Transformers: Legacy, Chapter 4
Watch Your Six.
Genesis frowned, staring out over the flight deck of the Nemesis. Megatron stood beside him, only half-visible in the twilit gloom. The only illumination came from the steady green and red lights on the control panels. A steady, dim green light shone from the radar panel directly between and before the pair, showing nine lights, in three small triangles, as they steadily moved toward the edge of radar range. Looking out the windows, they could see Starscream's disctinctive red-and-white coloration, as he reclined atop a cargo container. Beside him, arms crossed, stood the light blue Thundercracker, Skywarp's black and dark blue trim standing just beside him. Oracle lingered near the edge of her deck, as Knock Out's dexterous hands checked over her frame, running various diagnostics. "Megatron," Genesis began, immediately regretting it; being the first to speak was a sign of weakness, with Megatron. "Now that Seeker Oracle is fully repaired, she should be ready for any necessary exercises."
"Any?" Megatron chuckled, softly, coldly. "That's good, then."
Something in his tone sent a shiver through Genesis' circuits, "Sir?" He asked, questioningly.
"I have a demonstration planned, for today. Your Seeker will be the star attraction."
"A demonstration of what?" He fought to keep the alarm from his voice.
"Of the price of failure. I think we all could use a reminder, don't you, Genesis?"
Genesis nodded, thoughtfully.
"Dismissed, Genesis. You may wish to see off your Seeker."
Oracle frowned at Knock Out, as he hummed, thoughtfully, to himself, checking over her circuits. The others had taken off nearly four minutes ago Three minutes, and forty-six seconds, to be precise
and they were barely still on the edge of her sensors. She stared after them, her vision barely able to perceive the slight flares of their jets in the growing daylight, as dawn approached. She shifted, impatiently, on her feet, and glanced around, seeing Starscream approaching her. His stride was confident, arrogant, fluid. His red-and-white armor glowed, faintly, in the lightening day.
"Seeker Oracle," he began, in his usual, strident tone. "Are you ready to fly, today? Perhaps you will learn something about landing, as well."
She frowned, in response, "Any landing you walk away from."
He looked at her, curiously, confused. "What?"
She chuckled, and shook her head, "It's an old saying humans had."
"Fleshlings?" He laughed, loudly, "I suppose it was their idea of landing, then? But I don't recall you walking away. In fact, as I recall it, Genesis had to carry you out, did he not?"
"**** you," she answered, sharply.
He tilted his head, slightly, in confusion, "Another Fleshling term, I assume?"
"Human. Not Fleshling."
"Of course." He gave a thin, snake-like smile, and she couldn't help a shiver that crawled through her circuits. "Good luck in your demonstration, today; That is a fleshling term, as well, is it not?"
She stiffened, sharply, and fought back a retort. He smirked, wider, at her, and turned, to walk back toward the other two members of his Trine.
"Oh, don't think much of him," Knock Out murmured, "He's always strutting about like that, puffing out his chest like some kind of proto-form. I wouldn't be surprised if he beat on his chest, now and then; vulgar." He shook his head, and chuckled, to himself, "Well, your circuits appear to check out. Are you ready to fly, again, Oracle? Try not to crash, this time; You're a wonderful patient, but if we spend much more time together, after these past two weeks, people might start to talk." His tone was playfully admonishing. "Fly well, hmn? Here comes Genesis." He stepped backward, and snapped close his case of tools, walking away. He continued to hum a jaunty tune, as he walked back into the ship's expansive hangar.
Genesis walked up beside her, "Are you ready to fly?"
"Six minutes, twenty seven seconds." She frowned, and looked at him.
"Yes. They do have a bit of a lead on you, don't they? Ah, well; I'm sure you can catch up without any particular difficulty."
She placed her feet on the edge of the deck, glancing outward, and down, at the land far below her. Her head swam from the height, but she took a moment to calm her processes, reminding herself that vertigo, in this form, was a purely mental thing. She took a deep breath; also a purely mental thing, lacking lungs. "Yeah. I'll catch up."
"Ready to launch?"
At this, she stiffened. Inside, she froze. As she looked down, she thought of the terrifying first moments of dropping. The change that wouldn't come. The ground coming closer. She thought of the bright, consuming flames of Six's wreckage. The ground screaming up to meet her, as she attempted to land, barely managing to shift back, and roll with the impact. Her systems began to loop, freezing her in place. She suddenly felt Genesis' hand on her back, and drew some comfort from his reassuring touch. Then she felt his fingers grip her chassis forcefully. "You'll thank me later. Watch your six."
Before the words could register in her mind, she felt the hand shove her forward, over the edge. She toppled, for a moment frozen with fear, before forcing herself to rapidly shift into her jet form, and turn her dive into that much extra speed. She felt the wind rushing past her backswept wings, air screaming through her underside jet intakes. She did a swift barrel roll, reveling in her new form. Whereas the others had all taken on the forms of Terran jets, she had instead taken a Cybertronian form. Her engines thrummed with power, barely restrained, as she fought to steady herself, surges shooting through her circuits like the rapid pounding of the heart she used to have. Her armor plates shone ebon in the rising dawn, nearly solid black, save silver trim, that caught the growing sunlight like the edge of a well-honed blade. After the initial euphoria, Genesis' actions began to scratch at the back of her mind. He shoved me!
Pushed me off of the ship. What if I hadn't been able to transform in time? He would've killed
me! She frowned, her rage lending a little more force to her engines, making her movements a little more jerky. But something else tugged at the back of her mind. Watch my six? What's a 'six'?
After a moment, the meaning registered.
She had just enough time to jink aside, before a hail of laserfire cut through the air where she had been, just a moment before. She swore under her breath, and hauled back, doing a swift loop. Directly behind her lay Starscream, his distinctive paintjob easily marking him out against the darker background. His nose traced her movements, firing another burst of energy directly over her cockpit. She dove, sharply, and twisted around, surprisingly quick, and dove past Starscream's flaring guns. He pulled the nose over, and went into a quick flip, coming after her, upside-down, before righting himself. Oracle heard a sharp, strident tone in her ears; something she only recognized from an old movie. A moment later, she jerked aside, and a slender, red-tipped missile streaked past her, curling around to continue the chase. Other words began to play back, in her mind, as she continued her desperate evasions. Genesis' measured tones, playing in her memory, every Seeker is part of a Trine, a group of three. They go everywhere, together. Support each other, back each other, keep an eye out for each other. Their tactics evolve specifically around the strengths and weaknesses of their Trine, playing to their strengths, and covering each other's weaknesses as best they can."
Her eyes swept the air, searching for the other two. She couldn't find Thundercracker, as his sky blue paint hid him well against the dawn-lit sky. She did, however, notice a black streak staying low to the ground, a ways below her desperate fight against Starscream. She recalled his name. Skywarp. "Skywarp is a very skilled fighter, but very much a maverick. He tends to get cocky when he's getting ready to do something; Bold." Genesis chuckled, in her mind, as he mulled over the choice of that particular word. "Bold would fit, best, I believe. He would be a very tough combatant."
Beneath her, Skywarp abruptly dove into a low canyon, seemingly about to nose-dive into the canyon floor; and then vanished, before he could strike. Directly above and ahead of her, at that same angle, Skywarp reappeared, lasers blazing a white-hot trail through the air in front of her. She panicked, fueling a sudden transformation, back into her robot form, as she curled herself into a protective ball; and reached outward.
Skywarp felt a sudden tug throw him off-balance, his engines screaming in protest, as Oracle latched onto him. Her left hand had gripped the leading edge of his wing, fingers digging in, denting the metal, drawing a shrill scream of metallic pain. Her right fist slammed forward, fingers digging into the edge of his jet intake. She flexed her right hand, and a blade sprung forth from her wrist. She whipped her hand back, and down, leaving a massive, sparking gash down the underside of Skywarp's fuselage. He spun, trying to dislodge her, and she rammed the blade's tip into the base of his left wing, skewering it, and clinging forcefully to him. Unable to shake her, he instead transformed, forcing his body to shift around her grip, one arm still deployed into a wing, transfixed by her blade, while the rest of his managed to transform. His left fist came up, into her stomach, powering the blade forward, with it. She managed to twist aside, years of hand-to-hand training coming into play in an instant. She yanked the blade out of his right arm, and parried his strike, forcing his arm back against his own chest. She planted her body against his blade, pinning him there, and tore forcefully with her left hand. The metal screeched in protest, and ripped free, exposing sparking avionics beneath. Skywarp toppled backward, the grapple broken, and vanished. Far below, there was a massive dust cloud, as he slammed into the ground. Oracle released the torn fragment of wing, and rapidly shifted back into her jet form, pulling up, before she hit the ground, and shooting straight back upward, using the extra speed for extra altitude, as her eyes scanned her surroundings. Starscream lunged for her underside, lasers flaring, and she simply leaned backward, and let gravity take its' course.
She dove. Fast as lightning, she was out of the way of his attack, his guns unable to keep up with the rate of her descent. Her engines screamed, as she threw herself straight down, toward the winding canyons below. Starscream nosed over, following her descent, guns speckling her frame with scorching pinpoints of heat and agony. She drew upward, and began to fly evasively through the canyons. Galled by her insult to his Trine-mate, Starscream shot after her, winding his way through the close-set walls of the gorge, taking shots whenever he got so much as a glimpse of her engines.
Desperately, she wove her way through sharp turns, and sudden decelerations, keeping her speed as high as she dared. In her focus, however, she had forgotten one thing. A long, straight stretch of canyon betrayed her. Directly in front of her, the sky blue of Thundercracker stood sharply out against the brown canyon walls, sunlight streaming down onto them, casting soft shadows over the winding riverbed beneath. She felt a missile rock her, as it slammed into the canyon wall, showering her with bits of stone and dirt. Laserfire sent bits of scorched rock skittering out, speckling her with bits of debris. From ahead of her, she heard the strident tone that indicated someone had a lock on her. She watched as Thundercracker's wings flared, two missiles dropping free, and streaking toward her. Desperately, she yanked back, nosing upward, and then slamming on her breaks, throwing her engines into full reverse. The missiles shot upward, past her, as she began to transform. Before she had fully changed, the guns on her arms began firing, spraying at both Thundercracker and Starscream. They shot up, past her, spraying her chassis with gunfire, tearing small, smouldering holes in her wings.
As they flew away, Thundercracker trailed a thin stream of smoke. Starscream, however, seemed to have shrugged off the worst of it. The pair turned, took to the sky, and began full thrust toward the Nemesis. The smoking crater where Skywarp had struck was empty, as well. Her jets sustained her, carrying her to the edge of the gorge, where she set down. Inside, she was shaking, memories of the explosions flashing through her mind. Gunfire. The stinging pain of chipped stone skittering away from bullet holes, spraying her with white-hot needles of agony. The sensation of a knife biting into flesh, coupled with the sounds of metal tearing beneath her blades.
She heard the crunching of dirt and rock beneath heavy, metallic feet. When she raised her eyes, Genesis stood there, watching her, carrying a massive, strange weapon in his hands. She couldn't tell quite what it was, but it had the distinct, sleek lethality of a gun. She froze, expecting him, at any moment, to turn, and use it on her. Instead, he threw it to her, and she caught it, without a conscious thought. "Your new weapon. No Trine wants you. You'll be working with another, at long-range. Keeping out of the main of the fight, and sticking to the edges, where you won't get in the way, much. Your new partner will be with you, shortly." He glanced upward, his expression betraying disgust, as the sun caught across his features. The circling form of a jet black, over-large UAV came lower, and lower, casually coming down, to land, nearby. Genesis leapt into the air, and transformed, flying steadily back, toward the Nemesis.
When she turned away from his flying form, she looked into the blank, featureless face of Soundwave. He made no move toward her, no gesture, and said nothing, but she immediately knew why he was here.
He was her new teammate.