literature

Remember Me, chapter 10

Deviation Actions

keaalu's avatar
By keaalu

Literature Text



You know, I think-

I think I might actually still be alive?

Consciousness tiptoed back to Skywarp with the usual flurry of damage alerts. He couldn’t quite put a finger on the point at which just being online segued into becoming aware of his surroundings, but he did immediately know that he didn’t actually hurt quite so much, any more. Small blessings. So long as no critical failure warnings blared in his helm, he was well practised at ignoring little spots of discomfort.

He brought his optics online to find Hook peering warily down on him, still holding the targeting grips of a low-intensity gamma scanner.

The crane’s expression tightened into one of vague disappointment. “Good of you to finally rejoin us.”

Skywarp grunted and shifted his shoulders. Thank Primus – the staples were gone. The pressure on his limbs – and by extension, his wings – had vanished. His wrists were cuffed again, but in front of him, this time. It didn’t precisely give him a lot more freedom of movement, but it was vaguely more comfortable. “Thanks for letting me, I guess?” His voice still had an annoyingly pathetic, watery quality to it from the shock delivered so close to his vocaliser.

“It’s not me you should be thanking.” Unwilling to remain in grabbing distance, Hook stepped back to watch while the Seeker shakily sat himself up and let his thrusters find the floor. “Much as I would have enjoyed being allowed to permanently offline an odious thug like you, Megatron has one more job for you.”

The teleport glanced at him from under hooded brows. “What kinda job.”

“I’m sure he’ll tell you, in time.”

“Great. I’m sure I can’t wait.” Skywarp pushed himself all the way up onto his feet, measuring his balance. He felt a little wobbly still, gyroscopes struggling to keep up, but he figured it coulda been worse, seeing as Primus only knew what Hook had been actually doing. And if he did end up falling down, he could probably take a lurking Conehead with him.

His chassis had picked up a new ache – that low abstract sort of pain of surface-damaged nanites. He gave himself a brief once-over; there were a few bright spots of luminous ink here and there, and laser-engraved lines etched into his enamel, but everything felt suspiciously normal. He gave the scanner a wary look and could see a small, overly-detailed wireframe of his model rotating slowly on a holographic plinth at the far side of the sickbay.

So that was what Hook had been up to – getting a good thorough look at the new schematics. Skywarp felt mildly violated by the idea the crane had been looking at his intimate bits, but successfully held back a shudder. He figured this was the closest the medic had ever got to a New Vosian, seeing as Seekers didn’t generally hang around on the mud ball, these days, and certainly not within grabbing distance of bored Constructicons.

And Hook had at least kind of repaired his shattered inspection glass, in the process, with a neatly-shaped piece of recycled metal, spotwelded carefully into place. Perhaps not perfect, but if it kept him from damaging anything under the crystal Megatron had smashed, Skywarp wasn’t about to complain.

Somewhat camouflaged among all the other dings and scrapes, the teleport noticed that someone had hacked an obscene glyph into his paintwork. Although it carried a variety of modifiers that cast judgement on his dubious heritage, his worthless family, and even the substandard quality of his build, it basically screamed

--Traitor!--

in unnecessarily large characters, gouging all the way through every layer of paint and polish to the ceramic layer of his armour. It spread almost halfway across his upper torso.

Looked like Thrust’s untidy handwriting. So not only graffiti’ed, but by a mech with no idea of penmanship either. Great.

Skywarp tightened his jaw, biting down on a snarl. Against his black exterior, the bright silver composite of his substructure glittered almost as brightly as if he’d had a neon sign implanted there. It’d take more than a bit of polishing to get that out. And he’d be walking around with a slur on his fuselage, for all to see, until such a time as he could get it filled.

Thrust stood smirking on the other side of the medical berth, and flicked his fingers in a goading come-on-then gesture.

“Oh really.” Skywarp arched a brow and leaned subtly towards him. “Fight me, says the mech hiding out of reach on the other side of the berth.”

Thrust advanced three steps before Hook decided he’d had quite enough, thank you.

“If you’re going to brawl, again, take it outside my sickbay.” The crane grabbed the closest wingtip and steered Skywarp into an about-face aggressive enough that he tripped over his own thrusters and fell onto Ramjet. “Perhaps you slack-jawed nimrods would like to finally take our guest down to his accommodation, so I can actually get back to work?”

----------------

Slipstream didn’t like the quiet, much.

Trapped down in the belly of the old warship, there was something oppressive about it; like the air itself had grown heavier. What were his jailors up to? He couldn’t help the persistent thought it meant someone was cooking up some new horror to spring upon him, and they didn’t want him to know about it until it was too late.

Not that he’d be able to do anything about it.

At least Dirge had got bored of using him as his personal punching bag, and was mostly leaving him in peace. (Slipstream accepted it could equally be that he’d been told if you kill the slagging hostages before we’re ready I will boot you out an airlock as well, you useless waste of good tin. But so long as Dirge stayed away? Slipstream didn’t really care why.)

Their routine had grown fairly stable. Someone, usually Ramjet, would deliver Skydash off to him and the two youngsters would sit quietly in the corner, huddled up, conserving energy and emotions. At some unpredictable, unspecified interval, someone – again usually Ramjet – would come back and take the sparkling away again, leaving Slipstream alone to worry what was happening to her.

To be fair, while the younger mech didn’t precisely like Ramjet, he felt a lot more comfortable about it when the white jet arrived to collect Skydash than he did seeing any of the others appear from around the corner. Compared to Dirge, Ramjet seemed overwhelmingly bored by the whole situation. Slipstream sort of almost trusted him not to do anything too hideous to her? After all, even though she was sad and subdued (and full of complaints about a bucket, of all things), Skydash didn’t seem completely traumatised by the situation.

Slipstream hadn’t quite figured out if he felt brave enough to talk to Ramjet about it, yet. If the mech was having second thoughts, he probably wouldn’t talk to an Autobot.

Not yet, anyway.

The sound of approaching chaos drew Slipstream’s attention. Raised voices, the clatter of heavy feet and clash of plating being crunched together. Someone was coming. No; multiple someones.

One of the voices was particularly familiar – and it wasn’t Dash.

Primus.

Alarmed, he rocked up onto his knees, automatically priming his systems in case he’d need to defend himself, just in time to watch an unnecessarily large group of Decepticons march Skywarp past.

It was obviously intended to be unnecessarily theatrical, if the number of ’Cons hustling him along was anything to go by. The exchange of insults by both parties was loud and particularly obscene. Skywarp looked like he’d taken a trip or two through the mill already, but it didn’t appear to be slowing him down.

None of that was what made the youngster’s spark sink, though. It was so subtle, Slipstream first thought it must be his damaged optic playing tricks, and had to replay his visual memory twice to be sure he wasn’t just seeing things:

Skywarp winked at him as he passed.

Actually winked.

So this was all part of some no doubt hastily-constructed terribly-thought-out plan.

Slipstream wasn’t sure if he felt better, or infinitely worse. He sagged back onto his aft, trying to process it.

Talking to Ramjet was going to have to wait.

Dirge hung back and watched the gathering of fellow Decepticons vanish around a corner. “We’re making a pretty nice little collection of you traitors, here,” he drawled. “Just a shame it’s all Skywarps, and no Screamers, yet.” He lounged one shoulder against the wall. “I guess we’ll just have to be patient for a while longer, right?”

“You don’t think he’s so stupid that he’ll come here alone.”

“Seeing as you guys have cornered the market in pure stupidity already?” Dirge shrugged. “Of course not. Or brave enough, for that matter. But if there’s one thing we can always count on the Screamer for, it’s that burning need to prove to everyone how he’s better than Megatron.” He made a noise like clearing his throat, and switched to a passable (if needlessly high-pitched) mimic of the red seeker’s voice; “And make sure everyone knows he is the one true leader of the Decepticons! Which is why he went and joined the Autobots.” He snickered at his own joke. “Point is, him and his bunch of useless deserters are gonna have to do something eventually. I mean, otherwise, someone’s gonna get bored enough to up the ante and start lopping bit off of you lot to post home.” The Conehead snrk-ed. “Maybe that’s your plan all along, huh? Escape us in pieces.”

Slipstream found an interesting bit of floor to focus on. It didn’t sound that much like a joke. “…I’m not sure that would be a very good idea.”

“Well, you should know. Bad ideas run in your family. I mean… case in point?” Dirge thumbed over his shoulder, in the direction Skywarp had been dragged away. He sighed. “Fine. I guess when we finally run out of use for you, we’ll maybe kill you first so as you don’t have to watch us smelt the rest of your family down. Or…” He twiddled a finger in a circular motion. “…whatever it is we gotta do to melt that weird slag you’re all made of these days.”

Slipstream managed a little thank you. He wasn’t entirely sure what he was thanking the Conehead for, but perhaps being submissive would continue to keep him out of trouble. Perhaps even long enough to find out what ill-conceived plan his sire had been working on.

Dirge’s lip curved in a small, amused sneer. “Still polite, huh. Nice to see you’re learning.” He spread his hands, and offered, generously; “Maybe we’ll be able to find a use for you once this slagfest is done, after all. I always wanted a footstool.”

Slipstream watched him go, and quietly resolved that however this ended, it wasn’t going to be as a footrest.

----------------

Skywarp recognised the pokey little cell they’d stopped in front of a lot more than he’d have liked. Intentionally, unpleasantly small – possibly not even double the width of his wings. Enough room to turn around, but not much else. And there was no light; all he’d get was what came in from the corridor, assuming they left it on. The only blessing was the wide front opening.

A crawling sense of unease had spread out to both wingtips. It wasn’t precisely gonna give him a lot of brain-space to work on his plan, not if he was going to have to simultaneously battle the cloying anxiety of being stuck in a little box. He put the brakes on in the doorway. “I think you guys are lost.”

“Naw.”

A big hand came down on the midpoint directly between his wings and delivered a shove.

The limited width of the cell left him no room to pull up out of the unanticipated dive. Skywarp jerked his hands up in an effort to save himself, but not fast enough – he felt his nose crunch against the wall and static shot through his vision. He sagged immediately to his knees with a half-swallowed curse of pain. Why was everyone so determined to flatten his poor face, today.

“We know you little plastic toys don’t do so well in confined spaces,” Blitzwing went on, accompanied by the low fitz of the front screen activating. “So we found you a nice, particularly confined space to overheat in. I figure you remember this place, right?”

Skywarp ignored the taunt. “Aren’t you gonna take these off?” He spread his cuffed hands.

“Ha ha! Don’t be stupid.” Blitzwing wiggled his fingers in a wave, backing up into the corridor. “Toodles.” He disappeared around the corner.

And all the lights went out.

Skywarp waited until the thump of heavy footsteps had faded away completely before venting a long, shaky sigh of hot air. He lowered himself to sit back on the floor. Say what you like about Grounders – it was really hard to fall off a floor.

Okay, Warp. This sucks some serious slag, but you’re alive, right? So let’s just… review the situation. You’re aboard. You’re still mostly functional. You know roughly (ok, very, very roughly) where the kids are. And, they didn’t leave you with a babysitter, so if you play this just right, no-one will know when you escape.

He snorted at himself, and rubbed his temples. Sure, Warp. You got the hard bit out of the way. Now you just gotta escape, find the kids, and get out, without being spotted or dying horribly in the process. Easy peasy.

At least his captors were unwittingly helping him along. The mini tour he’d been given already proved that actually? The Nemesis was pretty unchanged in spite of the vorns that had passed since he was last aboard.

This wing-pinchingly tiny cell, too – he had plenty of not-so-fond memories of being cooped up in here, and had never escaped on his own before. (He consoled himself that he’d just never had a blindingly good reason to. He could totally escape if he really wanted to.) A single highly-dented sheet of sickly purple alloy covered each of the three otherwise featureless walls, with the final side open to the corridor. Subtly crackling energon bars deterred any prisoner from getting too close, but the opening glowed faintly with a forcefield anyway. The annoying tingle of a subspace baffle blocked his view into the quantum universe.

He’d not expected it to be easy, and when couched in terms of spanners dropping into industrial turbines… this was only a little one. Right? If only he could free up enough brainpower to work out how to do it.

He examined his wrists; the cuffs were dented, but a very familiar design – he didn’t like to dwell too hard on the likely fate of the poor glitch they’d stolen them from, but his spark lifted, just a little. These useless fragheads had made a pretty standard mistake. Cuffs were only meant to be temporary restraints, and he’d learned how to hack pretty much all the police-issue ones back home. Thundercracker had said he was the station Houdini, whatever that meant. He could get out of these, no problem.

Dealing with the cuffs could wait at least a breem or two. He had absolute confidence that his former comrades would visit at least probably a hundred times to taunt him, and if he sprang himself free in the first few astro-seconds? They’d spot him and this whole project would be over before it started.

Plus, of course, he was still pretty well slagged, and in no condition to go anywhere until he recharged a little. Escaping was gonna have to wait until he felt a little less sore, humiliated and shaky. While he’d been running hot and scared, he’d not really noticed how depleted he was getting – but now he’d begun to cool, his self-repair had apparently woken up, and a variety of alerts bled static into his vision. “Ngh.”

He turned his attention to his health. His poor nose was a mess; Hook hadn’t even touched it, the sanctimonious glitch, let alone straightened it out for him, and the impact with the wall had compounded it. Using the fingers of one hand, he gingerly nudged it back in place, snarling at himself through the pain. Crystallised energon came away on his fingers, but it didn’t immediately start bleeding again. Small mercies.

Now to top up those depleted batteries. Unless they’d remodelled the place, there was a power cable accessible just under the wall, between the alloy panel and the more solid bulkhead behind. Everyone knew it, and everyone who’d been unfortunate enough to have to spend a few orns down here had used it. It wasn’t exactly high-voltage, but that little bit of clean electricity would get his aching systems topped up well enough.

Using both hands, he ripped up the edge of the panel and sure enough, a well-beaten, seriously-frayed power cable still ran along the floor behind it, held down only with a length of insulating tape and a handful of long-since-broken clips. “Ah, Primus. Thank you for never bothering to fix this, you lazy glitches.” The clips readily gave way to a little tug. Stripping the end, he held it against the charging port on the lower side of his torso until it accepted it, pulling it in, hardware automatically tweaking the bare ends of the wire so they’d fit comfortably.

Skywarp let his leaden hands fall back into his lap, and let all his motors unwind, melting quietly back into the wall, wings drooping with a little sigh of displaced air. It wasn’t completely totally overwhelmingly dark, and sitting down here, he had a decent view of his surroundings. The small, pinchy cell didn’t feel so overwhelmingly tiny.

Hold it together, Warp. You can hold it together. Just a little longer.

----------------

-he resting?-

Skyfire peered around the open door into Starscream’s lab. The interior was unlit, save for the viewscreen, which flooded the small room with harsh blue light and even harsher shadows. The room’s single occupant sat in front of it – upright, but perhaps only just.

Skyfire wanted to reply with honestly, you know him better than anyone, so what do you think, Thundercracker, but reasoned that it was probably as much a plea for him to persuade their wingleader to get some downtime as it was a genuine question. Wasn’t like anyone in the building could miss the stress still permeating every atom.

Instead, he just replied -don’t think so. see what i can do- and edged carefully into the room.

Starscream sat with his head propped on one hand, staring blankly at the screen. It was caught on the most recent footage Megatron had sent them – Warp taking an absolute slagging, pleading for his life in a puddle of his own essential fluids. Skyfire wasn’t sure what the scarlet mech thought he’d be able to glean from watching it, like this, over and over. Perhaps it was just helping him keep his focus. Perhaps he was just looking for reassurance that Skywarp was probably still alive.

“You’re not even processing anything, right now, Star,” Skyfire said, approaching cautiously with his hands wide. “Why don’t you come and get some rest.”

“Rest? Like Warp is no doubt getting right now? Huh. I don’t need to rest,” Starscream protested, the muzziness in his voice immediately betraying his confidence. He wiped his face with one hand. “I need to figure out how to get him out of there. Him, them. All of them.”

“You’ll be no use to anyone unless you get some rest.” Skyfire reached over his head and turned the screen off. True to form, Starscream immediately protested, straightening and reaching for the screen – which was what Skyfire had wanted. He carefully caught both smaller hands in his much larger ones, and just held them until the seeker stopped squirming. “So I’m telling you: either you go offline by yourself, or I can sedate you.”

“That’s not even a choice, Skyfire.” Starscream jerked on his hands, but they may as well have been set in iron manacles. “This is too important. I’m not going to be drawn into your little insurrection.”

“Well, that’s good, because I wasn’t requesting an evaluation from you. I’m just telling you what to do.”

The jet muttered something unintelligibly poisonous but slumped back against him. “Fine. When Megatron comes here and kills us all, at least I’ll be awake enough to recognise what’s going on.”

In spite of the protests, Starscream was offline almost immediately. Typical. Skyfire reconsidered what he ought to do; moving away would topple his friend clean off his stool, but attempting to pick him up would probably just bump the fractious seeker awake again.

Thundercracker’s voice brushed his comm. -he resting?-

-finally- Skyfire smiled, sadly, and prepared for what could be a very long night spent standing up.
Slightly belated; got distracted by Skywarp being a troublemaker as usual. (He says he'd be pretty good at writing fanfiction; I'm not touching it with a barge pole.)

Skywarp is still alive! Slipstream isn't keen on his plan. And poor Skyfire gets ready for an uncomfortable night standing up.
Published:
© 2020 - 2021 keaalu
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deeed's avatar
Dragging me back into TF fanfic.... XD
keaalu's avatar

(Belated) Sorry not sorry? *halo* ^___^