had said. What an odd human, surprisingly trusting and yet very emotionally aware. But that was okay; he'd needed that alternate opinion. He could easily guess what his Autobots would say, but a human was unpredictable, and that seemed to make her words all the more potent. His drive had failed to really ease him out of this despair, but she'd offered just the right words to relieve the pain slightly.
He was glad he had encountered her again. He really had needed that.
Unfortunately, his return to the ship did not present as pleasant an encounter as his brief reunion with his hitchhiker. Even as the side hatch opened and the ramp lowered to grant him access, he was immediately greeted with the sight of Grimlock storming out, having returned to the ship with the others after Jazz had left on his drive, crimson optics flashing with anger, heat flaring from the savage maw, followed closely by a rather nervous Wheeljack, who seemed to be calling out pleas to keep things civil.
Jazz unfolded into robot mode and straightened up just as Grimlock stopped before him, massive frame heaving with anger, and, rather sombrely, easily predicting how the truck would act, stated: "I'm sorry, Grimlock-"
"As you should be." The truck snarled, uncaring for the rain dripping down their armour, Wheeljack keeping himself by the ship to avoid the downpour, intent on unleashing his frustrations towards the Lieutenant: "Bumblebee is being held captive by Decepticons. Bumblebee is possibly being tortured by Decepticons as we speak. And instead of preparing the ship for take-off to pursue the Decepticons, destroy them, launch their remains into the sun and rescue Bumblebee, YOU JUST GO OUT FOR A DRIVE!"
He outright roared the last line straight at the Solstice's face, who shook slightly from the intensity of the truck's anger, but otherwise remained impassive. Revving violently in anger, Grimlock took a step back, shaking his head in an attempt to regain control of himself, smoke flaring from his exhaust pipes, before he finally revved heavily and restrained his temper.
With a incredibly forced calm, Grimlock continued: "Every second we wait is another second a Decepticon can inch their claws towards Bumblebee's spark. Grimlock is aware of the possibility of a trap. Grimlock is aware of the risk of full-on assault. But our comrade's life, my friend's life, is more important than our safety concerns. Grimlock will not accept any excuses from you, Lieutenant. Either you authorise the ship's take-off and pursuit, or Grimlock will engage it himself."
He reared up slightly, asserting his superiority of size, staring down with a brutal intensity at Jazz, daring him to challenge his absolute decisiveness. The Lieutenant stared the larger Autobot, expression impassive and visor as unreadable as ever. Wheeljack twitched slightly from the tension building between them.
Finally, cold and soft, Jazz replied: "This isn't the first time I've lost a soldier to Decepticon imprisonment. I'm perfectly aware of the risks involved in pursuing them, and I'm perfectly aware of the fact that Bumblebee could end up providing them with knowledge on our location and our agendas."
He paused for a moment, considering, as Grimlock revved again in frustration and Wheeljack leaned in, intent on hearing what came next. He considered what Ellen had said; about being there for Bumblebee, about being hopeful for his well-being. He considered every other Autobot that had died under his watch. He considered every time he had battled his way into Decepticon ships and prisons, seeking out those comrades that had been stolen.
He considered the War itself, and their mission, and everything that must be done and should be done, and finally, the Solstice stated:
"But we can't go after him, Grimlock."
A moment of silence. Wheeljack sagged in utter disbelief and shock, muttering the car's name in incomprehension. Jazz himself seemed utterly stunned by his own declaration, but there was a resolve in his posture.
Grimlock's reply was disturbingly quiet, though an impossible fury burnt within his optics: "Grimlock thought so. Pathetic weak coward, like every other stupid excuse for an Autobot leader."
He turned on the Lieutenant, completely dismissing him now, and made his way back to the ship, snapping to Wheeljack: "Get back in, inventor, we're going after Bumblebee. Our failure of a leader can stay out here and rust in these damn droplets-"
"You don't even get it, Grimlock." Jazz called out, his brief reverie of silence broken by a chilling tone, low and full of cyber-venom, and Wheeljack tensed as Grimlock paused and turned to face his smaller rival, perfectly aware that things just got a whole lot more brutal.
"Get what? Your cowardice? Your incompetence?" Grimlock snarled, flaring fire at the car in his anger. "You would abandon Bumblebee to the Decepticons, and that is proof of your utter-"
"NO." Jazz stated, and he was louder now, more fierce in his tone. "You don't get it. You know what you don't get? That's it not just about ensuring our mission's success at any cost, not just the fact the Decepticons might have left the star system by now; it's about how you're the most fragging disgusting hypocrite in this whole damn universe."
This took Grimlock by surprise, not expecting such an accusation, and Wheeljack was also shocked by this, as Jazz continued, growing more angered by the second: "If this was any other Autobot, you wouldn't give a damn! If this was Hound, or Ratchet, you wouldn't even care! Leave them to the 'Cons, you'd say, our mission is more important, you'd say! Well here you are, Grimlock! Your only friend's probably dead now, processor torn out by the Decepticons you failed to save him from!"
"You....." Grimlock snarled, total fury dripping from every word. "You dare accuse Grimlock of hypocrisy, of failing to adhere to Autobot standards?! You're the one refusing to go after him, you're the filthy coward standing here shouting at Grimlock rather than seeking retribution! If the Decepticons have killed Bumblebee by now, it is because of your failure to act promptly, of your inability to do what is necessary! But Grimlock does not care what you say, Lieutenant! Grimlock will go and hunt them down, and if Bumblebee is dead, then Grimlock will kill them all, kill every last one of their inferior race, and if Bumblebee is alive, Grimlock will bring him home safely, and KILL EVERY LAST ONE OF THEIR FRAGGING INFERIOR RACE!-"
"Grimlock won't do a damn thing unless I order him to!" Jazz shouted, utterly swept up in his own anger now, enraged at this savage who continued to hound and harass him at every turn. "The Decepticons could be prepping a trap, the Decepticons could be waiting to show us a corpse, the Decepticons could have left the fragging star system, and there's not a damn thing you can do about it! You think I don't care for Bee, for any Autobot captured by them? Of course I care, I care about every death that stains my hands with their Energon! But every rescue I've ever led, or joined, has always resulted in the same-"
"BECAUSE YOU ARE A FAILURE!" Grimlock howled, outright breathing fire into the air, whipping his tail around violently, engine roaring, as Wheeljack cowered at the savage verbal duel. "YOU HAVE FAILED BUMBLEBEE, YOU HAVE FAILED ALL OF US, BY FAILING TO ACT, TO TAKE ACTION-"
"You know what?" Jazz snarled, actually squaring into a fighting stance now, an expression of utter disgust on his face. "I've had enough of your slag, you fragging animal! Either you shut up and stand down NOW, or I'll make you!"
The berserker roared in anger, instantly accepting the second option, and reared back, ready to lunge and clamp his jaws right around the Lieutenant's pathetic little head, but then they were interrupted by plasma fire flaring between them, and both of them hesitated long enough for Wheeljack to jump in between them, plasma cannons deployed and aimed at both them, his shoulder rocket launcher also unfolding and aiming for Grimlock.
"SHUT UP! BOTH OF YOU SHUT UP NOW!" Wheeljack hollered, engine revving wildly with tension and shock at his own daring. When the other Autobots hesitated, he shouted: "You think this is helpful?! Useful?! Fighting each other, instead of the Decepticons?! GET OVER YOURSELVES! This isn't the time to kill each other! This isn't the time to hate each other! Bumblebee needs us, and Pit if we don't try to help him!"
Neither of them replied, efforts now devoted to regaining control of themselves, rain pouring down on them, and the tow truck continued, softer now: "You know, I always figured the war would make Autobots and Decepticons hate each other to the end. But now we're fighting amongst ourselves. What else is the war gonna take from us? Well, I tell you what it isn't going to take; our friend. Even Starscream's not gonna kill him off so quickly, I know it, and that's why we're going after him. We're going after him, Jazz, alright? Because if we don't try-"
All of them were surprised by yet another interruption, and they all turned to see Ratchet by the doorway, clutching the frame for support and a worried look in his green optics.
"I hope I'm not barging into something-" He said, his tone fearful and uneasy. "-But you all really need to see this."
"Quite frankly, I do not believe there is as loathsome, pathetic and despicable an entity in this universe as Starscream. How that arrogant temperamental idiot ever achieved the rank of a commander, I'll never know. It's a true scientific miracle that a cretin like him can even talk with whatever degenerated processor rots within his cranium!"
"Mmm, that's nice." Slipstream stated, not really paying attention to the angrered rant of the scientist pacing around her med-bay, her optics narrowed in pieces of shrapnel lodged in the Seeker's torn chest, the spindly fingers of her ray arm gripping onto chunks of metal lodged into the purple armour and easing them out. It was delicate work, and any mistake could end up with the shards falling deeper into the inner circuitry.
At least it proved the Battle-Inducement Nodule had been well-designed in that self-preservation mechanic; better to run and live another day then persist in a mindless fury and end up destroyed. The nodule itself was undamaged, set on a nearby desk for when Airachnid wanted to look over it; despite the battle, the little device was gleaming fresh as ever.
Quite frankly though, the Seeker was lucky to still be alive; the blast that had torn open its chest had nearly penetrated its Energon core, which would have been certainly fatal. But thankfully, its armour had been resilient enough to absorb most of the damage, and thus it was still with them, bleary crimson optics observing her progress. Which is more than she could say for the other Seeker.
She revved slightly, a tad dissparked at the loss of the drone. While they were not considered true Cybertronians, they were still Decepticons, Decepticons with life, loyalty and a mission to complete. The fact it had been killed by that procotic animal was insult to injury; the Decepticon's own failure to restrain that monster had cost many of their number their lives.
Well, at least this life she could preserve. Once all shrapnel was removed, and all valves and neural circuits reconnected, she would work on restoring the Seeker's plating, and then-
"Are you even listening to me, Slipstream?"
The jet's tailfins twitched in annoyance, and she dropped the metal shard she was holding into the empty cube sat on a hovering table beside her, before straightening up and turning to the other Decepticon, who seemed quite indignant at the medic ignoring her tirade against the Raptor.
"In case you haven't noticed, Airachnid, I'm trying to get on with a highly sensitive medical case here. Can't you complain to Soundwave or Nighttrace until I'm finished?"
"I don't even really know them. You're the only one on this piece of scrap that's really worth talking to."
"I'm flattered, Airachnid, but I have my duty as the ship's medic, and I have a patient who requires said ship's medic, so please, please could you be quiet until I finish?"
The jet revved slightly and folded her arms in annoyance, pouting slightly at being disregarded, and Slipstream simply rolled her optics and got back to work.
A valve had been disconnected, and she idly gripped it between her fingers and aligned it with its corresponding unit; thankfully, the severance had been quite neat, considering said severance had been a few missiles, and thus it only required a brief flare of plasma to solder together. Satisfied with the coupling, she flashed a slight flare of energised power from her ray onto the Seeker's innards, and its Energon flow reactivated, precious fluids gurgling through the healed valve.
While her medical career may have stemmed from some moralistic desire to stop other Cybertronians from fearing the darkness of near-death, there was also satisfaction in her work from even as simple a motion as Energon flowing through a valve, a sense of life on the move, providing bounteous energy to the frame of the Seeker. She supposed a human might experience the same sensation from watching their organic pumps repeatedly expand and contract, though she wasn't sure if those organic uprights could survive with an exposed chest cavity.
There were benefits to being a Cybertronian; injuries that would destroy lesser creatures were quite frankly easy to recover from for them.
Airachnid spoke up again as Slipstream flashed some healing energy over a sparking tangle of neural circuits: "You know, I've never seen anyone, even other medics, quite so intense over healing a drone. Not a bad thing, but still perplexing."
"I wouldn't be a good medic if I wasn't prepared to completely focus on any given task required of me." The Nighthawk replied, satisfied with the neural net starting to realign and focussing her attention on pulling aside a loose piece of armour to inspect some cracked innards. "If an injured Decepticon needs me, regardless of their nature or construction, I'll be there."
"Still, applying that concept to drones does seem a tad sentimental, if you ask me-"
"I'm still conscious." The Seeker muttered.
"-That's nice, dear. Starscream can always order another one to be made, you know, so you don't really have to put as much effort into it as you are now."
Slipstream revved in annoyance, before again turning from the jet to the scientist, and snapping: "Listen, drone or not, it's still a Decepticon who needs repairs, and repairs must be carried out with efficiency! Besides, I'm not going to let it perish from Energon withdrawal. After all, life is life."
Airachnid raised a brow in slight amusement: "Even Autobot life?"
"That's different. While I wouldn't be killing the likes of medics or rookies, for the most part, the Autobots impede the glorious future that Lord Megatron will construct. You can't deny they don't deserve at least some punishment for that."
"So, life is life, except this particular bit of life I don't like? C'mon, Slipstream, while I agree that Autobots are far less deserving of the privilege of living, don't spout philosophies you don't truly adhere to."
"Forgive me for prioritising my own faction above the enemy." Slipstream huffed, turning her back on Airachnid and flaring a bit of heat at her in annoyance. "Can't you just let me work in peace and not drill me about the conundrums of my life-views?"
"Just pointing out some fallacies, is all." Airachnid chuckled. "Not that it bothers me much. No-one's perfect."
"Except me, I think you were going to add."
"You know me so well, Slipstream."
"Well, we have only been friends since, you know, we were younglings. I'd think I would get to know a thing or two about you, Airachnid in such a timespan."
The scientist laughed at that, and Slipstream herself giggled slightly as she returned her attention to the Seeker, who was shaking its head in slight impatience. Okay, for all of Airachnid's bouts of annoyance, she could at least switch it round to their typical entertainment. What a wonderful quality.
Airachnid seemed to have gotten over her rant about Starscream at any rate, and idly settled down on a nearby, unfolding pieces of her chest plating slightly and starting to pick bits of dust out of her inner circuits. The annoying factor about the Lieutenant driving her beast mode's head into the dirt was that the shift into her alternate forms had resulted in some of the Earth scrap getting into her circuitry. Such a nuisance!
The two of them idly went on about their tasks, Slipstream taking a moment to step over a large compartment block and pulling a purple strip of metal from within, cheerfully adhering it to the Seeker's chest for its regenerative systems to utilise in rebuilding its chest armour. Airachnid offered a different colour for said strip, to add some flair to the drone's colour scheme, but the medic shook her head, grinning and responding with the fact she preferred the singular colour scheme of Starscream's enforcers.
Their calm environment, alas, was eventually disturbed by a persistent knocking at the door, and a loud voice hollering: "Hey, Slipstream, I have a message for you! Open the damn door!"
Slipstream outright smacked her palm against her face and groaned in annoyance, the Seeker revving in frustration and Airachnid shaking her head in distaste, before she grumbled: "Fine, I'm coming."
She stalked over to the door and opened it, looking down to see a rather impatient Barricade, arms folded and optics glaring, who promptly declared: "Regardless of how much I hate it, I'm here to tell you that Starscream has, in all his unending fragging wisdom, decided that you and your fragging scientist friend are in charge of interrogating the Autobot scraplet. Don't ask me why, I don't know why any idiot would chose anyone to do an interrogation over me."
Slipstream raised a brow: "Really? Surely Soundwave would be more adequate at interrogation."
"Soundwave's busy with slag or whatever he does. Screamer probably thinks a scientific processor is best suited for the job." Barricade sneered, waving his arm dismissively at the larger Decepticon. "So, yeah, whenever you're finished fixing that stupid drone, go do that."
"Very well. Now go away."
He didn't have time to respond before she shut the door in his face, smiling slightly in satisfaction when she heard him start ranting, before striding over to the Seeker, while Airachnid, a thoughtful claw on her chin, contemplated this new task for a moment, before shifting her thoughts to the strategies she would employ in this interrogation that Starscream was so anxious for her and her friend to do.
Now, she hadn't exactly performed official interrogations in her time, given the fact she resided on Shokaw, a planet dedicated to advancing Decepticon science rather than forcing Autobots to spill the bolts. But then, as Decepticons such as Scourge had proved before, one didn't need to be an official interrogator to pry information from their victims. All they needed to do was to hurt.
And Airachnid knew very well how to hurt. The right amount of pressure of a claw upon exposed neurals, the slow peel of armour off of its frame, the swift crack of a joint. So many delightful tricks to pull screams and pleas and answers out of an Autobot's vocaliser. It didn't hurt that said Autobot in question was but a mere rookie scout, a far easier victim to extract from.
She smirked in amused fantasy. Oh yes, the poor little Autobot locked up in the brig would easily spout out whatever information they needed, just as so many of his kind had before under Decepticon blades, just to try and end the pain, to escape the agony, to desperately try to avoid being broken.
But at the end of the day, it didn't really matter how useful he was to their agenda. She would enjoy breaking him anyway.
Her smirk widened, and Slipstream, happening to have glanced at her then, asked: "Are you contemplating sadistic contemplations, Airachnid?"
"Contemplating many contemplations, Slipstream, most of them quite... contemplative."
She winked at the jet, and Slipstream laughed at the overuse of the term before calming down and stating: "Well, while I understand you do take much enjoyment out of dissecting an Autobot or two, I must remind you that we will require tact in this operation, lest the Autobot outright panic himself into spark-exertion. We're not vulgar Barricades, remember; we are sophisticated members of scientific careers based on finesse and precision."
The scientist laughed: "But of course. Still, doesn't mean we can't have some fun picking a processor apart, right?"
The jet waved her hand in a sort of so-so fashion, before replying: "Well, to be honest, torture and interrogation aren't particularly my thing. I prefer, say, a clean bisection or headshot in the battlefield; much quicker and neater, less..... crude."
Airachnid laughed again, wiggling her wings in amusement: "Ah, that's why I like you, Slipstream. You're so insistent on being so sophisticated in dealing with Autobot deaths!"
The jet promptly told her to shut up, grinning slightly as she returned to her working on the Seeker, and advised Airachnid to go look up an Earth form since she was staying on the ship for a while longer. She expected her friend to refuse, but instead, the scientist cheerfully agreed and exited the med-bay, commenting that the human's sense of aesthetic was very pleasing, if Slipstream's alt-mode was of any indication.
Slipstream just laughed, and the Seeker rolled its optics and wished it was offline.
Bumblebee was very sure that panicking would be the worst thing to do in this situation. Yes, absolutely the worst thing ever. Screaming and shaking would only waste Energon, would only entertain or annoy his Decepticon captors, would only waste the time he could be using to thinking up an escape plan or something.
Hound always said that to panic in face of the Decepticons would only grant them confidence; panic indicated weakness, and Decepticons preyed on weakness. So yes, panicking now would be the worst thing to do. EVER.
So why was he panicking?!
The scout was struggling frantically against the clamp that kept him firmly against the wheel, kicking out with his legs, honking his vehicle mode's not-actually-a-horn horn, flashing his headlights, spinning his tires and hollering for someone, anyone, to let him out! A very potent raucous, and one that occasionally required him to settle down for a few seconds, contemplate how he should not be panicking, and then promptly resume panicking.
His weapons chip had been disabled; his stunners weren't responding to his pleas for activation, and it seemed his alternator circuits were disabled too. Communications were blocked, so there was no chance to call the Autobots and he was fairly sure they'd impeded some of his mobility systems; he couldn't even disengage his joints to bend his legs around to try and kick off the clamp!
Plus there was a certain humiliation involved in being captured by Decepticons for a second time. Though on the bright side, at least he could justify this case with the fact they had been the one to initiate the capture, rather than him wandering into a trap.
Wait, what bright side? There was no bright side! He was stuck in an enemy ship, far from his friend's reach, surrounded by hostile Decepticons most likely intent on picking his processor apart! Ratchet had always warned him and Evac about the Decepticon's habit of brutally interrogating their prisoners, but alas, the medic hadn't really gone into details, most likely assuming they wouldn't be captured anytime soon.
Of all the times for the medic's paranoid preparations to fail, why had it been in regards to this kind of situation?!
Bumblebee eventually ceased his wild thought-track and equally wild struggling, revving heavily in slight exertion, before thinking deeply; how could he possibly get out of this situation? Or at least, how might he prevent the Decepticons sucking out every last bit of info from his processor?
He thought long and hard.
And then he came to the conclusion that he really had no idea. He was absolutely stumped on how to escape or how to play unbreakable wall. Ah frag.
At least he was comforted by the knowledge his fellow Autobots would be coming to save him. Why, they were probably charging up the ship right now to come after him and blast these Decepticons all the way to Critico! He grinned widely; yeah, his friends wouldn't let him down! They'd be after him soon enough, and these Decepticons would regret ever taking him from them!
Yeah, he could imagine it now; the Zeta-1 smashing right into the Decepticon ship, ripping it apart like that Earth stuff called paper, his fellow Autobots jumping aboard and punching every Decepticon in their way! And then Grimlock would rip open this door and-
The door opened.
Huh, that had been quick. Bumblebee leaned forward, eager to greet his rescuers, only to promptly recoil in horror upon realising it was none other than Starscream himself, the jet incredibly tall, nearly as tall as Evac, and much sharper and leaner, a smug grin beneath smug optics.
"Well, well, the Autobot called Bumblebee." Starscream stated cheerfully, not even bothering to fully enter the room, arms folded behind his back and posture confident. "You know, I was so pleasantly surprised when my soldiers informed me we had procured a prisoner. It was certainly the cheering up I needed after my scientist's colossal failure dampened my mood."
He paused, perhaps seeing if Bumblebee would reply. The scout stayed silent, either too scared or simply curious to hear what was next to reply, and so the jet continued: "Well, rookie, I'm gonna be blunt; you are here to serve as both a source of information and a potential bargaining tool. My soldiers would soon be here to interrogate you, and I'd highly recommend being very cooperative with them. You know, for the sake of your physical and mental health remaining optimal."
He laughed at that. Bumblebee didn't.
The Raptor went on: "Once they're done extracting your information, I'll see if I can't find another use for you. If you prove to be useless, in either case, then I'll decide whether or not to ship you off to Shokaw to be one of Shockwave's little experiments, or just kill you and throw your corpse at the Lieutenant as a statement of what will become of him. So, yeah. That's how it's gonna roll. Any questions?"
Bumblebee shook his head.
"Okay good, I would have ignored them anyway because your opinion means... what's the term? Jack-something.... Whatever, I don't care. Ta ta for now, twerp."
With that, he turned round and walked out.
Silence for a moment as Bumblebee considered all that.
Notes: Jazz and Grimlock getting tenser and tenser. Uh-oh.
Oh hey look, Ellen makes a return! Isn't that nice, and still going on her lil' nature walks as well! Didn't get lost this time, but another encounter with the Lieutenant provides him with a touch of optimism!
Which he promptly ignores in favour of riling up Grimlock. You dumbass.
Um. Nice pun?
Okay, I'm like dead right now. Everything has gotten so intense since episode one...some TFM moments are so lighthearted and whimsical, and now I'm questioning what would and wouldn't get passed the censors on a children's TV network. The dialogue and gestures of the characters in this situation are so foreboding, that I'm actually getting a little emotional as I read. The despair is so prevalent. I felt the disappointment in the other characters when Jazz said that they couldn't try to rescue Bumblebee...I was sad that it seemed as though the periodic encouragement from Ellen (nice touch, by the by) seemed to have been lost by the time Grimlock had confronted him. Though, as you implicate, it may have been in favor of enraging his challenger.
I had plenty of time to daydream and imagine a thousand different ways how this could go, so I'm extremely immersed right now. It's kind of bittersweet, because it's going to be all the harder to wait for the next chapter. :/ I had the idea of Grimlock being as boisterous and having this idea, to practically charge the Decepticons...I also expected for things to get as tense as they are. Figures that Wheeljack, of all people, is the one to be the voice of reason. At least he insists that the group go after Bumblebee on a rescue mission. It's all the more sad that Bumblebee has so much confidence in his team...it's crushing to know that he may have to endure everything that the Decepticons throw at him, only to be disappointed under Jazz's command. Both ends are in terrible positions.
And then with the rain, yeah, that set the atmosphere if nothing else did. >_>
Then of course, we have crazy Decepticons who are gleefully contemplating ways of tormenting their prisoner. I can only wonder how that's going to go...of course, I don't expect for Bumblebee to squeal, but it's all going to have to come down to how Airachnid decides to execute her interrogation. But wait, then there's also Barricade. Who, as we know, is plotting something. Most likely at the expense of Bumblebee's well being, all so that we can troll Hound, ha ha ha ha ha ha. -.- Speaking of Hound...wonder how he's doing.
Man, this is just sad. It's all sad. Nobody who endorses justice is happy. Jazz is not happy. Grimlock is not happy. Bumblebee is not happy. I am not happy. I am very sad.
I wanted to tell you that, despite e'erything, there actually were a few funny things in this chapter that I got a laugh out of. It's kind of awkward to mention, though, because I just vented for a few paragraphs about how immersed and unhappy I am. )X But it's worth, Barricade and Starscream's dialogue was pretty funny. Among other things.
Still unhappy though. I almost can't wait until I see the end of this episode. I'm so anxious and it's not even funny.
Ok even though this was serious........Bee just made me
Separate names with a comma.