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[personal profile] keaalu
Title (chapter): Remember Me (03)
Series: Transformers, G1-based “Blue” AU
Rating: PG-13
Notes: In which Skywarp has to deal with a meltdown, and Screamer, what are you even doing still out in Vos, you ignorant glitch.

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Down in the small station infirmary, Longbeam cut a particularly pathetic figure on the oversized berth. Her optics were back online, but dim, and her angular features looked strangely gaunt. An external pump fed a slow, steady drip of energon into her damaged primary circulation via a line just under the surface of her neck. At least she wasn’t bleeding any more – the place didn’t need to be covered in any more tiny bright purple crystals. Someone had found a coolant mantle to support her shattered fans, but it looked like it had been designed with Hardline in mind, covering her whole upper body like a poncho – and even that couldn’t quite hide the big carbonised semicircle of missing superstructure. It looked as if someone had taken a huge bite out of her midsection.

Vector sat beside her, her bike’s one remaining hand enclosed in both her own big ones. She looked torn between furious and terrified, optics blazing a vivid cyan. Her discordant field left the room feeling heavy, as though a thunderstorm were brewing somewhere close by.

Probably not too far off the mark, Skywarp figured, keeping back just enough to let the duty medic move around him. He stood quietly at the foot of the berth, arms folded tight over his emotions, still wearing his shields and covered in scuffs of someone else’s paint. Wouldn’t want to be a Conehead if the riotbot latched her claws into them.

Frag. Wouldn’t want to be a Conehead if I get my claws into them.

He’d been mid-arrest when the sudden cacophony of frightened messages on the police waveband turned Deixar’s atmosphere an electric blue. Knowing he was going to be more important here, he’d completely bypassed the custody sergeant and dumped his prisoner straight off in cells. (He knew he’d get flack for it later, but couldn’t bring himself to care, right now.)

Damage control was definitely not his forte, but maybe he could soften the blow a little when his wingmate finally made it back from Vos. The idea Thundercracker somehow hadn’t heard about the attack and Seem’s abduction, and hadn’t automatically extrapolated out to perhaps that would have meant Dash would have also gone missing…?

He just wasn’t sure what he was actually going to say. It was taking most of his limited brainpower to keep from storming the spacebridge and trying to fetch Slipstream back. Concentrating on being official and efficient was using enough processing power to keep him stable, and distract him from thinking too hard about what condition the youngling would be in when they finally tracked him down.

Spotweld was already hard at work, divided down the middle; while Weld was working on stabilising the bike, crimping off the final few lines still oozing fluids, it left Spot free to talk to the assembled crowd that had packed into the infirmary like mechanical sardines.

“We’ve got her stabilised, out of immediate danger. She’s crystallised off most of the damaged lines herself?” the polymorph confirmed. “But she’ll need to be moved to hospital as soon as we can get her there? We’re just waiting on Flatliner for transport. He should be here soon?”

“I’m sorry,” Longbeam wheezed, faintly, unable to manage much more than a few words at a time from her broken vocaliser. “I tried to get her away. They were quicker. I told her to hide but-… I couldn’t see her. I don’t know if they-… if they took her. Too damaged to look. I had to get back here. I’m sorry.”

“S’okay, Beemer,” Skywarp counselled, sitting on the urge to shout and vent frustrated heat. “Don’t stress out about it, right now. Don’t want you blowing any more fuses before you get the chance to give us your scan data, all right?”

“Sure, boss.” She squeezed out a huff of laughter that turned into a groan of pain. “Give you my scan data now. If you want it? Not like I can do-… much else, right now.”

“No you can’t,” Spot cut in, waggling a chastising finger. “I’m not having anyone go hunting for your upload connectors, you’re quite damaged enough already?”

“We need her data, Spots,” Skywarp reminded, leaning closer, wings pulled high and stiff. “We need to know how they got in, how they got out, and what other fraggery they might have got up to while our wings were turned.”

Spot failed to react to the implied threat in the jet’s pose, far too habituated to Seeker posturing to know the threat was mostly empty. “Well, you can wait for it? Like on any other case?”

“This isn’t any other case, Spots-!” Skywarp threw his hands up, frustrated, then caught the medic’s shoulder and forced the mech to turn and face him. “Did you miss the part where three fraggin’ Decepticons got into our airspace, totally unchallenged, managed to cause chaos then escape – with two victims! – before we could do a slagging thing about it?”

“No.” Spot refused to meet the hot crimson glare. “I also didn’t miss the part where Beemer is laying here in pieces because of a squabble over territory she didn’t need to be dragged into.”

The chastisement stung. Skywarp leaned in closer. “They’ve got Seem, in case you forgot,” he said, unable to keep the growl from his voice. “And probably Dash, too.”

“I know. Don’t try and act like you think I’m not worried about them?” Spot ducked under Skywarp’s arm, out of the way, to rejoin Weld; his two halves zipped carefully together, returning him into a mech that looked somewhat normal. “But it won’t help anyone if Beemer greys out on this table while we argue about what not she should be doing to help, right now?”

“Won’t be at hospital long,” Longbeam spoke up. “Gimme an orn or two. Back on my feet. I’ll help you hunt.”

Anyone with two cortical relays to rub together knew that was far from the truth – she’d be in hospital for a while, assuming the medical team didn’t decide it was safer and more straightforward to simply decant her spark into a completely new frame.

“Appreciate it.” Skywarp sighed, forced a smile, and patted her foot. “But I guess Spots is right. We need to get you fully repaired before you can do anything. Can’t have you chasing Coneheads if you’re still on the point of snapping in half.”

“They’re targeting you,” she said, softly. “Thought I was Pulse. Said to say ‘thanks’.”

“…did they tell you what they were up to-?”

“Hey.” Spotweld waved a daring finger in his face. “Not now.”

Skywarp batted the finger away, and opened his mouth to argue, but a ripple of disturbance out in the corridor (and approaching fast) preceded Thundercracker’s arrival.

Great.

The blue jet barged his way to the front of the room, fairly radiating alarm, knocking people out of the way with his wings. “Where’s Skydash?!”

Skywarp stepped in front of him, hands up, wings flaring subtly in an attempt to shield Spotweld’s patient from view. “It’s not a good idea for you to be here right now, TC. Come on, let’s go talk out there-”

Thundercracker tried to push past him, peering over his wings. “I-I heard we’d had- Ramjet? What were they doing here? And where is Dash?!” Then he clocked Longbeam. His optics visibly widened and his fans kicked into a higher gear. “What-what happened here…?”

Skywarp saw his wingmate’s legs wobbling and steered him hastily into a chair before he could end up in an unbecoming heap on his aft on the floor. For several seconds, Thundercracker could only cling to him, hands tight on his shoulders, concentrating on drawing cold air through his core.

“Coneheads?” he managed, at last. “Did-did they-… to Longbeam…?”

“Yeah, and yeah.” Skywarp stayed in a crouch, so his brother had something to lean against, and watched his gaze flash around the room, trying to take it all in. He underlaid his words with a soothing harmonic, hoping it might help keep Thundercracker stable. “We’re not sure what they came for, yet, except to cause trouble. We know they’ve got Seem.”

“And Dash?” Thundercracker finally looked down at him.

Skywarp kept up the subtle harmonic. No avoiding it now. “Yeah. We figure maybe they have Dash as well. Pulsar and her sibs are out checking where they were last seen, just to be sure she hasn’t hidden up in a crevice.”

“And you’re all just sitting here?” A flash of something ugly – a mixture of alarm and fear and outrage, and not all of it directed against the invaders – passed through the pale features, brightening the crimson optics. Thundercracker staggered halfway back to his thrusters. “We’ve got to get after them-! Why aren’t you chasing them?”

“Mech, they’re already through the spacebridge! What do you think you’re gonna be able to do except stroll into an ambush-?”

Skywarp leaned his weight back in a futile attempt to weigh Thundercracker down, but it didn’t have quite the desired effect; the blue jet pushed against him, unbalancing him, and used Skywarp’s inertia to vault himself over the teleport’s head. He lurched for the door, leaving his wingmate flat on his wings.

“Ah, slag.” Skywarp scrambled inelegantly back to his thrusters. Knowing he’d never catch him in a straight footrace, he teleported to just out past the doors, already bracing for the impact.

Thundercracker collided with him with such a crunch, it was a miracle neither broke anything. Both went sprawling on the floor of the foyer. “What the Pit, Skywarp-!”

Skywarp was back up first, arms open, ready to tackle his wingmate again if needed. Times like this made him appreciate the marginally increased physical capabilities that came with his riot gear. “Will you just… stop, for a second? Take it from the expert; you can’t go blundering off like this! Or do you want your head kicked in?”

“Since when do you tell me what I can and can’t do-?” Thundercracker rounded on him, fists swinging. “Just because you’re too pitfragged stupid to think up a plan doesn’t mean I’m going to sit around and wait for them to call all the shots-! Now get out of my way!”

Skywarp caught the oncoming fist easily, caging it in his own hand. “Fragging Primus, TC.” He used his bulk to force the blue Seeker back into the wall, and carefully pinned him there. “Can you even hear yourself, right now? This is exactly what they want us doing. Fighting each other, charging straight off into danger. They’re probably sat there on the other side of the bridge with a big fragging net, waiting for you.”

Thundercracker thrashed against the teleport’s superior strength, unable to get free. “At least I’m doing something, instead of sitting on my lazy aft waiting for someone else to come along and fix it for me, like always-!”

Skywarp had heard all the insults before – but it didn’t make them easier to hear coming from his brother. He pursed his lips, hurt, and leaned harder until Thundercracker finally stopped struggling.

For a few seconds, the only sound was the ragged cycling of two sets of fans. Even the little crowd of curious onlookers that had gathered, alarmed to see the district chief of police brawling with his wingmate in the foyer, had fallen silent.

“I’m not sitting on my aft,” Skywarp corrected, quietly. “I didn’t get here much before you. And I’m actually using my processors, for once. Which you seem to have forgotten you have, and in far greater quantity than me.”

Scorching air continued to vent from Thundercracker’s core, but the heat had begun to die out of his optics.

“D’you seriously think I’m still here for the fun of it?” Skywarp pushed his advantage. “They’ve got Seem. You’ve seen what they did to Longbeam, and she was only in their way. I can’t even imagine what they’re doing to the poor brat, right now. The frag will he look like when we get him back?”

“…let me go, Skywarp. You made your point.”

“You gonna leg it again, if I do? Because I don’t care what message it sends to the grunts, dude, I will cuff you to a chair if I have to.”

Thundercracker’s features tightened in a small, subtly humiliated glare, but he shook his head. “I have control. You can let me go. Thank you.”

Warily, senses still on high alert, Skywarp carefully unpeeled his fingers from around his wingmate’s wrists, and stepped back from him.

Good to his word – and knowing Skywarp wasn’t a mech prone to false promises – Thundercracker didn’t immediately bolt. “You better have a good plan.”

Skywarp visibly sagged. “Primus, I wish. You were right on one count; I’m not smart enough to come up with something on my own.” He spread his arms and half-shooed Thundercracker back towards the privacy of the medical suite. “I’m stuck on whether we’ve got any course of action that doesn’t involve probable suicide. Or having to beg help off the Autobots, which we seriously need to avoid because Primus, it’ll all go direct to the smelter if we get them involved.”

Spotweld had finished preparing Longbeam for her trip to the hospital; the clear plastic sheath protected the injury from dust, but not prying optics. Finally getting a good look, Thundercracker winced and looked away.

Longbeam finally let the mask slip; her carefully-stoic features creased and her fingers began to tremble. “I’m sorry, sir. It was my fault. I thought I was fast enough.” A flicker of static crept into her voice. “I’m sorry-!”

Still silent, Vector gathered her up off the berth, and tucked her up against her broad chassis. She cast a frustrated/pleading look to the two Seekers, although Skywarp couldn’t quite tell if it was meant to say catch the slaggers that did this or please don’t be angry with her.

“Don’t,” Thundercracker said, simply. “Going against those three, I don’t-… Thank you for making the effort.” He managed to drag his gaze away from the bike’s sickening injury, and made an effort to straighten up and look professional. “What about you, anyway, Warp? Holding up all right?”

The teleport forced a grin. “Seem’s a survivor. He's got out of worse scrapes.”

Thundercracker clapped him on the shoulder. “If there was anyone I'd trust to be kidnapped with her...” His words broke. “Primus.” He covered his face with one shaking hand.

Skywarp guided him back into the same chair that had saved his dignity a breem or two before, and crouched next to it, offering his wings for Thundercracker to lean against; the blue jet didn’t need to be invited twice, sagging into him. “It’ll be fine,” he murmured, folding his brother’s hand into his own. “They'll be too busy wrangling my brat to hurt Dashie.”

“She wanted to come, I-I should have taken her-”

“Hey, quit that. Don’t you even start trying to blame yourself for this, I mean Primus.”

From somewhere outside came the questioning uuu-whup? of Flatliner’s siren; Spotweld went out to meet him.

Unfortunately the duty medic wasn’t the only one to have spotted the ambulance’s arrival.

“Hey, Flatso? What are you doing here?”

Skywarp groaned inwardly at hearing his sparkling’s voice, out in the hallway.

“Ah, Footsie. Right on time. Officer injured on duty, I’m taking them to hospital. I could do with a hand, if you’re free.”

“Really? I hope it’s not Seem, haha.” Footloose voiced a nervous giggle, following him in. “Useless glitch vanished off-district without telling me he was going anywhere, and he was meant to be sparksitting.”

“Not to my knowledge, no. Patient is a bike.”

The small flier stopped in the doorway, looking baffled for an instant, confused by why half her family were already crowded into the room. “Oh, hey? Does anyone here know why my idiot twin just fell off the registroh slag!” Finally spotting her aunt, Footloose leaped backwards and collided with the wall, covering her mouth with both hands. “Onnie?! What-what-”

Giving Thundercracker one last quick wingbump and a hasty apology, Skywarp turned to his sparkling with his hands out. “Hey, spark. You really didn’t ought to be here.” Right, because that worked so well on TC.

Her shaking thrusters skittered across the floor, scooting out from under her and dropping her gracelessly to her aft. “What hap-happened? Primus! Where’s Seem? Is-is he hurt as-as well?” Her vocaliser skipped. “Primus-! Is this why I can’t see-see him any more? Where is he?!”

“We don’t know exactly where he is, but we’re pretty sure he’s all right.” Skywarp took both her hands into his own and wasn’t entirely surprised when Footloose launched herself bodily into his arms, vibrating in distress. “We think he’s been taken to Earth-”

“Take-taken? Taken by who?”

“By Ramjet’s trine.”

“C-coneheads?” Her fans stuttered harder. “Like-… you mean Dirge?”

“Yeah. Exactly like Dirge. They’ve got your bro, and we think they’ve got Dash. We’re figuring out what to do. But it’ll be fine. We’ll sort it out. All right?”

“But-but-… Dash? I was meant to take-… I swapped with Seem. We swapped! I had-… emergency, I couldn’t-…” She spotted Thundercracker in the chair; her fans hitched and her words got even more disjointed. “I’m sorry-… oh, Primus, I’m sorry! It’s my fault. I swapped with him!”

She hurled herself across the room and into the blue Seeker’s lap like a miniature freightliner, sobbing staticky apologies. After a second of startled immobility, he opened his arms and let her hug him.

Skywarp vented a sigh and folded his arms. Trust Footloose – now she’d started bawling, it was setting everyone else off, including TC. (The poor mech had had a decent grip on his emotions until the wee spark had shown up, but now both of them were incoherent. Primus.)

It felt like all the air had been sucked out of the room. Leaving his family self-destructing in the infirmary, Skywarp teleported up to the roof, where it didn’t feel like the full weight of every machine in there was packed on top of his wings.

Now what, world?

Never a good sign when he was expected to be the emotionally-responsible one.

And where the Pit was his fragheaded wingleader, anyway?!

-screamer, where are you-

-in vos. why?-

-vos? still?- Skywarp covered his face with both hands and allowed himself the luxury of a long, hot sigh of stressed exhaust. It didn’t make him feel remotely better. -so, you deaf or just stupid?-

A stinging, wordless obscenity immediately came back, followed in short order by the sort of scathing remark that usually signalled a communications shutdown. -figures you wouldn’t understand the importance of this-

-did you not hear what’s going on back here-

-evidently not. what is going on-

He realised Starscream probably actually didn’t know. Thundercracker would have got the signal by merit of being chief of police, but if he hadn’t said anything before racing back to Deixar?

-coneheads, star. they attacked beemer, took seem and dash. already back through spacebridge-

There was a long pause. -on my way. don’t let anyone get near comms-
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