Aviation Flu

Thursday, 14 December 2017 12:24 pm
keaalu: Three colourful speech balloons (Coloured balloons)
[personal profile] keaalu
Title (chapter): Aviation Flu
Series: Transformers, G1-based “Blue” AU
Rating: PG-13
Notes: The other day, I caught a cold. I’ve been lucky and not had a bad one in years, so I suppose it was due. On the bus on the way home, Skywarp came out in sympathy. Misery loves company?

“Aviation Flu” is courtesy of a colleague who accidentally called avian flu that a few times; I used to like to wonder if it was what you caught if you worked with aeroplanes? But actually, maybe it’s what you catch if you are an aeroplane.

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It was obvious from the moment Pulsar came online, to find her Seeker venting excessively warm air and with pumps that seemed to be buzzing, that Skywarp wasn’t in particularly good health, that orn.

“Warp?” She pushed herself upright and leaned over his chassis, propping herself on one arm. “Is everything all right?” She waved a hand in front of his face, then gently patted his cheek. “Hey in there. Skywarp?”

His optics came online much more slowly than she was familiar with, and he stared murkily through her for several seconds before managing to focus. “…uuh?”

“How are you feeling?”

“…uuh.” He lifted a shaky hand and passed it over his face. His voice crackled with more clicky static than should have been normal for bootup distortions. “G’roff, Squeaks. Too hot in here.”

Pulsar hastily scrambled off his wing, so he could sit up – or at least attempt to. He swung one leg over the edge of the mattress and boosted himself partially upright with shaky arms before apparently running out of oomph; she caught one hand and dragged him the rest of the way.

For several seconds, he looked like he was going to continue on and tip all the way over in the wrong direction, but (with a little alarmed help from his bike) finally managed to curtail his forwards momentum before falling clean off the berth.

For a few seconds, Pulsar just watched and waited. Skywarp… didn’t look good, at all. He might not have ever been the most graceful of Seekers, but right now he looked obscenely heavy and slumping, wings sagging, head drooping as though it were too much effort to keep it up. Definitely sick.

She stepped closer, so he could sense her static envelope, and caught his dangling hands in both of her own. “I don’t think you should be going to work today.”

He stared through her for a few seconds more, then offered a meaningless grunt and let his head plop down on her shoulder; she staggered briefly under the unexpected weight and had to push extra charge to her wobbly knees to hold her upright.

“You’re really not processing things very well, are you, spark?” She brought one small hand up and stroked the side of his helm.

“Feel slow,” he agreed, at last, in clicky, almost staticky tones. “N’rough. Head’urts.”

Everything seemed to be running with a lag. Things that should have happened instantly took distinct seconds.

She knew it was pretty obvious, but she said it anyway; “I think you might have caught a virus off someone.”

“Mmh.” He shifted subtly, so his helm could rest better on her shoulder, and folded his arms loosely around her. “Prob’ly. Firewall’s like slag.”

It felt like given half the chance, he’d have drifted back into dormancy like that, using her as a support. Heat radiated off him; she could hear his fans wallowing slowly in his chassis, like they’d never been oiled. No wonder he felt so hot.

“Stay like this, huh?” he mumbled into her enamel, confirming her guess. “Nice. Cool.”

“No-o, we can’t stay like this. I’ll eventually fall down, then you’ll squash me, and then we’ll both need a doctor.” She manoeuvred him backwards. “Come on. Let’s get you cooled off.”

She encouraged him to lay back down – not that he needed much encouraging, flopping back hard enough that she felt the impact through the floor – then directed the air conditioning at him, turning it down as cold as it would go.

Skywarp made a little noise of relief and leaned in towards the chilly blast.

Leaving the dark jet to continue his incoherent praise of the gods of air-con, Pulsar headed downstairs, quietly cursing whichever inconsiderate fragger had managed to upload the virus. And Skywarp for slacking off on getting his firewalls patched.

Thundercracker – thank Primus for small mercies – looked fine. He sat quietly reading the morning news, the remains of a flask of energon by his hand, almost ready to head out for work.

Well, at least that was one less person to have to worry about. She ducked under the wall of blue wing and went straight to the big chiller cabinet next to the main energon dispenser.

Thundercracker picked up on her sour mood almost immediately – frag, the whole house could probably feel the irritation simmering in her electric field.

“I won’t say good morning, because it feels like it might not be?” he said.

She ignored the implied how are you. “What’s the lowest grade refined fuel we have in stock?”

Bemusedly, Thundercracker watched her ferret through the assorted cubes and canisters in the chiller. “I think we may still have a little of the SuperLight we got for Dash, for when she was big enough to start taking fuel instead of relying on just an outside power source. Why?”

“Because some useless fragging pitglitch-…” She reined in the invective and covered her eyes briefly with one hand. “Skywarp’s come down with a virus of some kind. He needs something simple, that won’t tax his systems.” She found a handful of small cans hidden in the back of the cabinet, and scrutinised one’s label for a second. “This should work. I can’t be dealing with cleaning up if he purges a tank.”

Thundercracker straightened, concerned and ever-so-slightly peeved. “He told me his firewall was up to date.”

“So Skywarp’s full of slag; who knew?” Pulsar shrugged elaborately and gathered up as many of the small cans as she could carry. “Where’d we put the cooling blankets?”

“Not sure. Far as I know, Footloose had them last?”

Pulsar cast her gaze to the heavens and vented a small curse at her untidy offspring. “So, treasure hunt then. Great.”

“Let me finish this, and I’ll help you look. Maybe I should see if Panacea will be able to pay a visit later.”

She snorted. “I think he’s past the point where a psychiatrist can help him.”

Thundercracker found a small smile. “Maybe. She’s still a doctor, though. I’ll give her a call.”

By now, Starscream had picked up on the increasingly irritable field saturating the building, and appeared in the doorway. He watched as Pulsar slipped past him, barely even needing to duck her head to get under his wings. “All the SuperLight?” he challenged.

She didn’t respond, disappearing into the lift.

He looked instead at his wingmate. “What’s wrong with her?”

Thundercracker covered his face with both hands and vented a long suffering sigh. “Oh, nothing. Only the little matter of a virus apparently going around on the station mainframe, that nobody seems to have informed me of? Which Skywarp has apparently picked up and is now incapable of working for at least an orn, and I have to find cover for him somehow?”

Starscream helped himself to a cube from the dispenser and slipped into the chair alongside him. “Oh, that. Yes, I had to ground Skyshout yesterday. I didn’t want to see what would happen if one of her parts broke formation with the rest while she was airborne.”

Thundercracker remained silent while he processed the words. “So… you knew about it, and just… didn’t bother telling me?” he managed, at last. “Or Warp?”

There was that sort of… very long, guilty pause that Thundercracker had become expert in spotting – the sort that usually preceded a storm of protests about how it wasn’t his fault that the rest of the universe was incompetent and if people just did what they were told, it would all work perfectly.

This time, Starscream just pursed his lips and slid a sidelong glance in his wingmate’s direction. “…ah. Possibly?”

Thundercracker gave him a shove and muttered something hideous. “Pit sake, Screamer. Some days I wonder if you and Warp were forged from the same badly smelted piece of old slag, because neither of you are normal.”

Starscream straightened, indignant. “I was trying to save you from worrying, because I know that’s what you do best. I checked the server logs, you’d already been online and gone home. And when does Warp ever bother linking up to actually upload anything?”

“And what about everybody else? You already admitted that Skyshout has it, how many others am I going to find out have come down sick since the night shift?” Thundercracker despaired. “I’m probably going to have to quarantine half my officers and somehow still find enough cover to run an effective service.” He stood up, sending the chair clattering away behind him. “So thank you. I know what I’m going to spend most of the orn doing, and it probably isn’t being an effective superintendent!”

“…I’m sorry?” The nonapology followed him out of the room.

Thundercracker dedicated a breem or two to speaking to first Panacea, who happily agreed to visit, and then to his deputy, to find out precisely what chaos awaited him when he finally made it in to the station. It wasn’t actually as bad as he’d feared, seeing how Skyshout had obediently gone home and made absolutely sure that everyone in her dorm – not just her room, but the whole damn building – knew she was sick and needed sympathy. Disease control techs were already on site, working on isolating the malicious code.

Satisfied the world wasn’t about to implode without him taking immediate personal charge of the disaster, he headed upstairs to check on his wingmate.

Skywarp watched him come in – well, kind of – from surly maroon optics that probably couldn’t actually discern anything except a big blue blur against the pale blurs of the wall, and commed a greeting that was completely incomprehensible. He lay sprawled over as much of the berth as possible, presenting as big a surface area as he could to the cold air coming from the air vents. His fans still hiccuped and hitched, but he looked… well, vaguely comfortable. Mostly offline, completely motionless, and obviously sick, but not completely mortally ill, either.

Pulsar had apparently given up in her search for the elusive coolant mantle. She knelt on the floor at the end of the berth, shoulders close to where Skywarp’s hand dangled over the edge, apparently having been trying to cannibalise a set of coolant fans, but hadn’t been having much success if all the clipped bits of wire scattered across the floor were anything to go by. She sat glaring tiredly at the mess, hands in her lap, a scuffed pair of old pliers held loosely in her fingertips.

As Thundercracker approached, she stirred and glanced hazily up at him. He sank to one knee beside her. “Don’t tell me you’re coming down with it as well.”

She half-smiled. “I think I’m safe. The only thing Warp and I shared in the last few orns has been the berth.” She vented a small sigh and glanced at the slack features of her sick jet. “D’you think they’ll manage without me, today?”

“Sure. Nightsun has everything under control.” Thundercracker brushed his fingers lightly over her antennae, and felt her lean in to his hand. “I thought I better come see if you needed help with the malingerer before I left. I just didn’t think I’d get here to find you taking the house apart.”

The bike made an incoherent little noise of frustration, muttered something that sounded like can’t even do something as basic as link a few slagging fans together, and cast the pliers down into the mess of wire clippings. “Footloose better find that coolant mantle or I’m going to end up destroying more than just the air conditioning,” she warned.

“Well, that’s one good thing about all the little Skywarps in the family; they always know exactly where things are. If she hasn’t still got it, I’ll send one of your sibs over with one from work.”

“…thanks.” Pulsar settled back against the mattress and felt Skywarp’s fingers drift onto her shoulder; she put up her own hand to cover his.

“Failing that, I’ll bring you a cool pack. Having a personal chiller full of them does have some perks.”

“Are you implying looking after Skywarp is going to give me a migraine?”

“I’m implying, you need all the help you can get…!”
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