“Why are we here?”
The room was silent after Tarantulas’s question, save for the distant hum of six Transformer bodies operating in the small room. Quickshadow decided to answer. “I don’t know. That is one of life’s greatest mysteries…Are we the result of some cosmic accident? Or is Primus really here watching over us with his neural processes? I haven’t decided myself….”
“No, idiot. I mean, why are we here?” Tarantulas whined. “In this dinky office! Think about it: none of us remember how we got in here. Heck, this looks more like some odd human enterprise than anything Cybertronian.”
The office space was, indeed, very human in design. It had off-white walls, a mahogany desk surrounded by black office chairs, all Transformer-sized. In one corner was a cooler filled with undrinkable water and cups too impossibly small for any Transformer worth his sodium chloride to hold in their metal hands. A PowerPoint slideshow flickered over the lowered screen, a bunch of random statistic charts proclaiming useless correlations that were most likely coincidental. Peppered on the plain walls were copies of two posters: one of Optimus Prime pointing at the viewer surrounded by the words “I Want You To Join the Autobots.” An exact copy of the sign was pasted sloppily next to it, only with Megatron declaring that the viewer should join the Decepticons.
Upon a close inspection, some of the signs had questions written on them in tiny lettering: “Where can I go to enlist?” or “How come it’s Decepticons and not Megacons? Having “deception” kind of gives your goal away.” or the most important question “Why won’t Pile Driver call me back?”
“Who would even make stupid posters like this?” Tarantulas eyed the drawing of Megatron through a squint. One of his spider legs tapped at the wall as he ruminated his own question over in his head. “No one’s gonna join these ‘Decepticon’ losers with such a dorky recruitment campaign.”
Rook peered over Tarantulas’s shoulder. “It is most likely a practical joke?” Rook’s thick accent was just clear enough to decipher the guess. Tarantulas couldn’t be bothered to wonder where this guy came from.
“Well, if it’s a joke, they need to step up their game.”
“I think they look awesome.” A fighter plane-he had introduced himself as Starscream- piped up. He took a seat in one of the office chairs, surprised at how the flimsy material supported his weight, “I bet they’ve reached many Transformers.”
Tarantulas’s optics narrowed even more. “Guess that makes you a dork.” He approached some filing cabinets that lined the wall, opening random drawers and peeking into the files. ‘Starscream’ mumbled something under his breath, fiddling with one of the pens sprawled on the table.
“There isn’t a wireless signal or any sign of Cybertronian life. My sensors aren’t detecting any heat sigs either.” Quickshadow’s vaguely British voice pointed out. “It is quite likely we are isolated here. And the doors won’t open.
Catapult gave a subtle shake of the head. Even though her black and yellow body stuck out against the walls, she still managed to evaporate into the background.
“Ugh! Can we all just stop whining and start doing something? There has to be a way out. I can’t be with you nerds forever.” Tarantulas had files splayed around him, flipping through their contents. “There has to be some clue here. There has to be.” His spider limbs twitched periodically.
“Wait, what if-“ The coils on Jumpstart’s back zapped to life. “WHY GIVE UP QUICKLY WHEN FIGHTING FOR A TERRITORY?” No one knew how to answer. Jumpstart put his palm over his chest plate, patting it as if hoping to clear whatever malfunction he was having with his vocal processor.
And then Cannonball, as per his namesake, crashed into the conversation. “Well, me laddies and lassies, we must find some way out of this mess. I ain’t leaving my poor crew out in the open ocean, if’n I can help it.”
In that moment, Rook was thankful he was not the only one with a thick accent.
“We’ll probably starve before anything else happens.” Catapult mumbled under her breath, Quickshadow was the only one who caught what she had said.
“I have emergency oil supplies in case we need them. Though, we’ll have to ration them.”
“The cooler should have oil, not water.” Rook stared at the water container, as if, by staring, he could will it to transform into oil. “Perhaps we replace it?”
“I’m telling you, aliens did this. Little green monsters with skin and no T-spark!”
“Yeah, if that’s the truth, then you are Starscream in the flesh.” Tarantulas retorted.
“But I am Starscream!” The Transformer insisted. He clenched his fists.
Quickshadow produced a picture of the actual Starscream for comparison. “He is a fake. If my analysis is correct, he’s actually called Ramjet.” ‘Starscream’ deflated, his mouth in a pout.
“So you’re a liar, huh?” Cannonball asked.
Ramjet opened his mouth, but hesitated.
“It’s a simple question…” Rook tilted his head.
“Well…not for someone like him.” Quickshadow leaned against the water cooler. “You see, Ramjet’s instinct is to lie and say that he is not a liar, but by lying to us, he is actually telling the truth. Obviously, he can’t really say yes, because he would be telling the truth, but since we would expect him to lie, that would make us assume that he is not a liar which is a lie, therefore conforming to the truth.”
All the Transformers stared at Quickshadow like she had been speaking a garbled language. Ramjet looked like smoke would start leaking from his mouth.
Of course, Tarantulas was the first to inject into the silence. “Okay, now that we’ve all officially fried our circuits, I need to tell you all that I think I have a way to get out of here. Not that I will tell you all the details, because why would I ever want you all to escape with me. You are all losers and I doubt I will ever see any of you again. Thus, I figured I would rub my genius all in your dumb faces so you can feel even more sorry about your stupid li-AHHHHHH!”
Suddenly Tarantulas dove under the mahogany table, his body rattling.
Jumpstart jittered again, electricity crackling in the stuffy office air. “Are you oka- *BZRTT* MINUTES ARE JUST LONG SECONDS!”
Tarantulas, using his spider legs, indicated to the PowerPoint presentation. A large picture of an owl, perched in a lush jungle, dominated the screen.
“Aye. Indeed. An owl. I have heard of these majestic-“
‘MAJESTIC! You call that menace majestic?” Tarantulas’s vocals were squeaky. “Look at the way those eyes are staring at me! Ugh!”
“…..It’s just a picture, you know.” Catapult’s lips fought against a smirk.
“Who cares? It’s still horrifying! I hate them I hate them I hate them!”
The PowerPoint flipped slides to another boring scatterplot. Tarantulas came out from under the desk. “….Point is, you all should be jealous and I hope that you perish in this place.”
“For all of your boasts, you still don’t look like you really have a clue what to do.” Quickshadow crossed her arms, studying Tarantulas.
“Oh, really? Well, I’m sorry that I’m not some secret agent with tacky gadgets. I bet your tools are crappy. You probably couldn’t hack your way of out an oil Thermos!”
Quickshadow turned his back to Tarantulas, no intent on indulging Tarantulas’s antics. Tarantulas, in turn, flipped through the files again.
The room became silent, save for the ever-present hum and the idle shuffle of pages. Tarantulas would complain at how the Cybertronian didn’t make sense, as if the words had first been run through the most basic language translator, the kind that lacked the nuance of language.
Rook took to emptying the water cooler, attempting to drain the water from it without spilling it all over himself. Cannonball wandered over, maybe drawn to the water because it reminded him of the ocean. ‘Why are ye so afraid of the water, Mr. Rook? It is a friendly thing like this. Though….the ocean is a different story.” He gazed wistfully in the general direction of one of the recruitment flyers. “The ocean is a thing of its own. It has patterns, can be navigated, but she is fierce. Aye, if you try ta go wherever you please, the ocean ain’t gonna like that. It’ll turn ya round before you really realize it….”
Rook found a sink in the corner and began to drain the water into it. He wasn’t really paying attention to Cannonball, but he appreciated the company.
After some time, Tarantulas had drafted up a plan to escape, using his scientific knowledge. At the same time, Quickshadow had done the same, only using her spy gear and analysis. Of course, they were arguing.
“An explosion like that’s not just insane. It’s reckless. You could hurt everyone in this room, including yourself. Not to mention the volatile chemicals themselves.”
“Your plan is stupid, too! I mean, trying to cut a hole into the wall? These things are probably reinforced and all that!”
“Sure, but I’d rather our plan just fail than literally backfire!” She sighed, looking more at the blueprints Taratulas had mocked up. “Besides, where are you going to get something like hydrochloric acid! Or C4 for that matter!”
Tarantulas huffed. “I don’t have to tell you anything.”
Ramjet chuckled to himself, giving Tarantulas a little wink.
Quickshadow left the conversation. “Whatever, this bomb isn’t going to work and I’ll just try my way instead. Either way, we’re all getting out.” She walked over to one of the walls preparing a plasma beam tool from her arsenal.
Tarantulas stepped in front of her to block her way. “You can’t just ignore me! I am trying to build something over here that is much better than whatever you’re doing!”
“Do you want me to cut through you, too? Because I’d have no problem doing that. In fact, I’m sure Catapult would love to have a target right about now.” Quickshadow waited, optics still on Tarantulas.
“….Catapult?” Quickshadow looked to where the sport car had been before. Not there. She kept looking until she noticed one of the doors was slightly ajar.
“Wait…That was locked before. How did-? Did Catapult-?” Quickshadow put away her plasma beam.
“The door opened on its own, obviously.” Ramjet said dryly. “I mean, there is absolutely no other way that door could be open right now.”
“Shut your trap before I ram whatever jet you have up your afterburner!” Tarantulas snapped at him. A lair was one thing. A sarcastic liar was two strikes too many.
“So then….Catapult left through the door?” Rook suggested.
“She’s not here right now, so….yeah. I guess.” Quickshadow growled. “But how did she do it? You can’t just magically unlock a do-“
“SHE USED A LOCKPICK!”
All eyes were on Jumpstart, the room oppressive with the crackling of static electricity. He sighed deeply. “How else do you think she escaped? Opening a door is not that hard!”
“…But, I thought…I thought it would be harder.” If she could sweat, Quickshadow would be doing that right now.
Jumpstart snorted, the coils in his back alive with static “How? It’s just a door. It’s not even a reinforced door!”
No one had anything to say, except for Ramjet who just mumbled. “I knew it!”
“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to leave this crappy office space and head back to Earth!” With that, he opened the door and strutted out, sticking his tongue out before shutting the door behind him.
“….I thought his vocal processor was shot.” Rook asked.
“That scurvy dog will remain a mystery…” Cannonball mused. “Such a shame. I was going to offer Mr. Start one of my pleasure programs. He seemed interested.”
Rook took a step away from Cannonball.
“Oh, come on! Don’t act like ya never thought about it before!” Cannonball said, folding his arms.
Quickshadow looked like she wanted to crush something in her fists. “Whatever. Let’s…Let’s just leave.” Her voice trembled, barely containing her frustration. She approached the door and moved to open it.
It wouldn’t budge. She tugged at the handle, yanking and yanking. She collapsed on the ground, her head tipped to the ceiling, fists shaking to some unseen Primus. “DAMN YOU, JUMPSTART!”
Ramjet came up to Tarantulas while this was happening, tapping his shoulder.
“So…did you still want that C4?”