Chapter Six: Fade to Black
A lone datapad sat on a table in Needlenose’s lounge, screen brightly lit a displaying an article in the progress of being written by none other than the lounge owner himself:
So hey, readers! It’s been a while since my last update, I know, I know. Things have been crazy! So last time, we Cons were all dealing with the bombshell being dropped that Megatron had joined the Autobots. Some of us are still dealing with that, but some are dealing better than others.
Needlenose paused, tapping his finger on the table for a moment.
You might be wondering about me. What’s Needlenose doing with himself, huh? Well, don’t you worry. I happened to sign on with a crew of Cons led by a mech calling himself Leozack. Most of you have probably heard of him. Deathsaurus’s second in command. Yeah, well, he gathered up some Cons, including myself, onto this ship called The Justified Means – fitting name, I guess - and we’re setting out on some…grand quest to renew the Decepticon cause! Or something. But we had something of a rocky start.
Windsweeper passed by the table Needlenose was working at, sliding him a cube of energon before hurrying off. The fashionista gave him a little wave and took a sip from the cube.
As soon as we jumped away from Cybertron, we got shot down over Salvataan VIII! Wondering who could have done that? Well, you might be surprised to learn that it was none other than Sixshot. Yeah, that Phase Sixer, destroyer of worlds guy. That was his way of calling for help. Sheesh.
After the excitement, Windsweeper, Nightracer and I went into a mess hall – soon to be the future location of my new club, look forward to that – and caught up on that. Now for those of you who don’t recognize the name Nightracer, you shouldn’t because she doesn’t really know who she is either. She didn’t even know what a Con was even though she was wearing the badge! Very mysterious.
Taking another sip from his drink, Needlenose sighed and rubbed his temples.
Well, anyway, Sixshot’s little call for help had banged up the ship a bit, so we went to one of our outposts to patch the ship up. Only. Our luck sucks or something. The Cons who ran that place were more than a little unhinged. We had infected, brainwashed Cons running amuck! It was mayhem. I mean I wasn’t out there myself, but I heard it was.
Now Knock-Out’s dealing with the fallout of that. Don’t envy him. I heard Apeface was in pretty rough shape. Ship’s still being patched up before we can move out. The Cons that were brainwashed on the station have even decided to join up with us.
So yeah, rough start if there ever were one, but hey, at least it can’t get any worse, right?
The medical bay was a flurry of commotion. Knock-Out and Quick-Fix hurried about the surgical suite where Apeface lay on the berth, optics offline and still. Hooking up equipment to the brutish Horrorcon, Knock-Out took a step back for a moment while his assistant continued the prep work. The red medic glanced to Snapdragon who was looking on with…a scowl? Standing next to the Horrorcon was Mindwipe, staring disinterestedly at the proceedings. Knock-Out bustled over to them.
“How long has he been infected?” Knock-Out asked, glancing to Snapdragon.
“Little bit longer than I was,” Snapdragon grunted.
Knock-Out frowned, glancing over to the still Apeface. Waving his arms dismissively, Snapdragon gestured to Apeface. “Look, I’ll let you in on a little secret, Doc. That guy’s faking it. Just give him the same treatment you gave me, there’s no need for…all this. He’s pulling your leg.” Leaning to the side of Knock-Out, the Horrorcon called out to his prone comrade. “Hear that? Jig’s up. C’mon, I wanna get back to my bath.”
“He’s not faking,” Knock-Out said as he glanced up to Snapdragon. The larger mechanoid glanced down at Knock-Out as if he were hard of hearing. “His spark readings are dangerously low. Yours weren’t.”
“What?” Snapdragon growled, optics narrowed at Knock-Out. “How’s that make any sense?” He spread his arms out in frustration, glancing over to Apeface suspiciously.
“I don’t know yet. Can only guess that he reacted poorly to it,” Knock-Out muttered, moving over to one of the machines and examining the readings.
Snapdragon’s optics narrowed to slits. Marching over to the red medic, he grasped the doctor’s shoulder and swung Knock-Out around to face him. “What are you saying?” His grip tightened on the doctor’s shoulder. “Are you saying this could be serious?” Knock-Out glanced with wide optics to where Snapdragon’s hand had clamped down like a vise.
“Well…” Clearing his vocalizer nervously, Knock-Out looked back to Snapdragon. “…Yes. The spark readings were – ahem – well, not good to say the least.
Snapdragon’s optics widened, his grip on Knock-Out loosening slightly. Taking advantage of the opportunity, the doctor managed to extricate himself from the Horrorcon’s grasp, darting over to the medical berth. He glanced at his shoulder. A dent. His faceplate scrunched up as if in pain. Shaking himself out of it, he glanced to Quick-Fix who nodded to him.
“Alright, let’s see what we can do…” he muttered as he drew out a laser scalpel.
Looking over to the medical berth, Snapdragon straightened, his expression unreadable. He walked over to the side opposite Knock-Out who glanced up at him as he did. Abruptly, Snapdragon’s face contorted to one of fury. “You better not die on me! You hear me, you bolt-brained idiot?! DO YOU HEAR ME?!”
Recoiling from the berth, Knock-Out looked to Quick-Fix and Mindwipe. “Get him out of here! I can’t work like this.”
Quick-Fix approached the Horrorcon, reaching to take his arm as Mindwipe approached from the other side. Yanking his arm away from Quick-Fix, he jabbed a finger at Knock-Out. “You fix him.” Mindwipe grabbed his other arm and tugged the Horrorcon lightly, not expecting Snapdragon to budge a moment before he was ready. Snapdragon leaned over his prone friend. “You fix him or so help me…”
Balling his hand up into a fist, Snapdragon pulled back, roughly shaking off Mindwipe. “I can walk,” he snapped, turning and stalking toward the door to the surgical suite, Mindwipe and Quick-Fix following him out.
Letting out an exasperated sigh, Knock-Out shook his head and went back to work.
In the tentatively dubbed “announcement hall,” a gathering of rather motley and worn looking mechs stood before a small stage. They chattered dully amongst themselves until Leozack strutted in and took to the stage. Their optics followed him, but quickly flicked back to the entrance as Skyquake stalked in, taking up a position leaning against the wall.
“Ahem,” Leozack began as a way of centering the crowd’s attention back on himself. Beaming a winning smile, he spread his arms out as if to embrace the crowd. “Welcome, and congratulations to you all! You’ve elected to join The Justified Means
in our little crusade to continue the Decepticon dream.”
“That’s what this is? What a joke,” called one of the crowd.
“The dream is dead. Megatron quit,” growled Squeezeplay.
“He did worse than that. He became an Autobot
!” shouted yet another.
This gave rise to a multitude of angry voices vocalizing their displeasure. Blinking, Leozack stepped back slightly as the din rose, and the assembled Cons grew more and more unruly. He held up his hands. “Now, wait-“
“Ha! Some dream!”
“What’s the point anymore?”
“Listen-“ Leozack said before being cut off yet again.
“What were we even fighting for?”
,” Skyquake growled, his voice somehow booming over the din. Optics fell upon the sky commandant. Looking to Leozack, he gestured for the captain to continued. The optics of the crowd followed Skyquake’s own. Nodding to Skyquake, Leozack stepped forward and held his hands up.
“Now, I know you’re all angry. But so are we,” Leozack clenched his hand into a fist as a scowl formed on his faceplate. “But we refuse to let it go to waste! We refuse to let the lives of our fallen comrades be in vain!”
Leozack pointed down at the crowd. “We refuse to obey Megatron’s order to disband. We are Decepticons. We are proud. And we follow our own path now. Megatron twisted his own ideals over the course of the war. We will renew them as they once were. No. No, we will rewrite them. We will find our own way. But we will not give up. We will not let it all have been for nothing.”
Throwing his hand to the side, Leozack half-turned, allowing a moment of silence to fall upon the announcement hall. Several mechs in the crowd turned to each other, exchanging glances. Turning back to face them full-on, Leozack spread his arms once more. “I know your experiences at Escalation were trying, but I invite you to join us and find a new purpose. A new home for yourselves.”
Glancing to the crowd, Leozack lowered his arms, awaiting some form of response.
“Alright,” rumbled a voice that had not yet spoken out. Leozack looked at the mech. Large, imposing, and decidedly reptilian. Skullcruncher had his arms crossed over his chest as he ground his teeth together to produce an unsettling screeching noise. “Let’s just see what this ‘new purpose’ you’re going on about is like.”
The rest of the crowd looked to Skullcruncher as the large bestial mech jabbed his finger out to Leozack. “But if it turns out that it’s not all you cracked it up to be,” Skullcruncher snapped his teeth together, “It might end up being feeding time.”
Leozack nodded in acknowledgement, a confident smirk on his faceplate.
Grunting, Skullcruncher moved toward the exit. The other assembled Cons looked to each other, nodding and making to shuffle out of the announcement hall. “Jallguar will assist you with room assignments,” Leozack commented as the gathering of Cons cleared out. He trotted down from the stage and sauntered up to Skyquake.
“That went rather well,” he commented.
Skyquake lifted his optics to the ceiling and pushed off of the wall that he was leaning on. He looked down at Leozack.
“Where is Flamewar?” he asked.
His face contorting into one of displeasure, Leozack shrugged. “I don’t know. She does whatever she pleases! She could at least act a little like a third-in-command and show up to the new crew’s orientation.”
“Hrm…” Skyquake muttered, glancing at the stage. Suddenly, his jade optics narrowed, and his head swung toward the door, his arms uncrossing.
Optics widening, Leozack glanced about uncertainly. “What? What is it?
“There it is again…” Skyquake rumbled.
Frowning at Skyquake, Leozack cocked his head to the side. “What? What are you talking about?”
Skyquake held out a hand. “There. Do you hear it?”
Leozack narrowed his optics and tried listening for it again. “I don’t hear anything. Skyquake!” But the sky commandant had already gone through the door, off to chase whatever it was. Leozack growled and rubbed his temples. “One never shows up and the other’s crazy…I wonder if Starscream ever has these staffing problems…”
Skyquake strode out into the corridor. He noted Skullcruncher, leaning against the wall with his arms crossed. The reptilian Decepticon tried to catch his optic, which he did, but failed to capture his attention. He turned and walked away, trying to pinpoint the source of the sound.
Scowling, Skullcruncher pushed off of the wall and marched after Skyquake. “Hey.” Skyquake stopped, half-turning his head to look at Skullcruncher.
Skullcruncher held out a datapad. A list of names was on it. “You got a different list of Cons on the crew?”
“That is it. Who are you looking for?”
“A friend. Does it matter? So this is it?” Skullcruncher rapped the datapad with his knuckles. “Slag, I guess he’s not here.” He shook his head and frowned, disappointment and slight irritation etched on his faceplate. “Nevermind then,” Waving dismissively, Skullcruncher turned to go.
“Wait,” Skyquake reached out to grasp Skullcrucher’s shoulder. The reptilian mech turned slightly. “Do…Do you hear something?”
Vaguely perplexed, Skullcruncher glanced around. “Nothing that stands out.”
“Try again,” Skyquake ordered, releasing Skullcruncher. Skullcruncher, for his part, gave Skyquake a look before offlining his optics and trying again.
“It’s…rhythmic, almost melodic,” Skyquake prompted.
“Hrrrmm…Nope. Don’t hear anything like that,” Skullcruncher shrugged.
Optics narrowing, Skyquake clenched his fist and whirled about, striding off into the ship. Skullcruncher watched him go, rubbing the back of his head. “Wonder where I can get some high-grade around here.”
“Hm, are you sure you can do this?” Needlenose asked as he stood next to the stage of his lounge with Noisemaze.
“Do you want music or not?” retorted Noisemaze as Needlenose held his hands up in surrender.
“Sorry, sorry. It’s just gotta be perfect
. Grand opening and all,” Needlenose rubbed his hands together. “Okay, so music, check.” Stepping away from Noizemaze as the other mech shook his head and moved away, Needlenose counted on his fingers. “Refreshments, check. Tables, seating, atmosphere, check, check, check.”
Needlenose pulled up a seat at the table where Windsweeper and Nightracer were sitting. “I feel like I’m missing something…What am I missing?” He drummed his digits on the tables as he rested his head in his other hand. Windsweeper and Nightracer exchanged looks before Windsweeper turned to Needlenose and put a hand on his friend’s back.
“Relax. You’ve got it all prepared. It’s clean too thanks to yours truly.”
“Yes, yes, I’m very grateful to you for your contribution. I was less grateful when you went back and did it another three times,” said Needlenose as he looked to Windsweeper. Windsweeper spread his hands out.
“What? I had
to be sure
Nightracer glanced around the lounge. The moody lighting accentuated the color of the décor and tables themselves. Behind the bar, canisters holding a variety of luminescent liquids glowed softly. They’d been arranged earlier by Needlenose – well – Needlenose’s directions at the very least to maximize their…’fashionable flair’. Whatever that meant.
The stage was fairly small. An improvised outcropping with the illusion of a backstage. The illusion was maintained with polymer mesh curtains draped on the wall behind it. Windsweeper had even painted it so that it seemed to have depth even when the curtains were pulled aside. Suddenly, it struck Nightracer.
“Does it have a name?”
Needlenose and Windsweeper both looked at her. Needlenose’s optics narrowed, then widened. He snapped his fingers. “A name! That’s what I was missing! Thank you, Nightie. You’re beautiful!” He shook his head. “So obvious!”
Nightracer looked over to Windsweeper who shrugged. “Something he picked up from Earth,” he said by way of explanation.
Needlenose leaned over the table, his hands clasped. “What should we call it, hm?”
“Needlenose’s?” Windsweeper suggested with a shrug.
Needlenose narrowed his optics at Windsweeper. “You know for someone with artistic talent, you have the most unimaginative mind ever.” He shook his head, waving his hands. “It needs more…you know…” Needlenose shook his hands, “pizazz
Tilting her head to the side thoughtfully, Nightracer reached out with a hand, “What about…Spectrum?”
Needlenose waved Nightracer, pushing off from the table. “No, no, that’ll never…Wait an astrosecond…” He whirled about on his heel. “No, that’s good! Really good.” Needlenose spread his hands out. “Spectrum…” he said, tasting the words. “Yes, good, I like it.” He looked at them, gesturing with his hands.
“Well? What are you two sitting around for? There’s work to do!”
Windsweeper looked to Nightracer. “Here we go again.”
Away from the commotion within the ship, Slugslinger sat on the outer hull, holding the turbofox in his arms. It was biting his arm. Slugslinger winced. He tried petting the creature to soothe it, but that only made the turbofox bite down harder. “Ow! Sheesh, can’t you stop that?”
The turbofox answered him with a growl. Slugslinger let out a sigh. “They’re busy in the medical bay, so your new leg has to wait. Sorry, uh…hm. What should I call you?”
Another bite for an answer. Slugslinger winced. “Maybe Biter. Fangs? Chomper? Hm…Chomper. Kinda like that. What do you think?” He looked down at the turbofox in his arms. It released his arm from its maw and looked up at Slugslinger’s face. Slugslinger’s faceplate brightened. “You like it?”
Chomper’s ears flicked back against his head as he pulled back and lunged to snap at Slugslinger’s face.
“Ack!” Slugslinger reeled back, toppling over. Chomper squirmed, trying to free himself from Slugslinger. He sighed. “Yeah. Chomper’s pretty accurate.” The turbo fox whipped around and nipped Slugslinger’s face. The bodyguard’s hands darted to his face and pushed the beast away.
“Scrap, that hurt…” he muttered, rubbing his face. Whining and yelping drew his attention to Chomper who was flailing around in midair as he gently drifted away from the hull of the ship. “Chomper!” Disengaging his magnalocks, Slugslinger quickly darted out and scooped Chomper up in his arms. Chomper bit down on Slugslinger’s arm. The bodyguard alighted back onto the outer hull, reengaging magnalocks.
“Phew, that was close,” he sighed. Chomper growled in reply. Slugslinger smiled wryly.
Slugslinger jumped, turning his head toward the source of the voice.
“There you are. I’ve been looking all over for you.” Sparkstalker. Slugslinger grinned at him.
“Oh hey, boss. Whatcha need?” Slugslinger shuffled Chomper around in his arms to try to better conceal him from Sparkstalker.
“Apparently, Needlenose is opening some kind of club. You’re going to protect me when we go, of course.”
“Right, right, well, I gotta take care of something, but, uh, I’ll meet you there.”
Sparkstalker lifted his optics to the stars. “Primus, help me. You are so useless. Why did I even bother hiring you?”
“Aw, boss, c’mon. You know I’m the best!”
“That remains to be seen,” Sparkstalker grumbled before ducking back down the hatch that he came from, slamming it shut. Slugslinger winced before looking down at Chomper.
“I’m not sure boss is gonna like you,” he muttered. Chomper glanced up to Slugslinger momentarily before going back to gnawing on his arm. Slugslinger sighed.
“Hey, hey,” Needlenose said as Flamewar took a seat at the bar. “Glad to see ya, welcome to Spectrum! What can I get ya?”
“Got any Nightmare Fuel?”
Needlenose winced, “Er…not sure. I’ll check. One astrosecond.” As he moved away, Flamewar cast her optics about the night club, lounge, bar, whatever Needlenose wanted to call it. Noisemaze was up on the stage, playing some music, but most of Spectrum’s occupants kept to the tables or bar rather than the dance floor. Nightracer, Windsweeper, Ruckus, Slugslinger, Sparkstalker, and more. Bigger turnout than she would have thought. Flamewar wheeled about on the barstool and leaned back against the bar.
Her optics flicked to the entrance when the doors suddenly opened. In strode a familiarly menacing figure. Sixshot. The club went deathly silent as all optics turned to him. Even Noisemaze on the stage stopped the music rather abruptly. Flamewar glanced around, seeing the uncertainty and fear on their faceplates. Her face broke out into a grin. “Well look what the turbofox dragged in,” she said, hopping off of the barstool, spreading her arms out wide. “Sixshot! Been a while.”
“Flamewar,” Sixshot said, the smile evident even under his mouthplate.
“So I heard something kind of interesting,” Flamewar said, trying not to smile. Traces of the phase sixer’s smile disappeared as he rolled his optics.
“Did you now?”
Flamewar tented her fingers, “Oh yes, something to the effect of you getting stepped on by Metroplex?” She grinned, punching Sixshot lightly on his chest.
From the bar, Needlenose looked on in horror. Creeping up beside him with a bottle of Nightmare Fuel in his hands, Windsweeper had a similar expression on his faceplate. “Who is that and what has she done with our grumpy third-in-command?” he asked. Without removing his optics from the pair, Needlenose shrugged.
“I dunno,” he managed hoarsely, “But she’s gonna kill us all.”
Sixshot punched Flamewar’s shoulder in return. She winced and rubbed her shoulder, smiling ruefully. “Scrap, I forgot you don’t know how to hold back. But anyhow,” Flamewar planted her hands on her hips, smirking at him. “Is it true?” He let out a sigh and averted his gaze.
“It is?” Flamewar snickered, “You tough glitch. You got stepped on by a city
and walked away from it?” She shook her head. “Sometimes you phase sixers surprise me despite knowing what you’re capable of.”
“Oh please, you’re not surprised.”
“True enough,” Flamewar admitted, waving him over to the bar. The two both took seats next to each other. Flamewar looked at Needlenose expectantly. “Get one for my friend too,” she said, jabbing her thumb at Sixshot who loomed behind her ominously – at least to Needlenose. When she saw that Needlenose was frozen in place and staring at Sixshot, Flamewar snapped her fingers at him. “Anyone home?”
“Uh!” Needlenose jerked into motion and grabbed two glasses from behind the bar. “R-Right.”
“Make mine a double,” Sixshot commented.
Stiffly and mechanically, Needlenose turned to the pair and filled their drinks. “Enjoy,” he said, turning and moving far, far away. Flamewar took a sip of her drink, staring forward, the smile gone from her face.
“So is it true?” Sixshot said, glancing to Flamewar. She sighed, covering her face with a hand. Sixshot’s optics narrowed. “You seem like you’re handling it well enough.”
“Ha,” Flamewar choked out bitterly, “Does it? I’m not really.” She took a long draft of her drink, wincing slightly. “It was all for nothing. It meant
nothing. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it for myself. Megatron, an Autobot.” Her grip tightened on the glass, cracking it. “What a sick joke.”
Sixshot sipped his own drink. “Welcome to my world,” he said.
She held her head in one hand, waving her other one about. “Some part of me thinks – hopes, really – that it’s some sort of plan. A ploy. Soundwave sent Ravage to watch him. Maybe something will come of it.”
“But…” said Sixshot, sensing something more.
“One of the major skills in my line of work is reading people, and I…I don’t. He wasn’t lying. Not that I could see,” Flamewar clenched her drink, shattering it. She shook her hand off to hide her own trembling. Sixshot peered down at her.
“So what now?”
“I don’t know,” Flamewar paused a moment to consider, “Carry on, I guess.”
Out of earshot from Flamewar and Sixshot, Needlenose and Windsweeper huddled together, staring at the two. Needlenose’s optics were narrowed. “I thought she was from Caminus…but she seems to know Sixshot and all? He’s been missing for like ever,” he muttered to Windsweeper.
“So just who is she? I don’t remember her,” Windsweeper asked. The two exchanged looks. “You ask her.”
“Me? What with tall, dark, and lethal sitting right next to her? Noooooo thank you,” Needlenose hissed back.
“I’ll do it,” Nightracer said, making the two jump. She moved off toward where Flamewar and Sixshot were before they could recover. Needlenose shook his head frantically as Windsweeper lunged out and grabbed her hand.
“No, you could get us all killed!” Needlenose uttered in a hushed whisper. He pushed her in the opposite direction. “Just, uh, do anything else.”
“Nah, I’m gonna go ask,” she said flatly, slipping from Needlenose’s grasp easily. Needlenose and Windsweeper both tried to nonchalantly grab her again, but she dodged their efforts and hastened over to the two at the bar.
“So what about Overlord then?” Sixshot asked, looking down at Flamewar who shook her head.
“That headache? I think the DJD finally got to him too,” she replied. Turning her head slightly as she noted Nightracer’s approach, Flamewar fell silent as she stared at the newcomer. Sixshot’s optics followed her own. “Can we help you with something?” she asked.
“Those two wanted to know if you were from Caminus,” Nightracer stated, pointing to Needlenose and Windsweeper who were doing their best to look busy.
“Oh, is that all,” Flamewar waved dismissively, “No, I’m from Cybertron.”
“You are? But then how come I’ve never seen you before?” Needlenose asked, suddenly right behind Nightracer along with Windsweeper.
“And me too. Us. That is,” Windsweeper added.
“I have a question too if it’s not-“
“What. Is. This,” boomed a voice from the entrance of the room.
Flamewar grinned at Needlenose, jabbing a finger at him. “Did you not clear this with good ole ghostie? Busted.” Needlenose grimaced, glancing to the ominous form of Skyquake in the doorframe. Flamewar waved to catch the former sky commandant’s optics. They narrowed when they caught sight of Flamewar.
Skyquake bustled over to Flamewar. “What is the meaning of this? Did you do this?”
Flamewar rolled her optics, “Oh, Primus, please.” She patted the unoccupied barstool next to herself. “Give it a rest, will you? I authorize his little club. So there.”
Instead, Skyquake remained where he was and crossed his arms. Irritation briefly flashed across Flamewar’s faceplate. “You use your command for things like this rather than being present for orientation? Where were
“Elsewhere obviously,” Flamewar replied blithely. Skyquake’s countenance darkened. Flamewar’s expression fell flat. “You and Leozack make a strong enough showing by yourselves, almost too strong if you ask me. And I want nothing to do with it. You and Leozack both need to lighten up.”
“Then why come at all?”
Flamewar turned away. “It was better than the alternatives. C’mon, Skyquake. Take a load off.” She glanced at Needlenose. “Can I get another?” She pointed to her shattered glass. Windsweeper gawked, an extremely pained expression on his faceplate. He hurried over to the mess, cleaning it up. Needlenose hurried to the other side of the bar as Nightracer simply stood where she was.
Flamewar turned back to Sixshot who had been enjoying his drink in the meantime. “Sorry about that Sixy, where were we?”
“Overlord,” he reminded her.
“Oh, oh, right. Well, I guess his little stunt at Garrus-9 caught up to him finally.” Flamewar’s optics flicked to the side as a heavy thunk sounded beside her. She looked over to see that Skyquake had taken the other seat next to her. Something…something felt off. Her optics narrowed, seeing tension in the sky commandant’s body.
Needlenose sheepishly placed a drink in front of Skyquake. “On the house. Heh…” he mumbled before moving away. Skyquake’s jade optics watched him go as he took a sip of the high grade.
“That’s right, Skyquake, you were at Garrus-9 when Overlord commandeered it,” Flamewar said, watching him carefully. “You and your team were trying to seize it if memory serves...What happened?”
Skyquake immediately tensed, his grip tightening on his drink. “Nothing that I want to talk about,” he almost growled, shooting a glare sidelong at Flamewar.
Flamewar held up her hands in surrender. “Very well,” she said, taking a sip of her drink. “Maybe another time.”
Flamewar turned back to Sixshot who looked at her expectantly. She averted her optics and took a sip of her drink. “We all have things we’d rather not remember.”
Snapdragon paced restlessly outside of the medical bay, back and forth. Mindwipe leaned against a wall, watching with the amusement rather plain on his faceplate. “You’re going to wear a groove in the floor if you keep that up much longer,” he commented, extending a hand out to Snapdragon. “Look, I know you’re worried, but don’t you have something else you could be doing? Taking an oil bath maybe? Get your mind off it. You’re not helping him like this.”
Snapdragon whirled around, his optics snapping onto Mindwipe. “Like I could just do that,” he snarled, “Can it if you’re not going to say anything useful.” He resumed his pacing with renewed agitation. Mindwipe sighed, shaking his head and shrugging.
Both mechs stopped what they were doing when the door to the medical hissed open, admitting Knock-Out to the corridor beyond. Snapdragon looked at him expectantly, stepping closer. Knock-Out shook his head. “I can’t help him,” he said, avoiding optic contact with Snapdragon.
Snapdragon lunged out, grabbing Knock-Out by his shoulder. “What?! What do you mean you can’t help him?! You’re a doctor, aren’t you?!” He shook Knock-Out roughly, hardly believing what he was hearing.
Knock-Out grabbed Snapdragon’s arm, trying to stop the much more powerful mech from manhandling him. “There’s nothing I can do for him anymore!” Wrestling out of Snapdragon’s grip, Knock-Out stepped away, gesturing to the door. “Go see him. While you still can.”
His shoulders drooping, Snapdragon stared at Knock-Out as the anger drained from his face, slowly being replaced by despair. He shuffled past the crimson doctor into the medical bay. Mindwipe glanced to Knock-Out, seeing the despondent look on his faceplate. Whether it was from the current situation or the scratches on his finish, Mindwipe wasn’t completely sure. Knock-Out followed Snapdragon inside, and Mindwipe followed suit.
The group made their way to the surgical suite where Quick-Fix awaited them, his optics glued to the floor. Knock-Out opened the door to reveal Apeface lying still on the surgical slab, hooked up to all sorts of devices whose readings were faint at best. Tentatively, Snapdragon staggered over to his friend, looking down at him.
“Hey dummy,” Snapdragon managed, “Wake up. Hey. C’mon.” Snapdragon shook Apeface. “C’mon, slaggit!” Snapdragon snarled, slamming his fist down onto Apeface’s chest. He leaned down into Apeface’s faceplate. “HEY! YOU HEAR ME?! WAKE UP!” He slammed his fists down on Apeface’s chest again.
Knock-Out hurried over, placing a hand on Snapdragon. “Stop it!” Snapdragon shrugged him off roughly, sagging to his knees against the examination slab. His hands gripped the edge of the surgical slab tightly.
“Just…leave us,” Snapdragon uttered lowly. Knock-Out looked at him, lingering for a moment. Snapping his head up, the Horrorcon snarled. “Leave. Now.
The fight that remained in Snapdragon vanished in the next moment. Knock-Out stepped back, looking to Quick-Fix and Mindwipe who were peering in by the door. Mindwipe stared at Snapdragon’s defeated form for a moment before letting out a hefty sigh. He stepped inside, causing Snapdragon to bristle and Knock-Out to intercept him.
“What are you doing?” Knock-Out whispered.
“There may be something I can do,” Mindwipe said, glancing to Apeface.
“What? Mindwipe, please! You can’t mean-“
“Do it,” Snapdragon uttered, rising to his feet. He stepped away from the surgical slab. “If you think you can do something to save him, try it.”
Knock-Out pulled Mindwipe to the side roughly, whispering harshly to him. “You can’t just say things like to someone who’s grieving. What if you’re wrong?!”
“Then I am wrong. But at least we will have exhausted all options.”
Stepping away from Knock-Out, Mindwipe approached the prone Apeface. He let out a sigh, rubbing his hands together. “Alright. Here goes.” Mindwipe offlined his optics.<<”Through the powers divine granted to me, I ask once again to unleash the chains that bind my potential. Release!”>>
Mindwipe’s onlined in a burst of green energy as his hands ignited in the same green energy. He slammed his hands down onto Apeface’s chest. The prone Horrorcon’s body jolted as though struck by lightning.
The energy quickly dissipated as Mindwipe collapsed backwards. Knock-Out rushed over to him, helping him to sit up. “What was that
A sudden sound drew Knock-Out’s attention to the machinery connected to Apeface. Looking up, he saw something that baffled him. Apeface’s vitals were stabilizing. No. Not only that. They were surging.
“Hrrrggghh….” Apeface groaned from the surgical slab, sluggishly sitting up and glancing around. “Why’s it feel like my chest got stomped on?”
Snapdragon marched over to his side and swiftly punched Apeface in the shoulder. “’Cause you’re a slaggin’ heavy sleeper. Heh.”
Looking up at Snapdragon, a wry smile became evident behind his mouthplate. “Don’t tell me you were worried. Ha! You were!”
“Feh,” Snapdragon grunted, crossing his arms. “Not likely.”
“Ha! You can’t fool me,” Apeface said elbowing Snapdragon’s side. “Eh? Eh? Admit it.”
Covering his face with a hand, Mindwipe slumped slightly where he sat. Knock-Out frowned. “Are you alright?” Mindwipe shook his head.
“I am fine. It is just…taxing to call upon those powers,” Mindwipe muttered.
Helping Mindwipe to his feet, Knock-Out did not feel his suspicion or concern ebb in the slightest despite Mindwipe’s reassurances. “To be sure, I should probably perform an examination-“
“No! No. Spare me your science,” Mindwipe said, pushing Knock-Out outside. He staggered to the door, moving out of sight. Frowning, Knock-Out looked after him before glancing over to the reunited Horrorcons.
“Doo da dee da doo…” hummed Wipe-Out as he merrily worked under one of the engine coils.
“Ack!” Wipe-Out started, slamming his head against the coil. “Ow…” Wiggling out from under the coil, he rubbed his head, looking up to the mech that had called out to him. Leozack. That’s nice. Wait. Oh. Leozack! Wipe-Out bounced to his feet.
“Uh! Uh…uh…” He struggled to find the words.
“How are repairs coming?” Leozack asked, glancing about the engine room.
“Are you a drone or are you a mech? Use your words,” hissed Leozack, “You’re taxing my patience.”
Wipe-Out beat his chest a few times, clearing his vocalizer, “Uh. Er. I mean. We are, uh, good to, uh, go. Uh, mostly.”
Leozack stared at Wipe-Out.
“Uh! I mean! We can go now. And, uh, I’ll finishing tuning as we go,” Wipe-Out paused before adding, “Your, uh, great…maned…clawed…majestical-“
“Enough. That’s good enough. Stop,” Leozack sighed, shaking his head. “We’re setting course for a nearby resort planet. Think you can finish your tune-up by the time we arrive?”
Stiffening like a statue, Wipe-Out saluted. Rolling his optics, Leozack waved dismissively, turning to leave. Deflating as soon as Leozack’s gaze was off him, Wipe-Out sagged where he stood.