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Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

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Title: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Chapter: 01 - Little Star
Warnings: gen (for this part, mystery/suspense/horror in later chapters)
Continuity: G1 [part of ultharkitty’s Dysfunction AU, post season three]
Characters: Vortex, Blast Off, Brawl
Rating: PG-13 (whole fic, PG for this chapter)
Disclaimer: Sadly, nothing is mine.
Beta: ultharkitty

Summary: Vortex, Blast Off and Brawl are on a mission to get an alien energy source from an abandoned space station.

Note: Inspired by this. :)
My contribution to Halloween this year. It’s just the beginning; it will be creepier in later chapters. ;)

“Talking”
‘Comm-link’

---
Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are

Part 1 - Little Star

Blast Off’s floodlights only emphasised the dark metal they fell on. And with the sun hidden behind the nearest planet, Vortex couldn’t help but think that it appeared slightly menacing.

When they’d been farther away, and still approaching the alien space station, it had seemed so small next to that giant planet. Brawl had made a stupid remark about the bulk of dark metal, and Blast Off had snapped at him. However, the moment the tank realised that it was far bigger than he thought it was, he’d fallen silent.

Vortex also didn’t dare to speak, and it was only partly because Blast Off had told them to be quiet while he manoeuvred around the ship to dock on the entrance tunnel.

During the flight, Blast Off had explained a few bits about the alien race which had built that station. Apparently, they had been a third again as tall as the human species, but thinner, due to a weaker gravitational field on their home world. This was really good, because it meant the corridors and rooms on the station matched more the Cybertronian race’s size. It still made Vortex uneasy, though, to know and to see that there were organic races out there who were as big and developed as Cybertronians. Because of this, Vortex was quite relieved when Blast Off had told them that the civilisation of this particular race went extinct vorns ago.

“It’s all dark…” Brawl muttered and flinched.

“Of course, it’s abandoned,” Vortex said in a matter-of-fact way and with more confidence than he felt. For once, his rotors were completely still, and even if he was somewhat used to exploring alien planets, Vortex wasn’t very fond of the idea doing that with the possibility of back-up totally nullified. The flight had taken them three decacycles - three boring decacycles, and if they got into trouble… Well, then they had to find their own way out.

Vortex shifted his weight from one foot to the other.

“It’s out of order,” Blast Off finally answered. They still hadn’t reached their destination. “If it wasn’t, its weapons would still be online and we wouldn’t even be able to get near it.”

So, Vortex thought dryly, good to know that there were automatic weapons on that station. Most certainly high developed automatic weapons. How reassuring.

Vortex glanced again out of Blast Off’s windows, and wished Onslaught could be there.

Letters came into view, letters Vortex didn’t know, written with white paint on the black metal; one almost half as big as Blast Off’s alt-mode.

“Uhm, what’s that?” Brawl broke the silence again, and tilted his head.

“The name of the space station.”

To Vortex surprise, Blast Off’s tone lacked his usual condescension. Floating next to a gigantic alien artefact, the shuttle might not feel that well as well? Vortex shifted his weight again, and wasn’t sure if this was a good or bad sign.

“What’s its name?” Brawl wanted to know.

There was a huff of onboard vents and static through the speakers; And Vortex knew when Blast Off had been in root-mode, he probably would have shaken his head in that disdainful way of his. But this time it wasn’t directed at Brawl, or Vortex.

This time, the shuttle’s voice was full of condescension, and Vortex had to agree that the name was quite inappropriate for a dark, floating mass of dumped metal.

“Little Star.”

Chapter Text

Title: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Chapter: 02 - No Trespassing
Warnings: suspense
Continuity: G1 [part of ultharkitty’s Dysfunction AU, post season three]
Characters: Vortex, Blast Off, Brawl
Rating: PG-13 (whole fic, PG for this chapter)
Disclaimer: Sadly, nothing is mine.
Beta: ultharkitty

Summary: Vortex, Blast Off and Brawl are on a mission to get an alien energy source from an abandoned space station.

Note: Thrusters™ by ultharkitty, used with permission.

“Talking”
‘Comm-link’

---
Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky

Part 2 - No Trespassing

Blast Off docked onto the gangway which led to the station. The shuttle had to make a few transformations and arrangements until the entrance matched his hatch, but finally he could open it to the empty dark corridor.

In his peripheral vision, Vortex noticed Brawl wince when the hatch opened and the pressure compensation generated a hissing noise.

“You go first!” the tank said, and Vortex shrugged. Blast Off had given them a map of the station which he had generated after scanning it. Apparently, there was no life left on the gigantic vessel, and the hall to which the gangway led had been some sort of storeroom with enough space for Vortex and Brawl to stand. The corridor, however, was smaller. It meant they’d need either to stoop the whole way, or - in Brawl’s case, to crawl on their knees. With the tank’s cannon barrel, there was no way of walking on his feet.

Thankfully, though, they were able to walk, as it seemed that Blast Off had hacked into the space station’s systems and activated the artificial gravitational field.

Vortex entered the corridor; bending down, he tested the metal if it’d hold him and stepped in.

He switched to comms. ‘You’re sure it’s solid enough?’

‘It is,’ Blast Off answered, irritated.

Vortex huffed, what other answer did he’d expect?

Walking slowly, hearing Brawl’s vents behind him, the tank’s muttering about the narrow room to move, Vortex tried to relax. But he could hardly suppress flinching when Blast Off spoke again.

‘Remember, you get in, to the energy source and out. No detours. No shortcuts. You’ll use the way I’ll tell you. Got that?’

‘Yeah, yeah…’ Vortex answered, ‘We… I mean I am not stupid.’

Behind him, there was a growl. ‘Shut up, rotor head!’

‘Hehe.’ Talking made the situation better and Vortex less tense.

Over the comm, Blast Off only sighed, ‘Just hurry, and stop fighting. I don’t think you want me to come after you!’

‘Awww,’ Vortex grinned audibly, ‘I always want you to come after me.’

‘Idiot! Brawl, hit him for me!’ And with a snicker, the tank did. Vortex didn’t know how, or with what, but it made him stumble and fell on his knees.

There was laughter, but only until Vortex kicked out. The laughter changed to a whine and the ‘copter grinned.

Both mechs fell silent after this.

---

When Vortex arrived at the storage bay, he couldn’t see anything. Where in the gangway there had been emergency lights now and then, there was only darkness in the (for organics) huge room. A few windows near the ceiling usually let in the nearest sun’s light, but right now only a few distant stars could be seen.

The ‘copter turned his headlights on, and stepped further into the room. Time had left its mark on vehicles, storage boxes and cranes; lying on the floor, chaotic, messy, it looked as though the inhabitants had fled in a hurry.

Another light flashed on, and Vortex turned around. Brawl had also reached the room, and was looking around, equally curious.

‘Yo, large aft, we’re in,’ the tank said via comm, and glanced at the ceiling.

‘I know,’ was Blast Off’s huffed answer. The shuttle would follow their steps on the virtual map, and had made sure Vortex and Brawl had activated their transmitters.

‘Opposite where you exited the corridor is a door. It’s the only suitable way out.’

‘It’s closed,’ Vortex said, and waited. It was a massive gate, about twice his size.

Another huff via comm, and Blast Off’s tone was more irritated. ‘Well, then open it.’

‘Uhm, can’t you do that? You already hacked into the ship’s systems.’

There was a pause, and when the shuttle finally answered, you could practically hear him frowning, ‘No. I didn’t. I couldn’t even… What makes you think that?’

Vortex and Brawl exchanged worried looks. This time Brawl replied, and Vortex wondered that the tank had come to the same conclusion.

‘The gravity… didn’t you active it?’

‘No… I can’t hack into its systems, not from the outside. It’s probably a leftover program from the station. Something like a default code still active due to the energy source…’

Vortex knew that the last part was an attempt to reassure them that everything was normal, but he couldn’t help but feel uneasy. Neither he nor Brawl where built for that. They should be out shooting Autobots and not playing hide and seek with an alien reactor-thing-whatever-it-was on an equally alien space station.

The discomfort grew when Brawl suddenly blurted out; ‘Hey, there’s something written on it.’

Vortex glanced up.

On the dark and, due to rust, abrasive metal door were letters which looked similar to those on the outside. Vortex couldn’t read them, as he hadn’t been in contact with that culture, and wasn’t interested in it at all.

‘What do you mean?’ Blast Off wanted to know, and the ‘copter took a picture of the writing, pinging the shuttle for a data transfer. It was impossible to say with what it was written, and although the letters were from the same alien origin, it was anything written as accurate as the name of the ship. It rather seemed as though it was written in great haste.

‘So, Mr. Outer Space, what’s its meaning?’ Vortex was surprised with his own voice which sounded awkwardly cheerful. Waiting a moment, he didn’t get an answer, and thought that Blast Off probably needed some time to generate a translation.

In the meantime, Vortex watched Brawl try to pull the door open. Due to the age and lack of maintenance it was hard to move, and the ‘copter would have stood there motionlessly for another breem if it wasn’t for the tank snapping at him.

‘Slaggin’ aft, how about some help here?’

‘Nah, not in the mood,’ Vortex grinned behind his mask, but despite his words, he stepped closer.

‘Glitch head. Hurry up. I just wanna get over with it!’

It was Vortex’ sentiment exactly. Nonetheless he couldn’t resist and responded, with a faked smile, ‘Awww, c’mon, it’s so cosy in here…’

‘Shut up and help me!’ Brawl growled, and Vortex had to dodge the tank’s fist.

‘Hehe.’

---

They needed 3.82 kliks to open the door wide enough to be able to slip through. The corridor behind it was as dark as the storage bay, but slightly colder. They didn’t dare to enter it, though, not before Blast Off gave the go-ahead. None of them was in the mood for surprises, or being snapped at by a moody shuttle.

‘So, Thrusters,’ Vortex tried anew after the long silence from Blast Off, ‘Translated the scribbling yet?’

‘Sort of…’ The shuttle’s voice sounded weird. ‘It’s just some daub.’

Vortex tilted his head, but kept quiet when Blast Off changed the topic.

‘Follow to the next corridor until you reach an intersection; there you go left. Don’t follow the other directions! They lead to areas with temperature you couldn’t survive. I made another few scans and you’ll have to take another route than I first suggested. The differences in temperature in the areas on the station are… weird, but constant.’

Brawl shrugged, and behind his visor, Vortex frowned. Neither of them moved.

After a few astroseconds, though, Vortex had enough and muttered, ‘I guess I go first?’

Brawl’s grin was audible. ‘Sure, if you want to…’

The ‘copter only revved his engine to a growl and stepped into the corridor.

‘One more thing,’ Blast Off spoke again, ‘I recommend that you use your infrared sensors instead of your headlights…’

Once more Vortex thought the shuttle’s voice sounded odd, and he asked, ‘Why?’

‘Because you can see better then, idiot!’ Blast Off snapped back; but when he said the next part in that unknown tone, Vortex hesitated from taking another step.

‘…and be careful.’

Chapter Text

Title: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Chapter: 03 - Getting Lost
Warnings: gen, suspense, a bit mystery/horror, action, possible disturbing images
Continuity: G1 [part of ultharkitty’s Dysfunction AU, post season three]
Characters: Vortex, Blast Off, Brawl
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Sadly, nothing is mine.
Beta: ultharkitty

Summary: Vortex, Blast Off and Brawl are on a mission to get an alien energy source from an abandoned space station.

Note: Yay, finally, something happens. ;)

“Talking”
‘Comm-link’

---
When the blazing sun is gone, when he nothing shines upon…

Part 3 - Getting Lost

Even if it were only three breems, for Vortex, it seemed as though they’d been in that space station for joors.

He and Brawl had quickly stopped using comms. Talking aloud made everything less intimidating, the darkness, the emptiness of the corridors and the frequent creaking noises of the metal around them.

The farther they’d walked into the alien vessel, the more the communication link to Blast Off became unstable and filled with white noise. As a matter of prudence, the shuttle had sent them the quickest route so that he didn’t need to tell them step by step where they had to go.

They kept, however, the link to Blast Off open, although the shuttle didn’t participate in the conversation. Right now it was about Swindle and how he got stuck in some underground tunnels on Charr. It was an appreciate topic for this particular moment, because Vortex and Brawl were again forced to crawl.

The hallways were varied in size, sometimes the two mechs could stand upright and walk next to each other - these had had to be transport routes in the past for the vehicles they’d seen in the storage bay – and sometimes the corridors were as small as they were right now and they had to crawl on all fours.

Vortex was all the more relieved when they finally reached another, warmer corridor where they could stand again. They had to walk behind each other, and of course Vortex was the one who had to go first.

“You know what, ‘copter? Next time Blast Off can get that slag. I wanna see him getting stuck in one of the tunnels her.” The tank laughed loudly, and it echoed through the empty space.

“Heh, don’t say that too loud, or he’s gonna leave you here,” Vortex said. He waited for the shuttle to reply, but there was only static.

“He wouldn’t leave me here. Onslaught would rip him apart, and that’d mean trouble, and you know how much Blasty loves trouble.”

Vortex snickered at the nickname, and now was really glad the communication link was dead.

“Yeah, like the one time when Swindle blamed him instead, and Onslaught freaked out. Hehehehe…”

Brawl joined Vortex’ laughter, cruelly and gleefully. “That’d been fun. Slag, I’ve never seen Swindle run that fast when Onslaught wasn’t there…”

“Yep, but it was still useless. I also tried it once - or twice - but you can’t outrun Blast Off…”

Crackling from the communication link interrupted him as the shuttle in question asked contemptuously, ‘Pardon me?’

Brawl chuckled, and Vortex smirked as he answered, “Ah, nothing. We just praised your speed…” He paused to increase the dramatic effect before he carried on with faked awe in his voice, “and your strong body, and your intellect and sophisticated articulation, and…”

Over the comm, Blast Off huffed and muttered, ‘Why did I ask…?’

“Because you’re nosy? And you love us?” Vortex’ grin broadened.

The reply was another huff. ‘Sorry, but you’re too alive for that.’

“Hey, now you’re mean, large aft!” Brawl mumbled theatrically and revved his engine to a whine.

‘Oh shu…’ After that, the communication link broke again and left only static.

“Well”, Vortex commented. “He always has had good timing…”

Both mechs burst out laughing.

Only for a few astroseconds, though.

Brawl was the first one who became quiet, and asked, “Uhm, hey Vortex?”

The ‘copter stopped laughing, alarmed by the uncertainty in Brawl’s tone.

“What?”

“Did you hear that?”

“…no? What do you mean?”

Vortex stopped and turned around, glancing at Brawl, who looked back the way they’d come.

“I dunno… There was some… I dunno.”

Frowning, Vortex shrugged. “You know that’s not the best description, don’t you?”

“Very funny… There was…”

Over them, metal cracked loudly, and both mechs flinched. Vortex vents hitched, and he glanced at the blank ceiling.

There was nothing.

“It’s just this ship… It’s old. Let’s go”, he said, and tried to sound self-confident, but failed.

“Yeah, you’re right. I hope…” Brawl continued in a mutter and began moving anew.

It was an unspoken agreement to walk faster. They hurried through the corridor, the conversation totally forgotten.

It wasn’t far to the next junction, when they reached it they’d have walked halfway to their destination.

“We’re almost there,” Vortex mumbled more as encouragement to himself than to Brawl, but the tank responded anyway.

“…if you say so.”

Brawl’s vents worked louder than usual and knowing the other wasn’t feeling that well, either, made Vortex feel less pathetic.

“Hey, Vortex?”

“Hm?”

“Don’t you think it’s getting warmer in here?”

“…not really,” he answered truthfully. With the uneasiness crawling through Vortex’ seams and energon lines, he felt colder than the surrounding air really was.

“…okay…”

Silence again, in which only their feet on the metal ground could be heard, and the repeated crackling and creaking noises of the ship.

That was, until a scream echoed through the hallway. Metal shrieked, rumbling followed, and Brawl’s voice in between.

“ARGH! Fraggin’…”

Vortex turned around quickly; only to find nothing but a hole in the ground. He stepped closer.

“Hey, Brawl? Frag! What have you done?” Glancing down, his infrared sight only showed him a big black spot, and so he changed input, turning his headlights on. Still, he couldn’t see what was down the hole.

“…Brawl?”

“Yeah, I’m hearing you, slagger. Frag…”

“What happened?”

“Dunno, the ground was suddenly missing…”

The metal of the ship cracked again, and Vortex winced. To the known noises was added another new sound, some sort of hissing - or whispering. With a sudden move, Vortex flashed his lights into the corridor, but there was nothing.

“Stop playing around,” he said, absently, warily. “Use your thrusters to get up here.”

There was no answer.

“Brawl?”

“…Vortex?” The tank’s voice was strange as he spoke quietly. “Something’s wrong here… I…”

Brawl never finished his sentence, but he was right, something was seriously wrong.

The rotors on Vortex’ back froze when he stared down at the hole. It was smaller than before, and he jumped a step back as he realised what was going on.

The metal ground grew.

Cables within the floor moved like snakes, seeking out the middle of the hole, and built a web that spread until finally a layer of metal flowed over it, sealing it as though it’d never been there.

Vortex intakes worked fast, heaving air in strong vents. Not believing what he just saw, the ‘copter tried to stay calm and locked on Brawl’s signal.

The tank was moving; taking another route than the one Blast Off had given them, but he was moving in the direction of the energy source.

Vortex began to run, and opened the comm link. ‘Brawl?’

He didn’t get an answer, only static.

‘Hey, c’mon, you stupid, slaggin’ tank!’

He reached the next junction and chose another way, one which would get him closer to his team mate.

Fortunately, the corridor was still high enough that he could run upright and so he decreased the distance between himself and the tank.

By the next junction, Vortex had ceased to care about Blast Off’s route.

Something behind him clattered, but he didn’t turn around, just looked in front of him, and the flickering spots of his own headlights.

Then, he reached a closed door.

Frag! Vortex cursed inwardly, and again tried to contact Brawl.

‘Brawl? Slaggit. If you hear me, stop moving!’

Once more, there was only white noise.

Stepping to a console near the door, Vortex tried to activate it, but it was useless. He had to open the door with his hands. Fortunately, it wasn’t as big as the one in the storage bay.

Brawl didn’t stop moving, and while Vortex opened the door, the tank got nearer to the energy source with each passing astrosecond - and at a constant speed.

Something was seriously off here, Vortex thought. He tested the gap; he fit through.

The next hallway was warmer. Despite the cold feeling of dread he’d never admit that he had, the warm air was unmistakable in his vents. The noises had changed, the cracking and creaking dampened by something, and again there was this hissing he had heard after Brawl had fallen into the hole.

Vortex proceeded with more caution this time. Slowly, he tested the ground before he stepped on it, headlights always pointing in front of him. But in this room, the light was different; or it might not have been the light, but a different darkness that drowned the brightness of his lamps.

‘Brawl?’ Vortex tried anew, but no reply followed.

He took another step, and finally the communication link crackled, but it was Blast Off who spoke in fragments, ‘…awl? …are… don’t leave… quiet!’

‘Thrusters! Frag, Thrusters, good to hear you! Brawl’s got lost. I tried to follow him, but this place…’ Vortex stopped and began anew, ‘This place is weird.’

He hoped for a response, but there were only a few words without context before the link died in white noise.

“Slag…” Vortex mumbled and vented heavily. He didn’t want to be there anymore. He’d rather have been on Charr, starving, than on this space station in the middle of nowhere.

It was when Vortex had covered about half of the corridor that he thought he saw something moving. He tilted his head, and curiosity won over caution as he stepped closer to a certain point on the wall. He had to change the setting of his headlights, so that the light spread farther, but was less bright.

Vortex looked, and for a moment he wasn’t sure what he was seeing.

His optics widened.

“Fraggin’…” he gasped, and rebooted his optics, but the image was still there.

At the wall, or on the wall; no in the wall was one of the aliens which had built this station. It had a very thin body with four arms and four legs, and only the head and torso were slightly thicker. Remaining in a crouched stance, it had become one with the metal. Cables from the wall had entered its legs and arms, and stood out under the pale alien skin. The lower half of one leg had completely vanished in the metal. The back of the alien’s head was open, and revealed the brain into which cables had also dug.

Vortex felt sick.

This was just wrong.

Then, the alien body winced, and four white eyes opened, staring at him with an intense but unfocused look.

Intakes hitching, stumbling back, Vortex only noticed at the back of his processor that the alien tried to speak. It was by reflex that he raised his arm and fired at the not-dead body.

The alien screamed, organic bits sprayed over him and the metal around him whined.

Vortex turned and ran.

Slag, slag, slag, echoed inside Vortex’ mind. He had to find Brawl, and quickly.

His CPU calculated the shortest route to the energy source, from where Brawl’s transmitter signal came from by now. Vortex tried to reach his comrade through the bond, but the tank’s side was closed, and it reminded him why he hadn’t tried that earlier. He was completely alone in there. One of his team was outside, waiting and probably on the verge of being so annoyed that he wouldn’t talk to either Vortex or Brawl for the next vorn; and the other team mate somewhere in that station with no chance of getting in contact with him.

He followed the new route, and failed at his attempt not to think about what he’d just seen.

Only once did he have to stoop along in a corridor which was smaller, but it was a short passage before he could stand upright again and run. And the moment he thought that all this might not be that bad, he had to stop again.

Almost tripping due to the momentum, Vortex came to a halt when the hallway was blocked by a web. It was white, crystalline and looked like glass.

Great, what now? he thought deadpan, and didn’t feel like joking at all.

The web reminded him strangely the ones those tiny organics on Earth built to catch their prey, and he smirked.

“No, not with me,” Vortex said, but walked closer nonetheless. Carefully, he touched the web with two fingers and was surprised when it wasn’t gluey, but that he got a small electric shock.

The smirk changed into a scowl and he turned around. With this corridor blocked, he needed to make a longer detour.

Calculating the new path, he didn’t notice another cracking from the metal, and it was only when he heard an unknown sound that he looked up.

In front of him, only a few yards away, the door slid shut.

“What in the name of…” Vortex sprinted to the door, but wasn’t quick enough. The last few inches closed in front of his nose and trapped him between the thick door, and the weird web.

The hissing sound returned, along with a creaking noise and growing heat.

Vortex couldn’t say if it really got warmer or if he just felt like that because he was feeling unwell.

He needed to get out, that was for sure, and the third time that joor, he had to open a door by hand. With a sigh of defeat, he applied himself to opening the door to the corridor, not thinking about why he had to open it in the first place.

Vortex had to hurry, but when it took him almost a breem for the first two feet, he stepped back. Perhaps he should try to get through the web, he thought absently and turned again, freezing in place.

While he had tried to get out, the web had moved, or to be precisely, streaks of the web had groped their way along the wall and already covered one third of the room.

Vortex couldn’t remember if he ever was so tense in his life. Within astroseconds, fear mingled with hate and desperation and he raised his arms again, this time firing with two of his guns at the web.

The gunfire drowned the noise of the ship and the hissing, but the bullets didn’t have any effect on the web. They were only caught by it, and it seemed as though they were dissolved and became a part of it.

Vortex stopped, and where was uneasiness before, there was now panic.

Taking out his glue gun, he coated the moving end of the streaks, hoping that this would stop them moving. His hope was evaporated, though, as he watched the streaks further crawling towards him.

“Slag…” Vortex mumbled, and flinched when the communication link to Blast Off opened, static-laden.

‘…move… lights out… there….’

It didn’t make sense, and it was probably futile to answer that comm, but Vortex did anyway.

‘Thrusters? Frag, something’s seriously wrong here. I think this ship… it’s alive.’

He waited, and didn’t get an answer.

Chapter Text

Title: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Chapter: 04 - Being Found
Warnings: gen, suspense, a bit mystery/horror, possible disturbing images
Continuity: G1 [part of ultharkitty's Dysfunction AU, post season three]
Characters: Vortex, Blast Off, Brawl
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Sadly, nothing is mine.
Beta: ultharkitty

Summary: Vortex, Blast Off and Brawl are on a mission to get an alien energy source from an abandoned space station.

“Talking”
‘Comm-link’

---
…then you show your little light, twinkle, twinkle, all the night.

Part 4 - Being Found

With the panic surging through Vortex’ systems, it was almost impossible to think clearly, and hard to focus on the task of opening the door.

The hissing behind him became louder every astrosecond as the tentacle-like streaks of the web found their way towards him. And he still didn’t fit through the gap between the doors.

When Vortex turned around, he wished he hadn’t. There was only a few feet left until the streaks would reach him and do whatever their intention was. He frowned behind his visor, and for a moment he thought that being caught might be not too bad. Perhaps these tentacles would bring him to where they‘d taken Brawl, then he wouldn’t need to search for the tank himself. But an astrosecond later he remembered the weird alien which had practically melted with the wall of the ship, and Vortex shuddered.

This wasn’t a good idea at all.

Vortex vented, and was about to start tugging and pulling on that door again when a loud rumble echoed from somewhere beneath. The ground shook under his feet and another clatter followed; the roar of torn open materials and the smell of burnt metal hung in the air.

Trying to make out what happened behind the door, he looked curiously through the gap. There was just dust and the silhouettes of several fallen girders.

And before he saw the familiar shape, his commlink crackled.

‘What the pit are you doing?!’ The voice was angry, but Vortex had never been happier to hear it. That was, until he heard the next bit.

‘Take cover!’

He didn’t have the time to ask “where” or to protest “wait”; he had already heard the charging of cannons, and he leaped a step back. Though Vortex didn’t dare to step on the web streaks, and so the distance to the door wasn’t all that huge as the laser hit the metal.

Vortex’ battle programming kicked in. He watched in high definition and slow motion, caused by more pictures processed per astrosecond than he was used to how the door began to glow, to bulge towards him until it finally gave in and burst. The shock sent him sprawling to the floor, glowing metal pieces flying over him, hitting the web and the walls. He felt the web streaks moving beneath him, sending little electric shocks into his armour. A smaller piece of the door bounced off his rotors, and the impact reverberated through his rotor assembly into his back.

The electro shocks and the vibration would have felt nice if he’d been in another situation, and if not for the angry growl of Blast Off’s engine.

Even without looking - he couldn’t see much at all within the dust cloud and darkness anyway - Vortex heard the familiar noise of lasers charging again before they were released in another almighty boom.

The electric flow under him stopped, and the streaks went idle.

It was a pity that Vortex couldn’t have seen Blast Off firing those cannons at the web…

Another growl over the comm, ‘Get up!’ before Vortex was heaved from the ground, Blast Off’s hand squeezing his upper arm with a pleasurable force. It was only thanks to his glitching equilibrium and weak legs that he didn’t glomp Blast Off immediately when he was back on his feet. And on second thoughts, it was probably better that he didn’t, because the shuttle’s voice sounded everything but pleased.

‘Why the frag did you split up? And why the pit do you have your headlights on?! I told you to use your infrared sensors, glitch head!’

It took Vortex a moment until everything Blast Off had said made sense, and he answered instinctively also via comm, leaning against a wall for purchase.

‘What the frag? You just said it’d be better if we use it. Don’t yell at me because of that slag… We have other problems. Brawl got kidnapped.’

The dust slowly settled and revealed the destroyed, burnt web and the annoyed stance of the shuttle staring at Vortex.

‘Kidnapped?’ the shuttle’s voice lost some of the anger and now sounded rather confused, but Vortex didn’t really care. With the view clear again and his sight setting changed back to infrared, he gesticulated wildly as he explained.

‘We were on infrared, but then there was a hole, and Brawl fell in. Or Brawl walked in, or whatever. He said the ground was suddenly missing, and frag, I believe him. I saw the hole, and I looked down, but there was nothing, everything was just black, so I turned my headlights on, but still couldn’t see anything. And then the hole got smaller, and… the floor grew and then it was gone. And Brawl, too. I tried to comm him, but he didn’t answer and moved to the reactor-thing and…’

‘It’s not a reactor,’ Blast Off interrupted, and Vortex shot him a look.

‘I don’t think it really matters if it’s a reactor or something else!’ Vortex snapped, and carried on, his voice again more flustered. ‘Whatever, I tried to keep up with Brawl, though I don’t think it was him who was moving. And there were weird things everywhere. Did you see that alien stuck in the wall? I shot it, and it was all urgh and such, and then I ran off and got trapped in here and then you came and shot the web… And I think this ship is alive… or something.’

Blast Off was quiet when he stared at Vortex for almost a klik. Then, he eventually nodded and huffed.

‘You sound almost like Swindle when you talk like that…’

Right then, it was Vortex’ engine which growled, but he didn’t say anything as Blast Off spoke anew.

‘And what do you mean? What alien...?’

The ‘copter nodded and pushed himself off the wall. ‘There was an alien, you know, the kind that built this thing, it was kinda within the wall, but I guess there was only a puddle of organic mud when you went through the corridor…’

Vortex enjoyed the disgusted shudder from the shuttle, and was glad his battle mask hid his grin. There was nothing unusual in Blast Off’s tone, however, only the familiar condescension.

‘Fortunately, I didn’t have to see any squashed aliens. I used a shortcut.’

The shuttle turned to the remains of the web, stroking over the odd streaks, his optics flickering.

Vortex tilted his head. ‘What shortcut?’

‘None you could use…’ the tone absently, ‘too cold for your build type.’

Sulky, Vortex crossed his arms. Of course, Blast Off was built for worse conditions, and could endure more than Vortex could, and he was faster and overall so much better than the rest of them, Vortex thought, irritated, but he knew better than to say it aloud. And again the shuttle was just staring at the corridor at nothing, and probably ran thousand of scans without telling him anything which could be - maybe - of importance in such a situation.

Sigma, Vortex hated it when Blast Off did this, and the shuttle indeed did it a lot; particularly in situations like this, on foreign planets or before battles or… whenever.

“You’re such an aft-head!” the ‘copter muttered aloud without noticing, and Blast Off only answered with another huff and via commlink, still absent-minded.

‘Use comms. We need to be quiet…’

Vortex’ intakes heaved air to an annoyed sigh. He couldn’t even really argue with the shuttle, because he would just be ignored… This was frustrating. But again, he rather kept quiet about this and instead he asked curiously, ‘So, Space Cowboy, what is this stuff there?’

Blast Off gave him a look, probably because of the new nickname he’d learnt from Brawl, his tone was unimpressed.

‘I don’t know. It’s neither organic nor robotic. I haven’t seen anything like this before.’

Well, this knowledge - or the lack of it - wasn’t really comforting.

‘I thought you’d already seen everything.’

A huff, and a shake of his head from the shuttle before he spoke in a voice he usually used on Brawl. ‘There is no way any living being could have seen everything. Do you have any idea how big space is?’

‘Uhm… very big? Huge?’

‘Tsk… try infinite.’ After that, Blast Off turned again to the streaks and the dark corridor.

Infinite… well, this was even less reassuring, but Vortex was better off not stating that. Although he hadn’t seen as much from the universe as Blast Off had, Vortex knew very well that the shuttle being moody was one of the most unpleasant things ever.

He waited for Blast Off to speak again, and he didn’t have to wait long.

‘We need to find Brawl. And we need to be quiet. Let’s go.’

The shuttle began walking into the hallway which earlier had been blocked by the web, and Vortex hurried after him. He didn’t felt like losing another team mate.

Chapter Text

Title: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Chapter: 05 - Cathedral
Warnings: gen, suspense, action, a bit mystery/horror, possible disturbing images
Continuity: G1 [part of ultharkitty’s Dysfunction AU, post season three]
Characters: Vortex, Blast Off, Brawl
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Sadly, nothing is mine.
Beta: ultharkitty

Summary: Vortex, Blast Off and Brawl are on a mission to get an alien energy source from an abandoned space station.

Note: Massive thanks to ultharkitty! And now it’s about time Blast Off begins to regret that he entered that space station. ;)

“Talking”
‘Comm-link’

---
Then the traveller in the dark, thanks you for your tiny spark…

Part 5 - Cathedral

While walking through the dark corridor, Vortex’ words still lingered in Blast Off’s processor; particularly the part about the space station being alive.

He had seen the storage room. The vehicles and tools had been an utter mess, and it hadn’t looked like the habitants had left voluntarily. It had looked like they had tried to escape this place as fast as possible; the chaos had made him uneasy.

Not to mention the writing on the door…

Blast Off heaved air through his intakes, and noticed that the environment was again warmer. He couldn’t make sense of it. The differences in temperature on this space station, and sometimes between single corridors, were immense. He tried to explain it to himself by thinking of the active energy source, but actually, he knew that this couldn’t be the reason. He knew enough about the technology of this alien race to be sure about that.

Without a word, he stopped at an intersection to glance down the corridor. Vortex ran into him.

Blast Off stumbled a step forward, then turned around.

‘Uhm… oops? Sorry. Hehe,’ the ‘copter said via comm, sounding far too cheerful for Blast Off’s tastes.

He didn’t bother to reply. He just continued walking, choosing the left corridor.

They moved another klik in silence, before Blast Off’s commlink crackled again.

‘Hey, Thrusters…’

‘Don’t call me that!’ Blast Off snapped out of habit, but it was still better than “large aft” or “space cowboy”, especially because Blast Off highly doubted that Vortex knew what a “cowboy” was.

Vortex just laughed again, but fell quiet quickly. Then he asked with an unusually serious voice, ‘So, uhm…Why did you come after me?’

Blast Off huffed. ‘I came after both of you. I told you not to split up, he said, and thought that he shouldn’t have let them go in there in the first place. Vortex and Brawl, the incarnate chaos commando, lacked the knowledge to handle such a situation, and they also lacked the responsibility or the capacity to judge the risk. If Blast Off had been able to load the energy source himself, he’d have asked to go alone on that mission. Space was dangerous enough without having to play babysitter for his team mates. Blast Off said nothing of this, though. There was no point.

At the next intersection Blast Off turned left again, and the metal creaked beneath his feet. He didn’t pay attention to it. His scans showed that the floor was solid enough, and there was no reason to worry. Vortex, however, seemed nervous about that, and started to talk again.

‘When we’re out of here, can you give me the memory file of how you shot that web? I bet that looked awesome.’

The tone showed the ‘copter’s tension, even covered by the forced cheerfulness, and it had to mean something if Blast Off noticed. Always talking, always about nonsense, just to distract himself from some creaking metal. In Blast Off’s opinion, that was pathetic.

He didn’t answer, and Vortex carried on.

‘Did you ever see a metal wall absorb some organic being? I mean, seriously, that looked freaky. And its head was open and cables from the wall kinda… dug in there. You’d seen the web streak-things, right? Do you think they would’ve done the same to my head if they’d caught me?’

‘Most unlikely,’ Blast Off deadpanned, ‘There is nothing functional in your head, so what advantage would an alien being gain from assimilating you?’

‘You really are an aft!’

‘I’m just stating facts. Stop asking those questions and you stop getting my answers.’

More metal screeched, but Blast Off didn’t care. Now and then he took a closer look at the walls, to see if he might see one of those aliens stuck in there, but nothing. He couldn’t deny that he was curious to see it, because it appeared to be something that didn’t happen all the time. And of all the things he’d seen, Blast Off never saw what the ‘copter was talking about. It might be even useful to work out what was going on with this space station.

After a moment, the hallway split in two, and Blast Off walked right this time, because it was the bigger tunnel. But only a few yards into it, he noticed the change. The cracking of metal now was dampened and less loud, and the noise was accompanied by some sort if hissing which the shuttle hadn’t heard before. The temperature increased another notch, which didn’t help at all to shake off the slight uneasiness.

Blast Off hadn’t felt this unsure before, but he couldn’t compare this exploration to any he’d done on planets. It was only a space station, and unlike planets or meteors, it was fragile in space. It wasn’t protected by an atmosphere or great velocity and almost everything could enter it - or infect it.

And unlike on past missions, Blast Off hadn’t needed to take care of others.

He walked around a corner, then stopped.

‘Slaggit, could you tell me when you decide to stop that suddenly?’ Vortex snapped behind him, but Blast Off just made room so that the ‘copter could take a look ahead.

What the…’ Vortex blurted and expressed exactly what Blast Off was thinking.

The shuttle changed his view to normal optical input; he didn’t need infrared right now.

They looked at a great ‘hall’. In front of them, it went down around a hundred meters, and about twice as much up. No ceiling could be seen, because weird metallic tendrils like tentacles hung down, obscuring the upper reaches; on the walls were also tendrils, which stuck on the metal and glimmered bluishly. Apparently, there had been a bridge once from the jut where they stood to the other side, where an equally dark hole indicated a hallway. It was gone now, though, as were all the possibilities to cross this slope by foot. And actually, Blast Off had expected to see a bridge or some kind of stairs when he led them there.

From the map he’d generated, he knew that this was some kind of centre where hallways led in every direction. The lifts which had been there once were defunct now, and the ducts of their shafts were either missing or fallen over and leant against the opposite walls.

It was a mess, and there were movements in between. A low charge hung in the air, tickling on Blast Off’s plating, and small lightning crackled over or between the filaments. There was a constant hissed ringing in his audio sensors which sounded like whispering in an unknown language.

Blast Off suppressed a shudder.

If they didn’t need to cross the hall and reach the opposite corridor two floors down, it would look marvellous.

‘Where to now?’ Vortex asked, drawing Blast Off’s attention back from the mesmerising sight.

Wordlessly, Blast Off pointed at a hallway at the other side, and vented air through his intakes. He missed Vortex shrug as he looked down again.

‘Okay, let’s go,’ the ‘copter said, and stepped forward.

‘Wait!’ Blast Off grabbed him by the shoulder. ‘What do you think you’re doing?’

Vortex tilted his head. ‘Uhm, flying down there?’

‘What? No!’

Vortex gave him a look. ‘Why not?’

Tiredly, Blast Off rubbed his temple with two fingers. There was no point in lying, and so he muttered. ‘Because it’ll probably kill you.’

‘…okaa~y? Only probably?’ the ‘copter’s was tone antagonising, and Blast Off knew this would end in Vortex being huffish.

‘There is a reason we talk via comm,’ Blast Off began to explain. ‘Do you remember that writing on the door? It was a warning…’

‘Oh wonderful!’ Vortex spat angrily, interrupting the shuttle. ‘And you’re telling me this now?! After Brawl got lost and we’re stuck between some alien tentacles?’

‘We’re not stuck!’

‘Yeah, but we can’t get to the other side, because apparently the warning forbids us to fly?’

Blast Off rolled his optics. ‘Shut up! I had my reasons to keep quiet about this!’

‘Oh right, because you are the one who had to go in here and risk his sorry aft for some slaggin’ reactor-thing and…’

Blast Off didn’t let Vortex finish his sentence. He grabbed the ‘copter by the throat and slammed him with his rotor assembly against the wall. The contact generated a loud ‘clang’, and a few tendrils bent to their direction, their hissing increasing.

‘I told you to shut up,’ Blast Off growled through the comm, but restrained his engine from revving angrily. ‘I had my reasons!’ he repeated, ‘because Brawl either doesn’t give a slag about warnings or cautions, and you do the exact opposite of what you’ve been told if it comes to danger. You always do! Because you don’t have a self-preservation instinct but a sick need for self-destruction.’

Vortex squirmed in his grip, and Blast Off was sure that the ‘copter liked the treatment, but he also knew he was right; and that Vortex knew he was right.

‘And for the last time, it’s not a reactor we’re after.’

‘…what is it then?’ Vortex asked, defiantly, but Blast Off merely huffed.

‘You don’t possess enough knowledge to make it worth the words to explain it.’

The ‘copter glared at him, and Blast Off glared back, but let go of him after a moment.

‘We need to be quiet,’ he just said, and turned again to look down to their destination.

‘Whatever… So, you’re enlightening me now what warning it was, or are you leaving me in the dark?’

Do not enter,’ Blast Off answered shortly, and didn’t give Vortex the chance to complain as he carried on. ‘Sort of. It’s a complicated language, and hardly comprehensible for foreigners. It said ‘do not enter’ and it was a warning about generating sound or using light…’

Blast Off’s optics roved over the mess within the hall. There was an overturned lift shaft, or what was left of it, which built something similar to a bridge to the other side. It lay on the wall a few feet beneath and left of the entrance and it was only partly covered by the odd alien streaks. The only problem was that they had to climb down more than a few yards to reach the duct.

‘So,’ Vortex replied, his voice was less irritated, ‘in short something like ‘Turn off the lights. Don’t make a sound.’?’

Blast Off nodded, and heard the ‘copter venting a sigh.

‘Guess that means our thrusters are too loud and too bright, then…?’

Another nod. ‘Exactly.’

‘Great, would’ve been too easy…’

‘Of course…’ Blast Off answered, muttering. ‘We’re Combaticons; we’re never that lucky.’

Vortex’ tilted his head, looking at him oddly and chuckling quietly over the comm.

Blast Off didn’t concern himself to clarify that it hadn’t been a joke, instead he pointed beneath at the improvised bridge.

‘We need to go down there. Then we can cross it without using our thrusters.’

For a few astroseconds, Vortex was quiet when he glanced down, and then up again.

‘Uhm, I could fly us in alt-mode…’ the ‘copter suggested uncertainly, and Blast Off huffed.

‘Sure, because your rotors are so much quieter.’

‘It was only an idea…’

There were moments in which Blast Off highly doubted whether his team mates had functional processors at all. And then there were moments in which Blast Off knew his team mates didn’t have functional processors; this was one of these moments, but he was far from saying this aloud.

‘So, we just walk over?’ Vortex continued, ‘Under all these alien whispering things? You know it doesn’t look that stable.’

‘It isn’t. That’s why you go first.’

What?’ With a bright visor, Vortex looked at Blast Off. ‘You’re kidding me!’

‘I never kid.’ The shuttle’s voice was blank and unimpressed. He didn’t really understand the other’s sudden indignation. ‘You’re lighter than me. If I go first, I destabilise the duct further. So, you go first, and when you’re on the other side, I’ll follow.’

This logic was clear to Blast Off from the beginning, and it seemed as though Vortex also slowly understood as he finally nodded.

‘Okay… But if one of these tentacles catches me, it’s your fault! I want you to remember that!’

If one of these tendrils caught the ‘copter, he would be the next, Blast Off thought, and it wasn’t a truly reassuring fact. Again, he kept quiet and just shook his head in annoyance, stepping aside so that Vortex had enough room to climb down.

Venting another sigh, Vortex began to go down, slowly and to Blast Off’s surprise, he apparently tried to make as little noises as possible. Only when he sat his first foot on the duct, it creaked and screeched unnervingly, and a few tentacles nearby quivered at the sound. At that instant, Blast Off stopped his vents, and turned his audio sensors to their highest setting.

Vortex didn’t move until the noises were over. He didn’t say anything, but gave Blast Off a look before he stepped completely on the instable path.

The shuttle had made a few scans, but after the screeching, he wasn’t sure anymore if the former lift shaft could endure them both walking over it.

It took Vortex almost three kliks full of tension and uncertainty until he reached the other side, and pulled himself up to the corridor’s entrance. The bridge had creaked a few times but not as loud as before, and didn’t provoke such an intense reaction from the tentacles again. Though Blast Off still wasn’t very confident, even if he didn’t show it.

‘Your turn,’ Blast Off heard the ‘copter saying, the glee clear in his voice.

The last thing he saw from Vortex was him leaning against a wall, and crossing his arms before he climbed down and concentrated on passing the bridge. Fortunately, the destroyed lift shaft had left enough gaps and edges on the wall to hold onto.

‘Hehe…’ Vortex laughed over the comm, causing Blast Off to wince. ‘Your aft looks nice from here.’

The shuttle couldn’t suppress the irritated growl at the words, and a tentacle on the wall next to him groped its way a few inches towards him.

‘Just be quiet!’ Blast Off snapped, observing the suspicious filament for a few astroseconds before setting a foot on the duct. Cautiously, tentatively it made contact with the metal beneath, but it didn’t move or made a sound when Blast Off put weight on it.

Being a little more confident, he stepped on the duct with a swift move; but apparently, it was too sudden.

When the full weight of the shuttle rested on the bridge, the end on which Blast Off stood slid down a few feet. Stumbling, he hardly could hold his balance, and he needed all his willpower not to accidentally activate his thrusters.

A few small filaments on the bridge quivered at the noise of metal scraping against metal, and a tentacle which hung from above moved it’s tip to the source of the sound, only briefly missing Blast Off.

Able to duck away under the tentacle, Blast Off took a few quick steps forward before the lift shaft slid further down.

‘Frag!’ Vortex cursed, and Blast Off briefly noticed the increasing static in the commlink which went along with the increasing movement above his head and under his feet.

He now stood on a few metallic blue streaks, the frequency of the lightning crackling over them rising. It conducted electricity into his armour, and felt anything but pleasant and not at all like electricity; more like acid burning on his plating.

The metal still screeched dangerously, indicating a new subsidence. Blast Off hurried, but stumbled anew when the ground moved. again.

This time the end near Vortex slid down, generating a loud creaking that mingled with the hissing of the alien beings. Tentacles now paid also attention to where the ‘copter stood, and tendrils stuck on the wall wound their way to the entrance.

Vortex couldn’t see them, though, because a bigger limb from the ceiling fumbled for him, and he fled a few steps into the corridor.

This wasn’t going well, Blast Off thought dryly, and jerked up hard when a tentacle wriggled around his ankle.

‘Slag! Come over here!’ Vortex shouted, still via comm, what was almost pointless now, because everything around was incredibly loud compared to the former silence.

Blast Off didn’t answer. Seeing the tendrils getting closer to the ‘copter, he just yelled, ‘Go ahead!’

‘Oh sure! Stop playing heroic Autobot and get your…’

A shot from Blast Off’s laser cannons interrupted the ‘copter.

Blast Off hadn’t let Vortex finish the sentence, and not because he felt offended by being called Autobot, but because of a tentacle which had moved quickly and almost had reached the other.

He powered up his thrusters, another filament winding around his wrist. Blast Off ripped it off and yelled again. ‘I said go!’

Out of the corner of his optics, Blast Off saw Vortex hesitating, but he finally moved out of sight into the dark hallway.

The bridge creaked loudly, tentacles hissing and reaching for the shuttle who hovered an astrosecond in the air and then headed to the entrance. He fired once more as the tendrils began to build a web to block the opening.

He landed, tripping, on the edge of the entrance, and dared to look back. The lift shaft and former bridge crashed down, taking other shafts and tentacles with it. The hall was now brighter than before as the lightning increased and became strong enough that it crackled even over the metal walls. And on top of all that, the hissing whisper changed to an angry whine.

Blast Off couldn’t repress the cold shiver running down his backstruts.

Just in time, he turned around and ran into the corridor as another tentacle tried to grab him. When he was out of reach, Blast Off glanced back, seeing the entrance blocked by tentacles building a web. A web which was far thicker than the one he’d shoot before.

No!”

It was Vortex voice, and it echoed through the hallways. Blast Off could be angry for about an astrosecond that the ‘copter had stopped using comms as he heard the other anew.

“Not this way!”

There was no chance for Blast Off to ask or to reply at all, because only an instant later, he ran into something.

With a loud clang, the impact nearly sent him to the floor; he stumbled anew, briefly wondering if this would become a new habit of his, as another clatter followed. His equilibrium glitched for a fraction of an astrosecond and his sight blurred. Activating his infrared again, because the corridor was suddenly darker, Blast Off saw Vortex lying on the ground, rubbing his helm.

‘What the frag is wrong with you?!’ Blast Off asked irritated, instinctively using the commlink, and pulled the ‘copter to his feet.

“Urgh… frag… that…” Incoherently muttering, Vortex stared back in the direction he’d come from.

‘Why do I even ask?’ Blast Off had had enough of this nonsense. Having just escaped some alien tentacles, he wasn’t in the mood for one of Vortex’ games. His hand still on the ‘copter’s upper arm, he walked deeper into the hallway, pulling the other with him.

He hadn’t expected that Vortex would fight against his grip and his intention as much as he did.

“No, you don’t get it!” Vortex said again aloud, his voice weird in Blast Off’s audio sensors.

“Not this way. It’s…”

Once more, Vortex was interrupted, this time, though, it wasn’t Blast Off’s laser, but the floor shaking, metal around them screeching as the corridor behind them was slowly locked by a door sliding shut.

Blast Off turned around at the sound.

Through the gap which got smaller by the moment, Blast Off could see the web still growing towards them, as though a mass of tendrils tried to press into the hallway. There was no way to turn back.

And Vortex seemed to come to the same conclusion as he said, nearly whimpering, “Oh no…”

Blast Off couldn’t make sense of it; he only knew that they needed to move on. His decision was only emphasised by another door beginning to close ahead of them, more slowly, though, but which would trap them between two doors inside this corridor.

‘Come on!’ Blast Off huffed, dragging the unwilling ‘copter along with him.

Walking fast, he pushed Vortex in front of him through the gap before he joined him on the other side of the door. He stepped on something, but Blast Off couldn’t say what it was; even with infra-red, he could barely see.

There was another whimper from Vortex, and the door closed.

The ground stopped shaking, and everything grew quiet. Indeed, there was no sound at all, only vents working fast, and their engines rumbling. The tact of Blast Off’s changed without his conscious intent and went almost idle, while his vents slowed down.

He tensed, optics roving uselessly.

“Hey… Blast Off?” Vortex’ voice was only a whisper, and the shuttle nodded slightly; even though he knew it was pointless.

Vortex’ vocaliser sounded oddly strained when he spoke again.

“I can’t see.”

Chapter Text

Title: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Chapter: 06 - Shadow Run
Warnings: gen, suspense, action, a bit mystery/horror, possible disturbing images
Continuity: [part of ultharkitty’s Dysfunction AU, post season three]
Characters: Vortex, Blast Off, Brawl
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Sadly, nothing is mine.
Beta: ultharkitty

Summary: Vortex, Blast Off and Brawl are on a mission to get an alien energy source from an abandoned space station.

Note: This chapter contains hints to the fanfiction "Nothing to make it bearable".

“Talking”
‘Comm-link’

 

---
…he could not see which way to go, if you did not twinkle so.

Part 6 - Shadow Run

Blast Off shifted through various sight options, but never got a clear visual. Only the thermal vision gave him bits of information, but even that just told him everything around them was incredibly warm. He couldn’t make out any clear forms, or what was going on. His scanners informed him about some weird sort of radiation, but this was useless data if he didn’t know where he was.

‘Me neither…’ Blast Off finally responded to Vortex, and tried not to sound equally bewildered. ‘Use comms again, and no matter what, don’t turn your headlights on!’ he added, although it was hard even for him not to activate his floodlights in this weird darkness.

Blast Off had never been in a place where he couldn’t see anything.

No, that wasn’t true. He had been. Twice.

Once on the ground of an ocean, and later in the Detention Centre. Though, while the former had lasted 339 joors, 4 breems, 2.72 kliks, the latter one had been for millions of years…

He couldn’t say what had been worse, only that he wanted to remember none of that right now. It was pointless, unrelated and counterproductive.

Still, Blast Off couldn’t hinder the cold dread which slowly crept into his seams and made his laser core twist.

‘But I can’t see!’ Vortex repeated, interrupting Blast Off’s musings.

‘Calm down,’ Blast Off said, and spoke more to himself. He vented heavily, and went through the options he had, realising that only one was left. It would drain his energy, and his CPU ran a few calculations to see if and how he would be able to bring them back home.

At first, though, he had to get them out.

Hesitantly, he activated the scanners with which he had generated a rough map of the space station. He changed a few settings and their range in the hope of saving energy. Though, they where never meant to be used for longer duration, and they needed even more RAM in root-mode, which made focusing on other things harder.

Blast Off felt his scanners working, sensing the surroundings and slowly producing a 3D bar pattern before the frames were padded and built an even, blank image. It lacked colour and most tones, but nonetheless, it caused Blast Off’s intakes to hitch.

‘Oh my…’ he gasped.

‘What?’ Vortex mumbled, and the shuttle heard him shifting on his feet. ‘What do you mean? Hey, talk to me, okay?’ He sounded almost desperate.

Blast Off didn’t bother to answer, but pinged the ‘copter for an ongoing data transfer. He was sure that this sight wasn’t anything he would welcome, but it was still better than seeing nothing.

Vortex accepted the data stream instantly, and he, too, gasped.

Around them, inside the tunnel, there were hundreds of aliens. And when Blast Off had been curious before about what Vortex had told him, he now wished he hadn't needed to see it.

The aliens were stuck in the walls and, due to the unreal artificial view, it seemed as though they had become one with the metal surfaces - the walls, the ceiling and the floor. The thing on which Blast Off had stepped earlier, after evading being trapped between two doors, had been an alien body, whose limbs had melted with the ground.

There were these odd tendrils everywhere, but all of them were preoccupied with digging into the aliens’ bodies; bodies which twitched now and then, and hardly left room for Blast Off to move without stepping on them.

Blast Off shivered, and Vortex whispered, ‘This is creepy…’

Blast Off huffed in agreement, and saw Vortex’ 3D model searching blindly with his arms in the air.

‘Where are you?’ he asked, and only then Blast Off realised that Vortex could just see what he was seeing. There was no way the ‘copter could know where Blast Off stood. He might have been able to calculate where he was from Blast Off's image of him, but the shuttle doubted that in such a situation Vortex would be comprehend enough to try this - if ever.

‘In front of you. Stay still, I’m going to touch your shoulder.’ Cautiously, Blast Off reached for the other, who stopped fumbling around.

The shuttle saw his own arm generated into the sight and briefly made contact with Vortex. He tensed even more when Vortex suddenly clutched at his lower arm. The ‘copter’s vents worked fast, but his body was still unusually warm.

‘Calm down,’ Blast Off said anew.

Vortex huffed. ‘Yeah, easy for you to say…’

Blast Off didn’t answer. They had to get out, soon, because every astrosecond his scanners worked, his energy level dropped.

‘I’m going to turn around and start walking. If I make a few steps, you can come after me. You should try to remember the ground if you don’t want to step on those organics. You’re sight is time-displaced…’

Vortex nodded, and Blast Off briefly wondered how it felt like to see oneself like this…

The shuttle did as he said, dislodging the other’s arm, optics - or scanners - focusing on the ground in front of him as he set a foot in a gap between two alien limbs.

They walked in silence, only now and then there was a squashing noise when one of them stepped unwittingly on a body. When they did, the walls around them seemed to create a whining screech which sent an icy shiver down Blast Off’s plating.

And then, something touched his back.

Blast Off’s cannons activated without his conscious intent, and he was about to turn around when Vortex said, rushed.

‘Hey, it’s just me. I… uhm, just wanted to know if you’re still there…’

Raising an optical ridge, Blast Off continued walking. He hadn’t heard Vortex lie this bad since… ever.

The touch at his back didn’t vanish, but neither did it increase, and so Blast Off decided to say nothing about it. But this didn’t mean that he liked it.

In a situation like this, though, he should focus on the problems at hand and not on his personal comfort, which wasn’t that high at the moment anyway; between all these aliens mingled with the walls, organic squish between the joints of his feet and a surrounding atmosphere which predicted death in the near future. Not to mention the lack of real optical input…

And for once Blast Off didn’t think that the other’s touch was more than just a mere reassurance to make sure he wasn’t alone.

They were quiet again, until Vortex spoke anew, his voice weirdly insecure.

‘Let’s talk about something…’

It sounded almost like a question, and the shuttle answered with a huff. ‘About what?’

Blast Off didn’t feel like talking. He had to concentrate on his scanners, his RAM busy, his processor clocking fast.

‘Dunno. Just something, you know?’

Suppressing a sigh, Blast Off knew that Vortex didn’t value silence as much as he did. Indeed, it was the exact opposite, but fortunately not as bad as Wildrider…

He’d once been on a mission with the Stunticon, and it had seemed as though he had been afraid of silence. He’d always talked or played music or was just noisy. At that time, Blast Off still had thought that Vortex was the most unnerving mech he knew - after the mission, his opinion had slightly changed.

‘I’m bad at small talk,’ Blast Off finally answered, his tone blank.

‘Hehe. Yeah, I know… How about big talk?’

‘Excuse me?’

‘Eh, I mean, talk about big things, you know… like space?’ The ‘copter sounded hopefully.

Blast Off couldn’t help the tiny grin building on his lip plates. ‘Fine. So, what is big, white and disturbs your refuelling break?’

‘I… don’t know?’

‘An avalanche.’

Over the comm, Vortex laughed, and then stopped suddenly. ‘Woah, wait. Did you just tell a joke?’

‘...’

‘I mean it. Seriously. That was a joke, right?’

Blast Off frowned, and muttered. ‘Think yourself honoured; it was the only one I know.’

‘Hehehe. Cool.’

After that, they fell quiet again, and Blast Off didn’t complain. It made it easier to focus on the floor, trying to avoid contact with the organic beings. It was hard, however, as it seemed that the number of aliens increased the farther they went into the hallway.

Sometimes they needed to go around corners, or there were again intersections where Blast Off decided to go left, then right; always choosing a way which brought them closer to the central energy source and Brawl. Always a way which was more covered with organic bodies, and always a way which got significantly warmer.

At his back, Vortex still rested a hand on his heat tiles.

‘Blast Off?’ The other’s voice again didn’t sound like Vortex at all, and Blast Off began to detest it.

‘Hm?’

‘It’s pretty hot in here…’

‘It is.’ What else could he say? It was warmer then before, and it got near their normal core temperature. If it didn’t stop becoming hotter, they would have to deactivate their cooling systems.

Vortex’ fingers curled against his back, and the touch intensified.

Blast Off could hardly suppress an engine growl, but still didn’t say anything. As long as this kept the ‘copter from panicking, Blast Off tried to be not annoyed about it.

They still had a rather great distance to pass before they would reach their destination, and if the temperature didn’t change, his systems would begin to glitch soon.

‘Are we nearly there yet?’ Vortex asked, his voice stressed.

‘…not yet.’

‘Very funny. Couldn't there have been another way than this one?’

A squashing sound reached Blast Off’s audio sensors, followed by a disgusted, unintelligible mumbling from the other.

‘No, it’s the only way. You would have had to go it with Brawl anyway…’

‘Great, and with just me and Brawl we would surely have been successful in here, with this bright light and cool breeze. You know I’m not built for these extremes…’ Vortex mumbled, but didn’t sound sulkily as Blast Off had expected.

‘Neither am I,’ Blast Off said honestly but with his usual bored tone. ‘In alt-mode, it wouldn’t be a problem at all, but in root-mode my systems give in more quickly to these conditions. So, it has an effect on me, too.’

Fortunately, though, the effect wasn’t as immediate as it probably was for the ‘copter right now.

‘Awesome…’ Vortex mumbled bitterly. ‘Can’t you say something like everything is fine and we'll get out here alive?’

Blast Off’s lips twitched to a small grin. ‘Everything is fine and we'll get out here alive.’

‘…you’re a terrible liar.’

There was no response from Blast Off.

A few kliks later, the sound of Vortex’ vents increased, and a second hand joined the one on Blast Off’s back, both trembling.

‘Have your systems begun malfunctioning?’ the shuttle asked, and already knew the answer. The heat began to mess with his systems, too, and his equilibrium chip reset.

‘Kinda…’ was the short answer over a static-laden commlink.

‘Your sensor net?’ Blast Off asked further. He really didn’t need that right now. He had enough problems with his own glitches. When he didn’t get an answer though, he knew that Vortex suffered from exactly that; a malfunctioning sensor net or sensory input.

Slag, the shuttle thought, but said, ‘You’re not going to panic on me, are you?’

‘I don’t panic!’

Well, at least Vortex was still in the mood to snap back, which was actually a relief.

‘We should be there soo…’ Blast Off stopped mid-word and jerked aside. The bodily contact to Vortex broke and his scanners had a hard time catching up with his sudden movement.

Something had grabbed his ankle. It hadn’t been one of the tendrils, though, because there was no electric shock. He looked down, waiting an astrosecond until the scanners generated the image and saw the aliens moving.

“Slag…” Vortex nearly whimpered. He no longer used comms as he groped around, searching for the shuttle. “Where are you?!”

‘Don’t move! And be quiet!’ Blast Off blurted, but it was too late.

Vortex turned his headlights on.

The sudden flashe of light and the ability to see confused Blast Off’s sensors for three astroseconds. He then noticed the weirdness of the light, which seemed to be drained by the surroundings. He stopped his scanners and activated his own floodlights, which where more powerful and brighter than Vortex’ were.

It lit most of the corridor, a grotesque alien abomination, and Blast Off saw Vortex trembling, only his rotors utterly still.

So much for not panicking, the shuttle thought, but there was no time to care about it. With the light, the hissing noises came back, and the organic aliens began to move their arms. Every one had four of them - if one wasn't mingled with the wall - with four joints and two long, thin fingers. They reached for them, and Vortex could hardly dodge getting gripped.

“Let’s move!” Again there was no longer any point in using comms.

Grabbing Vortex’ arm, Blast Off began to run, pulling the ‘copter with him.

“What the frag's going on here?!”

“Shut up and run!” The shuttle really wasn’t in the mood for explanations, particularly not when he didn’t have any. There was only about a three hundred yards and one intersection before they would reach the centre; a way covered with hands grabbing for them, making it hard to run quickly.

The fast movements increased Blast Off’s core temperature, and he cursed inwardly.

Stumbling, he almost fell to the ground when about six arms took hold of his leg simultaneously.

“Frag!” he muttered quietly, and continued running.

“How soon do we reach the reactor?!” Vortex huffed, cooling fans switched on, and Blast Off only briefly mused that this was rather counterproductive in the surrounding heat.

A hundred yards, and it’s not a reactor, the shuttle thought, but kept quiet. Vortex would see soon enough what it was… or what it was not.

More hands appeared, and behind him, the hum of Vortex’ guns activating was nearly drowned by the hissing.

Blast Off heard it anyway, and ducked.

Vortex fired.

Organics screamed, bits spraying everywhere and metal around them creaked like a whine.

It didn’t take much more than a klik until one of Vortex’ guns merely clicked and run out of ammo. The ‘copter stopped firing, the hallway full of organic squish, but no more arms could be seen.

With a wordless understanding, both mechs began running again.

The door ahead was closed - of course - and Blast Off charged his cannons.

He shot the door. The recoil made him trip again as he almost slipped on the organic debris. Then the way was clear, and at the end of the corridor the darkness was replaced by a bright, blue light.

Blast Off and Vortex rushed into the large room, blinded by the sudden luminance.

It was slightly colder here, and quieter again, and the only foreign sound was the steady buzz of the huge blue orb at the other end of the room.

“Holy slag…!” Vortex gasped, and Blast Off became aware that the ‘copter wasn’t looking at the energy source, but at the wall.

It was also covered with tendrils, like they had seen earlier, but still they looked different.

And then, Blast Off realised what it was.

Like before in the corridor, there were organics stuck in the walls, but they didn’t seem organic any more. They were crystallised, looking almost like glass.

And in between them, there was Brawl; his optics offline.

Chapter Text

Title: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Chapter: 07 - Revealing Light
Warnings: gen, suspense, action, a bit mystery/horror, possible disturbing images
Continuity: G1 [part of ultharkitty’s Dysfunction AU, post season three]
Characters: Vortex, Blast Off, Brawl
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Sadly, nothing is mine.
Beta: ultharkitty

Summary: Vortex, Blast Off and Brawl are on a mission to get an alien energy source from an abandoned space station.

“Talking”
‘Comm-link’

 

---
In the dark blue sky you keep, and often through my curtains peep…

Part 7 - Revealing Light

The blue orb glowed brightly, filling almost the complete rear end of the room. On the floor beneath lay thick tendrils which looked as though they were sleeping snakes.

Devices and cables which formerly had held the orb in place were now destroyed.

Blast Off’s optics flickered, and burnt painfully when he stared at the blue sphere. On its surface there were small whirls and maelstroms, or eruptions similar to stellar winds.

He had never been able too see them from this close…

“Holy slag…!”

Vortex gasping voice dragged Blast Off back to the current situation, and he glanced up, following the other’s gaze.

There were organics on the walls, but they weren’t organic any more. It was though they were made of glass. And in between the weirdly beautiful crystallised bluish beings, there was an ugly, dark green spot which was Brawl.

For an astrosecond Blast Off was almost angry that his team always seemed to destroy anything beautiful. But then he noticed the offline optics and tendrils which dug into the tank's armour, and his anger shifted towards the alien creature that messed with his team.

They had to get Brawl out, Blast Off thought, and Vortex appeared to think the same.

Without a word, only an engine’s growl, Vortex powered up his thrusters and flew to their unconscious team mate.

The giant tentacles beneath the orb twitched, and the tendrils which spread over the whole floor began to move. Blast Off hadn’t noticed that he stood on a carpet which looked like fibreglass before, because there weren’t any electric shocks.

Now, however, the ground lifted itself up, generating waves which resembled water within the blue light of the sphere.

Blast Off also activated his thrusters, hovering and looking up anew, where now Vortex pulled Brawl from the wall. The lines holding the tank broke easily, and fragments scattered down.

“Hey, how about a little help here?” Vortex said as he placed the tank’s arm over his shoulders and descended next to the shuttle.

Blast Off just wanted to answer that the ‘copter indeed did a good job alone when the walls began to vibrate.

Both mechs froze and stared at one another.

“Of course, would have been too easy,” Vortex muttered, resigned, and Blast Off sighed.

Calling up the map of the space station, it revealed that the tunnel they used to get there was the only entry, or exit. It was nothing Blast Off hadn’t known before, but Blast Off wasn’t looking for a hallway out…

The gravitational field deactivated.

It was by reflex that Blast Off cut power to his thrusters, but Vortex didn’t have this kind of instinctive reaction. His thrusters still working against a gravitational field that was no longer there, the copter began to move upwards.

“Woah!” Vortex uttered, surprised, sounding confused.

Fortunately, Blast Off had the presence of processor to grab Vortex by his ankle before he climbed further and hit the ceiling.

“Stop your thrusters! Idiot!”

“What's going on?” Vortex asked, irritated, but did as he was told.

The answer came in the form of more movement from beneath the orb, and a huge tentacle-like streak approaching them.

Blast Off seriously began to hate this mission.

Checking the map anew, he charged his cannons. He grabbed the ‘copter by the wrist, activated his thrusters again on their lowest setting, and used the momentum to turn and dodge the tentacle at the same time.

He now was looking at the floor, his grip still on the ‘copter, who had also turned.

“Slag, I’m getting sick, don’t do that again!”

“Shut up and don’t let go of Brawl!” Blast Off snapped, and fired both his cannons, increasing the power to his thrusters so that the recoil didn’t send him up.

His shots tore the floor apart and burnt through two other layers of metal beneath, leaving a big hole, and making the walls vibrate even more.

He didn’t bother to speak, he simply left the room through the freshly formed exit, his hand still around the other's wrist, the tentacle following them.

Beneath the room was another corridor, but Blast Off didn’t use it, he flew through the hole instead which his cannons burnt in its floor, until he reached a hall. Another storage room like the one where they entered the station. It was dark again, and significantly colder. The vehicles and cargo floated, uncoordinated, due to the lacking gravity.

Changing back to infrared, he stopped his thrusters and used the drive to hide behind some large boxes.

The tentacle fumbled around after him, but didn’t reach into the room and soon withdrew. It caused Blast Off to frown, and wonder, but he reasoned that he could think about it later.

“You know… I hate when you don’t tell me about your plans…”

He turned to Vortex, who looked at him, one hand on the box, apparently for purchase. He’d let go of Brawl, leaving the tank floating next to them.

“Oh sorry,” Blast Off muttered. “I was a bit in a hurry.”

“Urgh… whatever… I feel sick. What happened to the gravity?”

“It is deactivated?” Blast Off’s voice was condescending as he stated the rather obvious fact.

Vortex gave him a look, but didn’t say anything more about that. He just asked, “So, what are we doing now?”

“We need to get Brawl back online.” Blast Off ran a few scans over the tank. There was no damage besides a low energy level. “Can you uplink with him?”

Another look from Vortex, but Blast Off couldn’t interpret it.

“He’s low on energy and I can’t uplink with him,” Blast Off explained the situation, and it was only partly because he truly didn’t want to do that. “At my current energy level, I can’t do that,” he said further, “not if I still have want to take us home.”

Vortex shrugged. “Sure…” Fumbling around with Brawl’s interface panel and his own cable, he plugged into the tank. His rotors shivered.

Blast Off pretended not to notice.

“How is your sensor net?” he asked, scanning the surroundings. There was not a single alien tendril in the room.

The answer was a huff and a mumbled, “I’m fine.”

Blast Off left it at that. He was relieved that the ‘copter’s state of mind didn’t border on panic any longer.

“When he’s back online, what are we gonna do next? I mean are we gonna get that energy thing or just fly away or… yeah. What?”

Blast Off was about to respond that they first had to wait for Brawl to come online before they could make a decision when the tank unexpectedly groaned.

Fingers twitched, and optics flickered online as the tank muttered something unintelligible and then looked at Blast Off.

“Uh…?” Brawl mumbled, and the shuttle suppressed a condescending remark.

When the tank's optics went to Vortex and the one way connection, the visor flickered again. “Uh… Vortex? That’s not a good time to…”

Blast Off interrupted him. “You are low on energy. How are you feeling?”

“…drained? I think…”

That answer was to be expected, but a klik or two longer with the connection, and the tank should feel better.

“Why are we floating? Where are we?” Brawl spoke anew.

“We’re still in the space station. You got kinda kidnapped. But we found you and now we’re… somewhere. Oh, and the gravity isn’t working any more!” Vortex answered, weirdly cheerful; probably because of the half-interface? Blast Off didn’t care.

“Not exactly not working. I think it’s been deactivated,” Blast Off shared his opinion. “Brawl, did it hack into your processor?”

The tank as well as Vortex looked at him, but it was the ‘copter who asked, “How is that important?”

And it was Brawl who answered, “Uhm, if it can deactivate the gravity, it’s maybe intelligent enough to hack my CPU for… you know comm. frequencies or something…?”

Blast Off and Vortex stared at the tank in surprise.

Brawl shifted uncomfortably. “…what?”

“Nothing, you’re just right,” Blast Off said bluntly, and didn’t pay attention to the other’s darkened visor. “So, did it hack you, or not?”

A shake of the head before Brawl looked down at his interface panel. He answered absently. “No. I don't think so… I mean,” he unplugged Vortex and closed the latch, glancing up at the shuttle again. “I got caught and it felt weird and… yeah, I was stuck there, but I don’t think it hacked me. It was more like… dunno being awake but not, like…” Brawl stopped abruptly.

…like the Detention Centre, Blast Off finished the other’s sentence in his mind, and he knew Vortex did the same as his rotors went idle again.

He didn’t leave his team mates time to think further about it when he turned to the tank. “Can you build a bomb?”

Two visors blinked at him in confusion.

“No one’s going to mess with us like this. We're gonna blow this thing up,” Blast Off said. Brawl's optics lit up, and Vortex tilted his head.

“How? One bomb won’t be enough. We’ve seen it. This thing, whatever it is, it’s spread over the whole station, almost like its infected or something.”

Brawl’s shoulder slumped, and Blast Off grinned.

“It will be enough if we blow up the energy source. We just need an explosion hotter than 500,000 K. Do you think you can build something that hot with the material at hand?”

“Well, that’s kinda really hot, but… lemme think.” Brawl tapped his battle mask with his index finger, humming quietly.

And while the tank was in his element, Vortex shook his head. “What is this? I mean, seriously, our mission is to get that energy source, right? Not to blow it up.”

Blast Off blamed Vortex’ military subroutines for the question.

“Did you see it?”

The ‘copter frowned. “What?”

“The energy source. It was in the room, pretty big, blue? Did you see it?”

“Well, sorta,” Vortex snapped. “I was kinda busy with getting Brawl out of that stuff, you know.”

Blast Off huffed, “Good, it’s probably better you didn’t look right into it. Even if this thing hadn’t attacked us, we couldn’t have brought the energy source to Chaar. It’s too big now for me to have transported it. And it’s unstable - it’s dying.”

At that, Brawl gazed at him as did Vortex, quizzically.

“What do you mean dying?”

“I told you it’s not a reactor,” Blast Off said, rubbing his temple while he thought of the right words. Eventually, he settled to the easiest explanation.

“It’s a star.”

Chapter Text

Title: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Chapter: 08 - Procrastination
Warnings: gen, suspense, action, a bit mystery/horror, possible disturbing images
Continuity: G1 [part of ultharkitty’s Dysfunction AU, post season three]
Characters: Vortex, Blast Off, Brawl
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Sadly, nothing is mine.
Beta: ultharkitty

Summary: Vortex, Blast Off and Brawl are on a mission to get an alien energy source from an abandoned space station.

Note: This chapter contains hints to ultharkitty’s fanfiction "Twister". :)

“Talking”
‘Comm-link’

 

---
…for you never shut your eye…

08 - Procrastination

“A what?” Vortex asked, disbelievingly.

“A star,” Blast Off replied, as though he thought Vortex’ audios were malfunctioning. When the two other mechs looked at Blast Off utterly cluelessly, he carried on, sighing. “Well, it’s a tiny star, and solid and compared to any other it’s considerably colder, but in its centre there are the same reactions as inside the centre of a star. And considering that, it is some sort of reactor. But it has the same energy output and radiation and relative life span as any other sun. This one, though, seems to have been drained by the alien creature and had lost most of its energy and inner fusion supplies, so it’s already reached the post-main sequence.”

Blast Off could tell from his team mates’ unmoving faces that they didn’t understand much, if anything at all.

“I… uhm,” Vortex began uncertainly, “So… a cold star? Shouldn’t stars be hot? And… don’t stars live like a billion years or something?”

The shuttle nodded. “Yes, if this energy source had been unaffected by the creature, it would have been only twice the size of my fist and burnt probably another millennia or even longer. Now it’s going to burn out in about a few vorns. And of course, every fusion reaction generates heat, but this race was able to create… an artificial star where the plasma is cold.”

Blast Off didn’t notice his own voice becoming almost excited compared to his usually unimpressed tone. And he couldn’t deny that he, when he’d come after Vortex and Brawl and entered the station, had been looking forward to seeing this small sun.

Brawl wavered a little. “I’m gonna build that bomb,” he mumbled, confusion clear in his voice. He reached for one of the boxes. His movements were clumsy due to the weightlessness, and it was more by habit that Blast Off helped the tank, and opened the nearest box. Cables and some metal plates floated out slowly, and Brawl grabbed them.

“…I still don’t get it,” Vortex said, and powered his thrusters to get another box. “How does it work?”

“I don’t know,” Blast Off answered truthfully. “I just know what it is; I don’t know how it works. Why do you think the Constructicons were that excited when Astrotrain told them he’d found a lost station of this race? If they figured out how it works, the Decepticons would win this war…”

Vortex paused. “If we could win this war with this thing, then it’s another reason not to blow it up.”

“I already told you,” Blast Off frowned, and was surprised that Brawl didn’t seem to want to argue for or against the plan. “This source - it’s useless now. And how should I transport it? It’s about as big as my alt-mode, and it’s already getting warmer. It would burn my plating… Slag, you can’t even directly look at it, because its luminosity would short-circuit your optical sensors!”

For a moment, the ‘copter was quiet, and when he finally spoke again, his tone was thoughtful. “So… what are we gonna tell anybody if we come back with empty hands?”

“The truth.”

Vortex and Brawl winced at the words; Blast Off didn’t feel quite comfortable with admitting a failure to Galvatron either. But at least there was no loyalty program anymore that forced them to sacrifice themselves by caring out an order they couldn’t ignore.

“Well,” Blast Off continued, “we tell them about the alien being, which could have been a danger for all Cybertronians if we hadn’t destroyed it…”

“This better be an awesome explosion!” Vortex said, glancing at Brawl, who flinched again.

“It will be,” Blast Off answered. “If we can heat the thing up enough, the inner reaction will be catalysed, the life span will be abruptly reduced and… boom.”

“500.000 K. That’s slaggin’ hot.” Brawl took some explosives and a welder out of his subspace. “I’ve never built a bomb in the air, so… I could use some help.”

“Sure thing,” Vortex said when he floated towards Brawl, and seemed again rather positive.

Blast Off sighed. Sometimes he didn’t understand his team mate’s mood swings. Though, he didn’t know if they were mood swings at all. Probably it was just a very short attention span…

“I’ll get some more boxes,” he muttered and glanced up at the hole. No tentacles could be seen, and it seemed they could be as loud as they wanted to be in this room. It reminded him of the other, colder corridors he’d used to get as quickly as possible to Vortex, and where there also hadn’t been any tendrils or aliens.

This was worth noting for their escape, Blast Off thought, and called up the map once more, while he opened another box and found some gas canisters.

---

“How long?” Blast Off glanced at the construction Brawl was working on, meaning when would the tank be finished.

Brawl shrugged. “I dunno. I said I’ve never built a bomb while floating… Here, weld that together.” Giving Blast Off two metal plates, he turned again to the gas canisters and reached for another few cables and lines.

Blast Off sighed, and took a quick look at Vortex, who also helped and welded. He finally did so after being snapped at by Brawl when he tried to glue the plates together with his gun.

“So, a star, eh?” Vortex began with a mocking tone, gazing at Blast Off as he did so. “When this race here was so highly developed, why did they go extinct?”

Blast Off didn’t answer instantly, but when he did, his voice was blank with an underlying thoughtfulness. “They became hubristic, and claimed to be gods.”

“Yeah, so…?” The tank shrugged indifferently, Blast Off simply huffed, giving both his team mates a meaningful look.

“Well, imagine you were a king, and mere people claimed your throne, what would you do?”

He didn’t bother to say anything more before he started working again. It didn’t matter if they’d understood, what mattered was the bomb; that the two other mechs fell silent after this was just a nice bonus.

They were busy for another two breems in which words were few, but after this, the construction was finally complete. And it was huge.

Blast Off hadn’t expected it to be this large. It was almost as big as his torso.

“It’s kinda big…” Vortex said doubtfully.

“Yeah, sorta, sorry about that,” Brawl snapped and Blast Off was glad that he hadn’t been the one who’d expressed that fact.

“I just have limited supplies here, and Mister Star-gazing there said we need a pretty hot detonation, so don’t complain!”

“And how do we get that thing near the star?”

“Hey, that’s not my problem. I’m responsible for building bombs, not for the strategy stuff!”

“Neither am I,” Vortex muttered, and they both stared at Blast Off.

He tried to ignore the anger about the nicknames his team mates came up with, and sighed.

“How do we set it up?” he asked, having decided that it’d be better to stay focused.

Brawl winced slightly. “Eh, yeah, about that. The detonator. I just have a timer, no electrical detonator. I mean, I could build one, but considering the range it needs and the stuff around to use, I guess I’d need a joor? Maybe more?”

“Then we use the timer.” Blast Off didn’t see any problems with that. “The alien thing seems to have some sort of intelligence and probably knows that we’re up to something. And even if not, it attacked us when we were in the room. If we go back, this will most likely happen again.”

Brawl nodded and Vortex tilted his head, arms crossed, but listening.

“So, we need someone who draws its attention, someone who places the bomb and someone for backup and to provide cover.”

“Ah,” the tank’s visor lit up. “So, like the time we broke Vortex out of the Autobot brig. Just with one mech less and with the package way the other way around.”

Blast Off was slightly confused, but then mumbled a “yes”, frowning. It was probably better to acknowledge whatever Brawl needed to understand a plan.

“Sorry to interrupt you, but what? At that time, I - unfortunately - didn’t participate in the plan,” Vortex grumbled sarcastically, and Blast Off guessed that it wasn’t because of any plans he didn’t understand, but just because of Brawl reminding him of that incident.

The tank obviously didn’t think so, because he began anew. “You know, like the one time on Cybertron with…”

“Brawl, you’re the diversion,” the shuttle interrupted him. There was no use in wasting time with musing over past events.

“What? again?”

“Yes, again, and considering that everything will take place in the same room and you’ll be busy with shooting, I really don’t think it matters.”

“Oh, shooting stuff, yeah, that’s cool. That’s really okay.”

“So, I’m the delivery boy, then?” Vortex said, and vented air heavily.

For a moment, Blast Off just looked at the ‘copter, and then shook his head, saying simply, “No.”

“No? What do you mean, ‘no’. I can’t cover any of you. I’m almost out of ammo, and my glue gun doesn’t work on that thing…”

Blast Off rubbed his face, and took his Ionic Blaster out of his subspace, handing it to Vortex.

“Here. You can’t get near the star. Firstly, it’s a star. I already said you won’t be able to even directly look at it without being blinded, and secondly, how strong, do you think the radiation will be near it? Thirdly, you’re not used to moving while weightless. I go.”

There was a pause. Vortex took the weapon from Blast Off and still seemed to ponder.

“What about you?” he eventually asked, and the shuttle didn’t know what he meant. Vortex apparently understood the confusion, and explained further. “If the radiation is that strong when you’re near it, what about you? You’re not in your alt-mode.”

Blast Off frowned as he remembered what he had said earlier to Vortex about extreme conditions and effects on him in root-mode. Now he was angry at himself for telling the ‘copter in the first place.

“I’ll be fine.” At least, it was what Blast Off hoped.

When they had been at the other end of the room, the radiation hadn’t been that high, but taking the state of the star into account, he couldn’t know about the situation only a few feet away from it.

“Only a gun isn’t enough when you have to cover us,” Brawl said after listening to them quietly breaking the tense atmosphere. “I have high grade,” the tank mumbled and it sounded slightly sad. “I kinda thought we could drink it when we would’ve gotten the energy thing. To celebrate, you know.”

Blast Off suppressed a huff. Of course, Brawl and Vortex celebrating with high grade while he would have flown them back home - like always. He was about to say a patronising remark about Brawl’s obvious fondness of high grade when the tank took out three cubes. Surprised, Blast Off stamped on his vocaliser in time.

“What a shame… all the high grade,” Brawl mumbled, and Vortex just shrugged.

“So what? We throw these cubes at it that it’s gonna get over energised, or what?” It was clear that the ‘copter still wasn’t content with the plan.

“No?” The tank frowned. “Are you stupid? We throw it at it as grenades. Tsk…”

Brawl shook his head, and Blast Off couldn’t help but grinning at the oddness of this situation. Vortex’ engine growled and he crossed his arms once more, but kept quiet.

“Here…” Taking three weird little devices out of his subspace, Brawl held them up. A big red button was nearly everything which could be seen. “Push it and you’ve got seven astrosecs until it goes boom.”

He hold the first device - most likely a detonator - near a cube and with a quiet ‘woob’-noise, it got stuck on the energon.

“Why seven astrosecs?” Vortex asked what Blast Off was also wondering. It was a quite uncommon time span.

“Because: one - two - three,” the tank counted, not very quickly, but also not that slow. “I also could have counted faster when I built them, but then they probably would have blown up in my hand, or before they hit the target, and that wouldn’t be cool…And I like the number: ‘seven’.”

Absently, he installed the other detonators on the cubes. “Did you know that ‘seven’ is the only digit with two syllables in many Earth languages? I think that’s kinda weird.”

Blast Off and Vortex exchanged looks, but they thought it was probably better not to react to that…

Chapter Text

Title: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Chapter: 09 - Supernova
Warnings: gen, suspense, action, a bit mystery/horror, possible disturbing images
Continuity: G1 [part of ultharkitty’s Dysfunction AU, post season three]
Characters: Vortex, Blast Off, Brawl
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Sadly, nothing is mine.
Beta: ultharkitty, thanks for putting up with me all the time. :)

Summary: Vortex, Blast Off and Brawl are on a mission to get an alien energy source from an abandoned space station.

Note: And here the last chapter. I hope you enjoyed the story so far. Have fun with the last part. :)

“Talking”
‘Comm-link’

 

---
…till the sun is in the sky.

Part 9 - Supernova

“Ready?” Blast Off asked blankly, mainly to conceal that he wasn’t as he looked at his team mates. Brawl had explained to him how he had to set up the timer, and the shuttle was now floating next to the other two mechs beneath the hole in the ceiling, holding the bomb in both hands. It was a bulky construction, and he truly hoped that Brawl did a good enough job that it would blow up the space station.

Brawl winced slightly at the question, but nodded whereas Vortex was utterly still.

The weightlessness and Blast Off’s overall inability to read body language was the reason he didn’t perceive Vortex’ reluctance to carry out the plan. Only the rigid rotor blades could have been an indication, but Blast Off thought it was due to the upcoming fight and the ‘copter being poorly armed.

The tank would go first, followed quickly by Vortex, and when all the bigger tentacles were kept busy by the two mechs, Blast Off would come up and set the bomb once he received the signal from one of his team mates.

Everything would have to happen quickly, because they wouldn’t have much time to escape. Blast Off calculated a route and sent it to his team mates.

“Remember: don’t look directly at the star.” Blast Off had already said that, but he guessed it was better to repeat it.

Brawl vented air one last time, deeply and heavily, before he nodded again and powered up his thrusters.

Fortunately, Blast Off had also shared a few lines of program code which made it easier for them to manoeuvre in the weightless surroundings; and so the tank flew up, controlled and without uncoordinated movements.

Brawl was quickly out of sight, and when the first shot of the tank’s cannon barrel could be heard, Vortex also vanished through the hole.

Blast Off waited, staying behind alone, forced to listen to the gunfire and weird hissing. The walls began to vibrate once more, and it could even be felt three floors beneath the room.

He was uncomfortable.

Blast Off was usually the one who watched them fighting from far away, and who stepped in when it was necessary. He wasn’t used to seeing nothing, and just to waiting.

‘Hey Thrusters!’ It was Vortex, the commlink full of static, probably because of the high activity of the alien tendrils. ‘Get your large aft up here!’

Blast Off’s engine growled. They should have made up a code word that would have prevented the ‘copter from using that insult, he thought, but chose not to care about it.

Activating his thrusters, he followed his team mates to the hall with the energy source. Changing his sight settings in time, the sudden luminosity still hurt his optical sensors, and he was blind for the slightest of moments.

When his vision came back, he saw Brawl floating in alt-mode - which looked pretty odd - and Vortex fighting back a thick tendril which tried to catch him.

‘Get going!’ Brawl yelled through the comm, sounding rather stressed, and only an instant later, he fired his rear-mounted sonic cannons. The concentrated sound boomed through the room, and the glassy organics burst into fragments which floated in the room like mirror shards.

Blast Off froze for a moment when the unreal alien construct shattered and was destroyed. But then the hissing became louder, and the vibrations of the walls turned into a constant thrumming noise, and the shuttle was reminded what he was supposed to do.

Directing more power to his thrusters, he flew to the star, covering the distance quickly. Dodging tentacles and evading attacks, he also tried not to look directly at it, but it was hard, his curiosity and fascination for the star stronger than his caution.

The brightness burnt at his optics, and he could barely make out any clear movements on its surface; only bigger whirls and flares or bursts of plasma, while the radiation increased exponentially. His core temperature and the pressure within his energon lines began to rise.

It was at that moment when he became absolutely sure that he’d never be able to get this dying - artificial - celestial body to Chaar.

Beneath the star, the thicker ends of the tentacles moved frantically, reacting to the attacks from his team mates, and hardly noticing him.

Blast Off manoeuvred himself until he was behind the star, and the events on the other side of the room where concealed by the glowing orb. And it was neither the unexpected strong heat nor the unnerving radiation which strained his systems which shocked him; it was the unbelievable thing he saw in front of him.

The tendrils weren’t stuck to the floor, as he had first thought, and they didn’t emerge from beneath the ground. Floating behind the orb, Blast Off saw the tentacles digging into the star, or coming out of it, he couldn’t be sure, and he wasn’t certain if he truly wanted to know. The tendrils throbbed and pulsated in the tact of the small sun, and even from them Blast Off could detect radiation.

For a moment he was stunned, but eventually he regained his composure and deposited the bomb. He set the timer to five kliks. It was all calculated, five kliks would be enough for their escape from the space station, to reach the nearby planet’s orbit and to evade the explosion.

Five kliks would be enough, Blast Off thought, and activated the bomb’s timer.

His finger lost contact with the button, the first astrosecond counting down as he was hit.

Something punched into his abdomen with an incalculable force. His systems glitched, and he was hardly aware that he was being dragged through the room until his back was slammed against the opposite wall.

He had time to take a last look at the celestial body before his optical sensors flickered and shut down. Something dug into him, absorbing energy and warmth and leaving him freezing and weak. Thin tendrils crept into his abdominal plating, and from the wall he felt them seeping through his shoulder armour, and upper arms, and even through the plating of his legs.

There was no warning in Blast Off’s HUD, because his HUD didn’t work. He wasn’t shivering, even though it felt like he should. Right then, he almost panicked and didn’t even remember that they had to leave.

A loud, aggressive sound destroyed the prison of his own thoughts within the cold and the immobility, and the energy returned along with the warmth.

Blast Off’s optics snapped online, seeing the tentacle’s fringed end wavering around. The other part still stuck at him, and disgustedly, he ripped it off. His optics wandered to where Brawl and Vortex where fighting, and the ‘copter glanced at him, tilting his head, in his hand an energon cube.

Blast Off nodded in acknowledgement and freed himself from the smaller streaks of the wall.

‘Let’s go!’ he said via commlink, and Brawl’s answer was a disappointed sigh as the tank destroyed another tendril with his gun. Then he left the room quickly through the hole.

Vortex didn’t say anything and just followed the tank, shooting at tentacles while doing so.

Blast Off was the last one to leave, again dodging the alien thing’s attacks. He couldn’t afford to waste more energy.

4.64 kliks.

They reached the storage room, Vortex and Brawl flying in front of Blast Off, and this time, the tentacles followed, probing into the colder space. The walls shuddered, metal creaked, and the hissing became a hostile whine.

Entering a corridor which led away from the room, the shuttle noticed the door closing behind them.

His systems were still gitching, but fortunately it was only a few scanners and stabilizing programs, and ones which weren’t that important while moving through weightlessness at a higher speed. Only the cold and lifeless feeling still lingering in his lines, together with the image of the tentacles digging into the star - or emerging from it - made him uneasy

They flew around a corner, and Brawl stopped short.

“Frag!” he cursed, and Blast Off saw the reason. The next hallway was too small for them, at least to small to fly through it. But it was something which Blast Off had calculated on.

Wordlessly, he powered up his cannons, ignoring Vortex’ confused look, and fired through the wall.

The hole revealed a big hoist shaft, and stunning cold. The temperature around 34 K mingled with the warmer hallway air, and Brawl and Vortex exchanged looks.

4.27 kliks.

“I don’t think…” Vortex began, but Blast Off didn’t leave any time for complaints. He grabbed Brawl’s cannon barrel, and Vortex’ upper arm, powering up his thrusters when he entered the shaft, dragging his team mates behind him.

‘Holy sl-ag…” Brawl gasped through the commlink, and Blast Off guessed that his vocaliser was already glitching due to the intense chill.

The shuttle flew fast, the walls around him shuddering, lights flickering on and off. His scanners still glitched, and so he didn’t know about the condition of his team mates, but he knew that he had about 1.5 kliks until the cold would cause their processors to stop working.

3.88 kliks.

Blast Off eventually reached the end of the shaft; it was closed by a large hatch, and once more he had to shoot to open the way.

Behind the door, there was a huge hangar. The gates to space were open, and the vacuum sucked them into the room.

Within the whirling, frenzy of movement, Blast Off managed to bring Vortex and Brawl near him, and he transformed around them. The masshifting set in, and despite the welcome weightlessness, the shift of mass centre, the change of sensory input and optical perception confused him for a fraction of an astrosecond.

3.52 kliks.

Blast Off’s alt-mode thrusters activated with a burst and a rumbling which conducted through his plating. He didn’t turn on his internal gravity, but directed the heat of his engines into his cargo hold and cockpit.

The shuttle kept an optic on his stiff and frozen team mates, and on the surroundings which all of a sudden began to move.

Cranes swung in Blast Off’s direction, and he narrowly avoided a collision with a large metal arm. Within the vacuum of the hangar, there was no sound, but the quivering of metal was unmistakable.

It was also impossible not to notice the hangar gates slowly closing.

3.19 kliks.

Lights within the large hall went on and flooded out the darkness, only to be drowned by the vast gloom outside, which seemed much more welcoming than the unreal cold light within the station.

Blast Off shuddered. He didn’t want to shoot again, it would drain even more of his energy, and so he powered his thrusters to their highest setting.

3.03 kliks.

Blast Off sped through the gates of the space station, emerging in the dangerous emptiness of space, his home. In front of him the dark side of the planet hovered, a giant black sphere, casting its shadow over Blast Off and giving him a point on which to focus.

His thrusters still worked at their highest setting, and the heat burnt inside, while on their outer walls the freezing temperature of absolute zero cooled his metal.

2.46 kliks.

At a velocity of about 25 thousand miles per hour, Blast Off reached the planet’s medium high orbit. He maintained the propulsion of his thrusters as he floated over the dead wasteland and rough surface, until eventually the solar system’s sun came into view.

Blast Off was too preoccupied with observing his team mates’ status and the time left until the explosion to realise how stunning that fast sunrise was. The first heat and radiation hit his plating and he prepared to relax at the familiar sensation.

0.34 kliks.

He had almost rounded the planet, the view at the space station was gone and Blast Off looked into the bright sun ahead, and at the planet’s blue moon.

Vortex and Brawl twitched, and groaned, as their systems finally rebooted and the frozen energon thawed.

Blast Off tensed, counting down the last astroseconds, attempting to prepare himself.

0.01 kliks.

Blast Off left the planet’s orbit, heading towards its moon.

Behind him, mostly hidden behind the planet, came a bright light. It grew, and changed from pale blue to intense white. An amorphous entity of lightning and brightness, it was moving, changing, becoming bigger, and Blast Off felt the first waves of burning, intense radiation of unknown strength. It seeped under his plating and it hurt. His optic sensors protested with an immense ache and nearly glitched, but Blast Off couldn’t look away.

The dying star pulsed as the light destroyed the dark side of the planet, and Blast Off felt the eruption in the magnetic field of the celestial body. His systems where overwhelmed by the sudden change of the field, and its instability, and it was the first time in his life that he lost orientation in space.

Senseless and lost, Blast Off tried to hold the course to the moon, his thrusters still working.

He reached 48,000 mph without noticing. His alt-mode shuddered when the radiation of the star in front of him heated his plating, and the radiation from the dying star behind him flared intensely, as though emitting every last bit of life within these few moments.

Blast Off flew towards the living sun, with a supernova at his back.

---

It took kliks, or even breems, until Blast Off was able to think clearly again; the explosion had subsided and left a glittering nebula - a beautiful remnant.

The outburst of the supernova had been stronger and had more of an effect on him than he had ever thought possible, but then, how could he have known? He hadn’t met anyone who had experienced this state of a star’s life from this close. It made him proud, and sad.

Now, he realised, they’d just killed a star…

“Thrusters?” It was Vortex who spoke, and Blast Off tensed, but it wasn’t noticable in between the shivers and shudders which still ran all over his aching alt-mode.

Brawl and Vortex were able to move again and now sat in the cockpit, leaving the pilot’s seat untaken. They watched the moon and the planet vanishing in one of the side windows.

“You know I hate when you don’t tell me about your plans!” Vortex continued when Blast Off didn’t answer, and the shuttle didn’t know what he meant.

“Yeah, that was kinda really mean, you know?” Brawl interrupted, and it confused Blast Off even more. He didn’t bother to ask, though, and he didn’t need to, because Vortex started anew.

“Yeah, it was! At first you always tell us not to go to the… what had he said?”

“Colder areas.”

“Ah, yeah, not to go to the colder areas, and then you fraggin’ drag us through it and we freeze and almost die!”

Blast Off huffed, but his onboard speakers only generated a staticky screech. He thought that Vortex shouldn’t complain. Knowing the ‘copter, Blast Off guessed, that he probably had liked it, and if not for the sensations, than definitely for the new experience. For Brawl, though, Blast Off would most likely feel sorry if he was capable of doing so.

“And I missed the explosion…” Brawl muttered, after a moment of silence.

Blast Off sighed, and this time, his speakers did work. The tingling ache running over his systems settled bit by bit.

Without speaking, he activated his display setting and his front window became a big screen. It flickered for a moment, before the memory file was shown, and Blast Off regretfully relived the moment of the dying star.

Vortex kept quiet, but he was probably grinning as his rotor blades began to quiver.

Brawl’s visor lit up, and he jumped off his seat, sending himself floating.

“Woah, whoa, whoa,” he yelled excitedly, and grabbed for the armrest, manoeuvring back into the seat.

Eventually, Blast Off stopped the memory, and the nimbus stayed there unmoving.

“Awww, show me again, please!”

“No.” It was the first real word Blast Off spoke after the escape, and Brawl’s shoulders slumped.

“You’re mean…”

“I am,” the shuttle said. He wasn’t in the mood for long conversations. He was tired.

“I’m going to go into standby mode to save energy. I’ll keep my scanners and everything essential on, so that I’ll online if anything happens. I have to keep the gravity offline, but I recommend you: don’t do anything stupid, and do not touch anything.”

Brawl flinched at the tone, but nodded, and Vortex didn’t react at all.

Well, this was still better than arguing with the ‘copter, Blast Off thought, and decided not to react either.

Then, he sighed again.

Reluctantly, he pinged both his team mates for a data transfer and sent them the memory file of the supernova.

The tank wiggled happily on his seat while Vortex giggled quietly. Blast Off ignored them both.

“In one of my side containers in the cargo hold is some energon,” he said, shutting down the first systems, and didn’t wait for a reaction from his team mates.

“Goodnight.”