keaalu: I say I am writing, but actually I have a game of solitaire open (nano procrastinate)
[personal profile] keaalu
Iiiii should have posted this a week and a half ago but I am terrible at remembering to post anything on here. ¬_¬

Title (chapter): Remember Me (04)
Series: Transformers, G1-based “Blue” AU
Rating: PG-13
Notes: In which Slipstream realises just how big this thing might be that he and Dash are caught up in, and Starscream finally gets back from New Vos to a hostile welcome.

-----------

The command centre on Nemesis was every bit as sickly purple and ostentatiously oversized as Slipstream remembered it.

He didn’t remember ever seeing it from this angle, though.

“Show proper respect to your new master, scum!”

The shove to one shoulder made him stumble and fall to his knees. Before he could recover, scramble clumsily back to his feet, something heavy – and hot; someone’s thruster? – pressed down on the back of his neck, forced him to bow his helm.

Slipstream snarled in pain and bucked, trying to squirm his way out, but the bigger mech just kept increasing the pressure on the back of his neck until he was almost crushed flat to the floor. Ultimately it hurt too much to keep struggling, and he went limp. The scorching weight on the back of his neck disappeared.

“Good boy,” a condescending voice cooed, close to his helm. Felt like Dirge. “Keep this up, and maybe we won’t feel forced to use you as target practice… quite so much.”

The ripple of unkind laughter which simmered through the crowd was quickly replaced by a weirdly expectant lull, broken only by the sound of mechs jockeying for position, and the sound of approaching footsteps.

A new voice spoke up, somewhere just above and in front. “I should admit to being impressed, Ramjet. Your trine have actually done well, for a change.”

Well, there was no mistaking those gravelly tones. Suddenly, Slipstream didn’t really want to get up, any more.

“Thank you, mighty Megatron. It is an honour to serve!”

There were jeers from the rest of the assembly. An honour to serve! Get up off your belly, Ramjet; who’d you think you are; Screamer? Yeah, well done for kidnapping a sparkling.

Someone caught a hand under Slipstream’s shoulder and hauled him upright. He had to work hard to restrain a flinch.

Barely an arm’s length away, Megatron sat scrutinising him – elbows propped on his knees, leaning down towards him. The warlord looked good; not the scruffy, half-starved bundle of desperation the youngster had expected, from the disparaging way his family had taken to describing him. Poor Megatron, stuck on the wrong side of the spacebridge, squabbling with Autobots.

No, the mech sitting staring down on him looked clean and capable, well-oiled and powerful. Every inch the nightmare that could flatten everything on Cybertron, if he wanted.

“Slipstream,” he said, at last. “Considerably larger than last time we met.”

Slipstream didn’t recognise his own voice – thin and fracturing. “Yes, sir.”

Didn’t hurt to be polite, even if you did feel like purging a tank, right?

“I did expect more from you,” the old warlord finally said, at last, relaxing back in his chair. “As a sparkling, I could see the potential in you. A small mirror of your sire, who had been loyal to me for a very long time. With a little…” He wafted a hand. “…coaching, in the right direction? A little reminder of why this was the only faction that would ever truly understand you? The two of you could have been valuable assets in my campaign.” He elaborated a sigh. “Instead, I see just another unimaginative, whining Autobot, with the lack of ambition that comes as standard.”

Slipstream bristled. The words might have still been faint, but they were out before he got the chance to evaluate whether they were actually sensible to say; “I don’t think I asked for your approval.”

The blow came out of nowhere – an almighty, needlessly violent kick to the head, it sent him skidding across the deck. He fetched up against someone’s legs, puffing softly in alarm.

The bellow chased him across the floor; “Watch your manners, dirtcrawler!” Only just able to pick up the words through a haze of distortions, he wasn’t even sure who was yelling. The owner of the legs used their feet to hustle him back to the centre of the room.

He could feel a trickle of… something… begin to ooze down from his temple. His diagnostics couldn’t make up their mind on what they thought it was. He hoped it was only energon.

Megatron watched with a smirk. “Please don’t kill our guest before we’ve had the chance to make use of him.”

Dirge chose his moment perfectly. “Don’t worry, sir. If that one gets broken, we just use the spare.”

When the blue jet didn’t immediately elaborate, Megatron lifted his head briefly off his hand, and waved his fingers, impatiently. “Go on.”

Dirge waited until he was sure every optic was on him before opening his cockpit and extracting something small. He strode through the centre of the mass and with a flourish, placed it into Megatron’s hands. “First-instar sparkling,” he said, for the benefit of anyone without optics.

“Well this is very interesting,” Megatron purred, holding the small body up in front of his face; Skydash curled up, facing away from him, hugging her knees. “Dirge, I am very impressed.”

Dirge preened at the praise, thumbing his nose at the jeers from his comrades. “Thank you, sir.”

“Now. Where did you come from, I wonder.”

“Well, the little superstar here…” Dirge gave Slipstream a little shove and knocked him sideways, “was meant to be looking after it. Wasn’t counting on us coming along to spoil his orn, I guess.” He snorted and waited for Slipstream to wobble back to his knees before pushing him back over. “I figure they were so disappointed with their first effort – I’d be disappointed; I mean, not only a dirtcrawler, but an Autobot, too? – they decided to try again? That or Skywarp just never understood the concept of protection.”

“Always disappoints me when I realise you might be right. There’s grounder in it, again,” the warlord said, disappointedly. “Just can’t keep from polluting his code, can he? I can’t tell if it’s desperation leading to this lack of standards, or he’s just that easily swayed by a pretty face.”

Thrust leaned closer to his wingmate. “Does this mean you’re gonna lay off with the Primusawful Pit-screech, now?”

Dirge flattened his hand over his wingmate’s face and gave him a shove. “That’s one noisy little scrap of tin. Next time, you can try flying with it caterwauling in your cockpit.”

“She’s not caterwauling. She’s scared,” Slipstream spoke up, quietly. “I’m surprised a bunch of cowards like you don’t understand that. She’s had no part in your squabble, leave her out of it.”

“Did you forget the part we’re at war, you worthless nonentity?” Dirge closed a fist on the antennae spreading from the right of Slipstream’s helm, and dragged him halfway up off the floor. Slipstream squeaked in pain and scrambled to get his feet underneath himself. “That makes everybody fair game.”

Thrust folded his arms and glared. “Good going there, scrappy. He was almost in a good mood, there. Now I’m gonna have to put up with him sulking all night.”

Megatron set the sparkling down on the arm of his chair; Skydash stayed huddled in the smallest ball she could manage, but looked too scared to try and escape. “Oh, I have a very specific reason for wanting you, Slipstream. I’m not going to make either of you fight.” He propped his chin back on his hand. “No, there’s one thing I know I can always get from your kind of pathetic, snivelling coward. You make excellent bait.”

Slipstream stiffened. A very large penny had apparently dropped.

“I know your, ah… family… will feel obliged to rescue you. Starscream won’t be able to resist the urge to try and show me up. Skywarp won’t be slow to follow, since he doesn’t have the brainpower for anything else. As for Thundercracker, well, when has that ditherer ever made a decision on his own, hmm?” Megatron sighed and shook his head, as though in regret. “But when I have finally destroyed all three traitors, in full view of the watching planet, no power in this universe will be able to stop me taking back what is mine.” His lips curved into a smirk. “It was so kind of that fool Starscream to do all the work for me, even if ultimately all he has created is another bloated, stagnating Autocracy. Waiting for me to step in and develop it to its true capacity.”

“They won’t come here. They’ll know it’s a trap. They’re not stupid!”

Megatron actually snorted. “If thousands of vorns of war has taught me one thing I can rely on with absolute certainty? It’s that your sire is most definitely stupid.” He gave the smaller mech a flat look. “Disappointing that it appears to run in the family.”

* * * * *

Starscream made remarkably good time back from New Vos, but didn’t appear to have the most appropriate target for his frustration in mind, as evidenced by the raging scarlet ball of temper that appeared in the empty infirmary doorway, wings hiked high on its back. “Remind me why I seem to be the last person to find anything out, around here?!”

“Excuse me?” Skywarp rounded on him so fast, Starscream actually flinched a step or two backwards. “I told you within a handful of breems of finding out for myself. You shut me down, saying I didn’t understand how important what you’re doing out in Vos is. Now you’ve apparently decided I wasn’t being a total moron for interrupting you, I should have told you faster?!”

Starscream puffed himself up, trying to avoid the need to admit Skywarp’s unexpected pushback had made him jump. “You know that wasn’t what I meant.”

“No? Educate me.” Skywarp leaned in. Their faces were almost touching. “What did you mean.”

A soft, fracturing voice broke through in the brief silence. “Guys… please?”

With one final glare at each other, they turned to find Thundercracker perched on the edge of the empty berth, looking surprisingly small and sick, helm propped in both hands, wings drooping.

“You’re both being kinda loud right now. I think this is gonna turn into a migraine and I really don’t want to be laid up for five orns, again.” He drew in a long stabilising sigh of cold air and shuddered, wingtips trembling. “I haven’t even started to think what I’m gonna tell Lara.”

“Primus, dude.” Skywarp leaned down and bumped cheeks, briefly. “I’m sorry. Lemme find you a cold pack or something.”

“That’d be good. Thank you…”

The medical supplies in the adjoining office weren’t strictly for machines to help themselves to, but most staff had learned that Skywarp wasn’t the sort to be put off by rules and regulations, and making things hard to obtain just increased the likelihood that he’d make an unholy mess while searching. Thundercracker’s personal supply of icepacks were in a small easily-accessible chiller just inside the doorway; his ‘migraines’ were thankfully infrequent, but fairly infamous as well, and having an icepack on hand sometimes made the difference between it lasting one orn, or six. And him being able to still see.

Skywarp helped himself to two, and waved a threatening finger under the nose of the mech that had followed him into the office. “Don’t. Even start.”

Starscream put his hands up in defeat. “I wasn’t going to. I’m sorry, all right?”

Skywarp grumbled wordlessly through his vents, but appeared somewhat mollified. “What then?”

“I was going to say, once we’ve got TC comfortable, maybe we should go home.” Something dark passed through the smouldering scarlet optics. “Someone wants our attention. I don’t feel inclined to keep him waiting.”
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