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The Crater

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Mid-morning found Skrap-It out on a limb, reaching as far as his little body would allow for a Bitbug hovering, hopefully, just within reach.
"D-Strux is gonna like this!" Skrap-It said out loud, feeling triumphant as his hand closed around the flying part. "Future repairs for his tail! I'd know a T-Trux tail bolt anywhere, haha!" He said, beginning the crawl down the side of the tree he'd been perched near the top of.
"Or... maybe it's a Stegarbasaurus conveyor belt bolt?" He asked once he hit solid ground. Giving the part a good scrutinizing.
"Naw! It looks way too cool to not be a part for D-Strux!"

So Skrap-It started his walk home, bolt in tail, thinking how lucky he was to have a living situation. Considering he, and for that matter most Scraptools, lived a solitary life because they just couldn't bear sharing.
That is, until he'd been found by a Trux who had offered him scrap and never threatened to take it back.

A happy skip to his step, Skrap-It hummed, hoping there was ore when he got home. Pretty sure they had stockpiled at least enough to last through tomorrow.

"D-Strux, I'm hooome~!" Skrap-It called as he passed the lair's proverbial threshold, plunging into a familiar world of both darkness and warmth. One he'd helped build.

When the expected, "Where were you all morning?" or "What took you so long?" didn't rear its head, he searched the murk, waiting for his optics to adjust.

D-Strux's outline grew distinct from the stalagmites and Skrap-It realized the Trux was just sitting there, staring into their lava pit. Again.
He'd been doing that lately. No explanation given, so Skrap-It figured the behemoth must've suddenly decided he liked being warm. Really warm. Or maybe had only now come to appreciate the charm of an indoor reflecting pool.

Knowing D-Strux wouldn't want to be disturbed, though definitely wanting to, he set the bolt aside and started putting together their lunch. Practically giddy when he checked their cache and found plenty to last three days. Four if D-Strux kept skipping breakfast the way he had on and off the last little while.
A strange habit to pick up, if you asked Skrap-It.

On an average day, the Scraptool's 'scroungings', as his cavemate liked to call them, were enough to annoy the T-Trux out of any preoccupation. Usually, by the time Skrap-It had a third of their food set out, D-Strux would have revved on over and dumped more on each pile than they could possibly eat, saying something along the lines of, "This is how it's done."

Glancing over at the motionless ponderer with every piece of ore he arranged, Skrap-It realized he was feeling the beginnings of worry over how long the giant had been ignoring him. Or perhaps, even worse, how long he'd been unaware of his presence all together.
He caught it immediately when the timber of D-Strux's idle changed, morphing to a sound far more similar to an old Ankylodump's roughed up engine.

Skrap-It knew idling wasn't always the smoothest way to pass time, but D-Strux had never had a problem with it... until recently.
When he came to think of it, it had been getting a little loose sounding around breakfast and bedtime.
Hmm. Wracking his brain, a memory stepped forward. Yep. The change had occurred after a particularly nasty defeat at the hands of the Flatirons Gang some while back. If Skrap-It wasn't horribly mistaken.

Either way, he knew the proud T-Trux with an exterior of steel wouldn't want his constitution brought into question, so Skrap-It sighed and got to work putting the finishing touches on lunch.

"Alright, D-Strux!" He called behind himself in his shrillest, most annoying tone. "Come and get it!"
He thought he heard a grunt of some kind from over by the lava pit, but when nothing more came his way, he decided to change tactics.
"Alright D-Strux, someone's got you in a mood, right? Just say the name and I'll go rough 'em up for ya! Right after food. Whadaya say?"

"Sue." Sounded rough to Skrap-It, like it was the first thing the metal mountain had said all morning.

"Nnnope. Sorry, D-Strux, don't know anyone by that name. You'll have to think of someone else!" He said, arranging the last ball of ore on the top of his cavemate's pile just so. "D-Strux?" Skrap-It asked, peering over at the still still figure of his soon to be lunchmate.
Hm. Was the lair suddenly a little quieter than usual?

Though the intrepid Tool knew it wouldn't be appreciated, he needed to see for himself what was keeping the Trux, who never let even questionably good ore go to waste, from joining him at the minerals and silicate bar.
So he clinked his way over to the closer of the massive treads and scurried up to his favorite D-Strux approved standing platform. From there he lodged his plaintive queries.
"D-Strux? Are you ignoring me? Don't ya want lunch? I served it in your favorite pyramid shape."
Skrap-It, having expected a sharp reply or maybe a scowl for his troubles, was worried when he received neither.
"D-Strux? C'mon, it's lunch time! Isn't that, like, your favorite meal of the day?"

Eerily silent, eyes shut, engine off- Wait!
Skrap-It scrambled for the nearest access panel or vent that would give him a clear view of the most powerful internal combustion engine he'd ever stood on top of.
"Uh-oh." The Scraptool poked his head inside the chassis, feeling the comforting wave of two hundred degree -give or take- heat hit him in the face. Heat which usually meant a Trux was functioning just fine. Here, it was just residual heat; he could tell.
After all, the engine was motionless. Every piston and head, even the belts and hoses still as a stone.
Even the radiator seemed to be drawing its last ounces of water across its sieve, working to cool a beautiful machine which... no longer was. Working, that is.

Skrap-It backed out from the access port, closed the panel, and sat on his haunches.
"What am I gonna do? D-Strux might need parts! As in: more than one. Where would I- How-" He shook his head, knowing there was no way he could possibly diagnose, let alone fix, a mechanical problem as devastating as what he was sitting on.

Then, something clicked and his mind went into overdrive.
"That's it! Revvit, Ty, those other annoying Trux and Tools!" He jumped to his feet at the terrifying thought. "If anyone has parts, and practice working on a T-Trux, it's that know-it-all Rotillian!"

He hopped straight to the ground, not minding the slight grind it caused in his knobby knees, scarfed down a few mouthfuls of his perfectly prepared lunch, double checked that the lair was secure, and made for the exit. Thoughts of how he was going to entice the Trux and Tools to follow him here and not reduce his own personal T-Trux to scrap while they had the chance buzzing all through his head.

"Don't worry, D-Strux. Skrap-It is on the case!" He hollered, tearing down the rocky slope as fast as his tiny legs would carry him.

Chapter Text

D-Strux woke that morning when he felt his little Scraptool hop off his tread housing.
For some reason he'd never understand, Skrap-It liked sleeping on his chassis. The Trux would have thought all that ceaseless vibrating would make for a disturbing bed, but after allowing it one time, he'd never been able to get the Tool to sleep anywhere else.
Then again, it was his body constantly vibrating and it didn't bother him one bit. So maybe his annoying cavemate had something right after all.

Whatever, he thought as he heard Skrap-It scurrying out the cave without stopping for breakfast, the little Tool had earned a few comforts. As useful as he'd proven himself over the... How long had they been cohabitating? A year? Three?
Sure, the tiny Tool hadn't been all that effective in helping repulse the scourge that had been disturbing the natural order of the crater's echo system, but neither had D-Strux. Lately. So there was no sense blaming the scrapper for that shortcoming.

Feeling a hiccup from his carburetor, and hoping to smooth things out a bit, he rolled to a dark corner of the lair and chomped down a mouthful of sawdust he'd hidden there.
Behind a boulder. In a hole. Underneath another boulder.
Knowing Skrap-It could be back any moment, he didn't want to chance his rough running start to the day catching the Scraptool's attention.
Didn't need him worrying over something he couldn't fix.

Unfortunately, even his trick of swallowing small portions of sawdust had made the persistent click of what felt like an ever so slightly out of alignment fuel injector head disappear for only so long. He might've been mistaken about what was going on inside his engine anyway. That was just his best guess.

Besides that, there wasn't anything the scraptool could do for him. Except help keep him relatively comfortable. Which he was doing an admirable job of, considering.
As long as he could keep running alright enough for a few more fights. Not that he was ever going to win against four well tuned Trux anyway.
Every time he fought them, they coordinated better. Understood each other better.
Unbeknownst to them, they were learning the art of battle.

Teaching those interlopers anything aside from who was boss hadn't been his intention when he'd begun this long, drawn out confrontation. But, overall, wasn't a bad way to spend his last months.
He knew these were his last too. Had seen it before.
The only Trux who'd ever looked out for him had gone down the same way. Protecting him from the duties of a T-Trux until he was old enough to own the crater himself.

She'd taught him so much about... Life.
How to live it. How to preserve the natural ecosystem. How a T-Trux must never back down and never surrender.
Even, eventually, how to leave it all behind.

Like he'd been doing for years, she'd kept the number of residents in the crater to a sustainable level; never more mouths than it could be expected to feed.
Like him, she'd kept this policy enforced with an iron ball and chain.
And like him, she'd eventually accumulated so much damage that her functionality had been jeopardized.
She'd had to give up the job of groundskeeper.

"Don't worry, D." She'd said, minutes after she'd lost an arm repulsing an encroaching Dozeratops herd. "There's a lesson to be learned in everything. For example, did you see the way I flipped the leader? Always go for the lead Trux. Once they yield, the others'll know their place."

"You could have scared them away forever if you'd removed her shield," D-Strux'd pointed out, knowing his guardian loved it when he asked questions about the job. Especially when they weren't in the form of questions.

"Excellent thought. But the reality is that then, the herd'd hold a grudge." She'd given him a 'pay attention now' look before going on. "This scared them. A grudge'd have 'em seekin' retribution," she said, testing her new weight on her treads.
"Let's go home. Enough learnin' for today."

She'd shrugged off her new configuration, saying it made her even more imposing. If that was possible. She was the biggest Trux he'd ever seen. Not counting Craneasaurs. Although, they were tall. And ran the other way when they saw her coming.

In those last couple years, she'd insisted he ride along to every confrontation. Fully aware that her time was limited and that he'd need all the guidance she could offer if he was to continue what she'd continued from her guardian.

D-Strux had noticed that her left side external pistons didn't work as well after her arm had been wrenched off by that head Dozeratops.
He didn't say anything though. It was just a byproduct of rolling through life. Sure, took her a little longer to raise her head, but her roar hadn't suffered, so everything was, "Fine, D. Don't look so worried. I'm not stuck in first gear or anything. You're just gonna have to pick up my slack." She said, the day a sharpshooting Stegarbasaurus had separated her from her ball and chain.
"You think any Trux has ever seen a T-Trux double team? You'll be my enforcer. It'll be terrifying! Now, show me your scowl and tomorrow we'll start workin' on your roar."
D-Strux couldn't help but smile at her enthusiasm. Then he remembered he was supposed to be scowling, so he drew his forehead plates down and squinted.
"Your roar needs to be an extension of yer voice. Needs to convey your intention. Do it well and it'll be your signature. Trux'll know to stay away miles before they ever see you!"

They perfected his roar only just in time. She lost hers in the same Scrapadactyl attack her radiator was punctured. She'd shrugged it off, whispered that she could still talk and that her enforcer was getting bigger all the time, and, to keep her engine cool, just drank more water.
A lot more water.

Back when that hose-headed Trux had come around to put out those wild fires, D-Strux hadn't been able to draw out a parting roar. On account of the sheer pressure the hose brain was able to put into his blast, and his confounded aim, the shot of water down his throat had dislodged something important.
All the way home he'd tried and failed to produce even one sound. Aside from the grinding of gears that had been blasted out of alignment.

D-Strux had been terrified he'd lost his roar for good. But he held out hope, not willing to let go of his greatest weapon so soon.
Next morning, when it hadn't cleared up on its own, he'd excused himself from breakfast with a mute scowl and rolled some ways off to bash his head and neck against the rocky bottoms of some cliffs.
Eventually, he felt a clunk, along with the sensation of a tight pressure relieved, and he was sure something had slipped back into place.
Testing first with a sigh, then a hum, he'd revved his voice box all the way up to the top decibels of his register and grinned.
He still had it.

He'd never have taken up Scrapit on his numerable offers to crawl in his mouth and have a look-see, knowing the little thing would just worry about all the accumulated damage and wear D-Strux knew his many years as groundskeeper had put on him.

Even now, knowing repairs were a possibility, he knew T-Trux parts were rare and that the Flatirons gang had the monopoly on both know how and existing parts.
He couldn't ask more of the scrapper who supported him and kept him from loosing his paneling.
In exchange for a roof over his head and a little ore, the guy had sworn loyalty to him and only ever tried to scrap him when they were both sleeping.
D-Strux was lucky to have a friend like that. Had been lucky to have a guardian like...

The lava always reminded D-Strux of her. How hot her engine had run. Even back when they'd first met and she'd still run smooth as any Trux.
Back then, you couldn't have gotten him to believe he'd ever be half her size. But, by the time her drive belt gave out and they'd said goodbye, he'd been eighty percent her size and full grown.

"You'll do fine D. Keep the crater healthy."

And they'd parted. She rolling slowly off, down the crater's outer slope, and him back to their stomping grounds. Ready to do her proud.

He was just sad he hadn't lasted as long as she had.
Sad also that Scrapit had grown as attached as he had; the Scraptool was gonna take his obsolescence hard. Though, he might have the time of his life scrapping his very own T-Trux.
After.

Meantime, the heat convecting off his lava pit soothed the hiccup his carburetor'd picked up. Let him pretend he wasn't the only groundskeeper the crater had left. Pretend that it wouldn't soon be without one entirely.

D-Strux remembered everything she'd ever taught him. Including that there was only room for one T-Trux in this crater.
She'd probably been planning to cede her position to him once he hit maturity anyway. So, overall, one could argue that her plans had panned out nominally. Considering.

Feeling the roughness at the center of his chassis, wondering whether his time for retirement wasn't sooner in coming than he'd been thinking, D-Strux decided a nap might just ease some of the pressure from his straining gaskets. So he sighed and let his eyes close, thinking the name of the Trux he'd spent his formative years striving to live up to as he let go his discomforts and slipped off into the first good sleep he'd had in a long while.

Chapter Text

Revvit sensed a disturbance before he heard said disturbance. Peeking out his observation window above the garage's main entrance he spotted a little pile of scrap hot footing it across the Flatirons, on a direct path to their front door. Considering the frantic clanking of the encroaching Tool's un-oiled limbs, the hollering was not nearly as required as the visitor likely thought it was.

"Ty?" Revvit called down from his perch a ways above the ground.

"I hear it too. Trux, let's move out!" And without waiting for Ace, Waldo, and Click-Clack to tighten that last bolt 'another quarter turn', the gang was out in full force. Revvit matching their speed as he scurried down the wall and made his own way outside.

He watched as the overexcited Trux gunned their engines. An intimidation tactic not at all necessary against the likes of the approaching Scraptool. At least, not usually, Revvit amended when the silver sneaker did not turn and run for the far, far away hills. And his protector.

Speaking of which, where was the terrible T-Trux? After all: when one of those trouble makers was near, the other could not be expected to be far.

Revvit, feeling a strange sense of rightness in the action, scurried between the advancing Trux and the cowering Scraptool, making himself appear as large as he could so as not to chance being trodden on.
When he heard the application of at least four sets of brakes, he spoke up. "Let us hear what Skrap-It has to say. He would not come here, out in the open, if it was not something important."

"Yeah, like delivering a threat from D-Strux, or maybe lying about an oncoming plague, or-"

"Or, maybe a warning? C'mon Dozer, Revvit's right; we should hear Skrap-It out."

At the grumbled agreements Ty's reasoning prompted, Revvit turned to Skrap-It and motioned for him to explain his unexpected, uncharacteristic arrival.

A moment spent shivering, glancing at each Trux in kind, then at the ground, then Revvit, back at the ground, and the Scraptool opened his mouth.
"It's D-Strux!"

"When isn't it," said Skya with a roll of her eyes.

"No, not like that! D-Strux is- he- um," the twitchy guy glanced behind himself, perhaps looking to see whether D-Strux was in position for a well planned ambush, perhaps just plain looking over his shoulder. "I need your... help?" The last word squeaked so badly that it was almost as difficult to decipher as it was to believe.

"You really think we're gonna follow you back to your spooky lair and let D-Strux get the jump on us, Little Dude? You got another thing coming. Right Ty?" Ton-Ton said, revving his engine and deploying his claws as he looked to his big red friend for confirmation.

"He hasn't finished yet, Ton-Ton. Give the Tool a break. It takes guts to stand up to a big group like us," said the T-Trux. Placating and not at all annoyed.

Revvit watched as Skrap-It gave Ty a good squint before seeming to settle just a bit. He thought he could hear a hint of rust in the Scraptool's jaw when the silver one opened his mouth again.
"Like I was saying, I need you Trux's and Tool's help. D-Strux hasn't moved in hours!"

"Pardon my interruption, but how do you know that D-Strux hasn't moved if you have been busy traveling here?"

Skrap-It's worry smoothed into a look of disappointment. "Has he come to terrorize you today?" The group shared a look of understanding at that.

"Perhaps he is sleeping?" Revvit offered. Not sure the practical intelligence of his long time nemesis, but mostly just genuinely curious.

"Ya think that wasn't the first thing I checked?" Revvit shrugged in response, to which Skrap-It went on. "I thought he was just napping, but then his engine shut off-"

"Wait, did you say shut off?! But- but, how could things have gotten that bad so suddenly? He was threatening a herd of Dozeratops only yesterday. Bodily," reasoned Revvit. Sure the questionably reliable Skrap-It must have gotten something wrong. "Are you sure-"

"Would I be here if I wasn't? Ya think I like asking you, of all gangs, for help?!" He got a wall of nonplussed blinks at that. So he gave a groan and explained. "The answer's 'no'." Satisfied with the chorus of 'oh's, Skrap-It nodded and turned his attention back to Revvit.
"His idle's been rough for a while now. Didn't want me 'poking my nose around' in his engine though, so I don't know what's wrong, but I do know D needs... help." The last word once again difficult to parse for the squeak in the Scraptool's voice.

"You say his engine has ceased functioning?" Revvit received an unhappy nod. "And that it had been idling irregularly for some time?" Another nod. "Hm."

"Wait, are we gonna believe this little twerp?! How many times has he come around here to steel our parts, or-"

"I think he's telling the truth, Dozer," Ty mollified. "And I think that we can't just ignore a Trux in need."

"Woah. I get what yer sayin', Dude, but this is D-Strux we're talkin' about! The meanest, biggest, least radical dude in the crater! You sure about this, Ty?" Ton-Ton asked. A couple of quick, anxious donuts spun between words.

"As sure as I can be." The T-Trux made eye contact with each member of his garage, getting a nod out of all, however reticent.
"Alright then. Revvit, do you think we have the parts we'll need?"

"I believe so. T-Truxs parts are rare but we have had good luck recently and have managed to build a relatively decent stockpile." The little Reptool took off for the garage opening, heading for parts storage.
"Ton-Ton, I could use your bed for transportation," he called over his shoulder.

"Coming, Little Dude," the blue one said as he peeled off after Revvit. Skid marks the only evidence he'd ever been there to start with.

"Well, I think I speak for everyone when I say, 'Let's Trux it up!'" Ty said, sounding just a tad excited for someone agreeing to help their archenemy.

"Yeah, about that: Maybe don't say that near the lair?" Skrap-It suggested, plucking up enough courage to elaborate when no one made an aggressive move. "D-Strux hates that line."

"Hm. Well, no worries. We usually only say it the one time." Ty said, shrugging his tiny arms.

"Eh-heh. You Trux keep telling yourselves that," no doubt meant only for an amused Scraptool's own ears.

"Is D-Strux inside the lair?" Ty asked, deciding that the last comment didn't need addressing. "Somewhere safe?"

"Yeah, he's inside. Nothing ever sets foot inside that place without being invited first. Not even then, actually..." the silver Tool trailed off.

"Could he roll away if his brakes give out?" Skya asked, feeling concerned against her better judgement.

"Oh, I chucked his treads before leaving. He's not going anywhere unless his engine magically restarts," Skrap-It said, craning his neck to look the Craneosaur in the eyes. "Good enough for you, Stretch?"

"That's not my name, but good- Sounds good to me."

"Good. Any other questions?" Skrap-It asked, eyeing the other two Trux.

"Uh, that about covers it," Ty said, looking sidelong at the cantankerous Dozeratops in case he had anything to add.

"Has he eaten recently?" Dozer asked, eyes narrowed.

"What?" Skrap-It asked, eyes narrowed just as much.

"Well, if he comes to with an empty tank, he'll probably try to chomp down on the closest thing's hide. Don't want that to be me," Dozer explained.

"He's fond of destruction, not cannibalism. I think you're safe there, Yellow."

"Uh-huh, not takin' your word for it. Ya little appetizer!"

"Dozer!" Ty reprimanded, managing his stern look for all of two seconds before the chuckles broke through.

"Oh, yeah, laugh it up, Three Horn!" Skrap-It yelped, trying to be heard over the cacophony of three laughing Trux. "If you're worried about being scrapped, you're welcome to not come!"

"Oh, no, I've got to see this for myself!" Dozer said between chuckles.

"The chance to see D-Structs and not worry about getting dented? Wouldn't miss it!" Skya added, lowering her head just enough that she didn't have to squint to see the little Scraptool.

"Alright!" Said Revvit, announcing his presence as he rejoined the Trux outside. Ton-Ton close on his tail. "We have everything together and I think I speak for everyone when I say: Let us Trux it up!"

Skrap-It gave Ty a 'look' and the big T-Trux shrugged back. Not sure what to say except, "Well, that should do us."

"Eh-heh, well, follow me, everybody! I know the most direct way-"

"Um, Skrap-It?" Asked Revvit, pausing the Skrap-Tool's start.

"Yeah?"

"If you wish, you may join me on Ty's head. It offers a unique perspective on the surrounding area and makes for a very quick transit."

"Uh... if you're sure...?" Skrap-It checked, no doubt wary of approaching a T-Trux out in the open like they were without a promise of not being crunched.

"Ty would be glad to provide the ride. Right Ty?" Revvit asked, turning his head up to see the answer.

"Sure. As long as I still have both eyes when we get there, you're welcome aboard," Ty said, gesturing toward the parts of his treads that were best for climbing.

"Well... alright then. Long as I don't get thrown off halfway there."

"Do not worry, Skrap-It. I will be right there with you for the entire ride," Revvit said, mirroring Ty's gesture toward the giant treads.

Without any more fuss, the Tools were perched, the Trux were shifting into gear, and the miles between them and the grey foothills suddenly seemed a whole lot shorter.

 

~

 

When the gang reached the lair hidden in the mountains, Ty lowered his head to the level of a nearby low sitting boulder, allowing the well behaved four legged 'friends' a quick way to solid ground.

"Thank you, Ty. A smooth ride as ever. Your transmission is shifting flawlessly," Revvit complimented, climbing down from the boulder and turning to face the de facto leader of the Flatirons gang. Who smiled in a fond manner before responding.

"Thanks, Revvit. 'Course, it's all thanks to that tune up you gave me. And you replacing that rusted suspension spring," said Ty. Ever the modest one.

"Oh, it was only because you spotted the Bitbug that we had the spring, so-"

"Can we skip the sappy banter and get to the part where we fix D-Structs?" A twitchy voice said from very close to Revvit's head. Causing the Rotillian to twitch in surprise. Having nearly forgotten the Scrap-Tool was with them at all.

"Uh, yes, certainly. He is in there?" Revvit asked, indicating the gaping cave entrance behind them.

"'S what I said. Let's get a move on. The sooner we find out what's wrong with him-"

"The sooner we can get outta this creepy place!"

"Dozer, you haven't even stepped inside yet," Skya reasoned to a trembling Dozeratops.

"I know. It's just scarier on the outside is all," he defended with a shake of his pronged head.

"Uh-huh."

"What? It is!"

Revvit listened past the sound of his friends' arguings, and those of a small herd's worth of rolling treads, for the heavy sound of an oversized T-Trux's engine pistons.
He came up with nothing. Which was just a bit disappointing, even knowing anything else had been a long shot. Considering, even as unreliable as Skrap-It was, the scrapper should be capable of identifying the sound of an engine ten times his body size shutting down.
It would probably be pretty hard to miss, in such an enclosed space.

"So, diagnosis, Doc?" Revvit heard Skrap-It ask. Once again from very close.
It was then that the Reptool realized they had reached their destination and that he had been staring at the completely still form of the perennial terror of the Crater and not at some very large rock formation.
This was not getting off to a good start.

Turning to the silver scoundrel, Revvit asked the first relevant question he could pick out of his mental quagmire of relevant questions.
"Where is his engine access panel? I will need to examine the fans, belts, and pistons first hand."

"Right this way," Skrap-It said, leading Revvit close, then up one tread to a panel which he opened and gestured for the green technician to enter.

"Thank you," Revvit said, crawling through the opening and immediately wishing he possessed the sort of high beams his Trux friends did. It was very dark in there. And with no internal lights powered on nor any coils glowing from pure heat, it was an eerie atmosphere. If Revvit let his mind wander off his grave task long enough to consider it.

"How's it lookin' in there?" The nervous voice of Skrap-It asked, filtering down from up above the engine cavity.

"Perhaps you may assist me? I will require more light than is available in here," Revvit said, squinting at what must have been the outline of the largest engine block he had ever seen.

"Eh, Red? You're little 'friend' could use s'more light," he heard Skrap-It say. The intimidated tremble in his voice almost undetectable.

"Sure thing!" Came the response. Followed by the rumble that warned of a T-Trux's approach, then the compartment flooded with more light than Revvit's optics could adjust for.

"Thank you, Ty, but perhaps just the low beams for now," Revvit called, sighing when he was no longer blinded by the excessive light.

After a thorough look through, Revvit exited the compartment and directed Ty to now shine his brights at other places of interest.
The thought of disarming the inactive Trux by removing the weapon from the end of his tail crossing the Rotillian's mind more than once before he took in the damage and wear apparent now and only now that he was this close.
D-Strux was not in good condition.

Concluding his diagnostic where he'd started it, Revvit thanked Ty once again, then turned back to Skrap-It with the good news. "We have the parts that need replacing. Is it alright if all four of us enact repairs at once?" Revvit asked with a gesture toward the well behaved Reptools loitering around the extremely well behaved Ton-Ton not far off.

"...Sure," said Skrap-It, nodding his consent. Trepidation clear in every line of his relatively crude form.

"Do not worry; we will treat him like any other Trux. D-Strux will not come to any further harm." At the loosening of a tight silver jaw, Revvit nodded and turned to wave over the rest of the repair team.
Soon Ace, Click-Clack, and Waldo had the needed parts removed from Ton-Ton's bed and were helping Revvit with all necessary replacements.

"Ton-Ton, you've been awfully quiet since we left the garage; got somethin' on your mind?" Revvit heard Ty ask some minutes later. His voice filtering in along with the light he was providing the Tools who were currently busy changing out a pair of gaskets in D-Strux's engine.

"Naw. Thanks fer askin', but I'm just focusing real hard on not doing anything totally radical till we get back."

"Huh. Why's that?" Came Ty's rightly confused follow up question.

"Well, T-Trux parts are really rare, and I've got most of the parts from our collection in the garage takin' a ride in my bed. I don't wanna break any of 'em."

"Wow. That's really thoughtful, Ton-Ton. D-Strux really needed those new parts-"

"Oh, Dude, I didn't do it for D-Strux," Revvit imagined the squint that statement must have earned the blue Trux. From Skrap-It if not from their big red friend.
Ty cared about everyone, so It would not be difficult to imagine him being cross with such a sentiment coming from one of his close friends. But seeing as it had not suddenly become darker in the compartment, he had no doubt decided it harmless enough.
"These parts are for you too, Ty." Especially after that.

"Well, whatever the reason, we all appreciate it, Ton-Ton. Thanks for the great work."

"Heh, righteous," came the bashful acceptance of praise.

Not much else was said by any party until all four mechanics followed each other out the access panel and were confronted by a Scraptool who looked like he was barely keeping it together.

"Well? How'd it go? What's the prognosis, Doc?"

Aside from taking a moment to wonder how it was Skrap-It knew the word 'prognosis', Revvit wasted no time in detailing the different parts that had been worn out, broken, or missing all together. All of which, they had miraculously had on hand already.
"Mechanically, D-Strux is very likely now in better condition than he has been in quite a while. Yes," Revvit said with a head bob, "he could use an oil change, his brake pads rotated, and we weren't able to flush all that wood pulp out of his... Why was there wood in his transmission to begin with? How did it get there?" Revvit asked, momentarily feeling somewhat at a loss.

"Old Trux tale: 'Sposed to make you run smoother. For a while anyway."

"Ah. Thank you, Ace," Revvit said, nodding in the fearless mechanic's direction. "Now, where was I? Yes- If we were able to work on him in our garage, we could have tuned him up perfectly. We have made do though and I dare say he is back together and there is no reason D-Strux couldn't start up as we speak."

"If that's true, then why hasn't he?!" Yelped a Scraptool half out of his twitchy mind with obvious worry.

"Unfortunately, I have never attempted to restart an engine before, so I do not know the reason. Though, considering all the separate mechanisms appear to be in working order and there is fuel in his tank, I must assume that an outside force's intervention may be required in order to-"

"Wait," Ty interjected. "An 'outside force'? Are you thinking some sort of jolt or... Not lightning?"

"No, certainly not." Revvit said, sparing a fond glance toward Ty's concerned face. Letting him know that he did indeed appreciate the input. "Though the thought had crossed my mind, lightning is far too powerful and unpredictable and, as I am sure we are all aware, possesses heat sufficient to melt metal." At the open gasp, Revvit reminded himself that a personally invested Scraptool was present and that the poor thing didn't need to hear such morbid statistics at present.

"You're saying some sort of shock might be necessary, right?" Ty asked, scrutinizing the eerily still still T-Trux they'd all made the trek in hopes of fixing.

"Is there anything I could do?" Came the hopeful, considerably softer than usual voice of Skrap-It.

Revvit faced the poor Tool who'd spent the majority -though not the entirety- of the repair time pacing back and forth on their patient's chassis. The sound of which had been far less distracting than Revvit would have guessed.
"Do not sell yourself short; the weld was an immense help. None of us possess the capacity."

"Heh, I meant anything else," Skrap-It's only reply.

"Ah, yes, of course. Perhaps you can answer another question." Revvit said, sitting to give his limbs a rest. "Has D-Strux voiced any complaints recently? Especially this morning, or even last night? Anything at all about his engine or perhaps something inside his chassis feeling loose?"

"Nope, no complaints. In fact, today when I asked why he looked so down, all he said was 'Sue'. First thing D said all day. Then his engine just... shut off." Skrap-It shifted around and gazed up at the grey, statuesque megaton excavator, "He's never been so..."

"Non-threatening?"

"Not now, Dozer," whispered Skya, loudly enough that the surly Dozeratops couldn't miss it.

"What? What's he gonna do? I'm not even scared right now! Look, I'm touching him!"

"Get your horn away from him! If anyone's scrapping D- That is: You'll scratch his paint. He's very fond of his dark grey." Skrap-It smirked when the yellow tri-horn backed halfway across the lair's open floor plan toward the door.

"Did you say 'Sue'?" Revvit asked Skrap-It, trying not to think about how unnaturally cool the chassis he was sitting on felt.

"That's what D-Strux said."

"What is it, Rev?" Ty asked, knowing that look on the Reptool's face meant he had information that needed sharing.

"I have heard whispers of a gargantuan T-Trux who lives far north, near the frozen lands. It is said she rode on the backs of a migrating Rolladon herd until they reached a place so desolate, no other Trux would bother her again." When it became obvious the others were confused by his line of thinking, Revvit looked up at his patient's unmoving, low bent head and elucidated. "They say her name is Sue." Eight pairs of eyes widened.
"That is, if she is still functional. That story is quite a few years old. Older than me perhaps."

"Okay, that's... weird. Why would D-Strux be reciting Trux myth while staring into a pool of lava?" Ty asked.

"Bedtime story, maybe?"

"Dozer, not now!" Whispered Skya. More bite the second time around.

"Okay, okay. Yeesh. Just trying to be helpful," said the defensive Trux. Still a safe half the cave away.

"Maybe our dude D-Strux knows Sue?" At that, every eye turned to the Ankylodump sitting in the middle of the group. "And... misses her? She sounds pretty radical," he reasoned when the cave full of eyes didn't immediately go back to not looking at him.

"...Some versions of the story do indicate the Crater as her point of origin," Revvit said, a pensive digit massaging his jaw. "The possibility does exist. Excellent thinking, Ton-Ton."

"Gee, this focusing thing might have some upsides after all!" Ton-Ton enthused, happy tail whipping around a couple times, barely jiggling the precious cargo he had graciously accepted charge of.

"Skrap-It?" Revvit asked, turning back to the silver Tool.

"Don't look at me; that's the first time I've heard the name," he said, back arching higher as more eyes turned to him.

"Let's say D-Strux did know this mythical 'Sue'," Skya posited, rolling a tad closer to the inactive T-Trux. "Would her saying 'hi' be enough of a shock to get him to start up again?"

"Hm. I like where this is going," Revvit said, beginning some pacing of his own. "You may be on to something, Skya. For, if her presence alone is not sufficient to restart D-Strux's engine, she may have information about any potential pre-existing damage or conditions that may aid us in getting him running again."

"Well, I'm sold," Ty said. Rather quickly. As if heading off any dissent before it could gather a full head of steam.
Thankfully, it seemed dissent was not top of anyone's mind.

"Same here. The chance to meet a real life legend? Sign me up," Skya intoned.

"Roooaad trip, dudes!" Came Ton-Ton's exuberant cry, echoing back quite a few times from the recesses of the cave's innards.

The group looked to Dozer, huddled still a ways off. "You couldn't keep me in this creepy dungeon if you tried. I'm coming and that's final!"

"Though perhaps inadvertently, Dozer raises a good point, Ty," Revvit said, calling the friendly T-Trux's attention to himself. "To ensure no harm can come to D-Strux in our absence, perhaps some of our numbers should stay behind and keep a look out."

"I was thinkin' the same thing," Ty replied, face pensive. "Skrap-It?" He asked, getting a good twitch from the Scraptool. "You'll want to stay here right?" At the shaky nod, Ty continued, shifting his head just enough to bring the other mechanics into view. "How would you feel about Ace, Click-Clack, and Waldo staying to help out?"

"The chance to not go trompin' around in the frozen tundra? Sign me up!" Waldo answered. Causing the silver scrapper to blink at him in confusion.

"While I'd love to take the trip with everybody, so long as you bring Sue back here and I get to give Her Legendaryness a tune up, I'll be fine on guard duty," Ace added. Pride evident in the set of her adjustable jaw.

"Really? But aren't you the adventurous one?" Skrap-It asked. Addressing Ace for the first time that day.

"Sure. But adventure's what you make of it. I bet we have more adventure than we know what to do with right here, come midnight."

"Why would you ever say such a terrifying thing? You know I can't sleep when things go bump in the night," Click-Clack asked with a tremble running through his body.

"Heehee! Just hoping for some fun, Click-Clack. What's the worst that could happen?"

"I am not answering that," Waldo and Click-Clack responded in tandem.

"Alright then," Revvit announced, not wanting an argument starting before the main company had even broken off on their journey. "We will be back with one living legend as soon as we possibly can."

"Yeah. Thanks for understanding Ace, and you too Waldo and Click-Clack," said Ty, looking like he was readying himself for the mental rigors associated with a long haul.

"No problem. At all," Waldo said, sounding almost happy to oblige.

"Yeah, no problem, T. We'll be here when you get back. Holdin' down the fort."

"Y-yeah. Better in here than out there, I always say," said the one who appeared unable to decide whether it was the pool of molten lava, or the darkness of the rest of the cave that scared him less.

"Alright!" Yelled an overexcited Ankylodump. The sheer volume causing most everyone to flinch. "Let's Trux it up!"

Revvit saw Skrap-It give Ty an unexplained unhappy squint, to which Ty simply shrugged.

"Yep. Trux? Let's move out!" Then, pausing to lower his head, allowing Revvit an easy hop from D-Strux's chassis, Ty followed the others toward the exit. Stopping when Revvit warned him of a streak of silver dashing right into his path.
"Skrap-It?"

"Yeah. I, uh- I have no idea why you Trux -and the Rotillian- are doing any of this... and if D-Strux was awake right now he'd probably try to scrap you all for trespassing... but thank you. I wouldn't'a- I-"

"You're welcome," Ty said in his most reassuring tone. Effectively stalling the shedding of rusty tears which Revvit none the less witnessed grow plumper as Ty idled there. "D-Strux is gonna be fine. With any luck; his engine'll turn over before we even reach this Sue Of The North."

With a funny little sniffle, Skrap-It backed out of the T-Trux's way and Revvit waved goodbye to an enemy he had never thought he would feel such compassion for.

With that, the majority of the Flatirons gang swung north, as soon as terrain admitted, and kicked it into high gear for what promised to be an eventful next few days.

Chapter Text

"Woohoo! I'm tellin' ya, dudes; freedom never tasted so sweeeet!" Proclaimed a flying Ankylodump on his way back down from some very sick air.
"You guys need to try this! The frost makes the spin out out of this world!" He said, coming to a rocking stop within feet of Ty's quick to stop treads.

"Watch it, Ton-Ton. You might 'spin out' right into the cart," Skya warned, applying her brakes to keep the cart she was pulling safe. And to wait for the dust to settle.

"Dude, you have no idea how good it feels to not need to haul that thing around! Bein' all careful and... everything," Ton-Ton said, giving Ty a quick smile before spinning his tires and taking off to give the natural rock formation ramp another go.

"Yeah, well I'm going to soon," Skya grumbled after the overexcited blue daredevil.
It was Dozer's turn next.

On their way out of the Crater, over an entire two days previous, the Flatirons gang had stopped by the Otto's place and borrowed the cart they'd built to help the Hex Wrenchtools move their well organized possessions to their new homes.
With a little help from their friends Wings, Numbers, and The Silent Dude, the expedition had all the spare T-Trux parts bundled up in dried grass filled boxes and packed and strapped securely in the bed of something that couldn't roll on its own.

"There. In these boxes in this wagon the parts cannot go flying."

"Yes, Wings. Still, no smashing and bashing, Cool Dude."

"Huuuhh."

"You took the words right outta my head, Numbers and Little Silent Dude," Ton-Ton said, sitting still while Skya and the Otto's harnessed him up for the first leg of the journey.

"Yes. Numbers is right; no rough stuff if you want to get these parts to Soo in good condition," their very first Otto friend agreed.

"Thank all of you so much. This'll make the trip much more-"

"Enjoyable?"

Ty chuckled at the Wrenchtool's choice of word. "Right, wings. Much more enjoyable."

And so they found themselves switching the cart from willing Trux to arguably willing Trux, everyone doing what they could to get the parts safely where they hoped to find a functional, living legend. At the border between a vast steppeland, where very little aside from dry bushes and grass grew, and the northern frozen lands, where nothing but ice crystals grew.

"Dudes, I just thought:" Ton-Ton started just as he came to a sliding stop from another sick spin out, a look of concern tarnishing his excitement. "How're we s'posed to find Sue if no one's seen her in, like, forever?"

The group rolled to a stop, stunned to silence at the reality of none of them having thought of that up until just then. How were they going to find Sue?
Before anyone could work themselves into a panic, Ty saw Dozer getting pretty close for a second there, the wind picked up and, silent as they still were, the gust carried them the far away echo of a rattling, hiccuping, gigantic engine.
Matching the description of their mythic Trux perfectly.

"Hm. I guess that's how. Good question Ton-Ton," Ty said, before sticking his snout in the air and sniffing to see if the wind had brought a new scent along with the sounds.

"And good timing! You'd asked that five minutes ago and I'd'a had time to think about it," Dozer said with a shiver. Obviously not enjoying the prospect.

So they swung wide and took off in a far more westernly north; a new pep to their progress and a thrum of anticipation keeping their minds busy.

Ty checked that Revvit was perched somewhere well out of any possible danger, checked that his ball and chain were ready for quick deployment, on the off chance that Sue really didn't like visitors, and led the way through a deep cut granite canyon. Glad that at least with the Trux population being just about nonexistent in this particular area, it wasn't likely they'd be ambushed by Scraptors. Considering they liked there being inhabitants to scrap.
He felt Revvit constantly adjusting his perch to keep a weather eye on their surroundings anyhow and was grateful that at least one of their group had a knack for safety.

Halfway through the pass, a stiff cross breeze blew a light dusting of snow off the granite cliff tops, sending fresh powder down into the canyon, where Ty mused that it looked just like falling volcanic ash. Except that it melted just as it hit their paneling.
It was like driving through the first snowfall of a season they didn't have in the Crater, only nowhere near as dangerous. On account of most of the ground not being frozen solid.

Eventually the five of them emerged at the mouth of the canyon, no worse for wear and more excited than ever by the rumbling, sputtering of someone idling nearby. Someone who's back was to them and who appeared to be... sunbathing most likely, and who looked even bigger than their old, ailing nemesis, D-Strux.
Had to be Sue.

Ty set his jaw and rolled forward, hoping he wasn't gonna need to introduce himself with the help of his trusty ball and chain.
He much preferred introductions that started with an amicable, "Hi, there! I'm Ty Rux, but you can call me Ty."

At the end of his introduction, the hulking Trux they'd come all this way to find whipped around to face them, a little faster than looked friendly, and struck a pose so aggressive that the gang couldn't help but fear for their collective lives.
What with the sudden roar of an engine and the brandishing of a massive, powerful tail, which only added to the ferocious glare sending a cold chill straight through to their wheelbases: She was even more terrifying than D-Strux.

If any member of the Flatirons gang screamed, Ty wouldn't blame them.

Chapter Text

Sue'd been having a pretty good day. All things considered.
Her jaw wasn't feeling rusty, her tail wasn't complaining about an itch on her phantom ball and chain, and her good eye wasn't flickering like the darn fool thing sometimes decided it should. All day.

Yep. She'd found some ore under a rock she couldn't remember checking under before, had a nice breakfast out of it, and had moved on to the sunbathing portion of her post morning-ish itinerary.
Loving the feeling of that unclouded sunshine glinting off her back panels, she stretched her neck out until something popped and let out a languid sigh.
Life in the borderland was good. Not the worst place to retire, you ask her. Peaceful. Quiet. Not another Trux in sight-

"-you can call me Ty."

Sue spun fast as her treads would allow, raising her head to its full extension, revving her engine, and lifting her tail in a bid to appear far more intimidating than she felt these days. Compensating for having been sneaked up on.

Soon as she could get her good eye to focus though, Sue realized there was nothing to fear. On account of the whole tiny herd worth of unassuming Trux stopping dead to gawk. The looks of terror, the quaking in their treads, plus the fact that they were basically all huddled together in a 'please don't squish us' formation, all leading her to believe they hadn't come itching for a fight.

"Oh." She said, lowering her tail and relaxing her neck. Ever so slightly embarrassed by the show she'd put on. "Howdy young'ns! You lost?" She asked. Soon as the screaming died down.

The big red one of the group seemed to get over the fright soonest and rolled politely closer, where Sue recognized the strong head and mandible of a T-Trux above the neck portion. And the tiny arms.
She hadn't seen another T-Trux in- Oh. Feller was talking now.

"-but you can call me Ty," he said with a pleasant way about him.
Definitely not there for a fight.

"Name's Sue. What ya'll doin' this far north?" She asked, trying to hit the right volume for talking with company. Unexpected or not.

"We were actually looking for you. Heard you moved up here a while ago and we were wondering-"

"Lemme guess: Ya'll want tips on how to stay alive in extreme conditions."

"Uh," Red started. Tongue tied.

"Don't worry, I'll start you off," Sue offered, unsure whether the new guy's hesitation had something to do with the state of her paint, but not gonna hold it against him if it did. "Wanna know my secret to not starvin'?" At what couldn't have been anything aside from a wall of faces covered in looks of open wonder, she grinned and said, "Don't move too much; won't need as much fuel." She almost laughed at the shared deflated look that made the round. Would have too if they didn't look so darn... pathetic. Like they needed some strong guidance. And maybe some new senses of humor.

"That's... really good to know. Thanks for the tip." When she nodded he was welcome, Red went on. "We were actually wondering whether you knew someone who lives in the Crater, about two days south of here. A T-Trux by the name of D-Strux? Would've been before you came up here," he said. Voice ringing strong and clear in the frigid space between them all. Reminding Sue just how unlike her old self she must have sounded since that blasted Scrapadactyl pecked out the left side of her voice box.

"Hey, you do me a favor real quick?" At the 'Hm?', she went on. "Roar for me?"

The one who might've introduced himself as Tine or Tin or Tiny or some such took a beat to cock his head in a quizzical direction, then roared. Rattling anything and everything that wasn't frozen fast to the ground.

"Aw, yeah. That hit the spot. Been a long time since I heard a roar like that."

"Thanks. I worked on it," said the guy that was equal with the bottom of her jaw. Accompanied by a bashful shrug.

"Well, it shows. Now, what was it you were askin' about again? Did I use to know someone?"

"Yes, we were inquiring as to whether you've ever made the acquaintance of a certain grey and black T-Trux known as D-Strux?" Asked a tiny yellow thing Sue could barely make out sitting on the top of the red guy's head.
Weird place for anything to hang around, and she'd seen some weird things in her time, but to each their own.
Wait. Had the thing said-

"D-Strux? That lug?! Oh, he was such a sweet kid! Taught him everything he knows," she said as the high beam in her good eye flickered to life and the newcomers stared on in what appeared to now be shock.
Darn thing didn't know how to behave itself. Turning on all odd hours of the day. At least it felt appropriate this time.
"Yep, a month hasn't gone by I haven't thought of that youngster," she said. A fond twinkle dancing in that bright eye.
"Oh, lemme guess! He told... T here to leave the Crater, and when he refused; kicked you all out?" The feeling of enthusiasm on her well worn face plates seemed to hit most the others as just a little worrying.

"That makes you happy?" Asked Red.

"'Course! Means the lovable lug nut's doing his job!" Pretty sure she was getting some confused faces now, which she should have been expecting from any Trux that wasn't a T-Trux, Sue offered some illumination. "As caretaker of the Crater! Can't let just anybody in; gotta keep out trouble makers and extra mouths. Otherwise the place'll be stripped of all resources in a blink."

The group of young-ish-sters looked at each other and made some whisperings lower than Sue could make out. Figuring she wasn't supposed to though, she didn't feel weird about rolling a few meters off and rubbing her neck against her favorite scratching post: A jagged spike of frosted over granite as tall as one and a third of herselfs.
Always hit the spot.

"Um, Sue?" Red -or, uh... Tiny- again.

"Yeah?" She called back, not pausing now that she was really starting to work out a kink between her shoulder panels.

"You knew D-Strux pretty well, it seems. We were wondering if maybe-"

"Maybe you'd like to stop rubbing yer paint off on that freakish piece of rubble and come help safe his life?!"

"Dozer!" The tall orange one reprimanded. Bumping the yellow Trux with one tread.

"What?! She's- It's unnatural what she's doing!"

When the sound of a couple important vertebrae connectors sproinging back into place rang in the open air, an unhappy Dozeratops went quiet quick. Leaving breathing room for the reasonable to try being civil again.

With a careful tone she'd not used in the longest time, Sue was the first to speak. "D-Strux is in trouble? Is that why all of ya'll made the trek up here?" She saw every head bob, indicating 'yes'.
"I don't know what you were expecting to find; I'm not equipped for a long haul like that. Bum radiator," she said in explanation.

"If you would permit me," came a voice from about Tine's face level, but of considerably higher pitch than his, "I am quite familiar with radiators and may be able to make an improvement to your current cooling rate.

Ah. The tiny yellow thing.

"You want to reach inside me and patch a leak that's been a part of my everyday concerns for the last-"

"I am offering to climb inside of you and see if we have a spare part or patch panel that might make travel feasible."

After a moment of careful thought, Sue pitched her head in an emphatic nod and answered. "Well then! I don't suppose you could make anything worse, so: Give it your best shot!"

"It would be my honor. Skya, could you please bring over the cart while I have a look at Sue's radiator?"

"Sure thing Revvit! Uh, don't mind me Ma'am. Just settin' up for the repairs," said the very tall, now that she saw her up close, orange... Craneasaur. Knew she recognized that shape!

"No problem, Stretch. I appreciate the hard work," Sue informed as she watched the little yellow guy disappear in search of a solution to her travel limiting issue.

"Eh heh, no prob. And the name's Skya."

"Heh heh, in that case, the name's Sue."

"Ooh, good one. Alright then, Sue it is," Skya said, finishing off situating a funky sled thing right in front of Sue's treads.

"Hey, Skya?" The Craneasaur 'hm'd. "What's all this for?" Sue asked, gesturing at the bunch of tied together... chunks of wood?

"It is supplies and spare parts that we brought with us. Judging by the number of years you are said to have lived alone and in such wilderness, we thought it prudent to bring what we had."

"I don't believe I've ever met a Trux quite like you, Revvit," Sue said with a ticklish chortle. The feeling of tiny feet pattering around inside her chassis not nearly as unpleasant as she might've thought.

"A contributing factor would certainly be the fact that I am not a Trux at all: I am in fact, a Reptool. A Rotillian, to be exact," the little critter said. Voice echoing out from her open chassis panel. A panel she hadn't a clue could open until the one currently inside her had shimmied it out of his way and crawled right on through.
She'd never figured there was that much room in their either, for that matter.

"Huh. I remember Rotillians. Used to live in the Crater, in a quaint little valley, kinda hidden and outta the way. A whole bunch of 'em, builin' shelters and ladders and bridges. Wrenchtools too," Sue mused aloud. As she'd grown more and more accustomed to over the years.
"Looked like fun," she added with a nod.

"I can assure you that it is fun. The colony is there to this day and now has a neighboring colony of Hex Wrenchtools who call themselves 'Ottos' to exchange supplies and 'know-how' with."

"Huh. Sounds like things've only gotten better back home since I took off. Good to hear!"

"Yeah, ever since we put D-Strux in his place-"

"Dozer, not now," Stretch said to the big yellow fella with the three horns- Right: Dozeratops.
Kinda funny how a Craneasaur and a Dozeratops were friends. Especially when you threw the T-Trux into the mix- Wait a second.

"Did ya'll have somethin' to do with D-Strux bein' in bad shape?" Sue cut in, right in the middle of an argument waiting to happen. Probably sounding harsher than she'd meant. Judging by the flinches.

"Uh," started Tiny, pulling Sue's attention away from the two shrinking Trux closest to her, "we're actually not sure how much we contributed to D-Strux's current..." She tried not to squint when the red guy trailed off.

"Current state of disrepair," said a voice from somewhere inside her chassis.
Sue looked down and watched as the yellow critter she'd just about forgotten about popped his head out the same panel he'd gone in, craning his little neck to see her face before he spoke again. "The damage and wear I found inside of him is very similar to that which I have found in your engine compartment. It would seem that the two of you are more similar even than I had thought you might be."

"D's in this bad a shape?" Sue asked, gesturing at herself and trying not to imagine the kid as banged up as it sounded he was.

"Well," Revvit said, slipping the rest of his body out that panel and hopping over to the sled thing covered in square hunks of wood. "Though I found him in a similar 'shape', he has since had repairs and now has very little else that seriously needs addressing," he explained, undoing some vines from around the sled and poking around the woodpile. Looking for something.

"You fixed him up? Then D's alright?" Sue asked. Not liking the way her voice distorted near the end.
Dang Scrapadactyl.

"He is... in functioning condition. Unfortunately, we are unsure how to go about restarting his engine and were hoping you might have-"

"Engine?" Sue said, unable to reel in the sympathetic rev her engine barked out.
Couldn't blame the others for flinching either.

"Unfortunately, yes. At least at the time of our departure, D-Strux was... not functioning. Though that does not guarantee that he isn't at this moment," the little Tool was quick to add.
"I do expect however that he is still in need of help."

Sue nodded, voice box feeling suddenly a little more out of sorts than usual.

"And the sooner we get your radiator patched, and sundry other advisable repairs finished, the sooner we can make it back to the Crater and-"

"And get D back up and running again," Sue agreed. Watching as the Rotillian pulled something from the woodpile, seeming to have found what he was looking for.

"Absolutely. Now, if you are ready, I have what is needed and am prepared to begin the patching," he said. Holding out what looked like a small piece of metal panelling.

"Ready as I'll ever be," Sue said, glancing up at the other Trux who seemed to have migrated a little ways off. Except Red, who looked like he didn't want to leave the tiny guy all alone. With her.
Understandable. He'd be easy to tread over by mistake.

"In that case, I shall 'Trux it up'!" Revvit proclaimed, before once again disappearing

 

~

 

Extremely pleased with learning first hand that being 'repaired' didn't hurt, and in fact erased a goodly amount of discomfort, Sue stretched and let out a groaning sigh. Head over heels for the new spring her 'mechanic' informed her might take a little getting used to, "considering it is between vertebrae and is replacing a load-bearing spring that has lost the majority of its elasticity."

"I'm in love," Sue informed, giving her back a good flex in a direction she hadn't been comfortable with in far too long.
She heard more than one chuckle at her good fortune. So she chuckled back.

"That is good to hear. Can you also feel an improvement of water retention with the patch in your radiator?" Revvit asked. Staring up from by the pile of open 'boxes', empty ones spilling over the edge of the 'cart'.

"I'm not hearin' a drip-drip-drop, so I think we're good on that front too."

"Excellent," Little Yellow said in his excited voice. Following that with a sobered, "Um?"

"Ask away, Rev."

"I... have been wondering. Your eye: Is that a recent development?" Revvit asked, making a hesitant gesture toward the dark one out of her two.

"Naw. That one shorted out a while back. Other one's on its way out too, to speak frankly." Sue said. Feeling a few of her side panels rattle as a shiver ran the length of her body. "'Try not to think about when it does finally go. Considerin' my hearin's not so great neither... These days."

"I am sorry to hear that," the Tool said in a soft voice. Sounding it too. Loudly enough though that Sue could hear it fine.
"...It is very likely that I could improve your visual acuity. If you wouldn't mind, I can attempt to diagnose the problem and see if-"

"Could you? Yes, please!" Must've sounded pretty excited, 'cause Revvit chuckled while he hopped onto her tread hub and started climbing up her side.

"It would be my pleasure."

Chapter Text

After over an hour spent on repairs, things going slower by far than they would with another mechanic or two to help, Ty watched as the tireless Revvit climbed out the access panel from a last double check of Sue's engine, turned to look up at the nearby snow covered cliffs, and heaved a sigh that rang with both contentment and finality.

"How're things lookin' in there, Rev?" Ty asked, moving a tad closer.

"The leak in Sue's radiator requires welding for a permanent fix, a skill for which I do not possess the capacity, and as far as we are from our garage we are unable to change fluids or..." Revvit paused just long enough to collect his ever racing thoughts into one easily digested sentence. "Suffice it to say, for the time being, we have Truxed it up."

"So we're good to go?" Ty asked, giving his group, plus one, a looking over.

"Quite nearly," Revvit said with a finger pointed in the direction of their parts cart. "Sue's radiator is patched, but it will still experience a slow leak until we can have..." Ty watched as the mechanic worked through what appeared to be a moment of mental discomfort before going on, "Skrap-It, D-Strux's closest..." another pause as he glanced to Sue, "'friend', to weld the crack for good."

"More'n one of you know how to repair Trux?" Sue asked, head quirking in a way it looked like it wouldn't have been able to before Revvit had replaced that blown piston gasket on one side of her neck.

"Yes. Indeed, there are several of us," Ty smiled as Revvit seemed to preen at the open wonder on his patient's face. He deserved every second of it.
"You will have the chance to meet them when we reach the Crater and D-Strux's... cave home. But, before we depart," Revvit said, turning to face Ty, "we will need to bring a good deal of water with us."

Ty raised a brow plate. "Are you thinkin' what I'm thinkin'?"

"I believe that I am," Revvit responded. Mirroring the brow plate.

"Snow? The cart and Ton-Ton's bed?"

"Precisely," Revvit confirmed. Not breaking the mutual proud look Ty definitely wasn't gonna be the one to break.

A few moments passed them by as they stood in that playful fashion, undisturbed, until Ty remembered why it was they were there in the first place and was forced to push priorities around. For the time being.
He gave Revvit a private smile, which Revvit returned, they exchanged a tail bump, to Sue's unmitigated amusement, and it was back to business as usual.

"Sorry Ton-Ton. Looks like we're going to need your bed one more time before this is through," Ty said. Looking around as he realized he hadn't seen bolt nor bearing, nor heard the most radical dude this side of the Crater in a long while.
Wasn't like him to be quiet for long periods at a time like-

"No problemo, Dudes!" Yelled a flying Ankylodump as he came down from a great height. Skidding to a standstill very near the three of them by the cart. "Freedom'll taste even sweeter after s'more... uh, non-freedom?"

"Heh, right, Ton-Ton. Good way to look at it," Ty said. Impressed by how well the daredevil had taken and accepted every impingement on his normal activities: With a grin.

"Ton-Ton?" Asked Revvit.

"Yeah?"

"Were you just 'catching air' off the granite walls of the canyon?" The question accompanied by a slight worried look.

"Yeah, Dude! For, like, over an hour! There's some pretty sick ramp action up there! You just can't see it from down here," Ton-Ton informed, leaning down to bring his eyes level with Revvit's.
Probably for dramatic effect, Ty mused.

"Ah. I see. I am glad you found an agreeable way to pass the time."

"Thanks, Rev," Ton-Ton said, before he rocked back to his regular height and turned up his head to meet eye with the one casting a really big shadow.
"Hi! My name's Ton-Ton! You're Sue, right? Is it true that you knew D-Strux?!"

Looking just a little confused by the quick succession of statements and questions, Sue nodded. "Hiya, Ton-Ton. I am Sue and I most certainly knew D-Strux. Practically raised him myself," she said. Brushing off one shoulder in a pantomime of overblown pride.

Ton-Ton laughed. "Wicked."

To that, Ty couldn't help but say, "Alright everyone, let's Trux it up!"

So Revvit directed everyone to discard of all empty boxes they couldn't carry back with them, and bundle up any remaining boxed parts in a net woven from the tie down vines, which they'd take turns carrying back. Freeing up one cart for loading down with-

"Snow, Ton-Ton."

"Lots of it?"

"Yes. We can pile it high as well, because snow has more volume frozen than when it melts into water."

"Really?" Asked an excited Ton-Ton.

Revvit nodded. "By a median ratio of ten to one."

"Woah. Ten snows to one water?"

"On average, yes."

"Wicked."

Through the science lesson, Ty and Sue were busy using their massive jaws to scoop up load after load of freshly dozed snow mounds. Courtesy the Dozeratops of the group. Who would deny his grumblings had anything to do with his dozing blade getting cold from the work.
Each of which were deposited in either the bed of the gang's trusty cart, or the bed of the Ankylodump receiving the science lesson. Who may or may not have begun to vibrate partway through.

Ty couldn't decide whether it was the excitement at getting to balance a mountain of snow in his bed until it melted, or the frosty feeling of the fresh powder making his blue friend shiver.
Either way, they weren't hearing any complaints out of him, so Ty kept the loads coming until Revvit signaled that they'd reached the limit.

Sighing mostly to warm his freezing mouth, Ty looked over to where Skya was finishing with the vine package and caught sight of their newest... acquaintance depositing one more mouthful of her own onto the cart of white soon to be water.
Watching her start to do exactly what he was to warm her own mouth, Ty realized just how impressed he was by Sue's willingness to follow his and Revvit's requests and suggestions.

Considering their past experience with D-Strux, he hadn't been expecting an old friend of the aggressive T-Trux to be as friendly as she'd turned out to be.
It was a breath of fresh air.

"Alright. Everybody ready?" Ty asked, loud enough that it echoed back from the canyon walls.

"All done here," said Skya, swinging her hook just so that the package of boxes and vines she was lifting came to a safe and gentle seat on her conveyor belt back.

"The cart's full to burst, so yep!" Sue called, giving a thumbs up.

"I finished my job practically before you two started yours," Dozer informed, already rolling away toward the mouth of the canyon they'd come through to get where they were.

"Oh no ya don't! Get back here, ya lazy three horn. It's your turn to get hitched," Skya said, reminding Ty who had cart duty next.

"Skya's right, Dozer. It is your turn," he said, hoping that their friend was still up for the job.

"Yeah, yeah. I was just testin' to see whether any of you would remember! Gotta keep everyone on their toes," Dozer said as he turned back and positioned himself so Revvit and Skya could get him yoked to his precious burden.

"Hey, dudes! I think I can feel it melting! It kinda tickles," Ton-Ton shared, along with a string of giddy giggling.

"That's pretty cool, Ton-Ton," said Skya. Grinning when she received a few chortles for the pun. Then grinning a second time when Dozer tested his cart coupling and had only a short, "It'll do," to say.

"I believe everything and everyone is prepared," said Revvit, making a beeline for his lookout perch atop Ty's head. Ready to resume his safety centric travel activities from his rightful place in the world.

Ty gave a short laugh as he felt Revvit picking out his optimal viewing spot, knowing he'd never get tired of the feeling of his friend climbing up his neck to do just that. As if that was the most natural thing a Rotillian could possibly do when confronted with a T-Trux.

Soon as Revvit settled to a comfortable seat, Ty turned to the exit canyon and inhaled a big breath of borderland air.
"Alright Trux, let's move out! Next stop: The Crater."

"Uh, Ty? The Crater is a two day journey at minimum and I do not believe we will be able to make the trip without stop-"

"Revvit?" Ty asked, starting toward the canyon mouth and their southern home.

"Yes, Ty?"

"It was an expression."

"...Ah. For dramatic effect?"

"Yep," he assured.

"Well then. I believe that it worked."

Ty let himself bask in the jolly laughter of a Flatirons gang in good spirits and good health as they began the second leg of their adventure.
Letting thoughts reminding of their mission's serious nature float to the back of his mind, he looked forward and enjoyed the light fall of clifftop snow as he led the way back through to the steppeland and swung them due south.
A smile nearly as at home on his face as the Reptool perched right above it.

Ty'd leave the worrying for when they got back.
The majority of it, anyway.

Chapter Text

"Y'know you don't have to literally watch him the whole time, right, Click-Clack?" Asked a Waldo who was helping Ace set out the —and he hated to admit it— babysitting Tools' lunch.

"Uh, well, if I don't keep an eye on him, he could sneak up on us and then we'd all be done for!"

"He's not even awake! How could he possibly-"

"Leave Click-Clack alone, Waldo. He's keepin' busy at least. Besides: Someone's gotta keep an eye on D-Strux," Ace offered. Rolling another piece of ore onto one of the fun shaped piles the two of them were constructing.

"Yeah, that's what you say now. You haven't woken up in the middle of the night and seen that in the dark," Waldo reasoned, pointing at the sight of their orange friend transfixed and unmoving, staring at the reason for their extended stay in the Chateau De D-Strux. And Skrap-It. Who also spent quite a bit of his time sitting near and staring at his cavemate. Or sitting on him and hissing when anyone else came near. Even if they were obviously headed somewhere else.

"C'mon Tools! It's eatin' time! Ore's fresh outta storage and in the shape of Dragonflopters!" Ace called to their pair of gargoyle-esque watchdogs.

"Uh, I don't think it's a good idea to leave D-Strux alone for that long, Ace. M-maybe I should stay here and eat later. Like, tomorrow morning maybe?"

"Or maybe you should go eat and let me watch him on my own for once!" Skrap-It said. For once, the voice of reason.

"Um, if you're sure you're not gonna leave and do something else? Even for a minute?" Click-Clack asked, his bits clinking just a tad at the thought.

"D-Strux is my responsibility! I didn't ask you Tools to stay behind while the Trux and... Revvit went searching the wilderness for someone D'd never so much as mentioned before!" Skrap-It insisted. Voice rising to a shriek by the end to match the twitch that bunched his spine.

"Well, you heard him Click-Clack: He wants to spell ya, so I say, let him," Ace said, while fixing a Dragonflopter wing that'd sorta rolled out of shape.

"...I suppose a lunch break wouldn't hurt anything," the Rotillian admitted, taking his time to turn around and make for the others.

Ace, tracking his progress, leaned close to a Waldo who'd already started on his meal, conspiratorial smirk catching the munching Wrenchtool's eye. "Bet I can get him to fall asleep too."

"Not that he doesn't need it, but you're on. That poor Tool won't see the inside of his eyelids till the others get back with this Sue character and he's snuggled up safe and sound in his hiding box." Waldo glanced around the lair, eyes lingering in eerily darkened corners before looking back to Ace. "For once, I know exactly how he feels too."

Ace snickered a knowing snicker before moving to direct the sleep deprived Click-Clack to his extra special, oversized, five winged Dragonflopter surprise. Hoping against hope that the skittish Tool settled down some with a full belly under his bits.

 

~

 

"Alright." Began Waldo. "I'll admit it. I am officially impressed. You got him to finish his food and shut his eyes for more than the time it takes him to blink. You are a miracle worker."

"Thanks, Waldo. 'Course, I couldn't'a done it without you being a good sport and droning that low note for me," Ace said. Fighting down a blush at the praise.

"I couldn't leave you hangin'. Besides: The guy deserves some sleep. A nap for Click-Clack's worth a little hummin' any old day."

"Glad to hear it!" Ace managed to enthuse without raising her voice. "If he so much as twitches, start up the humming again, would ya? I need to take some food to Skrap-It."

"I said a little humming," Waldo called after Ace's retreating form. Not near as bothered as he sounded.

"Well, here you go, Skrap-It," Ace said as the piece of ore she'd been kicking over rolled to a stop right next to the Skraptool. Right after she'd dropped the piece she'd carried over in her adjustable mouth. "Lunch."

The Skraptool sighed. "I used to make us lunch," he... whined, gazing up at the dark figure of a giant in a world of giants. "D's favorite shape is a pyramid, but I made him a pyramid for lunch, and he broke down!"

Ace cringed at the volume of Skrap-It's lament and glanced back to see Waldo scootching closer to Click-Clack to start a low hum. To help drown out the noise.
"Skrapster, you know D's engine failing isn't your fault. You heard what Revvit said about how rough it was, and you helped us repair it." Ace rolled the pieces of ore more in front of the Skraptool with the one track mind, who still didn't seem to notice them. "You're also the one who ran all the way out to the Flatirons to ask for help from a bunch of folks you've never been friends with. Ask me? That's pretty brave."

"Me, brave?" Skrap-It scoffed. "You got that all wrong: I was scared. Scared the Trux were gonna scrap me soon as I hit the garage. Scared D-Strux wasn't gonna be okay..." Ace's expression grew concerned as she saw oil pooling in the corner of Skrap-It's close eye. "Scared I was gonna be all alone again."

She couldn't help but feel for the guy. Sure, they'd been enemies for the better part of... a long time, but the Skraptool was obviously troubled by current circumstances and he hadn't done a mean thing since the three of them'd agreed to bunk as live in security team.
She couldn't begrudge him a little compassion in his time of need.
"Skrap-It," Ace said, placing a hand on a twitchy shoulder, "that's the definition of brave." After a short pause where she was pretty sure she heard a sniffle, Ace reassured, "'Sides, the Gang's probably found Sue by now and if I know those crazy CATs, they're already on their way back here with her. D is gonna be fine."

"But the nitwits and the Rotillian have only been gone two days; how can you be so sure?! How can you know everything's gonna turn out... okay?" The last word hit the air in a keening whimper.

"Because," Ace said, moving the hand from Skrap-It's shoulder to wipe away a fat oil tear where it quivered on the skrapper's face. Threatening to fall. "It has to. You and D make a good team; watchin' out for each other. He wouldn't dare disappoint someone who cares enough to make him lunch in his favorite shape."

Skrap-It blinked and looked away from his cavemate's sad state for the first time since Ace had walked over. First giving the cave floor a sigh, then slow sweeping his head to the side to face the Wrenchtool who'd brought him a peace offering of kind words and two pieces of ore.
"D's gonna be okay?"

"Absolutely."

"You're not lying? Some Tools can lie lookin' you straight in the eye, I hear."

Ace opened her mouth to rebut, but paused when the glow of the nearby lava pool glinted off a thin track of oil running down from Skrap-It's now visible far eye.
She glanced to the floor and felt her own eyes moisten at what glistened back at her.
Figuring that wrapping the guy in a big hug would probably make him scream, thinking he was being attacked, Ace bounced her eyes away from the tiny puddle of tears and looked the Skraptool dead in the eyes.
"Cross my heart: Ty, Revvit- Everyone's coming back and everything's gonna be fine- No. Better than fine! Things'll be great. You'll see," Ace said, reaching the same hand out and putting it back on Skrap-It's shoulder. Hoping it was still welcome.

After a few seconds, the guy who'd been sitting there crying for who knows how long sniffled and took a deep breath. "You're alright, Ace."

"Heehee, thanks Skrap-It. You are too," she chuckled, giving his shoulder a pat.

"Uh, did you say something about lunch? Earlier?"

Ace pointed at the eating area and had to laugh at the sight of not one, but two napping Tools. Then, turning back to Skrap-It, she gestured to the forgotten morsels by his feet.

"Right. Eh... thanks," he said, before scarfing down the two chunks in one go.

"No prob, Skrapster."

"Eh, are you gonna call me that from now on?" Skrap-It asked as they started off for the tantalizing smorgasbord awaiting their stomachs.

"Maybe! Maybe if you keep playin' nice with Click-Clack," Ace amended, between giggles.

"Long as he doesn't lay a bit on D-Strux, he won't get any grief from me," Skrap-It promised, his voice and posture returning to something resembling normal. Normal for him anyway.

"Glad to hear it, Skrapster. Glad to hear it."

Chapter Text

Sue tried not to blame herself for basically being the caboose the gang couldn't afford to have at the back of the train.
It was obvious that every Trux there was pullin' out their best behavior, and likely every last shred of patience too, to roll along at a pace her much improved but still clunkety system could sustain.
But this was the first time in a long time she'd been able to travel at all and by thunder, she was gonna enjoy it! Which turned out all the easier with her newly improved 'visual acuity' and no longer bubbling spring like radiator.
Curtesy one Rotillian named Revvit. Who, speak of the sprite, was giving her an old fashioned look as she thought.

"Somethin' on yer mind, Rev?" The little Reptool adjusted his seat so he was sitting facing her full on. His ride barely a double T-Trux tail length away, keeping pace with their guest.

"I was just wondering whether their was something on yours? I do not mean to pry, but you seem a bit distracted," he said, kindly as ever.

"Huh," Sue chuckled. "You don't miss much, do you?"

"I am told I do not," he said back with a cocky grin.

"Well, there is somethin' on my mind, but ain't likely much to be done about it," she said, ending with a shrug.

"If you do not mind... whatever is bothering you; I am 'all ears'."

"When you put it like that, how could a Trux resist?"

 

~

 

After their little talk, wherein she mentioned feeling awkward holding everybody back, the train spread out a little. Allowing those who wanted to to stretch their treads and those who didn't or, as it turned out for a few others, couldn't, ample room for either.

Turns out, Sue'd forgotten about the fact that the Dozeratops and the Ankylodump were toting practically a whole lake between them the last day and a quarter. Doing their best not to spill the whole thing when they had to roll over rough terrain and bigger ridges and hills.
She'd been kind of busy keeping an ear on her own driveshaft around those times, making sure she didn't strain something and ruin Revvit's hard work all in one go, so she wasn't too surprised their struggles had gone pretty much unnoticed by her.
Maybe a little embarrassed, but not surprised.

"Did you really ride all the way up here on the backs of a Rolladon herd?" Demanded Big Yellow from where he was trundling along not far to one side.

"Dozer, not now!" Skya reprimanded from his other side, her cross look tempering the Dozeratop's indignation.

"Fine. Don't worry, Sue. You don't have to answer that. I know you're worried about D-Strux an'... everything."

"Thank ya kindly. Both of you," Sue said, drawing the attention of the two close to bickering Trux at the same time. "I am worried, but that don't mean I can't enjoy the trip as much as makes sense to." She glanced around so the others knew she was talking to them as well.
"You can ask me anything. Nobody's gettin' their heads bitten off over it," Sue said, with a little smile. Doing her best not to let the thought of the little Trux she'd guardianed to adulthood being in serious danger get her down.
D-Strux was going to be just fine. She could feel it in her axel.

"So... about that trip on the backs of a Rolladon herd?" The three horn asked. Reminding Sue that she wasn't alone with her thoughts. For the first time in a long time.

"Hm. Those Rolleys make for a pretty nice ride. Sorta like floatin' downstream." Sue didn't bother mentioning what kind of stream.

"Knew it," the yellow guy said with a self satisfied nod.

"Uh, Sue?"

"Yeah, Skya?" Sue said, looking up long enough to make eye contact before going back to watching the path for rocks.

"Uh, you knew D-Strux a long time ago, right?"

"M-hm," Sue nodded.

"Was he ever... mean spirited? Or, oh, I don't know, territorial- No. What I meant was: What was D-Strux like as a... 'young'n'?" Skya asked. The last word sounding like she wasn't quite sure she was using it the right way.

"D? I s'pose he was like any young T-Trux."

"...And that would be?"

Sue chuckled, shaking her head as she reminded herself that other Trux couldn't understand the life of a T-Trux without having been one themselves.
"Curious. A quick study. Judicious. And when pushed; whatever the situation needed him to be." Sue gave the description aware that a certain red Trux who's blasted name definitely began with a T was listening from his place at the front of the group. Acting as point and getting in on a little story time all at once.
Great multitasking.

"Huh. I've never thought of him quite that way before. Thanks for the-"

"You mean our dude D-Strux was once a nice Trux?! No way, Dude! You're just pullin' my tail!" The little blue 'dude' sloshing the smaller half of their water load around in the bed on his back said. Far more excitement in it than Sue figured the situation called for. Not that she'd hold it against the critter.

"Everybody starts somewhere, Blue. Where you always a top notch water bearer?" She asked, rather pointedly. Hoping he'd get the idea.

"Uh, nope! First time I've been able to remember there was water back there. But don't worry, Dude. I won't let anything happen to it!" His roll slowed for a moment before he opened his mouth again. "Unless that 'something' is you drinking it. Guess that's kinda the point though. Heheh."

"Well now, that's what I call steppin' up and takin' charge!"

"Aw," the Ankylodump said in a fit of bashfulness. "You're just sayin' that."

"Am not! Water's near as heavy as solid rock, i'n't it?"

"Huh. Now that you mention it, it is pretty heavy. No wonder I like scrubbin' so much. Water's comfy like a rock blanket!" Blue said, the excitement bubbling out just as hard as before.

"Speaking of water," said Revvit from his perch on Red's head, some ways off. "Please do not feel worried to drink as much as you need, as there is a water source only one day from here, at our current rate, that guarantees opportunity for a refill." Then, loving how much more detail she could pick out after Rev'd fiddled with her eye, Sue watched the little Tool look to Blue with an apologetic expression.
"Sorry Ton-Ton, your bed may not receive as much of a respite as you may have been hoping."

Sue shifted her head and watched as a look of worry passed over Ton-Ton's face and was gone before it had a chance to stick. "That's okay, Little Dude; I'm havin' fun with Sue anyway! She's tellin' stories about back when D-Strux was nice!"

"Oh, 'scuse me, Revvit? Did you say, 'Drink as much as I want'?" Sue asked, pretending she hadn't been able to pick out his high voice through the combination of the nice frosty breeze following them down from the northern country and their numerous rumbling treads.

"Yes, water is not a problem!" She saw as well as heard the words that time. Thoughtful thing moving his mouth big with every syllable as he did. And raising the volume enough to alert anything within screaming distance of their presence.
Made her chuckle.

"Alright then!" She called back, then turned her head to the little blue dude and gave him a smirking grin. "Mind holdin' still a second?"

"Huh? Oh, no problemo! Thirsty?" He asked, coming to an immediate stop. A few negligible plops of water hitting the ground in response.

"Heh, like you wouldn't believe!" Sue said, rolling closer to Ton-Ton's bed. Happy when he got an up close size comparison between them and didn't quake at the fact he didn't even top her treads.

"Haha! That tickles!" He giggled, tipping his bed some so it was easier to get a good drinking angle on.

"Oh yeah, that hit the spot!" Sue said, shaking the excess water from her jaw and enjoying the feeling of a full radiator. One that wasn't threatening to leak itself dry faster on account of its unusual fullness.

"And you can have more anytime you-" a loud gasp brought the entire procession up short. "My bed's empty! Dudes, all the water's gone! But I swear I didn't spill-"

"Ton-Ton," Sue said with a chuckle, "I drank it all. You were only half full anyhow."

"You mean, I can ramp now?" The guy with the newly empty bed asked, a sparkle in his wide eyes.

"Yep, that's what she means, Ton-Ton," Skya offered. Giving Sue an amused look.

The sweet little Ankylodump stared up at his liberator for another long moment, a high squeal the only noise he seemed able to make, before absolutely tearing off for a nearby outcrop of vaguely... ramp shaped boulders nobody else had noticed until just then.

"Well, Skya," Dozer started. "Ya got your wish."

"Huh?" The Craneasaur asked, distracted by the whooping and hollering going on off to one side.

"Ton-Ton's off water duty and so am I! You finally get your turn!" Crowed an overjoyed three horn.

"Yeah, I seem to remember offering to take the cart off yer hands a good half dozen times, and you sayin', 'No way. Long as Ton-Ton's carrying his load, I'm haulin' mine. I ain't a quitter!'" Hm. The Dozeratops had said that. More than once, if Sue was remembering correctly.
Pretty good impersonation too.

"I do not sound like that! Now get this thing off me and haul it yourself! It's time I gave my crankshaft the break it deserves!" This time it was a gasp from Dozer that made everyone pause.
"Uh, no offense, Sue. I'm happy to help, I just don't know how Ton-Ton does this haulin' thing."

"Naw, I know how the turn system works. And how it works when it breaks down. Go have some ramp fun with yer friend," Sue said, frankly impressed the Dozeratops had been willing to drag the dead weight as far as he had.

"Heh. That's Ton-Ton's thing. I just need a break."

"I hear ya there," Sue said with a commiserating nod, definitely glad they were stopping to have the water cart change yokes.

Sitting back to watch the others do their well synchronized switch up, including T taking the vine package of spare parts from Skya's back to balance on his treads for the next stretch, she let her gearbox downshift into neutral and enjoyed the slight massage of her engine's idle.

Admiring the efficiency of the unhitching, especially with the out of this world display of gravity defying tricks the blue guy was pulling off as a backdrop, Sue stopped wondering whether there was anything she could do to help and took a moment to just relax.

If her eye started spending more time closed than open, it was on account of the sun being so bright and high in the sky. And on account of this particular part of the steppeland being real comfy under your treads. Almost like mud, but nobody worrying over getting stuck.

Yep. Just resting. Soon as Skya was hitched... they'd be heading south again. And Sue'd be seeing D for the first time in... a long time.

With a long sigh, hoping the lug nut was doing alright, Sue gave her neck a little scratch, and fell promptly asleep. A passel of good Trux nearby, doing their thing.
Keeping her company.

Chapter Text

Looking up from where he was helping guide the water cart 'off' an impatient Dozer, Ty caught sight of the T-Trux it was their mission to escort home and felt his face rearrange itself into one of mild, admittedly amused, surprise.

"Hey, Skya? Dozer? Maybe we could keep it down and take five?" Ty suggested. Gesturing to where an oversized T-Trux was snoozing.

"Wow," Dozer said, remembering in the nick of time to not use his outside voice. "Right out in the open."

"Right in the middle of the day too," Skya observed, giving the clear sky a quick once over. "Must've been tuckered from all the cross country. And all the excitement."

"Ton-Ton's enough to put anyone down for a nap," Dozer said, smirking at the chuckles it earned him.

"Ton-Ton's been great," Skya reprimanded. Around the chuckles. "Besides, I'm pretty sure he and Sue are really getting along."

"Oh yeah. Sue 'n' me are, like, bros now, Dudes," Ty was glad the three of them kept in any noises of surprise at the sudden appearance of a fourth voice. They couldn't keep the surprise off their faces though, and a confused Ankylodump cocked his head in response.
"Don't worry; we're still bros too. You can never have too many bros, Dudes!"

"That's great to hear Ton-Ton," Skya said in a hushed voice. "But right now we're trying to be quiet so our newest 'bro' can have a nice nap." She said, pointing her head over towards the snoozing giant.

"Oh my gosh!" At the 'shh's, Ton-Ton started again in a quieter register. "Oh my gosh. Sue looks just like D-Strux right now! They sleep the same way! That's so... weird? Cool? Hm," Ton-Ton hummed as he rolled off, looking like he was still searching for the right word.
"Uncanny! That's it!" He said, turning back to the others so they could hear him better, then facing front again and rolling right on up to the sleeping giant. Where he parked himself parallel with her treads and put the side of his head against her tread guard.

Having never seen his blue friend do that before, Ty found himself wondering what it was Ton-Ton could possibly be doing.
Giving a hug? Snuggling? Maybe he wanted to nap too?
Huh, closing his eyes like that, the napping thing was getting more likely.
Nope. He was stealth rolling his way back now, a satisfied tilt to his mouth as he gave them a nod.

"Yup. Dude's napping. Turns out she's not 'just' like D-Strux," Ton-Ton said. Relief evident in the amused tone.
"Well, if Sue's takin' a nap break; I'm takin' a ramp break. See ya, Dudes!" And with that and a cloud of dust and torn up grass, it was off to the slopes for Ton-Ton.

"Uh," said Skya, spitting some grit out of her face. "Wasn't he just on a 'ramp break'?"

"I'm not complainin'. More peace and quiet for me!" Dozer said, easing his chassis down to give his suspension a well deserved break.

"Good idea, Dozer. Skya," Ty said, tilting his head up. "You wanna give your neck a stretch?"

"Sure. A break would be nice," Skya admitted, before moving on to kicking rocks out of her left side treads.

After several minutes of high quality relaxation, the sound of Revvit spinning his bit rang, grabbing the three nearest the cart's attentions. Sounded like he was working on it.

"Alright," came Revvit's voice, as his bit stilled some while later. "I have made some modifications to the cart hitch that should allow for better turning radius and an overall smoother haul." Ty always enjoyed hearing the pride in the mechanics voice when a build went well.
"Shall we test the new configuration, Skya?"

"Sure. No time like the present," Skya said, pulling her neck back into its traveling configuration and rolling herself into position for hitching.

"Dozer? Ty? Your assistance please?"

"Yeah, yeah. We're coming," said a Dozer who sounded considerably less cranky after his time off.

While Dozer started for the cart, Ty lingered just a moment, glancing back at the soundly sleeping T-Trux and wondering what it felt like to have lived as long as their newest friend had.
Then, giving his head a shake, he motored over to help with hooking up Skya to the water cart's new hitch.

 

~

 

Not long after they gave the new hitch a test and decided it much improved, the company woke up the sleeping member, called over the ramping member, and pointed themselves toward home once more. Refreshed and raring to put some miles behind them.

Ty found himself gravitating to point, as he had for the majority of their return journey. Perhaps because he knew Revvit liked having as clear a view as possible of the terrain and surrounding hills and vegetation; perhaps because he himself enjoyed hearing his friends bonding with their newest traveling companion and didn't want to get in the way of all the fun.
The stories they swapped got themselves caught in the southern wind and blown his way anyhow. So he could hear them just fine.

Eventually, when some of the laughter died down behind him, Ty realized that Revvit was being especially quiet. Not even offering his opinion on which hill or valley would be less likely to lose them water on account of the degree of incline or descent. Not to mention the texture of the terrain.

"Got your mind on something, Rev?" He asked of the little Tool riding on his snout. No doubt enjoying the warmth of the later day sun.

With a nod, Revvit turned to face his eye, appearing quite large from that close up. "I believe I am hearing a squeak from one of Dozer's brake pads. Might we slow our pace so that I may investigate?"

"Hm? Oh, sure thing, Rev," Ty said, applying just enough brake himself that the others caught up naturally. "Revvit's hopping over, Dozer," he said, before lowering his head and watching as his cavemate made the distance without a problem.

Moving away to give the two space to diagnose in private, Ty found himself rolling right alongside the reason for this whole trip. And, hopefully, the answer to Skrap-It's prayers.

After a good minute of trying not to be too obvious about studying the signs of wear along her paneling, the telltale marks of Scraptor claws catching his attention in particular, Ty chanced a glance up to her face. Then just about laughed at himself.
He'd been on her... rougher side, and since they had yet to find replacement parts for T-Trux headlights anywhere in their stomping grounds, her dark eye was still just as out of commission as when he'd first said 'hi'.

After that, Ty tried not to feel bad about how little self control he exercised, outright staring at the place a T-Trux arm must once have called home.
Even going so far as to reach out and ghost a hand the length of one particularly well defined gouge, situated not far above her tread housing. Deeper and longer than any he'd managed to decorate himself with.

"That's an old one." The words shocked Ty so that his engine skipped a revolution; his hand back at his side before Sue's good eye could confirm that he'd touched her at all. "Got it from a cranky Sawmetradon who thought cutting down every tree in sight was a right." Ty heard Sue's neck pistons work as she shook her head in disapproval.
"Though, the real outrage was her mistakin' little D for a sapling. Don't think those blades ever span the same after that tussle. Lost a little paint, but it was worth the look on that sawhead's face when her disc belt went off the rails."

"You took a Sawmetradon blade for D-Strux?" Ty asked, awe overpowering the shades of disbelief in his voice.

Sue twitched her head to look Ty in the eye before saying, "You'd do the same for your Revvit. Or any one of yer posse for that matter, right?"

"Of course," Ty said, the hint of an unconscious, protective growl accompanying the words. Making him rethink his previous question. On grounds of insensitivity.

"...You didn't have a guardian, did ya?"

"That obvious?" Ty said with a little cringe.

"No. But I think you been itchin' to talk about it for a while now, right?"

"That obvious?"

"Only to me, T. But I raised a T-Trux, so I know what to look for. It's all in the shoulders," Sue added, leaning over and down in a joking, confidential posture.

"Hah," Ty chuckled, feeling himself relax a touch at her playful reassurance.
"I, uh-" he started, then stopped. Only so sure that he wanted to say what had just come to mind.
With the passing of a few silent seconds though, his mind was made and he started once more. This time with as much conviction as he could scrounge up.
"I think I might've had a guardian. At some point. I remember, when I was really small, another Trux sharing my cave, and there was someone there who taught me to find ore, but I've never been able to-" He cut himself off with a bitter shake of his head. "There was a big storm and... I grew up alone," he ended. Feeling considerably more self conscious than he generally liked.

"'Think I remember that storm," Sue said, the sudden depth of her solemnity striking Ty somewhere close to his core. "There was thunder and rain enough for flash floods, and more lighting touch downs in one hour than I'd seen in my life up till then combined." Ty wondered whether Sue also heard the ghost crack of a thunderclap in the moment they both left silent.
"Losin' a guardian's... rough. I'm sorry for your loss, T. "

"...Thanks. I've always figured: This was the only life I knew, so I better not regret what I didn't have, and make the best of what I did."

"Well, if the quality of the comp'ny you keep is any way to judge," the Trux who stood an entire head higher than Ty said, sparing a glance around to his not too far off friends. Eye maybe lingering a tick longer on where Revvit could be seen crawling out from the undercarriage of a certain three horned grouch. "I'd say you turned out just right."

"...Thanks, Sue. That means a lot."

"Comin' from the one who raised your competition?"

"Especially then." The two of them shared a serious look at that. One that lasted all of four seconds before breaking down into a strange sort of shared huffing snort. Approximating laughter.

"I been wonderin':" Sue began. "If ya'll ain't D's friends, why're you bravin' the elements for him? Making this whole trip, fixin' me up, usherin' my carcass all the way back there?"

"We may not be D-Strux's friends, but I'd like to think we could be. You were right, Sue," Ty said, unconsciously pointing his eyes groundward. "He did tell me to leave the Crater, and when I refused, he tried to make all of us leave. Is still trying to make us leave," he said, gesturing around at the rest of their number.
"I can't stop thinking —ever since you told us he was doing his 'job'— that maybe we are the reason D-Strux... needs help."

"Yep." Came the blunt agreement Ty'd half expected, but still hoped against. "The little Lug Nut was listening after all ," Ty let his eyes rise at the words of pride as opposed to blame and watched the only Trux he'd ever met who had the bulk to say such a thing about his long time antagonist let out a sigh.
"I told him that a T-Trux's life is pretty tough. That if you wanna keep a place, a territory, the Crater safe, you're not gonna have many luxuries outside of a healthy home. Friends for example," She said with a small gesture towards the rest of the gang. "Not easy to make an' harder to keep. 'Specially ones yer own size. Those're usually the ones you need to run off soonest. Never know whether they're gonna try an' take the good thing you got goin'. And if'n they do: It's not gonna end pretty."
Sue made eye contact again. Long enough to give Ty an imploring look which he wasn't exactly sure what to do with. "What it sounds like D did? Is doin'? That's standard procedure for handlin' someone hornin' in on yer territory."

"It doesn't have to be that way," Ty said, a hint of a plea sneaking its way in there while he hadn't been paying attention.

"Yeah," Sue said, glancing around at everybody rolling peaceably along. "I'm kinda gettin' that. But D grew up ruff, and, by the sound of it, he got tuff for it. Wouldn't be easy to force his mind to change once he's got it set neither."

"You got that right," Ty agreed. Remembering a few of the choice dents he'd received in the many confrontations he'd had with the biggest bully he'd met.
Although... if D-Strux really had the Crater's best interests at heart, was 'bully' still the right word?

"Hey, Sue!" The two T-Trux whipped their heads towards the call. Finding a blue twister turning out donuts by a large pile of boulders some ways off. "I found another ramp! Wanna check out a new flip I invented? It'll go right over your head!"

They looked to each other, both smiling at their Ankylodump bro's enthusiastic antics.

"It is a good time for a ramp break," Ty said.

"Hm. I'm glad we talked, T. Sounds like you're the best kind of claim jumper a guardian could hope for," Sue said. Then she waved as she took off to see this 'sick ramp action' up close and personal.

With one T-Trux breaking off, the others slowed to a smooth stop and settled for a breather. Dozer coming by to take the parts sack from Ty for a stretch. Skya declining the offer to switch off cart duty, saying Dozer'd been at it way longer and she wasn't about to let him show her up. 'Specially with it getting lighter the farther they went.

As Dozer rolled off to have some semi-private down time backed up against a nearby mound shaped bluff, Revvit hopped off where he'd hitched a momentary ride on one of his horns and landed on Ty's tread housing. Then, confidence in every step, he climbed up to his favorite perch and plopped down with a content sigh.

"How'd it go with Dozer?"

"Hm?" Said Revvit, twisting some to look Ty straight on. "Oh, yes. Everything is fine. Dozer is in perfect working condition. Once again," Revvit added. Sounding rather distracted.

"Rev?"

"Yes, Ty?"

"Dozer's brakes weren't actually squeaking, were they?"

"...Eh heh?"

"...Thanks, Rev. I... needed that," Ty admitted. Embracing the small wave of embarrassment as it swept him by.

"You are welcome, Ty," Revvit assured. A soft smile doing wonders in reminding Ty that, no matter whether he'd had family growing up, he absolutely had family now.
And members of that family were waiting for them back in D-Strux's cave dwelling, in the grey mountains of their crater.

"Let's get ourselves home, Rev."

"My thoughts exactly."

So together, Ty and his little yellow friend led their company south over the smoothest terrain available. Managing, by some miracle, to avoid any unwanted confrontation along the way.

Chapter Text

Settling down for a well deserved night of sleep, Revvit nestled into his customary place atop Ty's snout. Neatly filling the dish shaped dent fate had bestowed upon his T-Trux friend in the volcanic eruption that had forced his relocation to the Crater and so, in a rather roundabout sequence of events, had brought the two of them together.

It was Revvit's favorite dent. And he had plenty to choose from:
The occasional, unavoidable one from a brush up against the incumbent 'ruler' of the Crater who they had made it their mission to attempt to bring back to... functionality.
Then there were the ones that had been there far longer than Revvit had known Ty. Some with a small ring of rust around them, betraying their age. Some just plainly small and indistinct, of indiscriminate and mysterious origin. Those, Revvit did not ask about. Knowing that something so incidental would likely slip the mind of someone as large as a full grown T-Trux. And, frankly, enjoying there being things about his cavemate he did not, and perhaps would not, know.
And how could Revvit ever forget the times he had done his best to buff out and erase a mark or gouge Ty had gotten defending him against a natural disaster or another Trux? Only for Ty to give him a gentle nudge and reassure him that he was fine. And that he would do it again. Any time; every time.

But that beautiful, perfectly Revvit shaped depression on top of Ty's muzzle? Revvit doted on it. And slept in it... Well, it was his favorite visible sign of Ty's eventful life and his favorite place to bed down for a snooze and so, virtually every night, about this time, Revvit found himself precisely where he was, curled at exactly that same angle, and saying exactly what he was about to say.
"Good night, Ty. Good dreams too."

And as he did every night, his T-Trux pillow yawned and blinked an out of sync blink before wishing back a, "Goodnight Revvit. Sweet dreams too."
Then the both of them raised a brow plate, gave a little smile, made their final adjustments for optimal sleeping comfort, and closed their eyes.

What held this particular night apart from any other, aside from the fact that they and their entire garage of Trux friends were nowhere near the Flatirons —not to mention at least another day from the Crater—, was the fact that when Revvit's breathing smoothed out, he was not actually asleep.

No, this night he was flexing his capacity for deception- but not for any purpose approaching nefarious. No. This night he had something to do. Someone to thank.

Feigning sleep for several minutes, he occupied his busy mind with counting the slower and slower breaths demonstrating his red bed's slow decent into a well deserved slumber. The thought crossing his mind that Ty could just as well also be pretending to fall asleep was quickly dismissed.
Ty had no reason to do such a thing and every reason to be exhausted. Having traveled as far as he had and carrying a delicate load of T-Trux parts much of the way. But, just to be sure...

"Ty? Are you awake?" Revvit whispered, just quietly enough that the sound wouldn't wake anyone who was sleeping.
No reaction. Unless that small, contented sigh was somehow related?

Feeling his own mouth twitch in a happy way, he took care in uncurling his tail and limbs, and hopped off his bed. Landing as lightly and with as little noise as possible before checking that everyone was indeed still asleep, then scurrying his way across the make shift Trux stop to where the other T-Trux of their group was settled.

In stark contrast to Ty, Sue slept in an upright position, far more similar to a Craneasaur than the only other T-Trux Revvit had witnessed sleep a natural sleep. Though Ton-Ton had been correct when he had pointed out the similarities between Sue and D-Strux's postures, D-Strux had not been strictly 'sleeping' at the time. So more information would be needed before any sort of conclusion could be drawn about which sleep configuration was the norm and which the unusual for a T-Trux.

Shaking his head in an attempt to get his train of thought back on its intended track, Revvit positioned himself directly in front Sue's larger than life body and in perfect position that if she blinked her eye open, he would already be in her line of sight. Then he cleared his throat and waited.
A good ten seconds. Then cleared his throat once more. Waiting approximately half that time again before flipping his tongue out to reach up and touch a hanging snout. Relieved when the one tap was all it took and the eye opened just as he had predicted. Shining a relatively steady light right down on him, for a few sleepy moments before the Trux the light belonged to registered what she was seeing.

"Rev? What's-" He made a placating gesture with both hands, followed by a motion which, to any Tool anyway, meant 'shh'.
Seeming to get the idea, Revvit was glad when Sue stayed where she was and let her gaze settle on him. After a quick glance around to reassure herself everything was indeed alright.
"What's up, Rev?" She whispered.

"I wish to thank you for the conversation you had with Ty today. It was very thoughtful of you and has been an immense help. He has been far more relaxed since," he said in a hushed voice. "So... Thank you."

"Weren't nothin'," she reassured in a dialect which never failed in causing Revvit to wonder: If Sue was the one who had raised D-Strux, then why did their styles of speech not overlap? He would have to look into that further.
"'Sides, you 'provided the opportunity'. Then, yer boy... T basically started up the conversation himself."

"Oh? I did not think he-"

"'Course, might've been on accident..." Revvit waited for a continuation, but after a small time had passed, realized that either Sue had forgotten what else she had intended to say, or was tired enough that she had forgotten how to put a period on the end of a sentence.

Deciding to go with the latter —her eye was drooping— Revvit pulled himself straight as he went, thanked her once more, and let the sleepy Trux return to the land of dreams. Just as he returned himself to the most welcoming place he had ever called home.

"Good night, Ty. Good dreams too."

Chapter Text

The Crater loomed in the distance. Larger and larger the closer Sue and her escort rolled. Capturing every drop of her attention as it brought back memories of a life she'd left behind a long, long time ago. For a frosty home far, far away.

"Sue, bro? You alright? You got a little oil leakin' out the side of your eye there. Oh!" The exclamation broke the giant T-Trux's reverie well enough that she looked down to her new, blue friend rolling along by her side. "Are you crying? Should I get Revvit?" Sue grinned at that, knowing it'd be the most effective way to give Ton-Ton pause.

Giving a sniffle, Sue felt the rivulet of oil leak down into her jaw joint and provide a little well needed lubrication. Then she opened her mouth to explain. "Naw, just: The view's bringin' back some..." Sue heaved a sigh and shook her head, wondering why a sight she'd only ever soaked in a scant few times was proving so very nostalgic. After all, the only time she'd really seen the Crater from the outside was when she'd been leaving it.
On second thought, maybe that was why.
"I'm just glad to be home. Lookin' forward to seein' D again."

"Right! I almost forgot! You and D-Strux go way back. Back to when the meanest dude in the whole Crater wasn't... the meanest dude in the whole Crater," Ton-Ton said, sounding rather confused by the end.

"Yep. That title belonged to yours truly," Sue said, accepting the accidental compliment with a little bow.

"Woah. You? Mean?" Ton-Ton asked, before wheeling around her in a quick circle, giving her a good once over. No doubt looking for the telltale signs of ill temper. Meeting her eye again when he came up short. "I don't believe it."

"Oh, believe it, Dude. 'Cause I ran the place spittin' fire and brimstone at any Trux crossed me and I was bigger, meaner, an' stronger'n little D was on his best day. Can't imagine him gettin' that much better at it since," Sue mused, gazing back up at the ever closer natural wonder she'd once called hers.

"'Better'? Better at what, Dude?" Asked a bewildered Ankylodump.

"Bein' me. The me my guardian taught me how to be. Fer the good o' the Crater."

"Oh," said Sue's most excitable travel companion. "So all guardians teach little T-Trux how to be big, strong, and mean? Boy am I glad I didn't have a guardian!"

Knowing young Ankylodump where generally raised by a communal group of adults within their own herd, Sue nodded in understanding. Then, not able to stop herself checking whether Red'd been listening in like he liked to, she glanced over at the pair leading the way.
Yep. Poor guy's shoulders were drooping. And his special passenger was looking right back at her, a touch of concern pinching his tiny, cute as a button face.

They couldn't blame Ton-Ton. Little Trux had no idea the subject was a sore one for his friend. Seeing as how T'd only ever breathed a word about it to Sue herself. Consciously anyway.

Revvit'd mentioned, real quiet like while giving her a check up during one of their pit stops the day before, that Tine'd been acting just a little off since they'd met up with her up north.
Then he'd apologized for the way that sounded, saying it wasn't any fault of hers... Just, he was hoping, if he gave her an opening somehow, she might be willing to see what was on his mind?

Sue whispered back that she'd be happy to give a fellow T-Trux a little talking to- eh, with, and to bring it on. And it had been nice. No matter how sad the story she came away with; she knew the kid the better for it and that was worth a lot right there.
Then, to top it off, soon as they'd bedded down just that night, she'd had the most adorable visit she'd ever had: The little Rotillian who'd gone through so much trouble putting her back together again had sneaked over to tell her 'thanks'.
She'd been too tired to do much with it, but knowing how much little Revvit cared about his friend had left her feeling warm and peaceful the whole night long.

She could use some of that warm, peaceful feeling about then. Staring down nothing but their destination for hours on end as they all were.

Catching sight again of the concerned look on the Reptool's face, Sue sent Revvit a private, encouraging nod. Knowing that with a friend as resourceful and sensitive as him, T was gonna be just fine. If not considerably better.

"Hey, Sue?"

"Yeah, Ton-Ton?" Sue asked, looking down right quick at her blameless travel buddy.

"That cloud look like a gnarly ramp to you?"

"Huh?"

Quite a chunk of time got eaten up by the little blue dude's cloud spotting game. Along with the color spotting game and the 'betcha I can push you up that hill' game.
Sue's transmission loved that last one.

By the time they topped the Crater's lip and started their descent into its vast bowl, Sue'd almost forgotten where in blue blazes they'd been heading in the first place.

 

~

 

Sue's mental map of the Crater was turning out better than she'd thought it might. Excusing the numerous landmarks that had grown out of the earth or fallen to be eaten back up by it since her abdication to a barely grown D-Strux years ago, the place was still as familiar as home got.
Except for the fact that the Tools and Trux around there were acting real funny.

Example: When the gang plus Sue rolled on up to a funky watering hole that was definitely some new fangled fixture, the other folks who were already filling their radiators didn't scream for their lives and tear up more ground than they covered in a frenzy to escape the impending wrath of not one, but two T-Trux. Instead, a few Stegarbasaurus moved to the other side to give the approaching group room to themselves.

Polite, but not at all the cloud of green fumes she'd always watched escaping to the side when she or D came around. Game faced and roaring or not.

After the 'watering hole incident', as Sue was thinking of calling it, the group passed many more Trux who looked over and went back to whatever they'd been doing without an oil curdling scream or anything.
Usually with a bored expression. Some of them going so far as to smile. One Dozeratops even called out a, "Good morning, weary travelers." To which the gang had called back as one, "'Morning, George."

Then they stopped off to leave the empty water cart with some cute little blue and silver Tools Sue didn't want to get too close to for fear of crunching, and the strangest thing happened:
All the tiny Hexheads dropped what they were doing to come over and introduce themselves each as 'Otto'.
No fear. Just wide eyed curiosity.

All of that piled up to make for one very confused T-Trux. So, about the time the gang started rolling up a rocky incline leading into some grey mountains, Sue moved over to where T was picking his way around some loose boulders. Ready for another semi-private T-Trux to T-Trux.
"Uh, T?"

"Yeah?" The red guy asked, going ahead and pushing a couple big rocks out of the 'path' they were following.

"I understand yer friends not bein' too skittish 'round me and you," not quite sure what to do about the surprised looks T and his navigator threw her way, Sue continued, "but what's gotten into all the other Trux and Tools 'round here? A new T-Trux rolls into town and they say, 'Good mornin'?"

Sue watched the pair exchange a look before Revvit turned to her, expression careful. "D-Strux has made far fewer public shows of force since-"

"Since we bumped him off his pedestal years ago! Guy thought he was King of this crater but-"

"Seriously, Dozer?! You do know what tact is, don't you?" An unhappy Craneasaur berated.

Sue looked back to Revvit at the clearing of a tiny throat, forcing her eye not to squint accusingly at the one of her new friends she knew couldn't hurt a fly.
"D-Strux refused to cease and desist what an outsider might perceive to be unwarranted aggressive and destructive behaviors..."

"So we asked him to leave until he decided to stop threatening everybody who got in his way. If he could get along, he was welcome any time," T explained. Eyes almost meeting Sue's a couple times.

"And with D-Strux mostly gone, everyone got used to having a friendly T-Trux around," Skya offered.

"So they stopped cowering in fear every time we showed our faces!" Dozer added. "Prolly helped that we're always goin' around helpin' instead of-"

At Skya's warning rev, the three horn closed his beak and set his eyes forward.

"So D's all alone? Up in these here mountains?" Sue asked, giving the inhospitable, craggy landscape a defeated look.

"Naw. Dude's got a little dude named Skrap-It to hang with!" Said a dust cloud as it tore past the main group. Whooping and hollering about some 'sweet ramp action' it'd just remembered was right up ahead.
Nobody could hold back a grin at that. Nobody wanted to either. Seeing as their current surroundings lacked any color or... joy of their own.

Somewhat reassured, Sue dug her treads in and pushed her engine a few more revolutions per minute.
D was up there somewhere, and if she had it her way; they'd be darkening his door any minute.

 

~

 

There it was. The 'lair' known Crater wide as the haunt of the most fearsome Trux around. And the one the Flatirons gang had just braved the foothills of the spookiest mountain around to reach.
Red led the way inside, the others following close behind. No matter how hard their panelling started shaking.

A ways in, T stopped and motioned over toward a glowing pit at the center of the open, bigger on the inside space. Right at a stooped, T-Trux shaped statue tastefully underlit by the warm light of the... lava pool- Wait a second. That statue looked a lot like-

"Kid looks like he's sleepin'." Sue said, turning to the Trux who'd all spent the last three plus days coaxing her newly travel worthy self down from the borderlands. Uncertainty clouding her excitement at the conclusion of the biggest adventure she'd had in a long time.
"Back when I lived down here, in the Crater with D, he always wanted to sleep in. I knew growing Trux need their sleep, but a T-Trux has an important job, and who's fault was it if he didn't get to bed on time?" She shook her head at the fond memory. The sight before her stopping a chuckle before it could bubble itself to life.

"How'd you wake him?"

"Huh?" Sue asked of the darkened floor, whence the high voice had come at her.

"D-Strux. When he didn't wanna get up, how would you make him?" Ah. The mystery voice belonged to a tiny, silver Wrenchtool standing off to the side. Along with an orange Revvit and a red Wrenchtool.
Things were threatening to get confusing.

"Uh, right. Days D really didn't wanna get up, a good old fashioned roar always did the trick. Really gets the hydraulics pumpin'."

"Then what're ya waitin' for?! Get with the roaring, lady!"

At the hollering, Sue turned back to the disturbing sight that was a battered and world weary version of a young'n she'd helped reach relative maturity.
Ah. Another silver Tool. This one perched on D's tread hub and giving her an eye. Like he just really wasn't feeling the trust yet. Which made sense, considering how imposing her frame could be.
"I would if I could. Scrapadactyl barely left me my speakin' voice, way back. That's why D's got such a good roar. Needed to pick up the slack."

"Uh-huh; I don't need an ancient history lesson, Tiny. I need D-Strux to move again and stop being a giant, beautiful statue!"

Hm. Why would the little guy call her by T's name? Maybe he also had problems with 'visual acuity'? And hearing.
And why was he so twitchy? Oh! Must be the Skrap-Whatsit that Ton-Ton'd mentioned.
"Name's Sue. I hear you're D's friend?"

"Special bestest best friend forever," the Tool corrected with a proud twitch. "He only has one friend and same fer me! Now whatterya gonna do about D-Strux's engine? And don't tell me, 'Trux It Up'," he said, switching his maligned gaze to where Rev was sitting on Tine's head. Per the usual.

"Uh... we shall do exactly as Sue has suggested: Produce noise at such volume that D-Strux's engine couldn't possibly not restart!" Poor Rotillian sounded just a tad manic near the end there, but that was the best idea they had. So, that's exactly what they'd do.

 

~

 

"Sorry, Skrap-It. Sue," T said between big gasps of warm, lair air. Out of breath from the steady succession of roars he'd barely stopped long enough to say, "One more," between. Worrying his friends when he'd broken off in the middle of a particularly loud one, as if he'd thrown out his voice box. But he'd just cleared his throat and gotten right back to it. Almost desperate. As if it was a dear, personal friend he was trying to wake from an impossible slumber.

"Thanks fer nothin', Red, but I got a feelin' D-Strux wouldn't wanna wake up to the sound of your ugly roar anyhow. He doesn't like you very much, ya know," Skrap-It informed. Coming out from his hiding place at the base of one wall as the cacophony died down. The rest of the Tools filing out after him. Having hidden along with him in the interest of not losing their hearing just because this was all going down in an enclosed cave.

Sue flicked her eye to T in time to catch the look of failure take root; shoulders and tail drooping in defeat.

"What it sounds like we need, is your new friend, Tiny here, to roar for us." The little silver guy demanded. Showing a lot of gumption for someone so small.

"Ya know: I think Skrap-Trap's right. Rev?” Sue said, calling the mechanic’s attention to her. “Think there’s a chance you could get my voice box back in shape?”

“I assessed the damage the day that we first met and I am afraid we do not have the necessary part,” Revvit said, sounding at a loss.

"I saw some parts back in that hidey-hole," said a Clickety-Clackety orange Tool, voice barely topping the noise of so many Trux engines bunched close.

"Yeah, they were poorly organized, so I-"

"You better’ve not touched anything!" Cut in a suddenly livid Skrap-Trap. To which the red Wrenchtool who’d been speaking made an extra bored expression. "There are very important parts in there!"

"Mostly looked like scrap to me," pointed out the silver one that wasn't D's friend.

"Scrap is important!" Came the indignant response. "Besides, I found a very rare T-Trux tail bolt the morning that D-"
At the Skrapper’s sudden choke up, every eye that hadn't already, looked over.
Sue could see in the hunch of his back and the oil lubricating his eyes that the little guy must’ve been remembering something. Something that filled his body with such powerful emotion he could barely contain it.

The other silver one- Ace pattered to the stilled one's side and put a hand on his shoulder.
"It's gonna be alright, Skrap-It. You'll see. After all, everyone's here and-"

"That's what you said before," Skrap-It said, looking close to shrugging Ace off, "But 'everyone's' here and D's still-" The little guy froze as Ace pulled him into a hug. A fearful expression hitting him for over a beat, until he closed his eyes and two fat oil tears rolled down past his jaw and plopped to the cave floor.

Sue was touched.

"It’s gonna be alright.”

“Alright,” Skrap-It said, before sniffling and extracting himself from Ace’s embrace. Seeming somewhat less frazzled than before the hug.
Then, when a throat was cleared, Skrap-It turned his head just as everyone else did.

“Uh, this tail bolt: What does it look like?”

“Super cool and completely awesome,” Skrap-It sneered in answer to the approaching Revvit.

“As any T-Trux part is. But what exactly does it look like?” Asked Revvit. Close now to the two silver Tools. “Is it three inches or closer to one foot in length,” he asked, holding his hands out for reference. “What is the diameter- is the thread count over 1/4-20? Is it oxidized? What kind of tip and head does it have?”

Sue watched as one silver Tool nodded along as if all of that made a lick of sense, and felt for the other as his face grew as confused as she was feeling.

Revvit heaved his chest up and down but managed to keep most of the sigh inside as he hung his tiny head for a second.
“May I please see the magnificent and ‘super cool’ T-Trux tail bolt? Please?”

“Load of good- Sure. Why not?!” Skrap-It griped, half wailing the last part as he turned for his hiding place.

“Oh, uh, I a-already grabbed it. Hope ya don’t mind,” said orange Revvit as he presented and handed over a really cool, glinting twisty piece of metal.

“I’ll let it slip this one time... Orange, but never touch my stash again if you know what’s good-“

“The bolt, Skrap-It?” Revvit interrupted a scrapper who’d managed to sound just intimidating enough that Sue finally understood the Clickety one’s clacking.

“Eh, fine. But don’t get it all greasy. Like I said, it’s-“

Exactly what we need!” Exclaimed a yellow Rotillian as he snatched the ‘bolt’ from Skrap-It’s hand. Giving it a good scrutinizing before giving the poor scrap hoarder a big smile.
“You may have just solved all our problems. Days ago!”

Sue tried backing out of Revvit’s way until she realized he was actually coming for her and not something nearby. He beamed up at her as she hit her breaks.

“Say ‘ah’.”

“Uh-”

“I am only kidding, but I do require access to your voice box. I believe that this piece is the answer to our most pressing problem, which itself, should solve our previous most pressing problem!”
Poor guy was talking himself in circles.

Not wanting to add to the confusion, Sue nodded and let Revvit climb all the way up to the ‘access’ he’d requested, where she soon felt an uncomfortable tightening, then, slowly, something settling to a long forgotten rightness.
Now she felt good.

“I would suggest easing into it; your voice box has been working around the damage for quite some time and would likely appreciate a warm up,” Revvit suggested, as he crawled on down to the cave floor and sat back to admire his handiwork.

“Ya mean, somethin’ like this?” Sue asked, starting quiet and surprising even herself with how full and powerful her voice got. Barely even trying.

“Yes. Uh, how does it feel? Your throat? Anything out of alignment or is it-“

“Perfect Rev; just perfect!” Sue insisted, a good bit louder than she’d meant to.

“You mean, that’s the way yer supposed to sound?!” Came a frankly shocked voice from somewhere in the relative gloom. “Wicked,” it finished with a chuckle. Then an entertained, “Sue really is just like D-Strux!”
Ton-Ton. Had to love the guy.

“Well, Tiny, ya up to roarin’ yet?” Demanded Skrap-It, stance communicating just fine what he intended to do if the answer wasn’t-

“Yep. And rarin’. Y’all ready?” She asked of the cave at large. Pleased when the response was a resounding ‘yes!’. With a few ‘don’t mind us; we’re gonna go hide in the hole in the wall,’s sprinkled in to taste.

So when the last adorable little Tool tail disappeared with a glint, Sue positioned herself directly in front the statue her once charge had become, just as she’d watched Tin do earlier, and planted her treads.
Taking some warm up breaths, she worked a growl from deep in her core up into her throat and let it build before releasing it as either the biggest growl, or teeniest roar of her career.
Pretty sure her Ankylodump friend giggled at that one, and that her voice box was primed as it’d get, she tightened her spine and let the cave have it.

It wasn't necessarily louder than all the ones that T’d loosed before it, but it had a quality that made it feel louder. A width or a depth, or maybe a deeper tone; something hard to name that was just plain different. Something that made every T-Trux roar unique.

Judging by the way everyone in the cave recoiled, it must've been pretty impressive. Especially at the tail end there when it suddenly sounded like two separate roars at the same-

Sue broke off with just breath to spare. Surprised by what sounded like both the roar of a territorial T-Trux and a powerful engine revving to fill both the open space of the lair and an open space somewhere deep in her core.
If her sensors weren't playing tricks with her, those were the signature sounds of the tyke she'd left behind all those years ago. The one she’d missed and hoped was doing well and eating enough.
She was finally gonna get to say ‘hi’ to the Trux she’d once called her little-

"D-Strux?"

Chapter Text

An ear splitting roar echoed through his skull and D-Strux felt his engine lurch, nearly busting right out of his chassis with the sudden explosive... start? What?

His eyes flew open, brights already activated as his head jerked up and he roared to challenge the one he could still feel reverberating through his frame.
Someone was in his cave. Someone was gonna pay for waking him from the best sleep he'd had in-

“D-Strux?” Never mind.
He stared back. Too shocked to ask a name in return. Because either he was still sleeping, or there was an absolutely lifelike ghost in his lair. After all, the image of a ginormous, long gone T-Trux grinning at him couldn't- absolutely couldn't be-
Real good to see ya up an' runnin', D. How ya feelin'?"

"Stuck." Frustratingly the only word he could get out.

"That'd be me! I chucked yer treads so you couldn't roll away while-"

"You had a long nap," the annoying Tool known as Revvit cut off his cavemate.
Only he was allowed to do that.

D-Strux glared down at the Reptool, blinking his brights off when the glint of them off the Rotillian's well maintained bits stung his eyes.
The Tool didn’t even need to open his mouth to be annoying.

D-Strux looked straight down when he felt wedges freed from under the corners of his treads, Skrap-It having ignored the interruption in leu of doing something useful.
Hm. The scrapper wasn’t always a complete scraphead. He’d have to keep that in mind the next time his cavemate did something... annoying.

Shaking his head at the feeling of eyes on him, D-Strux put his attention back to the ghost still staring him down with a friendly, amused expression. One he’d seen many a time, many a year ago.

Knowing he needed proof if he was going to believe anything aside from his specter theory, he moved forward to check for himself. Other Trux and Tools pulling back as he rolled as close as he could without quite touching to the giant T-Trux in the middle of the room, and sniffed. Then sniffed again.

"You're engine's hot," he rumbled.

"Always has been. Never bothered you before,” said the solid metal and definitely real Trux before him.

"Wouldn't change it," the dark grey behemoth known as D-Strux said, scowl relaxing in a way he suspected Sue’d already figured out was rarely seen around the Crater.

"Good to see ya 'gain, Squirt."

“The name's D-Strux,"

"Hiya, D. 'Name's Sue. Been a while."

"I thought..." said the smaller of them, voice wavering just enough that he cleared his throat before starting again. "I thought you were-"

"Really? It'd take a lot more than some wear and tear to take me down. Revvit here fixed me up so I could come for a visit,” Sue said, gesturing to the side.

“What?” D-Strux said, turning his head to see Trux and Tools who looked like they were witnessing both the most touching and the most terrifying thing they’d ever seen.
Right. He’d forgotten about those.

“You were in pretty rough shape yerself, so Rev fixed you up too. How ya feelin’, D?” She said in the booming yet soft voice that he always remembered her for. At least, if he didn’t think about what that Scrapadactyl did to her way back.

Scrunching his brow plates, D-Strux considered Sue’s question. "I feel... different. What- What did you do to me?!" He demanded, rounding on the Trux on who’s head he knew the Rotillian would be by then. Just a tad surprised when the red pushover underneath the Tool with the wide eyes growled at him. Head lights narrowed.

"He put you back together, D-Strux. Revvit and Ace and Click-Clack and Waldo and even Skrap-It all pitched in." D-Strux stood his ground but was forced to straightened considerably at the sudden advancement the angered, though smaller, T-Trux made; nearly bumping treads before he stopped.
"It wouldn't hurt to show a little gratitude." Hm, D-Strux thought as he glared right on back. Sounded almost like a threat. Maybe there was hope for Ty Rux yet.

To be sure his silence wasn't taken as him yielding, D-Strux did bump their treads, then made a noise deep in his throat and rolled off for a different part of his cave. Not interested in talking to the Flatirons gang for a moment longer.
Unfortunately for him, there were several small Tools between him and that 'different part' of his cave and each of them had a piece of their mind to give him before he could motor around and past.

Finally finding a shred of privacy —in his own house— D-Strux blinked at what else he found. Not at all where he’d last seen him.
"Skrap-It."

"Yes, D-Strux?" Came the hopeful sound of his cavemate's reply.

"Ty and the Tools told me what you did. Frankly wouldn't shut up about it," he added, sending a nasty look over his shoulder, toward the large group backlit by his lair's lava pit.
Then, looking back to where the Skraptool sat with an almost quiet anticipation, he relaxed his suddenly fisted hands and let a breath out his nose. "Thank you." He only let the great gasp stop him for a blink before he pushed on. "I was the perfect T-Trux scrap pile you'd literally been dreaming about, and you didn't seize your opportunity. Why?"

He watched Skrap-It toe the dirt at his own feet, face downcast, tail drooped, for over a second before the Tool who'd gone above and beyond for him spoke.
"I couldn't scrap ya, D. You're my special bestest best friend forever."

D-Strux rolled forward, closing half the distance between them in a way he knew Skrap-It would recognize as nonconfrontational, and bent his head down so the Scraptool wouldn't need to crane in order to look him in the eye.
"I never agreed to that title," he said, noticing the cringe his rumbling bass got from the scrunched scrapper. Then, on a whim, he added, "But it does have a certain ring to it."

A double beat passed them by before a tiny pair of eyes went wide and the silver head that housed them popped up to point his direction.
"A nice ring?"
The hope in those three words.

D-Strux squinted his least heated squint and made the least committed grunt sound he could without actually saying yay or nay. To which Skrap-It whooped with a misguided sense of eagerness which D-Strux did nothing to dampen.
It was better that way.

When he got his tiny body back under its usual semblance of control, Skrap-It addressed him again, “Uh, D-Strux? Since it’s a special occasion and all, could I maybe... ride on yer treads for a while?” The request growing quieter and more unsure with each word.

Knowing Skrap-It deserved whatever ridiculous reward he could think up, D-Strux only paused... half as long as he wanted to, then turned up one of his hands and flicked it toward the ceiling. Indicating, ‘why not?’.

Skrap-It’s apparent elation unfortunately just couldn’t be contained, so as he jumped the distance from cave floor to tread hub, he let out a happy yelp. Which drew momentary unwanted attention from their visitors by the indoor pool.

Ignoring the rabble —plus Sue— and hoping they took a hint and did the same and went back to their vapid conversation, D-Strux looked down at the Skraptool finding an ‘ooh, comfy’ place on his tread guard to settle his tiny body down for a well earned ride. Not understanding when Skrap-It finally sat himself in some unexceptional spot near his engine panel, sighed in what sounded like contentment, and looked up at him with obvious fondness practically oozing through his face plates.

The way Skrap-It looked at him never ceased to cause D-Strux confusion. The little Tool was the only living thing aside from the Trux who’d raised him who didn’t scream and run in fear at his approach. Along with, arguably, the de facto leader of the Flatirons gang. Trux had more guts than he acted like he did.

It confused him so, because if there was one fact life had never let D-Strux forget, it was that a T-Trux would be judged by their appearance every time.
He'd almost learned that lesson the hardest way, on an unassuming sunny day, when Sue'd taken down a Sawmetradon defending him. Back when he’d been too young and pathetic to defend himself.
His guardian had arrived moments after the enraged sawhead had gotten close to him as she could, what with him hiding as deep as his then puny body would allow in the densest part of a thicket, and growled, "Fine. Then I'll cut it all down till I get to you. You filthy egg thief!" After which, she’d been caught doing just that.

He'd decided on the spot to never relay those words to his guardian, knowing the Sawmey —as he'd called them back then— had seen enough of Sue's protective side for one lifetime. Taking far worse than she'd dished; her back saw emitting an awful screeching as Sue'd wrenched it completely free and slung it into the unforgiving underbrush.
Or, that's how he remembered it going, anyway. But tiny D-Strux also thought Cranies —what he'd called Craneasaurs— ate clouds right out of the sky. So, not the most reliable witness.

What he knew for sure though, was that his younger self hadn't gone out meaning to cause trouble. Not for anyone.
He'd just wanted to see an egg up close, and when he'd spotted the nest from some ways off, his naive, inquiring self just hadn't been able to pass up the opportunity.
He also knew that if Sue'd been even a second later to the party, or been any less fierce a fighter, little D-Strux would have had far worse than a few nightmares to live with.
But, he barely ever had those anymore. So, overall, all's well that ended in him learning a valuable lesson: Don't wait for the attack; head it off. Otherwise, they'll try to head you off. While you're young. Or sleeping. Or when you least expect it.

Only, he thought, giving the gaggle of disparate Trux in his house a glare, they, like Skrap-It, hadn't taken the opportunity to reduce him to scrap. Instead, they'd rebuilt him.
He could feel where things he hadn't even realized were failing had been tightened, realigned, replaced, and even welded. If current D-Strux was any more reliable than tiny D-Strux anyway.

"So, when are we gettin' rid of yer glorified alarm clock?" His twitchy friend asked with what just might have been a hint of jealousy. Or maybe D-Strux was imagining that.

"Sue can stay as long as she wants. She's basically my mother. Play nice," he tacked on the end, giving Skrap-It a nudge with the hand the scrapper was perched nearest.
He looked down when the simple action got him a big twitch.

"Ya mean I've already met the family?! But," another twitch broke up Skrap-It's sudden tizzy, "I- I wasn't prepared! I made a horrible first impression!"

D-Strux glanced over to where the Flatirons gang where chatting amiably with someone he'd never in his wildest dreams thought he'd see again.
"I wouldn't worry." The mini freak out taking place on his tread hub stalled at his words. "If your 'first impression' went the way I'll bet it did: She likes you just fine."

"Really, D?" Asked a face that was currently eighty percent round, wide eyes, staring right up at him.

"I'm the only one around here that knows both of you and I know both of you. So yes. 'Really'."

The ratio changed to forty percent smile right before D-Strux's eyes as Skrap-It did a little spasm which was probably supposed to pass as a 'happy dance' of some kind.
He just watched until the Scraptool was done.

"Excellent!" The first, all encompassing word his cavemate got out.

"Sure. If you say so," D-Strux rumbled, giving his head a disbelieving shake. Then, feeling eyes on him still, he stifled a growl and headed out the cave. Figuring having a bunch of unwelcome Trux and Tools in his lair would probably annoy him less if he wasn’t there to see it.

Once outside, knowing full well that Sue wouldn’t have any difficulty tracking him down if she was interested in speaking to him, he rolled off in search of someplace quiet. Hoping to find a little privacy while he was at it.

Chapter Text

Watching a sour D-Strux and friend roll out the front door into the blazing midday sun, not a one of the gang could help feeling awkward. Like they’d chased D-Strux out of his own home. One they didn’t even like hanging out in.

“Uh, Sue?”

“Yeah, T?”

“Do you think D-Strux is alright?”

“Hm?” Sue glanced around the cave, perhaps only then realizing that the guy she’d been brought all this way to help was no longer present.
“Oh yeah; D’s fine!” She said, in all confidence. Looking back to the group before adding, “He just doesn’t like you. Wanted some privacy. That’s all.”
Said with a smile. As if that wasn’t one of the worst things Ty’d ever heard.

“I knew we’d overstayed our welcome,” groused a Dozeratops Ty could hear quaking in his own tracks.

“I think you’re right, Dozer. We better get back to the Flatirons anyway,” Ty said, turning back to Sue. Noting that she was still trying to see out the blinding light of the exit to outside. Probably worried about D-Strux dispite her earlier reassurance.
“You’re welcome to come stay with us if you need a place to bed down?” Ty offered. Pretty sure the answer couldn’t be anything aside from-

“Thanks a bunch, T, but I’m good. Bunkin’ with D fer the time bein’. We got some catchin’ up to do anyhow,” she said with a small, bouncing nod. Still looking out the front door.

“Well, if you’re sure?”

Dozer.”

“I know, I know: Learn some tact. But I was being thoughtful, ‘cause D-Strux is, like, a super scary guy!” Dozer defended in the lowered face of a stern Craneasaur.

“Uh-huh, and who in this room taught him to be that way?” Came the exasperated reply.

“Oh. I kinda see yer point.” Then, turning with a sheepish chuckle, Dozer addressed Sue once again.
“Sorry, Sue. Hope ya have a nice stay.”

“Thank ya kindly. Both of you,” Sue said. Ty enjoying the sympathetic vibrations her restored voice caused in his chassis.

“No prob. We’ll come by for a visit sometime,” Skya said, beginning her roll for the freedom of the great outdoors.

“Maybe I should come visit you.”

“A more cautionary tale never spoken.”

“Don’t be a stranger,” Ty added, nodding in agreement with Revvit’s sentiment.

“Woah! Bro, do you really mean it?” Ton-Ton asked, rolling up close so he could be seen easily in the cave’s low glow. “Are ya really comin’ for a visit?”

“Absolutely.”

Ty watched as Ton-Ton managed a strange squealing sound, then tore off for the exit; whooping and hollering and not noticing if the pebbles he kicked up bounced back at him on a ricochet off someone else’s paneling.

“Guys! My dudes! We need to get back to the garage ASAP! Sue’s coming for a visit! Hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry!”

“We all heard it Ton-Ton,” informed Skya as the entire group joined the speeding Ankylodump on the ‘path’ outside D-Strux’s lair. “And we’re all excited, but maybe we can tone it down just a little while we’re going downhill?”

“C’mon, guys! Last one there’s... the last one there!” The blue dirt devil called behind him as he took the downward incline at considerable speed.

Everyone left at the top of the hill glanced between themselves and gave a little cough. Waiting for the dust to settle before starting themselves.

“Well, see y’all on the Flatirons!” Sue said, soon as the excited exclamations grew a noticeable amount quieter. Ty musing that Ton-Ton must have been really making time to be that far already.

“Come by soon!” Ace called from the top of Dozer’s blade. “I’ll give you the best tune up of your life, guaranteed! I got dibs.”
Oh yeah. Over the week they’d been gone, Ty’d forgotten about that tidbit. But, he was sure Sue’d be happy to accept such a generous offer.
Once she knew what a tuneup was.

The last Ty heard of their newest, biggest friend as they turned and rolled down the hill was a good natured chuckle.
Knowing she and D-Strux weren’t going to have a problem getting along —having seen the way the two interacted for the short period they had— he left them without any reservation. Glad that he’d been able to help bring the two back together.

With any luck, the entire ordeal would even have a positive effect on Ty and D-Strux’s nonexistent work relationship.
Getting to spend some time with the Trux who’d taught him how to run the Crater, who it seemed had mellowed considerably since those days, might just help D-Strux see things from a different perspective.
A better one.

Sharing a hopeful look with Revvit as his mechanic settled himself for a downhill ride, Ty downshifted and got ready for a lengthy stretch of keeping an eye out for loose rocks. Almost giddy at the prospect of getting to sleep in his own cave that night.
“Next stop, the Flatirons,” he said as the group took the first bend of the return trip.

“I couldn’t agree more,” assured Revvit, pointing out a clearer path just a hair to the right.

Right. They’d be sleeping in their cave that night.

Chapter Text

Sue waited until the others were down the hill and far enough away that they couldn’t see nor hear exactly which direction she took off to find D-Strux. Knowing he would be... unhappy if they one day found him off on his own, in a previously secret location, pouting as he undoubtedly was.

Once the coast was clear, Sue rolled a ways farther up the hill from the lair’s door, found an upwards sloping path of sorts between two rock walls that looked just wide enough that she could squeeze through, and emerged on a lumpy plateau someplace that must have been right above D-Strux’s lava pit.
Turning, she spotted exactly the grump she’d been looking for.

Yep. It’s all in the shoulders, Sue thought as she approached a reportedly dangerous T-Trux from behind. Engine making plenty noise that it wasn’t any kind of surprise when she rolled to a stop right next to him and took in the view he was busy ignoring.
Really nice place to come and stare off into space. Breezy. One of the most breathtaking sights from a simple vantage Sue’d ever found. Right on the edge of a sheer cliff face.
Cozy.

“Hey, D. Fancy meetin’ you here.”

“Why is it you could always find me?” D-Strux rumbled at her. Probably trying to work up the nerve to look her straight on now that they were out in the sunlight.

“Ya mean when you were a young’n an’ liked to squeeze yerself into all the hidden crevices and bushes and-“

“Yes. That.” He cut her off. No heat to it. Embarrassed.
He glanced at her when she chuckled.

“You didn’t make it all that hard. Never went too far to find a hiding place. I figure,” she said, switching to a knowing tone, “you wanted to be found. Like playing a game where the point is fer someone to say, ‘Gotcha!’”
Sue tore her eye from the picturesque view and turned her head to D-Strux. Sobered some.
“Why’d ya come up here today, D?” I know ya don’t like the gang, but I don’t think that’s the whole of it.”

“Old time’s sake.” He said. Sounding like he meant it in a rather ‘end of discussion’ way. Knowing from past experience that that never worked on her.

“I seem to recall another reason little D went hidin’.” To that, he glanced over at her in what might’ve been a ‘don’t go there’ look. Another completely pointless gesture. “You scared of them?”

Sue watched, cool as a cucumber, as her once pupil huffed at the low, pinkening clouds on the other side of the valley’s natural bowl and fisted his hands. Then watched as he stilled and did nothing more.
Neither of them moved or said anything for a good chunk of time. Both ridiculously aware they were being waited out. Both committed to it anyway.

Sue showed none of her amusement as she turned out the stronger of will between them. Just looked on with a welcoming quiet as D-Strux relaxed his grip and lowered his head. Defeated. By patience.

“I preserved the natural laws of our ecosystem as long as I could. But, soon as that blasted T-Trux teamed up with the others,” he paused a moment, perhaps examining the memory, then shook his head. “I-I let them strip me of my title, my home, the Crater-“ he bit off the last word in a way that made it sound like it hurt. Head turned down and away. “What kind of caretaker does that make me?”

“Doesn’t make you a failure, if that’s what yer thinkin’.” Sue said, swallowing down as much sympathy and muscling up as much stern authority as she could. Surprised when it came out with enough force to make D twitch his head just a hair farther away.
Sue sighed and dropped the tough love act, realizing that despite the rougher, harsher exterior, her charge really hadn’t changed at all. “D, look at me.” She watched him waver, but ultimately stay exactly as he was. “Please?” That got him, she thought as the head level with the top of her snout angled to face her.
He never could resist her ‘pleases’. Made raising him a whole heck of a lot easier.

“You feel compelled to say that by our past paternal-dependent relationship and because... I must seem pathetic,“ he informed her, gaze on her dark eye instead of meeting with her functioning one.

“‘Past’ nothin’! I’ll always remember you as the T-Tot that got hisself worked up over a ‘pitty’ swarm of lightning Bitbugs by the gulch. No matter how grown and accomplished I know you’ve become.” Sue moved her head just so and quick enough that their eyes met. “I know yer an adult, D, but that don’t mean I’m gonna judge you harshly.” A little of the guarded quality bled out of the look he was giving her, so Sue pressed on.
“And I know the others pushed ya outta your home an’ all —big yellow fella told me— but that doesn’t mean y’aren’t still caretaker. Yer just doin’ it from farther off.”

They let that hang in the light of the lowering sun awhile. Both of them looking off to the magnificent view for a spell. Sue wondering whether she’d gotten through to the lug nut. And whether he was actually seeing what was in front of him this time.
Sue hoped he was, because a picture this pretty wasn’t the kind of thing a Trux should skip out on if they could help it.

“The Crater’s just as beautiful today as when you left it,” D-Strux said, all but startling Sue from the reverie she’d gotten herself caught up in. “In spite of Ty and Revvit, and those cohort friends of theirs making constant ‘modifications’ to it.”

“If that new fangled watering hole is a doing of theirs; I’d say they’ve done at least one ‘modification’ right,” Sue commented with a light attitude. As if she’d barely noticed how ingenious the design truly was.
To think Trux and Tools had worked together to build such a thing?

“It is impressive. And useful,” he said, looking over when he heard a plip from somewhere Sue knew to be below her chassis.

“Heh, patch job on the ol’ radiator,” she explained, watching D-Strux’s eyes widen at the reminder of... an incident best left forgotten.
This time it was Sue’s turn to look down. “Yep. Unreal, wasn’t it?” She said, not expecting a reply. “Never seen Scrapadactyl work together so well.”

“They fixed your voice box. That was your roar,” D-Strux said, sounding as if he could barely believe he hadn’t caught it earlier.

“Yep. That Rev did just a little while ago; after we rolled up the hill,” she said, gesturing toward the way she’d come up.
When a set of treads adjusted, she glanced up to find D-Strux almost facing her. Face hard to read.
Sue studied the pebbly ground beneath their treads and sighed. “I’m sorry, D. Sorry you had to see that kind of thing that young.” Another sigh. “Maybe, if I’d been more careful, all those years ago; faster or smarter- Maybe I could’a stayed longer and... maybe you wouldn’t’a had as rough a time of it.”

“It hasn’t been that bad.”

“You broke down, D,” Sue said, looking him in the eye as she did. Noting the surprise. “Revvit didn’t wanna spook ya with it right off, but that’s why they all went lookin’ for me.”

“I-What?” He asked, engine taking a momentary uptick.

“True as true gets. I got here, your engine was off and yer little Skrap-Trap was worried sick; cryin’ and tellin’ everybody what to do,” Sue smiled just a little at the memory. “Way I heard it, you didn’t move for nigh on a whole week.”

D-Strux turned back to the magnificent view, face just a shade grimmer than when Sue’d rolled up some time earlier.
He probably had things to think about. Hopefully better things after their little talk, but Sue wasn’t necessarily placing bets on it. Especially feeling like she had things to think about too.
“I’ll see ya inside, D.”

“Skrap-It.”

“Huh?”

“His name’s Skrap-It.”

Sue nodded, thinking she’d probably heard that earlier in the cave. “I’ll make a point of rememberin’.” Then she finished turning and pushed forward.

Halfway across the plateau, Sue couldn’t resist a parting glance behind herself, smirking when her headlights glinted off something silver, thinking she might’ve caught the outline of a little Tool tail hiding on D’s far side treads.

“I told you she liked you.” The last, confusing, rumbles she heard from a strangely softened T-Trux voice as she took the little, claustrophobic path back down to the lair. Hoping to find some secret source of fresh water when she got there.
Radiator could use a top off. And she could use a good old fashioned nap.

Chapter Text

For Ton-Ton, there wasn’t much fun that came close to the kind of fun he could have ramping.
Except maybe, making new friends. Or hanging with cool dudes and bros and traveling to distant, secret, snowy lands. Especially when you didn’t need to haul literal tons of super important, fragile stuff that his newest bro needed.
That part was kinda heavy. In the uh-oh, this is, like, really important, dude, kind of way.

His newest buddy, Sue, was a whole lot of fun to just roll along near too! She liked games that the gang got bored of a lot sooner than he did; she liked tellin’ stories that sounded like total tall tales; she even had a hot engine that could help keep you warm way up near the frosty ice country! What more could a friend offer?!
Aside from coming to visit the Flatirons!

“Oh, guys, ya gotta help me clean this place up! Sue could be here any minute and I haven’t even had time for a scrub yet!” Ton-Ton exclaimed. Flipping a collection of scrap metal out of his bed and behind a privacy fence of boulders he’d cajoled Dozer into arranging just so. So he could hide behind it all the junk that had blown through and decided to stay while the entire gang had been away. Arguing that they could sort through it just as well behind a fence as out in the open.

“Uh, Ton-Ton?”

“Yeah, Skya?”

“We just left her at D-Strux’s lair. I think you can relax until at least lunch tomorrow.”

“What if that’s what she wants us to think?!”

“I think Skya’s right, Ton-Ton. Night time’s not usually the time Trux would come by for a visit,” Ty said, all calm and collected.

“George does!” Ton-Ton reasoned.

“I think it’s safe to say George is the exception.”

“I agree with Ty,” Revvit said, swarming down Ty’s neck to stand on the ground before Ton-Ton. “And even if Sue did visit this evening, the sun is already setting and therefore, by the time our new ‘bro’ could conceivably arrive, the light will have failed and any amount of mess would be largely irrelevant.”

Ton-Ton stared unblinking into Revvit’s face, shaking his head a few times when he realized he had been for nearly ten seconds, and then gave a strong nod.
“I understood the idea; not the words, Little Dude. And you’re right! It is dark at night!” He said with a relieved chuckle. “Guess it’s time for a scrubbin’!”

He heard Revvit and Ty sigh at the exact same time as he took off for the Trux wash.

“Perhaps we should help Waldo, Ace, and Click-Clack with checking over the garage?”

“Good idea, Rev. If any of the shelving fell over in the last week, I’ll bet Waldo’s gonna want to put it back before calling it a night,” Ty’s voice said, bouncing off the walls of the Trux wash as Ton-Ton made to pull around to the ‘in’ side.
Then he heard Revvit hop on Ty’s treads before the two headed for the garage door.

“Hm. No doubt he will want to organize the bit collection regardless,” Revvit said, chuckling until they rolled to the top of the garage ramp and his voice disappeared inside.

Ton-Ton chuckled too. Waldo really liked organizing. Probably even more than Ton-Ton liked scrubbing. Which he liked a lot, so that was really saying something!

“Oh, I’ve missed you scrubbin’ time!” He shouted just as he rolled out the ‘out’ side, feeling refreshed and far cleaner than he’d felt in... about a week.
Hm. That was a long time to go without a scrub. Maybe he could go through one more time? Just to be sure he was actually clean?
Yup. He was pretty sure there was still some mud stuck in his tire treads. One more it was!

After all, he couldn’t say hi to his new buddy looking like a mud monster! And Sue could be by as soon as lunchtime! Which, he thought with a gasp, would come around sooner the sooner he went to sleep!
Wicked.

“Hello rock blanket!” Ton-Ton greeted the falling pile of comfort as he bashed into the ledge he called bed. “I’ll never leave you again,” he said, approximately three seconds before going to sleep for the night. And half the morning.

 

~

 

“‘Mornin’, Dudes!” Ton-Ton called as he made a lap around the garage. Passing all his friends and finding they were already hard at Flatirons cleanup for the day.

“Heh, ‘morning’?” Dozer scoffed. “It’s almost lunchtime! Here we’ve been, cleaning for hours, while the guy who needs this place clean snoozes the day-“

“Wait. Almost lunchtime?!” Ton-Ton said, coming to a dusty stop by his three horned friend. “That means Sue could be by any minute!”

“What makes you think-“

“You said so!” Ton-Ton cut off his approaching, long necked friend.

“I didn’t say she would be by at lunchtime. I said that lunchtime was the earliest we could expect her,” Skya clarified.

“Oh. Well, I’m gettin’ straight to clean up anyways!” Ton-Ton said as he revved his engine. Preparing to launch himself up a small rock ramp and corkscrew to land upside-down on the pile of scrap Dozer and Skya had been arranging.
“Cowabunga, Dudes!” He shouted, landing exactly right to scoop the entire pile into his upside-down bed and roll himself upright.
Momentum was a beautiful thing.

“Where’re you gonna put that, Ton-Ton?” Asked Skya, sounding impressed by the sweet move he’d just pulled off.

“Behind my privacy fence, of course,” Dozer said, also sounding impressed by the sweet move.

“Yup! Put it all away to sort another day!” Said Ton-Ton, wheeling around the garage to fling his latest haul out of sight and out of mind.
Until it was time to sort it anyway.

 

~

 

The afternoon went like that. Ton-Ton having a pretty good time flipping everyone’s piles away and clearing the odd tumbleweed that thought it had the right to blow through their turf.
“Find a different Flatirons to tumble over, Weedy!”

“You think that rolling hunk of dried up bush can understand you?”

Ton-Ton looked up at the question. Entertained by Skya’s logic. “Naw, just figure you send ‘em the right vibes and they might get the hint.”

“Uh-huh. Well, good job runnin’ them off.”

“Thanks, Skya. Great job stacking all those branches that mysteriously showed up!”

“Thanks. Looks like a couple’a storms must’a blown through while we were off...”

“Off finding Sue, fixing her, melting a bunch of snow into water, ramping, tellin’ funny stories, playin’ travel games, and helpin’ her wake up D-Strux?” Ton-Ton asked. Surprising even himself when he said it all in one breath.

“Yeah. That.” Skya glanced at the sky before saying more. “It’s lookin’ like dinner time. You wanna take a break and grab some ore?”

Ton-Ton gasped. “Dinner time already?” At the Craneasaur nod, he felt some of the spring go out of his shocks. “Yeah, ore’s a good idea.”
Leading the way to the ore station, Ton-Ton tried to stay positive, but could feel the disappointment he just knew the rest of the day was shaping up to be.

“What’s up, Ton-Ton? Tired from all the clean up?”

“Naw. Just... now that it’s dinner time, Sue’s definitely not coming for a visit.”

“Well, not today.”

He looked up at Skya at the confirmation of his sad suspicions.

“Uh- What I meant is: Maybe not today, but Sue and D-Strux haven’t seen each other in years. They probably want to have at least one full day’s set of meals together to catch up before she comes for a visit,” Skya said. Sounding pretty convincing too.

“Ya think she really meant it when she said she’d come visit?” Ton-Ton asked, just as they reached the silo.

“Has your newest bro ever let you down?”

“No!” Ton-Ton said. Head popping up to lock eyes with Skya. “Never!” Brow plate cocking when his tall friend chuckled.

“Then you have your answer. She’ll be here. When is the question,” she said, giving the chute lever a double tap. Dispensing food for both of them.

“You know what Skya?” Ton-Ton nodded and took a big bite of his dinner. “You’re right! Sue’d never let us down! So when she comes by, we’ll give her the best welcome ever!”

“Yeah. ‘Best welcome ever’, here we come!”

“But first,” Ton-Ton said, giggling when Skya gave him a doubletake. “Time for the best dinner ever.”

“Hah, you got that right!”

So Ton-Ton and Skya enjoyed dinner, alongside the rest of the Flatirons gang, and enjoyed another good night of sleep. All with a healthy helping of excitement. Looking forward to the promised dropping by of a Trux they’d shared miles of good time travel with.

Chapter Text

How D-Strux had roped himself into visiting the Flatirons he’d never fathom. Especially not the part where he’d insisted on accompanying Sue there. That part was giving him a headache.

It was the morning of Sue’s second full day staying in the lair up in the grey mountains, and it had started well enough. Nothing had woken him unnaturally early and he’d felt far more refreshed than he had after many a night of arguably uninterrupted sleep.
Sleep was a tricky thing for D-Strux. It had to be timed perfectly. Otherwise it’d be too light and he’d still be tired come morning, or it would be too deep and he’d find himself starting awake from some uncomfortable dream far earlier than he appreciated.

The latter had happened that first night sharing the lair with Sue. It was only through cohabiting with Skrap-It that he’d learned to wake quietly in those situations. No rev from his engine —not a big one anyway— and no... noise from his voice box either.

The strange thing about that early morning? D-Strux had looked down to where Skrap-It was having a twitchy, unperturbed dream on his tread hub, then over to where he was genuinely surprised to see another T-Trux asleep in his cave, and had felt... reassured enough that he’d found himself closing his eyes on the yet darkened world outside his door and hadn’t woken again until morning proper.

This night though, D-Strux had just plain slept. The way he’d long envied other Trux the apparent innate ability to. Even Skrap-It, who on a daily basis could barely walk in a straight line or carry on a coherent conversation, he’d envied for his ability to sleep without fear of what might disturb his slumber.
Perhaps it was the repairs he could feel making functioning much less a chore than it had slowly been becoming.
But no. D-Strux had had an aversion to bedtime and sleep on average since he was young enough that if asked about it, he probably wouldn’t have been able to think up a convincing lie.
Might not have thought to either

It was, strangely enough, a relatively fond memory of his: Being told it was past little T-Trux’s beddy-bye, then roared out of the cave in the morning. Because sleep was less daunting when it wasn’t quite so dark outside anymore.

Sue’d kept him on track though, so he’d learned to deal with it and as he’d matured and especially once he’d stopped growing, it all became easier. Mostly because a full grown Trux didn’t need as much sleep as a growing one, but he’d take the victories when they came.

Looking at Sue over their breakfast that morning, D-Strux had wondered whether he should have told her about his little problem with... ‘beddy-bye time’ way back when it had first started.
Poor guardian had probably thought ‘little D’ was just plain rambunctious and stubborn.

Then again, he was pretty sure she’d already known about it. Why else would a T-Trux be so patient with a disobedient young’n? Telling bedtime stories and singing the occasional lullaby. Lullabies which D-Strux’s long term memory had held fast to and, on occasion, even let him listen to when he was feeling nostalgic. Which was something he attempted to avoid as much as possible.

Yeah, Sue had known alright. And little D hadn’t needed to say anything about it for her to do her absolute best.
No doubt her efforts were the only reason he hadn’t switched to a nocturnal existence altogether.

Which was a wonderfully terrifying thought: A T-Trux who stalked their territory at night. Invisible but there.
Why hadn’t he thought of that before? Oh, right. Because he’d had a caring guardian who’d made sure he grew up with a lick of sense and the skills to keep himself alive in the rough world they inhabited.
...Well enough, anyway. Until those horrible, incorrigible Trux took up permanent residence at-

“-the Flatirons.”

What?” He blurted. To which, Sue looked up with a face that convinced D-Strux she’d been speaking for a while now. And that it was a good thing he hadn’t taken any harsher a tone with her.
Then the set of her jaw softened and she’d chuckled. Because she’d been kidding.

“Have you changed at all, D?” D-Strux raised a brow plate at that. Not sure whether she wanted an answer. “Oh, it’s good to be back.”

“You were saying something about the Flatirons?” D-Strux prompted. Sure now that Sue didn’t need a response to her question.

“Hm? Right! Yeah, the gang invited me, open invitation, to visit their place. Pointed it out on our way into the Crater, so I know the general area they’re talkin’ ‘bout. I’m thinkin’ right after this I’ll tank up an’ ease on down the hill-“

“No.” Sue blinked at the one word full stop and D-Strux couldn’t keep himself from looking off to the side before explaining. “Not alone.”
Sue cocked her head and he met her eye again. “I don’t trust those miscreants; you never know what they’ll be up to next. Redirecting a river for their own entertainment?” D-Strux paused at the softening, almost remorseful change his lunchmate’s expression underwent. Unable to decipher it though, he continued.
“Who knows what they might try.”

“D, I gotta tell ya, your concern warms me. I know I’m not as good at keepin’ an eye out with only one... eye, and I know I can’t outpace a pack of Skraptors anymore, but I got used to it and I can certainly handle those softies.” D-Strux felt his face rearrange itself in distain. To which, Sue laughed.
“Seriously! The worst thing they done the whole way down here was sayin’ a thing against you. And they still went all that way and through all that trouble to help. So I’m payin’ a visit.”

“Then I’m coming too.” It’d been out before he could think about it and Sue’d just smiled and gone back to eating.

And that’s how he found himself rolling down the grey foothills toward the Flatirons. A Scraptool on one tread hub and someone he’d long thought gone rumbling right next to him. Almost exactly the way he remembered her.

“I missed the weather down here,” Sue said, right out of the blue. “You ever see snow down here?” D-Strux gave her a blank look, wondering what on earth- “Right. Forgot the Crater doesn’t e’er get that cold.”

“What’s-“

“Maybe I’ll take you for a visit sometime. Everybody should see snow once. Though,” Sue said, brow plates furrowing, “some should prolly only see it the once. Doesn’t agree with everyone.”

What doesn't agree with everyone?” D-Strux asked, doing his best to keep frustration from his voice.

“Heh, well... You know how ash falls from a fire or after a volcano burps?” D-Strux suppressed a smile at the reminder of little D’s word for the horrid noises a volcano made from time to time. Still felt his mouth grimace out a smirk. “Lookin’ all grey an’ white and coatin’ everything till it got blown away?” He nodded. “That, but the ash flakes are cold and melt in the sun.”

“That-“

“Doesn't make a lick of sense?” Sue asked with a knowing head tilt. “You’ll get it when ya see it.”

Then they’d had silence as they traversed the tricky, rocky part near where the incline of the grey foothills ended and flat ground began, and it was off to the Flatirons. No matter how badly some of them didn’t want to ‘stop by for a visit.’

Interestingly, D-Strux didn’t feel the need to travel at his usual speed, instead finding himself content to roll right alongside his bigger travel companion and answer questions about whether that waterfall had been there back before she left. Or whether that tree over there was the same one that’d been struck by lightning and set fire for hours in the middle of an unclouded day. That one time.
The answers were mainly ‘yes’ anyway.

“So, you been to their place before?” Another yes question. This time answered with an inescapable growl.

“Oh, D-Strux really doesn’t like that place!” Skrap-It piped up for nearly the first time since they’d left the lair. “We’ve tried to burn it, smash it, flood it; anything to get those annoying Trux outta the Crater!”

Without stopping, Sue turned her body fuller to them, face not quite surprised, but somewhat impressed. “Ha. Gettin’ creative in yer adulthood! I like it,” she said, before getting back to making sure she wasn’t about to squish anything that might happen to be in the middle of their path.
Though, realistically, if something was annoying enough to get in the way of an imposing T-Trux such as herself, it deserved to get squished.
You asked D-Strux.

After a bit of a pause, Sue spoke again, “So, you’ve been there lots’a times, huh?”

That time D-Strux kept the growl down, low enough that it got lost in the sound of the still not perfect turn over of he and his maybe, kinda, still guardian’s engines.
“Never on a friendly visit. Never been invited either.”

“Well,” started Skrap-It, “we don’t need to worry about that yet, do we?! The invitation was for someone who’s name starts with an ’S’ and it wasn’t me!”

“Skrap-It.” D-Strux said. A slight overtone of warning in his voice.

“Yeah, D?” Oblivious.

“Aw, let the little guy have some fun! I like hearin’ what he has to say,” Sue practically cooed.

With a blink, D-Strux realized she hadn’t spoken that way around him since he’d been young. Young enough that he couldn’t have been expected to find his own ore.
In this instance, he found it both put him on edge, and somehow soothed some of the rankle from his indignation.
“You always did enjoy the absurd,” he said, in a neutral voice.

“Thanks, D.” Both of the absurdists said. At the same time. To which D-Strux sighed and gave his head a shake. Knowing he’d have to keep the two apart if he ever wanted another quiet moment to himself.

“Oh, I think we’re just about there!” Said Sue, a moment before the loamy Crater path changed under their treads to something akin to bedrock.

D-Strux peered into the distance and squinted. “So we are.”

“Well, don’t sound so excited ‘bout it,” Sue said, giving him a sly look as they passed the last of the tree cover and started on the considerable stretch of wide open flatland.

“I’ll try to contain myself,” D-Strux rebutted, managing a smidge of mock solemnity before the sour mood he could feel coming on started... coming on.

 

~

 

“Ah, the welcoming committee,” D-Strux ground out at the sight of one red T-Trux approaching them on their approach of the garage. Meeting them while they were still a ways off.

“D-Strux, you here to play nice?” The outnumbered and outclassed Ty asked. Rolling to a stop a respectable distance from the visitors.

“I’m not here to play at all,” D-Strux informed.

“Then-“

“Sue’s here on that ‘visit’ your gang invited her for,” D-Strux informed the red busy body.

“And you’re here...?”

“He’s keepin’ me comp’ny,” Sue offered when it was obvious her younger had no interest in elaborating.

D-Strux watched Ty look between his soon to be guests, give a quizzical nod, then turn with a gesture towards the garage. And the Trux wreathing it’s entrance.
When had those gotten there?

After a quick glance between themselves, the two giants followed the smaller giant onward towards his wall of friends. Most of whom seemed to be bracing for something.

“If yer here for a fight, bring it on. We’re ready for ya, D-Strux!” Ah. Right. Of course. The three horn explained that pretty handily.

“Dozer, if there is the possibility of a non-violent resolution to whatever the issue, it would absolutely be preferable to-“

“Sue? Bro! You came!” Screamed the blue one as he tore past his incoming leader and nearly plowed right into the Trux he was excited to yell at.
D-Strux cut him off in the nick of time. Bending his head to give the diminutive ‘Dump a warning look before Sue’s happy words of greeting registered.

“-it’s good to see you too, Ton-Ton! Uh, D, yer just a smidge in the way right where ya are.”

With one additional warning squint, D-Strux backed away and let the two exchange weirdly pleasant pleasantries as the rest of the group gave him the stink eye. Which he returned without a second’s hesitation. Only, when he did it, it had a perceptible effect on the recipient.

Heh heh. He could hear the yellow one’s paneling rattling all the way over by the garage.

“Hey, D-Strux?!” Asked a raspy voice he’d heard somewhere before.
“Over here, big guy,” it came again. That time pulling five T-Trux eyes to the bed of the still overexcited ‘Dump.
“Hi.”

“?” Stared D-Strux.

“Name’s Ace, in case you’ve never heard it before,” said the silver Wrenchtool. Bold as brass.

“Charmed. Now stop-“

“Talking to ya?” She cut him off. Getting herself and everyone around one step closer to witnessing what happened when a D-Strux on a visit was actually mad. “Yeah, not happening. I got somethin’ to ask and I ain’t plannin’ on stoppin’ till I get me an answer.”

“Don’t worry ‘bout it, Silver; D loves answerin’ questions,” Sue quipped, in between the throws of the exhaustive greeting ritual the blue Trux was still putting her through.

D-Strux didn’t bother sending Sue a glare, knowing it would be pathetic, and instead turned his growing annoyance on the Tool in the ‘Dump bed.

“How come you aren’t destroying anything today?”

“Who says I won’t?” He answered with what he hoped was a worrying scowl.

“When do you ever put off destruction?”

“Ace’s got a point, Dude,” butted in the irritating Ankylodump underneath the infuriating Wrench. “A good one.”

Holding back quite a few unhappy responses, D-Strux went with the least cutting he could stand. “Stick to your own business, ‘Dump.”

“Chill, Dude. ‘M just sayin’,” he said, before getting back to haranguing the largest member of any party.

“So,” said Silver, calling attention back to herself, “if you’re not here to destroy anything, then why are you here?”

“I just am. Got it? Or is the concept too complex for-“

"You just ‘are’ here, huh? I’m not buyin’ it,” the Tool said, tone indeed disbelieving. Perhaps bolstered by the slow encroach of the remainder of the Flatirons gang. “What about all those times you said, 'I will destroy all of you Trux! And your little friends too!' Ya sounded pretty determined then," the little silver one pointed out. Not the least intimidated with holding the continued gazes of three full grown T-Trux. At once.

D-Strux's hands fisted as he glared down at the Tool. "Destroy your spirits," he said, managing to make that sound somehow worse than the obvious alternative.
Sue laughed, sounding as if she couldn't help it.

"Oh, good one!" Every eye flitted to Sue, to which she laughed harder. "Classic T-Trux intimidation tactic," she explained. "You always were a quick study, D. An' here I find ya; still makin' me proud."

D-Strux narrowed his eyes in another one of those intimidation tactics he obviously didn’t rely on, and rolled forward. Closer to the annoyance in the ‘Dump bed.
“Like you said: I’m not one for putting off destruction,” he said, enjoying the amount of bass in the statement.

“What d’ya think, Ty? D-Strux tellin’ the truth?” Great. Now the three horn was getting on his nerves. D-Strux usually liked the way that one trembled at the mere hint of his presence.
Oh, Yellow was still trembling. Not so disappointing as he’d thought.

“Well, like we’ve said before, Dozer:” Ty the bore said, turning his head to D-Strux, “You’re welcome so long as you play nice. You ready for that, D-Strux?”

Knowing his only available option, aside from answering the inane question, D-Strux exercised it by glaring right into Ty Rux’s eyes, then taking off for somewhere with fewer Trux to badger him.
Just so happened to be in the direction of the garage.
And just so happened to be where everyone else was heading next. So his moment of privacy was over considerably sooner than he’d been hoping for.

“Hey, uh, Skrap-It?” D-Strux hid the start his engine made at the unexpected voice by passing it off as a pathetic excuse for a warning rev.
It wasn’t very effective and ultimately got ignored by the entire approaching group and the red Wrenchtool looking at the passenger on his tread hub.

“Yeah?”

“I got some shelving in the garage could use a weld. If ya... wouldn’t mind? Won’t take long?”

“Hm. Well-“

“Please?” Skrap-It twitched just a hair at that. D-Strux could feel it through his paneling.

After a contemplative pause Skrap-It jerked his head in a funny, noncommittal direction. “Well, ya got me in a tight spot, what with ya havin’ helped out my friends here, so I’ll do it.” Huh. D-Strux kept his surprise private as his Scraptool cavemate hopped off his treads and followed the relatively stoic Wrenchtool through the foreboding maw of the Flatirons garage.

That lie hadn’t been half bad. Maybe the scrapper just had trouble lying to him specifically?
Whatever. To D-Strux anyway, it was obvious Skrap-It was eager to have something to put his welding skills to use on.

As the gang plus Sue joined him, the ‘Dump excused himself for a ‘ramp break’ and tore off for a collection of deadly looking boulders a ways off. Then started jumping off of them in a disturbing fashion. Obviously not intelligent enough to see the very real possibility of doom twisted up in every flying leap.

“Sue,” both of the visiting T-Trux shifted their gaze to Revvit, who, for once, wasn’t on top of his T-Trux’s head, “if you would like, I can have a quick look at your radiator to see how the patch is holding up?”

D-Strux held back the growl he felt tickling the back of his throat at the offer.
Sue was a mature, independent Trux who could make her own decisions. Didn’t need him butting his head in at the first, offhanded objection to every situation. No matter how valid.

“Sure! That’d be great, Rev,” Sue said, rolling closer to the yellow menace.

D-Strux watched the mechanic crawl through a panel near where he knew a T-Trux’s engine lived and found himself trying hard not to think about exactly that having happened to him while he’d purportedly been... indisposed.
Still sent a shiver down his spine. One that may not have gone unnoticed, came the dread thought, as he caught the red Trux across from him staring. Directly at him. Right past the business with Sue, Revvit, and the radiator.

Ignoring that, and feeling compelled to see for himself that nothing off color was taking place with the ‘quick look’, D-Strux moved some closer to where Sue was sitting there, chuckling to herself about ‘tiny feet’.
He drew up short though when the constant annoyance known otherwise as leader of the Flatirons gang mirrored his advance.

Hm. Guess they both had somebody wrapped up in all this they had a vested interest in looking after.
Still, he held the renewed eye contact until his smaller competition looked elsewhere; not at all willing to let someone as soft as Ty Rux beat him at something so simple as a good old fashioned stare down.

“I am pleased to say that the patch is holding quite well,” announced the Tool as he squirmed his way back to the outside world. “Though, if you are ready for the permanent repair, I can oversee the entire process in a well equipped docking bay in our garage?”

D-Strux found himself glancing into the relative gloom of the mysterious place at the suggestion. Aware that there was nothing to be done if Sue agreed to the arrangement.

“Bring it on, Rev! I’ve been lookin’ forward to goin’ longer without a tank up.”

“Wonderful! I believe that Skrap-It is already inside, so, after-“

“After me.” The look of confusion was a welcome one on the little know-it-all’s face. Assuaged a hint of D-Strux’s frustration at having to actually enter the Flatirons gang’s stupid ‘garage’. But, it was worth the discomfort to be first through the door and have the chance to case the place for potential danger and traps.

He gave the funky, smaller than it looked from the outside, enclosed space a once over. Spotting Skrap-It and the red Tool over on some scaffolding twigs against one wall. Skrap-It going his usual level of overboard as he sent out showers of blue sparks, welding some joining pieces to each other while the his red task manager watched on in envy.
Not bad Skrap-It. Not bad.

“Thanks fer showin’ me the way in, D,” Sue said, taking the ramp a gear lower than D-Strux had bothered with and therefore giving him time enough to give a couple of the customized, Trux sized hidey holes a good sniff. “But i figure this is gonna take a while; maybe you wanna wait outside? Keep an eye out fer Skraptors or... fast movin’ inclement weather?”

On an intellectual level, D-Strux knew Sue was saying those things as a subtle —when in current company anyway— way to give him an out; an excuse for what she knew as his nervous shoulder set to get out of there and cool down in some well deserved privacy. But on an entirely unintelectual level, he couldn’t help but perceive it as a rejection.
He didn’t enjoy the indignant twitch his tail made. Knew Sue’d seen it too.
But also knew, when her expression softened, just for him, that she wasn’t going to suggest such a thing again.

So D-Strux took up sentry in a nearby, shaded corner, and watched as a horde of crawling Tools started their unnatural treatment of his long lost guardian.
At least Sue seemed to be enjoying the attention. Somehow.

Squinting against the artificial brightness of what might otherwise have been a perfectly good cave, D-Strux gave a smirk as he realized that even the Trux and Tools who weren’t busy with something were avoiding looking in his direction. A couple of them even making turns the long way around to save themselves the stress.
Heh. Folks in the Flatirons had a good idea, for once.

Having nothing to do aside from glaring and squinting, D-Strux allowed his engine to settle to a comfortable resting rate and found himself enjoying the sound of his lower revolutions per minute as he hadn’t been able to in quite some time.

Shrugging off the shadow of the annoying thought that maybe the Flatirons gang could be trusted about as far as he could throw them, D-Strux gave the back of each member’s head another good glare, and let his eyes close for just a moment. Appreciating the dark privacy the action brought.

He let them stay closed just a while longer, aware he didn’t need his eyes open to know whether he was needed.
Sue could handle these ‘softies’ on her own anyway. Just like she’d said.