Title: Ignorance is bliss
Warnings: gen, science
Characters: Blast Off, Vortex, Swindle, Brawl
Disclaimer: Sadly, nothing is mine.
Summary: Vortex is up for a little trip, and Blast Off has to get him back.
Note: Written for tf_speedwriting and the prompt: Snow/Ice/Cold
Ignorance is bliss
Location: Low Earth orbit, 200 miles above Earth’s surface; velocity: approx. 18,000 mph; temperature: 13K.
Blast Off couldn’t recharge, not really. He had tried nonetheless, despite his passengers and their annoying talking and overall irritating behaviour, but it had been a futile attempt. They were on a mission, so he couldn’t even shut down the input from his audio sensors.
Blast Off’s light doze was interrupted by either Brawls shouting, Swindle’s whining or Vortex.
Vortex didn’t need to do anything at all, it was enough for him to be there to make Blast Off wary and tense.
Right now, however, all three seemed to be in recharge, and so Blast Off tried again to use these short moments of silence for his own rest. He disabled unnecessary scanners and instruments, and activated his stand-by mode, which automatically checked important measurements of speed and direction.
He hadn’t recharged for 89 of Earth’s hours, and the moment Blast Off was finally able to relax, he sank into a deeper state of unconscious than he had intended.
Blast Off’s inner chronometer told him that he’d been in recharge for over ten joors when his system dragged him out of it and engaged a forced boot-up.
Something was wrong.
Something was wrong with his cargo hold door.
Something was wrong with his passengers, because one of them wasn’t in the cockpit anymore.
Alarmed, Blast Off switched on every possible onboard camera. The sudden flood of visual input confused him for a mere two astroseconds, before he could make out where Vortex was. And what he was trying.
“What the pit are you doing?!” Blast Off yelled over his speakers, causing Brawl and Swindle to wake up, startled.
Vortex laughed, “I’m bored”, and completed the overwrite of the cargo hold door.
It opened instantly. At first only a small gap, where the air inside was sucked out, then the pressure became too much and it was torn powerfully open.
Blast Off reacted by reflex, and slammed his cockpit door shut, making the other two mechs inside wince. He hermetical locked the cockpit to keep the air inside, and waited for the overwrite command to be discharged and control to revert to himself. By the time this happened, Vortex was already in space, chuckling over the comm-link.
‘Hehe… wow, it’s really cold here…’
He sounded pleased. Anger built up in Blast Off, while he kept his scanners on Vortex.
The distance from the ‘copter increased. Already slowed down by the air suction, Vortex activated his thrusters, and flew even further away.
‘Are you insane?!’ Actually, this question was a waste of time.
‘Stop that!’ Blast Off tensed at the sight, activating more scanners to check on the ‘copter. ‘That’s the wrong direction! Accelerate, now!’
‘Cool do..wn…’ Vortex laughed even more, apparently exhilarated by his own joke.
Blast Off wasn’t in the mood for this, though. He needed to get the ‘copter back inside. Eventually he gained control over his outer door again and he closed it soundlessly.
Swindle and Brawl inside his cockpit looked confused, and talked simultaneously, asking questions which he ignored. He had other problems.
Vortex drifted through space, his thrusters deactivated, finally, but it wasn’t because he actually wanted it. Blast Off’s scanners told him that the energon flow inside the ‘copter’s body had almost stopped.
0.47 kliks - this long Vortex was exposed to space conditions he wasn’t built for, and he still lost speed.
‘I…t’s re--- col-d’ Vortex’ comm. was full of static, and his tone wasn’t that pleased anymore, but Blast Off didn’t pay attention to it.
His processor ran four trains of thought at the same time: calculating how long Vortex could survive outside, considering his build and conditions and time he already was out; checking on Vortex’ life signs and his speed; calculating his weight and how long it would take until he became too slow and fall into Earth’s atmosphere; calculating Blast Off’s own velocity, his weight, and how slow he could get without endangering himself. He activated his reaction control system, to actually slow down and to decrease the distance from Vortex, and did so very carefully.
The copter’s energon flow stopped completely, but his laser core temperature was still in a tolerable area. Vortex wasn’t lost yet, but Blast Off didn’t have much time.
In space, every movement seemed slow, and so it appeared to take an eternity until Vortex’ limp, frozen body became bigger.
“Hey, what’s going on here?” Brawl asked, loudly.
Blast Off didn’t answer. Preoccupied with other things, he barely heard the tank. His deck opened, revealing an implement arm. He hated to use it; he hated to open this part of his alt-mode, because it was so different to what he was used to. It was so primitive - so human. Though he didn’t have another option at the moment.
He opened his cargo door again and deactivated the artificial gravity, leaving Brawl and Swindle floating in his cockpit.
“Hey, large aft, what’re you doing?!”
Reaching with the outboard arm for the ‘copter, still checking on measurements and life signs, he growled. “Shut up!”
Blast Off moved the arm cautiously, and now he cursed that he’d never bothered to get used to it while he tried to get hold of Vortex without crushing him or the frozen energon lines. After a time that seemed to be an eternity full of rearranging his own position, controlling the outer equipment and scanning, the body floated back in the cargo hold.
Blast Off closed the door instantly and activated his thrusters. He needed to stabilise his own velocity so that he wouldn’t plummet himself. An uncontrolled re-entry would mean his death.
And all the time, Swindle and Brawl were talking and complaining. Now that Blast Off didn’t need to focus on so many other things, he became aware of them. They’d stopped asking questions of him, and rather whined about the whole situation.
Blast Off couldn’t care less.
Directing air from his tanks and emergency reserves, he slowly rebuilt the pressure in his cargo hold.
“Swindle, Brawl.” Blast Off’s tone made it clear that there was no more room for complaints or discussions. “Go to the cargo hold and bring Vortex to the cockpit.”
Swindle huffed. “Go? Blast Off, for that we need to be on the floor, but if you haven’t noticed, we’re floating!”
An engine growl caused Blast Off’s alt-mode to shudder. “Then float to the cargo hold! I can’t activate the gravity. Not yet! So, if you want to go on the floor again, then do as I say.”
Another huff, but the businessmech kept silent.
Brawl wasn’t as stupid as Swindle, at least if it came to objecting to Blast Off’s orders when they were in space. And so the tank was the first to move when the shuttle unlocked the cockpit door; there was a hissing noise as both rooms compensated for the change in pressure.
Vortex was still unconscious; his energon frozen, his processor capability on the lowest possible level. They needed to thaw the lines, quickly.
It took Swindle and Brawl much too long to transport Vortex to his cockpit and lay him on the floor. Only when Blast Off knew the sudden gravity wouldn’t break the stiff body, he activated it once more, causing Brawl to stumble and Swindle to fall on his aft.
“So, what the frag happened?” Swindle wanted to know as he stood up.
The shuttle sighed, closing the door anew, and directed the heat of his engines right in the cockpit. The temperature increased instantly.
“Apparently, Vortex thought a little space trip would be fun…” Blast Off answered this time, sounding exhausted.
Brawl looked at one of his onboard cameras, confused. “So what?”
If Blast Off had been in root mode, he would have attempted to imitate the human gesture of rolling his eyes, but as it was, he just answered flatly. “So his energon froze, his processor nearly stopped working, the vacuum was about to rip him apart, and he was going to fall down to Earth.”
“Oh… that doesn’t sound good.” Brawl mumbled, but Blast Off doubted that the tank understood half of the things he’d said.
Swindle didn’t respond; he sat down on a seat and crossed his arms, pouting. Blast Off didn’t care as long as he kept quiet.
There was a moment of silence, where only the working engines from Blast Off’s alt-mode and his two passengers were audible.
It didn’t last long enough, though, as Blast Off’s private comm. pinged.
‘I… wasn’t fa..lling…’
The shuttle zoomed in on Vortex. Some energon dripped off his battle mask, and there were a few other leaking lines at his arms, but nothing too bad. Vortex’ self-repair would take care of it.
Blast Off didn’t reply.
‘I was… floating.’
Judging by the slow speech, Vortex’ processor still wasn’t completely working. But he was still alive; maybe Onslaught wouldn’t punish Blast Off for this after all.
‘As if you had any notion of that! You weren’t floating, you were moving at over 17,500 mph, and you were about to fall down, because you idiot used your thrusters in the wrong direction!’
A laugh over the comm, but at least Vortex had the sense of decency to make it sound tired.
‘We’re in space, I cannot fall.’ His tone made pretty sure that he thought he knew what he was talking about.
Blast Off only huffed. Checking on his own speed, he decided to refuse engaging in a useless conversation with an ignorant lunatic.
That didn’t stop said lunatic from keeping up the useless conversation.
‘Next time I’ll power my thrusters in the right direction, promise.’
‘Next time I won’t come and get you, promise.’
‘Hehehe… don’t make promises you can’t keep.’