“l understand your pain, little one.” Talons piercing deep into his armored hide. Glaive angled under his chin. Optics full of pity.
He regarded her with fear, body lurching as she clenched her toes…. She felt his energon seep around them. She was dragging it out. She knew she was.
“Y-you know n… noth….” He gurgled through the energon.
His meaning was simple enough to understand. Why are you doing this?
She had always prided herself in her brutal efficacy. A quick strike, pierce the spark with her glaive; Simple, quick, clean. The work before her was messy; part of his leg forty feet away, left arm ripped from his shoulder, and flung halfway across the field, energon spilled wastefully all around her.
A sloppy job.
She gave a final shove and extricated her foot from the mech before her, squatting down to look at him more closely. Expression inscrutable. He was wrong of course. She understood all too well. His optics were filled with fear. Death loomed so close on his horizon.
“You are here because you made poor choices.” Her voice was level as she grasped his chin, forcing him to meet her gaze.
“Is that…. How y-you just… ify your actions?” He heaved out.
He had made a bold mistake in raiding the weapons cache. It was only logical that he be punished…. Only logical that those who committed infractions were punished…. Only logical….
He managed to laugh despite everything. A bitter, humorless laugh. “O-of course you… you do. How cou… could a mons-ster like you ev-ever understa...nd, V-Virigo?”
Her grip on her weapon tightened… mirroring the feeling in her spark. Monster… Yes. That label was appropriate was it not? But this was nothing compared to what was about to come…. He had been right. When had his predictions faltered? There was no escape. Not for the mech. Not for Virigo.
And killing the mech before her now… “They want me to kill you, you know.”
His jaw opened and closed silently a few times before he whispered. “... I don’t want to die.”
She gazed at him coolly before closing her optics and standing up.
It had been two years since the Allspark and Megatron had both been destroyed by a human child. In one foolish, well-meaning, ignorant swoop, the hopes of bringing Cybertron back to life anytime soon, let alone restoring the cybertronian population to any sane level, was irreparably crushed. The thought of it all would have made Vertigo laugh had it not been so depressing as she took to the skies above Diego Garcia.
A projectile flew past her nose, just missing it as she quickly veered to the side, dropping in altitude as another nearly hit her cockpit.
"No readiness check?" She asked, amusement tinting her voice.
"The 'Cons sure as hell won't give you one." Replied Ironhide gruffly, shooting a rocket. "Besides, that was your readiness check."
She hummed in response, doing a half turn, flying sideways to avoid a stream of bullets.
The femme performed a complex series of loops as Ironhide shot a missile at her, but it continued its pursuit, staying right on her tail. She went into a steep climb, cutting her engines once she reached five thousand feet. Plummeting to Earth her engines roared to life once more as slugs came in for the metaphorical kill. She rolled, dove and shot across the ocean's surface like a speeding arrow, wing tip skimming the water.
There was no feeling quite like flying; The wind whistling past her, the freedom it presented, the thrill of higher speeds than any ground vehicle could attain. The femme spun around, and headed directly for Ironhide shooting at him. He pulled to the side at the last minute, the practice rounds painting the pavement a lovely shade of chartreuse. The older mech nearly landed a round on her dorsal side, lavender paint instead marking the trunk of a nearby palm tree.
Another volley rained down from the air as she transformed for a few seconds to aim at him before reverting back to her alt-mode. His stark black armor now sporting a few splotches of bright green and orange.
“Splashback from hitting the pavement does not count!” Growled Ironhide, tagging the tip of her tail wing with a bit of periwinkle.
Vertigo matched the next projectile, a multicolored cloud of paint cloud of paint erupting in the air.
Realizing the opportunity presented by the cloud-limited sight, Ironhide unleashed the last of his practice rounds at once. A barrel roll reversing itself midway through, a diagonal loop, a steep climb followed by an even steeper corkscrew dive only to pull up at the last possible moment, tail fin partially submerged told her that nearly all of the old mech's arsenal had been dodged, the periwinkle paint now washed away. Another barrel roll and a loop around showed her that unless she wanted to deal with live rounds, her training run was done for now.
"That was an impressive show of skill," Came a voice from inside her head; a transmission from her leader. "On both of your parts."
"Thank you." She replied, all doubts purged from her cranial processor as she twirled through the air, savoring the feel of the air flowing over her wings.
It was then that she noticed a small audience had gathered near the entrance to the hangar; Most of them drawn there by the sound of explosions. Soft fleshy humans in awe of their metallic counterparts... full of fear and envy. Vertigo transformed in mid-air, landing on the paved strip, wings flared to steady herself as she came to a stop. She raised her hand to wipe away some of the paint spray that had gotten on her right shoulder and settled into the deep scars on the plate. The femme hadn't wanted it repaired. The Autobot symbol stood boldly out on her other shoulder plate, gold contrasting nicely with her matte black finish. Her blue optics watched the small crowd recede back into the confines of the shelter as she turned to face the large semi that was their leader. Her leader.
When she had left, Vertigo had not known what to expect. Had not known anything beyond the small, sheltered world she had grown up in.
"It is good to see you adjusting so well to the team.” He had transformed, kind optics regarding her thoughtfully.
The ease with which she found herself fitting into the team surprised her as well. It was nothing like her birth place, nothing like the place she had once called home….
"O-of course, Optimus Prime," She responded quickly, giving him a nod.
He chuckled, "Your passion is a welcome sight."
Perhaps in another life, Vertigo would have beamed; she wasn’t sure that her faceplates even could anymore, but she did feel a small smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.
When had she become so eager to please?
Optimus Prime was silent for a moment, "You should recharge. You have a long journey tomorrow."
“Of course, Optimus Prime.” Vertigo replied with a light bow before transforming and heading inside of the hangar.
She found a relatively human-free corner and settled there reverting back into her bipedal form. For a few moments she watched the humans scurry around. Vertigo still didn’t quite know how to feel about the Autobot-NEST partnership. There were too many variables. Too many things that could go wrong. The humans had no stake in their war other than to prevent that war from ravaging the Earth as well. But their memories were even shorter than their lives, who was to say they wouldn’t conveniently forget their ties with the Autobots. Once the decepticons were dealt with, what would prevent them from turning on those they now called allies.
But if Optimus Prime trusted them, then she she would too…. At least for now.
Vertigo sighed, curling up and resting her forehead on her knees, shuttering her optics and attempting to rest.
Stasis had just begun to claim her when she felt someone plop down next to her. “That was some gorgeous flying out there.” Vertigo attempted to ignore the silver mech much too close to her than was comfortable, but he didn’t go away. Instead he just chuckled and scooted closer. “I know you’re still awake, sweetspark. Your antennae relax a lot more when you’re recharging.”
He nudged her side, and she lashed out, her talons latching onto Sideswipe’s thigh and clenching threateningly while she glared at him.
“ Ow! ”
“We are teammates, nothing more.” She hissed, “Now leave me, I have much to do tomorrow.”
“Your mouth says ‘leave’, but those talons still clinging to me cry ‘stay’.”
Vertigo shoved him as far as her leg would allow, releasing him before transforming into her alt-mode. Not the most comfortable way to recharge but if it meant cutting their interaction even a little bit shorter then it would be worth the stiffness.
“So cranky when you’re tired… okay, okay I’ll let you recharge now without any interruptions.”
Where Optimus was a beacon of light, the one who pushed the “This is a bad idea” thoughts out of her head, Sideswipe was the one who made her doubt her decision…. arrogant, headstrong, volatile a dangerous combination... but those second thoughts was a little late now… weren’t they. That bridge had been burned when she had left it all behind to pursue this crazy plan. Before she had landed on the Earth. Before she had joined Optimus Prime. But so far nothing was going according to that plan... they hadn't given her enough material to anticipate any of this. It was downright terrifying seeing who these autobots were compared to who she had been. If they had known....
But they didn't. And they wouldn't... she thought as she drifted off.