keaalu: (horrified whitesides)
[personal profile] keaalu
Title (chapter): Remember Me (06)
Series: Transformers, G1-based “Blue” AU
Rating: PG-13
Notes: Muuuch later than I wanted, but it's better late than never, right?

In which Skywarp comes up with a plan to rescue the kids! It’s a terrible plan, but it’s better than no plan at all – right, Screamer? He probably ought to have run it past his bros before swinging straight into carrying it out, though.

-----------

Slipstream had already lost track of the number of times he’d been sent sprawling, when his captors finally hustled him into a cell and kicked his feet out from under him again. He wasn’t completely sure what they had planned for him, but was fairly confident it wasn’t going to be comfortable… and when Ramjet vanished with Skydash, he was certain it wasn’t going to be. He made a spirited effort to follow them, fear of what they might do to his cousin lending him a strength he didn’t normally have, but was ultimately no match for the two large, well-armed Decepticons.

Dirge backed him into a corner. The jet wore the kind of smile that anyone with a half-developed sense of self-preservation would have run away from – if they’d been able to. He’d still made no effort to clean Longbeam’s bright yellow finger-gouges off his cheek. “So, superstar. Look at you. All grown up,” he purred. “Almost a miracle. I wouldn’t have put money on it – not with parents like yours. I guess there’s just something in the family code that makes you slaggers hard to convince to die, huh?”

Slipstream somehow managed to keep the static out of his voice. “What do you want.”

Dirge paced back and forth in the space between his prisoner and the door, casually. “Who said I should need a reason to come see my favourite person?” His smile broadened. “You’re in my territory now, Slippy. And I have a little old score to settle. Remember that time in the desert, where you helped sneak TC out from under my watch, and made me look like an incompetent idiot?”

Slipstream felt his pumps stutter, uncomfortably. He tried offlining them, but it didn’t feel like it helped much. “…yes.”

“Yeah! I sure remember it. That’s what makes it such a shame, you know? This whole thing.” The blue conehead examined his fingers, artfully, and shook his helm, casting a sly glance sidelong to check for Slipstream’s reaction. “I mean, price of scrap metal has really taken a nosedive lately. We coulda got a much better price off the squishies if we’d took the chance to smelt you down a vorn or two earlier.” Seeing the smaller mech visibly cringe, his lips spread wider in a smirk. “What, did you think I was gonna say it was a shame you didn’t join up when you had the chance? Like we’d need a depressive little nonentity like you in the ranks.”

Thrust snickered. “Yeah, Dirge here has that market cornered already. He doesn’t need the competition when it comes to depressive nonentities.”

Dirge glared and gave him a swift kick in the back of one thruster; the red jet gave a startled yelp of pain, and hastily shoved back, embarrassed by the over-reaction.

He was sure he probably wasn’t supposed to have heard, but Slipstream picked up Dirge’s frustrated growl of stick to the plan, will you? And Thrust’s immediate return hiss of WHAT plan, you always friggin’ wing it and blame me when you screw up. For an instant, it looked like they were more interested in coming to blows with each other, right up in each other’s faces.

Slipstream almost dared to hope that they’d get too invested in their own quarrel, and forget about him… but hadn’t counted on the strength of feeling that would have brewed behind forty vorns of simmering resentment.

After a brief session of shoving and posturing, the two coneheads managed to get back on track.

“So, where were we, Slips?” Dirge moved to close the gap between himself and his prisoner. “Reminiscing about the good old days, right? Can’t deny that I’ve been looking forwards to the time we got to meet again. Especially after that big white blob kept me from shooting the two of you after you snuck out.” He pressed his fist into his palm. “That woulda spoiled the party today though, right? Now come on. Get up. On your feet.”

“I’d rather stay down here, thanks.”

“I’m sorry, did I sound like I was giving you a choice? Get up. Or do I have to get Thrust to help you?” Dirge flicked a hand at Thrust, who rolled his optics a little but obediently moved in closer.

Slipstream hastily scrambled to his feet. Often, having a wall at his back reassured him, but now it just emphasised the fact there was nowhere to go. He tugged uselessly at his wrists, wishing he could get the cuffs off – not that having his hands free would actually help that much against two fully-armed warmechs, but it might have made him feel a little better. Like he at least had the option of trying to defend himself.

Even if that might have only involved covering his face.

“So.” Dirge leaned down very close to their prisoner, and was gratified to see the younger mech flinch and turn his face away. “I guess now is a good time to educate you on a few things, yeah? Like how when you were tiny and stupid, we had this unwritten rule that we weren’t to hurt you. That you were too young to understand what we were fighting for, and maybe, if we treated you nicely, let you figure out for yourself that we were legitimate, maybe you’d grow up as one of us.” His voice lowered to a murmur. “Well, guess what? You’re all grown up, now.” He smirked. “And you invited us into your life by choosing to become our enemy.” He tapped a finger against the little Autobot insignia etched into Slipstream’s chassis.

Slipstream hunched his shoulders and leaned back, just a little, just out of immediate reach. “You can blame the Triplechangers for that.”

“Yeah – blame, or thank, one of the two. I mean, it’s a lot less politically-incorrect to beat your enemy to a pulp than it is to squish some dithery little neutral, right?” Dirge’s lips pulled thin, showing his denta. “Who am I kidding. Like I’d not take the chance to bludgeon you over the head just because you weren’t an Autobot. This just makes it easier to justify…”

The first blow wasn’t exactly a surprise, but it still caught Slipstream off-guard – a solid punch in the side of his helm, crashing him backwards into the wall. Pain rang like a thunderclap through him; he couldn’t be completely sure, not with all his senses destabilised, but it felt like the crystal of his sidelight had shattered. There was certainly something leaking – stinking sharp and volatile where it ran down into his collar armour.

He tried to be brave – to do his family proud, to hold up his strong Autobot heritage, and not be defeated by a bunch of Decepticon thugs… but it hurt too much to do anything except curl as best he could into a self-protective bundle, trying to shield sensitive components from the beating.

Ultimately, even Dirge finally got bored. After activating the forcefield that closed the cell, he headed off in a very jovial mood with Thrust, apparently going to find some high-grade to celebrate their successful mission.

Slipstream wallowed in self-pity for a little while, curled up in his corner, trying to ignore the bright pink smears on the walls, the floor, his own armour… trying to concentrate on slowly disconnecting or rerouting systems away from all the spots that hurt.

Hard to think what they might be doing to Skydash, while he wasn’t there and couldn’t protect her. Although ‘protect’ was a bit of a stretch. More like, keep their attention away from her by offering himself as a better target.

Concentrating on fixing up what he could helped keep him at least slightly grounded. Energon crystallised off, obediently, plugging up the damaged, leaky vessels. Coolant vapours made the air stink; he deactivated a handful of pumps and let the broken pipes run dry. He’d have to rely on his fans until he could get repairs, but that would probably be all right. He’d maybe be a bit sluggish but at least he’d be functioning. Right?

Because he was going to get out of here, somehow.

Repairs weren’t just a daydream.

Primus. What were they doing to Dash?

When you were tiny and stupid, we had this unwritten rule that we weren’t to hurt you, Dirge reminded him, out of the recent past. Slipstream latched onto the memory, hoping that perhaps Skydash would likewise be “too small and stupid” for them to want to harm. The idea they’d want to turn her against her parents for no reason other than to punish her family seemed altogether too plausible. Maybe they’d never bring her back-

The clump of heavy footsteps drew his attention; Motormaster appeared in the doorway, and deactivated the forcefield. Slipstream automatically cringed away.

The big mech wasn’t interested in doling out violence, however. “Here. Catch.”

Before Slipstream could gather his wits, Motormaster flicked his wrist and sent a small bundle flying through the air.

A small Skydash-coloured bundle.

Alarm shot through him. Slipstream hurled himself forwards, and just managed to get underneath her, rolling with her to the ground to try and absorb a little of the impact. She still tumbled off him and hit the deck, but it was with only a little clunk, not a horrible wet broken crash. He curled over her, automatically, as if he could somehow protect her.

The stunticon outside the cell gave a dismissive snort, and – miraculously – turned away.

Slipstream waited until he could no longer hear footsteps before finally straightening up and checking Skydash over. He almost cried to see she was completely totally uninjured and perfect. She was scared, and crackling with static, and wanted her mama, but that was all. And Primus did he ever sympathise. He’d not wanted his parents like this quite so badly for a long time. All he wanted was to curl up next to his dam’s spark and let the rest of the world go dim around him.

“Hey, Dash. Come on, bit. Talk to me?” He leaned down and bumped her with his cheek. “It’s just me here now. You’re here with me and it’s all right.”

It took a good portion of a breem for Skydash to respond, during which time he gently shuffled her into his corner, where he could con himself into thinking he could perhaps protect her. She finally uncurled from her ball, looking fearfully around the small cell, still vibrating softly in distress but growing braver now she was satisfied they were genuinely the only two present. She climbed into her cousin’s lap, then wriggled her way up his chest, thrusting her small head up under his chin.

“Hey Dashie.” Slipstream tucked up his knees and rested his cheek against the top of her head, gently. “Are you all right? Did they hurt you at all?”

“Not hurt,” she confirmed, quietly. “Want Ama.” Most of the static had faded from her voice, but she still crackled every now and then.

“Yeah. I know. Me too.” He sighed, softly. “Just… have to be patient, all right? Do you think you can do that? They won’t hurt us while they still need us.”

Skydash stared up into his face. “Unnol hurt,” she challenged, reaching out a small hand to touch the glitter of crystallised energon on his cheek, and watched him flinch – only a tiny bit, but enough to make her snatch her hand back. “Make lies.”

He found a smile, and bumped cheeks with her. “Aw, I’m all right. I can get bashed around without hurting too badly. I had good teachers; you remember the Twins, right?”

She gave his features a brief but intense scrutiny – the dim, broken optic, the dried energon still crusting the damaged aerials, the new little dents and paint transfers – apparently trying to decide if she believed him. Even Sunny and Sides hadn’t put him through the mill quite this badly, even when he was at his most argumentative and asking-for-it. He kept up his smile for a little longer, and eventually she decided she didn’t want to challenge the lie, jamming herself back into the top curve of his chassis, the top of her head coming up under his chin. “…see Ama soon?”

“Yeah. I hope so. Soon.”

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoO


For as long as he could remember, Thundercracker had been prone to headaches – although they were usually caused by his beloved wingmates. And never this bad.

It was only after the Triplechangers caught them so catastrophically off-guard, many vorns ago, that the headaches turned into incapacitating migraines. Stress usually set them off, spiking the pressure in coolant lines around his helm and destabilising his optics badly enough that they’d cut out altogether.

When his vision started to bleed into false-colours and static, he knew he was in for a bad one. He wasn’t quite sure how he’d got home, when even barely moving still managed to upset the precarious stability of his cortical pressure.

Right now, he cut a spectacularly unwarriorlike figure, sitting in the atrium with a foil around his shoulders and a coolant pack weighing his helm down, wishing he’d gone and done something about it last time. It wasn’t even as if this was the first time he’d regretted not going to a doctor and getting it fixed! But every time he considered it, there seemed to be something more immediate and important that needed his attention. (Usually, that thing was what triggered the migraine in the first place.) He’d put it off, and put it off, and eventually it’d fade off his radar… until the next one rolled around.

Knowing he was a walking liability was making his migraine worse. It kinda hurt to know you actually were the burden you thought everyone was talking about behind your wings.

Starscream had fussed noisily until a long-suffering Forceps had found a patch to force a temporary pressure bleed, but Thundercracker knew it’d take a while to kick in, and that didn’t guarantee he’d get his vision back any time soon.

As a much younger mech, new to the Decepticon cause and unsure how much of his weight he wanted to throw behind it, he’d been accused of being a ditherer – irresolute, couldn’t make a decision, always left everything too late.

Now, when he absolutely knew with a hundred percent conviction what he wanted – needed – to do? To go straight out to the spacebridge, fly direct to Earth, storm Nemesis, scoop his family to safety?

Didn’t matter what he wanted, any more, did it? Might as well put a little gift ribbon around his neck and go hand himself over.

At least he wasn’t the only one stuck for a response. Celerity still sat on the floor next to his feet, one arm stretched lightly round behind his thrusters, her head resting against his knees, purring quietly for him. She’d pitched it so that the subtle near-infrasound harmonised with his electric field, supportive and soothing – something she usually did for their sparkling when Skydash was having a tantrum. Figured.

Her field felt a fraction less strangled than it previously had, but now worry and exhaustion bled across their bond, in spite of her best efforts not to let it.

=you don’t have to be strong for everyone all the time= he reminded her.

She… acknowledged it, sort of, but not with anything verbal.

He shuffled awkwardly off the seat and down to the floor, to sit beside her. =Be all right. Just have to wait for Star to come up with a masterplan= he consoled, although it felt a little flat to him, too.

If only Starscream would make an effort to at least try and find his volume control…!

Wanting more information, the red jet had contacted Vantage, their reluctant silver spacebridge monitor. Finding out the mech had actually gone and let the Coneheads through with no questions and no notification? Had triggered another outburst of bad temper. He wasn’t quite as glass-etchingly strident as he had the capacity to be, but he was being unnecessarily loud, and to Thundercracker it felt like the words were echoing inside his head.

On the Earth end of the connection, Vantage looked like he'd have appreciated it if the ground would open and swallow him. “I-I thought they were coming for the whole New Vos thing.”

Starscream threw both arms up. “You didn't think to challenge it?!”

“No? They’re Seekers. I thought it was a Seeker thing? Why would I have challenged it?”

“Well I don’t know, perhaps the fact that they’re still fully-paid-up members of the Decepticon regime?! How did they even know about it?”

Vantage visibly cringed. “…I mighta asked them if it was why they wanted to come through.”

“Well thank you very much for making my job infinitely harder. Did you remember to invite Megatron while you were at it?!”

In the corner of the room, Skywarp put up his hands, and disappeared silently upstairs. He was apparently as tired of the noise as everyone else.

Pulsar watched him go into their shared room. She knew he tended to overthink, particularly when he was anxious, coming up with outlandish ideas that often made any bad situation worse. Quietly she slipped away from the atrium, and followed him up to the top floor.

She found Skywarp standing at the big terminal built into the wall, fiddling with his shield emitters, running diagnostics. The faint purple nimbus of active riot screens glowed around him. He didn’t look particularly anxious; his lips were compressed into a determined line and a small, serious frown furrowed his brow.

He startled at hearing her footsteps, but quickly relaxed upon seeing who it was. “Oh, it’s only you.”

“Thanks. Nice to know you’re glad to see me.” Pulsar gestured at the atrium with a sweep of one arm. “What are you even doing? Don’t you want to be with the rest of us, helping out?”

“To do what, exactly? Aren’t there enough folk down there already, getting in the way?”

She folded her arms, unimpressed. “You’d rather be up here instead, faffing about with unimportant things?”

“If you’re gonna get on my case, at least keep your voice down about it.” He pursed his lips, and slotted his fingers into a dedicated grip in the terminal, turning it through ninety degrees; the light of a green scanning laser swept once up and down his armour, checking for weak spots. “Or are you trying to tell the whole world what I’m doing?”

Pulsar obediently lowered her voice. “What are you doing?”

At last, Skywarp looked satisfied, straightening up. The subtle glow of his shielding finally winked out. “I’m going to fetch the wee sparks back.”

Pulsar just stared at him for a full few seconds, mouth open. “What, on your own?”

“Of course on my own. Why do you think I’m trying to sneak out?”

“But you can’t just-… that’ll be suicide!”

He set his hands on his hips and cocked his head, expectantly. “So, you got a better plan, have you?”

“Yes, I have an amazing plan. It’s called ‘let’s actually wait for Starscream to think of something practical and not take on Megatron singlehandedly’?”

He gave her a weird sort of patient glare and flapped a hand. “I can’t be sitting around waiting for Screamer to scheme his way to something that might work if he manages not to get distracted by gloating about how much better he is as leader. Besides, all of us going together is exactly what old Buckethead wants. Why should I make it easy for him to kill the three of us?”

“Remind me how this makes your plan a good one.”

“Well, he’s not gonna kill me if I go on my own, right?” Skywarp grinned, although he couldn’t quite hide the tension that tightened around his optics. “He wants to force us to watch each other dying. It’ll ruin everything if I go and grey out before Screamer can see it.”

“Unless he decides to record it, and sends it to him as a gift.” Pulsar stepped closer and caught his hand, and folding it into both of hers. “Please. At least discuss it with everyone before you launch into the unknown.”

Skywarp could feel her trembling, slightly, genuinely alarmed by his impetuous plan. He almost felt guilty for suggesting it. “So Screamer can put a total nix on it? Great idea.”

She looked away. “That might have been why I suggested you do it.”

He squeezed her fingers. “Eh, it’ll be fine. I… kinda know what I’m doing?” He lowered his voice. “Megatron thinks he knows me, right? I was a ‘Con most of my life and there’s not much about me that’s ever been subtle. By which token,” his expression brightened, optimistically, “maybe he’ll underestimate me.”

“There’s way too many maybe-s in this plan. What if this is exactly what he knew you’d do?”

“If Megs just wanted us dead, he wouldn’t have given us any warning. He’d have come here and done it. Let’s face it, Ramjet’s trine proved we let our attention drift way too far away from where it shoulda been, it woulda been easy to knock at least one of us off if they’d tried hard enough and weren’t a bunch of idiots. But?” He shrugged, gesturing with his free hand, palm out. “Megatron’s… basically told us what he’s planning? I guess it’s because he knows all Screamer’s triggers, and he’s baiting him in? He knows our wingleader’s just as stupid as me, at times, and if he can get him worked up, he’s easier to deal with.”

Pulsar leaned back a little, as though somehow capable of anchoring him, keeping her grip on his hand. “That doesn’t mean you have to go now.

“In an ideal world where he gives Screamer a chance to scheme up something decent? Sure, maybe. But this isn’t that world, and if we don’t do something soon, he’s gonna get bored and encourage us to fly blind by posting bits of them back to us.” Skywarp pursed his lips. “I played the ‘Pulsar scavenger hunt’ once before, and it sucked. I don’t wanna play it again.”

She winced and looked away.

He peered out into the street, and checked the weather conditions. “So you’re gonna cover for me, right?”

“Cov-… no. What? No!” She recoiled subtly in alarm, letting go of his hand and putting both of hers up in a stop gesture. “I can’t cover for you, what are you even talking about. I’m not getting involved in this stupid plan of yours-!”

He gave her a vaguely smug look, brows arched. “I hate to break it to you, but you already are. Ever since you snuck after me to make sure I wasn’t getting up to no good.”

“I was worried about you-! Not that you’d understand the concept.” She covered her face with both hands, briefly. “I could yell for help. Stop you going.”

“But you won’t, because you know I’m right. And you want our family back together just as much as I do.”

“That doesn’t mean I’m happy to let you sacrifice yourself in the process-!”

“Well, you can’t stop me, so you might as well help out. I just need you to run interference until I can get through the bridge, all right?”

“Warp-… how?” She spread her hands. “My inability to lie convincingly is a running joke. Starscream will see through me the instant I engage my vocaliser.”

“I didn’t say you had to make up an excuse.” He gave her a sneaky smile and strummed a finger across her antennae. “I know one thing you could do that would be guaranteed to keep them from coming up to investigate.”

She just… stared at him, for several seconds, before finally locating her voice. “Did you miss the gravity of the situation, or was it just too entertaining for you to suggest I try and fake an overload to distract the guys downstairs?”

His expression broadened into a pleased grin.

She folded her arms across her chassis, stubbornly. “They’d never believe it anyway. Even you’re not that insensitive.”

“Look, even if you just buy me a breem or two, that’ll give me a head start. They’re gonna notice I’m gone the second my signal falls off the registry so it’s not like you have to do it for long.”

“Ugh. All right.” She covered her antennae with both hands. “I’ll think of something.”

“Thanks, Squeaks. I owe you one.” He plopped a kiss onto the top of her smooth helm, and disappeared in a flutter of collapsing air.
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