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Ready for Lift Off

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Title: Ready for Lift Off
Warnings: gen, implies genocide and war of alien races
Continuity: G1 (part of ultharkitty’s Dysfunction AU, pre-war)
Characters/Pairing: Onslaught, Blast Off, unnamed OC
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Sadly, nothing is mine.
Summary: Onslaught isn’t dependent on Cybertron’s puplic interspace travel system anymore. He has an own shuttle now. Sort of…
Beta: ultharkitty :D

Note: Written for the 5 Firsts challenge over on tf_rare_pairing @ LJ.

 

Ready for Lift Off

Altihex was impressive.

A whole city dedicated to air and space flight.

While Iacon was busy on the ground, restricting flyers to the airspace above the city, everything here gave the impression that the air was a mess. Full of insentient aircraft and mechs who were transforming, arriving or leaving. The arrival of incoming space ships marked a bright trail in the sky, miles above the city where they re-entered Cybertron's atmosphere.

Despite the chaos, there weren't any accidents, crashes in the sky or on the ground. The city seemed to have some sort of system. It had to, Onslaught was sure, considering the amount of scientists living here, but even though he hated chaos, he wouldn't have the time to find out.

Blast Off was waiting. They would leave soon for a planet without a space bridge, and since Onslaught now employed a shuttleformer, he didn't see a reason to spend money on the journey.

Blast Off hadn't been very pleased with Onslaught's decision, but he didn't care. Now Onslaught didn't need to tackle all the problems associated with space travel - visas, starting and landing permissions and aspects of bureaucracy Onslaught had never heard of. In the past he'd always ordered someone else to do that for him, but there'd always been issues and it'd taken ages.

Blast Off had left Kaon three cycles ago, and had commed him that everything was ready. It was no wonder, the shuttle probably still had his connections despite his lack of social skills.

Onslaught passed the Museum of Space and Extraterrestrial Culture, asking himself for a moment if it'd be worth visiting, before he turned onto a smaller street.

Blast Off gave him a brief map with shortcuts strangers didn't know, and a few pieces of advice. Such as minding the tracks of magnetic levitation trains, which sometimes weren’t all that visible, especially in areas no stranger walked in.

It was really helpful, Onslaught thought. The street signs were confusing, as there seemed to exist more than ten different ways to over ten different space ports, or parts of one and the same, Onslaught didn't know.

Eventually, however, he stood in front of a huge building behind which some kind of launching ramps pointed into the sky. The front of it was made of mirrored glass and, altogether, it was a boring view.

When he entered it, a smaller mech, a grounder, sat at a desk and welcomed him, asking for a certain code. This was an area which only permitted people had access to, not like the public port.

Onslaught's code was accepted, and the mech escorted him through another door. The people in the hall behind were busy, and loud. Speakers announced takeoffs and landings, asked for certain mechs to report at certain offices or gates, and overall announcements Onslaught couldn't make sense of.

He also saw Blast Off. Offside from the running and talking people, he leant against a wall, reading from a datapad - of course. The shuttle always did.

When Blast Off noticed him, they nodded in mutual acknowledgement.

"You made it here. Any problems on the way?" Blast Off asked, and Onslaught knew it was only politeness, because Onslaught was his employer. He wondered if it'd ever wear off towards him like it'd done towards other colleagues.

"No, thank you for the map," Onslaught replied, knowing that it'd be all of small talk they'd have.

The shuttle merely nodded, and turned. "Come."

They left the busyness of the hall when they entered a smaller, less crowded space.

"We'll start in a few breems. The timeframe for the start is 1.89 kliks, so if you have anything to take care of, do it now. If I have to cancel the lift off, I'll have to wait at least two cycles for the next start permission."

Onslaught nodded, and it was an odd feeling he got in there. Between all these flight capable mechs, and the facts stated, he felt small. It shouldn't be like this; he didn't like it.

If someone passed them, most people only glanced at Blast Off, sometimes ignoring Onslaught completely or giving him a confused yet unwelcome look.

"Hey Blast Off. Here," a voice echoed to them, and Onslaught heard the shuttle puffing a huff off his vents.

A blue femme waved, grinning, and patting Blast Off at his upper arm when they stopped in front of her.

Blast Off tensed.

Onslaught frowned. Apparently, this'd always been the same...

"Long time no see. It must've been ages," the femme said casually, smiling. She had two datapads, and gave one of them to Blast Off.

"Over two vorns," he said blankly, neither introducing Onslaught to her nor she to him.

Onslaught suppressed a growl.

"I thought you didn’t like passengers," the femme asked, gazing at him for a fraction of an astrosecond, before smiling at Blast Off again.

"I don't. He's an exception."

Another frown built on Onslaught's face plates hidden by his battle mask. Now he knew what Vortex had meant by being talked about as not being there.

Both shuttleformers typed something on the pads, silently, until the femme finally acknowledged Onslaught's presence and turned to him.

"So... Onslaught?" she asked unnecessarily. She eyed him up for another moment, before - apparently - deciding that he was worth enough to be addressed with a respectful tone and a smile.

He tried not to be angry, because he knew she was a shuttleformer, smaller than Blast Off or himself, but still from a higher caste. Arrogance and aloofness towards planet bound mechs was something all of them had in common.

So as not to give a hint about his anger, Onslaught just nodded once more.

“You have to fill in this form.” She gave him her datapad, “Please read it carefully and return it to me.” She smiled again, and Onslaught took the pad.

He knew the moment he started reading that it was one of these forms they had to fill and agree to when crossing a space bridge. It was a hedge for Altihex’ space port not to be responsible for anything that happened during the journey.

Well, Onslaught though, as long as they didn’t crash on an organic planet with aliens that wanted to eat them, everything should be fine, right?

Onslaught’s intakes heaved air as he started reading, hearing the others’ conversation in the background.

“You have new mods. You’re armed now.”

“For self-defence.”

She huffed, amused. “Yeah, I know what you mean. All passenger builds flying through Sector B7.8 were modded with light cannons lately…”

From the corner of his optics, Onslaught saw Blast Off looking up.

“They’re at war again?”

The femme nodded, and Onslaught frowned. He didn’t know who ‘they’ were, but both shuttles seemed not to be pleased.

“I stopped counting. It wouldn’t be so bad if they just attacked each other, but they developed new satellites and orbiters. With missiles and cannons and all that wonderful slag.”

There was a short pause, then Blast Off replied with a sigh. “They won’t stop until one race is extinct.”

“The way it goes, they will both die out.”

“It’s war. War never changes.”

The shuttleformers grew quiet, and Onslaught felt out of place again. He was built for war. Deciding to ignore the conversation, he re-read the last paragraph on the pad, and frowned. It cautioned him that all shuttleformers were equipped with an emergency beacon, and that help and assistance would be provided, except in following systems/sectors… A list of seemingly random numbers and characters appeared, all of which meant nothing to Onslaught.

He just ticked it off, and vented air deeply, eyeing the next section warily.

“You know, the Department of Interracial Diplomacy already bets on which race will be extinct first, and when it’ll happen,” the femme continued, and huffed condescendingly.

Onslaught raised an optical ridge, thinking that this was quite macabre; whatever these races were.

Blast Off stopped typing, and tilted his head. “The chance to guess right is affected by too many unforeseeable factors, they’ll all lose their money.”

“You bet! They asked us to join in, but frankly, I’d rather not shove my money into any of those arrogant aft-heads’ tailpipes.”

Onslaught raised an optical ridge, and he guessed Blast Off did the same.

“I’ve been saving for ages for the EMP mod, I ain’t gonna let them coax me into that slag.”

“Passenger builds still don’t have magnetic field modulators?” Blast Off sounded surprised. And while Onslaught had no idea what exactly such a device did, he glanced at the femme for a moment. Unseen behind his visor, his optics mapped out the sleeker frame and he tried to figure out just where passengers should fit in.

But then, Blast Off transformed with mass shifting, too…

“’course not,” the femme muttered, crossing her arms. “Passenger builds never get that close to stars, or something.” The sarcasm was very similar to Blast Off’s; this was probably another shuttle characteristic.

“They haven’t learnt anything.”

“No, they haven’t. You left at the right time. After that, we got some more ridiculous ‘updates’, but nothing truly useful.”

After this, Blast Off kept quiet except for another huff. Onslaught had never asked why Blast Off had left the Institution in Altihex, and thinking of it, he couldn’t deny that he was slightly curious. He might bait Vortex so that the ‘copter could find out the reason.

Onslaught’s musings stopped, however, when he read the next part of the declaimer, and he was close to rubbing his face in defeat and frustration. He had no idea what they wanted from him, and so he skipped, only ticked off another check box, and eventually came to the end. When he saw the words ‘Did you understand and agree to our terms and conditions?’, he just typed ‘Yes’, and hindered himself from sighing in relief.

“Done,” Onslaught said, and handed the datapad back.

“Thank you,” she smiled, and nodded, then turned to Blast Off who took a disc out of his pad, before he gave it back, too. “Gate 6,” she said, and started walking. “When will you be back?”

Blast Off shrugged as they followed her. “Probably two decacycles…”

Onslaught felt ignored again, but he didn’t care any longer.

She opened a door to a hangar, and let them through. But not before saying, “I can tell you about the new ridiculousness if you like. Ping me when you’re back.”

Onslaught didn’t look at them, optics roving over the hangar parted into different sections and the open gates to the launching pads. He could hear Blast Off answering, even though it was only a mutter.

“Maybe.”

An amused huff was the reply, followed by a “take care” in a tone which hinted at a grin; then the sound of a door closing.

Onslaught turned, and Blast Off continued as if nothing had happen.

“You can wait over there,” he pointed at an area with chairs and small bar close by. “I need to be checked and approved. It won’t take longer than two breems.” And with these words and another nod, Blast Off walked away.

---

Blast Off had been right; it didn’t take long.

Onslaught had just decided which sort of energon he wanted when another, smaller grounder had asked him to follow.

Blast Off had already transformed and the huge shuttle alt-mode hovered in one of the bays, nose turned to the open gate and ready for lift off.

It was actually the first time Onslaught entered the cockpit through the door at the side and not through the cargo hold. It was also the first time Onslaught would actually fly in it.

It was an odd feeling.

Sitting in the co-pilot’s seat, Onslaught could see through the front windows on which, like on a screen, stats and patterns scrolled down, flickered and vanished. He wouldn't need to do anything, which was equally weird since no one except himself was here.

Of course, Blast Off was, but he was the 'vessel'. There where three onboard cameras with which Onslaught could make optical contact, but it wasn't the same as someone sitting next to him.

He'd need a moment to get used to this.

Speakers crackled, and Onslaught looked up, chose the closest camera that zoomed in on him.

"I recommend putting the seatbelt on. I'm not built for passengers flight, therefore I don't have a vibration absorber and lift off won't be as you may know it. If you have to, vomit into the container to your right."

The words didn't make much sense to Onslaught, but he did as Blast Off instructed.

The countdown began. Blast Off didn't bother to state the time; he displayed the numbers on a good visible part of the front window, and as the counter reached '3', Onslaught tensed.

It was a good thing that he did.

Lift off was turbulent to say the least. Blast Off's whole frame seemed to vibrate as he accelerated to escape velocity. It shook Onslaught's body so much, he couldn't even focus on the view from the window; where the sky came closer, leaving Cybertron behind.

He now knew what Blast Off meant about not being built for passengers flight, because one ride like this and the people wouldn't come back. Though, Onslaught doubted that the shuttle did it on purpose, because as soon as they reached the upper atmosphere, the vibrations calmed down, and only the roar of powerful thrusters was noticeable. Until even that stopped as they floated into the darkness.

The blue of the sky was replaced by blackness. Only the light of one of Cybertron's moons provided a spot of cold light, because of which the stars beyond weren't yet visible.

As pretty as the view might have been, however, Onslaught couldn't truly focus on it. With leaving the atmosphere and the loss of acceleration that pressed him to his seat, the weightlessness set in. It made the energon in his lines float, his hydraulic pressure malfunctioning for the fraction of an astrosecond.

"Activating artificial gravity in two... one..."

The sickness of floating energon in Onslaught's tanks stopped the moment the gravity pulled him back into his seat.

Seriously not built for passengers, Onslaught thought as his systems struggled to cope with all the sudden change.

They were quiet for almost a breem in which the moon slowly came closer.

Then it was Blast Off who spoke, his tone blank and rational. "I'm going to round the moon once, then we leave Cybertron's orbit and soon the solar system."

Onslaught nodded as sign that he'd heard. He might not have that great a knowledge of space flight, but he knew at least that rounding a planet was to accelerate, using the celestial body's gravity to do so.

"In about three cycles, we're going to reach the portal that brings us to system ∑-00.943A," Blast Off continued, and it sounded all very impersonal and technical. "You’ll find a clock with Cybertron's time in the lower right corner of the window. The seats are adjustable in case you want to recharge."

"I'm awake," Onslaught said, "but thanks."

"Whatever you say..." The speakers crackled, then all was silence again.

For a few moments at least. Onslaught shuffled a little in his seat, making himself more comfortable, then he glanced once more at a camera. It instantly adjusted to focus on him.

"So, Blast Off?" Onslaught began casually.

"Yes?"

The voice was flat, and Onslaught raised an optical ridge. It was new to hear Blast Off acknowledging someone verbally, but then, he could hardly nod in alt-mode...

"When will we get back?"

"Depending on the portal’s stability and a few other factors, in about one decacycle and 4.5 cycles."

"When we're back, will you ping her? If you want a day off, then, you can..."

"You may want to hold on," Blast Off's speakers interrupted. "I'm going to enter Moon One's orbit soon and will power my thrusters."

Onslaught grinned. Way to change the subject, he thought. He hadn't expected anything else though.

He was just glad that he'd taken some work and books with him.

It was going to be a long flight.