Actions

Work Header

Take Two

Chapter Text

“Sideswipe to Autobots?” the red Lamborghini called through a secure line. “Sideswipe to Sunstreaker? Optimus Prime? Prowl? Slag, I’d even settled for Gears at this point! Anyone reading me?”

Static met the front liners inquiry. He sighed, cringing at the abnormal groan from his chassis as he sank lower on his wheels. The battle had been over for nearly an hour. Sideswipe, having been playing with the jets, was nearly a hundred miles from home. Thundercracker sported a new racing stripe, before making a hasty retreat back to his faction. Sideswipe suffered from numerous injuries from the attack, many caused by a jet rolling on top of him as they scuffled on the ground, where Sideswipe had the advantage.

Now, several dings, dents, scrapes, and blown gaskets later, the red Lamborghini was taking refuge on the outskirts of an exotic car dealership. The place was locked up, preventing the front liner from taking a position inside to blend into his environment in case Thundercracker decided to return with his trine. Sadly, Sideswipe was stuck on the outside of the perimeter, his usual pristine shine now dulled and abused, one wheel protruding slightly due to a faulty transformation. The only thing for the warrior to do was lay low and allow his self repair systems to engage and get him stable enough to return to the Ark.

Cycling his repair systems, Sideswipe allowed himself to drift into recharge mode, oblivious to the world.

Dawn broke with a rather strident blare from a horn. Sideswipe snapped out of recharge, ready to yell at his brother for the wake up call, when he realized he wasn’t in his shared quarters with his brother. He was outside of the base. Alone. No backup. Surrounded by annoying humans. And fragging cold from the rain that started to patter on his chassis.

Checking diagnostics, Sideswipe let out a grumble of protest.

“Only 78 percent?” he muttered, starting his engine and pulling away from the curb. “I must need a tune up!”

Traffic barely allowed him access, and after a block, a full stalemate kept the commuters in tightly packed groups. Cursing his luck, Sideswipe tried his radio, hoping his repair nanites had seen fit to give him a voice so he could alert the other Autobots.

“Sideswipe to Ark,” he said, voice already strained with the early morning commute.

“Red Alert here,” came the welcomed, yet unwelcomed response. Red Alert wasn’t one of Sideswipe’s favorite mechs. They rarely saw optic to optic and Red had a nasty habit of figuring out pranks that were works of art. “What’s your status, Sideswipe?”

“Currently stuck in traffic, approximately one hundred miles away with only seventy-eight percent functional capacity.” Sideswipe cut his comm. so he could verbally abuse another driver that dared to inch his domestic sedan so close to the Italian masterpiece. “Tell Ratchet I should be there in a couple of hours and I expect his regular bedside manner.”

“I shall inform him of yet another visit,” Red Alert said, not bothering to sound sympathetic. “Prime ordered search parties for you after the battle. They are still out on patrol. I can find the nearest to have you escorted to the base.”

“No favors or anything,” Sideswipe grumbled, allowing his engine to idle on high for a moment before settled back into a soft purr. “Nice to see that some bots care about us lowly front liners.”

“Prime cares about all under his command,” Red Alert added, not raising to the challenge the Lamborghini had a habit of starting. “Prowl and Sunstreaker are nearest and should meet you at these coordinates in half an hour.”

Thinking it was way too early in the morning, Sideswipe gave a sigh and added, “Transmission received.”

“Base out,” Red Alert said without waiting for a response.

‘Fragger,” Sideswipe snapped, laying on his horn and scaring the hell out of the early morning motorist. He really wasn’t a morning mech.

Fifteen minutes later, Sideswipe nearly jumped out of his plating when a flash of blue appeared in his rear view. Soon the caterwauling sounds of a siren blared beside him, and being in an exceptionally generous mood despite current circumstances, he eased into the slow lane to allow the officer to pass. His generosity quickly evaporated when the officer followed suit, trailing his bumper by a few feet and showing no signs of passing. With a growl Sideswipe pulled over.

An officer, mid twenties with sandy blonde hair, approached and tapped on the window. He was fully expecting to see one of the pampered brats that race through town behind the wheel, offering him a jeering sneer and a lazy demeanor. He wasn’t expecting to see a vacant car. He frowned, leaning against the door as if to peer into a back seat, and jumped back in surprise when the car protested.

“Do you mind keeping your oily human hands to yourself?” Sideswipe snapped, just feeling the fingerprints burn permanently into his polish.

“Hey… you’re one of them Autobots…. “ the officer started, but Sideswipe quickly cut across.

“Yes, I’m a member of the Autobots. No, you can’t have an autograph. No I will most certainly NOT let you drive me. Yes, I understand the traffic laws and yes I understand that you have the power, however limited it may be, to enforce those laws and basically cause me to have what has not only been a bad day, but a bad week. And no, I’m not getting an attitude, I already have one and it is extremely limited on patience.” Sideswipe shifted on his tires irritably, wishing he could just crush the annoying humans and have Prime kiss his aft. Some things were just below a mech. Sucking up to inferior beings was one of them. “I’m not a morning mech and I need to get back to base and get repaired, no doubt enduring some medical malpractice and then, quite possibly, getting reprimanded for engaging the enemy and getting hurt in the first place.”

The officer felt his jaw hanging and immediately closed it. He had heard of the Autobots and had seen footage on tv, but never had he encountered a real, live talking car before. He had thought them all kind and generous and friendly to the human population. This ruby masterpiece apparently didn’t get the memo.

“Well, I know you’re new to the planet,” he started.

“Yeah, only been here for four million years before waking up and having to endure this filthy mudball,” Sideswipe couldn’t help but interject.

“But we got some rules,” the officer finished, trying to ignore the irate car. “And one of those rules is having a license plate with current tags.”

“What are you talking about?” Sideswipe grumbled, getting the feeling that he was being scolded by the little meatsack. “I have a license plate and registration. I don’t have a drivers license, seeing how I’m the car, but the government made exceptions.”

The officer glanced over the interior, unsure where to direct his gaze and ventured to the back of the Lamborghini. He pointed at the back bumper. “You don’t have a license plate.”

The officer screamed bloody murder when the car transformed, cursed fluently, slammed down a monster sized foot in frustration and twisted himself around in an unnatural way that would have meant certain death to a human.

“Slag it all!” Sideswipe yelled, causing the officer to jump again. He looked down at the human, barely mid calf high to him and added, “Apparently someone has stolen my plate. Must have happened last night when I was in recharge.”

“Wow,” the officer breathed, his jaw hanging near his knees again.

Any further complaint on Sideswipe’s part was halted as another vehicle crested the horizon. It’s glimmer of gold caught the front liner’s attention. Sideswipe’s call of greeting was lost as the sound of transformation permeated the air and suddenly the warrior was flying backward off the road, feet disappearing in the thicket.

“Fragger! What were you thinking, taking on a seeker without backup?” Sunstreaker snarled, stalking to the edge of the road to glare at his brother trying to extract himself from the thorny hedge. “Are you suicidal?”

“I had it under control,” Sideswipe snapped, hauling himself up and moaning when a long line of text started scrolling across his internal HUD. “Slag it! Down to seventy one percent!”

Sunstreaker drew back his fist for another punch, when Sideswipe’s optics flared, his face contorting in anger. “Knock it off of I’ll beat the slag out of you!”

Sunstreaker quelled his actions, but still pierced his brother with a murderous glare.

Another vehicle joined the group, the sound of transformation smooth and perfect. Prowl glared at the twins, then to the stunned police officer and knelt beside the man.

“My apologies,” Prowl stated, making sure the man was focusing his attention on Prowl and not the two Lamborghinis exchanging death threats. “Has Sideswipe fractured yet another law?”

“He…. He….” The officer tried but found his voice falter.

“Someone stole my license plate last night while I recharged,” Sideswipe added, regaining the road and transforming with his back bumper presented to his superior officer. The move had a double meaning. Prowl let it slide.

“We will see to it that Sideswipe is returned to legal status as soon as possible,” Prowl said, motioning toward the horizon for the twins to start on their way. His attention remained on the officer who still stood agape at the mechanical beings. “Is that all?”

The officer snapped himself out of his stupor with the roar of twin engines. He looked from the Italian masterpieces to the being still kneeling on the asphalt and asked a sputtering, “Could I have your autograph?”

The twins chose to remain silent on the way back to base. As they rode side by side, Sideswipe couldn’t help but note his brother’s condition, so much like his own. Numerous dents and scratches adorned his immaculate paint job and there was a nasty scrape that ran the length of the golden twin’s body. Sickly Constructicon green, if Sideswipe’s guess was correct. Apparently Sunstreaker had seen fit to augment his color scheme in a rather brutal fashion.

“Nice stripe,” Sideswipe jeered, knowing how much his brother hated being seen in public when he was less than perfect.

“Wasn’t allowed to get repaired until your worthless aft was found,” Sunstreaker groused, swerving a little too close to Sideswipe and causing the ruby twin to careen off the road.

“Slagger. Not like I planned any of this,” Sideswipe mumbled, knowing his brother would have no problem beating the slag out of him. Sunstreaker was already a banged up mess. The splash of blood red from his twin wouldn’t bother him, not when he was already so colorfully decorated.

Prowl remained in the background sending updates to the Ark and thanking Primus his patience circuits were so resilient. The twins were enough to drive anyone insane.

 

00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00

 

Two weeks later and Sideswipe received a package from the Department of Motor Vehicles. He snatched the packet from Red Alert’s grip before the security mech could run his routine three hundred and seventeen security checks on it to consider it cleared. He disappeared in his room before Red could protest, and even if he did, the ruby twin wouldn’t have paid him any heed anyway. Neither party took the other seriously. Sideswipe’s mandatory sentence of remaining on base until legal had driven nearly all of the Ark residents to insanity, Sunstreaker the only one that didn’t show any difference of demeanor.

Sideswipe came parading out of his room a few minutes later, a definite swagger to his posture.

“Custom plate with magnetized edging and specialty screws that no human tool can manipulate,” he boasted, before transforming and displaying his new plate.

“Let’s see them swipe this,” he yelled, racing out of the Ark toward freedom, his back bumper adorned with the new identity, ‘1SEXYMEK.’

Chapter Text

-----------------------------------------

Sideswipe skidded outside of a large, ornate building, transforming before he came to a full stop. He held back a grimace of pain as he mounted the stairs, his optics intent on his destination. Tall structures stood sentry over the much shorter, but more eloquently designed building. What it lacked in height, it made up for in glittering majesty. Every inch was compromised of gem stones, set in mosaics influenced from around the cosmos. The building was the Mecca of the art world, sporting ever known medium and a few unknown that were better left unidentified. The surrounding buildings were the apartment lofts assigned to artists and allowed them complete access to the gallery and specialty shops. Or for the more unorthodox artist, rare mediums that proclaimed both morbid genius and crazy invention.

Most artists preferred a single medium, but keeping true to foible form, Sunstreaker tried and applied them all. And now, after many years of study and multiple refusals, he finally relented in showing his work.

Sideswipe entered the building, concentrating on his twin. Sunstreaker was nearby and if his spark beat was any indication, he was about to spazz out of his plating. Sideswipe understood why, seeing how it was the grand opening of Sunstreaker’s work. And everyone had showed up. Perhaps it was the prestige that went with being the only set of twins sparked, or maybe everyone was curious as to what Sunstreaker could do, but the place was filled to capacity.

Lords, Nobles, Senators and foreign dignitaries, even the Prime and his entourage were present, though set apart from the rest of the crowd by several very fierce looking Security Enforcement Response Detail.

All of the social elite were here to witness greatness. It was something not to be missed, except maybe by the lower classes who would have to wait another vorn before the doors would be open for their lowly scrutiny.

“Invitation?” a bot asked, his optics scanning through a datapad to match up any given designation. If your name wasn’t on his list, you weren’t allowed in.

“Brother,” Sideswipe snapped, pushing past the bot who beeped in protest.

A couple of Noble Mechs gave Sideswipe a sneer, clearly finding his actions to be distasteful and befitting of someone of his class. A foreign dignitary frowned but returned to his conversation. Sideswipe didn’t care what they thought of him. The only thing that mattered was his brother and the fact that Sideswipe could feel an echo of overwhelming nervousness and panic seeping through the bond they shared.

Sideswipe stalked past the Security Detail, oblivious to their servos poised over their weapons as he neared the Prime’s party. They relaxed marginally when Sideswipe paid them no heed or to the ones they protected. He disappeared through an adjacent door without a backward glance.

No one noticed the Prime’s slightly elevated optic ridge. It was unusual for the Prime to be ignored, an incident he filed away into his memory banks for later perusal.

Sideswipe eased through the doorway that led into a small antechamber that was reserved for staff and featured artists. There was a booth in the back lined with mirrors and three shelves sporting cloth and polish for quick touch ups.

A deft thumb flicked the lock, effectively barricading the two occupants and ensuring privacy.

Sunstreaker sat, doubled over a recycling receptacle, clutching his midsection. He didn’t even acknowledge his twin’s presence. The stench of purged energon permeated the air, making Sideswipe’s own tank churn.

Sideswipe stalked across the room and pulled Sunstreaker to his pedes. Without invitation his fingers moved along the golden chassis, releasing the catches. He eased the pristine metal aside, revealing the silver cylinder that housed his brother’s spark. The casing cracked open automatically, highlighting the parted transformation of the ruby chestplates that had split to reveal the other pulse of life.

The two half sparks merged, forming a complete spark. Sunstreaker’s rhythm was wild and erratic, which was his usual self, but Sideswipe’s was calm and centered. Both sparks could function apart, but during times of extreme distress or pain, both would pulse out of sync. Only a full merge could realign the aberrant sparks, bringing them once again into perfect rhythm.

Sideswipe sent a burst of peace through their bond, knowing that Sunstreaker would receive the full benefit during the merge. And like so many times before, though usually Sideswipe was the misaligned spark, a gentle wave of reassurance was broadcasted. Sunstreaker inhaled sharply, not used to being on the receiving end of calm assurance, but melted into the sensation, allowing it to flow throughout his tense body and ease his processor.

His vocalizer was low when he spoke. “I’m going to tank.”

“No, you won’t,” Sideswipe said, feeling his brother’s spark start to re-sync with his own.

“You can’t be sure.”

“Yes I can. I feel it in my struts.”

The twin pulses of life beat as one, strengthening their spirits. Sunstreaker pulled away, his spark chamber already closing, holding the precious gift of comfort and encouragement his brother had vehemently broadcasted.

“What if everyone hates my work?”

“Then they’re idiots.”

Sunstreaker vented harshly, his optics downcast. “But what if they’re right and I’m just a junk maker?”

“Then I’ll inform them otherwise.”

“What if the critics hate me? They’re the ones that can make or break your career!”

“Then I’ll beat the slag out of them until they see reason.”

Sunstreaker felt like laughing, a mental image of Sideswipe taking on the most vile critic of the art world. Didn’t matter if they were a minibot or guardian, Sideswipe would teach others on how to properly address an artist of Sunstreaker’s caliber.

“Thanks, bro,” Sunstreaker said, feeling his spark and tanks settle into a tranquil state. With a deep intake, he nodded to the door. “Shall I go to my fate?”

“With me at your side,” Sideswipe grinned, unlocking the door and following his twin out.

The first thing the twins noticed when they exited was the fact that the Prime was no longer present. Sideswipe stopped a nearby catering drone and asked, “Where did the Prime go?”

“The Prime had to leave due to a possible threat in the mining sector. He sends his apologies, but his mate has remained behind to meet the artist.”

As the drone spoke a beautiful femme approached. She was a pale dusty pink, with soft blue optics and curves in all the right places. When she spoke her voice was cultured and succinct, though gentle and Sunstreaker wouldn’t admit it out loud, very seductive.

“The Prime regrets his absence and asks that I pass on his sincerest apologies to the artist. He requests a personal tour to explore the display at a more convenient time and hopes that the artist would be so gracious as to provide commentary.”

Sunstreaker felt his spark thud in its casing, his optics enraptured with the beautiful creature speaking to him. Her words merely caressed his perception, his processor unable to decipher the scrambled message he was receiving through lovestruck sensors.

Sideswipe’s spark resounded the sentiment, his servo resting across his chestplate in fear his spark would jump out of its casing. The Prime’s femme was indeed a perfect specimen of the female populace. The Prime had chosen well.

“Any time or place,” Sunstreaker said, his vocalizer a little tinny. With a start he realized he had been staring and lowered his gaze in proper tribute to the Prime’s sparkmate. “I would be honored.”

The femme gave a gracious nod and made to leave, but halted midstep. With an undefined twinkle, she added, “I find the exhibit to be quite enthralling and look forward to the artist’s interpretations.”

With a small smile she departed, leaving behind two thunderstruck mechs with matching dumbfounded expressions.

Sunstreaker faced the rest of the evening in high spirits, accepting words of encouragement and congratulations and the occasional word of disappointment from the dignitaries and senators. Finally, it came time for the upper class to give their opinion, a few choosing to remain distant and let their servants speak for them.

Sideswipe stayed by his brother’s side, blending into the background and allowed him room to shine. Occasionally his attention would drift to a handful of bots that carried themselves with a little more aloofness than the rest of the crowd. Sideswipe overheard the servants talking and learned the reclusive bots were from the Towers, the top of the social echelon. They could make or break anyone, the revolving door of the senate proof of that.

A tall, reedy looking mech stood with them, his head always bent toward a regal looking mech plated with high quality alloys and polished to an unnatural shine. They caught Sideswipe’s gaze twice, and both times they gave a stare that could melt titanium.

Sunstreaker graciously took the criticism and compliments, his spark only calmed by the steadfast presence of his brother. When the time came for the Tower mechs to make their judgment, Sideswipe felt his brother’s spark freeze for a moment and a trickle of fear flood his lines. Instinctively he stepped closer to his twin; his chest nearly touching Sunstreaker’s left shoulder.

‘That’s Iacon’s toughest critic, PoisonPen,’ Sunstreaker said through the link.

‘He’s been with those Tower mechs all evening,’ Sideswipe supplied, adding a burst of encouragement along their bond.

“Welcome to my…” Sunstreaker started, but was cut short by the reedy PoisonPen.

“Don’t bothering welcoming anyone to this…..” PoisonPen gazed around to the collected art and gave a superior sniff. “This travesty. These mediums have been misused and the works mislabeled. They belong at the smelting pit instead of a prestigious gallery.”

“Wholly unappealing,” the highly polished Tower Mech said, his voice twangy. “I’ve seen better work by organic younglings.”

PoisonPen gave an all-knowing jeer, his face twisted in cruelty. “I won’t be giving this exhibition a good review. In fact, I may not find the words to describe the waste of materials, gallery space, and most of all, the precious time of some very important people. I’ll be suggesting to the owner that he remove this junk immediately and supply a better candidate for my approval.”

With one lingering sneer he departed, the Tower Mechs leading him out the door, their servants scuttling to keep up.

Sunstreaker stood paralyzed. If not for Sideswipe’s firm grip on his shoulder, he may have toppled over and rusted on the spot. Fear, embarrassment and humiliation turned Sunstreaker’s face to a molten hue.

“Don’t listen to him. Everyone else gave you good reviews,” Sideswipe said, not liking the frozen nature of his twin. His spark started to beat out of sync again, giving him a rather painful twinge.

“He’s right,” Sunstreaker said with a strangled whisper. “I’m horrible. What was I thinking?”

And without another word the citrine twin bolted from the gallery, oblivious to the owner waving a datapad loaded with credits for the evenings purchases. Sideswipe’s optics narrowed as he felt his twin’s pain and could do nothing to remove the caustic remarks that were undoubtedly going to fill the media.

“Just you wait,” Sideswipe muttered, barely glancing to the gallery proprietor as he babbled about commissions and credits. Sideswipe authorized the deposit to his brother’s account without bothering to look at the rather substantial sum and exited the building. He transformed, his destination locked in via a hacked communications satellite. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“What possessed your processor to attack such an influential mech?” the Security Response Guard asked. He was slightly taller than Sideswipe, with black and white plating, flared doorwings and a very steely disposition. Sideswipe had remained silent all during his arrest and booking and never vented about his circumstance as he was led into one of the isolation cells in Iacon.

Sideswipe lay back on the small berth inside the cell, getting comfortable and staring up at the pockmarked ceiling.

“No one burns my Sun.”

Chapter Text

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Don’t go.”

“I’m not going anywhere.”

“Don’t leave me.”

“I never would.”

“Yes, you would. You already have.”

“No, I haven’t. I stayed.” Sunstreaker gave his brother an exasperated look that softened instantly. “For you.”

“Primus, Sunny. I’m so tired.” Sideswipe groaned, wanting so much to curl up and sleep a full week.

“I know, and I’m sorry. It’s all my fault.”

“No, its mine. I was being an aft.”

“You’re always an aft.”

“I gave away our position.”

“You’ve done that before. Nothing new there.”

“I took on the Cons.”

“With my help,” Sunstreaker said, giving his brother a look of surly disapproval. He had jumped into the fight, eager and pulsing and furious as his namesake. He had been nothing but a blur on the battlefield. “Besides, you’ve taken them on before. No new territory or nothing news worthy there.”

“I thought I could take them down. Always have in the past.”

“But you were injured.”

“Ratchet said I could still fight.”

“No, Ratchet said you weren’t to engage in any strenuous activity for a full Earth month.” Sunstreaker frowned at his brother. “Idiot.”

“Primus, he’s going to be pissed.”

“He’ll get over it. He always does.”

“I have a feeling he won’t this time.”

“Oh, he will. He tries to hide it, but his spark is as big as his vocabulary.”

“And his determination as tough as his wrenches.”

“He can’t save everyone,” Sunstreaker muttered, staring off into the distance, as if his very will would make the medic appear. “Deep down he knows that.”

“Primus, this hurts.” Sideswipe gasped, trying to move. He winced, unable to continue. A spark erupted from his shoulder joint.

Sunstreaker looked down at his brother, feeling so helpless. He was unable to get to his twin in time before Devastator caught the red terror and proceeded to twist and tear. One of Sideswipe’s legs was completely crushed, crumpled like an accordion. The other was somewhere in the distance, having been the first thing that pulled free from the bloody frame. One arm was missing, the other severed right above his elbow.

Sunstreaker had felt his brothers pain and raced to his side. When he came upon the scene it was to find a complete massacre. Bodies littered the ground, grayed unto death. Pools of discolored energon filled the tiny dips and valleys of the landscape. Sunstreaker could only watch in horror as his brother was crushed in the giant palm, sparks and fluids erupting from the fallen warrior in a brilliant pyrotechnic display.

Now, after all the shouting, booming, earth rattling noise that accompanied battle, there was only silence. No cries of fallen warriors, no wails of the grief stricken, not even a soft staccato of escaping life. Sunstreaker hovered over his brother, unable to stop the flow of life that ebbed away, being absorbed into the ground as offering.

“Ratchet will be here soon.” Sunstreaker hated feeling so useless. Hope was the only thing he could offer his downed twin. Basic field repair didn’t cover anything like this.

“Can you see him?”

Sunstreaker scanned the smoking wreckage. The human park had once been very beautiful, now, it lay in waste. Charred trees, smoldering brush, scorched earth and pale blue smoke greeted his vision. Distantly, grey mounds of fallen comrades rose from the fog, unmoving and accusing, as if their hollow optics could stare down the living and silently ask, ‘Why not you?’

“No, but he’s on his way,” Sunstreaker said, pulling his gaze from the remains.

“How can you be sure?” Sideswipe asked, energon starting to trickle from the corner of his mouth.

“It’s a law of nature.” Sunstreaker grinned. “Someone goes down. Ratchet swoops in, fixes them, threatens them, they heal and then get punished for being an idiot.” He smirked as his twin. “We kind of wrote the law after so many millennia of practice.”

“Yeah, we did give Ratchet a lot of practice.”

“So much so he was able to perfect it,” Sunstreaker added, trying to keep his voice from cracking. It felt like a physical ache, seeing his brother so broken.

“And implement it on everyone else.”

“Odd, how they tried not to repeat their offences.”

“Yeah. Everyone knows you don’t learn a lesson until the one million mark.” Sideswipe tried to laugh, but the action caused a cascade of sparks to shower from the gaping hole in his chest.

Sunstreaker could only stare in powerless sorrow, looking into the chasm perforating his brother’s chest. The spark chamber was cracked, the piercing blue light spilling out of its containment. A lucky shot had permanently crippled the red warrior. As he hung limp from Devastator’s grasp, sparking and bleeding, the combiner simply tossed him to the ground like unwanted refuse.

Broken, bleeding, and in pain, he had watched as his twin jumped to his defense. The two combatants leaving his field of vision in a vicious song of grinding metal, screaming weapons and an aria of profanity. A searing heat had exploded throughout his body, snapping him back to consciousness. A cold numbness spread over his body, the pain ebbing away into nothingness. Occasionally a spark would flare to life, sending a jolting, searing pain straight into the frontliner’s processor.

Sideswipe had come back online feeling cold and disoriented, but due to the large puddle he resided in, it was no wonder. Sunstreaker was kneeling beside of him, looking as gorgeous as ever. How the mech managed to look so good all the time, Sideswipe never knew.

Sunstreaker continued his vigil over his brother, watching his expression for signs of discomfort, though there wasn’t anything he could do to ease the suffering of the only one who ever truly cared about him. One would think Sideswipe learned his lesson, but then again, his plating was rather thick. Always going on the offensive, attacking Cons as easily as sipping energon.

Fearless.

Fierce.

And Sunstreaker always followed. Blinding charging in, usually to save his twin’s aft. Sometimes, just for the pure pleasure of inflicting pain on the enemy. They were a formidable pair. Unstoppable team.

Idiotic duo.

Now Sideswipe laid, battered and broken, the life draining away from his handsome features in a tormented agony. He grimaced as another spark erupted near the hole punctured through his chest, the flare sending a cascading heat over his numbed plating, before retreating, the ghost of its touch already forgotten on the scarred metal. Sunstreaker could only stare as his brother fought for his life, gazing at the face that was so much like his own. Not as perfect, but close enough to be labeled an ideal second. They were twins after all.

And now one was fading, the other a spectator to the worst moment fate could inflict on the duo. It wasn’t fair. There was still so much to do. Everything to plan for. Autobots to prank, Cons to shoot, and high grade to be indulged.

Lives that still needed to be lived.

But help wasn’t coming. There were no shouts of fallen warriors calling for aid. No screams of agony. Only silent acceptance. An acceptance Sunstreaker was loathed to behold.

“Tired,” Sideswipe sighed, his voice fritzing due to static.

“I know,” Sunstreaker whispered, his fingers lightly tracing his brother’s face, a ghostly reminder to keep him anchored to the present.

“I’m sorry,” Sideswipe said, giving his twin the most sincerest look he could muster. It looked unnatural on the infamous troublemaker.

Sunstreaker shimmered in Sideswipe’s optics, the light growing dim.

“Not your fault,” Sunstreaker muttered, watching as the light paled in the ruby chest. “Even Cons get off lucky shots every once in a while.”

Sideswipe offered a tired smile, his warped cooling fans sputtering to a halt.

“Poor things. Happens so rarely for them.” Sideswiped jibed, the smile faltering. He grimaced, his processor sending phantom pain from his mangled body.

Sideswipe tensed, the lax wires growing taut before twitching, and relaxing into an inert state once again, their energy spent. Sunstreaker wanted desperately to stop his brother’s suffering, to save him the torment of slowing bleeding out. To end the misery and give his twin the peace he deserved. But fate was cruel to the golden warrior.

“Sunny, I’m scared,” the words were choked by static.

“Don’t be,” Sunstreaker said, laying a hand on his brother, though Sideswipe could no longer feel it. “I’m right here.”

“I know,” Sideswipe whispered, the smile fading. His optics flickered once, twice, and then darkened. The only light visible was the soft blue glow of his spark. “Always together.”

“Together forever.” Sunstreaker whispered, hating himself for being so useless.

Sideswipe whimpered, a shower of sparks erupting from his severed shoulder. His plating rattled from the intensity, earning a pained keen from his vocalizer. Fans no longer cycling air, Sideswipe gasped, hoping to force air through his vents, but the fans remained stubbornly immobile.

“Sunny!” Sideswipe yelled, unable to see his remorseful twin beside of him.

Sunstreaker clenched his fists, watching as his brother flailed, his body dancing to the beat of his dying systems. He wanted to scream and cry and rage at the universe for the injustice of it all. But deep down, Sunstreaker knew it wasn’t possible. His sorrow could not be voiced. His anger could not have an outlet. A silent fury of the sun that only the universe, and its creator, could have heard and understood. No one else could listen to his pleas, hear his anguish. His voice would fall on deaf ears.

“I’m here, Sideswipe,” Sunstreaker managed to say, watching as the light of his brother’s spark fluttered. “Let go. I’m here. I’ll catch you.”

Sideswipe shook violently, his systems powering down. A strangled rattle escaped his vocalizer as the brilliant blue spark flared in one last echo of life, before disappearing from the world. Sideswipe’s mangled frame relaxed against the scorched earth, his once shining red armor dulling to a pale grey.

A form shimmered next to Sunstreaker. A ruby hand extended, touching his arm. He turned and saw his twin, as perfect as himself, standing next to him. Sideswipe’s mischievous grin had followed him into the afterlife. An eternal twinkle that would forever shine.

“Now what?” Sideswipe asked, looking around at the battlefield.

“Now, we go the Well of Sparks,” Sunstreaker grinned, ignoring the fading sounds of the world they were no longer a part of.

Sideswipe placed his arm around his brother’s shoulders, a natural fit as always.

“Do you think it’s possible to get thrown out of the Well of Sparks?” Sideswipe asked, giving his brother a cheeky look that meant only one thing.

Sunstreaker groaned as he was lead away, knowing his brother was already scheming.

Neither twin noticed Ratchet cresting the hill, screaming for responses from his favorite two patients. And neither knew the torment and grief the medic suffered until he too joined the Well.

Chapter Text

------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Slagging stupid, door-winged demon from the lowest level of the Pit,” Sideswipe snarled in contempt.

Sunstreaker echoed the sentiment, scanning through a request form that seemed abnormally long winded. If someone wanted extra polish, they could slagging well go get it themselves. Or send one of the humans on a supply run. Simple problems demands simple resolutions. The bureaucracy was a pit spawned bitch to get through.

“I’ll get him back for this,” Sideswipe vowed, his optics burning from staring at the scrolling text on a datapad.

“You even think about it, and I’ll rip your legs off,” Sunstreaker promised, sending a foreboding darkness through their bond.

Sideswipe sent his twin a Bronx cheer. After years of causing trouble and enjoying the many punishments Prowl saw fit to bestow on the twin troublemakers, he had finally found the worst punishment of all.

His job.

Forget the brig. Scrubbing halls and personal quarters. Monitor duty. No baths or polishes. Human babysitting. Muddy chassis. Low end oil. Skimpy rations. Pit, once he even had Wheeljack to lock the twins into car mode and made them endure an automotive show, complete with signs offering the public a chance to get ‘hands on’.

But this… this… slag.

Schedules and rules, documents and complaints and requests forms. The twins were currently up to their optics in Prowl’s workload. How Prime agreed to this debauchery of justice the twins would never know. But Prowl sent them a large data packet and once it was downloaded, the twins’ hell had begun.

Datapads began arriving. Bots started to filter into their room, all demanding or complaining about something. Gears and Mirage were now guests of Ratchet thanks to Sunstreaker’s temper. Red Alert was still in medbay, but Ratchet promised the culprit, Prowl, a thorough thrashing when the SIC returned. Apparently the Second had been under orders from the cranky medic and Prime to get some rest, claiming the tactician was overworking himself. So with their gentle reminders (Jazz standing nearby looking very grim), Prowl had to think of something quick. His schedule was already set for the coming day. Sideswipe was due for a punishment detail for contraband high grade (Prowl still wasn’t able to locate the still), and Sunstreaker was in trouble for shoving a paintbrush up Brawn’s olfactory sensor. Neither twin seemed to learn any lesson from their punishments, and the idea struck just as Jazz followed the tactician to his office. Prowl sent out the data packet that virtually sent the twins into meltdown.

The packet included everything that had to be done by a specific time, and everything had to be finished with the level of efficiency and accuracy according to Prowl’s standards. There were to be no shortcuts, but if any discrepancies were found, the twins were to do all the paperwork over again. A sentence they decided they didn’t want to repeat.

As Prowl was lead from the Ark by Jazz and Bluestreak, he sent a message on all comms, informing the occupants of Sideswipe and Sunstreaker’s new duties. The trio was gone by the time Ratchet got to Red Alert, who had completely fritzed upon hearing the twins were now in charge of all his security reports. Hence Prowl’s promised thrashing upon his return.

Now both twins had processor aches, their backs hurt from bending over data pads and still more were coming in. It was a never-ending stream.

“How does the slagger do it?”” Sunstreaker asked, tossing a completed request form on the short pile.

“Beats me,” Sideswipe grumbled with a pout. “It’s taken nearly all morning to figure out this diplomatic junk and I think I just about have it finished.”

Suddenly klaxons went off, sending Sunstreaker out the door before Sideswipe could react. He tossed the datapad onto his desk, vowing to finish it if he survived the coming battle. Secretly he hoped he’d be laid up for weeks in medbay, preferably in deep stasis. He despised doing Prowl’s job, and it had only been the first few hours.

No one saw the tiny saboteur slink out of the shadows, exploring, before disappearing out the door an hour later.

Four hours later the twins came trudging into their room, exhausted and as uninjured as they had left. Apparently the Decepticons finally realized the ground vehicles had to follow roads and traffic laws, and decided to hit a power plant a hundred miles away. By the time the Autobots arrived, the Cons had already taken a substantial about of energy and left, promising the humans another visit. Now, back at base after driving hard and fast to save the human facility, only to find no one to fight to rid of pent up energy, the twins had raced hard to get back to base. It wasn’t as satisfying as hand to hand combat, but it helped release the unspent energy.

Sunstreaker groaned, his frame creaking. He made for his berth, but upon seeing the mound of datapads, he growled. One swipe of his arm and they went skittering across the floor.

“Slagging Prowl,” he groused, getting into bed and closing his optics. “Remind me to kill him when I see him.”

“You wouldn’t let me have retribution,” Sideswipe sulked, picking up the datapads and placing them on his brother’s small desk. “If I don’t get to make him pay, neither do you.”

“You just want to prank him or do something to make him miserable,” Sunstreaker said, settling in for a quick recharge. “I just want to kill him. Big difference.”

Sideswipe snorted, giving his mountainous workload a groan, before sitting at his desk with a mutinous growl.

“Slagger.”

“Amen,” Sunstreaker muttered before slipping into recharge.

Sideswipe thought about joining his brother in slumber, but he was determined to finish the diplomatic summary. He picked up the datapad from the floor, frowning at its dark screen.

“I could have sworn I left this on the desk,” he muttered, flipping the switches for activation. The screen glowed a pale gold, but no words appeared. Frown deepening he typed a series of commands, followed by his access codes. When they didn’t work, he tried Prowl’s and Jazz’s. Even Prime’s personal command code wouldn’t bring up the file he spent the morning working on. With a low growl he ran a search and felt his energon run cold. The datapad was empty, save for a few human games. There were no files. No diplomatic requests, schedules, meeting alternatives, individual itineraries…. Nothing.

“Sunny!” he screamed, staring in horror at the blank screen.

Sunstreaker let out a strangled curse and squawk, falling off the berth and jumping to his feet, gun in hand before his optics fully onlined.

“Is it an attack?” Sunstreaker yelled, his fuel pump racing and ready for the fight he’d already been denied.

“No,” Sideswipe said, keeping his distance. He didn’t need to be skewered again by an angry twin. “The diplomatic meeting I was working on when we left.”

“The … the diplom…”Sunstreaker trailed off, his groggy processor finally catching up to his attack instincts. “You woke me up for ‘work’?”

“No. The work isn’t here,” Sideswipe said. “I was almost finished so I left it on my desk before the Con attack. When we got back, it was on the floor and completely blank.”

“What?” Sunstreaker said, anger disappearing with his weapon.

“You don’t suppose the Con attack was a diversion so someone could get the itineraries? Do you?” Sideswipe asked, feeling his tank disappear through the floor. There was a lot of information about high elected officials in that file. If the wrong person got a hold of it, all of Sideswipe’s hard work would be used against them. Not to mention, Prowl would be furious.

“You tried the back ups?” Sunstreaker asked, looking the pad over.

“Uhmmm…….” Sideswipe stalled, hoping to gauge his brother’s reaction. “I was waiting until the very end to save.”

“Smart,” Sunstreaker deadpanned. “Really intelligent processor you have there. Quality. Top of the line, idiotic subroutines working at optimal level.”

Sideswipe frowned. “If no one bothered the pad, then everything would still be on the screen.”

Sunstreaker thought for a moment and gave a nod. “Okay. Point taken. So, what do you think we should do?”

“Prime needs to know,” Sideswipe said, starting for the door.

Against his better judgment Sunstreaker followed. Half an hour later, Prime finished his reports for the local human government with Red Alert and Ironhide’s assistance. He turned to see a disgruntled golden warrior and jittery ruby Lamborghini.

“Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, what’s wrong?” Prime asked, instinct telling him that something was up with the pair.

Sideswipe looked too embarrassed to speak, so Sunstreaker yanked the datapad from his brother’s hand and presented it to their leader. “Sideswipe was working on the diplomatic slag that Prowl sent before he abandoned us, and my dear idiotic brother swears he left the data pad on the desk, but when we got back, it was on the floor and blank.”

“What about back ups?” Prime asked, accepting the pad and scanning through its menu.

“Numb nuts here doesn’t like to save things until the very end,” Sunstreaker said with a roll of his optics. “I’ve already explained his idiocy, but I doubt it sunk in. I recommend Wheeljack weld it to his aft. That may teach him.”

“The point is, Prime,” Sideswipe put in, sending a violent push through the bond with his twin, “When I tried to finish the report, the screen is blank. All of the information is gone. Wiped from the system completely.”

Prime nodded, typing in his access code. When nothing happened, Sideswipe added, “I’ve tried several codes. None of them work, not even yours. Do you think this is a Con trick?”

“How do you know Prime’s code doesn’t work?” Ironhide asked, frowning at the blood red front liner.

Optimus didn’t catch the slip and asked, “Was anything else out of place?”

“How could anyone tell in that mess they call a room?” Ironhide quipped.

“Nothing else was touched,” Sunstreaker confirmed, giving Ironhide a steely glare.

“Check the security logs,” Prime ordered and several rushed to obey. With Red Alert in the medbay the crew had to rely on the paranoid Security Directors numerous cameras.

“Do we inform the diplomats?” Sideswipe asked, watching as Teletran zipped through footage around the Ark.

“Humans have a tendency to overreact when simple explanations are available,” Prime said enigmatically. “We will wait to have confirmation of Con involvement before we proceed.”

An hour later, the reports came in. Hoist, Tracks, Ironhide and Smokescreen all reported no activity on the monitors, apart from Hound wandering the halls, apparently lost in thought. Mirage limped into view, confirming he had checked their perimeter and found nothing. Bumblebee, Huffer, Windcharger, and Wheeljack all confirmed that the sensors hadn’t been tripped or sabotaged. All cameras were operating at top efficiency and no outside influence had corrupted or hijacked their systems.

The Ark was as secure as it was before they left. Ratchet ran scans on random members of the crew, confirming their identities and reported no signs of Con interference.

“What about humans?” Sunstreaker asked, giving a pointed look to Spike and Chip as they joined Bumblebee. “The Cons sometimes employ humans as their spies.”

“Nothing showed up on scans or screen,” Ironhide reiterated.

Sunstreaker glanced to the active camera feed on the far screen and scowled. Hound was prowling around the corridors again, his head bent and sweeping from side to side. He looked like he was arguing with himself. Again.

“Should we recall Prowl and Jazz?” Ironhide was asking.

“Perhaps they can offer some assistance?” Mirage added, carefully maneuvering himself into a chair to take his weight off his injured leg. Sunstreaker knew how to twist a mech.

“I had hoped Prowl could enjoy some time off,” Prime said, weariness creeping into his own struts.

“Where’d he go?” Spike asked, noting the tactician was suspiciously absent.

Ratchet stepped forward to answer. “Jazz and Bluestreak escorted him on a little vacation. He is allowed to return in one earth week. Doctors orders.”

“Stressing himself again, huh?” Spike guessed. “Do you know where they went?”

“Jazz said something about attending an outdoor symphony and then they were to travel to the mountains,” Ratchet said, giving a little shrug. “But if I know Jazz, it was a mad concert that’s going to have their audios ringing for hours, then a trip to the mountains to enjoy the snow.” When Spike gave a curious look, Ratchet added, “Jazz just loves snow.”

“The mech is crazy,” Sunstreaker supplied. “Liking the cold, the wet, and the miserable.”

“Sounds like a soap opera,” Spike laughed.

Prime switched to an alternative frequency and called through a secured comm, ‘Prime to Prowl.’

‘Prowl here,’ came the automatic response.

‘Prowl, there has been an incident and we were hoping you would share some insight,’ Prime said, wondering if Jazz and Bluestreak were physically restraining the hard working Second in Command. His voice had sounded a little stressed. ‘Prowl, are you alright?’

‘I am currently enduring a rather vocal rendition of a classical masterpiece that I’m sure the original composer did not intend. To answer your question, no, I am definitely not all right,’ Prowl deadpanned. The exasperation was clear in his voice. Prime could almost see the tacticians optics rolling. ‘What have the twins done this time? They had better perform their assignments to the utmost efficiency or else they will have to do double duty for the next six months.’

Prime winced. Even he didn’t like the thought of doing Prowl’s paperwork. ‘Sideswipe was working on the diplomatic meeting for next month when there was an alarm of a Decepticon attack in Alta City about a hundred miles from here. When he returned, he found the datapad wiped. We have searched the Ark and have found no infiltration from Decepticons or possible humans.’

Prowl listened, grateful to have something to ponder on while the aria continued, his audios turned off so he could understand the incoming transmissions. Jazz and Bluestreak clapped and cheered with the crowd, oblivious to their charge and his unintentional work.

‘All video feeds have been confirmed and all mechs accounted for?’ Prowl asked, receiving the affirmative. ‘No signs of infiltration or sabotage?’

‘Nothing. Only a blank datapad that is now missing essential information for a diplomatic meeting,’ Prime supplied, staring at the offending datapad.

‘Has Red Alert detected any anomalies?’

‘Red’s still in the med bay.’

‘Oh. Please, extend my apologies to him and Ratchet. It wasn’t my intention to cause strife.’

‘Figure this out and we’ll call it even.’

‘Has Ratchet interviewed or scanned all residence to ensure no outside influence?’

‘Yes, he conducted a random test and all proved without a doubt that everyone is in perfect health and frames.’

‘Wheeljack been experimenting?’

Prime paused, wondering why he didn’t think of the explosive inventor. He stared at Wheeljack, looking for signs of recent experimenting. No dents, dings, wrench-like impressions, or soot adorned his person.

“Wheeljack, have you been in your lab today?” Prime asked, just in case the inventor created something that messed with internal workings. Wouldn’t be the first time and the thought always gave the Autobot commander the shivers.

“I checked in there, but I didn’t see any evidence of Cons or wayward humans,” Wheeljack answered. “Want me to go check again?”

“No, I believe you,” Prime supplied. “I was just curious to know if you were building anything this morning.”

“Not recently. Have a few schematics, but I’m still waiting on the request forms to go through for the deliveries.” Wheeljack looked expectantly to the twins.

Sideswipe looked sheepish, Sunstreaker looked combative. He was working as hard as he could. Some bots just didn’t know what went into the request forms and the stress it put on the mech who had to deal with the issues. Begrudgingly, Sunstreaker’s opinion of Prowl went up a little.

‘Wheeljack’s innocent,’ Prime said. ‘For once.’

There was a moment of silence as Prowl’s battle computer worked. Each mech was analyzed and eliminated, factors of hostility, socializing, patterned behavior, and ability to hold grudges against pranking or aft-whooping twins. No one raised the preverbal red flag. Prowl turned to the current schedule, overlapping it with the roster of who was on base. One thing immediately came to the tactician’s mind.

‘Prime, has Hound returned from his ecological trip in Utah?’

‘Yes, he’s been back since mid-morning. Why?’

‘Where is his current location?’

‘Port side personnel quarters, section 5-Kappa.’

‘I suggest you have word with him. Prowl out.’ And without another word, Prowl cut the connection, his attention drawn to the assembled choir. Jazz and Bluestreak had settled down, their optics still glued to the stage. Prowl sighed and switched his audios on just in time to hear the announcement of the selected piece before the choir came alive in perfect harmony.

“Let’s go have a word with Hound,” Prime said, motioning for the twins to follow. They looked to one another, bewildered and confused, but followed their leader as he led them into the section for personal quarters. Ratchet and Ironhide followed trailed behind.

Hound was staring at the wall, oblivious to the world around him. A low hum was coming from somewhere in his frame and hot air was puffing from his vents in either frustration or anger. Knowing Hound, it was probably frustration. No one ever saw the jeep get angry.

“Hound, may I have a word?” Prime asked.

Hound nearly jumped out of his plating when Prime’s voice sounded so close. He whirled around, staring with wide optics as Prime, Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, Ironhide and Ratchet looked at him with curiosity. Well, Sunstreaker looked murderous, but that was normal for him.

“Prime!? What can I do for you today?” Hound asked, and there was no mistaking the nervous twitch.

“Hound, by any chance, and we’re not accusing you of anything, but would you know what happened to Sideswipe’s report on the diplomatic meeting next month?” Prime asked, not liking the panicked look in the scout’s optics.

Hound relaxed, expelling a gust of air, his tense body returning to its normal easy-going state. “No, Prime. Haven’t seen it. But I can look for it.”

“It was on a datapad in my room and when we got back, it was gone. Erased!” Sideswipe snapped, pointing to the datapad still held in Prime’s hand.

“Or wiped,” Sunstreaker amended, taking a step toward the scout and puffing out his armor with a blasting cycle of hot air. When Sunstreaker struggled to keep his temper in check, he expelled hot air from his overheating systems. Nothing assuaged his anger better than a good fight, and he was already denied twice today.

Hound never got the opportunity to explain what happened. Next thing he knew, a thick wire fell out of the wall and landed on the citrine twin. Sunstreaker yelled and cursed in a variety of languages, his body being slammed against the wall as he fought off the vicious intruder. Flailing, he tried to grasp the thick cord and pull it free from his body, but it twisted and coiled, evading his grasp.

A stab of iciness erupted over Sunstreaker’s plating, chilling him to the core. Hoping to put distance between himself and the thing intent on ending his life, he started down the hall, back pedaling and thrashing, his hands whipping through the air in a golden blur. He felt the cold slip under his armor and caress his protoform and with an undignified scream and last attempt at saving his life, he bolted down the hall.

And ran head first into a stalactite, knocking himself cold. Everyone stood frozen, their sparks stopping in their chests. Sunstreaker lay, unmoving, the cord slipping along his torso to disappear behind his body.

Hound seemed to snap out of it first. He ran to Sunstreaker’s side, his hands skimming along the body and floor.

“Be careful, Hound! It may still be live.” Ironhide warned, his optics wide.

“I hope so,” Hound said, still searching. With a happy chirp he stood, displaying the cord. It was nearly three feet in length, dangling like a dark noodle from his pinched fingers. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, until they saw the supposedly innocent cord coil and a low rattle fill the hall.

“Hound, what is that?” Sideswipe asked slowly, staring at the living electrical cord that had possibly ended his brother’s life.

“I tried to find her before she could cause any trouble,” Hound started, looking from mech to mech. “I didn’t know the lid on her container was loose, and when I got back from getting some energon, she was gone.”

He looked to Sideswipe, his optics full of regret. “She must have got into your room and sought out a heat source. Her species is attracted to heat, so she must have wrapped around the datapad to stay warm….so…” Hound trailed off, not liking the mixed looks he was receiving.

Prime looked stunned. Ironhide looked confused, Sideswipe was amused, and Ratchet looked ready to kill.

“What is it?” Prime asked, staring at the thing trying to strike the hand that held it.

“Crotalus Cerastes,” Hound provided with a proud smile. “More commonly known as a Sidewinder.” He offered a crooked half smile, “But I just call her Sally.” ------------------------------------------------------------------------

Chapter Text

--------------------------------------------------------------------

“I don’t think it’s wise to mix these with high grade,” Sunstreaker said with a frown, watching as his brother tried yet another concoction. “The last batch wasn’t stable and blew up. We had to blame the whole thing on Wheeljack.”

“Yeah, but he was playing around with his experiments again and couldn’t remember what happened before the explosion.” Sideswipe didn’t bother looking up from his mad scientist endeavor, his glossa snaking out to compress between his lips.

“Lucky coincidence,” Sunstreaker amended, taking a small step back.

His brother’s actions didn’t go unnoticed.

“Don’t trust me?” Sideswipe asked, looking at his twin with the sort of malicious orneriness that was reserved for only the best occasions.

“I trust you when you’re having one of your sane moments,” Sunstreaker said, not rising to the bait and ignoring the thrum of dark glee echoing from Sideswipe’s side of the bond. “But when you start acting like Wheeljack, I start to worry.”

“Trust me,” Sideswipe smiled that mischievous look and returned to his mixing.

“You said that last time.”

“And everything went fine. The explosion wasn’t my fault. I didn’t know about the gas leak.”

“Hardly grounds for an excuse.”

“Now you’re sounding like Prowl,” Sideswipe cast a disapproving look to his twin.

“He makes a valid point sometimes,” Sunstreaker offered a partial shrug.

“You listen to him?”

“Sometimes,” Sunstreaker said, noting the color of the high grade had changed to an electric blue and was now humming. “Sideswipe, are you absolutely positive it’s supposed to do that?”

“Never tried this combination before, so I don’t know,” Sideswipe said, sniffing the edge of the cube and earning a stab of fear from his twin. The contents settled after a minute, a dull shimmer to its surface though the electric flare still remained near the bottom.

“Looks stable,” Sideswipe commented, admiring the color scheme.

“If it blows up again, you know we’ll get the blame,” Sunstreaker warned, still not trusting his brother’s judgment or the seemingly placid energon that observed from its cube.

“We can blame Wheeljack like always,” Sideswipe said dismissively, taking a small syringe and extracting some of the new brew to put into a sampling cube.

“Wheeljack was prohibited from his lab for a week. It was a precaution because the ambassadors are coming today.” Sunstreaker informed his twin, not liking the giddy feeling starting to trickle through their bond.

“That’s today?” Sideswipe asked with a huge grin that could only be described by the human term, ‘shit eating’.

“Primus,” Sunstreaker muttered, knowing his brother was formulating another plan for a prank. He knew he had to get out now or he’d be blamed later by a very torqued off Prowl and Prime. “I’m out. If you want to have a normal conversation or want to join the rest of the sane world, leave your experiments until later and come with me.”

“No can do, Bro,” Sideswipe said with a little jerk of his head. “I have at least two more things I want to try and I have to do them now while Prowl and the others are distracted.”

“Fine. I’ll see you when you get out of the brig,” Sunstreaker snapped as he headed to the door of the small storage closet. “But if you blow yourself to the Pit, I hope you know I’m not coming after your worthless chassis.”

“Yes you would,” Sideswipe grinned at his brother’s retreating back. “You can’t live without me.”

“I have a life sized cardboard cut out. I’d make due,” Sunstreaker snapped and exited the room, much to the grand amusement of his twin.

Sideswipe deposited a few sample drops into an empty cube, swirled the contents for a moment, then downed the liquid in two gulps. He smacked his lips, classifying the aftertaste and the original tang, calculating the new additives for the next batch and filing away the formulas for later use.

00 00 00 HALF AN HOUR LATER 00 00 00

“You have an impressive establishment here, Mr. Prime,” an ambassador was saying, sweeping his arm to encompass the Ark.

Several of the other ambassadors agreed, voicing their own opinions and high regard for the beings that agreed to play host to their conference. The Ark was perfect for a diplomatic meeting. The more aggressive and distrustful nations had requested a secluded, neutral territory, and a few had suggested the Autobot base, seeing how they had no political agenda and no allegiance to any single nation. The President had made the request and was surprised when it was answered almost immediately. There was suspicion that the only reason the Autobots were invited was to get a glimpse of their ship, which was usually under high surveillance from their overly protective Security Director. His methods made the Pentagon security look like daycare.

When the President had confirmed the international summit, Prime had ordered the ship cleaned from top to bottom and all security measures put in place to ensure no one could hack their systems in case of espionage. A local hostelry was hosting the delegates and was the back up location in case of a Decepticon attack.

Sunstreaker sauntered in the door of the monitoring room, not bothering to acknowledge the high security guests, and plopped himself at a monitor. Two empty cubes of energon were pushed to the side as Sunstreaker placed his third on the consol. Some of the Autobots gave disapproving huffs from their vents and sent a few choice words via secured comm., but Sunstreaker paid them no mind. He stared distantly at the monitor, not seeing what was on the screen.

Prime redirected the crowd’s attention back to himself before answering the ambassador.

“The Ark was the last ship built and was designed to house survivors.”

“How sad,” a female delegate said, looking around to the assemblage that had been following the dignitaries.

The Autobots had followed behind the international group, their paint pristine and bodies buffed to a high shine. Even Huffer was polished, though as Tracks had pointed out, you couldn’t buff up slag and pass it off as quality metal. That had earned the Corvette a quick trip to the infirmary for a relocation of a foot.

Wheeljack was being monitored by Jazz and Ratchet, who had been assigned to watch the inventor in case he decided to sneak off and visit his lab while a hair-circuited idea was still fresh in his processor. So far the two bodyguards had to intervene twice, and both times it was easier to get the crazy scientist to focus his attention on something else. The chances were high he’d forget his original thought. Ratchet kept a wrench in hand as a back up, and Jazz kept a magna-lock on Wheeljack’s back as a precaution.

As the ambassadors started to return to the conference room, Prime sent out a message dismissing the Autobot entourage and thanking them for a splendid display of military etiquette and Cybertronian hospitality. Sunstreaker ignored the comm. and continued to watch the monitors, wondering if Prowl would remember his gracious offer of monitor duty while the dignitaries were visiting and give him a respite the next time his brother pulled him into one of his schemes.

The ambassadors had barely made it into the hall, when there came a resounding scream, followed by an assortment of shouts. A high pitched caterwauling echoed down the hall, mixed with insane laughter.

Sunstreaker jumped from his chair and ran out of the room, expecting a Decepticon attack. He nearly ran into the few remaining Autobots escorting the delegates to the conference room and skidded to a halt to avoid knocking anyone over. The ambassadors were screaming in shock and fear, pressing themselves either against the wall or against an Autobot protector. Optics searching, Sunstreaker found the reason for the chaos.

Sideswipe was dancing through the hall, singing and laughing. His optics were pale and wide, his expression slack but jubilant, obviously quite intoxicated. And he wasn’t wearing a single plate of armor.

He was what the humans would say, ‘naked as a jaybird’.

Ratchet pointed to a nearby annex used for storage and ordered the delegates to take shelter. They obliged, Jazz and Wheeljack taking up position as protectors in case the Sideswipe wrangling got out of hand.

Sideswipe spotted the Prime and his face broke out into a maniacal look. He spread his arms wide and started to sing a Cybertronian ballad about honor and duty and love for Primus. Just as he reached the part about sacrifice, there was a metallic pounding of feet. Sideswipe stood singing like the old Earth movie legends until he went flying backwards, shimmering in a fine haze before disappearing. The sound of crashing and banging metal could be heard, along with high pitched chirps of pain and giggles. A few dents appeared in the walls, along with scuffs of light blue paint.

Ratchet flipped his wrench in his hand, his expression dark. With practiced ease he tossed the projectile. A resounding clang made him smile, until he heard an insane giggle, and Sideswipe reappeared, skittering down the hall. Mirage shimmered into existence, slumped against the wall, a dazed expression on his face and a slight dent near his temple.

“Oops,” Ratchet muttered, retrieving his favorite tool and following Sideswipe.

The naked frontliner was heading toward the entrance to the Ark, laughing and bumping into everything as his stabilization servos were no doubt as whacked out as his processor.

Sunstreaker joined Prowl as he raced down the hall, the tactician’s face was abnormally emotional. Prowl looked ready to kill.

“I didn’t have anything to do with this,” Sunstreaker felt it necessary to say, taking the tight turns of the hall with ease.

Prowl had a more difficult time maneuvering the hallway, but still kept a decent pace. “I believe you, but your brother is going to have a rather extensive stay in the brig.”

“Can I beat the slag out of him first?” Sunstreaker joked darkly.

“That would be fine by me,” Prowl said in all seriousness, earning a startled look from Sunstreaker.

Prime and Ratchet were behind the duo chasing after the errant twin and though Sunstreaker didn’t know it, both had agreed with Prowl. Sideswipe was in for a long lasting punishment that hopefully would remind him not to repeat the episode.

Everyone ran outside after Sideswipe, not noticing the surrounding terrain was dotted with Decepticons. Starscream and his trine circled overhead, waiting for the order to engage their enemy.

Megatron noticed some of the Autobots exiting the Ark and yelled, “Decepticons… Att….”

The word died in his throat as he noticed who the Autobots were chasing. The protoform danced out of reach and giggled, parts exposed and equipment on full display.

Starscream landed next to his leader, his trine joining him, all three looking bewildered and stunned. Starscream glanced to Megatron and completely straight-faced, pointed to the scene and said, “You get the naked one.”

Megatron gathered his senses, and gave his Second a loathsome look before snapping, “Decepticons, retreat.”

Several of the Decepticons grumbled about wasting time and energy, but they all took to the air and started back toward their base. Little did they know several of their number were already loosening the connections to their own plating and would be running around the Nemesis tonight, having just as much fun.

Chapter Text

Side By Side

 

Genre: G1

00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00

The twins stood sullen at the entrance to the Ark. Every once in a while, Sunstreaker would send a dagger’s tip glare his brother’s way, along with a deep stir of anger. It was all Sideswipe’s fault. Sideswipe was the one who stole his brother’s paints for what he claimed was just a little ‘adventure.’ Sunstreaker wasn’t even aware half of his paint was missing until he set up his easel early yesterday morning.

The transition of autumn to winter always brought the frontliner a certain amount of joy. Long gone were the seasons of Cybertron, though there were only two. Just like Earth they experienced cold and dark, followed by brilliance and warm. They just didn’t have the transitional seasons like spring and autumn. Those were for organic worlds. On a planet made entirely of metal, supporting metallic beings, there was no rebirth of plant life. Just as there wasn’t a designated time for plants to lay down their lives in cold slumber. Metal for the most part remained resilient, its autumn consisting of rust and disrepair before returning to the smelters to be reforged brand new. But those cycles were few and far between. But here, on Earth, it was a constantly changing myriad of color and sounds, sights and smells. And though the citrine warrior was loathe to admit it, he enjoyed the abundant transitions the planet bestowed upon its children.

So here he was, standing guard outside the Ark entrance, missing the coming dawn because of his idiotic twin who decided the crew needed a few touch-ups in their recharge. Sunstreaker cringed, remembering the color schemes Sideswipe had decorated his comrades with, and made a mental note to ask Ratchet to make absolutely sure Sideswipe was his true twin. There’s just no way a mech could be that color blind while having a constant artistic influence in their lives. Sunstreaker was sure Sideswipe was adopted.

The two guards didn’t know they were being observed.

Optimus Prime stood flanked by Ironhide, Jazz, and Prowl, all four watching the troublesome pair.

--‘Think they’ll learn?’-- Ironhide asked over comms.

--‘Highly doubtful,’-- Prowl supplied, his temperament as passive as always.

The four mechs watched as Sunstreaker unfolded his arms, stalked across the entrance and punched his twin, sending the red warrior skittering on his aft. Then, just as silently, Sunstreaker stalked back to his previous position, leaned against the hull, crossed his arms and stared moodily out across the plain. Sideswipe regained his feet, pretended to shake the dust off his body and turned to the opposite direction, presenting his aft to his twin in hidden meaning.

--‘I just wish they would take their responsibilities more seriously,’-- Prowl said.

--‘They’re a couple of aft headed glitches with breezy processors,’ --Ironhide supplied, giving the two unknowing warriors a disgusted look. They particularly enjoyed picking on the weapons specialist, their pranks becoming something of legend. But if one looked closely enough, they would notice the playful nature of Ironhide’s incidents, as opposed to the rather harsh and brutal exploits towards some of the more abrasive members of the Ark.

Cliffjumper’s missing hand, Gears’ paint stripped down below the primer, and Mirage’s shattered collection of singing crystals were just a few examples.

Now the pair was on what Sideswipe called, ‘Redundancy Guard.’ The surveillance cameras kept the Ark as secured as it could possibly get, so having guards stationed at the entrance was a waste of time and aggravating to mechs who needed the constant motion of physical activity. Sideswipe tried to warn the Commanders that immobilization didn’t sit well with his circuits, and that they may have a severe case of what he deemed, ‘Monotony Backlash’, even going so far as to alert Ratchet to prepare the medical facility of possible injuries.

Ratchet had locked the medbay doors in response.

--‘Hopefully they’ll learn not to bother mechs in recharge,’-- Jazz added, glad the yellow dots were finally off his plating.

--‘Maybe we should give them a taste of their own medicine?’ --Ironhide suggested.

--‘Sneaking up on a couple of frontliners while in recharge?’-- Prowl asked, raising a brow ridge and giving his fellow Second a surprised look. --‘You think that’s wise?’--

--‘Remember what happened when Hound accidentally tripped and woke the twins up in the lounge?‘-- Optimus Prime asked, remembering the crazy incident that nearly had his passive scout torn into several pieces. --‘They don’t respond well to rude awakenings.’--

--‘They’re just loose screws if you ask me,’-- Ironhide groused, doing a good impression of Sunstreaker. --‘They argue and damage us more than they do the enemy. If you ask me, they’re not worth the trouble of keeping around.’--

Just then the dawn broke, bathing the world in newborn brilliance. The twins stood, awash in flame. Two perfect warriors accented by the most powerful thing in the universe. Their build lean, their armor luminous of the dawn, faces set in determined masks as the world reawakened.

Two mortals, etched by heavenly fire. One vicious carmine, his armor glistening like spent blood of the ages. Light was absorbed by the supernatural pigment, bending and distorting it to illuminate the world with its demonic glint. It was as if something dark and foul resided in the color, hinting to the death and destruction that could be rendered so easily by the one strong enough to reign in its power. The one bold enough to display its fiery temperament, its only mortal master. A color as primal as its bearer.

The other carried the burden of a dying sun. The color of flames as they danced, either the beautiful seduction of explosion, or the radiance of a timeless nova. Egotistical, centering the world and hinting to the impish possibilities of its counterpart, it was just as consuming as the demonic glow, though of a more subtle nature. The colors of spent blood and dying embers, emblazoned upon their bodies in a permanent tattoo.

A pair of rutilent beings, bearing power and grace, though their dance was deadlier than most. A million ways to burn. Forged by fire, they were the flames of hell brought to life in two metal bodies. A single weapon with two parts.

They were protectors to those taking refuge inside. Defenders of the helpless. Wraiths of fire. Steadfast sentinels, ready to lay down their lives to keep their friends alive.

Suddenly the commanding officers could see the true fear and power that radiated from their comrades.

The twins may have been born with different callings, their sparks guiding them on an unknown path that never felt quite right. Then a war broke out. Sides were reluctantly taken, and yet their true calling manifested.

Tools that were forged at the worst time, out of desperation and fearful hope. Weapons created for war and destruction. Their roles had been practiced so long, it was doubtful they remembered their lives before the furnace.

The thrill of the fight. The satisfaction of the kill. The pride knowing their might prevailed over something vile that threatened all they held dear. Their destiny lay in the ash and smoke. When the war ended, so to would they.

Cast in metal, tempered by flame and pain, the twins came out of the tempest forever changed. They were the permanent emblem, created for their purpose. Wielded by the Prime that helped temper their new lives, the only one that could truly control the untamable force of Two. A mech they could look up to, respect. Someone in which to believe, who could return their world to its former glory. Someone they would lay down their lives for and endure the most sadistic of creative inventions, and yet, find the torture honorable.

They would endure, taking the pain into themselves to prevent its talons from sinking into a comrade or a helpless innocent.

They were beautiful.

They were deadly.

Fiery angles walking the mortal world, scorching all who dare violation. Effigies to war and hardship. Living pyres that many had been sacrificed to, their lives mere embers amongst the two living suns.

The dawn gracing in corporeal form, rich, vibrant, dangerous, full of promise, lethal. Even during the cold autumn, their radiance would never wane. It would always be felt, tingling the senses, warming the body, rejuvenating the spirit.

An eternal day, shining through time and space, leaving a mark on the world that would be forever felt. Lives would be changed, paths illuminated, destinies forged, their places carved in time. Their bodies may not last the tumult of war, but their presence would be felt and remembered. A memorial to when they walked the mortal plain.

The four Commanding Officers stood frozen in time, witnessing something truly remarkable and would probably never be repeated again. A glimpse of something so beautiful and yet, dangerous, hidden behind a handsome scowl and mischievous grin.

The sun rose further, its rays sliding over the pristine metal of its physical counterparts, giving them a warm greeting before turning its attention to the world below.

Sunstreaker moved, and for a moment, the officers could see the living flame. Then, in an instant, it was gone. Disappeared into the depths, though hinting of its continued existence by glimmers of golden diamonds.

--‘Glad they’re on our side,’ --Jazz muttered, his optics still locked onto the twins.

--‘It’s a wonder they chose our side,’-- Prowl admitted, he too mesmerized by the moving fire.

--‘Let’s hope they continue their allegiance,’-- Prime said, pulling his optics away from the vision. --‘For all our sakes.’--

Chapter Text

One Moment In the Sun

Genre: G1

 

00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00

“What about this one?” Spike asked, holding up a human sized picture of Hound fully detailed and gleaming in the sunlight. “It’s not often we see Hound this clean.”

“Put it in the ‘keeper’ file,” Ironhide called from where he was seated at the consol, pictures flying across the screen too fast for human observance. He let out a grunt, clicking the erase button before anyone could see a photo.

“Find anything, Ironhide?” Ratchet asked suspiciously, combing through his extensive library of photographed idiocy from his shipmates, mainly before and after medbay visitation.

“Nothing worth noting,” Ironhide answered.

A soft gasp drew everyone’s attention to Prowl, who was scanning through data chips loaded with images of the Ark crew. Normally the tactician would be buried under a mountain of request forms, assignment rosters, available supplies, medical restrictions for assorted mechs and the majority of the haggling with politicians over violations and amendments. But today, he was ordered from his office by Prime to assist in the preparations for a ceremony that had originated from Spike.

When the human had showed up that morning in a blue mood, the Autobots quickly interrogated him until he explained his somber disposition. Spike explained about a Day of Remembrance, and launched into an impassioned speech about who had lost their lives for whatever reason and for those left behind to pick up the pieces.

So on Prime’s orders, photos and videos from human allies and Cybertronian holo-imaging were scoured by the crew for an impromptu party/celebration that was to take place the following day. And as a way to affirm life, the closing ceremony was to feature the Ark crew and their new allies. As some friends would be remembered, others would be commiserated by the living. A way to affirm they were in this war together, and that no one would be alone or forgotten.

Prowl’s assignment was the archival footage of the original unit established at the beginning of the war, up unto the time they crashed on Earth. Some of the data was missing or corrupted and needed to be properly fixed or deleted to free up available space, and only high ranking officers were allowed to adjust archives.

“What?” Ratchet asked, when Prowl showed no signs of expounding on his earlier gasp. Prime redirected his steps from the main consol and looked over his Second’s shoulder, his own face lighting in surprise.

“Slagging glitches,” Ratchet muttered, getting up and lumbering to the pair. His optics went wide at the photo displayed on the datapad. “Well, I’ll be reformatted into a dishwasher. Sunstreaker knew Elita-One that well?”

Prime’s engine revved deep in his chassis, his optics hard on the screen.

“There’s a caption,” Prowl said, hitting the icon and reading aloud because of the gathering crowd. “‘Up and coming new artist, Sunstreaker, receives a sparkfelt greeting and review for his recent work by Elita-One, who believes the young talent has a long, brilliant future ahead of him.’”

“Think the holo-imager could have caught that greeting at a better angle,” Ratchet muttered, looking to Prime who had relaxed marginally after the caption was read. He knew his spark mate wouldn’t break their sacred union, but the thought of someone else being that close, that intimate with his bonded really corroded his wires.

The twins chose that moment to make an appearance. Their shoulders were slumped, their optics dimmed, and paint jobs looking less than perfect, they scuffled into the command center. Exhausted from extensive patrols, recently allotted since a painting accident went awry and a very angry Prime stalked around the base leaving pink pede-prints, they didn’t acknowledge any of the normal cheery hails of their fellow soldiers. They wanted nothing more than to inhale their rations and curl up on their berths for a very long recharge cycle.

When Sunstreaker was within arm’s reach, he extended a data chip with full reports and turned to leave, when he noticed the picture on the datapad Prowl was holding.

“Where did you find that?” Sunstreaker demanded, weariness forgotten.

“Archive footage,” Prowl answered, noting Sunstreaker looked angrier than what the situation warranted. He extended the data pad, withdrawing slowly when it was snatched from his hands.

Sunstreaker snarled, tapping several keys. Sideswipe perked up, sensing his brother’s anger and glared at Prowl with an accusatory look. After a minute of furious typing, Sunstreaker presented the pad back to Prowl and snapped, “Delete this immediately!”

“What?” Prowl asked, stunned by the aggression now staring him down. “Why would I do that? It’s a part of our history.”

“Not your history. Mine! And I don’t appreciate being reminded of it!” Sunstreaker spat, pressing the datapad closer for the Second to take. “Now, either tell me how to erase it, or I’ll destroy the archives. Choice is yours.”

“I will not allow you to destroy the archives nor will I erase this image,” Prowl intoned, not perturbed by Sunstreaker’s ire. He was far too curious as to why the front liner was suddenly so violent toward his past. “Why does it bother you?”

“It’s ancient history. Something that shouldn’t be mentioned ever again. If you know what’s good for you and for the archives, you’ll see to it that that photo, and everything related to it, is deleted.” Sunstreaker growled, turning to leave. He nearly collided with his brother, who merely gave him a saddened look. Snarling, Sunstreaker pushed Sideswipe away, stalking through the door and hitting something metal on the way down the hall, if the loud banging crash was any indication.

“Why did he do that?” Spike asked, stunned by seeing the golden warrior so upset.

“Do any of you realize how much Sunny has lost?” Sideswipe asked, giving the assembled mechs an incredulous look. “That image was captured just before the first uprising.”

The truth struck the senior officers before anyone else could cotton on. Spike looked from concerned mech to distraught brother, not sure how to decipher the atmosphere.

“The Artistic Pavilions were attacked first,” Prowl recited slowly, his optics glued to where Sunstreaker had disappeared down the hall.

“Everything Sunny worked for was destroyed,” Sideswipe said, giving the datapad held in Prowl’s hand a contemptuous look. “The life he wanted was taken away from him by the Decepticons. Any chance at a career as an artist was ripped away from his servos and ground into ash. Those pictures of his past only remind him of what was taken. It’s cruel and vicious for any of you to think you have the right to display them.”

Sideswipe turned to leave, but Prime’s voice stopped him. “We don’t mean to reopen old wounds. We only wished to remember things past so they wont be forgotten by the future.”

“Some things need to remain buried,” Sideswipe answered, staring intently at the floor. “It’s all that some of us have. Leave our pasts alone and honor the graves of those memories. They have no place here, in this time and on this planet.”

Sideswipe started for the door, his head still bent low.

Spike called to the warrior, “You haven’t lost everything. You still have us.”

Sideswipe wanted to offer a caustic retort, but the pain and anguish bleeding through the bond from his brother stilled his vocalizer.

“Tomorrow, we honor the dead,” Prime said, noting that more than one of his officers was shifting uncomfortably. “Everyone would appreciate it if you and your brother joined us in remembrance.”

Sideswipe didn’t offer a word of consent or pessimism. He strode out the door and headed for his twin, who was leaking more and more sorrow through the bond. Recharge came heavy upon the twins, who shared fretful sleep and broken dreams.

The next morning, the Ark came alive with the prospect of an evening party. The video and imaging clips were arranged by Jazz, who insisted they were thrown together in no particular order. (Smokescreen was giving good odds on Jazz’s montage being the most pronounced.)

The Day of Remembrance went according to plan, or as Jazz put it, Prowl’s rigid timing and general boredom. Red Alert managed to be pried away from the Security Room by Inferno, who insisted the automated systems could alert them in case of an attack. Red Alert only consented when Prime personally ordered him to attend the ceremony.

Red Alert nearly fritzed. But after a cube of high grade, he was in a lot better mood. Red Alert was a rather cheap drunk. And though it was obvious he was currently hammered, neither twin seemed to take notice. It was common for them to tease Red Alert and say just about anything they wanted, and the poor red and white Lamborghini would laugh right along with them, oblivious to being the joke.

But all the day the twins kept to themselves. Sunstreaker performed his monitor duty without a word and departed when Blaster relieved him at shift change. Sideswipe helped Ironhide move heavy weaponry to a more secured place in his lab, speaking little though Ironhide tried his best to get the frontliner into his usual wisecracking self. Sideswipe barely spoke and left as soon as the last box was placed in a secured vault. The rest of the day was spent in their room, and for once, there wasn’t loud music or shouting matches.

Pictures decorated the rec room, each labeled with a designation and deactivation date. No one said anything when the cityscape of Praxus appeared during the afternoon. It was quickly followed by the Crystal Towers, Kaon, and even the seeker city of Vos. Almost every territory was on the wall, displaying not only lives lost, but culture and history as well.

Prime called all the mechs to the rec room before the usual evening ration. Everyone was greeted by Optimus at the door and gasped as they noted the assortment of treats and free flowing high grade. The twins merely grunted a return greeting and sequestered themselves in shadows along the back.

Now, well into the evening, half the staff was drunk, the other half were catching up, though some had a better tolerance than others.

Optimus Prime rose; his table slightly more elevated and gave him the advantage of gazing across the sea of faces. They were all so familiar, following him to the ends of the universe and back again. There wasn’t anything he could ask of them and they would be willing to do, without question. Without hesitation. They were more than a military unit. They were a family.

Prime called for everyone’s attention. “Autobots, we gather today to remember what was lost.” Prime’s voice echoed in the suddenly quiet room. Even Red Alert’s unfocused optics were turned towards him. “And to remember all that we have gained.” The paneled walls retracted on either side of the room, exposing large viewing screens. “We have found a new home and have made new friends. We are thankful for their generosity and trust they have shown us. Let us never forget the past, nor ignore the present, thankful for what we have, and pray for a brighter future.”

The room darkened and the screens came to life, first showing the many wonders of Earth, then its many inhabitants. A collage of pictures appeared, showing the Ark residents with humans, laughing, singing, and in the case of one poker night, Smokescreen and Sparkplug scowling at each other. Then individual bots were featured, sometimes relaxing, engaging in recreational activities that had the room howling with laughter, or the more somber times after battles.

Sunstreaker and Sideswipe caught glimpses of themselves in the background a couple of times, but the screen flickered to the next bot of interest, showcasing their lives amid laughter and cheers.

Mirage gasped, seeing a photo of himself after a particularly trying mission, then the footage of his marksmanship and the superior sneer he adopted when he knew he kicked some aft.

“That was my file,” Bluestreak said to the spy, grinning ear to ear. “I’ll never be that good though.”

Mirage felt like encouraging the young gunner, but his voice died when his last photo appeared. Bluestreak’s grin broadened and added, “That one’s from Prime.”

The scene was of Mirage standing with his family outside their home in the Towers, greeting Sentinel Prime as Optimus observed from a distance. Mirage lowered his head for a long time after the image disappeared, beginning the homage to the next Autobot in the unit.

Next were the exploits of Bumblebee, mostly involving Spike, Carly, and being the recipient of numerous pranks. Sideswipe allowed a smirk when he recognized his handiwork. In every shot, Bee was laughing in good humor.

Jazz dancing and fighting Decepticons, Ratchet yelling and brandishing a wrench, followed by images of him passed out next to a patient. The twins saw themselves briefly in the background, before it switched to Wheeljack. Each picture featured something missing and Wheeljack sporting soot. The rec room erupted with laughter again as the inventor ducked behind Hound to avoid Ratchet’s irate glare.

Prime graced the screens next, starting with the rare picture of a completely relaxed and peaceful mech. Then it changed, showing the many faces of war and defeat, pain, regret, and unending sadness. Video clips randomly showed the prowess of their leader, his frame always shielding his comrades from the enemy. Prime’s collection ended with a shot of his beautiful Elita-One, smiling in an enigmatic way with the full, unmarred cityscape of Iacon behind her.

Prowl took center stage next, earning an irrated twitch of a doorwing. The first few pictures were of the Second on duty and poised in stoic military perfection. The next few made the Datsun choke and hide lower behind his table, making a mental note to put everyone responsible for this in the brig. A purple Prowl, a suspiciously unconscious Prowl, and much to everyone’s surprise, a laughing Prowl with wide, over-energized optics. Prowl thought his humiliation couldn’t get any worse, then a video clip appeared. Prowl couldn’t determine which incident was being relived, so he couldn’t figure out who had supplied the incriminating evidence. His optics darted automatically to the twins and was a little disappointed in seeing their shocked faces. Jazz started laughing at the screen, returning Prowl’s attention. He felt his humiliation double, watching as his previous self escorted an inebriated Jazz down the hall to his quarters. Jazz was apparently singing and trying to draw his fellow officer into the chorus, but the Datsun wasn’t falling for it. With an overzealous flourish of his arms, Jazz swung around, overbalanced and took a surprised Prowl with him. His grasping hands latched onto one of Prowl’s doorwings, stumbling toward the wall and colliding painfully with the ship’s hull, Prowl still clutched in his hands. The two Commanding Officers were leaning against the wall, nose to nose, Prowl snarling at the drunken officer roughly handling his doorwings and Jazz apparently finding the whole situation quite normal as he started nuzzling against the white and black bumper.

Jazz stopped laughing with the rest of his friends and looked to his best friend. He heard Prowl’s engine rev in agitation above the low din of chuckles and muttering. Prowl’s angered bark toward the screens made Jazz return his attention, then emit a shout himself, even throwing out a threat to whoever added this little surprise.

Bold letters declared across the screen, ~‘The rest of this video is unsuitable for public viewing, but Tele-tran One accepts all forms of payment for private screenings.’~

The screens grew dark. The crew continued to laugh at their two commanding officers dual looks of anger and retribution. After several seconds of blank screen, the crew started to clap, cheering and whooping at the wonderful homage to their friends and their craziness. No one noticed that two members of the crew had been missing from the collage, not that they themselves noticed the exclusion. It was when the screen lit up like a nova that most of the crowd stopped cheering and clapping.

A photo emerged from the dark. It showed Sunstreaker glaring toward the camera or the mech who had captured the image, his body highlighted by a blazing inferno he undoubtedly centered. His armor shone like a brilliant sun, the blue of his optics the purest anyone could remember.

It was Sunstreaker’s turn to gasp. The faint applause had that lingered died out in a whooshing sweep. Everyone’s attention was solely focused on the pictures now flashing across the screen. Scenes from galleries and museums, all displaying Sunstreaker’s art. And the artist himself looking like something that stepped off the canvas. Bots in the background openly stared and admired the golden frame, and a few feminine optics lusted at the sight of such perfection.

Sunstreaker always said he was the most gorgeous thing ever to grace the universe, and here were the pictures to prove it. Sideswipe appeared in a few shots, looking just as dashing as his twin, though where Sunstreaker showed uninterested aloofness, Sideswipe was drinking it in. Quite a few femmes were pictured with the duo and the twins instantly riled, recognizing some of the pictures from their own personal files. They didn’t like the idea of such violation, but as they directed their gaze to the perceived trespassers, their anger faded. Everyone, Prime included, was enraptured by what they saw.

Not wanting to miss anything the twins returned their attention back to the screens. A vast collection of shots raced along the screen, each depicting one of the twins in the heat of battle. Sideswipe pile-driving two Decepticons that left them torn at his feet. Sunstreaker deftly removing limbs from a Con whose optics were shattered like his body. Images of carnage flashed across the screen, sending chills down spinal struts.

Between the bloodshed and vicious attacks could be seen a downed Autobot. As hurt warriors were given shelter, Sunstreaker and Sideswipe distracted the attackers, giving their comrades time for escape or recovery. The scenes changed, showing the broken and torn bodies of the frontliners, sparking wires, hemorrhaging lines, and covered in energon.

The blood of their enemies blending with their own.

The collage flickered through the files, each showing the twins at their best and worst.

Sideswipe taking a shot that was intended for Jazz.

Sunstreaker limping and using a Con’s severed arm as a crutch.

Sideswipe crawling after a weapon.

Sunstreaker punching a Con so hard his face collapsed under the assault.

Sideswipe riding on Starscream’s back, obviously whooping with glee.

Sunstreaker on Skywarp, fist drawn back and face set in determination to maim or terminate.

Sideswipe sneaking down a corridor, illegal high grade cubes innocently glowing.

Sunstreaker passed out at his easel, paint smeared on his plating.

Sideswipe laughing.

Sunstreaker riding Devastator’s back, renting wires and surrounded by a halo of sparks.

Sideswipe sneaking up on his brother with a bouquet of flowers.

Sunstreaker shoving said flowers in every crack and cranny his brother possessed.

Sideswipe keeping vigil over a recovering Sunstreaker.

Sunstreaker sleeping by his brother’s side in a corner of the infirmary, their fingers intertwined.

Sideswipe throwing Prowl aside to take on one of the Coneheads, Prowl’s shoulder sparking as Ratchet lead him away.

Sunstreaker grappling with two Constructicons, and the heavier mechs displaying more damage than the Lamborghini.

All around the rec room, heads shook in amazement. Breathing functions ceased momentarily. The pictures showed after battle images and after repair, many shots sporting dented helms, patched bodies, and mismatched plating. A true battlefield mess in all its violent, vicious, bloody savagery, and still the twins kept going back for more.

The collage slowed, letting certain images burn into processors.

Sunstreaker and Sideswipe both covered in energon and ash, missing various plates and a limb, sparks highlighting their bodies and grim smiles on their faces. Their only means of support were each other, lending strength they no longer possessed and determined to get back to their friends, despite the overwhelming injuries and life threatening wounds. Each step expelling their vital fluids as they struggled to go one more step, the other giving them the reason to keep going.

Sunstreaker and Sideswipe arguing.

Sunstreaker and Sideswipe sitting quietly watching a movie.

Sunstreaker and Sideswipe laughing. Gambling. Drinking. Mourning.

The final picture made time freeze. Sunstreaker and Sideswipe were curled into each other, deep in recharge. They looked so innocent and helpless, vulnerable and lonesome. It was hard to image such cruel warriors could find such uninterrupted peace, their frames practically glowing in tranquility. The scene faded to a nearly identical pose, though the twins had switched positions. And upon closer inspection, one could detect the discoloration of moisture around their optics.

There was also a tiny bundle clutched between them.

A small, ash gray body was curled into Sideswipe’s chest, while short doorwings folded against Sunstreaker’s. Both twins were clutching the newly found Bluestreak as if some monster would come and remove him from their protection.

The scene faded, but it was forever etched into the memory of those present. Silence reigned. Almost everyone looked contemplative, or proud, or just plain awestruck. Bluestreak looked confused. Sunstreaker and Sideswipe looked fiercely stand-offish, as if daring someone to say something caustic.

Bluestreak’s timid voice cut through the veil of silence, his optics fixed on the twins. “I don’t remember you guys taking care of me. Why can’t I remember?”

“You were just a youngling,” Sideswipe said, trying to pass the incident off. The attention was started to unnerve him.

“But I can remember Praxus,” Bluestreak started, his voice choked. It was Ratchet who provided the answer.

“Your core memory programs were still developing,” Ratchet explained, his spark weary with the memories of the young gunner’s life. “Praxus had literally been destroyed around you and your memory cache couldn’t decipher the proper emotional responses.”

“But I thought Prowl..” Bluestreak trailed off, looking to his mentor. He could only remember Prowl being there for him and all the long, painful memory loops that kept him awake and screaming into the night.

“When you met Prowl a few days later, you recognized a fellow Praxian,” Ratchet said. “Your subconscious latched on to something you could easily identify. Something routine from your past that could be reestablished.”

“So where did the memory file come from?” Bluestreak asked, looking to the blank screen and still seeing the ghost of his forgotten past.

“It was mine,” Prowl said so softly, he was barely heard. “That was how I found the only survivor of my city. Being guarded by twin terrors that could ward off any kind of monster. Two protectors that not only kept a scared youngling safe, but has also kept all of us, functioning.”

Prime raised a cube of high grade, his voice commanding.

“To those we loved and lost. Who keep us safe, and who fight all our monsters.”

The sentiment was echoed around the room.

Sunstreaker stared at the screen that had showed what he thought was his weakest moments, but for some reason, they seemed to be the best times in his life. Suddenly, the golden warrior didn’t feel so lost. ---- ------------------------------- -------------------- --------

Dedicated to those who were loved and lost.

Chapter Text

To Be A Side

 

00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00

Together. Oneness. A sense of you and me that simply translates into, us. The constant murmur in your ear that no one else can hear. The sound of a voice so familiar, you’d swear it was your own. Their beat of life, echoed to you in perfect tandem. A duet like no other. A song that only two could hear, a connection felt so strongly, there was no separation, only union.

Two halves that were whole, never to be rendered apart, not even by death.

If one was angry, it was the other half that needed to purge the negative emotion. If one was happy, the other was certain to contain the mirth. If either were sad, they would huddle together, enduring the torment. If one was in pain, it was up to the other half to take it unto themselves and ease the suffering. If love entered a processor, it was up to the levelheaded to point out the flaws and be there when they fell.

If one faltered, the other was left to pick up the pieces.

There were always two. Since the beginning, through to the hereafter. That was how it was supposed to be. That was how it was intended.

How was one to function without their other half? How was it possible for others to go about their daily lives? Get through the tough times?

And the Good? Who was the constant presence in everyone else’s lives? Who did they turn to? Who took care of them?

Where was their balance? The one that made them complete? Did they feel the freezing solitude? Did they know of nothing but emptiness and despair? Did they now what was missing from their lives?

How could one go through life so alone?

It was sad they would never know what it was like. They would only know loneliness and heartache. They didn’t know what a treasure there was in having a twin. One to keep you sane. One to help through all the horror and pain. Someone to heal your body and soul of the raw, bleeding, unbearable wounds. Someone to erase the bad and to make the world right again. Some one to fill the void and join in the celebrations and accomplishments.

The other half.

The best of you and the worst.

The perfect balance.

Two halves that make a whole.

Sideswipe allowed the ghost of a smile to grace his handsome features.

Yes, it was best to have someone. To not be alone and afraid. It was best to have your other half always with you. A perfect tandem that not even death could separate. Someone to share all the good and bad and would always understand and accept you.

Smile still in place, Sideswipe drew back his leg and planted his foot on his brother’s side in a mighty shove that sent him flying off the couch.

Sunstreaker crashed amid a flurry of curses.

Sideswipe smiled as the room erupted with a sun’s fury.

Yes.

It was great to have someone and not suffer such loneliness. 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00

Yes, Sideswipe is a bastard. Just HAS to provoke his brother. But, that’s why we love him and he’s just so damn good (bad).

As always, hope you enjoyed and please drop me a line to let me know what you think. My mind is always open… which is why my brain falls out on a regular basis. I really should get a screen or something….

Chapter Text

Sunshine and Daisies

00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00

“You need a new nickname,” Sideswipe said, giving his twin a calculating look.

“I wasn’t aware I consented to the old one,” he growled, turning icy optics to his brother. “The one you insist on calling me is bad enough. Don’t add nails to your coffin.”

Sideswipe ignored his brother and performed a slow circuit around the room, taking in every angle of his brother’s features and formulating possible names.

“Daffodil of Doom just seems cheesy,” he muttered, squinting a little and ignoring Sunstreaker’s murderous glare. “Savage Sunflower? Naw, it still sounds too….”

“Flowery?” Sunstreaker added, lowering his paintbrush before he snapped it in his grip.

“No, that’s not it,” Sideswipe said, tilting his head a little to the right. His face scrunched up in thought as he considered for a moment. “The Yellow Rose of Iacon?”

“Now you’re being flowery and cheesy,” Sunstreaker spat, pulling a rag off the artist cart and wiping his hands. “What’s with the botanical nicknames?”

“Just experimenting,” Sideswipe shrugged, now resuming his scrutiny of his brother’s frame. “Demonic Dandelion?”

An evil look graced Sunstreaker’s face, making Sideswipe grin. “You need something different. ‘Sunny’ is too boring.”

“So isn’t ‘Sides’,” Sunstreaker shot back, rubbing his hands together with more force than necessary to remove the excess paint. He hated when his brother was in one of these moods. It usually meant he had to put down what he was doing and entertain his lesser half.

“Let’s see, Lethal Lemon just seems….”

“Idiotic?” Sunstreaker supplied, feeling a genuine aggravation coming from his twin. Apparently Sideswipe was sincere in his efforts in finding his brother a new nickname. Perhaps all the time they had fought over the moniker ‘Sunny’, made the ruby Lamborghini reconsider his brother’s adamant rebukes.

“Xanthic xeno is a mouthful but a hell of a total on a Scrabble board,” Sideswipe continued, oblivious to his brothers increasing frustration at being interrupted during his latest art project. “The Orpiment Ogre sounds like something from a Disney movie and doesn’t really strike fear in the heart of anyone.”

“And ‘Sunny’ causes terror?” Sunstreaker arched a brow ridge, enjoying his brother’s distress with finding a suitable nickname.

“The Massicot Masochist?” Sideswipe goaded, not liking the triumphant feeling he was sensing from his twin. He was hoping to find something extra devious to rile his brother in moments of waning attention. “I got it!”

“Insanity?” Sunstreaker quipped. “I figured you would succumb, course I didn’t think it would take this long.”

“No, not that,” Sideswipe frowned. “My Citreous Creature!”

“Enough of the animation failures!” Sunstreaker snapped, now getting genuinely irritated with the colorful turns his brother was taking at his expense.

“Lethal Lamborghini?” Sideswipe said, then shook his head.

“You truly are the embodiment of idiocy,” Sunstreaker supplied.

Sideswipe chose to ignore the comment and walked up to Sunstreaker, parking himself in his brother’s personal space. The action garnered the desired response and Sideswipe grinned, knowing he had irked his brother into a malicious grimace that didn’t fit with his perfect countenance.

“Do you want to die?” Sunstreaker asked, taking a step back and riling when his brother mirrored his action.

Sideswipe wasn’t deterred by his brother’s retreat. If anything, the action was bringing out the sadistic amusement he felt when he knew he was pushing all the right buttons to get a rise out of the citrine Lamborghini. Sunstreaker recognized his brother’s intent and started to back away from his easel. Every once in awhile, when there wasn’t any Decepticon activity and pranks were a bit slow due to victims being vigilant and suspicious, there was only one way to dispel the excess energy.

A wrestling match of epic proportion. It was all in good fun and a great way to hone skills and practice maneuvers that weren’t ready for the battle field, but sometimes, when energy was running high and tensions reaching their peak, the friendly wrestling matches turned into vicious fights that usually ended up with both twins in the medical ward.

Then it was every mech for himself when Ratchet stormed in to practice his usual bedside manner.

Sideswipe gently pushed the artist cart out of the way, his optics skimming over the mixed paints. He returned his attention back to his retreating brother and grinned. “How about my Caladium Canary?”

“I’ll peck your optics out,” Sunstreaker promised in a low voice.

“You’re right,” Sideswipe said, as if the two were merely comparing paint samples. “Not showy enough.” He tapped his finger on his chin, deep in thought. “How about my Frightful Finch?”

“Aft.”

“Love you too, Solar Flare.”

“At least it’s not a flower or bird,” Sunstreaker sighed, before a blur of red launched itself at him and he had to defend himself.

An hour later both twins lay exhausted on the floor of their shared room. Both bore the marks of a rather violent discussion, especially Sideswipe, who displayed twice the dents, dings, and scraped abrasions caused by a pissed off artist. Their fans whirled on high, their repair systems engaging to stem the trickles of energon dripping on the floor from punctured hoses. Sideswipe winced when he moved his shoulder, feeling the ruptured line tear itself a little wider, the impressions a perfect match to Sunstreaker’s denta.

“Russet Rogue sounds like something out of a book,” Sideswipe muttered to the room at large.

A low growl emanated from somewhere near his right, but he ignored it.

“Flavine sounds flowery again, and we want to avoid that,” Sideswipe continued, feeling an evil thrum in his spark that was not his own. The fight had done nothing to assuage Sunstreaker’s mood. If anything, he was feeling even more violent. Sideswipe was just added fuel to the fire, and it was close to erupting.

“Ambergris Armada?” Sideswipe continued, his brow etched in thought.

“Do I look like an Armada?” Sunstreaker snapped, dragging his battered body closer to his irritable twin.

“Dear brother, I’ve seen you fight,” Sideswipe said, rolling his head toward his twin and watching as the other Lamborghini fought his injuries.

Sunstreaker remained quiet, knowing his brother had a point. He may be one, but he was a multi-tasking, weapons flashing, armor piercing demon that made one rethink engaging such a combatant.

“How about, Nuclear Nova?” Sideswipe asked, optics glinting at the perfect nickname. “It’s fitting. You go nuclear on people and you’re as strong as a nova. Perfect!”

Just as he turned to give his twin a triumphant look, his optics widened as the dawn came crashing down. Sunstreaker had come within range of his idiotic twin. A comet-like golden fist collided with Sideswipe’s face, sending him reeling into the darkness of oblivion.

“Lights out!” Sunstreaker snapped, falling back to the floor with a whine in his gears. He emitted a growl in silence, weighing the options of opening up a comm. to Ratchet, who no doubt wasn’t in the mood for more twin related idiocy. Sighing, Sunstreaker felt a burning sensation along his side and knew the damage couldn’t wait. He opened a comm. and explained to Ratchet he was the victim of another one of Sideswipe’s ill-fated attempts at blowing off steam and was in desperate need of some medical attention. After a rather lengthy, verbal bashing from the medic, he assured the citrine Lamborghini that he was on his way, and he better expect more ‘treatment’. Sunstreaker sighed and switched off his comms, knowing Ratchet could on for hours. And when he got there, he undoubtedly would demonstrate his verbal and physical arsenal. Sunstreaker glanced to his twin, who was now sleeping peacefully, his olfactory sensor a bit askew but otherwise looking quite tranquil and relaxed. Sunstreaker snorted, shaking his head and looked to the ceiling, hearing Ratchet’s voice echoing down the hall before the medic had even gained their door.

“Nuclear Nova indeed,” Sunstreaker grinned, before unconsciousness claimed him.

0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 00000 00000

Chapter Text

Two Sides of the Sun

-------------------------------------------------------

“There!” Sideswipe proclaimed, grabbing Sunstreaker’s arm and giving it a shake. “The femme right there! The one with the powder blue paint and optics that could melt titanium.”

Sunstreaker gave his brother a disgusted look as he extracted his arm. “Stop grabbing me. You’re ruining my finish!”

“Look there!” Sideswipe crooned, finding purchase once again on his twin. “She’s right there! Wow, look at those curves. I bet she knows how to treat a mech. If not, I’d volunteer for whatever she had in mind.”

“Now you’re being crass,” Sunstreaker snapped, still trying to wrest his arm from his brother’s talon-like grip. He hissed as Sideswipe gave him another shake for attention. “What?”

“See her?” Sideswipe pointed with the hand clutching a faintly glowing cube. “She’s right there next to your sculpture of Iacon! You can’t miss her.”

Sunstreaker easily targeted in on the femme that now held his brother’s spark. Problem was, the inept merchant had a habit of making a fool of himself around the opposite sex. Many times Sunstreaker had to hide his face so he wouldn’t be associated with the clumsy oaf who had destroyed parties, insulted foreign dignitaries, and accidentally molested the Prime’s sparkmate when he over-energized and thought she was sending him ‘signals’. Turns out it was just a faulty overhead light that had been highlighting her features at a certain angle. Didn’t prevent Sideswipe was stumbling in, slur a horrendous bit of cheap flattery, then paw the gorgeous femme while he tried to kiss her and ended up licking her audio. Sunstreaker considered having himself melted down and used in his own artwork after that. As it was, he rarely allowed his twin to join him during ceremonies and honorable events, but since this was a planet-wide exhibition, he had to share it with his brother.

“Wow,” Sideswipe slowly ex-vented, his optics glued to the femme.

Sunstreaker eyed her warily, taking in the tiny form. Probably a messenger by the slim lines and lightness of her frame, and the way her optics darted between milling faces, it was clear she was completely out of her element. Either someone messed up the invitations, or a messenger had gained access to the social elite while they were in their ‘safety zone.’

“Colors don’t flatter, considering the frame,” Sunstreaker said, relinquishing his cube after a second failed attempt at drinking its contents. It was clear, Sideswipe wasn’t going to let his brother enjoy himself. Not when he was infatuated with the pretty little femme. It was about time for him to start his usual litany of the perks and pleasant details of the femme who caught his optics.

“Just the perfect height,” Sideswipe said slowly, his optics brightening as he no doubt delved into his little fantasy world. His processor created elaborate worlds in which he and his new intended would realize they were perfect for each other, court accordingly, then spend a blissful life together, Sideswipe her ever doting mate. Problem was, fantasy never got close to reality.

“Too short,” Sunstreaker said, knowing Sideswipe was lost to his own imagination.

“Lovely shade of blue,” Sideswipe sighed, perking up slightly as she seemed to sense his optics. He let out an undignified beep and turned abruptly to his twin, optics wide and fearful. “I think she saw me.”

“If you’re interested, go talk to her instead of molesting her with your optics,” Sunstreaker said, wondering if there was a way he could murder his twin and get away with it. Honestly, Sunstreaker didn’t know what Sideswipe’s problem was. He never had trouble speaking to a femme, much less convincing them to share his berth. If Sunstreaker put a notch on his berth-post for every conquest, the berth would be so rickety; it’d collapse under his weight.

He wondered if Sideswipe had any notches to his credit. His record with the feminine population wasn’t exactly noteworthy, other than when restraining orders and accusations were brought against him. In that department, he outshone his twin.

Sideswipe took a slow draft through his vents and turned back, hoping to put on an air of cultured smoothness. He sputtered when the femme made optic contact. A shy smile appeared as she started toward him, her slender frame jostling between the much larger mechs milling about the gallery.

“She loves me,” Sideswipe whispered as she neared. So enraptured, he missed Sunstreaker’s annoyed grunt.

Sunstreaker discretely watched her progress, noting the way she held herself, and the small, almost apologetic looks she gave to other patrons.

Much to twins’ surprise, she bypassed the golden mech and presented herself to Sideswipe.

“Hello,” her voice was soft and warm with a hint of uncertainty.

“Hello,” Sideswipe managed to say. His spark was suddenly hammering wildly in its casing. All coherent thought seem to vacate his processor.

The two stood motionless for a moment, staring at each other in awkward silence. Sunstreaker mentally rolled his optics and spoke up.

“I haven’t seen you at previous engagements,” Sunstreaker said, in a cultured tone so unlike the one he used with his twin. “Is this your first exhibition?”

“Yes,” she smiled shyly, her cheeks heating with embarrassment. It made her even more attractive. “Now that I have my final upgrade, I’m permitted to attend the galas.”

Final Upgrade? Sunstreaker perked up instantly. Oh, he liked the ones that just upgraded. They were curious about the world, their bodies, physical interactions and were susceptible to any suggestion.

Most beings preferred a partner with experience and know-how in manipulating a partner for mutual satisfaction. Newly upgraded meant the slate was clean, and subsequently, their experience limited to what was learned but never practiced. They were always clumsy, embarrassed, nervous, but easily educated, eager to please, and in Sunstreaker’s opinion, the best partners to have.

“Then allow me to welcome you to my exhibit,” Sunstreaker said smoothly, brushing his hand across her cheek in an intimate greeting.

Her cheeks flushed further. Her optics brightened with realization. “You’re the artist? You created these pieces?”

“I did,” Sunstreaker said with a haughty air. “And I only allow the privileged to view and purchase my work.” His optics narrowed as his lip curled slightly in a seductive grin. “Or the very attractive, of which my dear, you certainly qualify.”

“Yes,” Sideswipe managed to say, though with great difficulty.

The femme didn’t acknowledge Sideswipe’s presence, her gaze now fixed on the artist himself.

As if ashamed of asking such a forward question, she said, “Are you here with anyone?”

“No,” Sunstreaker said, his attention focused on the flustered femme.

“He’s with me,” Sideswipe said, frowning at the way his brother was now eyeing the femme. “I’m his twin.”

She didn’t seem to notice the red mech anymore. Her gaze was now lingering on the fine lines and detailed manicure that the golden mech wore with a dignified grace. His body shone like the sun. Every angle and cut was perfection. And the heady scent of expensive wax hung about him in a tantalizing aura.

“Allow me to give you a tour,” Sunstreaker purred, presenting his arm in gentlemech fashion.

The femme easily slipped her arm into his, her body pressing just a little closer than what was called for.

“Don’t you have other, more important guests?” she asked, trying to hide the tremble in her voice. Her attraction was unmistakable.

“No one of importance,” Sunstreaker assured her, leading her across the gallery.

Sideswipe stood frozen. Sunstreaker’s last words were ringing in his audios. It was bad enough the femme turned her attention to his twin, but to hear his own brother tell the femme that there wasn’t anyone of importance, stung straight into the spark.

Head hung, spark twisting in agony, Sideswipe took his leave. If Sunstreaker didn’t think he was important, then who was he to disagree?

000000000 THE NEXT DAY 000000000

Sunstreaker eased his transport into a slot along the intersection and hopped out, his pedes extra springy today. The powder blue femme from the previous evening had been wonderful in every aspect of the word. Her timidness had quickly evaporated into enthusiasm in the berth and the couple had spent a tiring, yet highly enjoyable evening. A fact Sunstreaker was ready to divulge to his twin, complete with sound recordings. He stepped into the small shop that served as the storefront for the massive business his brother ran.

It started out as a shop for parts, just like any other on the planet, but it grew into the more lucrative business of obtaining hard to find pieces coupled with learning to keep ones vocalizer shut. Blind optics was also useful, and helped to expand the business into other avenues. Rare commodities and items that were usually strictly regulated and confiscated by Customs Officials, were easily slipped through territories without delay. The once tiny enterprise had turned into an empire. Sunstreaker was thrilled because it meant his twin was making his own credits, and had the inside track on artistic goods, which was the reason for his visit.

“Sideswipe!” Sunstreaker called merrily, giving his twin a wave.

Sideswipe glanced to the summons, but quickly turned his attention back to his datapad. His fingers were a blur over the scrolling data, each attesting to numerical transactions.

Sunstreaker went around the counter and draped an arm over his brother’s shoulder. “What to guess what I did last night?” he purred, his face twisted into a lecherous sneer. “Or would you rather hear the recordings?”

Sideswipe shrugged his brother off, his hand flying over the screen. “Not now, Sunstreaker. I have work to do.”

“Oh, come on. Don’t tell me you’ve suddenly became a prude?” Sunstreaker jibed, not deterred in the least. “You’ve never rejected the opportunity to listen in when your phenomenal twin was playing the femmes like a musician.”

“Go away,” Sideswipe said, turning his back to his brother and highlighting the store inventory.

Thousands of numerical codes dashed across the datapad, but Sideswipe couldn’t see them. His fingers stabbed the same sequence over and over, but the data wasn’t performing the correct operation. His thoughts were consumed over his brother’s betrayal, and his seemingly oblivious knowledge of the fact.

Sunstreaker wrapped his arms around his brother, resting his chin on Sideswipe’s shoulder. He whispered in his audio, “Do you want to hear the sounds that cute little blue femme makes when she overloads?”

The words were enough to send Sideswipe into action. He threw the datapad on the desk, shattering its screen and sending the glass fragments into flight. He rounded on his brother and without thought, punched him as hard as he could right in the smug faceplates.

Sunstreaker howled, falling backward, clutching his face. His protectiveness reared when blows started to rain down on his head and shoulders, and a knee found its way into his midsection. He pushed back, knocking his brother away and regained his senses.

“What the slag was that all about?” Sunstreaker demanded.

“You… you’re just….” Sideswipe panted, glaring at his twin with so much hatred, it made Sunstreaker take a subconscious step back. “Vile. Vicious. Loathsome… evil….”

“Whoa!” Sunstreaker yelled, hoping to quell Sideswipe. “What’s gotten into you?”

“You knew I liked that femme!” Sideswipe spat, his plating near melting from the intense heat radiating off him in angered waves. “She was interested in me, and then you stepped in and took her away!”

“Oh, please,” Sunstreaker scoffed, rubbing his sore jaw and olfactory sensor. “You just stood there like a mindless drone. She only looked at me when she found out I was famous!”

“You didn’t even try to deflect her attention. You focused sorely on yourself!” Sideswipe snapped, his energon threatening to boil in his lines. Suddenly Sideswipe seemed to deflate, all fight leaving him in a heavy whoosh as he turned from his brother. His voice was so soft, Sunstreaker could barely hear it. “I liked her, and she could have liked me to.”

Sunstreaker hated the defeat that laced his brother’s voice. He opened the bond he shared with his twin, something the two rarely indulged in now that they were adults. When they were children, the bond was their place of safety and warmth, and all encompassing welcoming peace. But when they upgraded to their adult frames, they grew apart. Constant comfort wasn’t needed, nor sought after. They had lives to live and different callings. Sunstreaker wasn’t surprised when there was no answer to his spark call. He crossed the short distance between them and wrapped his arms around his brother.

“Tell me,” Sunstreaker said, not liking the unresponsiveness of his twin. When Sideswipe shook his head negatively, Sunstreaker spun him around, grasping his shoulders and forcing him to make optic contact. “Tell me.”

“No,” Sideswipe muttered, lowering his gaze to the floor once more. “If you don’t already know, then it’s pointless to say.”

“Then show me,” Sunstreaker demanded, his chest splitting apart to reveal the silver cylinder that housed his spark.

Sideswipe looked sadly to the small chamber, a part of him wistful of times past. But that was long ago. Children, who needed each other so the demons would be kept at bay. But now, well into adulthood, the gesture seemed hollow. He placed his hands on the warm golden chassis and forcefully pressed the plates together. They returned to normal configuration, hiding the chamber within.

“No,” Sideswipe repeated and pushed his brother away.

Sunstreaker refused to give up his hold on his brother. He tightened his grip and said, “I don’t know why you’re acting this way. You’ve been attracted to hundreds of femmes and never cared if I berthed them,” his expressed grew devious, “I always share the recordings with you.”

“Go,” Sideswipe said, nodding toward the door. When Sunstreaker made no attempt to move, Sideswipe roughly grabbed him and spun him toward the door. “I said go!”

Sunstreaker dug in his pedes, refusing to be moved. He nearly overbalanced when Sideswipe let him go, taking a step away from his twin.

“How could you?” Sideswipe whispered, before turning on his heel and disappearing into the back rooms.

Sunstreaker made to follow, but his brother had hit the door locks. There was no way to force entry. Sighing, he called through the door, “Whatever it is, I’m sorry. Okay? You know me. My ego is as inflated as a Guardian.” When no answer was forthcoming, Sunstreaker pressed on, “Sideswipe, you know I wouldn’t do anything to hurt you. If you really wanted the femme, you should have told me. Surely you can’t blame me for being charming. It’s what I do!”

After a moment, he gave a resigned sigh. “Have it your way.”

He took his leave, finding his steps to be heavier than normal. Pulling up the memory files from the previous night, Sunstreaker began combing through the evening, searching for anything that had caused his brother to be so upset. He slipped into his private transport, his mind buzzing with the events that caused the rift between him and the only person in the universe he’d sacrifice himself for.

Several examinations later, Sunstreaker gave up. He tried watching the whole evening with visual and auditory playback, first with sound, then without. Nothing raised the proverbial red flag.

He tried to open his side of the bond, hoping Sideswipe would feel his presence and open up to him, but the bond stayed cold and void. A part of him wept for its passing.

Alone and confused, Sunstreaker did the only thing he knew how. He painted. Giant murals soon filled his studio, and he was often heard screaming and throwing paint containers around. Trying to assuage the numbness taking over his spark, he sent daily gifts to his twin, each with a message of forgiveness and apology and promise it wouldn’t happen again. And every evening, when the city set to slumber, Sunstreaker would collapse on his easel, wishing his pain would end. Some evenings he’d writhe on the canvas, completely absorbed by the hollowness in his spark and unable to ease the pain.

After a month of tortured nights and endless days, Sunstreaker made a decision and he was going to see it through, even if it killed him. So as evening fell and merchants were starting to close shop for the night, Sunstreaker entered Sideswipe’s establishment. No one was at the counter, so he went to the door, which was left partially opened. He placed his hand on the metal, ready to announce his arrival, when he heard voices.

“So, you coming tonight?” a mech asked.

“Yes,” Sideswipe said without hesitancy.

“It’s going to be quite the spectacle,” the mech said, his voice taking on a taunting lilt. “Epic, from what they’re saying.”

“I’ll be there,” Sideswipe said, and Sunstreaker noticed there was a listless tone to his voice.

“Alright, see you then,” the mech called, opening the door. He took half a step before narrowing his gaze at Sunstreaker. “Who are you?”

“Sideswipe’s brother,” he answered defensively. There was something about this dark green and brown mech that he most definitely didn’t like.

“Listening in at doors will get you into trouble, or hasn’t anyone explained that to you?” he asked, his voice dripping in menace.

Sunstreaker instantly riled, glaring down this sub-class mech who dared to challenge him. He could buy and sell this mech many times over. Apparently he didn’t understand he was outclassed.

“I was looking for Sideswipe,” he said in a low growl. “I suggest you watch your vocalizer, before it’s given to you on a serving tray.”

The mech made a gruff noise but didn’t answer. He cast one last look to Sideswipe, gave a clipped nod, then took his leave, lumbering past the golden mech and making a show of his more aggressive bulk. When the door chimed at his departure, Sideswipe acknowledged his brother.

“I don’t want to see you,” he said, every intention of putting as much distance as possible between them.

“Well tough,” Sunstreaker said, stepping forward and blocking his brother’s path. “I need to see you. It’s important.”

“Oh?” Sideswipe asked, a hint of intrigue flaring in his optics. “What’s so important that you would deface yourself by being in my presence?”

The words had their desired effect. Sunstreaker flinched as if struck. When he spoke, his voice was harsh and raspy, “I’ve been an aft and I want to apologize for my actions.” When Sideswipe made to move away, Sunstreaker grabbed his arms and held him immobile before continuing, “I’ve been in pain, and I know it’s because I hurt you.”

“Knew it would be about yourself,” Sideswipe spat, trying to get free from his twin.

The pain in Sunstreaker’s chest flared brand new, and with renewed strength he hurtled his twin to the ground, pinning him into place. If he was stubborn enough to not want to listen, then Sunstreaker was going to slagging well make him, gently or not! This had to end!

“I know the pain I feel is from you,” Sunstreaker snarled, not relinquishing his hold on Sideswipe. “The bond may be closed, but your pain is leaking through. Now, I don’t know what has you so angry at me, but you’re slagging well going to tell me, even if I have to wring it out of you.”

The impact to the floor had temporarily dazed Sideswipe, but once his systems realigned; he tried to wrench his brother from his perch. They tumbled, rolling over each other, both trying to gain the upper hand until Sunstreaker employed a dirty trick and maneuvered his twin onto his back. Sunstreaker straddled his brother, his knees initiating magnetic locks to the floor as his hands clamped like vices over Sideswipe’s wrists, effectively pinning his twin into place.

He pressed their chests together, knowing their sparks would recognize each other. He sent a strong pulse through his spark, calling desperately to the other half that was mere inches away. Though both were adults and their sparks were considered mature, there would always be a pull to one another, like opposite poles needing contact.

Sideswipe remained steadfastly stubborn, ignoring the pain that raced along his neural net. He was determined to let his brother suffer, as he had suffered.

Sunstreaker didn’t wait for a response. He placed his forehead against his brother’s, his grip loosening. His voice took on a sorrowful plea that went straight into Sideswipe’s spark.

“I feel so… empty. There’s this darkness that keeps growing and lashing out, searching for something that’s no longer there.” Sunstreaker opened his optics, staring into the familiar blue of his twin. “It’s like something has removed you and it will keep going until it consumes me.” Sunstreaker closed his optics, a choked sob escaping. “Don’t leave me. I couldn’t bear it if I lost you.”

Sideswipe gently nudged the bond and instantly felt the flood of emotions coming from his twin. Without thought both chests split, the chambers retracting to allow two halves to become a whole. Sunstreaker collapsed on top of his twin, allowing their bond to reaffirm, their sparks to realign, and emotions to filter.

Sunstreaker gasped as the hurt and pain assaulted his senses. He immediately began searching his twin’s memories, trying to find the source of the strife, and felt his spark falter.

“Don’t you have other, more important guests?” she asked, the light highlighting her beautiful face.

“No one of importance,” Sunstreaker answered, his attention sorely focused on the small femme.

Unimportant?

Sunstreaker felt his spark wither. The pain and loneliness assaulted his senses again, causing him to cry out. A pang of loss and worthlessness overwhelmed him. He clutched at Sideswipe, his fingers leaving small indentations.

Spark ache, isolation, desperation, separation, all came crashing together in a cataclysmic burst. Two brilliant super novas expanded, wrapping around each other in protection and love. A cosmic embrace that only twins can share. Their separation unfathomable, as two lives pulsed in unison, their strength magnified by the other.

When they pulled away, Sunstreaker collapsed next to Sideswipe, his spark humming the beautiful symphony of life that he shared with his twin. It had been a very long time since it carried that song, and it was a shame the melody had been lost for so long.

“You are the most important thing in my life,” Sunstreaker managed to say, though with the bond now open to its fullest extent, words weren’t necessary. “Never forget that.”

“Never,” Sideswipe muttered, finding his own spark song to be singing through his lines in a way that hadn’t been felt for so long, it was like coming home.

“Always together?” Sunstreaker asked, though he already knew the answer.

Sideswipe laced his fingers with his twins, giving them a reassuring squeeze. “Always. Never alone. Never divided.”

The two lay for a long time, listening to the dual song that filled their being. For the first time in a long time, both felt a sense of peace and belonging. Their tranquility was broken when Sideswipe gave a startled beep and scrambled off the floor.

“What?” Sunstreaker asked, a sluggish haze consuming him.

“I have to go,” Sideswipe said, checking the chronometer on the wall and cross checking it with his own internal system. He was running two minutes fast. “I was going to meet someone this evening.”

“Oh, my brother finally found a femme?” Sunstreaker jibed, but sent a pulse of adoration through their bond.

“No, actually it’s a mech,” Sideswipe said, grabbing his discarded datapad and checking on his accounts one last time.

“Didn’t think you revved like that,” Sunstreaker said, pulling himself to his pedes.

“No, it’s not like that,” Sideswipe said, checking his credits and estimating a safety cushion needed to keep his books balanced. The rest of the credits transferred into a private account, which had been rather lucrative until his recent activities. Now, it dwindled by each passing cycle. “He took me to this secret meeting place, in Kaon, and you wouldn’t believe what they do there.”

Sunstreaker’s interest piqued, his optics glancing to the screen and noting his twin had a smaller balance than what he remembered. Choosing to ignore it, he asked, “Organic target practicing? Seen it before. Not really my style. Too messy.”

“No,” Sideswipe said, not liking the meager credits he had to deal with. He better be on the winning side soon, else he’d have to start using his company funds. “They host gladiatorial matches.”

“As in… fights?” Sunstreaker asked with a frown. He had heard of such things going on in the underground world of illicit activities. It was something he didn’t agree with and avoided at all costs. Those types of endeavors usually ended at the smelters.

“They have different kinds of fighters,” Sideswipe was saying, his processor buzzing as he tried to figure out how to get just a few more credits to plump up his account. “There’s different levels of fighting, weapons, and on the rare occasion, even death matches. But I haven’t been to any of those.” He looked to his twin with a strange glint in his optics. “Yet.”

Sunstreaker felt the excitement crash into his spark and mind that nearly blinded him to all reality. He gasped, feeling the sensations trickling through from his brother, and if the sudden flare of burning excitement was any indication, the illegal fights were something to behold. He grabbed his brother’s datapad and hastily typed, before returning it with a wicked grin to match his twin.

Sideswipe let out a bark of surprise when he noted his brother had transferred a hefty sum to his account. He was about to protest, when Sunstreaker linked their arms, directing him to the street.

“Shall we investigate these matches?” Sunstreaker asked casually, his excitement starting to mount with the building anticipation coming from his twin.

“Oh, yes,” Sideswipe smiled, locking his business and blindly following fate’s crooked finger. “I have a feeling our fortunes are going to change.”

“One can only hope,” Sunstreaker said, unaware of the dark shadow that fell across the two as they were swallowed by the underworld.

==================================

There’s probably tons of stories relating to how the twins got involved with the gladiatorial circuit, but this is just my take on it. Besides, it’s not really focused on THAT aspect of their lives. It’s more of the ‘Sunny screwed up, Sides is hurt, Sunny apologizes”. But we all know how incredibly humble Sunstreaker is…..(rolls eyes)

You just KNOW he’ll do anything to berth a femme. Even if he doesn’t like them, he’d do it just so ‘they’ can claim bragging rights that he was their best lay.

Ego much, Sunny?

Chapter Text

Fun On the Side

 

------00000--------00000----------00000-------00000--------------00000---------------

“I have an idea.”

“You always have ideas. It’s the execution that needs work.”

“Spoiler,” Sideswipe sneered, his fingers a blur on the keyboard at one of Tele-Tran’s disused consoles.

“What are you planning, anyway?” Sunstreaker asked, scooting his chair closer to observe the multitude of machine codes flying across the screen. Sunstreaker suppressed an impressed whistle. If any of the Command personnel knew Sideswipe’s particular gift with machine codes and reprogramming, they’d either employ him full time or have him locked away with full surveillance. In essence, he was just that good. It was scary really. Sunstreaker felt a shiver along his struts.

“Just a minor reprogramming,” Sideswipe said, his attention locked onto the screen and the jumble of codes that seemed to bend to his will. It was a rather disgusting trait. One that many would kill for.

“Not another prank,” Sunstreaker groaned, his optics darting to the main consol where Jazz was speaking to Hound and Bumblebee about a recent scouting report.

“Not just another prank, but the prank to end all pranks,” Sideswipe grinned at his own cleverness. The golden glow from the screen cast his features into a molten shadow.

“You’ve said that before and ended up with your aft in the brig,” Sunstreaker reminded his twin, watching as the colorscape flickered like a guttering candle. He took several mental photos, fully intent on painting his brother at his most beautiful, and most devilish. Funny how the two coincided.

“This time is different,” Sideswipe allowed a small frown to appear before it disappeared when the codes performed a complex restructuring with very little urging from their programmer.

“Heard that before.”

“No, really. This time, I know exactly who I’m going to prank.”

“Oh, figured out the random stuff doesn’t really work, huh?”

“Well, no. I still think I just need to perfect a few variables and then my plans should go down as I originally designed them.”

“Now you sound like Prowl.”

“He doesn’t have a sense of humor, remember. Probably couldn’t plan a prank if his life depended on it,” Sideswipe mused, starting the sequence that would hide his metaphorical tracks in the programming scheme. “But this time, I think I have the perfect plan.”

“Won’t work,” Sunstreaker singsonged, glancing over to the door as Prime and Prowl entered, both in deep discussion over a datapad Prowl was holding. “It’s too soon after the last one. Everyone will be expecting something. Their guard will be up. You won’t be able to get a victim so easily.”

“Who said anything about setting the trap on the Ark?” Sideswipe asked, finally pulling his gaze away from the screen and giving his brother his most demonic glint. “No one will see it coming.”

Sunstreaker felt a deathly chill creep into his struts and settle in his soul at the words. The computer program finished covering Sideswipe’s tracks, and with a beep, presented a loaded data track. As the small metal disk disappeared into his twin’s subspace, Sunstreaker added, “As long as I’m not a victim, I don’t care.”

“Don’t worry, my dear brother. If my calibrations are correct, you’ll get a front row seat at the best show in the universe.”

“Primus help me!” Sunstreaker squeaked.

00 00 00 ONE MONTH LATER 00 00 00

“One more second,” Sideswipe muttered, his face screwed up in utmost concentration. “Just a little bit longer…”

“Hurry up!” Sunstreaker hissed like an angry tom cat, his audio receptors attuned so high, his head was pounding from the extra stimuli.

“Got it!” Sideswipe grinned as a door slid open to reveal the rooms beyond. “Starscream’s codes aren’t so hard to break. Pompous jet uses his own measurements as the access code.”

“And how would you know any of his dimensions?” Sunstreaker asked, following his brother inside, returning his audio range to normal now that he didn’t have to act as lookout.

“You notice things,” Sideswipe shrugged, missing his brother’s dubious glare. He focused his attention to the main room that housed a collection of assorted air frame paraphernalia. Three doors lead off from the main room, and deciding to start on the right, Sideswipe entered the first door.

Sunstreaker followed his brother inside and couldn’t stop the startled gasp that escaped.

The walls were covered in schematics, alternate frame designs, and a rather risqué collection of holo-images. It wasn’t uncommon to find images of scantily clad or sultry posed femmes on the walls of a mechs personal quarters. It was uncommon however to have pictures of yourself in exactly the same poses. Every picture that showcased a femme, was paired with a counterpart that starred Starscream. Some of them featured the Air Commander in his youth, his coy expressions, smaller frame, and barely noticeable growth seams all attesting to his naivety and a gentler, carefree nature. The twins wondered who had taken the images.

“I’ll get this room, you find the one that belongs to the stupid one,” Sideswipe said, nodding toward the door. He had been waiting patiently, an oddity in itself, for this very opportunity. After minimal attacks and minor skirmishes, the Autobots had decided to wreck a little havoc on their enemies, and attack their base. It didn’t happen often, but it usually kept the Decepticons quiet for some time while they repaired and recovered.

Sunstreaker pulled his optics away from the images, wondering how in the world his twin talked him into this suicide mission. He stored a few images in his memory files for later fodder and exited, checking out the second room. Orderly, minimalist, and functional. Couldn’t be Skywarp’s. Sunstreaker ventured to the third room and grinned, finding the room to be packed with so much Earth junk it looked more like the twin’s own quarters than a recharging berth of the Decepticon elite. Sunstreaker ventured inside, falling over a lawnmower, gouging his hand with a BBQ grill and having an exercise ball explode when he accidentally placed his weight on it. Grumbling he struggled through the room to the recharge berth, wondering how the very large and extremely broad wing spanned seeker could rest with such clutter. There was barely enough room for Sunstreaker to sit down!

He ignored the stolen war memorial staring accusingly at him from the edge of the berth as he set to work, growling oaths under his breathing function about the stupidity of his twin and how insane the whole scenario was. Especially when the prank was going to backfire and like most of Sideswipe’s ideas, give others enough fodder against the duo to last a very long time. He also cursed his brother for taking the easy room, while he was left to fend off a strange occurrence of bats that decided they didn’t like being disturbed from their nest in the ventilation shaft. Wondering if he was susceptible to rabies, Sunstreaker reluctantly completed his task, though with great difficulty. If anyone found out about this, he was sure he’d either get a special accommodation for bravely performing under such dire and strenuous situation. Or he could get a rather lengthy assignment to the brig and thousands of hours of mental evaluation from every psychiatric specialist in the combined galaxies.

Objective complete he exited, greeting Sideswipe who gave a curt nod and disappeared into Thundercracker’s quarters. After a minute, he returned, giving his twin the thumbs up and both exited the rooms, making sure to draw attention to themselves. Ramjet and Ravage were closest and gave chase, the twins jeering at their enemies and laughing about being interrupted before the real fun began. No one paid them any heed, until two hours after the battle.

A few mechs were in the med bay affecting repairs, when the security alarms went ballistic. All able bodied mechs dashed outside to protect their home, and meet the enraged form of Starscream. The Air Commander was standing on the crest of the hill overlooking the Ark, his two trinemates flanking him. Both looked angry and disgusted, though Skywarp ruined the full effect by occasionally letting an amused smile escape.

“You…… You….” Starscream sputtered when the twins emerged with their comrades, weapons appearing from subspace. “You disgusting… grotesque… evil…”

“Hello Kettle, glad you called!” Sideswipe yelled, his gun not even pointing at the flyers. He had a feeling he knew what this was about. And he was thrilled to the circuits.

“Prime!” Starscream thundered to the red mech stationed at the front of the assembly. “I demand that you punish those two….. those two….” His vents heaved with emotion, his finger pointing at the accused, and extremely guilty, parties. “Sickened, warped,” (Skywarp made an indignant noise but it was ignored) “childish sociopathic twins of yours,” Starscream fumed, his rage making his voice go even higher than normal.

“What have they done this time?” Prime asked, though he doubted any theory Starscream could imagine.

“They violated our quarters,” Starscream snapped, his voice teetering on the ultra high frequency.

“Well, not all of it,” Sideswipe commented, giving the enraged seeker a saddened look. “We were interrupted before doing a thorough job.”

Starscream’s voice hit the high note, and everyone, including his trinemates, had to cover their audios. After nearly five minutes of fluent supersonic cursing, Starscream calmed down, his body shaking from exertion. His vents heaved, causing a shimmer to appear around him in a ghostly mirage.

“Do something, Prime!” Starscream rasped, his voice now raw from the abuse.

“They violated your quarters?” Prime asked, his audios ringing slightly from the verbal assault. He made a mental note to not remind the seeker of his unknown ability to immobilize with his voice. Soundwave was bad enough. “How precisely did they do that?”

“They…. They…” Starscream sputtered, apparently unable to voice his grievance. Skywarp disappeared in a violet shimmer, causing the Autobots to go on the defensive in case the black jet was attempting an attack. It was Thundercracker who took up the explanation for his apparently voiceless leader.

“They broke into our quarters and overloaded on our recharge berths,” he said, trying to fight down the urge to purge his tanks at the thought or laugh at the looks on the Autobots faces. “Well, on Starscream’s and Skywarp’s.”

“We would have gotten yours too, but Ramjet interrupted us,” Sideswipe called, looking a little pouty.

Ironhide looked to the two frontliners, his face a mixture of disbelief and disgust. “You did what?”

“Oh come on, like you never thought about it,” Sideswipe grinned. “Enemy camp and the thought of getting caught. Who could resist?”

“I could,” all the Autobots chimed in unison. Most looked disgusted, but there were a few who allowed amused grins to slip out.

With a sudden flash of purple, Skywarp appeared and tossed two crumpled clumps of metal at Prime’s feet before disappearing and shimmering in a purple haze at Starscream’s left side. Both seekers were now dark and foreboding, glaring at the two trespassers below.

Everyone’s attention was drawn to Skywarp’s present and a couple of electric snorts erupted before they could be stopped. Jazz started snickering, earning an irate glare from three seekers, who failed to see the humor in the situation. Prime opened and closed his mouth several times, trying to think of what would be appropriate for the situation and Prowl keeled over in a complete meltdown. Two sparks danced along the Second’s forehead before disappearing.

Finally, after pretending to be a fish for a moment, Prime directed his attention to the seekers. “You have my word that the twins will be dealt with. And I will have new berths constructed as restitution for this offense.”

“Don’t bother!” Skywarp hissed. “Who knows what those fiends will do when you’re not looking!”

Sideswipe adopted a lecherous grin. “You know, the war has been long and it’s very lonely here on Earth.”

Sunstreaker continued to scowl, his delight being filtered through to his twin, who could display it in open amusement. If Sunstreaker let his true feelings manifest, it would ruin the effect and Sideswipe’s true intentions would be revealed. It was best to remain quiet, in the background, unobserved. When the second phase initiated, it was going to be quite the spectacular, and for once, Sunstreaker had a feeling it was going to work out. The Cons were unsuspecting, the Bots were just as clueless, and since all parties believed the true transgression was over, everyone’s expectations would be low. He couldn’t help the tingle of anticipation that flooded the bond, and barely suppressing a snicker as Sideswipe smiled in his devilishly, wicked way.

Primus, Sideswipe was beautiful when he was his most dangerous.

“They….. they’re…..” Starscream sputtered, still having difficulty in forming complex sentences.

“They will be dealt with, you have my word,” Prime promised, giving the culprits a scathing look.

Starscream shook his fist, giving the twins a hellish glare. “You violate our quarters again and I’ll personally dismantle you and distribute your parts across the galaxy!”

“You’ll have assistance,” Ratchet yelled to the seekers, his glare fixed on the twins. “Their actions are a disgrace and completely inappropriate and they will be schooled in proper etiquette and hygienic practices.”

“Don’t really need the schooling, Ratch,” Sideswipe smiled, unaffected by the CMO’s murderous glare. “I think we did well, considering it was during a battle and we were able to perform to, as I don’t mind bragging on our abilities, to a very satisfactory outcome.”

Sunstreaker sent a burst of pleasure to his twin, which only increased his depraved look.

“You’ll pay for this….. indecency,” Starscream snarled, before transforming and taking to the air. Thundercracker and Skywarp followed, both casting dirty looks to the Autobots below.

“Anyone else find this rather ironic?” Sideswipe asked with a smile, turning to his comrades. His mirth faded at the murderous and incredulous looks he was receiving.

Ratchet stalked to the still sparking Prowl and started the long process of rebooting the tactician. He growled oaths under his breath as he worked. Prowl twitched in time with his words.

Prime stood agape, unable to comprehend the situation. Some things just weren’t covered in his training to become Prime. Randy soldiers performing questionable deeds seemed to be missed in the learning of the Matrix. He felt a strange burning in his processor, possibly from trying to purge the mental pictures that permeated his CPU since the seekers explained the situation.

Jazz seemed to be the only one to have kept his senses. He looked to Prowl, who was still unconscious and pointed toward the Ark. “Brig,” he hissed, not daring to look at the twins.

Truth be told, if they locked optics, he’d lose his cool and start laughing. But being a Commanding Officer, he couldn’t afford to lose his authority in front of the soldiers, so as Prowl twitched on the ground, Prime apparently frozen in confusion, it fell upon the next in line to return order.

Sideswipe let out a giggle before marching to the familiar cell that practically had his name engraved on its control panel. Sunstreaker stalked to the adjacent cell, staring with feigned murderous intent to his twin. He should have known he’d end up in the brig.

When the duo was locked in their cell, Sideswipe called across the hall, “This is going to be brilliant.”

“Shut up,” Sunstreaker muttered, unable to completely block the enjoyment he was feeling with his part in the prank.

“You just know they’re thinking the worst is over,” Sideswipe continued, laying on the berth and tucking his arms behind his head. He smiled up at the ceiling, tracing over the burns and gouges he’d made in previous visitations. “Just wait. It’s going to be grand.”

Sunstreaker allowed a laugh, relaxing on his own berth. “I can’t wait.”

“Megatron won’t know what hit him,” Sideswipe snickered, glancing across the hall to his twin. “We could end this war.”

“And all it took was a bit of reprogramming, exceptionally talented soldiers performing under stressful conditions, and an enemy who despise each other,” Sunstreaker counted off on his fingers. He shared a look with his twin and both erupted in laughter.

Two weeks later the twins were allowed to leave the brig, though both had to attend therapy sessions with Smokescreen twice a day. The Diversion expert protested, but lost his vehemence when Prowl promised an archaic form of Praxian punishment that had the other Datsun tucking tailpipe and accepting the unwanted assignment.

Ratchet violently lectured on proper conduct, deviant sexual behavior, the dangerous associated with such behavior, and a rather lengthy discussion on why it’s a bad idea to fritz out a commanding officer. That lecture was punctuated with a lot of steel and iron and many dents were gloriously displayed. Prowl added to the lecture and made it quite clear that the twins were going to be doing a lot of double duty and maintenance shifts.

Prime’s lecture wasn’t as bad. In fact, he didn’t lecture them at all. As soon as the twins entered his office, brilliant smiles in place, Prime burst out laughing so hard he had to lean against his desk for support. Apparently the stoic leader had seen the humor in the situation, after the shock wore off, and remembering his own youth, couldn’t bring himself to add to their punishment detail. After a hearty round of laughter, and detailed descriptions of the seeker’s quarters, to which Sunstreaker provided ample pictures, the twins were excused to resume the duty schedule Prowl had provided. They’re only command from their esteemed leader was that they were to promise never to pull such a stunt again. It was risky to leave their teammates and engage in other, questionable activities while others were in danger. The twins had the decency to look ashamed of themselves, but Prime quickly returned the topic of Seeker obsessions.

So as Sideswipe departed for his twelve hour patrol, Sunstreaker took his place at the ‘boredom monitor’. Jazz stopped by Sunstreaker’s station, muttering a, “That was awesome,” before leaving the golden warrior to his tedious task. The two soon fell into the monotonous schedule that Prowl had constructed, and by the end of the second day, both were ready to kill.

Sunstreaker destroyed a consol by smashing his forehead into it. Sideswipe drove Ironhide off the road and into a sign. Sunstreaker raced along streets at breakneck speed and added a record setting twenty-six tickets to the Autobot credit. A malfunctioning energon dispenser had a beautiful hole ripped into it curtsey of Sideswipe, who threw the sparking circuits across the room and ignited Wheeljack’s schematics.

On the third day, the Autobots were considering dismantling the two and selling their parts. As Gears removed himself from the bulkhead for the fourth time that day, he heard Windcharger shouting obscenities that would make Ratchet grab a pen and take notes. Vowing retribution to a certain Lamborghini pair, Gears made it two steps when the alarms sounded. Sunstreaker came hurtling around the corner, knocking the minibot against the wall and disappearing down the hall without any apology.

“Decepticons are attacking a power plant in Portland,” Prime called, taking the lead. “Autobots, transform and roll out!”

As one unit they moved, the twins taking their point position and feeling a nagging itch in their circuits.

“Could this be the day?” Sunstreaker asked as the Conehead jets came into view.

“Should be,” Sideswipe answered, receiving the structured battle plan Prowl had sent out. “It’s had plenty of time to simmer.”

The battle started like it normally did, all the mechs standing around, arguing, insulting and having a lubricating contest. Prime and Megatron were in good form with their verbal sparing, making their troops eager for potential bloodshed. Then, as the tension mounted and the insults started to lull, Sideswipe let out a jeer.

“Well, what do you know?” he called to the assembled Cons, his focus on the Command Trine. “Three wise guys!”

“Sor-tinly!” Starscream snapped, his face going lax in confusion.

Megatron looked toward his Air Commander, his brow drawn down in anger.

“What did you say?” he growled, his fist curling at his side. He turned slowly to his Second, and when Starscream seemed to be locked in a daze, he stepped in front of the tri-colored seeker. “Are you defective in the processor?”

Starscream took on a dark scowl, and suddenly growing a set of cast iron ball bearings, he hauled off and slapped the white warlord on the forehead, making him stagger from the unexpected impact. Before any one could react, Starscream snarled, “Spread out!”

Thundercracker stepped forward, glaring at Starscream. A voice quite unlike his own natural baritone erupted from his vocalizer, “Hey, why you picking on him?”

“Stay out of this!” Starscream growled, giving Thundercracker a slap worthy of any diva.

A strange whooping noise came out of Skywarp and without warning, the purple seeker rammed his head into Starscream’s midsection, nearly bowling him over. Skywarp overcompensated and went careening sideways before regaining his equilibrium and jumped at the Air Commander. Megatron went flying from the tussling pair, Thundercracker sidestepping his leader and giving Starscream a hit to the jaw as he wrestled with Skywarp. As the three bickered and blows were exchanged, Megatron stormed in, throwing Thundercracker to the ground in a painful heap, and knocking Skywarp askew into the Coneheads, who stood paralyzed at the scene.

“What is the meaning of this madness?” Megatron demanded, his body radiating hatred in a boiling shimmer.

Starscream took a step back, and without warning, poked Megatron in the optics with two fingers. Megatron snarled obscenities, grabbing his face as he bumped into Thundercracker. Starscream’s hand came down in a beautiful arc, slapping the back of Megatron’s head with a resounding clash of metal on metal. Megatron bent, trying to comprehend the insanity that had taken over his command trine, unknowingly presenting a perfect target.

“Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk,” Skywarp crooned, giving Megatron’s aft a look before drawing back his leg and landing a swift kick on the warlord’s aft. Megatron went sprawling to the ground, a building tornado of fury. Skywarp performed a strange little dance and took to the air, whooping out a noise that had his teammates staring in abject wonder.

“Soundwave, I think now would be a good time to call a retreat,” Sideswipe called, pointing to the stumbling Megatron who had a nice black imprint on his aft.

Skywarp circled on his wingtip, spinning like a top in midair. “Whooo Whoooo Whoooo Whooo Whoooo,” Skywarp called, then spiraled outward in a dizzying pattern. He was soon joined by Wildrider, both filling the skies with a cacophony of ‘Whooo’s” and “Nyuk’s”. Motormaster started yelling for his wayward teammate to return to his side.

If the Decepticon Third in Command needed any further incentive, Starscream came stalking toward him.

“Oh, a wise guy huh?” Starscream growled, pretending to slide a sleeve up his arm. “Why I oughta…”

Starscream extended two fingers and jabbed at Soundwave’s optics, but the telepath was too fast for him. Starscream made a noise of discontent when Soundwave evaded him, but the Third wasn’t so lucky the second time. Starscream extended both forefingers and rammed them unceremoniously into Soundwave’s face knocking his visor askew.

Megatron pushed Soundwave out of his way and stared off against his insane Air Commander. “You will pay for this treachery!”

Just as Megatron leveled his cannon at an apparently unimpressed Starscream, the seeker’s face darkened and out of no where, his fist connected with the top of Megatron’s head. His other fist slammed into Megatron’s jaw. Strangely both impacts produced a hollow coconut sound, before Starscream’s knee came up and buried itself into the warlord’s chest.

“I oughta murderlize you,” Starscream growled before his hand came down on Megatron’s exposed neck.

Megatron went sprawling for the third time, his equilibrium circuits immobilized. A string of curses from across the galaxy came belching from his mouth as he tried to stabilize himself for retaliation. But the seeker had impacted the right circuits at exactly the right angle, causing the Decepticon leader to pitch like a drunkard as he tried to regain his feet.

The Autobots stood frozen in place. The Decepticons pretended to be statues, aside from Motormaster who was still trying to get Wildrider away from Skywarp, while Thundercracker wove between them and trying to slap Skywarp’s wing with his own.

“Decepticons: Retreat,” Soundwave called, and for the first time in both armies collected memory banks, the unemotional Third sounded quite scared. He grabbed Megatron’s arms and took to the skies, the other Decepticons breaking their spell and following suit.

Starscream seemed completely oblivious to the retreat, turning his attention to the Autobot leader. Everyone expected a string of curses or colorful metaphors, but was surprised when the screechy leader placed his hands on his hips and gave a disbelieving scowl to Prime.

“You did it this time, Wise Guy,” Starscream rebuked, giving his most hated enemy a disapproving nod.

“You better follow them,” Sideswipe said, pointing to the distant Cons.

Starscream adopted a supercilious look and scoffed, “Idiots would be lost without me.” And with a long suffering sigh he took to the skies and disappeared after his teammates. When the Decepticons were a dot on the horizon, the spell on the Autobots broke.

Sideswipe and Sunstreaker exchanged a look that instantly dissolved into hysterical laughter. They grasped each other and slid to the ground, their vents wheezing with the effort to control their mirth.

It was Ironhide who stormed toward the pair and snarled, “What the slag was that all about?”

Sideswipe looked to Sunstreaker, and with an electronic burst of static, Sunstreaker collapsed to the ground and laughed so hard his vents ached. It took all of Sideswipe’s power to formulate an answer.

“Remember when we overloaded on Starscream and Skywarp’s recharge berths?” he asked, finding it difficult to suck air in through his vents.

Several of the Autobots snorted, but quickly stifled the noise as to not irritate the ones that doled out the punishment detail. Prime let the noise slip, but Prowl narrowed his optics at the culprits. Jazz merely smirked and Ironhide looked ready to short circuit.

“What does that have to do with Starscream losing his processor?” Ratchet asked, pushing his way through the troops that had collected around the two laughing Lamborghinis.

“I created a program that could rewrite their personalities,” Sideswipe gasped, clutching his midsection. “Problem was, the program was so complicated, it could only be uploaded to one recharge station. Less chance of it being detected.”

“So we… we made sure that ….there was only ….one recharge berth for the seekers,” Sunstreaker added, giving up the fight against his laughter. Little electronic snickers escaped and caused his voice to hitch and skip.

“All three used the infected station, that coded the new sequence into their systems one recharge at a time,” Sideswipe continued, noticing several of the Autobot forces were starting, and failing, to suppress their laughter. “I figured the program had time to do its work, then I said the command, and the system started to reboot their personalities.”

“So the reason why you ignored a battle and overloaded on the seekers’ berths, was that you needed to install a program so you play….. a prank?” Ironhide asked incredulously. Some things were just beyond his capabilities to understand.

In fact, no one could understand the length Sideswipe would go to for a prank.

“Well, they weren’t expecting anything,” Sunstreaker said, finally able to speak as he rubbed his midsection.

“And it’s going to take a long time for them to find and eliminate my program,” Sideswipe added with a shrug. “So we should be Decepticon free for some time.”

Sunstreaker glanced from his brother to Prime. “So it’s a win-win.” His optics darted to Prowl, who had frozen with a shocked expression on his face. “We didn’t prank an Autobot and no one got hurt. Well, Megatron got bitch-slapped, but let’s face it, he deserves it.”

Sideswipe looked at Prowl, feeling his tanks churn at the thought of having to spend another month in the brig. That punishment would be preferable though, compared to what Ratchet had in store for him if he locked up their Second In Command again.

“Surely you can’t punish us for this! Right?” Sideswipe asked, looking for the telltale signs of Prowl spazzing out.

Thankfully, Prowl had only been assessing the situation and running scenarios. His battle computer burned slightly, but he guessed it was from the vast amounts of deviant behavior he had to add to his calculations. Some things a mech just couldn’t scrub out of their processor, no matter how much they tried.

When he noticed everyone looking at him, he replayed the last minute of conversation. With a snarl, so unlike his usual passive self, he snapped, “No, you won’t be punished.”

Every Autobot, including the twins, stared dumbstruck at the black and white officer. Silence fell, broken only by the sound of a confused cricket.

“Why not?” Ironhide asked, breaking the stunned silence after Prowl’s declaration.

“Because, according to protocol, the trickery of the Decepticons interrupted their cohesion and because of such actions, no Autobot engaged in battle or were injured in any way,” Prowl recited, each word becoming harder to pronounce in his agitation. “Therefore, there is no cause for disciplinary action.”

“No slag,” Jazz whistled, giving the twins an approving look. He’d have to look into recruiting them again for his Special Ops team.

The laughter started as the odd chuckle, until the entire Autobot army was laughing hysterically.

“They shouldn’t be rewarded for such abysmal behavior,” Prowl growled, glaring at the twins who were now receiving slaps on the back and cheers from their teammates. All past transgressions seemed to be forgotten. Even Gears was laughing and congratulating the twins on a job well done. “I don’t recall signing up for this,” Prowl groused before turning away from the insanity in the ranks.

Sideswipe offered the Second his most charming, cunning, orneriest look he could muster, which only enhanced his handsome features and made him look downright irresistible.

“Ya sor-tinly did,” he smiled, transforming and racing toward the Ark, where many other pranks were waiting to be plotted.

0000 00000 000000 000000 000000 00000 00000

Sorry guys. I just LOVE The Three Stooges! Moe, Larry, and Curly fit perfectly into the Command trine flipping out. In case you haven’t figured it out, Skywarp was Curly, Thundercracker was Larry, and Starscream was Moe.

Anyhoo, let me know what ya think! I hope everyone had a good laugh! I certainly did while writing it… it helped to have a Stooges marathon playing in the background

Chapter Text

Side Order

00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00

“Sideswipe, you need attention,” Prowl observed as he watched the frontliner grab the sparse trees and lean them in haphazard fashion across the mouth of the cave.

“Not now, Prowl,” Sideswipe said without acknowledging the Second in Command standing a few steps away. “I’m busy.”

“Busy or not, you need medical attention,” Prowl reiterated, looking at the busted knee joint that had the warrior limping.

“I’ve had a lot worse,” Sideswipe continued, pulling up a tree and placing it with the scrubby verge to conceal the entrance. “It’s nothing.”

“It’s not nothing,” Prowl pressed, finally dragging his own injured body to the carmine Lamborghini and grabbing his arm, halting his progress. “You have a busted joint. Let Ratchet take a look at it and see if he can help.”

“I took care of it myself,” Sideswipe answered, pulling his arm free of his commanding officer.

“Sideswipe, you duct taped a Con’s arm to your leg,” Prowl growled, his optics flashing with a mixture of concern and anger.

“He wasn’t needing it,” Sideswipe retorted, pulling up a thorny thicket. “I needed a quick fix and it was just laying there. Problem solved.”

Sideswipe threw the thicket to the front of his defensive verge and turned to glare at the Second. “Now I suggest you get back in the cave and let me get back to work.”

Prowl’s argument died in his throat. His vision swam and for a moment he thought he was going to topple forward, but ruby arms encased him and held him steady until he could recalibrate his equilibrium.

“No argument,” Sideswipe said in Prowl’s audio. “You’re injured far worse than myself. You’re an officer. I’m just a soldier. My injuries are mainly structural, and can wait. Now get your aft back into that cave and have Ratchet to take a look at you.”

“What about you and Sunstreaker?” Prowl asked, feeling his dizziness subside to a more tolerable level.

“My knee is busted, but my hands still work. Sunstreaker has a shattered windshield and several burns, but nothing that’s life threatening. We can still fight. You can’t,” Sideswipe said, raising his arm to point at the darkness inside the cave. “Now get your aft in there and try to keep everyone calm.”

Prowl nodded mutely, shuffling back into the cave. Sunstreaker emerged from around the hillside, several thin trees clutched in his shaking limbs. Sideswipe took them from his brother and nodded toward the entrance, placing the foliage in a pattern for good concealment, but allowing observation from the inside. When he got the approval of his twin, he too was swallowed by the dark.

“Erase our tracks?” Sideswipe asked, hearing the sounds of someone struggling further into the cave.

“Spread the energon around, made several sets of false tracks, and left behind some pieces of Cons, just in case they need visual reminders of why they shouldn’t mess with us,” Sunstreaker answered, settling in for a long wait.

Sideswipe nodded, seating himself next to his brother. Without a word both twins opened ports along their forearms and connected two data wires.

“Wake me if you see something,” Sideswipe muttered, already starting to power down into recharge mode.

Sunstreaker merely nodded, letting his affirmation trickle through the connection. He felt his brother slip into stasis and turned his sensors outward, keeping watch for potential threats. Actively scanning the horizon, Sunstreaker thought back to that morning, remembering his comment on how uneventful the Cons had been lately. Midmorning came and his world literally became one nightmare after another.

His paints were detained in customs for another week. Red Alert managed to video some rather unflattering footage of the warrior covered in dirt and broadcasted it throughout the Ark. Sideswipe collided with his twin and left a nasty black mark on the perfect plating. Then the alarm sounded for a Decepticon attack.

He really should learn to keep his vocalizer shut!

The Autobots had rolled out according to plan, finding the site of devastation and engaging the enemy. Neither twin knew what happened, but before they knew it, Prime, Ratchet, Prowl, Windcharger, Bluestreak and themselves were teleported several hundred miles away. Disoriented from the warp, the Autobots were easy targets, getting their afts handed to them before escaping into a heavily forested area.

And now, as twilight fast approached, the Autobots remained sequestered inside a cave on the outskirts of the wood, hoping the Decepticon’s had lost their tracks. Prowl had ordered all communications be halted in case Soundwave triangulated their location, and with the warriors in various states of distress, they’d be easy pickings.

Sunstreaker kept vigil, his brother’s systems hooked into his own for easier monitoring. Both were fairing rather badly, but if the need arose, they were the more apt to fight. He was pulled out of his passive scanning by the sounds of a wounded Autobot. Muffled screams echoed from the darkness. Sunstreaker cast his optics to the dark, narrowing them into slits as he continued to hear the noise. He growled a low oath, knowing that at any moment, a Con could hear the noise and investigate. They all would die because someone couldn’t keep their vocalizer shut.

Hands balling into fists, his anger bled through to his twin. Sideswipe jerked away, his battle instincts kicking in due to the response he was receiving from his twin via their connection.

“Cons?” Sideswipe whispered, his scanners employed to their fullest extent.

“No, but if that racquet doesn’t stop, the Cons will find us in no time,” Sunstreaker muttered, snarling toward the back of the cave where the sounds of pain were beginning to subside. “Fragger’s going to get us all killed.”

Sideswipe said nothing, but focused his attention to the forest. Several long minutes went by, the voices lowering into silence. Both brothers relaxed, until they heard the soft footfalls of Cybertronian feet. They turned to see the flashing white panels of Prowl, who was now limping and using the wall as a supportive guide.

“Casualties?” Sunstreaker asked when he drew near, ignoring the injuries the black and white sported.

“None,” Prowl said, limping closer to the pair, his optics staring out at the veiled landscape. “Ratchet has put Prime into stasis. His spark chamber was scorched.”

“He’ll pull through,” Sideswipe said, almost dismissively, but there wasn’t a lot of vigor behind his words. Spark chamber damage was serious business. If not properly attended to, the mech could perish in a slow, agonizing way. It wasn’t something they considered their leader going through. “What else?”

“Bluestreak has lost a doorwing,” Prowl said, and his tone sent chills into the twin sparks. “Ratchet had to sedate him until it can be reattached. Windcharger has a busted drive train, effectively keeping him immobile, while Ratchet has a cracked windshield, crushed pede, and can’t engage the medical tools of his left hand.”

“What about you?” Sunstreaker asked, noting the tactician had conveniently left himself off the injury list.

Prowl seemed to mull it over, not wanting the twins to know the extent of his injuries, but if they needed back up and he couldn’t perform to standard, then not only would he let them down, but would probably end up terminating the entire team.

“My equilibrium calibrations are off due to cranial trauma, but Ratchet assures me that it can be repaired,” Prowl started, hoping the twins didn’t joke about his weakness. “I have also sustained a rather annoying injury to my left leg that has relieved me of energon and strength.”

“Go back inside,” Sideswipe said, motioning for Prowl to join the others.

“I can take a shift, if necessary,” Prowl started, but Sideswipe gave a curt shake of his head.

“You are in no shape to defend us if we’re attacked,” Sideswipe countered.

“I can do more than you seem to realize,” Prowl said, feeling affronted that his skills were being questioned. He was the Second in Command of the Autobot army for Primus sake!

Prowl’s anger disappeared in a flash as Sideswipe grabbed his arm, jerking the tactician toward him. Prowl emitted a painful keen, overbalancing and crashing head first into Sideswipe’s chest. His vision swam, and for a moment, all he could discern was the color of rubies. He didn’t need Sideswipe to tell him that he was too injured to be of any good. Though the look the frontliner was giving him would haunt his memory for a long time. He wasn’t going to live it down anytime in the near future.

“Go. Keep everyone quiet and we’ll keep everyone safe,” Sideswipe said sternly.

Prowl nodded without comment, feeling his helm pound in time with his spark. He was in no condition to ward off attackers. Begrudgingly he made his way back to Ratchet, hoping the medic could stabilize the world before it spun so fast he’d fly off of it. It was sometime later that Prowl riled, realizing Sideswipe had given him an order, and he had complied without hesitation. That was twice the frontliner had overstepped his boundaries.

Prowl vowed it would never happen again.

“I’m going to have a look,” Sideswipe muttered to his twin, easing some of the verge away from their hiding spot.

“What if a Con sees you?” Sunstreaker countered.

“Then I’ll have to politely ask to not reveal my location,” Sideswipe sniped, slipping out of the cave.

“You’re too injured. I should go,” Sunstreaker volunteered.

“I have a better chance at blending into the environment than you, Sunshine,” Sideswipe grinned before disappearing into the night and leaving his twin staring after him.

Half an hour later, Sideswipe sent a familiar nudge through the bond he shared with his twin before manifesting out of the dark. He crept back inside, half heartedly pulling the concealing hedge along with him.

“Well?” Sunstreaker prodded.

“There are approximately eleven deer within a half mile of this location, and all are grazing peacefully,” Sideswipe said, settling down with a groan from his busted knee. He pulled the roll of duct tape out from his subspace and began to retape the pieces that had come loose during his trek.

“What the slag do animals have to do with a Con report?” Sunstreaker snapped, wanting so much to rip into his twin.

“Because, Daft Daffodil, if there were any Cons around, surely the animals wouldn’t be so peaceful,” Sideswipe ground out as he taped a particularly nasty piece of his knee back into place. Sideswipe’s rational argument made Sunstreaker’s scowl deepen, but the citrine twin decided not to let his emotions bleed through the bond and give Sideswipe incentive praise to his sudden flash of intelligence. “They’d be running scared or left as smears on the ground. Besides, I hunted for spark signatures and didn’t receive a reply, Daffie.”

“They could be in hiding or learned to mask their signal, like us,” Sunstreaker argued, his energon running hot at the nickname. He hated to have his name mutilated. He was designated as Sunstreaker and he would appreciate it if everyone used his full designation instead of their shortened, and unflattering, nicknames. He couldn’t seem to get the idea across to his twin.

“Doubtful,” Sideswipe gave a shrug that was punctuated by a grind of gears. “I started randomly tossing out Autobot frequencies and didn’t encounter a block.”

“Idiot,” Sunstreaker hissed, shaking his head and wanting so badly to throttle his processorless twin.

“I contacted base,” Sideswipe added, earning a searing white hot glare. “I told them what happened and Blaster said he’d send Skyfire in the morning.”

“Sons of the Pit, we’re all dead,” Sunstreaker snarled, taking a threatening step toward his twin.

“I took precautions,” Sideswipe growled, puffing up his chest in defiance. He wasn’t about to back down from Sunstreaker. “We exchanged pass codes to make sure each was who they said they were. And Blaster used the new officer’s code to tell me when and where Skyfire would pick us up.”

Sunstreaker relaxed marginally, but still glared daggers at his brother.

“Prowl won’t happy about this,” Sunstreaker muttered, looking out between the suppressive verge.

“He can order me to the brig again,” Sideswipe offered a little shrug. “Doesn’t really matter to me either way. I made a judgment call and hopefully, we’ll be able to get everyone safely back to base. Surely Prowl could understand that.”

“I don’t know. You know how he is with punishments,” Sunstreaker said, giving his brother a look in the dark. “Don’t think he likes the idea of you taking charge.”

“No, don’t think he’s into submission,” Sideswipe snickered, earning a grinding snort from Sunstreaker as he tried and failed to hide his mirth. “Get some rest. Skyfire will be here in three hours.”

“Do I look like I like taking the submissive role?” Sunstreaker shot back, though his tone lacked aggression.

“You enjoy it a little too much, I’m afraid,” Sideswipe smiled innocently and added with a sickening sweet tone, “Now get some recharge before I knock your aft out.”

Sunstreaker sneered but settled against the wall of the cave, his optics gleaming to near white. “You wait until later. You’ll get what’s coming to you.”

“Promises, promises,” Sideswipe singsonged, sending a wave of giddiness, just to annoy his twin.

Sunstreaker’s protest died in his vocalizer as he slipped into recharge, his processor working overtime in formulating retribution against his twin. Sometimes, the citrine twin wished he was on an only child.

Dawn broke, and with it came the roaring engines of Skyfire. As several Autobots took defensive positions, the battle weary mechs exited the cave, the twins casting a fond farewell to their temporary sanctuary. Ratchet ordered everyone to med bay where they endured their turn of repairs while Ratchet worked extensively on Prime. Wheeljack and Perceptor assisted the medic, attending to the injuries in record time. When Ratchet was finished replacing Sunstreaker’s windshield, he dismissed the twins with strict orders to refrain from physical activity and get plenty of rest while their repairs healed. His orders were punctuated by falling into recharge on his feet, swaying dangerously until Wheeljack caught him and with Perceptor’s help, placed the medic on a berth.

Ratchet’s restriction lasted a full two hours before being disobeyed and Sunstreaker was seen stalking down the hall to his studio, which was situated on the other side of the base in a partially destroyed cargo bay.

The next morning Prowl knocked on the door to the twins’ room, a datapad clutched in his hand. A muffled noise came from the opposite side before a voice called out.

“Get in here,” Sideswipe called roughly.

Prowl ignored the rough command and opened the door. He was momentarily surprised to see the room looking so neat and orderly. He stepped back into the hall, searching the corridor for proper identification and with a confused look, realized he had the designated room. He stepped inside to see Sideswipe polishing something that looked suspiciously like Sunstreaker’s favorite mirror. Sideswipe jumped when he saw his visitor, placing the mirror on the desk and giving the Second a look that clearly stated ‘I’m-doing-something-I-shouldn’t.’

Then Prowl remembered the ‘Sideswipe equations’ that Jazz had invented. He mentally scrolled through the list to find the proper notation.

Boredom+Sideswipe= Destruction, usually of other’s property

Guilt+Sideswipe= Lots of high grade until unconscious

Happiness+Sideswipe= Stupidity of epic proportions, videoed

Anger+Sideswipe= Someone will be missing limbs

Guile+Sideswipe= Obsessive clean freak

Prowl gave an indiscernible twitch, realizing Sideswipe was cleaning as he plotted. It was a dangerous combination. The last time Prowl assigned cleaning duty to the frontliner, it had ended up with the entire Ark booby-trapped and many mechs ready to dismember and scatter the ruby parts to places unknown.

“Prowl? What do you want?” Sideswipe asked, surprise still clear on his face.

Prowl stepped into the room, earning a brief look of panic from Sideswipe before ignoring the frontliner’s demeanor and stating the reason for his impromptu visit.

“I wish to extend my gratitude for your actions,” Prowl started, displaying a datapad and offering it to Sideswipe. “When Prime and myself were incapacitated, you stepped in and took control.”

“Just did my job,” Sideswipe said, his surprise giving way to embarrassment as he accepted the datapad.

“No, you did my job,” Prowl corrected without any hint of anger. “You assumed command when I was compromised and performed admirably. You followed protocol and displayed attributes worthy of an officer. I have written a detailed report and intend on giving it to Prime with the recommendation that you receive an award for your actions.”

Sideswipe looked at the datapad, glancing over the detailed script displayed in Prowl’s perfect scrawl. He handed the pad back as if afraid it would attack him and stared dumbfounded at the Second. He was silent for a moment, unable to formulate his thoughts into any cohesive understanding.

“I don’t deserve an award,” Sideswipe managed to say.

“That decision is up to Prime,” Prowl said, a hint of pride shining in his optics. “You went above and beyond the call of duty and kept a level head, something of which I did not believe you capable of, and you ensured everyone returned safely. Those actions should be acknowledged and rewarded.”

Not one to engage in emotional displays or unnecessary interactions, Prowl offered a nod before turning on his heel to leave.

“Wait!” Sideswipe yelled, but it was too late.

Prowl’s foot triggered the trap and out of no where a projectile went sailing through the air. A great splattering sound echoed around the room, followed by Sideswipe’s low groan.

Prowl stood frozen in place, a piece of the prank sliding over his armor and landing with a little splash on the floor, his vision completely obscured by thick, dripping brilliant neon purple paint, the perfect color to clash hideously with Sunstreaker’s gorgeous armor. Prowl stood statuesque, his doorwings starting to vibrate with his building anger.

Sideswipe cringed and hung his head, knowing his fate was sealed.

“Side…… swipe,” Prowl managed to grind out in a hiss. “I know, I know,” Sideswipe sighed, stalking past the purple, white and black officer. “To the brig.” He made it as far as the doorway, before turning and asking, “Does this mean I don’t get the reward?”

A splattered datapad to the olfactory sensor was his reply.

000000------oooooo------000000------oooooo------000000 What can I say? Sideswipe DOES have the intelligence to plan and strategize, he just uses his gifts in the wrong way. Hope you enjoyed and feel free to leave me a review! Side Order

00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00

“Sideswipe, you need attention,” Prowl observed as he watched the frontliner grab the sparse trees and lean them in haphazard fashion across the mouth of the cave.

“Not now, Prowl,” Sideswipe said without acknowledging the Second in Command standing a few steps away. “I’m busy.”

“Busy or not, you need medical attention,” Prowl reiterated, looking at the busted knee joint that had the warrior limping.

“I’ve had a lot worse,” Sideswipe continued, pulling up a tree and placing it with the scrubby verge to conceal the entrance. “It’s nothing.”

“It’s not nothing,” Prowl pressed, finally dragging his own injured body to the carmine Lamborghini and grabbing his arm, halting his progress. “You have a busted joint. Let Ratchet take a look at it and see if he can help.”

“I took care of it myself,” Sideswipe answered, pulling his arm free of his commanding officer.

“Sideswipe, you duct taped a Con’s arm to your leg,” Prowl growled, his optics flashing with a mixture of concern and anger.

“He wasn’t needing it,” Sideswipe retorted, pulling up a thorny thicket. “I needed a quick fix and it was just laying there. Problem solved.”

Sideswipe threw the thicket to the front of his defensive verge and turned to glare at the Second. “Now I suggest you get back in the cave and let me get back to work.”

Prowl’s argument died in his throat. His vision swam and for a moment he thought he was going to topple forward, but ruby arms encased him and held him steady until he could recalibrate his equilibrium.

“No argument,” Sideswipe said in Prowl’s audio. “You’re injured far worse than myself. You’re an officer. I’m just a soldier. My injuries are mainly structural, and can wait. Now get your aft back into that cave and have Ratchet to take a look at you.”

“What about you and Sunstreaker?” Prowl asked, feeling his dizziness subside to a more tolerable level.

“My knee is busted, but my hands still work. Sunstreaker has a shattered windshield and several burns, but nothing that’s life threatening. We can still fight. You can’t,” Sideswipe said, raising his arm to point at the darkness inside the cave. “Now get your aft in there and try to keep everyone calm.”

Prowl nodded mutely, shuffling back into the cave. Sunstreaker emerged from around the hillside, several thin trees clutched in his shaking limbs. Sideswipe took them from his brother and nodded toward the entrance, placing the foliage in a pattern for good concealment, but allowing observation from the inside. When he got the approval of his twin, he too was swallowed by the dark.

“Erase our tracks?” Sideswipe asked, hearing the sounds of someone struggling further into the cave.

“Spread the energon around, made several sets of false tracks, and left behind some pieces of Cons, just in case they need visual reminders of why they shouldn’t mess with us,” Sunstreaker answered, settling in for a long wait.

Sideswipe nodded, seating himself next to his brother. Without a word both twins opened ports along their forearms and connected two data wires.

“Wake me if you see something,” Sideswipe muttered, already starting to power down into recharge mode.

Sunstreaker merely nodded, letting his affirmation trickle through the connection. He felt his brother slip into stasis and turned his sensors outward, keeping watch for potential threats. Actively scanning the horizon, Sunstreaker thought back to that morning, remembering his comment on how uneventful the Cons had been lately. Midmorning came and his world literally became one nightmare after another.

His paints were detained in customs for another week. Red Alert managed to video some rather unflattering footage of the warrior covered in dirt and broadcasted it throughout the Ark. Sideswipe collided with his twin and left a nasty black mark on the perfect plating. Then the alarm sounded for a Decepticon attack.

He really should learn to keep his vocalizer shut!

The Autobots had rolled out according to plan, finding the site of devastation and engaging the enemy. Neither twin knew what happened, but before they knew it, Prime, Ratchet, Prowl, Windcharger, Bluestreak and themselves were teleported several hundred miles away. Disoriented from the warp, the Autobots were easy targets, getting their afts handed to them before escaping into a heavily forested area.

And now, as twilight fast approached, the Autobots remained sequestered inside a cave on the outskirts of the wood, hoping the Decepticon’s had lost their tracks. Prowl had ordered all communications be halted in case Soundwave triangulated their location, and with the warriors in various states of distress, they’d be easy pickings.

Sunstreaker kept vigil, his brother’s systems hooked into his own for easier monitoring. Both were fairing rather badly, but if the need arose, they were the more apt to fight. He was pulled out of his passive scanning by the sounds of a wounded Autobot. Muffled screams echoed from the darkness. Sunstreaker cast his optics to the dark, narrowing them into slits as he continued to hear the noise. He growled a low oath, knowing that at any moment, a Con could hear the noise and investigate. They all would die because someone couldn’t keep their vocalizer shut.

Hands balling into fists, his anger bled through to his twin. Sideswipe jerked away, his battle instincts kicking in due to the response he was receiving from his twin via their connection.

“Cons?” Sideswipe whispered, his scanners employed to their fullest extent.

“No, but if that racquet doesn’t stop, the Cons will find us in no time,” Sunstreaker muttered, snarling toward the back of the cave where the sounds of pain were beginning to subside. “Fragger’s going to get us all killed.”

Sideswipe said nothing, but focused his attention to the forest. Several long minutes went by, the voices lowering into silence. Both brothers relaxed, until they heard the soft footfalls of Cybertronian feet. They turned to see the flashing white panels of Prowl, who was now limping and using the wall as a supportive guide.

“Casualties?” Sunstreaker asked when he drew near, ignoring the injuries the black and white sported.

“None,” Prowl said, limping closer to the pair, his optics staring out at the veiled landscape. “Ratchet has put Prime into stasis. His spark chamber was scorched.”

“He’ll pull through,” Sideswipe said, almost dismissively, but there wasn’t a lot of vigor behind his words. Spark chamber damage was serious business. If not properly attended to, the mech could perish in a slow, agonizing way. It wasn’t something they considered their leader going through. “What else?”

“Bluestreak has lost a doorwing,” Prowl said, and his tone sent chills into the twin sparks. “Ratchet had to sedate him until it can be reattached. Windcharger has a busted drive train, effectively keeping him immobile, while Ratchet has a cracked windshield, crushed pede, and can’t engage the medical tools of his left hand.”

“What about you?” Sunstreaker asked, noting the tactician had conveniently left himself off the injury list.

Prowl seemed to mull it over, not wanting the twins to know the extent of his injuries, but if they needed back up and he couldn’t perform to standard, then not only would he let them down, but would probably end up terminating the entire team.

“My equilibrium calibrations are off due to cranial trauma, but Ratchet assures me that it can be repaired,” Prowl started, hoping the twins didn’t joke about his weakness. “I have also sustained a rather annoying injury to my left leg that has relieved me of energon and strength.”

“Go back inside,” Sideswipe said, motioning for Prowl to join the others.

“I can take a shift, if necessary,” Prowl started, but Sideswipe gave a curt shake of his head.

“You are in no shape to defend us if we’re attacked,” Sideswipe countered.

“I can do more than you seem to realize,” Prowl said, feeling affronted that his skills were being questioned. He was the Second in Command of the Autobot army for Primus sake!

Prowl’s anger disappeared in a flash as Sideswipe grabbed his arm, jerking the tactician toward him. Prowl emitted a painful keen, overbalancing and crashing head first into Sideswipe’s chest. His vision swam, and for a moment, all he could discern was the color of rubies. He didn’t need Sideswipe to tell him that he was too injured to be of any good. Though the look the frontliner was giving him would haunt his memory for a long time. He wasn’t going to live it down anytime in the near future.

“Go. Keep everyone quiet and we’ll keep everyone safe,” Sideswipe said sternly.

Prowl nodded without comment, feeling his helm pound in time with his spark. He was in no condition to ward off attackers. Begrudgingly he made his way back to Ratchet, hoping the medic could stabilize the world before it spun so fast he’d fly off of it. It was sometime later that Prowl riled, realizing Sideswipe had given him an order, and he had complied without hesitation. That was twice the frontliner had overstepped his boundaries.

Prowl vowed it would never happen again.

“I’m going to have a look,” Sideswipe muttered to his twin, easing some of the verge away from their hiding spot.

“What if a Con sees you?” Sunstreaker countered.

“Then I’ll have to politely ask to not reveal my location,” Sideswipe sniped, slipping out of the cave.

“You’re too injured. I should go,” Sunstreaker volunteered.

“I have a better chance at blending into the environment than you, Sunshine,” Sideswipe grinned before disappearing into the night and leaving his twin staring after him.

Half an hour later, Sideswipe sent a familiar nudge through the bond he shared with his twin before manifesting out of the dark. He crept back inside, half heartedly pulling the concealing hedge along with him.

“Well?” Sunstreaker prodded.

“There are approximately eleven deer within a half mile of this location, and all are grazing peacefully,” Sideswipe said, settling down with a groan from his busted knee. He pulled the roll of duct tape out from his subspace and began to retape the pieces that had come loose during his trek.

“What the slag do animals have to do with a Con report?” Sunstreaker snapped, wanting so much to rip into his twin.

“Because, Daft Daffodil, if there were any Cons around, surely the animals wouldn’t be so peaceful,” Sideswipe ground out as he taped a particularly nasty piece of his knee back into place. Sideswipe’s rational argument made Sunstreaker’s scowl deepen, but the citrine twin decided not to let his emotions bleed through the bond and give Sideswipe incentive praise to his sudden flash of intelligence. “They’d be running scared or left as smears on the ground. Besides, I hunted for spark signatures and didn’t receive a reply, Daffie.”

“They could be in hiding or learned to mask their signal, like us,” Sunstreaker argued, his energon running hot at the nickname. He hated to have his name mutilated. He was designated as Sunstreaker and he would appreciate it if everyone used his full designation instead of their shortened, and unflattering, nicknames. He couldn’t seem to get the idea across to his twin.

“Doubtful,” Sideswipe gave a shrug that was punctuated by a grind of gears. “I started randomly tossing out Autobot frequencies and didn’t encounter a block.”

“Idiot,” Sunstreaker hissed, shaking his head and wanting so badly to throttle his processorless twin.

“I contacted base,” Sideswipe added, earning a searing white hot glare. “I told them what happened and Blaster said he’d send Skyfire in the morning.”

“Sons of the Pit, we’re all dead,” Sunstreaker snarled, taking a threatening step toward his twin.

“I took precautions,” Sideswipe growled, puffing up his chest in defiance. He wasn’t about to back down from Sunstreaker. “We exchanged pass codes to make sure each was who they said they were. And Blaster used the new officer’s code to tell me when and where Skyfire would pick us up.”

Sunstreaker relaxed marginally, but still glared daggers at his brother.

“Prowl won’t happy about this,” Sunstreaker muttered, looking out between the suppressive verge.

“He can order me to the brig again,” Sideswipe offered a little shrug. “Doesn’t really matter to me either way. I made a judgment call and hopefully, we’ll be able to get everyone safely back to base. Surely Prowl could understand that.”

“I don’t know. You know how he is with punishments,” Sunstreaker said, giving his brother a look in the dark. “Don’t think he likes the idea of you taking charge.”

“No, don’t think he’s into submission,” Sideswipe snickered, earning a grinding snort from Sunstreaker as he tried and failed to hide his mirth. “Get some rest. Skyfire will be here in three hours.”

“Do I look like I like taking the submissive role?” Sunstreaker shot back, though his tone lacked aggression.

“You enjoy it a little too much, I’m afraid,” Sideswipe smiled innocently and added with a sickening sweet tone, “Now get some recharge before I knock your aft out.”

Sunstreaker sneered but settled against the wall of the cave, his optics gleaming to near white. “You wait until later. You’ll get what’s coming to you.”

“Promises, promises,” Sideswipe singsonged, sending a wave of giddiness, just to annoy his twin.

Sunstreaker’s protest died in his vocalizer as he slipped into recharge, his processor working overtime in formulating retribution against his twin. Sometimes, the citrine twin wished he was on an only child.

Dawn broke, and with it came the roaring engines of Skyfire. As several Autobots took defensive positions, the battle weary mechs exited the cave, the twins casting a fond farewell to their temporary sanctuary. Ratchet ordered everyone to med bay where they endured their turn of repairs while Ratchet worked extensively on Prime. Wheeljack and Perceptor assisted the medic, attending to the injuries in record time. When Ratchet was finished replacing Sunstreaker’s windshield, he dismissed the twins with strict orders to refrain from physical activity and get plenty of rest while their repairs healed. His orders were punctuated by falling into recharge on his feet, swaying dangerously until Wheeljack caught him and with Perceptor’s help, placed the medic on a berth.

Ratchet’s restriction lasted a full two hours before being disobeyed and Sunstreaker was seen stalking down the hall to his studio, which was situated on the other side of the base in a partially destroyed cargo bay.

The next morning Prowl knocked on the door to the twins’ room, a datapad clutched in his hand. A muffled noise came from the opposite side before a voice called out.

“Get in here,” Sideswipe called roughly.

Prowl ignored the rough command and opened the door. He was momentarily surprised to see the room looking so neat and orderly. He stepped back into the hall, searching the corridor for proper identification and with a confused look, realized he had the designated room. He stepped inside to see Sideswipe polishing something that looked suspiciously like Sunstreaker’s favorite mirror. Sideswipe jumped when he saw his visitor, placing the mirror on the desk and giving the Second a look that clearly stated ‘I’m-doing-something-I-shouldn’t.’

Then Prowl remembered the ‘Sideswipe equations’ that Jazz had invented. He mentally scrolled through the list to find the proper notation.

Boredom+Sideswipe= Destruction, usually of other’s property

Guilt+Sideswipe= Lots of high grade until unconscious

Happiness+Sideswipe= Stupidity of epic proportions, videoed

Anger+Sideswipe= Someone will be missing limbs

Guile+Sideswipe= Obsessive clean freak

Prowl gave an indiscernible twitch, realizing Sideswipe was cleaning as he plotted. It was a dangerous combination. The last time Prowl assigned cleaning duty to the frontliner, it had ended up with the entire Ark booby-trapped and many mechs ready to dismember and scatter the ruby parts to places unknown.

“Prowl? What do you want?” Sideswipe asked, surprise still clear on his face.

Prowl stepped into the room, earning a brief look of panic from Sideswipe before ignoring the frontliner’s demeanor and stating the reason for his impromptu visit.

“I wish to extend my gratitude for your actions,” Prowl started, displaying a datapad and offering it to Sideswipe. “When Prime and myself were incapacitated, you stepped in and took control.”

“Just did my job,” Sideswipe said, his surprise giving way to embarrassment as he accepted the datapad.

“No, you did my job,” Prowl corrected without any hint of anger. “You assumed command when I was compromised and performed admirably. You followed protocol and displayed attributes worthy of an officer. I have written a detailed report and intend on giving it to Prime with the recommendation that you receive an award for your actions.”

Sideswipe looked at the datapad, glancing over the detailed script displayed in Prowl’s perfect scrawl. He handed the pad back as if afraid it would attack him and stared dumbfounded at the Second. He was silent for a moment, unable to formulate his thoughts into any cohesive understanding.

“I don’t deserve an award,” Sideswipe managed to say.

“That decision is up to Prime,” Prowl said, a hint of pride shining in his optics. “You went above and beyond the call of duty and kept a level head, something of which I did not believe you capable of, and you ensured everyone returned safely. Those actions should be acknowledged and rewarded.”

Not one to engage in emotional displays or unnecessary interactions, Prowl offered a nod before turning on his heel to leave.

“Wait!” Sideswipe yelled, but it was too late.

Prowl’s foot triggered the trap and out of no where a projectile went sailing through the air. A great splattering sound echoed around the room, followed by Sideswipe’s low groan.

Prowl stood frozen in place, a piece of the prank sliding over his armor and landing with a little splash on the floor, his vision completely obscured by thick, dripping brilliant neon purple paint, the perfect color to clash hideously with Sunstreaker’s gorgeous armor. Prowl stood statuesque, his doorwings starting to vibrate with his building anger.

Sideswipe cringed and hung his head, knowing his fate was sealed.

“Side…… swipe,” Prowl managed to grind out in a hiss. “I know, I know,” Sideswipe sighed, stalking past the purple, white and black officer. “To the brig.” He made it as far as the doorway, before turning and asking, “Does this mean I don’t get the reward?”

A splattered datapad to the olfactory sensor was his reply.

000000------oooooo------000000------oooooo------000000 What can I say? Sideswipe DOES have the intelligence to plan and strategize, he just uses his gifts in the wrong way. Hope you enjoyed and feel free to leave me a review!

Chapter Text

Streak of Luck

---------------------------------------------------------

“Before you start, this wasn’t our fault,” Sideswipe said, being mostly carried across the threshold of the med bay by his twin.

Ratchet looked up from his current diagnostics of an unconscious Red Alert, and gave a start.

“What the Pit did you get into this time?” he demanded by way of greeting. He slammed down his tools and marched across the room, grabbing Sideswipe roughly and giving him a shake.

“Pit, Ratchet!” Sideswipe squawked. “My equilibrium chips are screwed up!”

“You’re telling me, Idiot!” Ratchet snapped, mech-handling the crippled Lamborghini. Unfortunately Ratchet didn’t take in the physical condition of both mechs before his abrasive treatment. Sunstreaker gave a pitiful whine and dropped his twin to the floor, where he pulled Ratchet down with him.

Ratchet let out a startled epithet that surely didn’t belong in any medical journal as he went crashing on top of Sideswipe. Grumbling, he helped the fallen warrior to his pedes, then realized Sideswipe couldn’t get them to function properly. With a sigh he heaved the lighter sports car over his shoulder and threw him on the nearest berth.

Sunstreaker hobbled to the nearest berth and flopped down. He groaned as he maneuvered himself into a reclined position and waited for his turn with the scalpeled guillotine.

Sideswipe gave Ratchet a few new names, none of which Prime would have approved of being used, and earned himself a sharp reprieve that dented his already busted helm.

“Ouch! Watch what you’re doing you insane witchdoctor!” he hollered, his joints giving a grind that almost drown out his voice.

“Explain yourselves!” Ratchet demanded, his scanners already employed and showing a long list of damage.

Sideswipe gave a pitiful squeak before his optics rolled back in his head and fell against the berth.

“Slagging glitches, the whole lot of you!” Ratchet fumed onward, oblivious to Sideswipe’s lack of attention. The medic was used to his patients being in such a state. Didn’t slow or halt his tirade.

“Forty percent neuro-conductivity, ten percent of hoses melted, eight fuses completely blown, two main wires fried, eleven circuit boards showing damage that will require extensive repairs, transformation cog will have to be replaced, and why are the both of you covered in spray paint?” Ratchet rattled off, his voice becoming lower with each injury. It was not a good sign. As if on cue, he turned slowly to face Sunstreaker, who looked a little frightened. Ratchet’s voice was still set on ‘dangerous’, “What in the slagging Pit have you two been doing?”

“It wasn’t our fault,” Sunstreaker started with a feeble voice. When Ratchet growled in warning, he took a shaky, rattling inhale through his vents. Feeling his fuel freeze in his lines from Ratchet’s glare, he said meekly, “I’ll give you the quick version.”

Ratchet gave a crisp nod in affirmation, ignoring the incessant pinging now coming from the high command. No doubt the twins were the reason for the summons, so he better get the story before alerting the Command element to the culprits’ whereabouts.

“We went to Portland to get Carly something for her birthing day,” Sunstreaker started, knowing he better keep optic contact for fear Ratchet would strike when his defenses were down. “When we got to the mall, there was a car dealership showing off their new models. We couldn’t resist checking out the competition, and when we transformed, the humans started taking pictures and demanding interviews.”

“And?” Ratchet prompted, still glaring daggers.

“Well, someone mentioned the new fuel system and designs, so I said it wasn’t as wonderful as they claim, and next thing you know the humans were upset and threatening us,” Sunstreaker said, hoping to gain a little sympathy, but coming up empty.

“What could possibly cause them to threaten you?” Ratchet demanded.

“They were comparing domestic American cars to Lamborghinis,” Sunstreaker said, a fire lighting his optics. His lip curled in disdain as he repeated, adding just a dash more venom, “Domestics…. To Lamborghinis. Well, there really isn’t any competition, is there?”

“So, their opinion caused some friction,” Ratchet said, knowing that the worst thing to do around Sunstreaker was to question the superiority of his chosen alt mode. He was known to slag mechs for even suggesting he lower his standards to more maneuverable vehicle for the region the Ark was currently calling home.

“It was a minor misunderstanding. I tried to tell them there was no competition and they can keep their low rate vehicles, when the humans started throwing things at us,” Sunstreaker said, his anger building as he recalled the start of this whole fiasco. “So we decided to leave and try the mall on the other side of town. We made it about four blocks when we were attacked by Cons.”

“Decepticons?” Ratchet asked, wondering how a Con attack hadn’t reached the Autobots.

“No, convicts,” Sunstreaker snapped, his usual sarcasm roiling with his tank. “Of course it was Decepticons! It was the Coneheads with Rumble and Frenzy, but we weren’t expecting them. They got the drop on us, rained fire, we took several hits and had hide in the city. Unfortunately we ended up near a news studio and unable to escape, we had to engage. The humans came out, video taped us, tried to interview us while engaged in combat. I may have made some comments about their intelligence and how they may deserve some horrible accidents to befall them, and they took offence.”

Ratchet offered a noise of contempt, still ignoring the comm..

“Cons got off a lucky shot, knocking Sides out, so I had to jump in to defend my brother,” Sunstreaker continued. “I was able to disrupt their attacks, with a little help from a couple human vehicles that had full gas tanks. As the Cons fled, blinded and blistered, I was able to get my idiot twin to transform and follow me. Unfortunately we both sustained heavy damage, and broke down on the road. We called a tow truck to assist us, but when the human showed up, he gave us a lecture on the quality of human engineering and craftsmanship and some other slag I couldn’t have cared about. After he yelled at us for ten slagging minutes, he drove away, giving us a rather rude gesture. So I transformed and shot out his back tires. He careened into a lamppost, and as he climbed out of his truck with a weapon in hand, we retreated.” Sunstreaker gave a heavy sigh that left a gurgling in his tanks. It wasn’t a promising sound. He frowned as the noise, then continued, “Because my brother is an idiot, we ended up in the wrong part of town. We tried to hail humans to help us, but most just stared at us like they would rather take us apart than assist us in getting home.”

“You didn’t insult them?” Ratchet asked causally, wondering how many Sunstreaker had killed and disposed of. He really didn’t react well to being threatened, especially if his paint was involved. How the warrior survived being covered in graffiti, the medic was terrified to ask.

“I sure as slag did,” Sunstreaker said defensively. How dare Ratchet insinuate he’d let mere puny humans get away with such flagrant stupidity. “But Sides was hurt and needed repairs, so we left. Got behind a funeral procession that took their slagging sweet time and when we started honking at them to tell them to get their afts in gear, some humans started screaming at us from their cars about being respectful.” Sunstreaker gave Ratchet a vile look that made the medic shiver. “So I transformed and showed them what respect meant.”

“You didn’t?” Ratchet asked, afraid of the answer.

“I tried,” Sunstreaker gave half a shrug, indifferent to the misery of the humans who had lost their loved one. “As soon as they saw my gun they actually went the speed limit.”

Ratchet did his best to not face palm, still studiously ignoring the comm. from high command. They were slagging impatient, whoever they were.

“So we decided to take a short cut,” Sunstreaker continued, oblivious to Ratchet’s wavering attention. “Turned down Crest High Street, and didn’t know the city was flushing their hydrants. Between the two of us, we hydroplaned from a gushing fire hydrant, ran over a small furry animal, careened off the sidewalk, took out three mail boxes, another hydrant, a telephone box, and nine trashcans. Though most of the hits were on Sides’ tally.”

“Sweet Primus,” Ratchet muttered, clearly perturbed by the way the twins had been entertained for the day.

“I ran up on the sidewalk, and blew a tire,” Sunstreaker admitted. He was glad Ratchet was the only one conscious in the room. He’d self terminate if someone saw him in less than perfect condition. “Sides offlined and drifted into me, and together we hit a tree. Thankfully we had lost most of our momentum, but the impact was enough to knock me offline as well.”

Ratchet didn’t comment on the dents and dings that also littered both frames. “When we onlined, I was able to transform and pull Sides away from the tree, but his transformation cog was busted, so I had to transform him by hand,” Sunstreaker gave his twin a dirty look, then gave Ratchet a disgusted sneer. “And I’m not sticking my hand in there again!”

Ratchet couldn’t stop the snort from escaping. No one enjoyed having to be manually transformed. Protoforms were very sensitive, and could easily be damaged by someone who didn’t know your personal sequence.

“That’s when I noticed we were missing our hubcaps and both of us were covered in graffiti,” Sunstreaker said, and there was a sharp edge that made Ratchet flinch and want to check his body for damage. Defacing paint or armor was a huge error of judgment when Sunstreaker was involved. You damaged him or his twin, he’d make revenge look like child’s play. Add the stupidity factor of stealing something from either, and you may as well dig your own grave and get comfortable in it.

“I’ve noticed the spray paint,” Ratchet said sternly, hoping to convey his disgust so the golden warrior wouldn’t rear his temperamental side. Sideswipe was the only one who could control Sunstreaker when he was in such a state, and the ruby twin was currently unconscious.

“It won’t be forgotten,” Sunstreaker muttered darkly, the street etched deep into his memory banks. And every address burned permanently into his CPU. Oh yes, there’s going to be payback.

“So, how did you get home?” Ratchet asked, wondering what other trial the twins were going to be subjected to.

“We walked,” Sunstreaker said, setting aside his revenge programming to deal with the present. He was tired, hungry, in pain, and in desperate need of a good wash and wax. And for some reason, his tank was threatening to rebel. He gestured toward his twin and added, “Last four miles I had to practically carry the slagger.”

Without warning Sunstreaker leaned over the side of the berth and purged, though with his tank being half empty, there wasn’t much to bring up. Ratchet yelled, shoving a drop cloth across the floor, where it captured most of the spillage.

Ratchet frowned at the dark purple, chunky energon that splattered onto the cloth. He scanned it and let out a bark of contempt.

Sunstreaker thought the noise was directed at him and gave Ratchet a dark look, “I couldn’t help it!”

“It’s not that,” Ratchet said, his mouth twisting into a sneer. “There’s glucose in your energon!”

“Huh?” Sunstreaker asked before he curled up into a painful ball.

“Sugar,” Ratchet explained with a dark countenance, making a mental note to notify the proper chain of command. “Someone put sugar in your tank.”

“Slaggers,” Sunstreaker muttered.

Just then Prowl stormed into the medbay, a whirlwind of black and white fury.

“Ratchet! I have been comming you for the past half hour,” Prowl said, his anger directed toward the medic before he noticed the patient sitting on the berth. His ire instantly changed victims.

“Hospitalized humans, thousands of dollars worth of damage, and a public apology to a local automotive establishment. And that’s only a fraction of the list that you and your brother are responsible for,” Prowl snapped at Sunstreaker. “You have a lot of explaining to do before you spend the rest of your existence in the brig!”

Sunstreaker gave the Second a half glance, as if considering his options. Slowly, he pulled himself off the berth, swinging his legs over the edge, careful not to step in the congealed puddle being absorbed, and opened the cabinet situated between his berth and the neighboring one. He turned to Ratchet, gave a quick gesture to Prowl and said, “You tell him,” and promptly emptied the contents of a tranq dose into his main fuel line.

Sunstreaker collapsed, hood first over the berth. He wasn’t so much as lying on the berth as he was draping, strutless across its polished surface. It was then that Prowl could see the graffiti that adorned the golden warrior’s body. As his optics scrolled over the text, a part of him wondered why humans were so enamored with certain body parts and various verbs. It seemed unhealthy.

Prowl gave a slight twitch as Ratchet sent him a file, a complete recount of the twins ordeal. Prowl absorbed the information, his optics narrowing.

“Now, if you don’t mind, I have patients that require immediate attention,” Ratchet said when Prowl showed signs of having downloaded the information. When Prowl turned his optics to regard him with a cool expression, Ratchet added, “And just so you know, there will be no punishment detail. They’ve suffered enough and it’s going to take a while for both of them to recover from the damage I’ve been able to detect.” When Prowl opened his mouth to object, Ratchet interrupted. “As the Chief Medical Officer it’s my call, and from the extent of injuries sustained, the twins were well within their rights to do what was necessary to ensure their safe return to their home. If you question my authority, I have no qualms in welding your winged aft to my office door and displaying you like an insect in a science project!”

Prowl thought about arguing, and knowing the CMO had jurisdiction in his medbay, it was wise to keep ones vocalizer shut. Ironhide had found that out the hard way. Besides, Prowl fully intended on getting a detailed report, including vid feed, from both twins when they regained consciousness. And if their account did indeed show the humans displaying violent behavior against them, then it was time that the Command unit have another talk with the liaisons and elected officials.

“I want a full report of their damage,” Prowl said, then took his leave.

Ratchet nodded and went to Sideswipe, who showed the most damage. A thorough scan of his tanks showed that it too had been compromised. Ratchet sighed, comming Wheeljack and Perceptor to help him put the twins back together.

And Primus help the ones who were responsible for the current state of health of his two favorite patients, for when he found them, heads… would…. roll.

Chapter Text

Always Two Sides

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Takes place when the twins first joined the Autobots.

Didn’t take long to set the standard.

And I made Prowl slightly OOC, but I’m taking a little liberty here and giving him a better expanse of emotion. This is the beginning of the war afterall, so I think he’s a bit more emotional. As the war progresses, he’s gonna close himself off.

Cybertron: Unknown City, approximately 4 millions years ago -----------------------------

“Two missed shifts, threats of violence against eight members of staff, unlawful entry into a secured location, public disruption leading to inciting a riot, possession of illegal high grade, unauthorized access to the main terminal where illicit activities have been recorded and traced back to our location and,” Prowl paused, optics scanning the report before turning his attention back to the duo standing at ease in his office. “Insubordination.”

“Sounds about right,” Sideswipe said, giving his brother half a glance. “Though the insubordination was merely a statement of fact. The Commander is really a tight aft that needs a good interface.”

“I was talking about your lack of protocol and proper attention when addressing a Commanding Officer,” Prowl growled, his doorwings giving a slight twitch.

“Oh,” Sideswipe blinked, then shrugged, not bothering to snap to perfect military attention like everyone else when confronted with the Autobot SIC. “Never mind then.”

Sunstreaker stood sullen next to the door. The action riled Prowl further. No one flagrantly disregarded the rules. No One! When a Commander ordered you to his office, you were stand at attention and offer the proper military answers to your superior. Clearly someone didn’t instruct these new recruits on protocol. That gross lapse in their education was going to be amended by the Praxian.

“You are to spend two megacycles in the brig and when you are released, you are to report to the Maintenance Crew to be assigned for another two megacycles,” Prowl said, injecting as much acid into his tone as possible. He really couldn’t stand these two. He gave them an orn before they were terminated, either by the enemy or their own faction.

“Four megacycles as punishment?” Sideswipe gasped incredulously. “But, what if we’re needed? We can’t be confined when there’s a war going on out there!”

“The Autobots have endured long before you two graced us with your unpleasant company,” Prowl said with disdain. “Surely we can survive without you while your time is served.”

“But, we’re the best soldiers you have!” Sideswipe’s voice rose slightly. He couldn’t believe that he and his brother were going to be missing upcoming battles.

“There are hundreds of the best trained soldiers Cybertron has ever produce guarding our borders. I hardly think that two ill-mannered and unprofessional mechs such as yourselves are our only line of defense,” Prowl said, finding the mechs self-importance to be laughable.

Sunstreaker chose that moment to step forward, his optics ice white. His words were punctuated by each step until he was standing in front of Prowl’s desk. “We may be untrained by your standards, but we know how to get the job done.”

“Considering you can’t seem to obey simple rules and follow proven military methods, I fail to see your point,” Prowl added, not perturbed by the golden warrior glaring daggers at him. He looked between the two, clearly recalculating his earlier predictions and decided they would probably meet their end via friendly fire. He nodded toward his door in dismissal, “I believe you are expected in the brig.”

Sideswipe ex-vented harshly, realizing he wasn’t going to sway the black and white mech. He gave a grunt of acceptance and grabbed his twin’s arm, pulling him toward the door.

“I honestly don’t know what Prime was thinking allowing the two of you in our ranks,” Prowl said, more to himself, but his voice carried nonetheless.

Sunstreaker halted, pulling his arm free from his twin and marching back to the desk. Though he leveled the Commanding Officer in height, his presence made him seem much bigger. Prowl actually took a half step back when the frontliner leaned over the desk, their olfactory sensors nearly touching.

“I may lack the training others have had, but I know how to protect those around me, and I’ll be slagged if I allow you to question me or my abilities,” Sunstreaker said in a low voice. “I know how to fight and I have no qualms in educating others of the fact.” His hand slammed into the metal desk with a loud clang, accenting his words. His voice dropped low as he continued, “It would be wise to watch who you insult, because they may be the ones protecting your aft in the future.” As quick as lightening he extracted himself from the Second’s personal space and backed out of the room.

The door was shut before Prowl could regain his senses. How dare a simple soldier threaten him! He fully intended on extending their punishment detail.

Pit, he was so pissed, he seriously considering comming Prime and asking permission for a firing squad!

Venting harshly, Prowl closed his optics and calmed himself. He was always in control of his emotions. This type of display was unacceptable. Surely his emotions could be put aside, or at least, controlled. To show so much anger was very unprofessional, especially in front of new recruits. Though for the life of him, Prowl couldn’t understand why the two riled him up so badly. It wasn’t the illegal activities, those continue to go on, though admittedly, a lot more discreetly than what the twins displayed. Perhaps it was the nonchalance? Or the insubordination? Or any combination of the two. Whatever the reason, Prowl felt his circuits burn. He slowly opened his optics, glaring at the door where the two miscreants had disappeared through.

Prowl looked to his desk and noticed a small datachip in the indentation Sunstreaker had left with his hand. Curiously he picked it up and inserted it in the small terminal on his desk. The screen lit up with icons, each labeled for a particularly spectacular gladiatorial fight. Prowl clicked through several, watching as Sunstreaker and Sideswipe tore through the bodies of hapless gladiators. Their faces were set in grim expressions, but occasionally one would see the vicious sneer adorning Sunstreaker’s face as his rival sparked spasmodically in his arms before extinguishing.

Prowl clicked on the new folder icons labeled with Autobot sigils, indicating new footage and felt his intakes stall.

The twins had already been party to four major battles, all won by Autobot forces. Their last location had been compromised by a traitor and the few bots who had survived were sent to Iacon, where the twins were now the Command staff’s problem.

Prowl watched in morbid fascination as the twins easily pressed into the oncoming horde, the screen splitting to display each twin’s unique perspective on the fight. Prowl clicked through all four of the subfolders, and by the second folder, he noticed there were small numbers in the corners of the twin’s internal displays. Frowning he skimmed through the footage, watching each twin’s point of view as battles were fought.

They never halted their advance.

And Prowl realized what the numbers in the corner meant. They were kills. Tallies of lives taken, both in the current battle and of their involvement thus far. The numbers were staggering.

Prowl was sickened to see their individual totals were already in the hundreds. A doorwing gave a twitch as he stared at their kill ratio. Yes, it was best to get rid of these two. They were an unstable element and uncontrollable. It was wise and safer for everyone. The problem was, where to put them?

It was clear they weren’t designed to be around others, at least not in great numbers, so it was logical to remove them from the general public. Perhaps put them permanently on the frontlines? Their recklessness and lack of empathy would pave the way for the trained soldiers and if they were terminated, well, the Autobot forces would be safer for it.

Prowl closed the files and tucked the datachip away in his subspace. A chill swept up his spinal strut and lingered for a long time after.

------- ---- ------ ------- ------- ------------------ -

approximately four and a half million years later

Earth- Oregon- Just outside of Portland

“Unauthorized hacking of personal files, using said information for blackmail, throwing Brawn in the tar pits, illegal high grade and,” Prowl paused for effect, though it really didn’t matter. The list was rather redundant by now. “Insubordination.”

“Hey! I earned that insubordination!” Sideswipe barked, pointing a threatening finger at Prowl. “Ironhide was cheating and I wasn’t going to let the slagger get away with it.”

“Nevertheless, he is still your superior officer,” Prowl said nonplussed, a doorwing twitching to its normal pulse.

“Not superior,” Sideswipe said, his trademark smug grin firmly in place. “I could take him.”

“Brig,” Prowl said, pointing to his door. “Three days.”

“Three?” Sunstreaker asked from his station at the door. Still, after all the eons of war, he refused to leave a door unguarded.

“Yes, well, there’s a celebration on Thursday and Prime has requested everyone attend,” Prowl admitted. “Besides, it’s not like it does any good anyway.”

“Nope,” Sideswipe smiled, then offered a perfect salute before marching his twin out of the Second’s office.

“Three days,” Sideswipe cooed, leading Sunstreaker down to the brig. “Three whole days. What is a mech to do?”

“Recharge,” Sunstreaker grunted, having pulled a week solid of double shifts with very little off time in between. Truthfully, he wished the punishment was a bit longer; it would have saved him from more patrols that left him nearly crawling on his undercarriage from exhaustion.

The twins stopped when they noticed the state of the cell block. There were only four cells, the Ark not seeing fit to have more due to its exploratory nature and not enemy incarceration and transport. Two of the cells were dark, their internals hanging out and mounds of machinery surrounding them. Apparently they were down for repairs, and if the soot mark on the floor was any indication, it was Wheeljack doing the work. Or damage, as the case may be. The third cell was basically used as storage, and it was doubtful the power grid was even operational. That left only one cell.

And two volatile mechs.

One of whom wanted nothing more than to curl up and sleep the week away.

The other, an idiot that didn’t seem to understand the concept of personal space and the need for rest.

Without looking at each other they stepped over the threshold and heard the telltale signs of the energy bars activating.

“Come here, bitch,” Sideswipe growled roughly as the bars shimmered into existence.

Sunstreaker gave his twin a look that clearly said he doubted his sanity and wasn’t going to divulge the little fantasy world he now inhabited. “Whatever.”

“I bought you for a pack of cigarettes,” Sideswipe announced, grinning maliciously at his twin. “You’re mine!”

“Right,” Sunstreaker said, easily dodging the attack as a blur of red zeroed in on him. He sidestepped, striking his brother across the back as he went sailing past. “Idiot.”

Sideswipe regained his pedes and dropped into an attack stance. Sunstreaker revved his engine in warning, not in the mood to deal with his brother’s idiocy. He was tired and cranky. Not a good combination with the golden warrior.

With a battle cry, Sideswipe launched himself into another attack, but Sunstreaker was ready for him. A few quick strikes, and some beautiful dance moves, Sunstreaker got the upper hand. With a mighty wrench he threw his brother over his shoulder. Sideswipe went flying into the wall next to the bars, the impact nearly stapling him into place. With a grinding screech he slowly fell from his perch and landed with a crunch on the floor.

“Oww,” Sideswipe moaned.

The bars gave a flicker, the hum of their energy fluctuating in an aria worthy of an opera. Then with a few feeble jolts, the bars disappeared. A spark erupted from the control panel in the hall, which happened to be directly behind the Sideswipe-sized impression on the cell wall.

-- ‘Sunstreaker to Prowl,’-- he commed.

-- ‘Are you in the brig?’-- Prowl demanded without preamble.

--‘Yes, but my Numb Nuts of a brother decided to be an idiot so I threw him against the wall, and it shorted out the bars,’-- Sunstreaker answered, uninterested about the whole situation. It was rather common-place by now.

Sunstreaker was graced with a long verbiage, most of it comprising his questionable parentage and intelligence of the troublesome duo. Then Prowl’s comms went silent before his controlled monotone called over all bandwidths.

Suddenly Prowl’s voice crackled over all Autobot comms. --“Attention Optimus Prime and all Autobots. I regret to inform you that I have decided to retire, owing to the fact that my mental capacity has been compromised and I need to find a proper facility that can assist in my recovery. My destination is northeast, probably Minnesota or Vermont, due to the fact they habitually receive excessive amounts of snow and the terrain is inhospitable to Lamborghinis. It has been an honor. Prowl out.”--

“Slag,” Sideswipe said, wincing as he gained his pedes. “I think we broke him.”

Sunstreaker stood frozen, his expression unreadable.

“Course, I’m surprised it’s taken us this long,” Sideswipe laughed, joining his twin.

“Shut up,” Sunstreaker muttered, turning on his heel and stalking out of the now useless brig.

Sideswipe wisely held his vocalizer and followed his brother, keeping a good pace behind him. It took a moment for him to realize their destination.

“Why are we going to see Prowl?” Sideswipe asked, his plating itching as the repair nanites set to work on his dents. “Isn’t he kinda of pissed at us right now?”

Sunstreaker didn’t bother knocking. He threw open the door and marched through without invitation. Prowl looked up blandly from his datapad, expelling a long gust of air through his vents. If he had a credit for every time either twin burst through his door unannounced, he could have retired from the Autobots after only a couple of months!

“What the slag was that all about?” Sunstreaker demanded.

Prowl didn’t seem to be phased by the prospect of being a target for a highly dangerous and volatile mech. He carefully placed the datapad on the desk and intertwined his fingers, looking expectantly at the raging sun.

“My retirement?” Prowl asked mildly, finding the past few millennia to be settling heavy on his spark. “I thought it was quite obvious. I’ve had it. With the pranking, the jokes, the damage, the punishments, and the neverending disobedience that springs from you two Well of Miscreants.”

Sunstreaker mentally flinched, knowing the SIC had a point. Sometimes they did go a little too far. But it was all in good fun. It was never to get to this point.

Ever.

“Well, you’ll just have to change your mind,” Sunstreaker said, regaining his senses and glaring daggers at Prowl. “Because we took too long to train you and it’s illogical to stop now. Besides,” Sunstreaker added, leaning on the desk and looming over the black and white mech, “If you left, we’d just have to reformat and follow you to the ends of the Earth.”

“Why? It’s apparent you don’t respect the Autobot code, nor myself. What could I possibly come back to?” Prowl asked, his doorwings doing a little dance along his back. He was now used to Sunstreaker invading personal space.

“Us. We won’t lose you. Not like everyone else in this war. You’re too important, and if you cant see that, well then, maybe you should schedule a check up with Ratchet, because you aren’t leaving us. Ever.” Sunstreaker punctuated his words with another fist to the desk, then spun and stomped out of the room.

Sideswipe gave a shrug of indifference and followed his twin. It was a moment later when Prowl noticed the datachip residing on his desk. Feeling a horrible sense of déjà vu, he inserted it in the terminal.

Prowl fully expected to find another video collection of gruesome attacks and the twins’ obscene body count. What he found instead halted his breathing function.

The first major file was split into chronological order and various locations the Autobots had inhabited. Prowl clicked on the first file and was stunned to see the point of view of Sideswipe, whose vision was obscured with his first superior officer barking in his face. As soon as the officer turned, Sideswipe offered a very rude gesture to his retreating back, then turned to face the other bots in the assemblage.

Prowl couldn’t stop the gasp from escaping.

There were at least fifty mechs, most of them looked newly upgraded. Several sprouted growth seams that shone brightly from the overhead lighting. They were milling about, talking, though their phantom words were lost on the video file, they sent frightened looks toward the area where the officer had disappeared. It was clear they were terrified.

So Sideswipe took action.

He captured their attention in grand fashion, and after a few choice words, had the crowd roaring and chanting, their faces slowly morphing into hope and excitement. The fear physically left their forms, leaving behind the young, impressionable youths they were intended to be. Though their words went unheard, Prowl could see the change in their demeanor from Sideswipe’s point of view.

Sideswipe passed around high grade to the surrounding mechs, and gave them the sense of what camaraderie and combat brothers always share. When the group got overenergized, Sideswipe got them riled up again, singing and chanting, and only then did Prowl notice the Commanding Officer pushing his way through the crowd to grab the instigator.

Sunstreaker fought by his twin’s side, but after a short vicious dance, both ended up in the infirmary. When they woke several days later, there was a data pad directing them to Prowl’s office, where they were to receive a reprimand.

Prowl blinked in stunned silence. He remembered the fateful day some 4 million years ago. Before the twins had entered his office, he had just received word that an entire regiment was wiped out. The same regiment as the twins. As they had been laid up in med bay, their unit was deployed, and every one of those young faces had perished.

He had never known the circumstances behind the twins’ first meeting. But upon watching the vid-file, he now understood why they had completely demolished the detention center that evening. Someone had told them the fate of their comrades. And the entire cell block had been rendered useless, the violence of their grief and mayhem leaving both twins in a barely functioning state.

Prowl remembered going to the brig and finding the devastation, a reprimand fully charging his circuits and near boiling his lines. Then he found the two responsible. And the look in two sets of optics as the medics stabilized them was enough to chill him to the core.

Now he knew why.

Curious as to the other file, Prowl opened it.

There were subfiles listed with every Autobot on the Ark, and few that were left on Cybertron. Prowl clicked on his own, and felt his fuel pump stall. They were battles he’d been party to, though not being much of a soldier, he still had his fair share of combat. His talents were better utilized behind the lines, directing the troops into weak areas and calculating possible outcomes. Nonetheless, and each file now flashing through the terminal was a record of every fight he’d been in. And the screen split to show two points of view as they took in the battle. Prowl was stunned to see the enemy creeping up on him unaware on more than one occasion, and each time, one of the twins protected his back.

A number graced the corner of each battle, though it had nothing to do with kills.

Prime, Jazz, Ironhide, Hound, even Gears had a file, each containing video where either twin would jump in to protect their friends, or take a shot that was intended for another. And every time they intervened, the number would turn over. Their number of interceptions were staggering. In Prowl’s own file he was oblivious of the danger in every battle. Prowl skimmed through the data, gasping as his ‘save’ totaled more than four thousand since the first battle he shared with the twins.

Every confrontation, both twins would be watching the battle as a whole, keeping track of their friends as well as the enemy. It was a rather delicate and complicated system. Most Autobots, Prowl included, thought that the twins engaged in battles and attacked with no form of coherent pattern or underlying cause. It was merely a fight to damage or kill as many as possible. But now that he had this information, they’re tactical patterns were….. staggering.

Many had commented on the twins’ odd habit of jumping a seeker. They labeled it with all manner of unseemly titles, and many had questioned their motives, but Prowl could now see through the twins optics. They weren’t attacking seekers for the sheer joy of it, though they did find some satisfaction in causing them harm during the ride. Instead, they used the bird’s eye view to take in the battlefront as a whole, and make judgment calls that weren’t possible if still stationed on the ground.

Every Autobot file showed the safe return of the subject. As the twins awaited their turn for repairs in the repair bay, there were varying degrees of injured mechs surrounding them, but each file witnessed the continued life of the subject. And Ratchet’s temper.

But everyone was still functioning. And every file ended with the individual seated comfortably in the rec. room, talking with friends and enjoying the companionship and the ribbing of their comrades.

Prowl released a slow gust of air, his mind working through the number of ‘saves’ each twin had listed to their comrades. Their combined total was overwhelming. Prowl concluded that if not for the Twin Terrors, the Autobots would have lost the war long ago.

It wasn’t about who had the biggest weapon, or the fastest engine, or most devious plan, or strategy and sheer numbers.

It was about looking out for the ones around you. Doing whatever was necessary to keep them functioning. Protecting them, even when they didn’t know they were in danger. Willing to sacrifice their own lives, just to prevent the harm or termination of another.

Prowl ejected the datachip and placed it in his subspace, beside the one that had resided there for over four million years. Yes, the twins were a handful and seemed to thrive on chaos and exuded instability and mayhem, but they were also fiercely loyal, brave, and crazy enough to accomplish the impossible. Their dedication was sometimes questioned, but their results spoke in thunderous voice, as the sparks of their friends continued to burn.

Prowl closed his subspace, finding a warmth spread throughout his frame. He was granted a very rare gift, one he felt humbled to receive.

Prowl also knew that he would never be able to leave the Autobot ranks. Sideswipe and Sunstreaker would follow through on their threat, finding and dragging him back to the Ark. It wasn’t out of spite or anger, or vengeance that they challenged him so vehemently. It was out of concern and probably, in their own way, love. If any one of their friends were alone, the twins couldn’t keep an optic on them, and that was a scenario they refused to allow to happen. They were protectors and defenders, and they would beat the slag out of anyone who questioned their motives.

Prowl allowed a rare smile. Yes, he and everyone aboard the Ark were truly gifted. No one could have asked for better guardians. Prowl sent a quick communiqué to Prime, announcing his return to duty, to which Prime gave a ‘whatever’ and cut the transmission. He picked up his datapad and started back to work.

After all, someone had to watch over the angelic demons that haunted the Autobot home.

Chapter Text

Mission: Sundance

00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00

“Do you want to dance?” Jazz asked the table of mechs seated in back of the rec room.

“No, thanks,” Mirage said, grabbing a brightly colored cube of energon and sipping it.

Hound waved his hand in front of himself, his optics wide and terrified. “I don’t dance, Jazz.”

“Come on, Man. That’s the whole point of these shindigs!” Jazz said, pointing to the middle of the room where Bumblebee was giving Tracks a lesson that mimicked the dance Spike and Carly were performing. “It’s all about learning new things, expanding horizons, getting crazy from time to time.”

“No, thanks,” Mirage repeated, giving the newly installed dance floor a distasteful look. “Besides, these aren’t true dances. They look more like electrocution or uncontrollable spasms.”

“That’s just the style,” Jazz said, waving a dismissive hand.

“Lack thereof,” Mirage amended, rolling his optics as Tracks tried a more complicated pattern and overbalanced, landing on his aft.

“You’re just a stuffy bot,” Jazz frowned, pointing to the far corner where Prime was currently trying to remember the correct steps to Ironhide’s line dance. “See, even Prime’s enjoying himself.”

“Insufferable,” Mirage huffed, finding the whole scene to be well below him.

“Everyone needs a way to cut loose sometime,” Jazz said defensively, finding the rest of the Autobots acclimating just fine with the assortment of dances. Though Jazz was a little worried about Ratchet and his version of a fox trot. Wheeljack looked determined to keep up.

“Whatever happened to the old ways?” Prowl asked from the nearby table where he and Trailbreaker were watching Sideswipe perform some rather expressive street moves.

“The refined dances of Cybertron,” Mirage added, his tone a little wistful. “Where society was at its best and moves were practiced until second nature.”

“True dances,” Prowl agreed, sipping on his energon. “The old ways have long since been forgotten I’m afraid.”

Mirage gave the Praxian a look that clearly meant he didn’t think Prowl held the proper breeding to know the intricate dances, let alone be allowed to perform with the social elite.

Sideswipe joined the group, bent double, grasping his lower back. “I think I hurt something.”

“Your dignity?” Prowl asked as Jazz examined the carmine frontliner.

“Looks like you pulled a wire loose.” Jazz offered after a moment of close scrutiny.

Sideswipe opened his mouth to ask for a remedy so he could return to the dance floor when Jazz took the initiative and twisted the wire back into place. Sideswipe let out a startled squawk but his pain subsided and he was able to return to an upright position.

“Thanks,” Sideswipe said, turning back to the floor and wiggling his aft in time to the music Blaster was providing.

Sunstreaker chose that time to enter the rec room, his stern countenance flashing to the room at large. Sunny didn’t like crowds, and liked loud music even less. The fact that so many were present and apparently enjoying themselves also gave him a magnified sense of anger.

“Here comes our little social butterfly,” Jazz commented before Sunstreaker joined their table.

Sideswipe sauntered over to his brother, intent on pulling him into a dance, when the golden warrior placed his palm on his brother’s face and gave a hard shove. Sideswipe went staggering back but laughed it off, knowing his brother just wasn’t the dancing type. He was lucky he got off so easy. Sunny could just as easily ripped his pedes off and not giving it a second thought. He must have been in one of his more somber moods. Probably art related, if the irritated thrum in his spark was any indication. Sideswipe returned to his boogie without another thought.

Sunstreaker stalked up to the table, his gaze locked onto Prowl. “Do something about Red Alert before I do something drastic.”

“What is he doing now that upsets you?” Prowl asked placidly, knowing Sunstreaker was fired up enough to go on a full out raging massacre.

“He refuses to okay the latest shipment of paint, saying it was from a district known for Decepticon activity,” Sunstreaker spat. “He’s gone too far!”

Prowl offered a slight incline of his head, his optics dimming to signal his internal comms to keep the frontliner assuaged.

“Disgusting,” Mirage offered another sniff, watching the conglomeration of mechs trying to imitate human dances.

Sunstreaker glanced to the towers mech, his fists clenching at his sides.

“Relax, man. Mirage just doesn’t like human dances,” Jazz said, recognizing the situation and trying to defuse it before it exploded.

“They’re appalling,” Mirage added, nodding toward Ironhide who was hitching up imaginary pants and scuffing his pedes. “He looks like he stepped in something unpleasant.”

There was a distant clang as Ratchet took out some frustration on an apparently rhythmless Wheeljack. The two started a mild argument that evaporated into another attempt at a fox trot.

“Mirage is a difficult mech to please,” Jazz said, giving his special ops agent a long suffering look.

“We only allowed the timeless dances of old Cybertron to be performed in the Towers,” Mirage supplied, resisting the urge to smack his CO. They had a long career together, and though they came from different backgrounds, they got along like old friends. Including the odd scuffle, shouting matches, and drunken nights that ended up with both in the brig. And once, even woke up to wearing pieces of each other’s armor, though neither ever admitted to it.

“Not everyone was privileged enough to learn those, Tower Brat,” Jazz teased with a roll of his optics.

“They were the only ones worth learning,” Mirage supplied, giving the air a disdainful sniff.

“Well?” Sunstreaker demanded of Prowl, waiting for the Second in Command to finish his conversation with the Security Director.

“We seem to be having a disagreement,” Prowl intoned, a slight frown forming.

“You out rank him. Threaten to send his aft to the brig!” Sunstreaker snapped.

“And have Ratchet beat your aft because Red fritzed out for being sent to the brig he always protects?” Jazz asked, optics wide.

“Might do him some good,” Sunstreaker grumbled.

“Oh, for the love of all things honorable,” Mirage moaned, burying his face in his servos.

Everyone turned to see what had made the tower mech so upset and there in the middle of the dance floor was the minibots, lead by Bumblebee, doing the ‘robot’ dance. Spike and Carly were laughing off to the side. Huffer and Cliffjumper looked ready to commit suicide, but kept the Volkswagen happy by finishing the dance. As soon as the music stopped, they bolted, earning a sad puppy dog look from Bumblebee who shouted something about a ‘sprinkler’.

“Is it safe to look?” Mirage asked from behind his hands, refusing to take the first wave of assurances.

A low growl came from Prowl, indicating his rising fury. His optics brightened, signaling his cut connection, and if the drawn brow and slight snarl were any indication, he didn’t get any further with Red Alert than Sunstreaker’s last attempt. He pushed off from the table, his hands shoving the half finished cube of mid-grade away. His optics dimmed again in a last ditch effort to appeal to Red Alert.

“See what I mean?” Sunstreaker felt it necessary to say. He pulled his gaze from Mirage, who was going through a plethora of emotions.

“Oh, sweet Primus, I think I’m going to self terminate,” Mirage said with exaggerated disgust.

“If you don’t like it, go show them a thing or two,” Hound said, getting a little miffed at the Tower Mech’s attitude.

“I don’t think the commoners would know what to do if they saw a traditional dance of the elite,” Mirage said, earning a mixture of looks. Prowl was the only one who didn’t seem to mind the conversation. Even Jazz was giving his subordinate a cross look.

“Too important for the lower class, huh?” Sunstreaker asked with a half sneer. He really didn’t get along with the Tower Mech. The twins were raised on the streets of Kaon and fought in the gladiator rings when debts had nearly ended both their lives from ‘unsavory’ characters.

“Precisely,” Mirage said, not catching the sarcasm directed toward him from multiple angles. “Hardly a proper dance when only Prime and myself would be allowed to join.”

“Complicated?” Sunstreaker asked, not noticing Prowl’s gaze returned to normal and join the conversation.

“The more ancient dances were performed only by the upper class, usually led by Prime,” Mirage recited, his optics going distant as he remembered times past. “The Prime would step forward, begin the dance, where the next dancer, usually his mate, would join him, mirroring his movements.”

The collected mechs remained silent, allowing the Tower mech to reminisce.

“When they moved as one, it was beautiful,” Mirage said, his voice going soft with memory. “Then the elite would fall into their rightful position, joining the ranks, their bodies blending with the most prestige, until everyone was moving as one. Sometimes there were over a thousand mechs moving in time to the ancient rhythm.”

“Sounds awesome,” Jazz commented only half heartedly. He was a little irked that he himself wasn’t one of the privileged few who had witnessed, let alone participated in the dance that seemed to mean so much to the Tower mech.

Prowl offered a grunt, his optics narrowing as he received an update from Red Alert. Apparently the nervous Lamborghini was only half way through his security checks and thought the Second should be made aware of a strange substance that was now slowly leaking from the package.

“What could be leaking that’s considered a possible Decepticon threat?” Prowl wondered out loud, without realizing who was nearby.

“It’s probably linseed oil,” Sunstreaker growled. “Prowl, you have to admit, this is going too far! He’s threatening my paints with his errant paranoia. Who knows how long he’s had them in his office!”

“Point taken,” Prowl admitted with a grudge. His optics dimmed for a moment before he returned his attention back to Sunstreaker. “I have informed Red Alert that his safety measures are adequate and that he is causing a health and safety issue by allowing your personal property to come to ruin and that he may be responsible for the items lost.”

“Slagging right he will be,” Sunstreaker muttered, already guessing which color was losing its cohesion. Cadmium yellow was just as temperamental as the artist which is probably why he preferred it.

“Would you like to join me in retrieving your property?” Prowl asked, knowing how volatile Sunstreaker could be when his art was involved. It wasn’t a good idea to send the frontliner alone when he could snap at any moment.

“Yes,” Sunstreaker said, motioning for Prowl to lead the way. The two barely reached the middle of the room when Sunstreaker got an idea. He grabbed Prowl’s wrist, earning a startled beep. When Prowl turned to face him, he muttered, “Wait until the fourth count, then do the opposite.”

Prowl stood transfixed, unable to comprehend what the sociopathic Lamborghini was saying, when Sunstreaker got that abnormal glint in his optic. Prowl prayed his battle computer wouldn’t crash as he watched Sunstreaker move in slow motion, turning left, then right, dipping on one knee, then taking three steps forward, one to the right. Prowl gave a slight nod, following suit, mirroring the golden warrior step for step.

Though the rhythms were foreign, Sunstreaker’s pace seemed to blend the ancient Cybertronian dance into something that could adapt to the odd pulse of the Earth music that Blaster was providing.

Prowl kept his gaze locked onto Sunstreaker, calculating the next move, his own movements slightly delayed as he learned the steps to a dance that had thought been long dead. He was barely aware of someone else joining their steps and when he swayed left, he caught the Prime’s brilliant red armor glinting beside his right shoulder in perfect tandem.

Step, step, sweep. Arch to the side, glide three paces and turn, perfectly synced with the other partners of the dance. Ratchet joined next, having witnessed the dance from the Golden Age, though he had never been allowed to join until now. His moves were a little awkward at first, but after a minute, he settled into a natural rhythm, allowing the music and the ancient steps to be centered by the leader in his rightful place.

Bumblebee watched with wide optics, unable to comprehend the complexity of the motions and all seemed to move as one. A seamless unit, choreographed through the ages and only practiced by those of breeding and power. Moves that looked far too complicated and cumbersome were performed with ballet-like ease. The bulk of armor and gruffness associated with war-time mechs evaporated, replaced by graceful, flowing lines, gentle sweeps, elegant dips, all matched to a perfect elegance.

Sideswipe stepped forward, unaffected by the magnitude of the occasion. Three steps later, he was lost in the moment, sweeping to and fro, bowing to the music, twisting to the time, the rhythm flowing through his lines as easily as any nobles. He had attended only one such dance in his life, but the moves were forever etched in his processor. Now that social caste was virtually eliminated by a more liberal Prime, the ‘common’ frontliner could participate, and there would be no reprimand from the upper echelon.

And if Mirage said anything, Sideswipe would be more than happy to punch the mech’s face in.

Blaster had managed to reset the beat of the Earth music, making it match the perfect sweep of the Cybertronian dance. He had witnessed a couple of the gatherings before, but being like most of the other mechs on the Ark, he wasn’t considered refined enough to be taught or allowed to participate in the ancient ceremony. A few seconds later, he too was lost in memory, gliding to the rhythm of a world long forgotten.

The music faded.

The few gathered mechs who had performed were under the spell of the dance, unable to move and break ranks lest they’d lose that part of their heritage forever. A moment passed of complete silence.

Then as he had begun the choreographed tradition, Sunstreaker offered a brisk nod to Prowl and exited the room, the Second in Command soon following.

A stunned silence followed them. Sideswipe felt his spark pang in regret and grabbed of cube of mid-grade from the dispenser and join the table where Prowl had vacated. He downed the Second’s cube without thought, then downed his own, shifting so his pedes rested on the chair opposite.

When he looked to the table beside of him, Mirage and Hound were giving him looks of shocked incredulity.

“What?” Sideswipe asked, eyeing the cube in Prime’s hand as he neared the table.

“Where did Sunstreaker learn to dance like that?” Prime asked before Mirage could formulate the words.

Mirage sputtered a moment, trying to recollect his wits and added, “How could a commoner perform that dance? It was only for the upper class!”

“Sunny’s been around,” was all Sideswipe would say before he got up for another cube. He could hear the cogs working in Mirage’s privileged processor and added, “Nothing like patterns and poise to capture an artist’s attention. I have a feeling he could show you a thing or two about refinement.”

Without another word, Sideswipe left a very surprised yet confused Tower brat, a gratefully amused Prime, and a secretly proud Ratchet.

000000-OOOOO-IIIIIII-000000-OOOOOO-IIIIII-0000000

Speaking as someone who lives with an artist, its true. They can pick out patterns and complicated rhythms like no other and it really drives me nuts sometimes.

And I really wanted to put Mirage in his place. He seems to be such a stuffy prat that I want to slap him silly and what better way to best someone who thinks they are of the upper class than to bring them down a few pegs and have a street dwelling waif show that they too can be sophisticated and “lordly”.

Money and power doesn’t make a person better than anyone else.

Chapter Text

Sunstroke

Rated: T (suggestive adult situations)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Sunstreaker stretched liked a contented cat, his engine purring. It was rare to find the citrine twin in an affable mood, and having the day off while his brother worked a double shift due to a misinterpreted prank, meant the golden warrior was feeling particularly good this morning. He stretched the length of the berth, hearing the pops and groans associated with his elegant frame and mentally counted off their sequence. With a disgruntled moan he slipped off the berth, his pedes making a dull ringing noise. Usually he would have spent the day curled up on his berth, enjoying some of the freedom he had from his twin.

Sideswipe’s constant presence could be irritating, especially when he was in one of his pranking moods, or wishing to vent frustration, anger, excitement, or any of the other emotions that plagued Sunstreaker’s other half. Sideswipe led his life by emotions, Sunstreaker preferred to slaughter everything and let the cosmic forces sort out the carnage.

Eyeing his paints he felt a tinge of remorse, having used up three of his favorites colors during his last intense artistic ‘Sideswipe-free’ hours. The paints were on backorder, so Sunstreaker was metaphorically stuck in an artistic rut until his supply could be refilled.

Guess that meant he just had to work on his gorgeous body.

Grabbing a can of special solvent, ordered only via secured connection to a very selective dealer, Sunstreaker headed for the washracks. It was midmorning, and most bots had either come off of duty, or were already on shift. Those who had free time were probably with friends, enjoying the various activities each enjoyed. Many of the bots had a bet going with Smokescreen on who could collect the most human friends, using their charm, wit, and overall genial nature to win friendships. So far, Jazz was in the lead thanks to his musical ties.

Sunstreaker didn’t have friends, Cybertronian or human. He had Sideswipe. That was enough for him. He didn’t need to make friends and socialize with everyone and expect the world to cater to his eccentricities. He didn’t need someone else to enjoy the same things, or expect him to be friendly and warm and all those loathsome things that made Sunstreaker’s plating crawl.

He entered the washracks, closing the door with a soft click and switching on the ‘occupied’ light so no one would walk in on him if he chose to indulge in any questionable activities. The light had been installed by Wheeljack when several of the crew members were caught running around the wash racks in their protoform. It was a very delicate situation, as most of the mechs were very self conscious about their personal appearance. Sunstreaker had to admit, it was when one was at their most vulnerable. But sometimes, when Earthen debris and gunk filled sensitive joints, one had to strip down to clean themselves properly, then attend their armor before reinstallation. No one wanted to be perceived as weak and helpless, regardless of the fact they all were built along the same lines with the same equipment and faults.

Of course, Sunstreaker never admitted to having such faults. He had a few minor ‘inconveniences’ but never anything like what the other mechs shared. He was perfect. Well, as close to it as anyone could possibly get.

Sunstreaker turned on the showers, letting the steam fill the small room before he stepped under the spray. Methodically he cleaned, lavishing the solvent over his body and scrubbing until it shone like a gilded mirror. He was washing his face when he heard it.

A soft click, like that of a door being opened.

Sunstreaker allowed a soft smile, knowing what was to come. He had expected such a visit, though was a little perturbed it had taken the arrival so long. Without acknowledging the sound he continued to wash, his hands tracing his lines in an entrancing manner. The motion had the desired effect.

A hand brushed his shoulder, caressing the golden panel before slipping beneath the seam to a very sensitive junction.

Sunstreaker gasped into the exploration. The water fell across his shoulders, making it appear as if the gold was melting in response to the touch. With fleeting consideration he slammed his firewalls and mental barriers into place, lest Sideswipe be overcome. He never wanted to share these encounters. They were his, and his alone.

The finger lightly stroked the wires, feeling the cables flex with the building tension. A smile formed on the shadowed face as the finger withdrew from its place to begin tracing lazy patterns down the arm, where Sunstreaker readily offered himself without thought. Though he exuded a sense of danger and mistrust, he secretly enjoyed being touched. And times like this, where peace and quiet reigned, he was more susceptible to the advances. It was a time that he was rarely granted, so when the opportunity presented itself, he was more than happy to accommodate.

The digit left his shoulder, grazing his chestplate, and for a brief moment he wondered if the water would damage his spark if he was ever inclined to expose it. The question left his processor when the hand applied pressure, turning him around.

This game had been played for nearly as long as Sunstreaker could remember. And though he preferred to properly court and berth any potential mate, he found his excitement double as he relinquished control. It was nice to have someone else direct your body. Use it to their advantage. Make it theirs, possessing it with such a ferocity you lose yourself in their passion.

Oh yes. Sunstreaker enjoyed these encounters. He would never give them up, not as long as his spark beat.

The beads of water slid sensuously over his arms and the finger gentled pushed, directing his path.

Some warrior. Moved so easily and so compliant. And all with a single, commanding finger.

The wall to the shower greeted his back. Now the water ran over his face. He braced himself against the wall, relinquishing control to his manipulator. Beautiful, crystalline tears tracing the perfect visage of a mechanical god. His lips parted, feeling the beading sensation tickle his face, the water sliding down the smooth column of his throat. He kept his optics closed, relishing the sensations.

It was better this way. No need for optic contact or even affirmation of another presence. Just hands, and the delicious sensations they offered. There was no reason for words or pleasantries. Their touch was far too familiar for such a trivial thing.

No, all that mattered was the delicate strokes, the pressure, and the promise they held.

He was helpless, suspended in wanton need, to be owned and pleasured at a whim. And always, he was to submit. Never speak, never return touches. A blind, mute, helpless drone that centered its being on an elusive touch.

The finger soon became a hand, pressing in all the right places. Across the golden chest, lightly skittering over the Autobot sigil that observed the proceedings, and down across abdominal plating that contracted with the light ministrations. A hiss escaped before Sunstreaker could stop himself, and a weakness stole over his body. For a fleeting moment he wondered if he should slide to the floor, just in case his strength waned and he ended up scratching his beautiful paint. The thought left his processor when the hand slid down, lightly grazing the top of Sunstreaker’s interface panel. He pressed into the wall, determined to maintain his self control.

He was a strong, capable warrior that destroyed more sparks than he’d care to admit. Nimble body, agile, though dark, mind. A haunted spirit that lashed out. A merciless killing machine that harbored no feelings of belonging and camaraderie other than what was sensed through the other half of his lifeforce. The only solace found was the other half of his spark that beat within another. No other mattered.

And then there was the rare, often sought moments such as this.

Where everything else faded away. There was no war. No suffering. No desire for death and destruction. No inkling of revenge and hatred. There was only peace. And the mesmerizing sensations that flittered over a battle-worn soul, soothing away the ache and pain and the fear. Quelling all thirst for vengeance and animosity. All held so tenderly in the talented hands of a phantom lover.

The hand massaged the edges of the panel, and Sunstreaker gasped, breath escaping in puffs from his vents. He groaned, finding the pressure to be achingly sweet. The heat coming from his frame was enough to cause the now cooling water to create steam. The hand cupped the heated metal, digits slipping between the seams in a slow, tantalizing request.

He obeyed, retracting the panel, his spike pressurizing instantly. The cooling water danced along his spike, eliciting a sharp intake, but it was quickly replaced by a sputtering gasp.

Fingers lightly caressed the tip of the spike, delicately spreading the drop of lubricant and stimulating the cluster of sensor nodes. His body gave an involuntary twitch, vents hitching in response. The fingers wrapped possessively around his spike, offering the faintest of pressure, before beginning its journey of discovery.

Sunstreaker could only pant in total submission, his memory automatically fixating on an encounter long ago of a particularly memorable pleasure house that only catered to the ultra-wealthy and influential. Sunstreaker’s notoriety had garnered him more accolades and credits than any other artist on record, so naturally, his tastes were a little more discriminatory. He visited the pleasure house regularly, and always asked for the same femme. Many had called him a berth hopper and would have been greatly disappointed to learn the real truth.

Sunstreaker had been quite attached to the extremely talented little femme. Her black and silver body highlighted his in perfect tandem, and when his spike was sheltered in her valve, amazing things happened. He didn’t know what was in there, or how she manipulated her body, but she had been the only one to bring him to such heights.

Just the thought of her valve and the little pleasurable gasps she made his processor spin. The hand grasped his spike, earning a hissing protest and making Sunstreaker focus on the present.

Finding an attentive audience once more, the hand circled, giving a slight twist to the tip, then undulated the fingers down the spike, tracing over the complex nodes and convoluted grooves.

It took all of Sunstreaker’s self control not to thrust into that delicious sensation, but he prided himself on being able to withhold his pleasure. Keeping himself blissfully teetering with macho arrogance, giving his partner extended satisfaction, and in turn, ensuring his designation would grace their lip components for a long time. It would be an added bonus if his name slipped between pleasured gasps while with other partners. And then the realization that all other partners paled in comparison to the gorgeous golden mech.

Sunstreaker smirked to himself. Damn, he was good. And gorgeous, and Primus if he wasn’t already racing to the climax at an alarming speed! Perhaps the prolonged absence of attention was to blame for his abnormally fast finish, but he gritted his denta, determined to withhold as long as he could.

Normally he’d love taking the checked flag, but this was a race he wasn’t willing to end just yet.

A long drawn purr vibrated in his chest at the thought of racing. It always did a mech’s ego good to push themselves to the limit, thunder above the competition, feel the road roughly beneath you as the wind caressed your grill. The roar of the crowd, the cheers of exultation, every voice chanting your designation in a sultry mantra and the enticing femmes screaming for you and willing to do anything you desire.

Their bodies. Their curves. The heat and tightness and the delicious sounds they made when he touched them. The feel of their slight bodies being molded to his much more powerful, dominating frame. The image of one femme in particular stood out in his fantasy. Her frame was slightly smaller than his, with black and silver plating, and melodic sounds coming from her vocalizer as he felt that wonderful valve welcome him without hesitation.

Sunstreaker moaned, and without warning, a sudden tight warmth enveloped his spike, and by Primus if it didn’t feel almost identical to the valve of the pleasure bot. The rhythm was slightly off and there was a distinct tightness near the middle of the spike, and not on the end, where the main clusters of sensors were located. It was close enough though.

Sunstreaker felt his resolve crumble.

He tilted his head back against the wall, allowing the cool water to caress his face as the first wave of his overload tingled his sensor net. He wanted so badly to grasp a body and bury himself so deep he’d need a map to find his way back into his own processor, but that type of interaction wasn’t permitted. He wasn’t allowed to see nor touch. Merely be a puppet to very talented hands that were master of his world.

Instinctually he thrust toward the clenching heat, the added friction triggering the final stages of his overload. Several short grunts erupted as the heat tightened in response. With his body rattling with violent tremors, Sunstreaker thrust, circling his hips, jaw clenched as he rode out the rolling pleasure.

With a feral growl his body went rigid, his transfluid being lovingly drawn from his body.

As all conscious thought left, his mind broke wide open and unwillingly flooded the bond with his unsuspecting twin.

Up in the command hub, Sideswipe suddenly keened, his vocalizer pitching a series of delicious adjectives as his body jerked three times, before he faceplanted on the keyboard, completely unconscious. He remained motionless, the sound of his systems shutting down into recharge filling the silence.

Every one present stared in shock and confusion. A small voice in the back called out, “What in the name of Primus was that all about?”

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

So, was Sunstreaker or alone or with someone? It’s up to you. I didn’t really elaborate either way.

Chapter Text

Inside Out

AN: Going to do some DRAMA. Hold on tight!

00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00

“Dad?”

Prowl shuttered his optics and gave a weary sigh through his vents. “Yes, Sunstreaker?”

“Sideswipe is trying to sneak out of base again.”

“Tell your brother that I said he is to remain on base until the speeding tickets are taken care of.”

“Will do,” Sunstreaker said, pausing for a moment before adding, “Can I hit him?”

“Only if he hits you first,” Prowl said, doing his best to suppress a grin.

Two weeks ago there had been a skirmish with the Decepticons that had started at a power station three blocks away, and ended up with the twins at the mall. The duo had decided the day was perfect for surfing on seekers, Sideswipe having wrested his position on top of Starscream, Sunstreaker latching onto an irritated Skywarp. It didn’t go according to Sideswipe’s brilliant plan. Luckily it was just after daybreak, so the mall was thankfully empty.

Sideswipe was dumped in the food court by a laughing Starscream, who Sideswipe was sure enjoyed the midair tussles with the turbulent twins. Sunstreaker ended up in a department store. When he tried to get up, the second floor crashed onto his head, knocking him cold.

Sunstreaker awoke in medbay sometime later, and for reasons the Second In Command and Medic couldn’t understand, Sunstreaker believed Prowl to be his creator. At first Ratchet and Prowl thought Sunstreaker was faking, hoping to gain sympathy or get away with something that would normally include brig time. However, Sunstreaker obeyed every command given to him by his new ‘father,’ never questioning him and going about his duties without complaint.

The rest of the Command staff weren’t buying it, so Prowl thought of a way to test Sunstreaker’s conviction, or as Jazz put it, his defectiveness of processor. Prowl asked Sunstreaker where Sideswipe’s illegal high grade still was located, something the Second had been trying to find since the twins joined their unit. And to Prowl’s surprise and Sideswipe’s infuriated anger, Sunstreaker told his adoptive parent the location.

Sideswipe didn’t talk to Sunstreaker for three days after that, course he was confined to the brig. Not once did Sunstreaker go to see his twin and when Sideswipe learned of his brother’s little ‘glitch’, he forgave the citrine menace with both fists. Thankfully Sunstreaker was able to defend himself, even calmly sending an alert to Prowl to give him an update on his brother’s apparent need to ‘knock some sense into him,’ and had watched with smug satisfaction as Sideswipe was lead into the brig….. again. Jazz mentioned something about a new record and Sideswipe proceeded to abuse everyone’s audios with obscenities.

Prowl was secretly thrilled to have a constant spy on the resident troublemaker. Sunstreaker gave regular updates and always politely asked his ‘father’ for course of action. That should have concerned the Second, but he was so elated with the positive results, it didn’t register.

Sideswipe resented his traitorous brother. Prowl enjoyed the nearly stress free environment associated with twin antics. Prime and Ratchet were amused by the whole situation, the medic sometimes referring to the tactician as ‘Pops.’ Sunstreaker strutted around the base, proudly, thinking his father favored him over his twin. It was a nice change, though Prowl would rather sever a limb than admit it out loud.

Sideswipe had been foiled at every turn, no matter how well he planned or blackmailed others into his service. Sunstreaker always reported his adventures to Prowl and puffed like a peacock when publicly praised.

“Let me know if he’s up to anything,” Prowl said through the comm., though he knew Sunstreaker would anyway.

“Yes, Dad,” Sunstreaker answered cutting the connection. His voice had sounded a little strange, but Prowl passed it off as nothing important.

Prowl allowed a small smile. He could definitely get used to this. The smile was still in place a couple minutes later when a black and white frame slipped into the room, datapad in hand.

“Stop smirking. Looks unnatural on you,” Jazz snorted, entering the tactician’s office without knocking.

Prowl schooled his features, accepting the datapad Jazz offered. Jazz eyed his best friend carefully, trying to gauge his mood. He had noticed a trend developing lately with the other black and white. It usually involved someone who was now acting like a golden surveillance drone.

“You were talking to Sunstreaker, weren’t you?”

“Why might you ask such a question?” Prowl asked, turning on the screen and seeing Jazz’s barely understandable scribble.

“Because I’ve noticed lately that when you talk to our resident sociopath, you’ve been rather chipper.”

“Chipper?”

“Well, more buoyant anyway. Just like you got new shocks and are bouncing along.”

“I don’t bounce.”

“I disagree.”

Prowl opened his mouth to argue, but his comm. crackled again.

“Dad, I had to hit Sideswipe.”

“What did he do?”

“He tried to sneak out again, and when I tried to stop him, he punched me.”

“So you hit him back?”

“You said I could.”

“Yes, I did,” Prowl gave Jazz an exasperated look, though the saboteur wasn’t privy to the conversation on the private freq. “Where is he now?”

“Lying in the hall outside our quarters.” Sunstreaker answered, not sounding remorseful. “I knocked his aft out.”

Before Prowl could respond, the cacophony of klaxons went off. Red Alert’s voice crackled over the intercom, giving updates to the latest Decepticon attack. Prime called for able soldiers, Ratchet snarled about inconvenience of attacks and how no one better sustain mortal wounds or he may not fix them this time. As Prowl and Jazz raced to the entrance of the Ark to join their comrades, Sunstreaker nearly ran them over in his exuberance.

“You’re not on duty,” Prowl barked as the soldiers assembled.

“I can do what I want on my down time.” Sunstreaker answered, his circuits singing with the thought of battle. He’d been left out of the recent tussle due to his apparent mental ‘issues’, and he was itching to get back into the mix.

“But not to engage the enemy. That’s against protocol.” Prowl growled, giving the golden warrior a fifthly look.

“How I chose to spend my free time is up to me, correct?” Sunstreaker countered. Then offered a cheeky grin, “Prime needs as many soldiers as possible, so I’m just going along for back up.”

“Stop fussing and roll out already,” Ironhide snapped, pointing to the already transformed mechs who were starting to leave.

Prowl took after Prime and Jazz, Sunstreaker taking pace immediately behind him. Ironhide growled, but didn’t voice his irritation. He usually kept pace behind Prime, the twins and other sporty models zipping out front to take point. It was odd Sunstreaker chose to remain behind Prime, who had to move at a much slower pace due to his bulk and trailer. Ironhide did notice the golden warrior stayed rather close to the tactician. The weapons master had an inkling and the thought almost made him laugh. No one could image reserved, stoic, strict Prowl being a creator. Why Sunstreaker chose to imprint on the tactician was a mystery.

The crew thought it a little strange as well. Some commented on the fact that the irrational behavior was a sign that the citrine twin had finally cracked. Smokescreen had reverted to his earlier profession of physiologist and pronounced the mech to be perfectly sane.

Course he still couldn’t say why the anti-social menace was suddenly so polite and obeying all the rules, but it was a welcomed change all around. The crew got to know him better, his social skills vastly improved, and he stayed out of trouble, even volunteered to assist others in their work, performing all tasks and duties without Autobot complaints.

Well, Sideswipe complained. Constantly.

He insisted Sunstreaker was broken and several times demanded that Ratchet fix him.

No one could understand why he adopted Earth’s lingo toward his perceived parent. Most of the time he referred to Prowl as “Dad”, but when he was particularly bothered by something, he resorted to the Cybertronian idiom of “Creator.” Several times Prowl got the distinct feeling the yellow Lamborghini wanted to say something, but for reasons unknown, Sunstreaker always held his vocalizer.

Which was a good thing, because Prowl wasn’t comfortable with being someone’s creator. His unexpected parentage already caused two processor crashes, and both times was to wake up with Sunstreaker’s bedside vigil.

Jazz remarked that it was cute. Prowl thought it was creepy. Sideswipe, when he found out after being released from the brig, thought it proved his brothers metal illness. It all culminated into a huge fight in the medical ward that had Ratchet kick everyone out, then comm. Prime to announce his immediate retirement.

“Look out, Dad!” Sunstreaker yelled, transforming in a blur and launching himself at the incoming seekers.

The battle wasn’t its normal stock footage type reel where the Autobots and Decepticons tussled, Megatron getting his aft handed to him by Prime. At first, the two ageless combatants grappled in their normal dance, exchanging blows and insults. Then something odd happened. Megatron overpowered Prime, sending the Autobot leader crashing into two of his soldiers. The others jumped to his defense, but Megatron knocked them aside like sparklings. He stalked toward his dazed rival, red optics glowing in triumph. No one noticed the in air collision between Starscream and Thundercracker. Skywarp had teleported away at the last possible second.

Prime’s equilibrium recalibrated, his optics focusing just in time to see Megatron tower above him. Two groans behind him indicated the ones that cushioned his fall were still stunned.

Megatron’s cannon leveled, his lines already singing in his impending victory. It was a long time coming, and he intended to savor every delicious second. His processor was charging, documenting his victory and the precise time the Decepticon’s became victorious. The fall of the Autobots and the reign of the Decepticons.

Time slowed. The sounds of the battled faded away into ghosts. The two enemies stared into each others optics. The triumph, the pain, the struggle, the success, the elation, the regret, all mirrored and reflected, one in anguish, the other in delight.

And out of no where, a golden flash and time resumed its natural pace.

Sunstreaker jumped on Megatron’s back, his feet connecting with the warlords lower back, staggering him and causing him to lose his only chance to end the long war. Megatron twisted right, then left, trying to get a hold on the menace now pounding along his head and neck. Sunstreaker was a seasoned warrior, and after so much practice, he was well adept to evading capture. It was convenient he was able to get the drop on the larger mech. Sunstreaker wasn’t much of a shot, preferring to use his fists and do what comes naturally to his instinctual programming.

Fists flying, Sunstreaker shifted, keeping away from the warlords groping digits. The white metal dented, small fissures forming along the neck and shoulder. Sunstreaker concentrated all his malice on the largest crack in the armor, occasionally landing a blow to the back of the head to disorient his victim.

With vice like fingers, Sunstreaker wrenched the metal back. It peeled with a sickening screech, exposing cables and wires. Without thought, Sunstreaker buried his hand into the vitals displayed and began twisting. Megatron sputtered, the renting wires sending out spastic jerks. He hissed, twisting desperately, and felt the grim satisfaction of a wheeled ankle. He grabbed with his right hand, gripping hard enough to leave impressions and jerked hard.

Sunstreaker’s hand was full of wires and one feebly twitching gear when he felt something grab his ankle. Knowing he was out of time, he buried his hand into the exposed left shoulder. When the force of his dislodging removed him from his perch, his hand was grasping cables, wires, and a tiny little black box that glowed faintly before going dark.

Megatron faltered, his systems fritzing as he threw the golden warrior from him. Sunstreaker landed in a heap, slow to get up, his systems protesting the brunt force of his landing. Dazed, Sunstreaker looked up just in time to see Megatron point his cannon.

A blinding flash, followed by the most intense pain Sunstreaker could remember and everything slowed to a halt. Sunstreaker stared numbly, unable to move, a thin curl of smoke issuing from the large gaping hole in his chest.

The simple act of discharging his cannon sent Megatron reeling. He stumbled, his damaged shoulder sending sparks cascading into a beautiful fireworks display. Soundwave grabbed his now injured leader as Starscream called for a retreat, one wing bent awkwardly.

“It’s okay, Sunstreaker,” Ratchet was saying, though Sunstreaker couldn’t register the words or notice the worried tone. “Just relax and let me take care of you.”

Those words alone should have alerted Sunstreaker to the extent of the damage, but nothing entered his frozen processor. He felt someone gently lower him to the ground and recognized Ratchet leaning over him, but the grim look the medic wore, the desperate tone of his comrades, the words being spoken, all seemed light years away.

“How bad, Ratchet?” Prime asked, though he had a notion due to the flickering light emanating from Sunstreaker’s chest.

“Spark chamber’s been breached,” Ratchet rattled, his tone slightly frantic. His hands were flying over the wound, soldering off hemorrhaging lines, siphoning out volatile fluids, and trying to keep his patient alive. “Contaminants in his spark, which is causing a residual cascade failure. If I can’t stabilize the cascade, we’ll lose him.”

“Just give the word, Ratchet,” Jazz said, where he leaned against Prowl. Jazz’s windshield was busted, his bumper crumpled, one arm bent awkwardly, red paint highlighting his monochromatic features. The Porsche had taken the brunt of his leader’s impact when Megatron sent him flying. Bumblebee had cushioned Jazz’s fall, but the little yellow scout was only disoriented and lightly scratched.

“We need to get him home,” Ratchet said, his fingers extending into a welder. Without thought he removed a piece of his forearm armor and carefully placed it over the gaping hole in Sunstreaker’s chest. “We need to get him to Sideswipe. He has the strongest spark and can filter the impurities and help Sunstreaker’s spark to stabilize.”

Sunstreaker remained motionless, staring blankly into the distance. It was very unnerving to see the golden warrior so peaceful and meek.

“I need to hook him to someone who can help regulate his systems,” Ratchet explained, carefully soldering his armor into place. Had Sunstreaker been his usual self, he would have commented on the medical white clashing with his paint.

“I’ll do it,” Jazz said, forgetting about his own predicament.

“You can’t,” Ratchet said after a brief scan of the saboteur. “You’re injured and have several compromised systems. It’s not life threatening, but it could become so if you try to sustain another life.”

Jazz started to protest, but Prowl cut across. “I can assist Sunstreaker. We have similar base designs.”

Ratchet nodded, his processor already finding Prowl to be a compatible substitute. “He’s stable for now. The sooner we get back to base, the better.”

Prime transformed, his trailer opening to accept the injured. Prowl helped Ratchet carry Sunstreaker inside, where Ratchet opened ports along both warriors and connected the makeshift life support. Prowl hovered over the fallen warrior, his systems taking a few seconds to accept their new parameters. Jazz was ordered inside by Ironhide, who argued that since the Porsche was unable to transform, he would take forever to walk back to base. Jazz reluctantly agreed.

As soon as the trailer door closed, Sunstreaker gasped. A low whine issued from the dark.

“What have I done?” Sunstreaker’s voice was a mere whisper in the dark. “I’m sorry. I’ll do better. I promise.”

Jazz turned on his only functioning headlight, illuminating the most intense moment he could ever remember. Sunstreaker was staring at the ceiling, his face a mask of worry, shame, regret, and fear. His frame lightly rattled from the tremors coursing through him. The two Commanding Officers had a feeling it had nothing to do with his physical injuries.

“I’ll try to do better. I promise,” Sunstreaker muttered the mantra repeatedly, his voice breaking with emotion.

Prowl grasped Sunstreaker’s clutching hand in both of his own, his doorwings drawing down in a protective canopy. His face was set in its ever stoic poise, but Jazz could see by the dim lighting, that something was in Prowl’s optics. Determination. Resolution. Absolution. Jazz was suddenly struck by an old Earth legend, and he never thought he’d see a true vision. Prowl’s protectiveness, his resolve, his doorwings sweeping in an elegant arch, protecting an honorable soul that lay shattered in the darkness.

A true archangel to be feared.

“I’m sorry,” Sunstreaker whispered again, not seeing reality but somewhere else entirely. Another place and time, long forgotten, except in moments of anguish, then they were just as fresh and raw as when they were first inflicted.

“You have nothing to be sorry for,” Prowl was saying, not liking the situation. Emotions weren’t his forte, so the SIC tried to avoid them at all costs, especially ones that required delicate handling to protect innocent sparks from being shattered. One poorly worded thought, and the world could dissolve in a never-ending vortex of misery. For both parties involved, though usually Prowl crashed and was saved a lot of negative emotional feedback.

“Sorry,” Sunstreaker muttered, his optics flickered.

“Don’t fall into recharge,” Prowl blurted, calibrating his systems to send a little extra charge to help boost the warrior’s faltering systems. “Look at me, Sunstreaker.”

The optics dimmed for a moment, then brightened, the extra charge taking effect. For the first time since his injury, Sunstreaker seemed to be able to focus. His optics rested on Prowl, staring at his black and white protector.

“Good. Keep your focus on me, Sunstreaker. I don’t want you falling into charge until we can get back to base,” Prowl said encouragingly. Recognition was in Sunstreaker’s optics, and Prowl wanted to keep the frontliner conscious until they could get him to his twin.

Sunstreaker gazed up into the face hovering over him, his optics shuttering slowly. His face contorted into a sorrowful grimace, his vocalizer starting to fill with static.

“Are you proud of me?” Sunstreaker asked, his voice breaking.

Prowl was taken aback, unsure how to react, but before he rationalized the question, his vocalizer was already responding.

“I’m very proud of you. You’ve done well above my expectations.”

“I have?” Sunstreaker voice was hard to distinguish from the static, but the look of pleading in his optics pushed the reluctant parent to continue.

“You have protected everyone at the risk of your own life. There is nothing more honorable than that.”

“Proud…” Sunstreaker trailed off, his optics dimming as a smile spread across his face.

“Very proud,” Prowl amended. “And I’m honored to be considered your creator.”

“Creator….” Sunstreaker’s smile faltered, an involuntary whimper escaping as his optics lowered. His voice crackled with static as he whimpered, “I don’t want to be broken.”

“You’re not broken, just injured. Nothing Ratchet can’t fix,” Prowl said, not liking the readouts now scrolling across his HUD. Sunstreaker’s vitals were starting to drop. “Stay with me, Sunstreaker.”

“Can’t…. fix….” Sunstreaker muttered, his optics flickering to darkness. “Broken… useless…..” A small static filled cry echoed in the confines of the rolling tomb. His voice was distant, whispering. “I’m worthless….. junk.”

“Sunstreaker?!” Prowl yelled, squeezing the now slack hand in his grasp.

Jazz’s remaining headlight gave a flicker, then cast the inside of the trailer into darkness. The only light now was from the two Commanding Officer’s optics. One silently observing a rare moment, and unable to form the words to express the turbulent emotions now jockeying for position in his spark.

The other rallying to save a life that suddenly became a lot more precious.

Prime rolled straight into medbay, Ratchet already transformed and grabbing the safety locks on the back of the trailer. No one said a word. Every crew member stepped aside without complaint or irritation, sequestering themselves away from the medic as he fought to save a life.

Prowl carried Sunstreaker from the trailer, his steps ringing through the metal ward. Had Jazz been in a more jovial mood, he would have laughed that it was the first time he ever heard Prowl’s footsteps, but the saboteur limped to a nearby berth with Ironhide’s help, and the two kept a distant vigil.

Sideswipe was already rushing to the pair, his crimson hood splitting, exposing his spark chamber. Without Ratchet’s order, he climbed on top the berth, hovering near the Datsun, who was sending vast amounts of energy into the downed Lamborghini to keep his systems stable. Prowl was visibly shaking, his doorwings vibrating with his efforts.

Ratchet wormed his hands between the two living life supports, and began the tedious task of removing the protective armor from the Sunstreaker’s damaged spark chamber. As soon as it came free, Sideswipe joined his half spark to his brother’s, a grinding hiss escaping him before he collapsed motionless on top his twin.

Prowl tried to protest, but Ratchet began removing the leads that kept the tactician linked to the downed warrior. Prowl staggered, finally free of the physical burden of sustaining another life, and felt someone wrap their arms around him to lead him to a berth. Without knowing who his support was, he collapsed, his systems shutting down for recalibration and repairs. His last fleeting thought was of his twins and a silent prayer to Primus that he didn’t lose them.

Chapter Text

Outside In

-------------------------------------------------

“Shouldn’t you be in the brig?” Prowl asked without looking up from his datapad.

Sideswipe gave a half shrug, planting himself on the opposite side of the tactician, his optics fixed on the unmoving form between them on the berth. “One of Wheeljack’s explosions took out half the brig, causing a short circuit. Bars went down, so I just walked out.”

Prowl finished his report and placed the pad on the finished pile and turned to the ruby Lamborghini. “You’re still in trouble.”

Sideswipe glanced to the Second before returning his attention back to his brother. “I know. I’ll go back when Wheeljack fixes what he broke.”

Prowl felt his spark clench. He regretted having to send the frontliner to the brig, but after he stabilized Sunstreaker’s spark, he refused to leave his brother’s side, constantly getting in Ratchet’s way as he worked. Sideswipe’s vehemence started with a heated shouting match that rapidly escaladed into violence. Sideswipe was advancing and Ratchet was deadly with tools, but if the two came to hand to hand combat, Ratchet would lose. Badly.

With other alternative, Prowl ordered the frontliner to the brig. A decision he despised making, knowing Sideswipe was only venting his worry and frustration in the only way he knew how. He had no control, both emotionally and physically. He could easily hurt Ratchet, or worse. That was a scenario the Second wasn’t willing to facilitate. It took the combined force of Prime, Ironhide, Prowl, and Jazz’s sneaky fighting maneuvers to subdue him for incarceration.

Ratchet had stormed to his office and slammed the door so hard; the tools along the workbench had jumped from their places. It was rare the CMO displayed such anger, but his worry over Sunstreaker and Sideswipe’s constant interference had worked their way under his armor and irritated him to violence.

And for once, Prowl didn’t lecture either on their behavior. He remained stationed by Sunstreaker’s side, performing his duties as he normally would, though using a spare berth as his desk. Jazz came and went, sometimes sitting with the two and working on his own reports in companionable silence. A task that Prowl would have thought impossible of the fidgety Special Ops Commander.

“Why won’t he wake up?” Sideswipe asked softly, startling Prowl out of his thoughts.

“Ratchet said the trauma was enough to send him into stasis and is reluctant to use stimulants,” Prowl said, knowing that Sideswipe had heard the explanation before. The information just didn’t seem to be able to sink in. He guessed it was the constant strain of having an unanswered bond.

Sideswipe carefully folded Sunstreaker’s hand in his own, staring at the face that always seemed to display a scowl. It was sad that such a beautiful face could warp into something so cruel and vicious. Yet, here it was, peaceful in slumber and angelically perfect.

And so silent.

There was no reaction to touch. No emotional displays, or hissing protests. No inkling through the bond. Sideswipe felt his spark falter, its summons unanswered by its other half that was so close, yet so far away. When he had merged his life to his brother’s, the pain had been overwhelming. He didn’t remember losing consciousness, or the disconnection of their bodies. The only thing he remembered was waking up staring at an orange ceiling and a cold emptiness where his spark should be.

He felt so alone.

The sensation had been enough to send the frontliner into action, which now that he had time to think about, wasn’t exactly the smartest thing to do. His brother needed him close by, and though he was loathe to admit it, he needed visual confirmation of his twin. He couldn’t be sure if Sunstreaker still lived, the constant presence in his spark and mind had been silenced. So now, all he had, was the visual reassurance that life still resided in the golden frame. And it terrified him.

Prowl’s comm. beeped and after a minute, he spoke to Sideswipe. “Brig’s fixed.” Sideswipe gave a small nod in acceptance, but rising in slow motion, his optics fixed on his brother’s visage, Prowl added, “If you promise to control your emotions, you may stay.”

“Promise,” Sideswipe said without thought, dropping back down onto his seat with a clang. He gave a sheepish look to the Second. “Sorry about earlier. I was an idiot.”

“You are just worried about your brother,” Prowl responded.

“I can’t feel him,” Sideswipe admitted, a grievous look gracing his face. “I can always feel him, even when we recharge. But now…… nothing.”

“Ratchet said it was due to his injuries,” Prowl said, suddenly very aware of how scary it must be for Sideswipe to not feel his twin. Solitude didn’t sit well with the ruby warrior. “He’s in deep stasis until his systems sense his healing repairs. Then his processor will recognize his repaired body and release his subconscious from retreatment.”

Sideswipe nodded, knowing that the injury to the spark was the worst that could be sustained. Their very essence pulsed within that brilliant light, and when it was threatened, the body naturally shut itself down as a matter of self-preservation. He had felt his brother’s retreat as they merged, but the pain was so overwhelming it scrambled his CPU for some time. Part of his earlier retaliation had been due to disorientation.

The two lapsed into companionable silence for awhile, until Ratchet stalked out of his office. He took a couple of steps, then glared at the two stationed beside his only patient.

“What is this, a convention?” he asked gruffly, pushing past Sideswipe who had fallen into recharge beside of his twin.

Sideswipe awoke with a start, grunting as Ratchet dislodged the hold he had on his twin. His hand went to his chest and started to rub, his scowl a perfect imitation of Sunstreaker’s.

“Is your spark hurting?” Prowl asked, noticing the ruby warriors actions.

Sideswipe shook his head, his expression going from irritated aggression to relief. “No, burning. It means Sunny is starting to come round.”

Prowl looked to Ratchet and sure enough, Ratchet gave a nod of affirmation.

“His systems are repairing the damage,” Ratchet supplied, checking over the leads and finding his patient in optimal recovery. “Give him another day or so and he’ll be up and about, making everyone just as miserable as himself.”

Sideswipe glared.

“You’re professionalism is exemplary but your bedside manner is rudimentary at best,” Prowl commented in his dry monotone.

It was Ratchet’s turn to scowl. “Do you want to be my personal guest and get first hand experience on how ‘professional’ I can be?” A wrench appeared as an unspoken promise.

Sideswipe gulped, looking to Prowl, expecting to see him cringe like the rest of the crew. However, Prowl merely blinked lazy optics and nodded toward Sunstreaker, “Recovery time?”

“He should be awake within the next twelve to twenty-four hours,” Ratchet said, hefting his favorite wrench, though he knew Prowl wasn’t intimidated by medicinal iron. “Depending on how fast he assimilates the new materials and he doesn’t do anything stupid to rupture a weld.”

“Approximate time for recovery?” Prowl prompted, unperturbed.

“Depends on how long we can keep him inactive, but I’m guessing about a week,” Ratchet said, stowing his wrench away as its effect was disappointing. He knew that Prowl was busy adjusting duty rosters and was trying to formulate the best possible schedule. There was a small part of him that wondered if the tactician wasn’t hiding ulterior motives. Had he not known Prowl, he would have guessed his actions benefiting to those of a worried parent and not of a commanding officer.

“Understood,” Prowl said, and began typing on a datapad. Without looking up he added, “Sideswipe, I will need you to cover Hound’s patrol this evening so he can perform monitor duty tonight.”

“Will do,” Sideswipe said, feeling the burning ache in his chest that signaled Sunstreaker was broadcasting along the bond. It felt good to have him back.

“And you will have to cover patrols tomorrow,” Prowl said, then looked to the loudly whining frontliner. “I augmented your schedule so you can exercise your circuits. If you wish to do monitor duty instead, then by all means, maintain that annoying whine.”

Sideswipe stilled, glaring at the SIC. With a spastic jerk of his head he agreed to the new shifts, Prowl’s typing fingers only fueling his annoyance with the black and white. But if he had to do extra duties, then racing along the streets wasn’t as bad and staring at monitors for hours on end. How Red Alert did it was anyone’s guess. Sideswipe would have went mad within a day.

“I suggest you get some charge before shift,” Prowl said, nodding toward the door.

Sideswipe sighed, slumped his shoulders and walked dejectedly through the door. When he disappeared, Ratchet chuckled, earning Prowl’s inquisitive look.

“I know why Sunstreaker imprinted on you,’ Ratchet smiled, barely able to contain his laughter. “You’re more of a creator than you realize.”

Prowl puffed his doorwings and arched his olfactory sensor into the air in a superior look that would have made Mirage proud. “I fail to see the similarities and I would appreciate you to refrain from conjecture. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have roster changes that need to be distributed.”

“Of course,” Ratchet said, embellishing the dismissive wave of his hand. He knew that Prowl could easily comm. the affected members of the roster changes. “I shall see you in the morning?”

Prowl’s huffed vent was his answer. Ratchet waited until the SIC disappeared through the doors before laughing, turning to the unconscious Sunstreaker and adding, “Hurry up and get well, Menace. I don’t like drama in my med bay.”

Belaying his aggressive statement, Ratchet checked on Sunstreaker’s vitals one last time, gentle in his demeanor, before going to his office to down some hidden high grade and finish his latest inventory lists for the supply run later that week.

Prowl entered the medical ward the next morning to find a tempest in full force.

“Lie down and shut up!” Ratchet snapped, struggling with a golden tornado that wanted nothing more than to escape his confinement. “Do I have to get rough?”

Ratchet had been startled when Sunstreaker had grabbed his probing hand while examining the weld mark across Sunstreaker’s chest. Not expecting his patient to be cognizant, Ratchet was surprised when Sunstreaker pushed his hand away and tried to pull himself off the berth. Pain had made him wither, but Ratchet’s furious shouting had only incensed the frontliner further. Now he really wanted to get out of the medical ward, preferably after he inflicted some sort of retribution to the one poking his sore body.

“Oh, and this is gentle medical care?” Sunstreaker retorted, snarling when Ratchet’s hand brushed against a tender weld along his chest.

“Don’t make me terminate you!” Ratchet yelled, pinching a wire that he knew was sensitive in the golden frame.

Sunstreaker let out a howl, and reluctantly fell back on the berth, his optics near white with rage. “You’ll pay for that.”

“I already have,” Ratchet said without making optic contact. “Want to guess how many hours it took me to put you together and keep your miserable plating alive?”

Sunstreaker frowned, trying to remember the incident that brought him to Ratchet’s acidic care. “I only fell through a building. I’ve done it before. Recovery didn’t take quite as long,” he gave a smug sneer to his captor; “You must be losing your touch!”

His answer was a resounding clang in his audios as Ratchet delivered a dose of metal medicine, though it was a rather small measure compared to his normal dosage. Any further arguments were interrupted when Prowl spoke.

“How is he?” he asked without preamble.

“Back to normal, I’m sorry to say,” Ratchet said, giving Sunstreaker a look that could melt titanium. His expression softened when he turned to the tactician. “He doesn’t remember the past two weeks. He keeps thinking his injuries were caused from falling through a roof.” He let out an exasperated huff directed toward the now pacifistic twin. “Doesn’t believe me about taking on Megatron and nearly getting terminated in the process.”

“Glitch,” Sunstreaker muttered darkly.

“You don’t remember anything?” Prowl asked, and for once, his usual passive manner was dropped. Surprise registered on his face as he stared at Sunstreaker. “Anything at all?”

“I remember riding Skywarp,” Sunstreaker said, his lip curling in distaste, “Not that he was a good ride, but he somehow managed to lose me and I fell into a building. I think it was the mall.”

“That was nearly three weeks ago,” Prowl amended, watching for some sign of comprehension. A battle waged on Sunstreaker’s face before he finally settled on scowling in disbelief. Prowl added, “Megatron overpowered Prime and you attacked him, saving Prime’s life, along with Jazz and Bumblebee.”

“Your spark chamber was damaged, but Prowl was able to keep you stable until we could return to base, where Sideswipe initiated a merge and stabilized your spark. You’ve been in stasis for four days until you could assimilate the new materials.” Ratchet brandished a wrench as he spoke.

Sunstreaker gazed down at his chest, scowling deeper when he noticed the pewter marks across his pristine paint. “It’s horrible.”

“It nearly ended your life,” Prowl said, fighting the urge to strangle the frontliner, and yet, that part of him that became a creator, wanted to hold his adoptive child and protect him from the cruelty of life. His processor started to burn. Not a good sign. There was a high probability there was crash in his near future. “The wounds will heal, given time and patience.”

“I meant my paint,” Sunstreaker snarled, giving Prowl a long suffering look. “I clash!”

“You’ll survive,” Ratchet intoned, rolling his optics. Definitely the old Sunstreaker. He shook his head at the stupidity of his comrades and went to his office, slamming the door amid a shower of curses.

“I’d rather be terminated!” Sunstreaker shouted to where Ratchet had disappeared, then recoiled as Prowl stalked toward him, optics shining like a maniac.

“Don’t you dare say that!” Prowl growled, his engine revving in his anger. “Never again! Understand?”

Sunstreaker regained some of his attitude, his own optics flaring with his temper. “I’d rather terminate than be seen like this! This is unacceptable!”

Prowl inched closer, barreling down on his prey with every intention of making the golden warrior rethink his declaration. Sunstreaker’s notorious temper was forgotten, his reputation, meaningless, as he was overshadowed by a raging Praxian. Prowl was bracketing Sunstreaker before he realized he had him cornered. Sunstreaker twitched at the proximity, feeling the SIC’s EM field brush his own. An angered inferno raked across his plating, near melting his systems as Prowl hovered, seething from every line. Sunstreaker felt his tanks drop. He never realized Prowl could become so terrifying. Whatever had the tactician on edge, didn’t bode well for Sunstreaker’s continued health.

“I would rather have you mismatched than terminated, and I don’t appreciate you treating your life with such callous disregard. If you think so lowly of your worth, then I will forbid you to engage the Decepticons in the future.” Prowl ground out, his optics boring into Sunstreaker’s own.

“You wouldn’t dare,” Sunstreaker half hissed, half snarled, trying to find his vehemence to retaliate. He really didn’t like this new Prowl. It made his plating burn.

“Try me,” Prowl growled. His hands were braced on either side of Sunstreaker’s head, his door wings expanded to their fullest extent in ritualistic display. Smokescreen would have had a field day with the implications to the two oblivious mechs.

“Why do you care?” Sunstreaker asked, though his voice lost most of its venom. Now it sounded diminutive, and slightly frightened.

“I care about yo…. every one of the Autobot forces,” Prowl said, trying to cover his blunder of wanting to say he cared what happened to Sunstreaker. He had already suffered two processor crashes with trying to figure out how and why he reversed imprinted and thought Sunstreaker was his sparkling. The ludicrous scenario had plagued the Praxian’s processor until he crashed, waking both times to a fuming Ratchet who whacked him a few times to instill a sense of ‘balance and knock the fragging cogs back into alignment.’ He was not looking forward to more helm aches and impacts. “I will do what I must to preserve the lives of those who mean the most.”

“I’m a front line warrior,” Sunstreaker said, glaring at Prowl as if seeing him for the first time. “I’m your first line of defense. What are you going to do? Tell Prime he can’t send me out because you don’t want me to get hurt? Tough!” Sunstreaker gave an obstinate glare in challenge. Acting like a true enraged adolescent. Prowl had to stifle the riling of his door wings in annoyance.

“I can find any protocol to fit this situation,” Prowl warned. “You forget who you are talking to.”

“No, its you who forgets,” Sunstreaker retaliated, pulling himself up into a full sitting position in defiance, though he pursed his lip plating. His tense frame suggested he was in pain from the maneuver. “I do my job. As do you. And I suggest you formulate your plans and leave the fighting to those of us who are adept at it.”

“Fighting is not the only thing that you excel in,” Prowl said, trying to find good qualities to define Sunstreaker. It was rather difficult. He wasn’t the easiest of mechs to get along with. “You have value in other aspects.”

“I’m just a soldier,” Sunstreaker said, his scowl trying to reassert itself, but other emotions kept blocking its attempts. He looked like he was trying to convince himself and not his superior officer. “My position means I’m expendable. Worthless. I’m only here to ensure the rest of you can make it to safety.”

“You just aren’t some worthless soldier meant to be sacrificed for fodder and then forgotten,” Prowl said, his tone neutral, but Sunstreaker could have sworn there was more. Something he couldn’t identify. “Your life is just as important as anyone else, and I refuse to allow you to think of yourself so poorly.”

“Why do you care?” Sunstreaker asked, still feeling the underlying current tug at his processor. It was bothering him with its incessant, taunting nature. It was like an overemotional Sideswipe residing in his mind. “It’s not like I’m Prime. I’m not important to the cause. The Autobots wouldn’t be devastated if I terminated. They avoid me like cosmic rust! Pit, most of them would probably celebrate my termination.”

“Only because you keep a wall around yourself and don’t let others past your defenses,” Prowl said.

Sunstreaker quirked a brow ridge and sneered, “Speaking for yourself?”

Prowl flinched but didn’t waver. “I mean it, Sunstreaker. You hold value, not only to your twin, but to the Autobots.”

“Really?” Sunstreaker asked in true skeptic fashion. His arms were crossed, though Prowl noted the trembling of the frame. Sunstreaker was overtaxing himself just by sitting up. Defiant until the last reserve of strength failed. Prowl admired that.

“Your methods are careless and could use some fine tuning, but your motives are sincere,” Prowl said, ignoring the irate glare at mentioning Sunstreaker’s reckless behavior. “But you are important. We would be lost without you, and that is something I fear we could never recover from.”

Sunstreaker snorted, doubting Prowl’s state of processor. The stoic SIC never spoke about such things. He must have taken a hit and Ratchet missed something on his scans. “They’d miss Sideswipe,” Sunstreaker said with a touch of sullenness in his voice. And was that a hint of grief? “No one would ever miss me.”

“They would miss you when they realized how much you sacrifice to keep them safe and the suffering you endure to ensure everyone returns home,” Prowl said, his tone soft. He never really thought about it, but the twins kept the Autobot forces strong and ensured their survival.

“You are far more valuable than what you realize, Sunstreaker,“ Prowl added. He noticed that Sunstreaker was now visibly shaking, either from emotion or physical strain, he couldn’t tell. But the golden warrior was displaying a rare moment of weakness. “Though others may not know it or acknowledge it, I am aware of the danger and it chills my spark to think that one day, you may not return home.”

Prowl paused for a second, letting his words sink in.

“Bear that in mind the next time you feel as if you are just some random soldier to be discarded.” He looked Sunstreaker straight in the optic, his voice pouring forth before his processor could catch up to his words. He didn’t know where the well of sentiment was springing from, but something in the back of his processor told him that this needed to be said. The desperate pleas for forgiveness and absolution in the darkness of Prime’s trailer came to the forefront of his processor and haunted his charge more often than he cared to admit.

Sunstreaker’s expression was one of shock and confusion. He frowned, unsure what to make of the SIC and his meaning. When Prowl spoke again, Sunstreaker couldn’t stop the wave of sadness and despair wash over his features. He was shaking so hard, he was surprised the berth wasn’t rattling.

“You are important, Sunstreaker. You matter. To the Autobots, to your brother, to me,” Prowl added, feeling uncomfortable and yet, righteous. It was a very odd conundrum and one that was surely going to crash his processor later when he reviewed the conversation. He was due for a few more hits to the helm curtsey of an irate medic.

“Don’t ever think yourself worthless. You are not and never will be, ‘junk’. Whoever put that foolish idea into your processor was merely trying to hide their own imperfections by placing such things in your mind. Think no more on them. You are not broken and have the admiration of many who look to you for their protection. Your dedication is a sign of strength and admirable qualities that make your comrades respect you.”

Prowl nodded toward Ratchet’s closed door and added, “I should go and allow you to get some rest before Ratchet decides to inflict his own brand of justice upon my helm. He is already irate with me for using one of the berths as my desk for the past few days.”

Sunstreaker glanced to the mentioned medical berth and noticed that there were a few data pads on it. There was also a small stool Ratchet used to roll around on between patient beds.

Prowl grabbed the piled datapads and offered a brisk nod before turning to leave. Sunstreaker’s voice was barely audible, but Prowl heard it nonetheless.

“Thanks…….dad,” Sunstreaker said feeling something inside his spark warm with a strange flame.

Prowl glanced over his shoulder and gave a slight nod to the golden warrior before taking his leave. Sunstreaker settled onto the berth and stared at the ceiling, feeling something warm his soul. It took a moment but he was able to define it.

It was closure and the peace that comes from a spark healing from harsh wounds inflicted long ago.

Chapter Text

“Ready, Sunshine?” Sideswipe called, holding out his hand.

Sunstreaker growled, as if debating on latching onto his twin or just opting to throttle him now on the battle field. He’d beat the slag out of him later. When they weren’t in the middle of a battle and there weren’t Seekers that needed a Lamborghini’s touch. He held out his hand, accepting his brother’s offer and like a primal comet, the duo shot up into the atmosphere.

“Show offs!” Huffer yelled, seeing the twins disappear from the battlefront. He knew they weren’t abandoning their friends, so desertion was the last thing on his processor. The thing that riled his tailpipes, other than the smug look on the twins’ faces, was that they worked as a seamless unit and made the rest of the soldiers look like bumbling new recruits who’d never seen a Decepticon. Sideswipe didn’t help matters by employing that blasted jet pack and zooming around like a crazed carmine asteroid, chasing Cons and cackling about his field totals. The dual menaces thought they owned the monopoly of kicking Decepticon aft.

Well, Huffer had a plan to show them. He just needed the right moment and a catapult. He spotted Brawn tackling Astrotrain with Ironhide trying to shoot the triple changer without hitting his comrade. Huffer ventured to the trio and added his strength to the fight.

High in the clouds the Lamborghini twins were having a party. Sideswipe whooped and cheered, Sunstreaker sighed in annoyance, glaring at his twin who flooded their bond with enough positive emotion to change the polarity of the Earth. Sometimes Sideswipe was too slagging happy for his own good. Or Sunstreaker’s. The golden mech had to school his features twice when he found himself infected by his brother’s jubilation and was grinning like the proverbial idiot.

“We’ve got company,” Sunstreaker called, noting that Skywarp and Thundercracker were now trailing behind the two like mesmerized trout after shiny bait.

“Bout time,” Sideswipe laughed, doing a sloppy loop-de-loop that had Sunstreaker turning an ugly shade of green. “Are you ready?”

“I will be if you stop showing off for the seekers!” Sunstreaker snapped, wanting to settle his tank before launching his attack. He didn’t want to land on the seeker and end up getting thrown off because he was too busy purging his tank.

“Just trying to sucker them in,” Sideswipe yelled, circling and calculating air speed, distance, strength and weakness between the seekers as compared to the Lamborghini frames, and with precision that would have impressed Prowl, Sideswipe dove for the seekers. With a high pitched laugh that belonged more to a hyena than a mechanical being, he spun, launching his twin at Skywarp, who hadn’t anticipated the game of toss.

Sunstreaker landed on Skywarp’s fuselage and snarled, sliding his hands around the smooth undercarriage and earning a strangled squeak from the black jet.

“What are you doing?” Skywarp bawled, maneuvering into a corkscrew to throw off his passenger.

“Thought I’d give you a hug,” Sunstreaker sneered, his fingers digging into the transformation seam along the undercarriage and providing him with a good anchor. With his other hand, he drew back his fist and punched the amber glass, shattering it into golden diamonds.

The second punch went through the broken glass and bowed the support frames before buckling the control panel. Skywarp howled and bucked, his systems flaring warning signals that turned his internal displays into the primal shade that matched the setting sun.

“Slagger,” Starscream called, transforming and cuffing the golden warrior on the head and shoulder as Skywarp flew past his Air Commander. Sunstreaker forgot how well the trine worked. Almost as perfect as the cohesion he shared with his twin.

The blow was staggering, causing Sunstreaker to lessen his grip, his equilibrium circuits knocked haywire. Skywarp banked sharply, intent on allowing his trinemate to rid him of his Autobot parasite. When the duo neared the sneering tri colored jet, Sunstreaker shifted his weight, causing the black jet to display his undercarriage at the precise moment that Starscream fired his null ray.

Sunstreaker grimaced, taking some of the charge from the null ray, but Skywarp took the brunt. The black jet yelled and cursed his wingmate, his systems flashing, alarms blaring, and the ground starting to rush up to meet them.

Not having anywhere else to go, and praying he was close enough to jump to another perch, Sunstreaker gave a hard slap to the black fuselage and said, “Thanks for the ride, Wingnut!”

“Sunstreaker!” a voice called, catching the front liner’s attention. “Jump!”

Sunstreaker did as ordered, jumping toward the voice. His equilibrium circuits were still impaired, sending the wayward frontliner careening out into space. He tried to calibrate where he heard the familiar voice, but with the wind rushing in his audios, there was a chance he just leapt to his termination.

Unable to control his descent, Sunstreaker tumbled, his circuits scrambling even further from the disorientation. He held out his hand, expecting his twin to zoom in and grab him as they had done countless times before. But after a few seconds, no one grabbed his outstretched fingers. With a panicked whine, Sunstreaker tried to focus on his surroundings, watching as the sky and ground exchanged places so fast it was like they were one in the same.

He was going to shout about some help from his fellow Autobots when he felt the static charge surround him and his momentum shed, allowing him to drift to the ground unharmed. Processor still reeling, world spinning faster than his tires on a race track, Sunstreaker waited for the hard ground to greet his frame, but much to his surprise, arms caught him with ease, the electric field disappearing.

Sunstreaker turned dizzy, unfocused optics toward his savior and vented a sigh of relief.

Well, at least it wasn’t a Decepticon. Or Gears. Sunstreaker would have tried to crash land on either option.

Trailbreaker smiled at his golden cargo. “I knew there’d be sun today.”

Sunstreaker snorted, still unable to center his spinning world and though he was loathed to allow it, Trailbreaker carried him to the safety of the treeline, allowing him to get his bearings.

Before Sunstreaker could balance himself, there came the call of retreat from the Decepticons. As they fled, Sideswipe came running to his twin, his jet pack now useless from lack of fuel, and grabbed his brother.

“Sunny! What happened?” Sideswipe demanded. “One minute you were beating on Skywarp, the next, he’s being carried away by Thundercracker and Starscream.”

“The Screaming Demon got off a lucky shot,” Sunstreaker said with a grimace, knowing his tank was going to rebel sooner or later. He wasn’t designed for such high velocity craziness. “Trailbreaker was able to catch me with his force field.”

“Thank Primus,” Sideswipe sighed, then gave the black Jeep a look. “Thanks, Trailbreaker.”

“No problem,” he said with his usual laid back manner. “I wanted to catch some sun today.”

Sunstreaker groaned, both from the pun and the throbbing now starting in his helm. He had a sneaky feeling he’d be needing Ratchet’s care. He balked when Trailbreaker offered to help him back to the Autobots, but the amicable mech didn’t take it personally. Sunstreaker rarely let anyone in his personal space. He only relented to help when his twin forcefully grabbed him and threatened to tear off sensitive pieces of Sunstreaker’s anatomy. Trailbreaker winced but didn’t speak.

The trio made it back to Prime, who was surrounded by the rest of the Autobot forces. Everyone was a little worse for wear, but they were still alive. Ratchet was glaring a hole in Jazz, who managed to bust both of his windshields and crumple the right half of his hood.

“Autobots.. Roll…” Prime called, but Ironhide interrupted.

“Wait a minute, Prime!” the weapons specialist called, jerking his thumb over his shoulder. The distant sounds of cursing and breaking foliage rent the air. “We have to wait until Brawn gets Huffer down.”

Prime nodded in understanding, then frowned as the words sunk in. “Get Huffer down from where?”

“Pine tree,” Ironhide said nonchalantly. When Prime gave him a surprised, expectant look, Ironhide sighed and nodded toward the cursing trees. “Huffer wanted to take on the seekers.”

“And how exactly did he end up in a pine tree?” Prime asked, wondering what had possessed his troops.

“Uhmm, he asked Huffer to launch him into the sky, hoping to catch a ride on a seeker,” Ironhide sighed, looking slightly uncomfortable.

Prime waited patiently, noticing Ironhide’s lip components kept trying to curl upward.

“He missed.” Ironhide did his best to hide his smirk. “Pine tree caught him. He’s stuck in the upper branches right now.”

“That’s what the slagger gets,” Sunstreaker spoke up, surprising everyone. “Trying to imitate a Lamborghini.”

Chapter Text

Off Side

AN: This fic is dedicated to StarLitDawn, who requested Sideswipe in a moment of contemplation/philosophical. I hope its what you had in mind.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Sideswipe settled himself on the ledge, the cliff face above him keeping him sheltered against the rain. He sighed, nestling into his little niche to watch the world from above the ARK. It was just him, a rare occurrence, but Sunstreaker had locked himself in his studio.

Both twins needed a creative outlet. Sunstreaker had found his during moments, or days in some cases, where he lost himself in the brush, the imagines escaping from somewhere deep inside. There was yet to be a name for the location of creative genius.

Sideswipe had his pranks and friends to help ease his moods, but sometimes, during the silent moments such as this, it was only him and the rain outside. He leaned against the rock wall, smoothed over by his attentions when he first found the place to hide from the world after they had first landed all those millennia ago. His hard work made the alcove rather comfortable, and where Sunstreaker found his solace in color and patterns, Sideswipe found his quiet moments during the heavy rain storms that plagued Oregon’s skies.

But Sideswipe loved it. Though his alt mode didn’t travel well on icy roads and hazardous mudslides, he preferred to sit back and watch the world cleanse itself. Rain sparkled on his chassis where he had left the base and ventured to his favorite hiding spot. He felt the soft tickles of earthen tears fall from his person and land in the quiet den of the alcove.

It had been raining for several hours, and the forecast had called for the storm to end soon. The rain alternated between gentle patters and torrential downpours. The Autobots had already been called out twice to deal with flooding zones. But Sideswipe had been serving monitor duty, a task he usually abhorred, but during the rain storms, he enjoyed it. Because he knew as soon as he was relieved, his duties were finished for the day. He was allowed to venture to his quiet domain and observe the organic world he now inhabited.

He could never talk about such thing with Sunstreaker. Everything about Earth made the vain mech hiss and growl, complaints becoming so tedious Sideswipe lost interest long ago. There were others he considered his friends. But none of those relationships were deep enough to reflect on the life of the planet and on the changed world they had left behind.

Sideswipe released a heavy ex-vent, dispelling all the heat and frustration that had accumulated since the last time he was granted such peace. Occasionally a stray sense of anger or triumph would cross his spark, but they were easily explained as Sunstreaker engaged in his art therapy.

He inhaled slow and long, pulling in the heavy draught of rain soaked earth and the wonderful scents that traveled on the wind and water. There was nothing quiet like a thunderstorm on Earth. The lightning had faded into the distance, taking the thunder with it, though a low rumble would sound in the distance, accenting the tinkling rhythm of the rain. Sideswipe calculated this will be the last storm and he was glad of the peace it offered. Knowing he had limited time, Sideswipe turned off his comm., but kept his locator beacon active, unless Red Alert freak out and deem him a Con sympathizer.

Again.

Fragging outdated scrap. Sideswipe snorted at the thought of Red Alert being considered an ‘outdated’, seeing how there was barely an orn difference between them. He never thought he would be considered an older model. Sunstreaker would most certainly self terminate than to think himself other than modern perfection.

Sideswipe sighed, staring out across the mountains, watching as their faces stayed hidden in shadow from the rain. How could he be considered an ‘older model’? Granted there were very few new designs since the war had ravaged their planet. Factories were shut down or upgraded to produce parts and alloys that could be utilized by the soldiers. When the Earth crew first met Ultra Magnus and his crew, Sideswipe had overheard some of their titles for the Earth bound mechs.

They were laughed at and called ‘cumbersome’ and ‘outdated.’

A small mech, too wired up for his own good, mentioned that the Earth bound models should consider themselves antiques, and that it was a shame there weren’t factories to make replacement parts for them anymore. A brash mech had answered him about proposing those mechs ‘retire’ and donate their parts to the next generation. He had boasted about how the new generation were going to fix things and how they were going to make everything right again. It was the antiquated models that had caused all the problems to begin with. If they were gone, then there wouldn’t be such hardships on the rest of the population.

Sideswipe wanted to purge upon hearing that conversation. He never mentioned it to Prime or any of the senior officers. He never even told Sunstreaker. Most bots were happy to make contact with home, even if they didn’t recognize the new faces that filled the ranks.

Thunder rolled in the distance, offering a heavenly goodbye to one of its more appreciative observers. Sideswipe watched the rain fall in a waving pattern, the tiny droplets working together to soak the earth below and offer relief from the mild heat wave of the last week. The snowy caps of the mountains glistened like diamonds, granting their treasures to the alien who admired their crowns from afar.

Sideswipe considered Earth his new home. Sure it lacked the towering spires of Cybertron, and the heavy metals used in construction and replacement parts, but Earth had better qualities than that to offer. There were unlimited highways, most of them well maintained. Fast alt modes, different racing mediums, plenty of company if one wanted it, plenty of open spaces for those who required solitude, wonderful music, excellent solvents and waxes and facilities that catered to expensive vehicles. There was unlimited fuel and an abundance of parts that could be specially formatted for certain frame types.

The rain slacked, a light mist spreading across the horizon, dusting everything with soft, metallic gray.

And Earth had climate. There were changes in seasons, temperatures, terrain, and even road hazards shifted in a changing tide. Earth was always in motion, one moment bleeding into the next and offering a whole new world of experience.

Unlike Cybertron, with its cold atmosphere, acid rain, and scalding lower levels that were dangerous to several frame types. Cybertron had become inhospitable, both in population and in environment. Sideswipe was positive he didn’t want to go back. He didn’t want to be part of an army who would rather look at him with sympathy and want to use him as spare parts. He had earned his life many times over, fighting for those very young sparks who deemed themselves fit to lead the world.

As if in omen, the sky cleared and a ray of sunlight split the heavens, shining through the mist. A rainbow appeared, smiling at its witness as it lit up the sky in a prism that spanned the horizon. Sideswipe smiled, his optics zooming in to view the tiny crystalline masterpieces that scattered across the heavens. The colors bled perfectly into one another, making it almost impossible to categorize them into definite hues. The pallet of the Earth was expansive, far better than anything Cybertron had to offer, barring the Crystal Gardens of Praxus, before they were destroyed. Now their colors were just as dull and lifeless as the planet itself.

Sideswipe sat and stared at the natural phenomena, watching as one rainbow became two, tying a bow around the world and presenting it to the mechanical beings who now called Earth their home. The myriad of hues never ceased to amaze Sideswipe, having gained his favor the first time he ever witnessed the aftermath of a terrestrial rain. Rainbows never formed on Cybertron. There were no colors to paint the sky and brighten the world below.

The ruby Lamborghini drank it all in, opening his vents and pulling in heavy gusts of rain soaked air, allowing it to caress his spark and clear his processor. There was nothing like the sights and smells after a rain. And Sideswipe wouldn’t give up these tender moments for all the energon in the galaxy. Sideswipe decided to stay on Earth, and experience as many as its moments as possible.

The sky faded from silver gray to powder blue, taking the rainbows away. Sideswipe smiled, his spark feeling elated, his processor humming with pleasant distraction. With his spiritual batteries renewed, he climbed down from his perch and headed back home, grateful to the Earth for the quiet breath of release it offered as a war torn spark paused for a moment, just to witness its wonders.

Chapter Text

Tempering the Sun

000000-OOOOO-IIIII-000-OOOO-IIIII-0000-OOOO-IIIIII-00000

It was late at night. Quiet reigned in the Ark. A rare occasion. The recent Decepticon activity had been minimal, which prompted an impromptu celebration by the more social members of the crew. Jazz labeled it “Megatron got his aft kicked and is still recovering” party.

Such parties were always a welcomed relief. High grade flowed unchecked and unquestioned, much to Prowl’s chagrin. Activities went unscheduled and unsupervised, much to Red Alert’s fritzing protest and Ratchet’s dismay. There was always a lot of confusion and regrets after such parties. And arguments about banning the events entirely, or making them a common occurrence so the crew could ‘keep in practice’.

Most mechs had gotten overcharged on the high grade and went to sleep it off in their quarters, either alone or in confused groups. Others slept where they fell, recipients of disgusted looks from the only mech who didn’t partake in the festivities.

Prowl wandered the base, ensuring all Autobots were still functioning and making notes about who overindulged and their current location. If there was an attack, however unlikely, then the tactician needed to know the level of inebriation of those who could fight. His tally so far for completely fragged soldiers was the entire Autobot forces. The total for able bodied mechs to fight, one. Himself. A scenario he didn’t find comforting.

So far, the Second in Command had yet to find a suitable soldier. He shook his head in disgust. Fragging drunks.

Much to Prowl’s disapproval, it had seemed that everyone had overindulged in the festivities. Even Prime was passed out beside of his door, his overcharge not letting him find the comfort of a berth before overtaking his senses.

Venting a sigh of frustration, the tactician headed for the rec room and wasn’t surprised to find the room earning its moniker.

Some shredded paper littered the floor. Unknown stains mixed with the fading energon. Torn streamers hung like cobwebs, accenting the strange Earth phenomena that was always missed by the cleaning detail.

Spilled energon puddle on the floor, most of it frosted over with age. Empty cubes covered most of the surfaces, and someone had even constructed a small fortress out of the spent cubes. Not surprisingly it was Grapple, who snored behind his protective wall. Hoist was on the floor under the table, one of Grapple’s legs held securely in the Hoist’s embrace as he snored on his friend’s knee.

Ironhide was passed out on top of his usual table. Gears and Windcharger were using each other as makeshift pillows. Blaster was upside down on the main stereo speaker, sound bytes escaping like musical snores and his left pede pulsing to an unknown beat.

All in all, a typical after party scene at the Ark. The only difference this time was the twins sequestered in their usual corner. Both were alert and talking in low tones. They quieted when they noticed Prowl’s entrance. They instantly noticed he lacked the usual need to find something to help balance crazy equilibrium circuits. The reason was distressingly obvious.

“Surprise, surprise. Guess who didn’t get hammered tonight?” Sideswipe muttered his brother, his mouth hidden behind his mostly full cube of high grade.

Prowl gave the twin terrors a barely perceived nod, then retrieved a low grade cube from the dispenser. He looked around the destroyed room and considered his options. None seemed appealing, and with a slight start, he noticed Sideswipe motion for the tactician to join them.

“Trying to join the party? Sorry to disappoint, but the fun is already over,” Sideswipe said when Prowl neared their table.

“Someone has to keep a level head to ensure the safety of everyone,” Prowl said, taking a sip of his fuel, though uncertain if he should sit.

“That’s Red Alert’s job,” Sunstreaker grunted, high grade brilliantly shining off his armor. The shine accented his sharp features and gave him an unnatural glow that teetered between danger and beauty.

“He’s….. busy,” Sideswipe stage whispered with a cheeky look, earning another grunt from his twin.

“Pull up a chair,” Sideswipe indicated one of the many scattered chairs, most of them overturned and filthy.

Prowl chose a chair that was unstained and still sitting on all four legs, and moved it to the table, his actions still a little hesitant. He normally didn’t socialize with the crew members, preferring to remain aloof and disinterested. The only times he joined the groups that gathered off-shift was when Jazz physically dragged him from his office. The saboteur learned a long time ago (from some unknown source) that if you pinched a doorwing just right, you could get a Praxian to do just about anything you want. A fact he abused on many occasions.

“We won’t bite,” Sideswipe added, noting the commanding officer’s uncertainty. “Well, I don’t. Sunny does.”

Sunstreaker curled his lip in a half snarl as he stared at the mech opposite. Obviously he was in his usual mood.

“So what do you say?” Sideswipe asked his twin as Prowl sat down at the table. “I do the floors and you pick up the empties?”

“Slag, no,” Sunstreaker grunted, sparing his brother a disgusted look, before returning his gaze to his partially filled cube. “I just waxed. I’m not dulling my paint if I don’t have to.”

Sideswipe snorted and out of spite, swiped his finger down his brother’s forearm. Sunstreaker hissed like an angry cat. If he had fur, it would have been puffed out in aggressive anger.

“Stop that, idiot!” he snarled.

“Now, you have a smudge. Help me clean up and I’ll help you buff yourself into an indecent shine,” Sideswipe cooed, giving his brother the sweetest look he could muster.

Sunstreaker considered for a moment, staring at the light streaking through the wax on his arm. He could use a heavy waxing and lately, Sideswipe had refused to buff the harder to reach areas. Sunstreaker may be perfect, but there were still flaws in his design. Well, not flaws, just problems in flexibility and accessibility. A gorgeous mech like him wasn’t flawed in any sense of the term.

“We’re not even being punished,” Sunstreaker muttered, still thinking of a reason to get out of the clean up duty. “Why volunteer to work, especially when you weren’t the one to make the mess in the first place?!”

“It’s just a nice thing to do,” Sideswipe countered.

“I don’t do nice.”

“You would for me.” “Only so I can beat your aft later.”

“You know I’ll do a thorough polish on your back,” Sideswipe continued, his expression turning cheeky.

Sunstreaker frowned. His brother had a point. Every time he helped Sideswipe, non-prank related, he did get to enjoy a thorough cleaning and polish. Nothing felt better than being buffed and polished, and looking so handsome it should be illegal.

“Fine,” Sunstreaker relented. “But I want the good stuff and at least two coats.”

“Done!” Sideswipe nodded before Sunstreaker could add more terms to the agreement.

“What are you two up to?” Prowl asked, having observed the conversation and felt unnerved by their actions. The twins never did anything without an ulterior motive.

“We take turns cleaning up the mess,” Sideswipe half shrugged, gulping a good measure of high grade.

“Why?” Prowl asked, confused as to what could aspire the troublesome twosome to do something selflessly.

“That’s what I wonder every time,” Sunstreaker grumbled.

“Just our way of saying thanks,” Sideswipe supplied, giving a partial shrug.

“Thanks for what?” Prowl asked, feeling a burning sensation coming from his battle computer. Jazz referred to it as his “Twin-sense” acting up.

“Watching our backs,” Sideswipe smiled. “Keeping us out of trouble.”

“We fail at that more often than I care to admit,” Prowl muttered, drinking the rest of his cube.

“You succeed more than you realize,” Sideswipe said, and all humor was gone from his voice and face. “Have you ever wondered why we stay? Why we fight against the Decepticons and not with them?”

The now empty cube in Prowl’s hand made its slow decent to the table, black fingers curled around its edges. Prowl frowned, staring from one twin to the next, his mind a cacophony of previous conversations, orders, and the multiple times it had been mentioned the twins were more like Decepticons than Autobots.

Their allegiance was confusing.

“I thought it had something to do with Sunstreaker’s paint,” Prowl said without thinking. He was rewarded with a quirked brow from said twin.

“Well, in part,” Sideswipe said nonchalantly, waving his hand and ignoring the tingle of surprise filtering through from his brother. “The other reason we don’t fight with the Cons is they don’t have any rules.”

“What?” Prowl gasped, all pretense of hiding emotions now evaporated like the spilled energon pooled around the rec room. “You hate rules! You break them every opportunity you get!”

Knowing if he pressed the issue, he’d get the tactician to crash, Sideswipe had to choose his words with great care. Since he just healed from the last Ratchet induced medical malpractice, Sideswipe didn’t want to push his luck. If he wanted the Second to understand, he was going to have to start at the beginning, lest the logic minded mech seated opposite would freeze. Then Sideswipe would have to endure Ratchet’s tirade. One of the few things that made the frontliner wary.

“We break the rules because you insist we follow them,” Sunstreaker said, his usually scowling features were now tinged with something akin to amicable mischief. He looked so much like Sideswipe at his most devilish, it was scary. Prowl gave an involuntary shiver at the thought.

Sideswipe sent his brother a look, partnered with a warning across their bond when he noticed the Praxian’s actions. If Prowl locked up, Sideswipe wasn’t going to take the rap.

Sunstreaker gave a lopsided smile and reclined in his seat, appraising the black and white mech with an artistic optic.

“Of course you have to follow the rules!” Prowl said, finding that burning sensation to be annoying. He had a feeling he would need to see Ratchet very soon. He was going to have to find something to ease the ache before it progressed too far. “The rules are there for a reason!”

“Which is?” Sunstreaker prompted, actually gracing the Praxian with a genuine smile.

“To keep order,” Prowl explained, his processor already formulating vast amounts of data for interpretation. “To maintain discipline and ensure that all contingencies are delegated and protocols upheld to prevent loss of life and total chaos.”

“Basically, the rules keep everyone civil,” Sunstreaker said, not catching the fact this is the most he had spoken to anyone outside of his twin for over a month.

“Exactly,” Prowl said, grabbing a partially empty cube from a nearby table and finished the contents off with two swallows. He grabbed another half empty cube and waved it toward the twins as he spoke, “Without rules, we would fall into mindless chaos, losing not only ourselves, but destroying everything around us and other lives in the process.”

“The Cons don’t have such rules and regulations,’ Sideswipe put in, hiding his surprise at seeing the stoic tactician downing so much high grade.

“Of course they don’t,” Prowl said, then frowned, staring at his cube as if realizing it was there. He muttered in a distracted tone, “They have some kind of disciplinary structure, though I fail to formalize a coherent structure.”

“The Cons survive through aggression, pain, dominance, and fear,” Sunstreaker put in, his cube rocking in his grasp as he twiddled with the edges. “They have no sense of right and wrong, bullying their way through obstacles and using violence as a way of communication and obtaining what they want.”

“Precisely,” Prowl said, feeling a warmth spread over his frame. He took another drink, finding the sensation to be pleasant. The cube was now almost empty. “They don’t know right from wrong and lack any morals.”

“Exactly like us,” Sunstreaker said, nodding toward his twin. Prowl’s optics shone a little brighter, though there was a chance the high grade he was unknowingly drinking had a part in it. “We lack what you could call a ‘moral compass’.”

“We grew up in Kaon, on the streets,” Sideswipe put in, getting very relaxed with the conversation that normally had all other mechs shying away from the twins. Their history had a tendency to rub them the wrong way. “We didn’t have anyone to teach us what was right and what was wrong.”

“But you do,” Sunstreaker added, nodding toward Prowl as if he was the epicenter of their morality. “You make sure we know the difference and even go so far as to reprimand us.” He gave a small smile, “No one has ever done that for us before.”

“You want me to punish you?” Prowl asked, feeling that burning along his processor again. But it was filed away in his processor as a pleasant buzz filled his sensor net. He looked curiously into the empty cube now in his hand, wondering if the sweet concoction had anything to do with his current talkative mood. He normally adopted Sunstreaker’s own quirk of rarely speaking or interacting with anyone. Apparently taciturn patterns were forgotten when distracted by a drunken crew…. And that delicious pink sweet stuff that tingled along his relays.

“Not punishment per say,” Sideswipe said, regaining Prowl’s attention. “Just someone to tell us what we can and can not do.”

Sunstreaker added, “And let us know there are consequences to those choices.”

“And to instill a sense of guilt and remorse,” Sideswipe picked up.

“And to let us know when we’ve gone too far,” Sunstreaker said.

“Keep us from hurting not only those we care about, but ourselves as well.”

“Someone to let us know when we have done wrong.”

“And that our transgression deserves reprimand.”

“Our anger gets the best of us and we tend to forget our purpose,” Sunstreaker put in, noting how Prowl’s optics darted between the twins as they spoke in the jointed language that had other’s feeling dizzy.

“We need someone to tell us where the boundaries are,” Sideswipe put in.

“And warn us not to cross them.”

“Because we will lose ourselves.”

Sunstreaker waited until Prowl’s brightened optics drifted back to him and said in a slow, even tone, making sure the officer understood where the twins were coming from. “Sometimes, we need someone to tell us when to stop.”

“Because if you don’t tell us, we become just like the Cons,” Sideswipe said, and there was real grief in his expression.

“You may think we don’t listen, but we do,” Sunstreaker put in, downing the rest of his cube in one gulp. He sat the cube back on the table and gave the tactician his infamous scowl. “Just don’t start feeling all superior because you act as our conscious, because slag like that will get you fragged up.”

“Oh, my little ball of Sunshine,’ Sideswipe crooned, earning a punch to the shoulder. “I do love it when you act all macho.”

“Shut up, idiot,” Sunstreaker snapped, nodding toward the rec room as a whole. “Shall we get started?”

“Yeah, might as well,” Sunstreaker agreed with great reluctance.

The twins rose from their table, Sideswipe giving Prowl a nod before leaving. Sunstreaker just scowled, wondering if the tactical advisor would remember their conversation when his extra charge wore off. Prowl’s optics was a bit on the bright side.

Prowl watched the two depart, the burning in his processor faded, replaced by a warm tingling. He frowned, wondering what caused such a sensation and decided that he could best contemplate in his quarters. He rose, wavering a little and made his way to his quarters, where he fell unconscious on his berth. Prowl’s tolerance for high grade was non existent, which was why he never indulged. He fell into a deep charge, the twin’s story looping through his processor.

When Prowl disappeared through the door, Sunstreaker turned to Sideswipe.

“I hope you didn’t break him,” he said, his optics catching the slight sway to monochromatic hips. “He’ll be fine,’ Sideswipe said, tossing a few empty cubes into the recycling bin. “I’ll check on him in a couple of hours.”

“Good,” Sunstreaker grunted, returning to the pile of empty cubes around Grapple and tossing them to his twin for disposal.

The twins worked in silence, cleaning up the mess left by their comrades, and in Sideswipe’s case, posing certain bots in compromising situations and taking images for blackmail later. They scoured the room for any mess that needed attention, Sideswipe snickered and gave his brother another one of his infamous smiles that meant no good was churning in the devilish processor. As Sunstreaker mopped up pooled energon, he heard smothered laughter and looked to survey his twin’s handiwork on their comrades. The twins may do the honorable thing and clean up after their friends, but it didn’t mean they couldn’t have some fun at said friends’ expense. Hence, Sideswipe’s favorite pastime while attending the after-party clean up.

Sideswipe ventured to Ironhide and removed his interface panel. He grabbed a collection of streamers, and tied them in a bow, presenting the slumbering mech with his own spike as a present. Next, Sideswipe went to Grapple, removing his interface panel, placing it between Hoists’ legs and wedged the slumbering bot with his head directly between Grapple’s legs. Blaster was scribbled on, his interface panel directing everyone to ‘Press here for a good time’. Cliffjumper was graffitied with a realistic pair of human female breasts that Sunstreaker gave the thumbs up to in artistic approval. Gears was drawn with a very tiny human male penis, which Sunstreaker thought deserved to have a matching copy made on the mini-bot’s aft.

By the time the twins were done, the room was put back in order, but their comrades were in various states of risqué poses. Satisfied, they took their leave, knowing that when the ARK awoke for the start of a new day, the crew would be seeking two guilty Lamborghinis.

Chapter Text

BLINDSIDED

000000-OOOOO-IIIIII-00000-OOOOO-IIIIII-0000-OOOOO

“Sunstreaker, you have a delivery,” Red Alert said. His voice sounded…. odd. “It’s in my office.”

“Why didn’t you say something earlier?” Sunstreaker growled, abandoning his energon cube and striding between the mingling bots. He didn’t have to yell for them to move. They saw his golden visage and made a slow part, allowing the temperamental mech passage.

Red Alert greeted him by the door, performing a suicidal move, blocking the warrior’s retreat. “Is there an issue that Prime should be made aware?”

Sunstreaker halted his advance, his fists clenching. He didn’t like to be challenged. It usually ended up with his opponent on the floor. “What are you talking about?”

“If not Prime, then perhaps Ratchet?” Red Alert said, and when Sunstreaker looked into the paranoid bots optics, there was genuine concern. The look was enough to halt Sunstreaker’s violent reprimand.

“Why would I need to speak to Ratchet?” Sunstreaker asked in a slow, suspicious voice.

“If you have any questions or feel like you need to talk,” Red Alert said, now giving the impression of being very uncomfortable, his cheek plates heating. “I mean, I’m not judging you and you are an adult and may do what you please, but I’m responsible for the safety of the crew, even if it’s to save them from themselves.”

“What are you babbling about?” Sunstreaker asked, intrigued and slightly annoyed. “You sound like Bluestreak.”

At the mention of his name, Bluestreak turned and gave a questionable look, to which Sunstreaker offered a sneer in reply. The young Praxian gave a half smile and returned to his conversation with Wheeljack and Mirage.

“Well, I’m not qualified in such fields, but your actions has raised my concern, and in turn, I’ve had to notify the appropriate mechs,” Red Alert said, now fidgeting and darting his optics around as if suspecting someone of overhearing.

“Notify them of what?” Sunstreaker asked, his annoyance morphing into anger.

Sideswipe felt the dark thrum in his spark and left a very puzzled Trailbreaker and Hound, his pedes taking him toward his brother who was stationed at the door blocked by Red Alert. Sideswipe mentally chided the security director, knowing that was a bad position for the white Lamborghini to be in.

When Red Alert noticed Sideswipe’s presence he nodded toward the red twin. “I don’t know what you do in your own time, but just so you know, Ratchet has been notified and expects your visit.”

“Why would Sunny need to go see Ratchet?” Sideswipe asked, placing a hand on his brother’s shoulder in a silent gesture to calm the violent mech. He felt the golden plating vibrate under his hand.

Sunstreaker growled at the nickname. His voice was harsh when he spoke. “That’s what I’m trying to find out!”

“Smokescreen has experience in this type of situation, I believe,” Red Alert said in a thoughtful way, his cheek plates still flushed with a steely hue. “Just… whatever is comfortable for you.”

With a nervous squeak he turned and made for Inferno and Powerglide, who were having a spirited conversation about the recent forest fires.

“What is up with that paranoid fragger?” Sideswipe asked, staring after the security mech.

“Needs a good frag,” Sunstreaker sneered before shrugging his brother’s hand away and leaving the rec room.

“Where are you going?” Sideswipe asked, knowing full well his brother hadn’t ingested enough fuel for the upcoming hours of patrol they were scheduled for.

“The Twitchy One said I had a package,” Sunstreaker said, stalking toward the security room. Red Alert had the room locked and believed the twins wouldn’t be able to get in without his security codes, but he didn’t know they had the codes for all the Command Staff. NO where was off limits to them.

“Oh, what did you order?” Sideswipe asked, keeping stride and feeling the angered pulse slip away to become a pleasing wave. “New paints?”

“New joint additives,” Sunstreaker corrected, punching in Prowl’s code and stepping through the door when it opened. “Found them in a magazine. Supposed to improve mobility and flexibility and enhance performance.”

“Oh?” Sideswipe asked, now intrigued.

Sunstreaker found the package sitting on Red Alert’s desk. With a smile he thrust his hand into the opened box and ripped out the packing materials, letting it fall haphazardly around the room. Its not like it was his office. It took a moment of searching through the packing materials, and when he found his prize, he extracted them from the box. Several small bottles were held in his hand. He frowned at them, thinking they would be bigger. They looked bigger in the magazine.

“Maybe it’s a new lubricant that doesn’t require excessive amounts?” Sunstreaker said thoughtfully, turning the little bottles over. The contents shifted, bubbles dotting their forms like frozen champagne.

Sideswipe had picked up the discarded paper and looked at the label. He frowned, then snickered. A piece of paper peeked from the box and he grabbed it up, scanning over its contents with barely suppressed laughter.

“What is so funny?” Sunstreaker demanded.

“This isn’t a lubricant for your joints,” Sideswipe said, holding up the packing slip from an infamous adult store. “It’s for humans.”

Sunstreaker gave his brother a questionable stare, his brow plates drawing down in confusion. “But, humans don’t have mechanical parts. They don’t require lubrication.”

“They do for interfacing,” Sideswipe said, having already scoured Earth’s cultures. He had laughed himself off line the first time he read that humans needed lubrication to mate. He imagined they squeaked when they rubbed their components together.

“What?” Sunstreaker asked, slack jawed. He just knew his brother was playing a joke. He had to be. It was too surreal to be the truth.

“They require a lube when they interface,” Sideswipe said, holding back his giggles and nodding toward the collection of bottles in his brother’s hand. “It does improve performance, and also allows their interface components to go together without damage from heat or friction.”

“But they don’t have….” Sunstreaker trailed off, confusion written all over his face.

“It slicks their interface equipment and supposed to enhance pleasure,” Sideswipe said, finding his internals hurting from the force of holding back his laughter. If he lost control now, Sunstreaker would beat him senseless. He didn’t like being thought a fool.

“How would you know?” Sunstreaker asked, feeling riled at the thought he didn’t know this bit of information. Truthfully, he never researched human interfacing. Too disgusting.

“Sparkplug has a collection of human interface manuals that shows all the parts and how they fit together,” Sideswipe said, remembering the revulsion he felt at seeing the ‘hidden’ parts of the human anatomy. Thank Primus they were hidden. They were rather hideous looking.

Sunstreaker let out a miserable sigh. “So much for extended performance and guaranteed satisfaction.”

“So, are you going to send them back?” Sideswipe asked, already guessing the answer. He barked in surprise when Sunstreaker spoke.

“No. I’m keeping them,” Sunstreaker said, placing the bottles in his subspace.

“What? Why?” Sideswipe asked, giving his brother a crooked grin. “Plan on seducing a human and putting it to use?”

“Don’t be crass,” Sunstreaker said, heading for the door. “I’m going to use them to terrify Ratchet and Smokescreen. See how flustered I can get them before they break.”

“Oh, my dear brother, I love the way you process!” Sideswipe crowed, following his twin out the door. “And after they break? You going after the rest of the crew too? Maybe I should order some?”

“After Ratchet and Smokescreen learn their lesson, then we will devise a plan that will not only make our comrades fear us, but the Decepticons as well,” Sunstreaker extracted a bottle and smiled in a devilish way that sent chills along Sideswipe’s spinal strut.

Sideswipe cackled with glee, clapping his brother on the shoulder and taking their final steps toward med bay. “Have I told you lately that I love you?”

Sunstreaker shook the bottle, something labeled Tongue Tingling Tangelo and gave his brother a smirk that was illegal on Cybertron. “Don’t say things like that while I’m holding lube.”

Sideswipe’s laughter followed the twins inside where Ratchet was no doubt preparing for what he believed to be a very difficult and uncomfortable talk about interspecies mating and safety protocols.

00000-OOOOO-IIIIIII-00000-OOOOO-IIIII—000000

Yes, Sideswipe looked at Sparkplugs girly magazines. The internet wasn’t something that was popular back in the 80s, most people weren’t able to afford a computer, let alone know the difference between ‘dial up’ and ‘broadband.’ So, it was an old school education for Siders.

Chapter Text

The Sun Doesn't Always Shine

o0o0ooo0o0oo0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0oo00o0o0o0o0oo0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o

"Tele-Tran reported fluxions in the power grid for the thirty-ninth time since we were revived," Prowl was saying, exiting the staircase from the upper floors. "There is nothing down here but two storage bays, and one of them is completely destroyed by our crashing into the mountain."

"Why didn't you ask Wheeljack to inspect it?" Prime asked, wondering what in Primus name he was doing down here in the dungeons on the ARK. The crew didn't venture down this far, having only a real need to go as far as the brig and that was two floors above them. The two senior officers had to walk down two flights just to get to this cold, damp cellar.

"In case there is an access override needed, I prefer you input your code personally instead of relaying them to me, then having to change your codes due to security protocols," Prowl stated in a flat tone, as if it was the most logical thing in the world.

"Course," Prime muttered, motioning for the tactician to lead the way.

A light shone from overhead, its pitiful attempt to illuminate making shadows dance along the walls. Prowl scanned the area, looking for the source of the energy drain and with a finger, pointed in the direction of a hallway that looked like it tried to weave through an asteroid field. Either that or Jazz was dancing unattended. Again.

The hull was breached in several places, exposing sections of rock, and the once smooth metal was pockmarked from damage as wires hung like dead snakes. Prime brushed the obsolete wiring away, hearing Prowl softly pad behind him, his scanner humming as he searched for the source that caused the power fluxions. There were a few crates that were bunched in groups of three of four, someone seeing fit to huddle them together for companionship.

The two senior officers were almost to the end of the corridor when muffled voices could be discerned. Prime put up a hand to signal silence from Prowl, though the Praxian rarely made any noise. Weapons were the officers' hands in the blink of an optic and as shadows, they passed down the hall and poised, ready for action outside of a cargo bay. There was a tiny fluttering of light that could barely reach out into the main hall where the officers were poised. The feeble shadow along the orange walls mimicked the two observing mechs, but they paid them no heed. Prime took the chance to peer around the corner, his optics zeroing in through the semidarkness to locate the source of light. Quiet as wraiths they entered, finding stacked shipping crates and disused energon cubes.

A flash of brilliant ruby armor caught the light before disappearing in the dismal offering of two illumination banks. A third light flickered fitfully as if afraid to engage. There was no mistaking Sideswipe's well polished armor glinting as he flittered about his secret business.

Prime and Prowl exchanged glances, knowing there was mischief brewing. Two steps closer and both mechs could see into the little cul-de-sac that had been built by disused containers. The twins were huddled together in the back.

Prime placed his weapon back in his subspace, Prowl following suit once he recognized the two guilty Lamborghinis. He puffed his doorwings, a tirade forming and preparing to unleash on the duo, when Prime's hand pressed against his chassis, halting his words. Curious as to why Prime would do such a thing, Prowl waited in the dark, and heard Sideswipe speak.

"It's okay Sunny," Sideswipe said, tracing his servos along his brother's helm. "There's no one here who will hurt you."

Prowl frowned, a small part of him wondering what the twins were up to. It wasn't like them to be sequestered so far away and speaking in such gentle, hushed tones. Both were loud, crude, and boisterous, and in Sunstreaker's case, violent. There was only one reason why they would seek solitude and that was to devise their infamous pranks. Prowl felt his energon boil in his lines, knowing the two were up to no good. Prowl sidestepped his leader, every intention of yelling at the two for their conspiring, when he stopped short upon the scene before him.

Sunstreaker was huddled on the floor, whimpering in sparkling-like clicks and cries. Sideswipe cradled his brother to him, brushing his servos along Sunstreaker's helm and speaking in quiet, soft words, his expression tender. The twins were hidden in the dim shadows projected by the assortment of crates and containers that had survived the crash.

"What in the name of Primus is going on here?" Prowl demanded, startling Sideswipe. Sunstreaker cringed closer to his twin, clicking in distress.

Sideswipe's head shot up, his optics wide in terror. He clutched Sunstreaker closer to him. His expression went from shock to enraged anger.

"Get out!" Sideswipe snapped at the two senior officers. He didn't acknowledge rank or station at this point. They were just two bots who were witnessing a private moment. "Get out! This is none of your business!"

The third illumination bank chose that moment to engage, adding more light to the duo curled on the floor. When the light fell across the two bodies, Prime and Prowl couldn't hold back the gasps of horror that escaped.

Sunstreaker's form was bathed in light, highlighting his features. His usual immaculate armor was gone, cast aside and glittering in the offered light. He was stripped to his protoform, and the normal platinum coloring was mottled in pewter scars. They crossed his body in a patchwork, resembling a body that had been pieced together by a mad scientist. Every inch of Sunstreaker's body bore the marks of cruelty and suffering.

"Primus," Prime whispered, stepping forward as he opened a comm. to Ratchet for assistance. His comm. bounced back, unable to penetrate to the upper levels. "What have you done, Sideswipe?"

"Get out! You have no business being here! This is private!" Sideswipe said, tightening his hold on his twin when Sunstreaker responded at the sound of a foreign voice.

Prowl followed his leader's example and remained at his side, ready to assist if the situation called for it. When he stepped closer, he could see the overlapping weld marks that traced Sunstreaker's battered protoform. Sideswipe pressed his twin closer to him, glaring hatefully at the two senior officers.

Prime knelt in front of Sideswipe, opening his arms and nodding to Sunstreaker. "Just, give him to me, Sideswipe."

"No!" Sideswipe snapped, his optics blazing a furious white. "I said this is private! This is not your concern! Leave!"

"I can't do that," Prime said, reaching out a hand to touch Sunstreaker. When the golden warrior whimpered at the touch, Prime felt something deep inside go cold. He had no idea something like this was going on. How long Sunstreaker had been suffering in silence, he didn't know. But he had every intention of putting a stop to it. As if reading his mind, Prowl stepped behind Sideswipe and struck the tender spot at the base of his neck, the place that Ratchet liked to employ when the twins got out of control. It didn't send them into stasis like most bots, but it did keep them disoriented and weakened for some time.

Sideswipe twitched, his hold lessening on his twin. Prowl swooped in, clutching Sideswipe from behind and immobilizing his arms behind his back. Sideswipe struggled weakly from the disorienting blow he received, trying to reach his brother, but Prowl was well adept at subduing someone.

"Leave him alone!" Sideswipe shouted, trying to break free from Prowl who was kneeling behind him. "Get away from him! You don't understand! Don't touch him!"

Prime caught Sunstreaker before he could hit the floor when Sideswipe had lost his hold. He expected Sunstreaker to give a sigh of relief at being rescued from his apparent attacker, but Sunstreaker recoiled from Prime's touch, his body trembling. The fumes of high grade permeated the golden warrior as he flinched from Prime, his body racked with tremors. His hands pushed against Prime's chest, trying to get a suitable distance away from the strange mech he perceived through his muddled processor.

"I'm sorry," Sunstreaker muttered, his voice laced with static as he tried to push Prime away. "I didn't mean to. Please, don't hurt me!"

"I would never," Prime said, finding it disconcerting that Sunstreaker was so placid and fearful. Prime never thought he'd miss Sunstreaker's usual violent temper. "I only wish to help."

"You can't," Sideswipe answered when Sunstreaker could only whimper in submission. He stopped struggling against Prowl and sagged in the Second's arms, his expression grief stricken. His tone sounded exhausted and hopeless. "You can't help him."

Prime looked to Sideswipe, his expression worried. "What do you mean? What have you done?"

"I haven't done anything,' Sideswipe said, and his own voice was cracking with emotion as he stared at his trembling twin. One of his hands came to rest on Prowl's that maintained a firm hold to keep him from reaching his brother. "I would never hurt him."

Prime took a good look at the scars that adorned Sunstreaker's body. It only took a few seconds to understand that the scars were old. Inflicted long ago. They weren't fresh wounds incurred from a recent attack. It became obvious that Sideswipe was not causing him harm.

"Where did these scars come from?" Prime asked in a hushed voice, so unlike his own commanding tone. Sunstreaker flinched, broken sobs escaping from him as he closed his optics, waiting for a heavy blow to fall. Prime realized Sideswipe wasn't hurting Sunstreaker. He was comforting him as he succumbed to a memory. Something that haunted his spirit.

"Our creators," Sideswipe said, his hands going to the latches along his chest. Prowl's hold lessened when he realized what Sideswipe was doing. With fumbling fingers, Sideswipe released the last catch, allowing his jeweled armor to fall to the floor with a loud report that made Sunstreaker jerk as if struck. When the protective armor fell away, the light bathed his protoform and highlighted the scars that adorned his body as well. Both officers were sickened by the revelation, and couldn't help but notice that Sunstreaker bore twice the scars as his twin.

"When we were sparked, we were supposed to be one. Our creators wanted, 'one'," Sideswipe explained, his expression sorrowful as he stared at his whimpering twin. "We were abnormal. Aberrations. Our lives weren't meant to be. We deserve our punishment for defying Primus's will and splitting."

Prowl's fist tightened, wanting to throttle someone who would tell such a thing to a youngling. It was just….wrong. He could see and feel Sideswipe shiver, his emotions weighing heavy on him as he also took the brunt of his twins' suffering. Subconsciously, Prowl placed his hand on Sideswipe's back in silent support. He could feel the tremors in the frontliner's frame shake his very core.

"We were punished for not remaining a single spark," Sideswipe said, his hand going to the scarred plating above his spark chamber. He could feel his brother's fear bleeding through as if it were his own. "We are the dross of Primus, and it is only fitting that we are reminded of our worth."

"Junk," Sunstreaker sobbed in Prime's arms, causing the Autobot leader to look at his soldier with concern. A soft hiccup of fear was broken by a static filled whimper. "Useless."

Prime may have been the stoic leader of the Autobots, but the reason why the Matrix of Leadership chose him as its vessel, was not for his stature but his compassion. He felt something break deep in his spark, looking at the fractured soldier held at arms length, his body trembling with emotional turbulence.

Unable to think of anything else to do, Prime embraced Sunstreaker, feeling the smaller mech fold against him in submission, his head tucked under Prime's chin as he clicked in fearful surrender. Prime's body vibrated from Sunstreaker's tremors.

"I'm so sorry, Sunstreaker," Prime said softly, wishing to take away the mech's suffering.

As if in answer, Prime felt a tug along his chest plates, but it wasn't from Sunstreaker. It felt more like it came from the inside. He frowned, and with reluctance, withdrew from Sunstreaker, earning a frightened chirp of a tortured youngling. Sunstreaker winced, expecting a blow.

A great thundering filled the room, earning startled looks from the three somber mechs. Sunstreaker whined, cringing away from the torment he knew was coming. Prime looked down, realizing the noise was coming from him. Or to be more precise the thing residing in his chest. Unbidden his chest plates split, the thundering noise lowering to a low hum as the Matrix revealed itself, called forth from its place of protection.

Unable to control his traitorous frame, Prime watched with wide optics as the ancient artifact made its presence known. The edges fractured, allowing it to open. Prime made a noise of protest, but the Matrix had a will of its own. With a gentle wave, it called the other spark forth.

Sunstreaker wasn't coherent enough to send the mental command to open his spark chamber, but his spark already knew how to answer the call. It opened its sealed cage, the energy blinding and raw with emotional instability. As a frightened child, it sent a desperate plea, going right into the soul of the Matrix.

Sideswipe gasped, clutching his own chassis as he felt his brother's pain. His knees felt weak and he was sure he was falling into a chasm from where he would never return. Arms wrapped around him and kept him centered in reality, holding him steadfast against the torrent crashing through his spark. He felt dizzy and cold, like spinning through the vastness of space, the chilling breath of isolation clawing at him, all the while his spark crying out for solace.

In answer to Sunstreaker's cry, a tendril escaped from the Matrix, pulsing and brilliant white, calling its child forward. Sunstreaker's spark tried to respond, its attempt a meek flicker of acknowledgement before retreating back into itself, a skittish soul with fear ingrained into its very being. With a determined pulse, the Matrix extended its power, surging forth and presenting its energy in offering. A tangible, thread-like extraction reached from the Prime's chest and into the battered, broken body before it.

Though Sunstreaker was lost in a phantom world of pain and suffering, the Matrix easily navigated the memories, pushing them aside and offering its own steadfast power to replace the hurt.

The tendril of hope waited for Sunstreaker's spark to accept its mercy, for that's what comprised the Matrix's core. It granted peace to those who were broken. That was what the ancient artifact symbolized. It embodied not only the power of the Prime able to wield it with the unfathomable compassion he held for his people, but it held the grace and wisdom of the ages, locked in its core, ready to extend to those in need.

Sunstreaker's optics were half lidded, the charge coursing through his system making him delirious to everything around him. He may had not have been cognizant enough to realize what was being offered, but his spark knew. With a mighty wrench, his subconscious pushed forth, allowing the connection to the ancient artifact. As soon as their energies touched, there was a soft whisper against Sunstreaker's soul, telling him to be at peace, and not to dwell on things past. It was time to heal those wounds. They had been infected long enough.

Sunstreaker whimpered, his optics unfocused as he felt rather than saw Prime in front of him, a blinding light that offered the very peace and absolution that had haunted the golden mech since his sparking.

The Matrix pulled the hurt and torment away from its child, granting solace upon the soul that had suffered for so long. The Matrix took the hatred, anger, retribution, self loathing into its core, turning the negative energy into positive, using it to build its own foundations and making it stronger, its energy growing with every Cybertronian who released their suffering and called upon its cleansing grace.

Sunstreaker let out a soft sigh, his optics falling closed as he went limp in Prime's grasp. The tendrils of energy separated, the Matrix returning to the protective casing in Prime's chest. His plates resealed, keeping the ancient artifact safe. He stared at Sunstreaker, his processor trying to grasp what had happened.

The physical scars would always remain, but Prime knew the spiritual scars were already on their way to mending. He looked to Prowl and Sideswipe. Both were clutched against each other, staring at the mystic scene before them. Their arms were wrapped tightly around each other, as if using the other as an anchor to the physical plane.

A minute passed in silence, until Sunstreaker snored, snuggling closer to the warmth of the body holding him. Prime gave a start, looking to the smaller mech cradled against him. He felt an echo of the pain and spark ache that had haunted Sunstreaker. He was grateful he was still kneeling because the emotional backlash was enough to send him crashing to his knees.

"What…. Was that?" Sideswipe asked in a meek voice, his hand going to his chassis and rubbing the spot above his spark chamber. There was a strange sensation in his spark that had never been present before. It was worrisome.

"I don't know,' Prime admitted, his expression just as awestruck as the other two mechs.

"Will he be alright?" Sideswipe asked, disengaging himself from his nemesis and staring at his twin. A peaceful blanket settled in his spark, Sunstreaker's side of the bond wide open and expressing its relief.

"I… believe so," Prime said, not sure how he knew this information. He frowned, glancing to Sideswipe and adding, "Why did you not come to me sooner?"

"We didn't think there was anything that you could have done," Sideswipe admitted, feeling a sense of serenity flowing from his twin. It was enough to make him unsteady. "This was something that we had to deal with."

"With high grade?' Prowl asked, noting the still that was set up in the corner, along with the multitude of cubes that surrounded the quartet. Not to mention the fumes coming off of Sunstreaker were enough to make a mech stagger.

"Sunny has always bore the worst of the pain, but he keeps everything in the back of his possessor, hidden," Sideswipe explained. He nodded toward the still, a part of him knowing that Prowl was going to have it dismantled, "But sometimes, Sunny… remembers. What was done to us. What was said. How we were treated. And when he remembers….. He needs something to take away the nightmares."

"And high grade does this?" Prowl asked skeptically.

"It keeps them to a minimum, yes," Sideswipe said. "He copes the only way he knows how."

"And you?" Prowl promoted.

"I survive," Sideswipe said softly, watching as his brother slumbered in Prime's arms. Their leader seemed reluctant to release his charge.

Sideswipe shot Prowl a sidelong glance, "You can confiscate the still but I will set up another one. This won't change. I'll do whatever I must to help my brother."

"You may keep it," Prowl said, earning a startled noise from Sideswipe.

"I can?" Sideswipe asked. "Why?"

"Medicinal purposes," Prowl said nodding to Sunstreaker, who had enough charge in his system to run a power grid for a month. "You claim it helps Sunstreaker to cope." Sideswipe nodded in affirmation, so Prowl gave a curt nod, "Then it can be classified as a medicinal necessity. However I do not believe others need to be made aware of it, nor that there needs to be any excess of said illegal grade."

"Understood," Sideswipe said. A huge balloon of relief exploded in his chest. "Thanks" he added.

"It is merely protocol," Prowl stated. Sideswipe gave him an incredulous look and he added, "It has granted you both, however questionable the reasoning, a measure of comfort. However, I believe you both may benefit from speaking with Smokescreen or Ratchet instead of charging yourselves into stasis."

"It's no ones business," Sideswipe said, very much aware at how that sounded to the two senior officers. "This is something that we have to deal with. No one else."

"Everyone is entitled to find that which gives the peace, and allows them to continue with their lives," Prowl said, nodding to Sunstreaker who was now slumbering in quiet contentment in Prime's arms.

"Bit odd, coming from you," Sideswipe said, not wanting to sound harsh, but Prowl's look of hurt made him want to punch himself. "Sorry," he muttered.

Prowl grabbed the side latch on his chassis, and with a few flicks, easily moved the protective armor to the side, displaying his own scarred protoform, though it paled in comparison to the marks bore by the twins. "Do not think you are alone in suffering from your creation. We all bear the mark of those who saw us as something other than what we are."

Sideswipe gasped at seeing the pewter scars, their presence speaking louder than words. Sideswipe understood their meaning. The twins were not alone. They didn't have to suffer in the cold, dark, underground basement. There were others who had suffered the same, and they could understand.

Chapter Text

SIDE BAR

This chapter is rather short, and those don’t happen very often! Hope everyone enjoys!

Reviewers will be rewarded with Lamborghinis. And yes, I’m whoring them out. LOL

0000-oooo-IIIII-000000-oooooo-IIIIIII-000000

“I figured it out!” Sideswipe said when he heard the door to his quarters open and Sunstreaker stepped inside.

“The exact moment when you lost your mind?” Sunstreaker deadpanned, going to his berth and removing a cloth to wipe down his plating. He hated patrolling the cities. He always collected twice amount of dust and debris as any other Autobot. He guessed it was because he was so slagging handsome, the dust clung to him out of sheer magnetism. It made cleaning a constant chore. Not that he minded.

“No, still haven’t figured that out yet,” Sideswipe said good-naturedly, mixing two little bottles and swirling their contents. “What I figured out this time is that if you mix just a dash of sodium, with some carbon and a few other little ingredients, you get the cure for overenergizing!”

“Really?” Sunstreaker asked, tossing the soiled cloth into a cleaning bin and grabbing another for an extra polish.

“Yup!” Sideswipe smiled, raising a small vial in salute before tipping it back.

Sunstreaker barked out a warning, but his twin paid no heed. He watched in frozen shock as his brother smacked his lip components in thought, then gave a nod of acceptance.

“Bit tangy,” Sideswipe said, rolling the taste around his analyzers. “But not the worst thing I’ve ever ingested.”

“You idiot!” Sunstreaker hissed, grabbing his twin by the shoulders and giving him a violent shake. “You shouldn’t be experimenting with chemicals! Has Wheeljack taught you anything?”

“I won’t blow myself up,” Sideswipe said, giving his brother an exasperated look. “I have better sense than that.”

“That’s debatable,” Sunstreaker snapped, releasing his twin. He stalked to his berth and removed a can of polish, sitting on the edge and buffing his left pede. “Keep this up and I’ll end up an only child.” He gave his twin a twisted sneer. “Be a welcome change!”

“Aft,” Sideswipe singsonged with a smile, knowing his twin was only looking out for his best interest. But Sunstreaker knew he had been working on this ‘remedy’ for quite some time. Sideswipe was determined to beat Smokescreen at his favorite drinking game.

“Just a little dose now, then another dose after a couple of shots,” Sideswipe said with a grin, subspacing his new counteragent and waving to his twin. “See you later, Bro! I’m off to finally win a bet with Smokescreen!”

“Doubtful,” Sunstreaker muttered after his twin departed, the cleaning cloth vigorous across his plating. “Stupid slagger just doesn’t learn.”

REC ROOM- 3 HOURS LATER

“Sunrise……sunset,” Sideswipe crooned, waving his arms and doing a strange little dance as he entered the rec room.

“Oh, Primus, he’s gone Yiddish,” Jazz moaned. “Someone stop him.”

“New rule,” Prowl said passively, sipping his cube while he stared at the drunken frontliner. “Sideswipe’s not allowed to watch musicals.”

“Slag,” Jazz muttered, watching as Sideswipe grabbed his brother in a bear hug. “And I was going to take him to see the burlesque, ‘Moulin Rouge’.” He let out an exasperated sigh as Sunstreaker punched his twin, landing the ruby warrior on his aft. “I was looking forward to seeing him prance around like a courtesan.”

“You’re sick, Jazz. Completely and utterly deranged in the processor,” Prowl amended, not bothering to interrupt Sunstreaker giving his brother a couple of good kicks for measure. With a few choice words the citrine twin stormed out of the room, muttering something about fresh polish.

Sideswipe regained his pedes, swaying a little from the overcharge racing through his circuits. He squared his shoulders, his helm canting to the side a couple of times and a static filled noise issued from his vocalizer, like a radio being tuned. With a gruff grunt, he called to the room at large.

“I want to know what love is!” Sideswipe half sang, half spoke. He looked around the room, spotted the two monochromatic officers and like a channel switched on a tv set, he pointed a stern finger at the two and snapped, “I want a report on my desk ASAP! No excuses this time!”

Prowl arched an optic ridge at the commanding tone. Jazz muffled a snicker. Sideswipe turned, overbalancing and catching a chair for support, before marching a crooked path out of room, heading to destination unknown. As soon as he turned, Jazz couldn’t hold back his laughter any more and erupted with electronic snorts. Even Prowl was snickering.

Printed across Sideswipe’s aft in perfect, Praxian print was the declaration:

SMOKESCREEN WAS HERE

0000-oooo-IIIII-000000-oooooo-IIIIIII-000000

In case you’re wondering, Smokescreen has a wicked sense of humor and loves the fact that Sideswipe keeps failing at trying to beat him at a drinking game.

Chapter Text

When the Sun Goes Dark

00000-OOOO-IIIIII-0000000-OOOOO-IIIIIII-0000-OOOO-IIIIIII

Battle raged on.

Bots shouted, weapons fired, the dying screamed their last song to the heavens, seekers sped over head, their ire rained down from above and to those who didn't have sufficient cover. Voices pleaded for mercy. Some shouted for a quick termination to end their misery. Most of the fatal understood their fate, and accepted it. Others were still screaming for the world to heed their pleas.

But none of that mattered.

All that mattered was for Sideswipe to find Sunstreaker and stopped the pain. Using his bond as an internal position detector, Sideswipe raced along the battle field, ignoring orders filling his comms and dodging through war zones. Enemy or alley, they all blended together and they didn't register to Sideswipe's focused gaze. Only one other spark mattered. And it was sending out a distress so clear, Sideswipe could have detected it galaxies away.

A flash of gold and Sideswipe changed direction, shooting at a purple mech and hearing him curse as he retreated to a safer location. Sideswipe saw Sunstreaker lying on the ground, his back scorched black from weapons fire and energon pooling beneath him.

"Sunny?" Sides shouted, sliding next to his twin and grasping his shoulder. He could feel Sunstreaker's spark sending out waves of raw agony, crying out as his soul bled upon the battlefield.

Sunstreaker offered a low groan, his optics fluttering in semi-awareness. His frame trembled as Sideswipe grasped his shoulder, trying to find a non-damaged area to get a firm grip to turn his brother over. Sunstreaker's frame was charred and warped, making it difficult.

"Oh, Sunny," Sideswipe muttered, turning his bother over with more care than he had ever shown.

Sunstreaker cried out from the movement, the pain making him delirious to the world around him. His optic shutters had a hard time opening, his blue optics dimming as he fought for consciousness.

"Sides….?" Sunstreaker asked, using a nickname though he hated such titles. The usage of such an endearment alerted Sideswipe to just how far gone his brother was.

"I'm here," Sideswipe said, cradling his twin to him.

Sunstreaker coughed, energon spraying from his lip components and hitting Sideswipe, but the red warrior didn't care. He scanned his twins form, trying to figure out the best course of action. He had basic field repair training, but he knew it would be insufficient for the horrible rending of the golden frame.

Sideswipe didn't know where to begin. There were several ruptured lines along Sunstreaker's frame, painting his golden armor to the pearly cast of spilled energon. The pool of pale lavender fluid was being absorbed into the ground, drinking in thirsty gulps of the life blood of a warrior. Sideswipe fretted, not sure how to staunch the flow of energon from his brother. There was a gaping hole in Sunstreaker's chest. Circuits sparked and sizzled, and as Sideswipe inspected the wound, he realized that Sunstreaker's spark chamber was breached. Sunstreaker's spark flickered in fretful flashes like his optics.

"Just hold on, Sunny," Sideswipe said, sending out a call for assistance on all Autobot frequencies. He prayed Ratchet was near by. He didn't have a clue on how to begin treatment for such injuries.

Sunstreaker had a hard time retracting his optical shudders. He didn't even rankle at the nickname. He merely gazed into his twins face, his expression soft. The pain was falling away, taken to places where it could no longer hurt him. A gentle peace flowed into his spark, wrapping it in comfort and serenity. Sunstreaker couldn't recall feeling so peaceful in his entire, brutal existence. It was a welcomed respite that he clung to with desperate servos.

"It's okay Sideswipe," Sunstreaker uttered, his venting slowing.

Sideswipe felt hot, like his internals were boiling in his frame ready to burst like a volcano regurgitating lava. He didn't like the quiet surrender of Sunstreaker's presence in their bond.

"No, it's not okay," Sideswipe said, his face plates getting hot from the emotion he was trying to keep at bay. He could feel his twin slipping away.

"It's going to be alright, Sideswipe," Sunstreaker said his body going lax in his brother's arms. "It's okay. You can let me go."

"No!" Sideswipe snapped, shaking his twin and screaming through the comms for Ratchet to hurry.

Sunstreaker's optics darkened, his vents a pale whisper. His fans slowed, then stopped, throwing the war zone into silences.

Sideswipe felt the warm thrum of his twin's life fade, giving one last weak pulse of life before falling silent. The bond closed, throwing Sideswipe into cold isolation. Out of instinct he pushed along the bond, waiting for Sunstreaker's answering call. But it never came. Only the still emptiness where once a spark beat echoed in his soul. A part of his soul that was now gone. Missing, lost to places unknown

Sideswipe tried to scream and rave, to shout his misery to the heavens, but no sound escaped. He was mute in his pain. He held his brother's cooling form against him and rocked, trying to push the warmth of his body into his twin and feel that pulse of life beat in tandem with his own. But his efforts went unanswered. All the warmth was stolen from his frame. The life drained away as it had left the battered golden shell clutched against his chest.

Like an animal clawing its way out of a cage, Sideswipe pushed all his fear, misery, and agony into the world and gave it a voice, his vocalizer straining with sorrow. Sunstreaker's lifeless frame disintegrated, leaving the ruby warrior all alone.

As Sideswipe found his voice, he shot upright on the berth, his optics flying open to reveal the orange walls of the ARK. Spark pounding he looked around the room and saw his twin stretched out on his berth, his paint as flawless and polished as ever. Sideswipe scrambled off his berth and without invitation, crawled onto Sunstreaker's berth, his helm on his brother's chest, listening to the beat of life within the golden chassis.

Sunstreaker kept his optics closed, allowing his brother the quiet comfort. Many times Sideswipe had suffered from bad memory loops or horrific memory purges. Each time he woke from one of these episodes he always sought the sanctuary of his twin. Sunstreaker never complained. He accepted his role as shelter for his brother, allowing him the time and physical contact needed to affirm his consciousness in this reality and not be plagued by the things that haunted his charge.

Sunstreaker always knew when Sideswipe was in distress. His spark would send out a pang of stress and sorrow that awoke Sunstreaker and alerted him to the mental torment his brother was enduring. Since both were skilled front line warriors, it was wise never to rouse one from the throes of a nightmare, least the other be severely damaged or terminated.

Sideswipe listened to his brother's steady beat of life, reassured that they still survived. If Sunstreaker lived, then so too did Sideswipe.

Sighing in resignation, Sunstreaker scooted back on his berth, giving his brother room to curl up next to him. Whatever haunted Sideswipe would not plague him while charging next to his twin.

"Promise that you won't leave me," Sideswipe said knowing his brother was awake. Sunstreaker's consciousness brushed his own in a constant caress to his mind. They were always linked. Forever.

"I'm not going anywhere," Sunstreaker said, wondering what had his brother so upset. Whatever it was it must have been bad to invoke such a reaction.

"Promise?" Sideswipe whispered, burying his face in his brother's neck.

Sunstreaker could feel the trembling of Sideswipe's form and resigned to placing his arm over his brother's that was wrapped around his midsection so tight, Sunstreaker was thankful he didn't have to breathe.

"I promise," Sunstreaker said patting his brother by way of showing affection. Sunstreaker wasn't an emotional mech. Touchy feely moments weren't his forte. Moments such as this made him feel awkward and inadequate, as if he couldn't fulfill the emotional need of the one seeking his presence and reassurance.

Sideswipe smiled, accepting Sunstreaker's answer. He felt a huge swell of relief expand form his body and threaten to burst his seams.

"That's good," Sideswipe muttered, feeling the call of charge pulling at his consciousness once again. "Because I don't think I could survive without you."

Sunstreaker felt his brother fall into a peaceful slumber, Sideswipe's hold tightening in his charge. Resigned to the fact that he was confined to his brother's death grip, Sunstreaker closed his optics and fell into a fitful charge.

Chapter Text

Side Splitter

*Sequel to Side Bar but not necessary to read that chapter to understand*

WARNING: DO NOT drink or eat anything while reading. May cause bodily harm, choking, spit takes, or liquid coming out of nose. Author assumes no responsibility for these or related incidents. Warning is in place because she suffered the above mentioned side effects. Proceed with caution.

000000-OOOOO-IIIIIII-000000-OOOOOO-IIIIIII-00000-OOOOO

Sunstreaker entered the quarters he shared with his twin and glanced around the cluttered room. The lack of glinting red armor alerted him that Sideswipe wasn’t there. Which was a mixed blessing. Sunstreaker didn’t want company at the moment, and the last he had seen his twin, Sideswipe was staggering down one of the many halls of the ARK, overcharged as usual. Sunstreaker shook his head. Why did his brother have to be such a lush? It was okay to drink and enjoy the buzzing of circuits once in awhile, but Sideswipe made it his life mission to overcharge himself at the least provocation.

And the provocation usually came in the form of Smokescreen, who loved to challenge Sideswipe to drinking games. Smokescreen was notorious for drinking a mech under the table, but Sideswipe never seemed to learn. He devised all manner of concoctions to ‘remedy’ his overcharge, but nothing had ever worked to date. He drank, he overcharged, he wandered the base and performed questionable deeds that had gotten him reprimanded on more than one occasion.

Prowl’s best crash had been the direct result of Sideswipe composing a love declaration to a Decepticon in old Cybertronian prose. It was rather eloquent and spark felt, and had he spouted such words while sober, his love interest would have probably considered accepting the mech’s proposals. As it was, Prowl had found the drunken frontliner at a terminal, slurring through his speech of unending love and devotion, using such phrases and fluid audible grace that had Prowl immediately suspicious. The SIC had stormed to the drunken warrior (caught off guard from the fumes coming from said mech), and had turned to see Megatron staring back. With a smirk, Megatron had accepted Sideswipe’s oath of loving servitude and loyal devotion.

Prowl’s crash was heard throughout the base. Megatron signed off laughing so hard, he snorted through his vents and there was a loud crashing noise that may have been him falling off his throne. Sideswipe seemed devastated until he saw Jazz, and started the whole fiasco over again.

Hoping for the best, Sunstreaker picked up the datapad on his berth and sat down, skimming the screen that was loaded with ‘vacation’ ideas. The twins were due some down time and Sideswipe had insisted on something they could do together. Sunstreaker wasn’t fond of the idea in many aspects, but he had agreed to glance over his brother’s list. So far, nothing caught his interest.

Outdoor recreation centers were designed for humans, but not for robotic beings over 20 feet tall. Sunstreaker couldn’t see the point in going to an amusement park, a water park, and a ‘state fair’. There were no rides large enough to accommodate the Cybertronian form. They didn’t ingest the food that clogged the humans fuel lines. The games were either too small for robotic hands or they were rigged to ensure one lost more than they gained.

Water parks were a worse idea. The chlorinated water got into sensitive joints and caused lock ups, squeaks, and if exposed for more than two hours, rust. Then there were the screaming children, the urinating population, and the conglomeration of oils and sunscreen that created a scum across the water surface. Not to mention the other biological secretions that permeated the water. Sunstreaker cringed at the idea of what humans release and there was no way in the Pit he was going to go bathing with one of them, let alone hundreds of them.

Which was why the beach was out as well. Not only was the water just as disgusting with aquatic vermin and their feces, but the sand loved to collect in joints and sensitive places that a mech finds very uncomfortable.

The bike rally was a bust. The idea of hundreds of two wheeled vehicles filling up a lot and revving their substandard engines was enough to send Sunstreaker into a laughing fit, if he ever felt inclined to do so. Not to mention that the humans who rode the bikes were notorious for either being “Weekend warriors” or “Die Hard Fanatics” and either way, the Lamborghini would be subjected to their bantering about which engine is best and trying to outperform each other. And these galas always ended up with several arrests because alcohol flowed in abundance. Sunstreaker didn’t want another impound on his record. Prowl threatened to leave the twins there next time they were incarcerated by humans.

And the slagger had meant it.

Human ball games were out of the question. Sunstreaker didn’t see the point in grown men running around after a ball or trying to hit one. There was no talent in that. Now, if the opposing team were allowed to shoot the ball while in air, that would be interesting. And the only way to get Sunstreaker to attend a golf course was to promise him he was allowed to enlarge the holes and maybe bury a few human bodies in the sand. Or scream at the participants and ask them why they always take so slagging long.

Driving cross country wasn’t too appealing.

Highways, traffic laws, other motorists, road construction. A good recipe to ensure Sunstreaker displayed violence.

Sideswipe’s ‘touring’ with a famous rock band was also out of the question. Sunstreaker wouldn’t be able to prevent himself from stepping on annoying humans who liked to scream into a microphone. And there were the strange amebas called ‘groupies’ that collected around musicians and brought down the general intelligence of the human race. As soon as any of those humans touched his paint, he would have to end them.

There was a mention of a ‘haunted house’ tour upstate that looked promising. Sunstreaker highlighted the details and read about the old lighthouses along the shore that were haunted by fated lovers or lost seamen looking for absolution. The tour ended at a hotel, where guests could ‘solve’ a mystery and earn prizes. Sunstreaker loved the idea of terrorizing the unsuspecting guests with a ‘haunted’ Lamborghini. And the twins still had the ghost getups from last year’s Halloween party. They could don the long white sheets and prowl around the lighthouses and hotel, seeing who could garner the most screams of fear.

‘Ratchet to Sunstreaker,’ Ratchet said over comms, his voice sounding annoyed.

‘What?’ was Sunstreaker’s succinct reply.

‘Please come to med bay and collect your brother,’ Ratchet answered.

‘Terminated?’ Sunstreaker asked, though he already knew the answer from the contented emotion filtering through his spark. Whatever Sideswipe was doing, he was happy and practically purring through the bond. It made Sunstreaker suspicious and sick at the same time.

‘Will be if you do not remove him,’ Ratchet sneered, his temper as volatile as Sunstreaker’s own.

‘On my way,’ Sunstreaker sighed, putting the datapad on the side table and exiting the room. He hazard a guess as to what Sideswipe was doing. If he was in the med bay, projecting such ‘positive’ and ‘happy’ emotions, he was no doubt torturing Ratchet. Ratchet’s own terse attitude was further proof.

Sunstreaker stalked to the medical wing, his steps ringing in agitation. Sometimes, he really hated his brother. Leave it to Sideswipe to pick the most inopportune times to pull one of his stunts and cause his twin even more processor aches. Sunstreaker just wanted to spend a quiet evening alone, without having his brother perform any of his usual idiocy. Expecting the worst, Sunstreaker prepared himself for the warzone he was about to enter, his arms flexing in preparation to ward off any flying instruments. Many times Sunstreaker had entered med bay and received an errant projectile right between the optics.

Sunstreaker closed his optics, steeling his resolve. The door opened and he stepped through. Two steps inside and Sunstreaker stopped short, his jaw going slack, his expression confused.

“Ratchet?” Sunstreaker asked, staring at the CMO who was standing in the middle of the room, looking very agitated.

“Sunstreaker,’ Ratchet greeted through pursed lip plating, his frame tense as it swayed from Sideswipe’s vehemence.

“What the slag is going on?” Sunstreaker asked, staring at his twin, who was currently hugging the CMO so tightly, their chest plates appeared welded together. After a few seconds of close scrutiny, Sunstreaker realized they were moving. Well, Sideswipe was trying to take steps to the left and right and Ratchet was swaying with momentum but his pedes were rooted to the spot.

“Apparently we are slow dancing,” Ratchet snarled, trying to wiggle free from Sideswipe, but the warrior only clutched him closer, his engine purring.

“What?” Sunstreaker asked. His processor just didn’t possess the power to compute this.

“Sideswipe came in about ten minutes ago, said he needed to see me, and when I stepped close to scan him, he grabbed me,” Ratchet explained, casting a dark look to Sideswipe, whose right hand started to drift down to Ratchet’s aft. Ratchet smacked the drunken mech upside the helm, then grabbed his errant hand and replaced it on his waist. “And the slagger keeps putting the moves on me.”

Sunstreaker was sure his processor locked up. And though it wasn’t like him to express too extensive of emotions, he erupted in genuine laughter. His mirth was so intense he doubled over; clutching his midsection and feeling the tension leave his frame.

“It’s not that slagging funny!” Ratchet snapped, taking a step back as Sideswipe used his distraction to get him to ‘dance’ to the music only the frontliner could hear.

“It’s slagging hilarious!” Sunstreaker barked, smiling at Ratchet and causing the CMO to give a startled look. When Sunstreaker noticed his expression, he asked, “What’s wrong?”

“It’s just….” Ratchet sputtered, at a loss as to what he was witnessing. “I’ve never seen or heard you… laugh.”

Sunstreaker composed himself, swallowing the random giggles that threatened to overcome him again. He stalked to the pair and held out his hand, “Sideswipe?”

“Busy,’ Sideswipe said, nuzzling Ratchet, his sneaky hand drifting down the medics aft again.

Ratchet grabbed the errant hand and wrenched it up, using the appendage as a focal point and spinning Sideswipe toward his twin. “You take him!”

Sideswipe whined as his dance partner handed him off. He turned fuzzy optics to his new partner and let out a slurred welcome, wrapping his arms around his brother and asking him if he’s seen a pretty white femme around. Ratchet growled oaths that would scare the Pit maker as he marched into his office and slammed the door.

Sunstreaker sighed, hoisting his twin against him and starting the trek toward their shared quarters. They were almost there when Sideswipe hiccupped and backfired, the sound resonating like a gunshot.

Red Alert’s voice echoed over the comms, asking for an explanation. He was watching the twins on his security cameras. He always kept a tab on them when he was on monitor duty.

“Overcharge,’ Sunstreaker growled in answer, tugging on his brother to get him to move.

Sideswipe snickered, grasping his brother and slurring, “Yoush shee a preffy femme?”

“No, they are all substandard,” Sunstreaker deadpanned, dragging his brother down the hall.

Sideswipe seemed to have forgotten his train of thought. He frowned, allowing his brother to direct their path. When they were standing in front of their door, Sideswipe giggled and backfired again.

Sunstreaker opened his mouth to ask what was wrong with Sideswipe’s distribution system, when Sideswipe giggled again and muttered, “Add..i…tives. Goods mix.”

Sunstreaker frowned, wondering what his brother was talking about and hit the door lock. He maneuvered his brother to his berth, and as soon as Sideswipe sat down, he backfired again, only this time it resembled a choking motorcycle and Sideswipe erupted with more insane laughter.

“What is..” Sunstreaker started, then paused, something foul burning his olfactory sensor. He frowned, then took a long inhale, and immediately started coughing. “Holy slag! That’s sulfur!”

“Only ones ingredziants,” Sideswipe stage whispered, before falling backward in unconsciousness.

“Fragging great,” Sunstreaker muttered, waving his hands around to dissipate the foul cloud that hovered around his brother’s berth. “I hope you learn your lesson.”

Sideswipe snored, oblivious to his brother’s hateful glare.

Sunstreaker went to his own berth and plopped down, grabbing the datapad off the table and highlighting the screen to begin his vacation quest all over again. Two minutes later, Sideswipe expelled another noxious gaseous cloud that had Sunstreaker coughing and his optics watering.

“You slagging…” Sunstreaker said, glaring at his unconscious brother, but Sideswipe decided to release another loud, ripping backfire. Sunstreaker sputtered, his optics unable to focus as he staggered from his berth, his processor hell bent on enacting reinstitution.

An hour later, Sunstreaker received a comm. from Red Alert, asking why Sideswipe was snoring in the hall. He muttered a garbled explanation, to which Red Alert chalked up to the twins normal behavior. Sunstreaker fell back into a deep charge.

Red Alert regarded the slumbering ruby mech outside his quarters with a narrowed optic. He knew something was amiss. It always was when the twins were involved. He got his answer a few seconds later when Prowl turned the corner, and came to an abrupt stop like hitting an invisible wall. His door wings hitched high on his back as his face twisted in a pained grimace before going slack, and then he keeled over off his pedes.

0000-OOOO-IIIIII-000000-OOOOO-IIIIIIII-0000000-OOOOOO

Yes, Sideswipe was farting, but since Cybertronians don’t have intestines or a colon, I had to give him an alternative. The mixture didn’t go well with the high grade and the fumes coming from the chemicals cant be expelled the normal way by the distribution center. So the gas builds and is forced from his body as loud ‘backfires’… and if you’ve ever been near a backfiring car, they DO sound like gunshots. Can you imagine the sound when high grade is involved? Wheeljack is probably remembering his childhood with the early, ‘gentler’ explosions.

Chapter Text

A Sidelong Glance

AN: Be warned, I made Sideswipe a jackass in this chapter. He’s suave, sexy, and a jerk. He likes to prey on those with low self esteem or worried over something that he can manipulate to his advantage. What can I say? He’s a bastard.

But we love him.

Rated: T (suggestive adult themes)

0000-OOOOO-IIIII-0000—OOOOO-IIIII-0000000

Disgraceful. That’s what it was! A pure, lowdown, disgusting disgrace.

Sideswipe fumed as he exited the transport and spotted the first bar that spouted of having premium high grade. He stalked from the public transport service, still fuming about the audacity of having to take said transport to his current destination. Having been a regular at his local bars, both around his workplace and private apartment, he now had the public label of being an intoxicated menace and prohibited from visiting his favorite drinking establishments. Now he had the added insult of traveling several miles to another district, just to get a cube of decent high grade!

It was insufferable!

He pushed open the door and was hit by the ambience of the high grade dispensing facility. It was lit by pale illumination, like most bars, and littered with all manner of games and pleasurable entertainment. There were booths for private encounters, or one could pay for a room upstairs for more spirited interactions, with a partner or a group. Sideswipe planted himself at the bar, noting the stools in this place were of better quality, seeing how it didn’t wobble when he planted his weight on it and the cushion actually felt plump and hearty against his angular aft. He smiled, settling himself on the comfortable seat and raised his hand, signaling for the barkeep’s attention.

The barkeep nodded in affirmation and hurried along the line, serving drinks to his customers in prompt, orderly fashion. He was mostly black, blending into the dark atmosphere that inhabited a bar, with white and chrome accents.

Sideswipe held back a sigh, watching as the mech made his slow progress down the line, the other customers taking forever in placing their orders. There were two femmes who couldn’t decide if they wanted their energon carbonated or not. He rolled his optics until they landed on the mech seated next to him, and instantly, Sideswipe perked up.

Yes, he had to travel a great distance to find a suitable tavern that would allow him on their property, but the new establishment also came with another added benefit. New people to meet and potentially berth.

Sideswipe had a rather extended list of conquests from his usual haunts. That was another reason he was ‘escorted’ from the last establishment and tossed to the curb. He had berthed the proprietors spark mate. In hindsight, Sideswipe should have asked the designation of his berth partner, but at the time, it just seemed so unimportant. If he was honest with himself, he was never one to learn designations before berthing them. Designations were for people who were interested in maintaining a relationship. Sideswipe just wanted to overload and go home, putting another dent in his lists of conquests.

Now, he had a whole new crop to comb through and find the best ones to take advantage. The small mech beside of him looked like a good a place to start as any. Sideswipe cast him a gaze, sizing him up without appearing to do so. He was slightly smaller than Sideswipe, mostly ruby red, and had blue and black accents that looked very striking on his frame. Though it was hard to gauge his true colors as he was coated in several layers of grime, grease, and dust associated with a hard working class frame.

The barkeep clicked at the red mech to gain his attention, and with a slight wave, the barkeep skipped the mech and turned his full attention onto Sideswipe.

“What can I get you?” he asked in a bored tone.

“Give me the strongest thing you have,” Sideswipe said with a disarming smile. He noted the mech beside him still looked forlorn and nodded, “And one for my friend too.”

The smaller mech didn’t realize Sideswipe meant him until the barkeep planted a brilliant purple vial in front of him and set the top on fire. It burned an acidic green, causing the mech to gasp and push back from the bar.

“You have to extinguish it before you drink it,” Sideswipe said, giving a quick puff of air across his own vial and downing it in one gulp. He smacked his lip components together a few times, giving an appreciative look before nodding, “I’ll have another.”

“I don’t drink the heavy stuff,” the mech said. His voice was meek and by the way he moved, Sideswipe guessed him to be rather flighty in nature.

“The heavy stuff is what keeps us grounded,” Sideswipe said, saluting his new friend and downing another vial. “Drink up! I’m not doing these shots alone.”

The mech gave a timid look to the still flaming vial, weighing his options. With a squeak that sounded like a small organic being trodden on, he grabbed the vial and blew across its surface before tossing it back. His whole frame shuddered, his hydraulics hissed, and a weird grating noise issued from the back of his throat as he fought against the urge to purge. The liquid was just as vile as he imagined.

Sideswipe gave an appreciative whistle, recognizing courage when he saw it. He clapped the smaller mech on the back, uncaring of the greasy transfer that smudged his hand.

“Now that was brave,” Sideswipe praised, motioning for another round.

“I don’t feel any braver,” the mech said, and his voice somehow became even more diminutive.

“You just need a few more doses,” Sideswipe said wisely, clinking glasses with the smaller mech and downing another dose of the high potency grade. He signaled for another round, earning a raised brow ridge from the barkeep, who moved to another dispenser to comply.

The mech wheezed, accepting a cloth from the barkeep to wipe his face as he sputtered on the burning liquid. He coughed, clearing his vents, his vision already starting to blur. When he regained his senses, he noted the discoloration on the cloth and proceeded to wipe down his arms, neck and chest as well, reveling a ruddy paint job that rivaled Sideswipe’s own. Sideswipe ordered another round, and when it was delivered, the mech paused in his cleaning long enough to down it, shudder, cough, then toss the now thoroughly soiled cloth behind the bar.

“Still not brave,” he muttered, sounding defeated. He slouched against his seat and drank the pale pink concoction in his square glass.

“What do you have to be brave for?” Sideswipe asked out of genuine curiosity. Whatever it was, it had to be bad to dispel the bravery that comes from the ultra refined grade that would land a seeker on their afterburners.

“I’ve decided to ask my girlfriend to spark bond with me,” the mech said with panic in his voice. He turned wide blue optics to Sideswipe, every line screaming that if he heard a loud noise, he’d drop with a spark attack. “Am I crazy? Am I ready? Is she ready? Oh, Primus, what if she says no? What if….?”

Sideswipe planted his hand across the mechs mouth to prevent him from rambling any further.

“You’re getting yourself worked up in a spark seizure because you are afraid your girlfriend won’t accept you?” Sideswipe asked, noting how the red mech trembled.

“What if she doesn’t want me?” the mech squeaked from behind Sideswipe’s hand before he removed it. He grabbed the flaming vial as soon as the barkeep set it down. Without blowing it out he gulped it, coughing as the flame sputtered in his throat before extinguishing.

It was Sideswipe’s turn to be scared. His optics were wide as he watched the mech drink the burning shot, flames and all. He had never seen anyone do that before. No one was brave enough. Apparently this mech was feeling a lot braver than what he thought.

“How long have you been together?” Sideswipe asked, downing his own and feeling the burning effect scorch his throat before hitting his absorption relays with a fiery vengeance. Primus, it actually felt… good!

“Since we came online it seems,” the mech said, now sounding proud and like a love struck mech who was marching to his doom. “I can’t imagine what my life would be without her.”

“Tell me about her,” Sideswipe prompted, giving the signal for the lower grade stuff as the harder shots were taking longer to absorb. He ordered a rotational drink, alternating the charges and additives, ensuring a pleasant buzz and amicable suggestiveness.

For the next couple of hours the red mech talked about the love of his life. How they met, the soft melody of her voice, the music of her laughter, the tenderness of her touch when they were alone. She was studying to be an archivist, and she always carried the scent of ancient dust and burnt-out datapads. It was the sweetest aroma he could ever imagine.

Sideswipe sat and listened to the smaller mech pour his spark out, talking about rather intimate details of the femme he was enamored with, and all of her favorite things. Her favorite music, color, city, and the planets she wished to visit when she passed her apprenticeship.

“Wow,” Sideswipe muttered, feeling overwhelmed with the strange red mech.

Sideswipe didn’t know the femme the mech spoke about, but a part of him wished he knew her. He couldn’t imagine knowing that much about someone and finding even the tiniest detail to be the most extraordinary thing about them. The love and devotion the two shared for one another was something of legend.

“And you worry that she will not accept you?” Sideswipe asked, feeling a warm tingling all over his frame, his processor buzzing with a constant drone. Or it could have been his interface equipment. Both sounded the same when they were engaging. And some of the most memorable interfaces he had involved a lot of high grade and a partner with lower tolerance. He smiled at his companion, finding the red hue to be a perfect match to his own highly polished frame.

Oh yes, this was definitely a great new place to enjoy oneself.

“What if I’m not good enough?” the small mech asked, his upper body swaying as he felt the ebb and flow of energy crashing over his frame. It felt fantastic! This new mech certainly knew how to brew the right drinks for a pleasant feeling.

“What exactly is your basis for worry?” Sideswipe asked, noting how bright his companion’s optics was. “What are you afraid of being ranked so poorly?”

The mech mumbled but Sideswipe didn’t catch the words. He was going to ask him to repeat himself, but then he noticed the molten hue along the mechs cheeks. It was easy to guess the topic that brought such discomfort.

Sideswipe leaned in, his forehead touching the mechs temple as he spoke into his audio. “Have you interfaced with her?”

“No,” the red mech admitted. His venting hitched when he noticed the proximity of his drinking partner. He felt hot all over, and there was that Pit damned tingling dancing along his frame. There was also a strange little voice inside his processor, chanting a mantra to just let go and give in. He was trying to decipher on what he was to give in to, when he felt the other mech’s lips along his cheek and couldn’t stop the whine of longing that issued from his vocalizer.

“Why haven’t you interfaced with her?” Sideswipe asked in a husky voice, low and sensuous. He felt a chill run up his own spine at the sound.

“We were never ready,” the mech offered as a weak excuse. He felt that wonderful tingling take over his frame and making it itch, demanding to be released from the constricting prison. “And… and I… don’t…. know….”

“Practice makes perfect,” Sideswipe whispered, smiling when he noted the mech shiver at his words. Oh Primus, he was good. And he had every intention of adding this mech to his list. He liked them shy and inexperienced. He could get them to do anything.

With a shuddering breath the mech turned, sealing their lip components together. Sideswipe had to brace himself against the bar as the strength and voracity behind the kiss threatened to rob him of his senses. Primus, who was taking advantage of who? Sideswipe was barely coherent to guide the smaller mech toward one of the private booths and palm his credits for the billing before finding himself shoved against a cushioned berth, the door slamming shut and locking with a click.

Though the other mech was smaller, he easily subdued Sideswipe, but he gave in easily enough with the promise of what was to come. Both were well past the intoxicated stage and were running on pure instinct. Sideswipe wanted to overload and his partner wanted to gain experience while he still had the steel nerve from the fortifying drinks.

Fumbling, the smaller mech disengaged his transfer cable and opened his access port for a data transfer, but Sideswipe didn’t think a data link would be satisfactory. He was hoping for something a little more intimate than a cable and port interaction. Taking initiative, he retracted his interface panel, his spike pressurizing in grand display, his valve already slicked with want. He rose to his pedes, grasping the mech’s fumbling hands and pulled him against his chest, one hand clasping the trembling digits while the other slipped between the red mech’s thighs, finding his interface panel to be scalding.

“I have a valve,” Sideswipe whispered, pulling the mech on top of him without protest.

It took a couple of minutes, but once the obviously very inexperienced mech figured out how to engage his full interface array, his spike pressurized with a vengeance.

Sideswipe gasped, noting the mech may be smaller in stature, but he certainly had been well equipped at the factory. And blessedly, he was a fast learner. With stamina that rivaled the most experienced pleasure slave. Sideswipe lost track of how many times he overloaded, valve and spike being thoroughly exercised by the vigorous mech who once his initial shyness was overcome, turned out to be a dominating berth partner that fully satisfied in every aspect. Each overload robbed the couple of their high grade charge, slowly bringing them back to normal as they lay tangled in a mass of legs and arms, Sideswipe pinned to the berth by the mechs smaller weight and twitching with dual aftershocks. He wasn’t going to be able to walk properly for some time, he just knew it. And he wasn’t complaining. Primus, if this was the first sample of what this district had to offer, then Sideswipe was considering moving his business!

The duo fell into charge, their systems needing to recalibrate after such a vigorous physical exertion. Sideswipe was too sore to move the mech off of him, but he admitted the weight felt nice. The now dormant spike buried inside his valve was slumbering as peacefully as the red mech, who sighed in contentment as he charged.

When the duo awoke, the mech took one look at the mech below him, let out a bark of surprise and jumped from the berth, dislodging their intimate connection and earning a wince from Sideswipe.

“Primus, what happened?” he asked in a squeaky voice. His optics were wide, as he stared at the contented mech that was almost lost in the cushion.

Sideswipe was slow to pull himself upright, wincing at the tenderness in his valve and knowing it was definitely another momentous evening that involved high grade.

“You can’t remember?” Sideswipe asked, his brow furrowed. Yes he liked to get them drunk and frag their processors out, but it was better when they actually remembered the encounter!

“Yes… I mean, well as to … say.. uhmm… yes… yes, I remember,” the mech stammered, looking away, his shyness back in full force.

Not one to mince words or waste time, Sideswipe gained his pedes, fighting back the urge to whimper at the soreness of his body, and gave the mech a beaming smile.

“You were worried that your femme wouldn’t accept you,” Sideswipe said, hoping to reassure the mech that had drove him with the force of an interstellar transport. When the smaller mech nodded, still refusing to make optic contact, Sideswipe added, “After experiencing the best overload of my life, I would say you are going to have one extremely happy femme that will be reluctant to leave your berth.”

The smaller mech’s head whipped around, staring at Sideswipe in shock that slowly turned into incredulous surprise. “Really?”

“I don’t lie about overloading,’ Sideswipe said in honesty. He pulled the red mech closer, stealing a kiss and adding, “Of course, this femme may have to share you with me because I don’t know if I wish to give up someone who can induce such a processor blowing experience.”

“My spark belongs to her,” the mech said, pulling away and giving a firm smile. He was adamant. This was a one time occurrence. Though the offer did more for the mech’s self esteem than having so many incredible overloads.

“Lucky femme,’ Sideswipe smiled, accepting the mech’s terms. With companionable silence the two wiped down their plating, Sideswipe trying to hide his pained grimace as his spike was reluctant to return to its housing. When the two were presentable, Sideswipe nodded to the door, gracing the other red mech with a wink.

“And be sure to warn your femme before you drive her into the berth.” Sideswipe gave a charming, handsome grin and disappeared through the door, his companion slow to follow.

The mech burst into laughter, his face so dark with embarrassment it was almost ashen. He followed Sideswipe outside, where the pick up zones were located for inter-territory transports. Sideswipe looked at the departure listing and felt his spark flutter, realizing he didn’t miss his ride back home. A flash of red beside of him signaled his new friend was waiting beside of him at the pick up zone.

“Thank you,” the red mech said after a moment.

Sideswipe started and gave the coy mech a smile that could melt the steeliest of resolve. “It is I who should thank you. I have enjoyed the evening.”

The smaller mech smiled in return, his voice now strong and adamant, “I’m going to ask her to bond with me.”

“Really?” Sideswipe asked, a little surprised. He was hoping the mech would agree to meet him again. He wasn’t expecting the mech to be so confident now in his decision.

“As soon as I see her,” the mech said, and every inch exuded assurance and adoration toward the object of his affection.

“Lucky femme indeed,” Sideswipe repeated, hearing the alarm call for the approaching transport.

The red mech nodded. “I am the lucky one.” He glanced over his shoulder and grabbed Sideswipe’s arm, spinning him around. “That’s her!”

Sideswipe let out a whistle of appreciation. The femme was rather tiny, a minibot frame perhaps, with a dusting of pink and silver along her slender frame. She didn’t sport a lot of curves, like Sideswipe usually preferred, but she had gentle planes and a delicate feature that left no doubt to her fair gender. Her head was bowed, her attention absorbed in a datapad in her hand.

“Wow,” Sideswipe muttered, feeling rather warm. His spike gave a twitch, voting its approval.

“Hey mech, she’s taken!” the smaller mech chastised, waggling a finger at Sideswipe.

Sideswipe held up his hands in a defensive manner. “Nothing to worry about. I know she’s in good hands.” He dropped his voice so no one could over hear and added, “And excellent parts that will leave her wanting more in your berth.”

The mech blushed molten again, causing Sideswipe to laugh and step onto the awaiting transport. He smiled, watching the mech sputter, trying to recover from his embarrassment. Sideswipe waved, watching as the mech turned and sought his femme. Sideswipe smiled to himself, watching as her face lit up like a nova before she raced to his arms, embracing him with genuine love.

As the door slid closed, Sideswipe heard the mech speak.

“Ariel, there is something I want to ask you.”

0000-OOOO-IIIIII-0000-OOOOO-IIIII-0000000

Yes, I know I’m evil. Sideswipe seduced Prime! Ekkk! I really have NO IDEA where this came from!

Ideas? Thoughts? Con crit? Questions of what in the bloody hell I was thinking?

Reviews are loved!

Chapter Text

A Brilliant Streak

AN: Thank you so much to all who review! It puts the biggest, goofiest grin on my face when I read reviews that people have taken the time to write and express their fav/disappointment/requests… it all means so much. And I grin like a clown on laughing gas from the reviewers that brighten my day.

Love to you all!

0000-OOOO-IIIIII-00000-OOOO-000IIII—000—III-00000

“Explain to me HOW you got a cucumber stuck up your tailpipe,” Ratchet demanded, trying to hold Sideswipe still with one hand while extracting the green vegetable with the other.

“The same way I ended up with a banana,” Sunstreaker growled. “My dumb aft brother thought he’d try something he saw in a movie.”

“Hey, it was funny!” Sideswipe said, trying to defend his soiled honor. “And I didn’t know it’d get stuck!”

Ratchet grimaced, his extenders having a hard time getting a good hold on the mushy vegetable. “You thought you’d ram something up your tailpipes for a laugh?”

“Well, in the movie, it made the cop cars stall out,” Sideswipe said, crying out when Ratchet’s instruments raked along a tender spot. “Watch it, you witch doctor!”

Ratchet ignored the nickname and forced his pinchers in deeper, earning a painful outcry from the Lamborghini currently bowing on his tires.

“So, you tried to stall yourself out?” Ratchet asked, grimacing in satisfaction when he felt the offending obstacle give up its hold and start the slow retraction from its current location. Ratchet had often wondered about the sanity of the twins and here he had physical proof of their lacking mentality.

“Actually, this was a practice run,’ Sideswipe admitted, wincing as the slimy vegetable finally exited his frame. “I was hoping to get Prowl when he least expects it.”

Ratchet dropped the thoroughly ruined vegetable onto a tray and gave Sideswipe an incredulous look. “You were practicing so you can catch Prowl unaware and stall out his engine?”

Sideswipe transformed, finally free of his unwanted installed part. He stretched, feeling a cool trickling sensation and hoped it wasn’t any of the vegetables internals that was leaking from his frame. That would be gross.

“Well, its been awhile since I pulled a prank on him,’ Sideswipe offered a lopsided grin. “I didn’t want him to feel left out.”

Ratchet gave a furious growl, smacking Sideswipe upside the helm with a new wrench. There was a deep clang as it struck, initiating it into its new, alternative job of patient rectification.

“You slagger! I should let you bake that thing in your tailpipes!” Ratchet fumed, adding another dose of iron into Sideswipe’s physical diet.

Sideswipe fell against a berth, his equilibrium chips knocked haywire. He cringed when Ratchet advanced, but Sunstreaker interrupted what could have been an epic battle.

“Ratchet, get this banana out of my tailpipe,” Sunstreaker deadpanned, rolling forward in haste to rid himself of the offending organic substance. Sunstreaker had been the first victim of Sideswipe’s ‘practice run’. Sunstreaker had transformed into his bipedal mode, forgetting about smashing the fruit, and proceeded to chase his twin to enact his own retaliation. He was disgusted when the eggplant wouldn’t fit.

Though there was a good chance that Spike and Sparkplug were going to need a full reboot. They both locked up when the twins were initiating their food fight in the modified kitchen.

Now, transformed back into his alt mode and feeling very disgusting with banana fumes coming from his tailpipe, Sunstreaker just wanted a clean bill of health, and physical, before beating his twin senseless in the privacy of their own quarters without witnesses or medical intervention. Of course there was a high percentage that Ratchet would assist him into beating some sense into his twin. He hated organics and he most certainly didn’t enjoy having them mashed in his circuits. It felt…. Gooey and gross.

Ratchet turned to his other patient and bent, extractor ready to remove the offending fruit. He held back his own disgust at smelling the offending odors wafting from Sunstreaker’s back end. Ratchet’s olfactory sensor was more highly attuned, and as a result, he ‘smelled’ things in a magnified way. He didn’t like the smell of bananas to begin with. Add to the fact there was one that was literally baking in an overheating tailpipe, tinged with diesel and energon exhaust, and Ratchet thought he was going to purge.

A burnt peel was extracted from Sunstreaker, most of the banana’s internals having been cooked and then smashed when he transformed. The cooked banana now lined the lower part of Sunstreaker’s tailpipe.

“Sorry, Sunstreaker, but you’re going to need a flush to extract the rest of the banana pulp,” Ratchet said, knowing that no one liked having their systems flushed. Not only was it uncomfortable, but it was embarrassing.

“Sideswipe?” Sunstreaker called, keeping his voice even.

“Yeah?” Sideswipe answered, crawling up on a berth to keep from flying away from the wildly spinning room.

“Just so you know, I plan on killing you,” Sunstreaker said, transforming and settling onto the berth beside his twin.

“Great,” Sideswipe answered, holding his helm and groaning. Primus, Ratchet sure had a wicked aim.

Ratchet’s words of retribution were interrupted when there was a great booming thunder. It started as a distant roar that steadily grew until the entire side of the med bay buckled, before blowing outward in a shower of rock and metal. Being near the back of the medical wing, Ratchet and the twins were out of the path of the destructive fireball that ripped through the mountainside. Had the med ward been full, or someone was stationed at the berths near the door, there was a good chance they would have been terminated. Alarms sounded, Red Alert’s voice demanded everyone’s exact location, and the whole fiasco was punctuated with Wheeljack’s profuse apologies flooding the comm. link.

The sound of several mechs chattering in the comm. link brought Ratchet back to his senses. He pulled himself from the floor, rock falling from his frame, the dust already causing him to itch. He noted the two Lamborghinis were covered in dust, though being immobile on the berths had saved them from the shuddering blast.

“Ratchet?” Sideswipe called, coughing dust from his vents. His head still ached and the room spun, but it now resembled a merry go round in slow motion.

“I’m here,” Ratchet answered, gaining his pedes and staggering to the two patients. “Either of you hurt?”

“No,” Sunstreaker answered, his hands busy brushing his body to rid himself of the rock dust.

“Head pounds,” Sideswipe said, grasping his helm and pressing along his temple.

“Residual echoes from the pressure blast,” Ratchet explained, rubbing his own helm. He didn’t like the dull roaring in his audios. “It shouldn’t last long.”

Ratchet grimaced against the onslaught of voices over the comms. He used his medical overrides to yell over the din.

‘Injuries. Report. Now!’ he said, earning a hushed quiet over the comms.

‘My audios hurt,’ three voices chimed in unison.

‘Mine too,’ another added.

‘Me too,’ came another affirmation.

‘My left shoulder has been damaged,’ Prowl stated, and his voice was hitched with emotion, causing all listening mechs to quiet. ‘Bluestreak has sustained a partially melted doorwing.’

Everyone listening on comms winced. They knew how sensitive the appendages were.

‘Put him into emergency stasis until I can get there,’ Ratchet instructed, glad he kept the majority of his medical tools on his person instead of in a carrying case.

‘Already done,’ Prowl said. ‘ETA?’

Ratchet looked out across what was once his medical wing and winced at the damage. The front doors were blocked by a pile of semi-melted berths and monitoring equipment. A monitor beeped in false readings as its diagnostics were being slowly melted, the liquid metal dripping in a macabre semblance of expiring life. The floor was charred black, little strips of fire burned in deep gouges caused by the fireball that ripped through. The bulkhead on either side was melted, the cooling metal cascading like a waterfall over the impromptu doors caused by the explosion. The support beams overhead groaned as their structural supports were weakened by the blast.

‘I’m currently imprisoned in the medical ward,’ Ratchet informed his comrades. ‘The blast has taken out half of the medical facility, two structural support beams and several places are set alight. I’m stuck in here.’

‘Extraction team to medical ward,’ Prime barked over the comms. ‘Ratchet is top priority!’

There was a shout of affirmation as the mechs jumped into action. No one objected to the change in priority. If they lost Ratchet, more than just audios and doorwings would be compromised. Ratchet’s safety was paramount, his job ensuring that the others survived their injuries. And the first thing the extraction team needed to do, was to create a clear path to their medical officer so he could find the injured and repair them.

Ratchet sent a visual account to the team of mechs assigned to his extraction. If they were going to find a way to get him safely, then they needed as much information as they could get. They relayed their route and estimated time to get Ratchet out. Ratchet confirmed and returned to the side of his two patients, who were glaring in open hostility toward one another. He would have started Sunstreaker’s systems flush, but the equipment used in the procedure was now buried under molten slag.

‘What is your current location?’ Prime transmitted, assisting in removing the debris from outside the medical ward.

‘Lost in purgatory,’ Ratchet answered, looking around the confined area and seeing both twins exchange hateful glares. There was a fight brewing. Ratchet let out a long suffering sigh, and answered Prime’s question. ‘Isolation ward three with Sideswipe and Sunstreaker.’

‘Oh, that bad,’ Prime muttered, knowing that having two volatile mechs in an enclosed area wasn’t good for the health of those around them. But then again, he forgot Ratchet’s unusual method of keeping people under control. Medicinal iron was a sedative he employed often.

‘It’s okay. I’ve gotten used to it by now.’ Ratchet snorted, tossing two wrenches in perfect tandem, landing both with a satisfying clanks against two idiotic Lamborghini helms.

‘Really?’ Prime interjected, finding the whole situation amusing now that he realized Ratchet’s stern punishment when dealing with idiocy. He had heard the clangs and assorted curses from his two victims.

‘Yeah.’ Ratchet smiled in that way that made him almost as deadly as Sideswipe. ‘It just feels like another day at the office.’

‘Well, if you need any help…’ Prime offered, though there was little he could do until the work crews were able to clear a path through the debris.

‘Wont be a problem. I have a map.’ Ratchet smirked, brandishing another wrench, though Prime couldn’t see it. Sideswipe instantly stilled his vocalizer and turned away from his twin. Sunstreaker hissed and sneered, rankling his twin and earning a rude gesture in return. ‘And Prime?’

‘Yes?’

‘Tell Wheeljack that his aft plates will not be needed when I beat him,’ Ratchet said, fully intent upon giving the crazy inventor a good old fashioned reprimand. Apparently the lectures and taps to the helm didn’t work. It was time to try another approach. Something that Sparkplug liked to call “Blistering their ass”.

And Ratchet was going to perform his own ‘practice run’ on two Lamborghinis.

Chapter Text

Pick Your Side

0000-OOOO-IIIII-0000-OOO-IIII-0000-OOOO-IIII-0000-OOOO

Sunstreaker stared daggers at his captive. His fuel pump pounded in anger, his body positively vibrating. The mere thought of a Decepticon getting close enough to ruin his paint was sufficient to justify homicide. Add to the fact they were the sneering, condescending enemy, and Sunstreaker was, in the vernacular, ‘ready to rumble.’

Of course with all the scratches, dents, dings, and scrapes already adorning his armor from his capture, there really wasn’t much to defend. It was going to take at least a week to buff and polish back to his original, immaculate self. As if mocking him of the fact, a piece of armor fell off his shoulder and landed with a clatter on the floor at his feet. The noise didn’t distract Sunstreaker, who continued his stare down with the Con.

“Looks like you’re falling apart.”

“Still look a lot better than you,” Sunstreaker retorted, not intimidated in the least.

“You should mind your vocalizer, while you still have it.”

“It would take a bigger mech than you to take it, Megatron,” Sunstreaker goaded.

“We shall see,” Megatron glared, deactivating the energy bars that separated him from his prey.

Sunstreaker took a step back, taking a defensive posture, his optics gleaming in delight. It had taken the combined forces of the Constructicons to wrangle the golden frontliner into the cell at the new base. And he secretly doubted Megatron’s strength rivaled their efforts, a theory he was only too happy to test.

Half an hour later, the elite trine had to step into the cell to pry the combatants apart. Soundwave also joined in the retrieval, feeling it his place to intervene on his leader’s behalf and send a powerful jolt of electricity through the golden menace. Sunstreaker collapsed with a yowl, his body shaking with aftershocks as Megatron was removed from the cell and the bars reactivated.

Megatron stumbled, pushing away his protectors and glared into the cell with one optic. The other was shattered by Sunstreaker’s elbow, which had also left a beautiful streak of gold on the warlord’s face. A poignant way to mark his victim with mocking vengeance. Megatron’s left arm was hanging limp, the actuators and gears striped from Sunstreaker’s overzealous twisting. His once pristine shroud of glittering white armor was now dented and scratched, the primer showing through in numerous places. Armor was bent out of shape and sparks occasionally danced from damaged circuits, but the warlord was still on his feet. Error messages filled his HUD, the red lines creating a tartan pattern, but he ignored them. They were irritating, but not life threatening. At least not immediately.

Sunstreaker was fairing no better, though his defiant attitude was hiding the worst of his injuries. One audio finial had been ripped free, leaving a sparking hole and rendering the frontliner deaf on that side. The trauma caused the remaining audio to overcompensate, a dull roaring now his constant compassion in the silence of the cell. His body twitched involuntarily, the electric shock it received from Soundwave having disrupted the natural flow of current in his body. The slagging glitch nearly stopped Sunstreaker’s spark! Sunstreaker’s left arm was now useless, thanks to Megatron digging his fingers under the plating and destroying the neural relays. Thankfully the area was deadened due to the damage, so the Lamborghini was saved from the stabbing pains that usually accompanied such injuries.

When Soundwave sent his electrical pulse, it was through the damaged arm, and having no where else to go, the current went straight to Sunstreaker’s pedes and exited via his unprotected soles. Both pedes were charred black and a slip of smoke was slithering upwards to dissipate in the air.

The counterparts glared at each other, still willing to continue their disagreement, but unable to do so. Megatron emitted a brilliant shower of sparks, Soundwave’s hold on his arm the only thing keeping him from toppling over. He departed, flanked by his faithful Third in Command, the seekers trailing behind, leaving Sunstreaker alone in his cell and to his thoughts.

Sunstreaker staggered backward and collided with the wall. He slid down the cool surface, his pedes unable to support his weight. He sat and stared dumbstruck into the hall, hearing a sparking sizzle from somewhere in his body. The damaged audios made it impossible to decipher where the noise originated. Flares of pain and stray error messages made his diagnostics a scrambled mess of gibberish. Footfalls registered in his damaged audios, but it was difficult to tell their distance and destination.

Sunstreaker tried to pull himself back on his pedes, just in case it was a Con, but his ankles gave a whining grind and refused to accept his full weight. Sunstreaker preferred to fight his battles on his feet, facing the enemy, but his now useless pedes made it impossible. Well, he refused to cower on his knees, but he could still put up a fight. There was a lot of damage a short opponent could inflict. He was down, but not out. If Megatron came back for round two, Sunstreaker had every intention of battling the smug warlord from his knees. If he was lucky, he’d be able to disable his opponent and level the playing field. He didn’t like the idea of having Megatron towering over him as he was unable to stand on his own two pedes.

Sunstreaker grimaced, feeling a raw patch of metal beneath his fingers. It was going to take some time for his neural relays to be repaired, and when they came online, he’d be in a lot of pain. Then the fun task of reapplying his primer and paint. Sunstreaker’s anger doubled, realizing a portion of his meticulous paint had peeled from his cheek. He doubted Megatron could have done the damage, and vowed to tear Soundwave a new orifice when he got the next chance.

It was one thing to disable a warrior with intent to kill or maim. It was another thing when they messed with a mech’s good looks.

No one made Sunstreaker look ugly.

An hour passed, Sunstreaker enduring the double punishment of immobility and having his vanity threatened. He was calculating punishments when the door opened. Megatron was looking a little worse for wear, but still carried himself with a smug swagger. He was flanked by Soundwave and Starscream. The seeker looked bored, though his optics darted to the patches and welds adorning his leader’s frame. Sunstreaker guessed the traitorous seeker was weighing his options on another attempt at gaining control of the Decepticon cause.

Soundwave was impassive as ever.

Sunstreaker wondered if the blue mech was cut from the same sheet metal as Prowl. Both were too quiet for their own good, rarely spoke, and displayed unreadable expressions. Emotions were meant to be displayed and Sunstreaker had no problem projecting his hatred and anger toward his visitors.

“Come to finish our conversation?” Sunstreaker asked, pretending to consider gaining his feet to face off in another confrontation. As if in afterthought, he returned to his lax position against the wall and merely settled on staring at his tormentors.

“Hardly,” Megatron sneered, feeling safe with two Decepticons at his side. A small part wondered if bringing Starscream was a good idea. He could side with the enemy at the drop of a circuit.

Sunstreaker looked disappointed. He was secretly glad the warlord wasn’t up for a second round. He didn’t think he could withstand another attack himself. But he wasn’t going to tell his favorite tyrant that.

“So, what do you want?” Sunstreaker asked with an annoyed arrogance that he learned from Mirage. “Tips on beautifying yourself? Sorry to disappoint, but I’m an artist, not a magician. You need more than my skill set.”

Megatron looked furious. Starscream looked like he was straining to keep his amusement in check.

Oh yes, Mirage taught well, even if he didn’t realize he was educating those around him.

“You weren’t so jovial when I had you pinned to the wall and was trying to rip you apart,” Megatron sneered, trying to regain control of the situation.

“That’s what you were trying to do?” Sunstreaker looked mildly surprised, his lopsided features going lax in relief. “Primus, I thought you were trying to ‘face me. What a relief!”

Megatron’s angry snarl drowned out Starscream’s escaping snort. The seeker looked momentarily abashed, afraid his leader would turn his ire on him, but vented in relief when the tyrant seemed intent on the golden captive.

“I should teach you some manners,” Megatron growled, his fans starting to whirl in an effort to cool down his temper. Starscream took an involuntary step back. He knew what that signaled.

“Many have tried,” Sunstreaker offered a one sided shrug, his optics glimmering with an evil light. “But with no success.”

Megatron noticed the change in mood and switched tactics. “Why do you fight me?”

Sunstreaker pointed to the red symbol on his chest. “Kinda goes with the territory. Enemy and all that.”

Megatron glared at the red sigil that seemed to mock him. He knew if he could turn just one Autobot, the loss would be devastating to his mortal enemy. If it was this yellow menace, he knew the ruby twin wouldn’t be far behind. The twins were formidable, as his own body bore witness to the damage that one of them could do. If they joined his side, the war could be over the next battle. Of course there was the slim chance they would side with Starscream and Megatron wouldn’t survive their alliance.

“I have always wondered why you choose the weak side,” Megatron baited, feeling satisfaction when he noted the rankled expression coming from his captive. “I’ve witnessed your skills. Your thirst for energon. Your abilities are squandered on the pacifistic Autobots. You should join my army. Here you will be treated as a true warrior. You’d get the respect you’d deserve.”

Behind Megatron, Starscream rolled his optics, his arms crossing over his cockpit and an exasperated look on his face.

“I would give you the freedom Prime has denied you. The freedom to reach your potential, without fear of reprimand and unjust punishments.” Megatron’s oily voice saturated the room, making the cell seem even smaller and stifling.

Sunstreaker’s frown softened, his gaze contemplative. He had hated the endless rules and regulations that tried to suffocate him since joining the Autobots. When everything got too much and he had to vent his frustrations, he was rewarded with confinement and duties, chores and scorn. No one seemed to understand his need for confrontation. The need to hone skills long learned from fighting to the death in order to survive. Those kinds of instincts didn’t simply vanish.

At first, it had been hard, losing himself in the moment. His artistic side preventing him from formulating plans for easy termination of an opponent, but then, like all things, it changed. That feeling of abandon and powerful blood-lust soon turned into a monster, twisting and tormenting the gladiator into becoming something he would have been ashamed of in another life.

But his bloodlust had kept him alive, and in essence, his twin. If it hadn’t been for Sideswipe, Sunstreaker could see himself as a Decepticon. In fact, Sunstreaker was considering the Con cause when Sideswipe announced his desire and enrollment in the Autobots.

Sunstreaker had argued violently with his twin but in the end, relented. Sideswipe’s bloodied body was the physical reminder that brought reality crashing down on Sunstreaker. He could have killed his brother. Had he really lost so much of himself that he could do such a thing?

The answer had been a terrifying yes. He had lost a sacred part of himself, and the Autobots were the only way his stained hands and dark spark could find redemption.

“Join me,” Megatron said, his voice a grating whisper. His face was contorted in an enticing leer, his one optic giving him a demonic visage. “Fight for me. Reach your potential. Take your place in my ranks and bring terror to those that oppose you.”

Sunstreaker face went blank, and for a split second he almost succumbed. Then Megatron whispered, his voice as seductive as a siren, luring one to their demise.

“Wear my symbol,” Megatron added, knowing the look of a captured spark that dangled on tenderhooks. “Display my crest and fight for me.”

Sunstreaker snapped out of his temporary daze at those words. A switch seemed to click. The proverbial lights came on, chasing away the shadows and the demons they housed.

“No, thanks. I’d rather fight against you than beside you,” Sunstreaker sneered, his optics flashing to near white as his strength and defiance grew. “Besides, you symbol is stupid and it clashes with my paint.”

Any further antagonizing from either side was halted as the building rocked on its foundations. Megatron’s comms cackled to life, soldiers requesting orders and back up, reporting infiltration and injuries, all garbled and seeking their leader’s presence. Megatron snarled at his captive before turning on his heel and wavering slightly from his still tender injuries. Soundwave wordlessly grabbed his arm and lead him from the prisoner, acting as both protective escort and makeshift crutch.

Starscream offered a strange look, one Sunstreaker couldn’t identify, and took his leave to engage the incoming enemy.

Sunstreaker tried to regain his feet, not wanting anyone to find him sitting on his aft during a fight, but a screeching grind in both ankles halted his progress. He relaxed and his left ankle gave a loud pop before smoke coiled around the electrocuted appendage.

“Slagging figures,” Sunstreaker mumbled, settling in to await rescue.

Half an hour later there was a knock at the door of the prison cell. It was a subtle knock, curtsey of his twin as the door flew off its hinges. Two red pile drivers entered before being followed by an extremely pissed off Sideswipe.

“Hey, Bro,” Sunstreaker greeted.

“I’m telling you, I could have cracked that code,” Jazz was saying, giving Sideswipe a cross look.

“My way was faster,” Sideswipe replied, his pile drivers disappearing back into their normal configuration. “But you can work on the cell and get my brother out of there.”

Jazz looked like he wanted to argue, but held his voice as he set to work on the control to Sunstreaker’s cell. The Third in Command didn’t appreciate being ordered around by the frontliner. Jazz was as easy going as they came, but he refused to have a subordinate dictate his actions.

Prime was the only one who could order the saboteur around. Prowl only thought he did.

“Took you long enough,” Sunstreaker goaded.

“Want to extend your stay?” Sideswipe snapped in uncharacteristic fashion, noting Sunstreaker wasn’t showing signs of leaving his confines.

Sunstreaker was going to offer an acerbic retort, but his right pede chose that moment to emit a feeble spark and fall off with a sickening, grinding squeak. Sunstreaker was glad his neural relays were dead, or else he would have been educating the others with extensive caustic euphemisms. Most of them originating from a sadistic CMO.

“What happened to you?” Sideswipe asked, finally taking in the damage to his twin.

“Megatron got fresh, Soundwave got jealous,” Sunstreaker grinned up on seeing the energy bars vanish. Jazz stepped aside with a superior look, clearly expecting a comment on his abilities, but Sideswipe pushed past him.

Sideswipe stood towering over his brother, hands on hips, pissed expression still firmly entrenched on his face. “The things you get yourself into.”

“On the bright side, I’m not bonded to either of them, so I can still enjoy being a bachelor,” Sunstreaker grinned, using his good arm to try to maneuver himself into a standing position.

Sideswipe snorted and crouched by his brother’s side, noting the discoloration and energon stains. Sunstreaker wasn’t going to be moving of his own accord anytime soon. Ratchet would make sure of that. With a disgusted grunt, Sideswipe grabbed his brother’s lost foot and dropped it on his lap before picking him up, bridal style.

“Aw, how sweet,” Jazz grinned, knowing the comment rankled both frontliners if the double rude gesture from Sunstreaker was any indication. Sideswipe scowled, but let his brother’s extended finger speak for him.

“Mind picking up the pieces?” Sideswipe asked with a sneer as he passed Jazz.

Jazz looked into the cell and found several pieces of golden armor and a couple of circuits. With a shake of his head he collected the lost pieces and placed them in his subspace for safe keeping. He turned, following the twins out of the cell block.

Much do the trio’s surprise, they found Starscream in the hall. The twins were in front of Jazz, blocking his view and blinding him to their roadblock. Jazz sidestepped and let out a gasp, his gun in his hand and leveling at the winged enemy.

Starscream gave a sneer to the black and white Autobot, then to Sideswipe. He graced Sunstreaker with a half smile and barely noticeable nod before taking off down a side hall, leaving his mortal enemies free to escape.

“What the slag was that all about?” Jazz asked, watching the retreating form of the Air Commander.

“Something you want to tell me?” Sideswipe asked with a curious expression.

Sunstreaker thought back to his incarceration, recalling how Starscream recoiled with Megatron’s voice. There was something about the way the seeker moved that piqued the Lamborghini’s interest. When he spoke, it was slow and thoughtful. “Maybe there is something he wants, but doesn’t know how to ask?”

“Maybe,” Jazz muttered, motioning for Sideswipe to continue down the hall. “Screamer always has an ulterior motive.”

“Maybe,” Sunstreaker agreed, his processor buzzing with images of the seeker. He would have to keep his optics on the tri-colored seeker, for something was brewing, and Sunstreaker didn’t like being caught unaware.

0000-OOOO-IIIII-0000-OOO-IIII-0000-OOOO-IIII-0000-OOOO

Yes, I’m giving Screamer a little more limelight. I have a couple more ideas that he may be involved in, so don’t worry. There will be seekers cropping up from time to time.

Chapter Text

Frosted Sun

00000-oooooo-IIIII-00000-OOOOO-IIIII-00000

The femme hissed, clutching a servo tightly in her own and huffing through her vents in pain. A servo petted her wings, offering consol as she suffered through the pangs of separation. When she recovered from the pain the trio made their way to the sparking center, their wings held aloft in parental pride.

Sunslide was the Alpha of their trine, having the heavier build with a fiery orange paint scheme and black accents. He was striking, physically and forcefully, which was obvious whenever he demonstrated his acrobatic prowess in the air. His Second, Splitstreak, was of a reddish orange with white highlighting his build and showing the sleekness of his frame. He was light, airy, and very maneuverable in the air. Their mate, a femme named Skyswept, was of a pale orange, her accents of flame red giving the impression of a dying ember. She was the femme of their trine, and she was expecting their first sparkling.

Trines were often paired when they were very young, certain personalities gravitating toward one another in a cosmic pull that couldn’t be defined or understood. There were always two mechs to a femme in a trine. The reasoning behind it was that since femmes were the only ones who could conceive and create new sparks, they and their sparklings would be better guarded with the two sires and the mechs could offer a wider spectrum of coding when the sparklings came of age and could bond to their own trine units.

Sunslide, Splitstreak and Skyswept were newly upgraded adults. And like all adult frames, they were allowed to bond to solidify their trine. Skyswept had surprised both when she sparked during their first merge. It was a good sign. All seeker femmes were expected to spark at least twice, preferably at a young age, as an older spark had a more difficult time in sustaining another growing life.

Now, after carrying for what seemed to be an eternity, Skyswept was ready for the new spark to be born. She staggered with another twisting sensation in her chest, Sunslide wrapping his arms around her in support as she stumbled from the pain.

“Just a little further,” Sunslide said, nodding to the white metal building that specialized in new spark birthing and supplemental care.

“Primus, no one mentioned how much this hurts,” Skyswept said, feeling her two mates caress her wings in an attempt to ease her suffering.

“Just a little longer and we will have our first youngling,” Splitstreak said, grinning at the thought of being a creator. Truthfully, neither mech was sure who had encoded their mate, and only after the sparkling started to develop its coloring and engrained basic coding, would they be able to tell. Course there was a slim chance that both mechs had contributed to the young one.

Skyswept nodded, allowing her mechs to guide her into the building. A medic took one look at them and ordered an emergency conveyance. Skyswept lay down on the plush berth with relief, her mates constant with their attention to her wings. She vented heavily, rubbing her chest, feeling the heat build as her spark prepared the youngling for separation.

“Birthing room two,” the medic said, directing the portable berth to the appropriate room.

The berth navigated the hall and when it neared the designated room, the double doors opened and allowed the expectant family to enter. The sounds of distressed femmes greeted their audios as soon as they entered. The berth found a vacant station and turned, poising itself to assist the femme in parting with her new spark. The expectant parents looked at the room with trepidation as they noted the couples that lined both sides of the room. In the center were vacant youngling shells, ready to accept the life being brought into the world from the expectant femmes. The flyers noted with some disgust there were only a few seeker frame models in the displayed shells, as most femmes were of ground based origin. Seekers only made up a small percentage of the population, so consequently, their frames wouldn’t be in large demand.

The medic followed the expectant femme, a scanner held at the ready and sweeping it over the femme’s frame.

“Displaying strong electrical impulse and proper frequency distribution before separation,” the medic said, nodding to the femme. “Open your spark chamber.”

Skyswept complied, her chest splitting and the silver cylinder that housed her spark cracked open, revealing the brilliant gold of her spark.

“Fully mature with a strong pulse, and I can say for certain, you have a mech on the way,” the medic said, looking to the two expectant fathers.

The two hugged each other in celebratory relief, hearing their young mech was strong and healthy. Skyswept wanted to sob in relief, but a pang against her spark casing caught in her throat.

“Just a little longer,” the medic said, looking over his readings. “There is still some residual connection that will have to dissolve before the youngling can fully disengage and be ready to enter his new shell.”

The femme nodded, rubbing along her plating to help ease the torment of a fussy sparkling.

The medic hooked a lead into the femme’s arm, the berth registering her vitals and an alarm set up to announce the preparation for the new shell. A femme at the end of the hall barked in pain and her monitors went wild, signaling her final stage and readiness to expel her sparkling. The medic hurried down the line, leaving the three expectant creators alone. The mechs went to their femme’s side, each taking a wing and caressing it with tender fingers.

“Your first?” a mech asked behind Sunslide.

The mechs turned to regard the mech who spoke and saw a brilliant red mech with bright blue optics and a charming, boyish grin. He was seated beside of a sunshine yellow femme, her hands caressing her open chest plates as she cooed to their youngling in encouragement.

“Yes,” Sunslide confirmed, noting how similar the two expectant creators were built.

“Us too,” the red mech said, smiling at his bond mate. He nodded to the couple on the opposite side. “This is their fourth.”

Sunslide and Splitstreak gasped, watching as the minibot spiked his mate. The femme was poised on the berth, her chest plates opened above the display of empty shells. Her body jerked as her mate spiked her from behind, his optics closed as he relished the sensation of his mate about to spark their youngling.

“Minibots don’t possess a strong enough spark to initiate the separation process,” the red mech explained, his optics watching as the femme clutched at the berth, burying her face against the cushion as she felt her overload approaching. “They require a high energy discharge to separate sparklings, which is usually accomplished by a powerful overload.”

The two winged mechs watched in fascination as the femme arched her back, her spark chamber flaring as the portable berth registered her vitals and moved her closer to the displayed shells so her sparkling could jump to a suitable frame. A couple of thrusts and her mate cried out as he overload, electricity crackling across their joined bodies and providing the extra charge needed to allow the sparkling to separate. A small, white orb disengaged from her spark chamber. With a high pitched buzz, it zoomed along the line of frames and settled on the small gray shell six frames away from the new creators.

The mech relaxed into unconsciousness, his duty now fulfilled to his mate and child. The femme cried out from the initial outburst, but the attending medic picked up her sparkling and carried it to the new creator. With a snuffling cry, the mini-femme cradled her child for the first time, hearing the first clicks of its life. A dark green tint was already forming along the younglings plating.

“Wow,” Splitstreak sighed, watching as mother and baby were scanned by the medic and given a clean bill of health. When the father regained consciousness, they would be moved to another floor, where the youngling would receive its first programming upgrade and final systems check up before being released to its creators.

Skyswept gasped, rising off the berth a few inches and flexed her wings. Her mates were at her side in a spark beat, saying soothing words and rubbing the taunt appendages. Their neighbor watched the interaction with a smile, until his own mate gave a gasp and lurched forward.

“Just a little longer, Sideslip,” he said, caressing her yellow frame.

“You do this to me again, and I’ll rip your spike off,” Sideslip said, earning a scared beep from her mate.

The noise distracted the trine, who listened to their bantering with amusement.

“But that’s your favorite part!” he protested. “You only bonded with me because I came with the spike.”

“I’ll rip it off and have it mounted to a drone,” she answered, her venting becoming harsh as the pain started to build. “I’ll keep it, but get rid of you!”

The red mech laughed, his fingers twining with his mates. “You would never.”

“No, but I would consider it,” Sideslip commented, allowing her mate the gentle touch. She smiled, gazing into his bright optics. Her expression softened as she gazed into the optics of her mate. “I love you, Spinout.”

“And I love you,” Spinout answered, before crying out in pain when his mate clenched his fingers in her own and warped a couple of his joints.

The monitor on the berth beeped, signaling for a medic to attend the expecting femme. And just as Spinout and Sideslip prepared for the introduction of their new youngling, Skyswept bolted upright on the berth, her monitors signaling her own expecting parentage. Two medics raced along the line, the berths already in motion for the impending separation. The femmes were maneuvered onto their fronts, the berths splitting down the middle to allow the femme the ability to open her spark chamber and allow the little one to exit. Skyswept pressed her shoulder vents into the plush cushioning of the berth, her mates grasping her servos as she clawed in pain.

“At the same time?” Spinout shouted to the two winged mechs, who were helping their femme brace herself on the berth in the final stage.

They merely nodded, keeping their vigil over their mate. She clutched each of their servos in her own and leaned her chest against the modified berth. With their free hands the mechs rubbed soothing circles along her wings and massaged the delicate edges.

“We’ll race you,” Spinout declared, grabbing his mate’s servo and watching the row of empty shells, wondering which one his sparkling would choose.

Sideslip barked in pain and grasp the edge of the cushioned berth. And like a tiny rocket, a white ball of energy erupted from her chest and immediately raced along the frames, searching for the casing to call home. Three shells away and the orb dropped into its new happy home, starting the systems for its first breath of life. The medic picked up the delicate bundle and placed it in Sideslip’s arms, where she clicked in answer to her youngling’s inquiry. Spinout stood, stunned, staring at his new creation. A wide goofy smile crossed his face plates before he fell back, unconscious on the floor.

“A lot of mechs do that,” the medic said to ease Sideslip’s worry.

Skyswept keened in pain, crushing the two mech servos she held, and with a flash of lightening, the white spark of their creation exploded from her chest. Sunslide and Splitstreak watched in open mouth wonder as their youngling came to life, hovering over the tiny frames as if deciding its best, suitable home. Much to the seeker’s horror, the spark bypassed the aerial frames and kept cruising at a low altitude, examining each shell, looking for the perfect frame. When the miniature nova got to the end of the youngling frames, it stopped, its light going brighter then dimming.

The medics immediately jumped into action, knowing that the young spark was out of its casing for too long. The faltering illumination meant it was failing, unable to find a suitable spark casing. They tried to find an incubating containment box that could house the young spark until it could be placed, forcefully if necessary, into a suitable shell. As the medics neared, ready to capture the young spark and ensure its survival, the flaring white orb emitted a high pitched hum, its light reaching an aching level, causing everyone to shield themselves from the brightness. Then suddenly, the light went out and there was silence.

The medics were too late.

Skyswept emitted a garbled cry, staring at the blank place where her sparkling had disappeared. She lost it? After all she had been through, and the little one terminated? She didn’t think she could bear it. Sobs tumbled from her lip components, her body shook in grief, and her two mates could offer no physical or emotional comfort to ease her tormented spark.

Spinout looked to the trine, his face grim. “I am sorry for your loss.”

The fact hadn’t had time to sink in when there was a weak chirp of an awakening youngling. The medics ventured to the assembled frames, their optics registering the burn pattern that accompanied bright light as it burnt it into ones vision. The new spark had given one last burst of light before fading into darkness. Silence reigned in the birthing room. Even the new sparks had hushed in reverence.

A medic stepped back, staring at the frames below where the spark had extinguished. The sound of faint clicking was heard, and much to everyone’s astonishment, there were answering clicks. With shocked fear on their faces, two medics picked up two frames, cradling the small bodies against their own, their scanners active. Sure enough.

Twins.

The medics carried the two younglings to the trine and presented them with their family.

“I don’t understand how it happened, but your sparkling has split, and now resides in these.. two… frames,” the medic said, motioning for the parents to hold out their arms and accept their charges.

“Split?” Skyswept asked in a hushed tone.

“It’s a miracle of Primus,” the medic said, looking into the optics of the youngling and earning a soft click.

“Abomination,” Skyswept whispered, giving her two younglings a look of pure loathing and shaking her head. She held up her hands, looking to her trine leader and saying, “They are unnatural. I do not want them.”

Sunslide’s brow plating was furrowed in thought. He regarded the two being held in the medics arms. He could feel the uncertainty and disgust flooding the bond from Skyswept, her thoughts on the matter clear. Splitstreak stepped up, scrutinizing the pair.

“They chose ground frames?” Splitstreak asked, noting the lack of augmentations for growing winglets.

Sunslide glanced to his Second, gauging his reaction. Splitstreak looked to his trine leader, his face creased in aversion to the unnatural ‘twins’.

“Grounders?” Splitstreak hissed in a low voice, his gaze boring into his trine leaders. “Not only have they defied the will of Primus and split into two sparks, but they chose to take ground frames?”

Sunslide gave a slow nod. He understood the implications. Seekers sparked seekers. To have a youngling, or in this case, two younglings, to choose a ground mode over their sparking creators own alt mode, it was unheard of. Seekers did not choose ground frames. There must have been a mistake.

Sunslide turned to the two expecting medics, both of which cradled a curious, clicking sparkling in their arms.

“Remand them to the youngling center,” Sunslide said, not wanting to even touch the young sparks of his possible creation.

“What?” the medics gasp in unison.

“Why would you do such a thing?” one asked, looking between the three reluctant parents.

“A spark is not meant to split,” Sunslide said, giving both twins a look of fearful contempt. “They are unnatural. A defiance to the Will of Primus.” He returned his gaze to the head medic and puffed his wings in a clear display of superiority. “And they have chosen ground frames. I will not allow a ground frame to soil my name or the reputation of my trine. They’re abnormality will not reflect ridicule on the trine, nor the seekers. They are to be remanded to a youngling center where they may grow up around other grounders.”

Skyswept stood from the berth on shaky pedes, her optics locked on the deviant sparks that dared to split and inhabit ground frames, thus bringing shame and resentment to the trine.

“Do you not wish to hold your sparklings?” the medic asked, confused as to why a femme would regard a youngling with such contempt.

“I bore a single spark,” Skyswept said evenly, her hard gaze drifting from the whimpering youngling held in the medic’s arms. “My sparkling perished when he was ripped apart, allowing these two abnormal sparks to take frames. No, I do not wish to touch either of them.”

“My decision stands,” Sunslide said, motioning to the two now crying younglings. “They are to be taken away and raised as ground frames. They will not disgrace the lords of the sky.”

“As you wish,” the medic said, feeling his spark falter at the look the two sparklings were receiving from their creators. “Please, follow the medic in training to a recovery room, where you will be examined and then released.”

The trine nodded, following a small femme out of the birthing room. Several couples watched them leave, their own young sparks still trying to gain entry into the world.

“What will we do with the two of you?” the medic asked the sparkling who cried in a series of clicks.

“Give them to me,” Sideslip said, her own youngling tucked safely in at her side. She held out her arms, expecting the two extra sparklings.

Confused, yet elated, the two medics handed over the two new sparklings, who immediately cuddled closer to Sideslip’s chassis. She hummed softly to them, her own child curling in closer to his two new siblings. The medics checked her vitals and stationed a medic in training nearby to escort the new family to a recovery room, once Spinout regained consciousness. Sideslip smiled at her two new charges, wondering what her bond mate was going to say when he realized he now had two more sparklings to call his own.

As the two medics went to the next femme preparing to spark, one leaned over and whispered, “That was lucky. I hate sending such young sparks to the youth centers.”

“Wasn’t luck,” the other medic smiled, helping to prop a femme up for the impending birth. “Did you notice the coloring of the twins?”

“No,” the other replied, checking his monitor and finding the femme to be entering her final stage of delivery.

“They’re frames were already starting to shift from the gray of their protoforms,” the medic said, leaning back to catch the other medic’s optics as they stood back to back. “One was a bright red, the other, a golden yellow.”

The other medic smiled, glancing up to the new parents and seeing a surprised, bright red Spinout accept the news of his added sparklings. The golden yellow plating of his mate glittered in perfect tandem to his own, Sideslip doing an excellent job of holding all three sparklings. It was as if her frame was made for such added blessings.

“Those two are special, you mark my words,” the medic said, watching as the family disappeared out of the ward and a new femme was brought in. “They are going to accomplish the impossible and they are going to do it in style.”

00000-oooooo-IIIII-00000-OOOOO-IIIII-00000

Well, as a change, I gave the twins a good home to grow up in and it also gave me a reason to focus on another aspect. Just twiddling with the idea that the twins prefer to jump the seekers and play with jet packs simply because, they have an ingrain instinct to do so. If their creators were seekers, it would stand to reason why they are so comfortable in the air and enjoy aerial acrobatics.

Reviews are loved and greatly appreciated.

Chapter Text

IRONSIDE

AN: I blame Bluestreak. This fic started out short, but then I realized, it needed some details to get the point across. I hope it doesn’t disappoint. And I hope I don’t offend with some literary leeway here. You’ll see what I mean.

00000-ooooo-IIIIIII-0000000-oooooo-IIIIIIIIIIIII

“Order, order, this court is now in order,” Bluestreak called.

“I want high grade brought by a hot femme wearing nothing but her protoform,” Sideswipe called, his face alight with demonic glee. He actually thought his order was going to be placed.

“Quiet!” Prowl hissed at his side, giving the red menace a cross look.

“Hey, he was asking for my order,” Sideswipe said, giving his companion a blank expression. “It’s rude to not answer someone.”

“The Honorable Prime is now presiding. All rise,” Bluestreak said, keeping to script and looking to Prowl with nervous optics. He didn’t want to flub his role, though it was only a mock trial. Sort of.

It all started when Spike moped around the ARK complaining of a homework assignment about the American court system. He could never remember the designations of the ones involved, other than the judge and jury, and the whole idea of prosecuting and defending addled his brain. He wasn’t legally minded. Why his teacher insisted the class knew of the criminal justice system, Spike often wondered if she had any contact with the Decepticons. The confusion of the trial and keeping everything in order seemed to be something the Cons would do to confound their enemies. Be the best time to attack.

But as the youngster complained, in walked a bigger oral cavity that spouted just as much whining about justice and declared innocence. Prime had been listening to the human explain how he found the whole legal system confusing, a fact his father was proud of since his son wasn’t a criminal, but Prime’s attention drifted to the newcomers, his optics lighting up with brilliant thought.

Sideswipe was accused of gluing Ratchet’s tools to the work bench. An allegation the Lamborghini was vehemently protesting in Prowl’s face as the tactician continued with his duty assignment. Prime thought the ‘crime’ would serve a dual purpose of educating the young human and giving his soldiers a chance to immerse themselves in local culture.

And so the trial had been scheduled.

Prowl locked up when Prime assigned him as the defense for the Lamborghini, reminding the black and white that all persons were ‘innocent until proven guilty’. Prowl had returned to consciousness with a scowl that mirrored Sunstreaker’s. Jazz was to be the prosecuting attorney. Ratchet, the accuser. Windcharger, Cliffjumper, Warpath, Ironhide, Blaster, Beachcomber, Tracks, Trailbreaker, Powerglide and Hound were the jury. Bluestreak and Smokescreen shared the duty of being bailiffs and dutifully guarding the judge. Their flared doorwings looked very impressive as they stood sentry. The judge of course was to be Prime, who originally balked at wearing the official regalia associated with judicial office. The other bots and humans settled in the gallery to watch the proceedings, curious as to who would win this battle of the wills. Smokescreen had a wager going on the outcome.

It was right before the trial that Prime learned that American courts didn’t wear white old fashioned wigs. Prime threw the wig in a waste receptacle and pulled on his black robes, feeling bloated in the billowy fabric. He briefly wondered where Sideswipe found a white wig that would fit the Prime’s regal head.

Prime stepped into the rec room turned courtroom, nodding to his two bailiffs and took his seat. Everyone else in attendance took their seats and waited with bated breathing function. Spike was sitting on Bumblebee’s knee, getting a bird’s eye view of the proceedings.

“The court is assembled today to hear the case of Ratchet versus Sideswipe,” Prime announced, looking over a datapad that Bluestreak had handed to him upon sitting. “The charges are illegal entry into a restricted area, causing mischief, and potentially endangering the crew by tampering with medical equipment.” He looked up to the grinning Lamborghini. “How do you plead?”

Sideswipe opened his mouth for a retort but Prowl put his hand over the Lamborghini’s mouth, effectively cutting off his comeback. Sideswipe scowled over Prowl’s hand, letting his optics speak for him. Sideswipe knew that Prowl was furious over his assignment, and he knew the Praxian didn’t believe in his innocence. There was a chance that Prowl would help the prosecutor, just to get back at his biggest menace. However, Prowl surprised Sideswipe.

“We plead not guilty, your honor,” Prowl recited, feeling acid rise in his tanks. He couldn’t believe he was defending Sideswipe! Was there no real justice in the galaxy?

“Very well, I ask the Prosecutor to call his first witness,” Prime said, setting aside his datapad and lacing his fingers together in attentiveness.

Jazz rose and nodded, “I call Ratchet to the stand.”

Ratchet rose from the table he shared with Jazz. As he passed by the defendants table, he offered a low growl at Sideswipe’s cheeky smile. Ratchet stood on the left side of the judge, Smokescreen approaching and holding out a small black book.

“Raise your right hand and place your left on the book.” When Ratchet did so, Smokescreen continued, “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you Primus?”

Ratchet nodded, “I swear.”

“I swear all the time,” Sideswipe adlibbed from the sidelines and earned a kick under the table from his attorney. He glared at Prowl’s impassive face and added, “Ow! Not supposed to abuse your client, you know!”

Prowl ignored Sideswipe’s hissing and focused on the task at hand. He may not believe his clients innocence, but he be slagged if he let Jazz beat him in a court room setting!

“On the day in question, did you see the defendant in the medical ward?” Jazz asked, leaning against the podium.

“Yes,” Ratchet answered.

“What was the reason for his visit?” Jazz asked.

Prowl immediately stood and snapped, “Objection, your honor! Doctor Patient privilege covers the reason for my clients visit.”

Prime nodded, “Objection sustained. Continue, Mr. Jazz.”

Jazz gave Prowl a dirty look, and tried again. “Did the defendant come into the medical with a legitimate medical complaint?”

“Objection! Doctor Patient privilege protects my clients personal information regarding such matters,” Prowl droned, earning a livid stare from Jazz.

“Sustained. Move away from that line of questioning, Councilor,” Prime warned Jazz.

Jazz huffed, getting a dirty look from Ratchet because the medic really wanted to spout off a long list of false injuries in order to set up a prank. Ratchet and Jazz had spent the better part of a day going over testimony and facts, smug in the knowledge that they had the case in hand. They forgot what a stickler Prowl was for rules and memorization of regulation.

Jazz narrowed his optics, trying another approach. His own case revolved around Ratchet’s testimony. Of course he had another witness up his armor, but he didn’t want Prowl to know that.

“Without giving any specific details,” Jazz said, giving Prowl a pointed look before returning his attention back to Ratchet, “Had the defendant ever entered the medical facility under false pretenses?”

“Objection,” Prowl jumped up again, but Jazz cut across.

“Question reflects the defendants motives and past history,” Jazz said, staring at Prime with wide optics, though his visor hid his expression.

“I’ll allow it,” Prime said, wanting to laugh at Jazz’s sigh of relief and Prowl’s huff of irritation.

“Yes, he has entered the medical facility many times with a phantom symptom,” Ratchet said, glad they were able to get on track.

“And these preceded a prank?” Jazz prompted.

“Yes,” Ratchet said, wanting so desperately to subspace a wrench and inflict his own brand of justice.

“Care to elaborate on the definition of a ‘prank’?” Jazz asked.

Prowl snapped to his pedes so fast, Sideswipe wondered if he didn’t have a spring in his aft. “Objection! Leading the witness!”

“Offering examples that are already on record for verification,” Jazz said, going to his small desk and grabbing a datapad. “I entered this datapad as Exhibit A.”

Prime took the offered datapad and touched the screen, highlighting the sections of interest. After a few seconds of scrutiny, Prime nodded to Jazz.

“Exhibit A has been received in evidence. Proceed,” Prime said, wanting to scratch where the material from his robe was rubbing the transformation seams along his neck and arms. It was very itchy, whatever this material was. He was glad he didn’t have to wear clothes like the humans. It was very annoying.

“Examples of previous behavior?” Jazz prompted.

“Feigned injuries that will go unmentioned for sake of confidentiality,” Ratchet said, giving Prowl a triumphant look that had the doorwinger bristling. “But after said visitations, I have found my tools missing, rearranged, replaced with plastic replicas, covered in heavy lubricants making them impossible to grasp, and various parts missing from my supplies that were later found in the structure of pranks and other joke related materials.”

Sideswipe offered a cheeky grin, waggling his brow plating at Ratchet. Which was the wrong thing to do.

“You aft!” Ratchet snarled, wrench in hand. He knew Sideswipe was guilty and though he wanted to assist the human boy in his education, this mock trial was a farce and it irritated his circuits to see his worst menace so nonchalant. “You’re going to suffer!”

“Objection! Intimidating the defendant!” Prowl cried, springing to his pedes in that lightning quick way.

Sideswipe wondered what type of shocks the Datsun used. He may be switching brands.

“Sustained!” Prime barked, earning a burning look from Ratchet. “You will refrain from threatening anyone in my courtroom.”

“Going a little far with this, aren’t you?” Ratchet asked, knowing good and well that he had full medical authority to slag the whole lot of em.

Prime slammed his gavel on his desk, startling several bots. “I find you in contempt of court! One hundred dollars!”

Ratchet gave a quirked brow, knowing there was no way in the Pit he was going to be paying currency to anyone, regardless of the proper courtroom etiquette.

Jazz cleared his intakes, trying to regain control. He cleared his intakes three times before Prime and Ratchet broke their staring contest and returned their attention to him.

“So, there is a previous history of such childish behavior from the defendant?” Jazz prompted.

“Objection!” Prowl snapped.

“Oh, stuff it,” Jazz snapped back, fully irritated. This courtroom thing was a lot harder than it looked on tv.

“Council will refrain from possible verbal attacks and stick to the case at hand,” Prime said, really getting into the role. He tugged at his collar, scratching along his neck at the itchy material.

Jazz leaned one elbow on the podium and sighed in exasperation, “Has Sideswipe ever glued your instruments in any way shape or form?”

“Yes,” Ratchet said, glaring at Prowl and daring him to object again. There was a wrench with the Praxian’s name on it. “He has glued parts onto my tools, cut off pieces and glued them elsewhere, and has glued numerous patients to their berths.” Ratchet turned to Prime with a sneer and added, “They are willing to testify to this account and the transgressions are logged in both their personal charts and in my main log. Feel free to use the information.”

Prime nodded, having already skimmed through the long list of offended parties on the datapad.

“No further questions,” Jazz said, taking his seat and giving a sullen look to Prowl as he stood.

Prowl straightened his posture, if possible, flaring his door wings as he stepped toward the podium. He opted to remain rigid instead of leaning.

“The day in question, what were you doing at the time of my clients visit?” Prowl asked, unimpressed by Ratchet’s glare.

Ratchet mumbled something, looking disgruntled.

“I’m sorry, I did not hear. Please, speak up for the record,” Prowl stated, earning a look that could melt his circuits. Thank Primus he was constructed of heavier alloys.

“I said I was repairing some equipment,” Ratchet said, his tone dripping with acid.

“In what manner were you repairing?” Prowl asked.

“Wheeljack had broken the protective glass on a spanner and I was gluing on a shatterproof piece of plastic,” Ratchet said, his arms crossing his chassis as he glared. He knew where this was leading.

“Have you used this glue on other occasions?”

“Yes.”

“Have you replaced other broken items in such a fashion?”

“Yes. I don’t have the resources to buy brand new.”

“Please keep your answers limited to the question.” Prowl chastised, unknowing getting a death sentence from the medic. There was a chance Prowl was going to be murdered that night. “The epoxy you allege my client used to glue your instruments to the table, is it the same compound used to fix damaged instruments in the medical facility?”

“Yes,” Ratchet grumbled, his engine rumbling in anger.

“Did you see my client around the instruments and glue in question?”

“No, but he’s a sneaky fragger.” Ratchet gave Sideswipe a look of pure loathing, to which the red warrior just smiled and drank in the attention.

“Objection. Personal opinion.” Prowl said, looking to Prime who was rubbing his collar.

“Sustained. Jury will disregard the statement,” Prime said.

Sideswipe looked crestfallen. He knew he was a sneaky fragger. Everyone knew it. It was more fact than opinion. He felt hurt by Prime’s dismissal.

“Did my client have any residue on his person associated with glue or other binding agents?” Prowl asked.

“I didn’t check,” Ratchet admitted, feeling thoroughly put out.

“So admittedly you accused my client of sabotaging your instruments though you did not see him near them and did not see any evidence on his person to validate such a claim,” Prowl reiterated.

“I may have not have caught him with his sticky fingers in the energon cookies, but he sure as slag committed the crime,” Ratchet said in his stern way that made bots rattling their plating in fear.

Prowl was immune. “Objection, Your Honor.”

“Sustained. Jury will disregard,” Prime said.

“Is it possible you had misplaced your epoxy and however inadvertently, glued your own tools to the workbench?” Prowl asked

“No. I’m very careful with both my tools and the glue,” Ratchet said. “I don’t make mistakes.”

“So, you are infallible?” Prowl asked.

“No, I’m not saying that,” Ratchet huffed angrily through his vents. Oh, he was going to show Prowl a thing or two about glues when the tactician needed his medical expertise.

“You claim that you don’t make mistakes, but that is a false statement,” Prowl said in his infuriating way that made bots want to throttle him. “You are capable of making mistakes just like anyone. Are you not?”

“I… well, I mean, everyone can make a mistake,” Ratchet sputtered, but Prowl interrupted.

“No more questions,” Prowl said, taking his seat.

“Witness is excused,” Prime said to Ratchet.

Ratchet huffed and stalked back to his seat beside of Jazz. They were barely within hissing distance when Ratchet started to seethe at his representative.

“Call your next witness,” Prime ordered.

“I call Mirage to the stand,” Jazz said, shushing Ratchet.

Mirage ventured out of the audience and took the stand. Smokescreen came forth, holding the small black book and recited, “Raise your right hand and place your left on the book.” When Mirage had complied, though looking in his simpering, haughty way, Smokescreen continued, “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you Primus?”

“On my honor,” Mirage said in his cultured tone.

“Very well, be seated,” Smokescreen said, returning to his post and flaring his door wings. He was really getting into the spirit of the trial.

Mirage took his seat and watched Jazz saunter to the podium.

“On the day in question did you witness the defendant exiting the medical ward?” Jazz asked.

“Yes.” Mirage answered, not bothering to look at the front liner. Sideswipe and his type of people didn’t mingle well with the crowd that Mirage was used to. He had little use of the warrior.

“Did the defendant display any physical attributes associated with an injury or illness?” Jazz asked, canting his head in Prowl’s direction.

But Prowl remained impassive, just watching with a neutral expression.

“No,” Mirage said. “But I am not a medic and was not present during the time of possible treatment.”

Jazz smiled, knowing he picked the right witness. “What would you describe as his state of being?”

Sideswipe looked to Prowl, hoping for some sort of response, but the tactician simply sat and stared at the witness. Sideswipe waved his hand in front of Prowl’s face, thinking he had locked up. A little kick under the table was his reprimand.

“He was in a good mood,” Mirage said.

“Care to elaborate?” Jazz asked.

“As he exited the medical ward he was smiling and rubbing his servos together.” Mirage clasped his hands and rolled them around like a movie villain crowing over the hero. He adopted a devilish look that made Sideswipe perk up, noting the Noble looked rather handsome when he was imitating a Lamborghini.

“That was the expression you witnessed outside of the medical ward?” Jazz reiterated for the benefit of the jury.

“Yes.”

“Not a look of pain or worry or even anger?” Jazz asked.

“No. He seemed to be in high spirits,” Mirage intoned, chancing a glance to the defendant’s table and offering his customary Tower sneer.

Jazz switched up tactics, hoping to throw Prowl off. The silent monochromatic wraith at the opposite table was starting to unnerve him. He didn’t understand why Prowl had yet to speak. He had been quite verbal when Ratchet was on the stand.

“Being a member of Special Ops and having extensive training in observation and behavior,” Jazz said, letting the jury and his quarry know the witness’s level of reliance, “How would you describe the defendant’s actions?”

“The way he rubbed his hands together is indicative of one trying to remove something offensive from their person.” Mirage gave another look, this time directed toward Prowl, as if daring the Praxian to argue against his credentials.

Sideswipe looked again to Prowl, waiting to hear his favorite expression and do his impression of a loaded spring. But Prowl remained stationary, just staring blankly at the witness.

“Did you see any evidence on the defendant? Like glue or any part of his armor that was tacky where glue may have spilled unnoticed?” Jazz asked, hoping to beat Prowl to the punch.

Mirage gave a slight nod as he answered, “Other than the curious way he wiped at his servos, no I did not see any spilled glue or anything stuck to his person.”

“What happened next?” Jazz prompted, getting a little worried about Prowl’s silence.

“Out of curiosity I followed Sideswipe to the wash racks, where he immediately washed his servos before stepping into the shower,” Mirage explained. “Five minutes later, I heard Ratchet yelling about his tools being glued to the table and shouting for Sideswipe.”

Sideswipe looked to Prowl and found him as impassive as ever. Sideswipe jumped to his feet, pointing at Prowl and yelled, “Objection your honor! My attorney died five minutes ago!”

“Sit down, Idiot,” Prowl said, grasping the ruby warrior by the wrist and yanking him down hard onto his seat.

Sideswipe’s aft made a loud ringing noise as he landed. It took him a few seconds to collect his wits. He turned to Prowl, face expectant.

“Do something! You’re just sitting there!” Sideswipe hissed.

“Sit down, shut up, and allow me to do my job,” Prowl said in a serious tone, his optics blazing.

Sideswipe deflated. He gave a sullen glare to the witness stand, then to Prime, then a curled sneer to Jazz, who was regarding their table with a laughable expression. Sideswipe flipped him off.

“One more outburst and I’ll find you in contempt,” Prime said, giving Sideswipe a look that made the front liner wither.

“This is contemptible,” Sideswipe muttered under his breath.

“No more questions, Your Honor,” Jazz said, going back to his seat with a triumphant flippancy.

“Very well, your witness, Mr. Prowl,” Prime said, rubbing his arms.

Prowl gave a look of annoyance at the title, but remembered this was a learning experience for the teenage human and the Cybertronians. Prowl took the podium and ignored the superior look sent his way by the Tower mech.

“On the day in question, did you follow the defendant to the washracks in visual form or while cloaked?” Prowl asked.

“Cloaked,” Mirage said, giving Prowl a disconcerting look.

“You are aware of section eighty-seven dash fourteen subsection alpha?” Prowl asked, knowing the Noble was full aware of the stated regulation. He had been chastised with it since his enlistment. When Mirage remained tight lipped, Prowl elaborated, “To refresh your memory, it states that no Autobot may use their abilities or weapons against another Autobot and that all specialty equipment must be offlined or removed from your person to prevent accidental damage to the owner and any possible innocent bystanders.”

Mirage gave a gruff grunt. Usually his electro-disruptor was off, the power cells draining a lot of energy that needed to be conserved when not in a battle field condition. While on base, there was no need to sneak in and out of places unseen. It was a place of safety and security and those on base were considered brothers in arms, allies to the cause, and therefore, should be treated with respect. Not to mention, sneaking around cloaked was just plain rude. Everyone was entitled to their privacy. It was uncouth to follow a bot and watch them during their private down time. It was also very creepy.

“Your Honor, due to the illegal way this witness obtained his information, I ask that his testimony be struck from the record,” Prowl said, turning to Prime and giving him that annoying superiority look that grated on the twins’ nerves.

“Due to his training in special ops and the fact that the witness did not cause harm to a person or to any sensitive equipment, I will allow his testimony,” Prime said, enjoying the way Prowl ruffled at his words.

Prowl puffed his door wings, his frame rigid. He wasn’t a happy Praxian. Being the consummate professional, albeit a mock trial, Prowl cleared his vocalizer and continued his line of questioning.

“Aside from your flagrant disregard to rules and the illegality of your actions, you stated you witnessed the defendant leaving the medical ward and proceeded to follow him to the washracks, where you witnessed him performing personal maintenance,” Prowl recited, earning a twisted sneer from Sideswipe. Prime rolled his optics. Mirage looked very uncomfortable. He didn’t like being reprimanded. Especially by someone who wasn’t of high birth. “Is this correct?”

Mirage pursed his lip plating so tight, his oral cavity nearly collapsed in on itself. “Yes.”

“And you have been reprimanded many times for performing the same illegal recognizance on your fellow Autobots. Is that correct?” Prowl prompted.

“Objection!” Jazz said, finally able to use Prowl’s favorite word against him. “Badgering the witness! Mirage is not on trial here.”

“Stating facts in evidence and pertaining to the witnesses creditability,” Prowl said.

Prime gave a slow nod in thought. “I’ll allow it, but watch yourself, Mr. Prowl.”

Prowl nodded in understanding before returning his attention back to Mirage. “So while performing an unauthorized observation, and using your cloaking ability against regulation, you witnessed the defendant wiping his hands?”

“Yes,” Mirage said, not liking the look Prowl was giving him.

“The medical facility is full of fluids and contaminants. Could it be that the defendant had accidentally placed his hand in lubricant or some other viscous fluid and was trying to remove it from his person?” Prowl asked, hearing the low groan from Sideswipe. Apparently the front liner thought his attorney was trying to help the prosecution.

“It’s possible,” Mirage said, optics narrowing.

“And as you followed your fellow Autobot to the wash racks,” Mirage bristled at the implication but Prowl continued on nonetheless, “You witnessed him wash not only his hands, but his frame as well?” “Yes,” Mirage admitted, earning another sour look from Sideswipe.

“With your extensive training and knowledge,” Prowl said, throwing Mirage’s credentials back at him. “Is that indicative of a mech who has handled glue or any other sticky substance?”

“No,” Mirage admitted. “Unless he rolled in the glue, there would be no reason why he would need to wash his frame if he only handled the glue with his hands.”

“Logically speaking, he was merely bathing to remove unpleasant soil from his person?” Prowl said, trying to clarify the situation.

“Yes,” Mirage said in a tone that meant he’d given up. He gave Jazz a disgusted look, which was returned.

“No further questions,” Prowl said, retaking his seat.

“You’re excused,” Prime said, nodding for Mirage to vacate the witness stand. The Noble did so with grace and dignity, though Sideswipe and a couple other mechs gave him incredulous and disgusted looks. “Call your next witness.”

“The prosecution rests,” Jazz said with an acidic bite.

“Very well. Defense may call their first witness,” Prime said, giving Prowl the go ahead.

“I call Sunstreaker to the stand,” Prowl said, earning several startled looks. Sideswipe even gasp, sitting back down in his seat with a stunned expression turned toward his counsel.

Sunstreaker frowned but left the audience, going to the witness stand and adopting the same pose as everyone else. When Smokescreen approached, he scowled, thinking the Autobot forces had gone mad to entertain such a stupid form of justice. Everyone knew you should just slag anyone who offends you and their corpse served as a warning to others who tried to cross you. It was basic justice, understood throughout the galaxy.

Smokescreen settled the black book he carried onto the stand and pulled out another, slightly smaller book. He knew Sunstreaker didn’t hold to any religion, let alone a religion from an alien planet, so the normal swearing in of the witness wouldn’t work on him. He could still lie through his grill and not bat and optic. So Smokescreen had devised an alternative for the vain, hardened mech.

“Left hand on the book and raise your right,” Smokescreen said presenting the small book to the golden twin.

Sunstreaker went to spout his empty promise when he halted, his servo hovering over the offered book. It was an owner’s manual for a Lamborghini. Tentatively he placed his servo on the book and looked to Smokescreen, who had a triumphant look on his face.

“Do you swear on your tech specs, to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help your alt mode?” Smokescreen asked, augmenting the phrase to fit the problematic mech.

“I…. do?” Sunstreaker said, unsure how he was supposed to answer.

“You share a link with your twin that allows you to share emotion and feelings?” Prowl asked, keeping his expression calm, though a door wing twitched. Smokescreen caught the subtle flutter and gave the tactician a quirky grin, which instantly stilled the speaking appendage.

“Yes.” Sunstreaker said flatly. Why Prowl chose to drag him into this mess, he’d never know. But the annoying Praxian may get slagged next time on the battle field, and not by the enemy.

The link was common knowledge but Prowl wanted to establish a baseline for his questioning.

“When one senses something, the other senses it as well?” Prowl prompted.

“Yes.”

“On the day in questions, did you sense anything from your twin?”

“Like what?”

“Any happiness or giddiness?” Prowl asked, wishing to convey Sideswipe’s rather transparent emotional displays.

“He always feels that. I think it’s an infection.”

“Any particular sensation due to a prank?” Prowl asked, trying to keep Sunstreaker focused on the trial. He noted the golden mech was staring to shift uncomfortably.

“Like what?” Sunstreaker responded, not sure what the black and white officer was fishing for.

“Like, achievement and elation for a prank well executed?”

“No.”

“Joy or mischievous sensation associated with pulling a prank?”

“No.”

“And these sensations are present when your twin is playing a joke?” Prowl asked.

“Every time,” Sunstreaker admitted, getting a dangerous look from his twin.

“Did you brother share with you any details regarding his visit?”

“No.”

“Would he?”

“If there was a joke involved, more than likely.” Sunstreaker said, getting tired of the questions. Not to mention there was a dark thrumming through the bond he shared with said twin. Apparently Sideswipe was rather unhappy at the moment.

“He has shared information with you regarding pranks in the past?”

“Some details, yes.”

“Bragging?”

“Always.”

“Did he brag during this incident?”

“No.”

“Your connection gives you a unique insight?”

“Obviously.” Sunstreaker now looked annoyed, bordering on angered.

“No more questions.” Prowl said, retaking his seat.

Jazz stepped forward, giving Sunstreaker a dubious look. “You can feel your brother’s emotions all the time?”

“No.”

“Care to elaborate?”

“No.”

“Answer the questions or I’ll find you in contempt.” Prime said, knowing Sunstreaker’s reputation. The front liner was notorious for flippant disregard and annoyance with rules and proper regulation.

Sunstreaker offered a raised brow and sneered, “You want to educate me on contempt?”

Jazz cleared his voice, interrupting what could have been an epic battle. “Is your twin able to block his emotions from you?”

“Yes.”

“So you can’t always know his state of mind? Because he blocks off his part of the bond?”

“Yes”

“Is it possible he blocked off his side of the bond while participating in a prank which lead to Ratchet’s tools being glued to the workbench?” Jazz asked.

“Yes,” Sunstreaker said, and added with a bored, frustrated sigh, “Anything is possible with my brother.”

“No further questions.” Jazz said, returning to his seat and giving Prowl a superior look which the other council ignored.

Sunstreaker left the witness stand and gave Jazz a contemptuous look that the mech brushed off as being Sunstreaker’s usual self. He really didn’t like being around others. The only reason he was suffering through the indignity of staying in the make shift courtroom was to support his twin. Though Sideswipe’s look of retribution was doing little to calm Sunstreaker’s demeanor. There was a chance a fight was going to break out later.

“I call Sideswipe to the stand,” Prowl said.

Sideswipe practically raced to the stand, his servos poised before Smokescreen gained his side.

Smokescreen held out the same owners manual and repeated, “Do you swear on your tech specs to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help your alt mode?”

“Yes,” Sideswipe said, taking a seat and beaming in child like giddiness. He was having way too much fun. He planned on suggesting these little mock scenarios on a regular basis. And he was going to suggest Sunstreaker be a witness to all of them!

“On the day in question, did you visit the medical ward?” Prowl asked.

“Objection, that doctor patient thing!” Jazz shouted, jumping from his seat.

“Just confirming a visitation, not for personal information.” Prowl said, a door wing twitching.

“Sustained, Go ahead.” Prime said, nodding toward Prowl.

“Yes,” Sideswipe confirmed.

“Did you go to the medical ward with the intention of pulling a prank?”

“No. My visit was because Earth’s terrain is inhospitable to sporty vehicles and I needed Ratchet to check to see if there was any damage from a recent patrol.”

“Objection!” Jazz said.

“I’m volunteering the information,” Sideswipe said.

“I’ll allow it,” Prime said, rubbing the fabric against his metal skin.

“Did you see Ratchet?”

“No,” Sideswipe answered, going so far as to give the medic a sad look. “I heard him shouting and didn’t think it was wise to bother him.”

“Shouting?” Prowl asked.

“Yeah, he was yelling about Wheeljack breaking something and how ungrateful the Autobots are and how he should let all of us rust,” Sideswipe said, giving Ratchet a look that was returned, ten fold. Ratchet always ranted. It was his second job on the ARK. “I didn’t want to bother him, so I left.”

“Why did you leave?” Prowl prompted, hoping to convey the innocent visit. He really wanted to win this case. Even if he didn’t like his client in the least.

“We all know what Ratchet’s like when he’s in one of his moods,” Sideswipe said, and there was a general murmur amongst the crowd. Even the jurors were nodding in agreement. “So I left, hoping to wash off whatever was rubbing my circuits the wrong way.”

“You had something on your servos?” Prowl said, wanting his client to get to specifics. It was all about cold hard facts.

“Yeah. Gunky,” Sideswipe curled his olfactory sensor and added, “Then I realized I had the gunky stuff all over me. Well, you know what its like when you have something nasty in your undercarriage. So I went to the racks and scrubbed down.” He gave a contemptuous look toward Mirage, “I didn’t know I was being watched.”

“And did you molest any medical instrument while in the infirmary?” Prowl asked.

“Nope,” Sideswipe said. “I went in, heard Ratchet yelling, looked at my filthy chassis, which was covered in grime because some forgetful bot scheduled a Lamborghini to take the Ocean View Drive patrol and the sand, silt, salty air, and the sludge-like muck that habitually covers that road got into my systems and made me feel like a true ground crawler.”

Prowl ignored the slight against him. He had schedule Sideswipe on that route as a punishment. He knew how rough and disgusting that terrain could become. He hoped to teach the mouthy front liner a lesson. Apparently it didn’t sink in.

“And when Ratchet discovered the tools glued to the work bench, where were you?” Prowl asked.

Sideswipe nodded toward the audience. “In the shower with Mirage.”

Several snickers broke out along the audience, causing Mirage’s face plates to darken in embarrassment. He wasn’t going to live this down for a while.

“So you didn’t molest Ratchet’s equipment?” Prowl asked, the words coming out before he had a chance to recall his subject’s mentality.

Sideswipe’s stricken face was his answer. “I most certainly did not!” He looked around to the Autobots as a whole and gasped in mock fear, “That’s perverted!”

The small giggles became a wave of laughter. Prime banged his gavel, face stern, though he had to struggle to contain his mirth.

“Order in this court! I said Order!”

“I’m still waiting on that femme,” Sideswipe purred, giving Prime a cheeky look.

“Keep it up, and I’ll find you in contempt!” Prime barked, trying to regain control of the situation. Sideswipe had an uncanny knack of sending things spiraling in all directions. He was like a birthing universe of chaos and contradiction.

“Actually, I’m contagious, not contemptible,” Sideswipe beamed.

“Enough!” Prowl barked, making Sideswipe jump and sit upright in his seat. When he had Sideswipe’s undivided attention, Prowl continued, “You did not bother any of the medical tools on the work bench during the short time you were in the medical ward?”

“No,” Sideswipe said, matching Prowl’s stern expression.

“No further questions,” Prowl said, taking his seat.

Jazz sauntered up to the podium, customary smile in place. Sideswipe gave him a quirked brow ridge, but didn’t rise to the bait.

“Sideswipe, you have a reputation of pulling pranks, is that correct?” Jazz asked.

“I share the reputation with many members of the crew, yourself included,” Sideswipe answered. He missed Prowl’s startled expression.

“I’m not the one on trial here,” Jazz said, waggling a finger at the ruby warrior and getting a glower in answer. “On the day in question, you claimed you went to see Ratchet but changed your mind? Explain to the court, the reasoning behind your short visit.”

“Like I said, Ratchet was shouting about Wheeljack and the general incompetence of the Autobots,” Sideswipe said, leaning back in his chair and crossing his arms over his chassis in silent defiance. “Everyone knows what he’s like when he’s in one of those moods.”

Several heads nodded, and words of affirmation were exchanged. Ratchet turned in his seat and glared at the muttering bots, who instantly shut their vocalizers. Wheeljack gave a sheepish wave. He knew he was responsible for a lot of Ratchet’s volatile ire.

“So your injuries evaporated?” Jazz asked, looking stunned.

“Wasn’t injured, just had some aches that I wanted Ratchet to check so they couldn’t become an injury later,” Sideswipe amended. “But when I heard Ratchet yelling, I thought I’d feel better if I scrubbed up first. If the aches were still there, I was going to go back.”

Jazz flickered his visor. After a minute he sighed, “No further questions.”

“You are excused,” Prime said, watching as Sideswipe bounced from the witness stand and back to his seat. “I will now hear closing arguments.”

Jazz got to his pedes and walked to the jurors, his expression firmly fixed to the jovial, fun loving bot everyone knew and loved.

“Mechs of the jury, you have heard the evidence.” Jazz started, taking brief pauses and pointing to each member of the jury for emphasis. “The defendant is notorious for pulling pranks and has an extended history as proof. His twin admitted he can shut down their bond as to not give away his intentions. A witness saw him leaving the medical ward, wiping his servos as if removing a sticky substance. A few minutes after this optic witness account, Ratchet found his tools glued to the work bench. We all know that he did it. He’s done it before. It’s up to you to find him guilty and allow him to be punished for this act, or next time, it could be either one of you who is glued for entertainment.”

Jazz walked back to his seat, Ratchet giving him an appraising optic. Prowl stood, flexing his shoulders, his door wings fluttering as he remained at his table, not wanting to give the illusion of trying to intimidate the jury.

“My colleague would have you believe there is evidence,” Prowl started. “But there is no such evidence. My client admits to making a visit to the medical officer for a structural concern and after hearing said medical officer in a state of angered distress, my client left to attend his personal hygiene. The prosecutors witness has confirmed my client was attending his personal maintenance when said tools were found glued into place. The accuser has admitted to using the very epoxy that affixed his tools to the work bench. There was no residual evidence on my client to substantiate a claim of mischievous intent. Therefore, my fellow Cybertronians, you can only find my client not guilty of these charges.”

“Very well,” Prime said, turning to the assembled bots. “Jury is dismissed to reach a verdict. Please inform your bailiff when you have made your decision.”

The jury shuffled out, already muttering to each other in hushed tones. The rest of the crew dispersed, grabbing a cube and debating on what the jury was going to decide. Spike scribbled out several notes, and since he was engrossed in his writing, Bumblebee left his young charge to his thoughts. Fifteen minutes later, Smokescreen called for everyone to return, Spike giving a pitiful whine as he was caught in the middle of his report and wanting to find out the verdict.

Prime took his seat and waited until everyone else was comfortable and nodded to Ironhide, who was enacting at the foreman for the jury. “Has the jury reached a verdict?”

“We have,” Ironhide said, giving a nod and turning his attention to Sideswipe, who looked rather frightened. Apparently he didn’t hold much stock in the sagacity of his comrades.

“On the first charge of illegal entry into a restricted area?” Prime asked.

“We find the defendant, not guilty,” Ironhide said, and it looked like the words cost him a great deal of integrity.

“The second charge of causing mischief?” Prime asked, and it took all of his considerable will power to keep from laughing. Sideswipe was the poster bot for mischief.

“We find the defendant not guilty…. this time,” Ironhide said, giving Sideswipe a foul look.

“And the final charge of endangering the crew by gluing medical instruments to a table?” Prime asked, finding Ironhide’s expression to be very entertaining. Whatever was going on inside the weapons specialist processor was really wrecking havoc on his emotions.

“We find the defendant, not guilty,” Ironhide said as he curled his lip in distaste.

The crowd erupted in cheers. Spike whooped, then grabbed his pen and started scribbling again. Sideswipe grabbed his brother in a hug that made Sunstreaker hiss and spit. A couple of bots turned to Mirage and asked if he would like to accompany them to the showers. The Noble sniffed in his unctuous socialite way and left the room with the air of one suffering from the idiocy of their companions.

“Congratulations,” Jazz said with a sullen tone, holding out his hand for Prowl to take.

Prowl accepted the offer and gave a curt nod. “You performed admirably. The verdict could have gone either way.”

“I do wonder how he did it,” Jazz said, giving Sideswipe a curious look.

“I wonder that myself,” Prowl admitted.

The two officers exchanged exasperated looks and went to Smokescreen, who was giving the tallies for wins and offering condolences to the losers. Ratchet skulked off to lick his proverbial wounds. No doubt there were going to be numerous dented helms in future med bay visits. Ratchet was known to hold a grudge like no other.

Sunstreaker extracted himself from his brother’s bear hug, growling oaths that would have scared Megatron into hiding.

“Let’s go celebrate!” Sideswipe crooned, wrapping his arm around his brother’s waist and directing him to the door.

Sunstreaker snarled at the approaching bots who congratulated Sideswipe. Sideswipe took it all in stride, thanking them and accepting their offers for celebratory drinks later. Sunstreaker bristled, not liking the close proximity of some mechs and feeling very uneasy with all the attention. Sideswipe steered his twin out the door toward their private quarters, knowing Sunstreaker was going to need a few shots of stout high grade to attend the party later.

When they reached the privacy of their quarters, Sunstreaker shut the door and turned his to his brother.

“So, how did you do it?” he asked.

Sideswipe’s smile was the embodiment of wicked delight. He held up his hands and wiggled his fingers. “Axel grease on the hands. Glue has difficulty in adhering to it.”

“You know Prowl will find some way to make sure you pay?” Sunstreaker said, giving his head a shake at the brilliance of his twin. “He knows you did it. It’s only a matter of time before he figures it out and you get punished.”

“Yeah,” Sideswipe said, sliding back a hidden panel and extracting a cube of bright purple high grade. “But won’t he have fun trying to figure it out!”

---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----

It was later that week that Prowl was seen performing a strange, shuffling kind of walk as he exited the medical wing, his aft plates glued together.

Chapter Text

The Secret of Sunstreaker

00000-ooooo-IIIIII-00000-oooo-IIIIII-000000

“Oh, I’ve been touched by an angel!” Sideswipe crooned, pretending to swoon at his brother’s touch.

“Keep it up and you’ll be beaten by the devil,” Sunstreaker growled in promise, his hand darting out and catching his twin on the side of the helm. Sideswipe didn’t even flinch from the contact.

“Oh, my little heavenly cherub,” Sideswipe crowed, his spark a tumultuous crescendo of giddiness.

“Just what makes you think I’m an angel?” Sunstreaker asked, sarcasm dripping from his vocalizer as he tried to slap his brother a second time. Sideswipe easily avoided him. “At any time did I give the impression that I’m all soft and gentle?”

“I’ve seen you paint,” Sideswipe said, shuttering his optics like a femme batting her eyes. His voice hitched into a falsetto lilt. “An artist’s touch is very delicate.”

“When have I ever given the impression that I’m only here for your guidance and reassurance?” Sunstreaker countered, his processor filled with images of the heavenly host.

“You keep me out of trouble,” Sideswipe said, earning an incredulous snort from his brother.

“No I don’t,” Sunstreaker muttered, finding a particular image that showed a brilliant aura around a smiling seraphim. Sunstreaker wondered about the comparison. Him? Smiling?

“Angel, indeed.” Sunstreaker scoffed.

“Well, there was that one time when you drank that tainted energon and were rather… angelic.” Sideswipe said with a suggestive grin.

“Does it look like I have a halo?” Sunstreaker spat, his fist already formed and ready to launch.

Sideswipe took a moment to think, his gaze sweeping over his brother’s golden form. Slowly he nodded his head. “I can see it.” When Sunstreaker gave a strangled growl, Sideswipe added, “You shine quite brilliantly.”

Sunstreaker’s angered expression faltered.

“There is a halo around you when you’re under a bright light,” Sideswipe went on, his gaze roving his twin’s body. “And you do have a rather strong aura, which gives you the conceptual idea of supernatural radiance.”

Sunstreaker bristled at the term, ‘idea.’ He was slagging gorgeous and Sideswipe knew it! How dare his brother insinuate that he was anything less than heavenly perfection!

“Course, all that’s missing is the wings.” Sideswipe offered a cheeky look, knowing he was riling his brother. The bond was weighted with anger and annoyance.

Sunstreaker offered a snort and rolled his optics. He had a feeling his twin was going to mention ‘borrowing’ Seeker wings the next time they engaged in battle. But, Sideswipe proved once again the deviousness of his processor.

Sideswipe gave his twin a mischievous grin. “I bet the ones those human femmes wear with their dainty under armor would fit you.”

Well, he wasn’t expecting that. Sunstreaker’s optics darkened in warning, his arms flexing with tension.

“Sunstreaker’s Secret,” Sideswipe crowed, “Has a nice ring to it!”

Sunstreaker’s fist flew the short distance between them, landing squarely between his brother’s optics. Sideswipe never perceived the threat before his world exploded in a cataclysm of black.

“No one’s putting wings on me,” Sunstreaker growled, though Sideswipe couldn’t hear him. He made to leave his unconscious brother, but with a deadly serious smirk, he looked at his twin and added, “And only the finest silk touches this body!”

Chapter Text

Bed Side Manner

AN: I don’t know why but I just cant seem to keep the twins out of the brig. And for some reason, I keep thinking Sideswipe would torture his brother. Who would have guessed, right?

0000-0000000-000000-IIIIIII-0000000-00000-0000--000

“Brig,” Prowl said, pointing to his door, one doorwing fluttering. “Two weeks!”

“Two weeks?” Sideswipe whined as Sunstreaker spun on his heel and stalked toward the brig.

Sunstreaker knew that arguing would only make the Second In Command angrier, and he had every intention of keeping his wash rack privileges. If Sideswipe wanted to dig into his grave a little wider and deeper for comfort, then he could do it alone. Sunstreaker wasn’t going to share the same fate. He left to the symphony of his twin whining and Prowl’s growls. Funny how the two harmonized so well.

Sunstreaker sequestered himself in the far cell, the energy bars activating as soon as he stepped over the threshold. His joints ached, error messages bled through his vision, and an annoying systems alarm warned him of low fuel reserves. He had barely finished patrol when Sideswipe had grabbed him and marched him into the rec room. Sunstreaker thought his brother wanted to grab a cube together, but it turned out he only wanted back up because he had lost a bet and Smokescreen was demanding payment. The only reason why the Diversion expert wasn’t sharing their punishment is because Prowl walked in just in time to see Sunstreaker holding Smokescreen by his bent doorwing and Sideswipe landing a solid punch to the Praxian’s jaw. It took some wrangling, but Prowl was able to direct both front liners to his office, where he demanded an explanation and then enacted the punishment.

Five minutes after Sunstreaker lay down on his berth, he heard the energy bars disengage. He frowned, looking over to see Sideswipe’s pouting face enter the cell, the bars flickering back to life.

“What are you doing in here?” Sunstreaker asked. He knew that it was protocol to separate the twins during confinement. The command element had learned that lesson after the first shared incarceration that lead to the entire cell block being decommissioned in Iacon.

“Prowl said that we have to share a cell until the other ones are back in operational order,” Sideswipe said with a growl, slamming his fist into the wall. A dull clang rang throughout the brig, like funeral bells singing one to their rest.

Sunstreaker’s optics narrowed, remembering the brig was going through a maintenance overhaul and were supplied with enough power to operate one cell at a time.

It was going to be a long two weeks.

“Whatever,” Sunstreaker sighed, settling into a comfortable position on the berth. “Just keep the chaos to a minimum. I want to charge.”

Sunstreaker’s optics had barely shuttered, when he heard the creak of the other berth and Sideswipe’s voice.

“Come here, little bitch,” Sideswipe said in a gruff tone, his face twisted in mischievous glee.

Sunstreaker didn’t bother onlining his optics. He knew Sideswipe was goading him into a fight. He could feel the giddiness in his spark like a disease. It really turned his tanks.

“I’m not now, nor will I ever be, ‘your bitch’,” Sunstreaker said flatly.

“Sure you are,” Sideswipe said, trying his best to suppress his laughter. He lowered his voice into a gruff, sultry tone and added, “I bought you for a pack of cigarettes. Now, come over here and make your daddy happy.”

“If my ‘daddy’ wants to be happy, he can entertain himself,” Sunstreaker said, still refusing to look at his twin. “Because if he comes near me, I’ll implant him into the wall.”

Sideswipe snickered as he lay down on the opposite berth. The thick foam padding gave a little waft of air as he stretched but no other sounds permeated the small cell. A couple of minutes later, the lights flickered before casting the room into darkness.

“Lights out,” came Red Alert’s voice via the comm..

Sunstreaker offered a rude gesture to the dark and started the shut down sequence for a nice long recharge, when a sound halted his progress. A barely discernable creak was heard from the opposite side, quickly followed by the soft, though not completely inaudible footfalls of a sneaky twin.

“I’m warning you….” Sunstreaker growled before the world exploded.

Sideswipe let out a whoop and launched himself on top of his brother. He intended on pinning Sunstreaker down and maybe messing up his paint, just to get him fired up enough so he’d throw a punch. But it didn’t go according to plan. Sunstreaker had been ready for the imbecile attack, and as soon as Sideswipe landed on top of his twin, Sunstreaker grabbed his shoulders and used all the power behind his frame to launch Sideswipe into the air.

Sideswipe screamed as he went flying through the dark. He landed against the wall with a dull ringing gong, his gravitational slide to the floor accenting the music with a beautiful screech.

“Oww,” Sideswipe groaned when he finally landed, sprawled partially upside down against the wall. “You fragger! That’s gonna leave a mark.”

It took him a moment to gather his scattered wits and regain his pedes. He vented harshly, his optics shining in the darkness. Two evil pinpricks of violence. With a snarl he landed on his unsuspecting brother and the fight was on.

Sunstreaker had hoped Sideswipe had gotten the hint, but apparently his twin was in the middle of one of his psychotic breaks. The only thing to do in such situations was to pound the living slag out of him and then call Ratchet to deal with him. Ratchet scared everyone, even the twins. Sunstreaker briefly wondered why Prime didn’t send Ratchet into the Decepticon ranks. The war would be over in no time.

The inside of the cell was filled with a collection of grunts, hisses, curses, shouts, and the sound of metal denting metal. With a growling yell, a body went flying across the room, landing on perfect target to the smear of red paint that already adorned the wall.

After the impact, there was the screeching sound of grinding metal, followed by the heavy thud of an unconscious body.

“Fragger,” Sunstreaker hissed, returning to his comfortable position on the berth. He opened a comm. to Ratchet.

‘Ratchet, your services are required in the brig,’ he broadcasted on all frequencies, unsure which one the medic was currently utilizing.

‘Now what?’ Ratchet snapped.

‘Sideswipe was asking for an aft beating, so I handed it to him,’ Sunstreaker supplied, not remorseful in the least. ‘His stupidity has caused some twinges in my joints. I think I will need some repairs as well.’

‘I’m on my way,’ Ratchet sighed in resignation.

It didn’t take Ratchet long to get to the brig. He stormed down the hall, disengaged the energy bars and stalked into the cell. He glanced to Sideswipe, who still lay contorted against the wall, and offered an irritated huff, before turning his attention to Sunstreaker.

Sunstreaker’s optics were dark, and there was a rattle in his vents. Sunstreaker remained still as he felt the diagnostic scans tickle his sensors. Ratchet mumbled a few choice words about twin idiots and the questionable intelligence of one in particular, then tried to ascertain their parentage that ended in the conclusion that they were from the Pit itself. Sunstreaker took the verbal bashing with ease, having been subjected to it for so many eons, he’d be lost without it. Ratchet may fuss and fume, but when he attended the more delicate circuitry, there was no mistaking his gentle care and seriousness in repairing the damage.

“Sunstreaker?” Ratchet said after a minute of optical and diagnostic scan. “You’re showing a fifty percent weakness along two junctions and there’s some considerable wear to your structural transformation seams.”

“Extended patrols,” was Sunstreaker’s explanation.

“To med bay with you,” Ratchet said, giving the golden warrior a nudge to get his attention.

“Punishment detail. Two weeks,” Sunstreaker said, not bothering to online his optics.

“Well, Prowl can come and talk to me about the accommodations,” Ratchet put in, physically grabbing the frontliner and pulling him into a sitting position. Sunstreaker offered a grunt in warning, but allowed the medic the invasion into his personal space. Aside from Sideswipe, Ratchet was the only one who could come close and not receive physical injury.

“What about Sides?” Sunstreaker asked, noting his brother was still unconscious against the wall. There was also a beautiful, Sideswipe shaped imprint on the wall. Looked rather artistic. Sunstreaker smirked. Even in the dark, he was good.

“I’ll patch him up and he can stay in the brig,” Ratchet answered, motioning to the exit. The energy bars hadn’t reengaged since the medic entered the cell. When he left, the bars would reinitialize once again.

“He won’t like that,” Sunstreaker said, unable to keep the sadistic smirk off his face. His brother was an aft. He deserved a proper punishment.

“Tough,” Ratchet said, kneeling down and scanning over the prone form. “He’ll just have to live with it.” When his scans displayed the results of just an unconscious mech, he hoisted the red frontliner up and threw him unceremoniously on the berth. His finger retracted, his favorite arc welder sliding into existence.

“What are you doing?” Sunstreaker asked, wondering if the medic had lost his processor.

“Gonna weld his aft to the berth,” Ratchet said, setting to work. “If confinement doesn’t work and he still has to cause problems, let’s see what some immobility will do for him.”

Sunstreaker arched a brow ridge and set off down the hall, hearing the soft fizzle noises that accompany a welder. Sideswipe hated inactivity. Ratchet knew that. It was going to be quite interesting over the next couple of weeks.

Sunstreaker smiled. Seriously, he was going to talk to Prime and recommend that Ratchet be on the front line.

Chapter Text

Sundries for Sale

Rated: T for suggestive themes, adult situations, and mentions of rape

AN: HUGE THANK YOU to ALL reviewers. Your words are not only appreciated but they give hope and strength to someone who truly needs the extra light. My spirits lift with each and every note. Just don’t strangle me for this dark chapter.

00000-ooooo-IIIIII-000000-OOOOO-IIIIIII-000000-OOOO-IIIIII-0000000

They couldn’t remember their first moment of life. They only knew they had to be together or the pain in their chests would become so great, they would offline until reunion. Moments bled away into a continuous stream of awareness that neither could remember being separated. Their young minds were already bound, becoming one, though in reality, they were not even a single, whole spark.

They were twins.

A rare occurrence that had only happened once in Cybertronian history, and the First Twins had lived in misery and neglect until their termination. And now, some millions of years later, one life became two. One spark split, sending two halves into separate frames and binding them together.

Considered an aberration of the All Spark, they had been discarded. Tossed to the streets to fend for themselves, they had no recollection of the priests and Prime who had witnessed their odd birthing. One minute there was one spark hovering between the last two frames to be presented for sparking and for reasons known only to Primus, the last spark had split, taking both shells as its own. One whole residing in two bodies. The caretakers had been stunned and bewildered, not having basis protocols to deal with the situation. So as the other young sparks who had taken to frame were presented to family units for upbringing and care, two little half sparks were left alone with the high priest. Not being a caregiver model, the priest had sent out a call, asking for any family unit to accept the strange anomaly twins, but no one wanted the stigma attached to such obviously cursed young sparks.

And so they had been turned away. The streets accepted them, allowing their small bodies to easily hide in the vast metallic collection of life that littered the planet. They were but mere parasites, living off the meager scraps left behind by the bigger, more complex organisms. It was a pitiful life. One that didn’t hold much future. Until a wise mech with a talented glossa and knowledge far above his station found the two waifs. He captured them, cleaned their tiny frames and gave them enough energon to soothe their aching tanks. Then when they lulled in heavy overcharge from the good grade fuel, they found themselves locked in a cage, mechs and femmes passing by and giving them appraising optics.

One femme tried to pry the little ones apart, but their strength was incredible. They refused to relinquish their hold on each other, their cries and clicks filling the atmosphere with a soft song of desperation. The femme had hissed at their stubbornness, barking to the merchant that his merchandise didn’t know its place and he had better train his wares before hocking undisciplined slaves to the populace. Her words had fallen on the audios of a roguishly handsome mech, who sought the source of the distressed whines. When he found two sparklings, one mottled brown, the other ashen grey, he pulled out a scanner and checked the health of the potential slaves. He gave a start of interest noting the display on the screen. With a smile he nodded to the cage, purchasing the tiny bundles from their enthusiastic owner.

With wide blue optics, the twins looked to their new master, not understanding the hum of happy systems. They remained tightly wound to each other, offering scared clicks and trembling frames, their young processors unable to comprehend their situation. When their new owner entered his home, he called for a couple of slaves to come attend his new purchase, and with terrified optics the twins watched two femmes open their cage and smile, their arms open in invitation.

But neither twin moved. All they needed were each other. These strangers were not needed, though deep in their broken sparks, they felt a desire to curl against the slight feminine frames. Still locked in a protective embrace, they didn’t notice the medic slip behind him until a sharp pain pierced their necks, sending both spiraling into a deep charge.

As they lay on the examine table, the medic ran virus scans and system checks. They had no upgrades or downloads consistent with their apparent age. The medic scanned their frames and found all the right components, including sealed interface panels that housed both spike and valve. All Cybertronians were built with both attributes and after experiencing their first interfaces, they could upgrade to what best suited their preference.

Both younglings awoke at the same time, their optics snapping open and startling the attending femmes were who wiping along their seams and removing the congealed build-up of lubricants from their joints. With smiles the femmes lifted the younglings and held them close, both twins sensing the warmth and beating spark in the femmes. Instinctually they hugged closer to the feminine bodies, their own basic programming telling them it was a safe and the expected thing to do. With curious looks the twins exchanged small clicks as they were lowered into their first baths. The femmes held each tiny protoform close, walking into the deep baths of their master and allowing the small frames to cling to them as they felt the solvent remove the grit and grime from their tiny frames. Soon, both younglings were slapping the water, enjoying the sounds made and the cool, lightness in their frames as the accumulated filth was removed. They forgot what it was like to be clean. It was very refreshing.

A loud, thunderous voice caused both twins to stop their playing and tuck back into the safety of the arms holding them above the water. The arms tightened around their small frames. The femmes exited the water, holding their precious cargo against their sparks.

The master of the house stormed into the room, his face set in fury. He barked words the twins had never heard, but his tone was quite clear. He was furious. Without looking his hand lashed out and struck one of the femmes. She fell to the ground, using her own body to shield the youngling. As soon as she was struck, the smaller frame hit, and suddenly, both sets of infantile vocalizers were screaming. The master drew back to strike the blaring verbal alarm, when he halted his actions, noting the femme holding the distraught youngling was soothing away his cries, and in turn, his twin was whimpering in answer. Narrowing his optics he bade the fallen femme to rise. When she was once again on her pedes, he reached out and pinched the brown youngling.

Simultaneously both twins started to cry, the ashen gray kicking and rubbing along his plating where his twin had been pinched.

Wanting further proof, the master slipped his hand between the tiny legs and pressed his forefinger against the brown interface panel. And as expected, the ashen gray youngling winced, wiggling away from an offense not his own. The master smiled. He had plans for these two. He was a mech who knew how to wait and who could spot a deal, no matter how minute at the time. And he felt his spark pulse, knowing he just had a credit mine handed to him in the form of two tiny sparklings. He ordered they be repainted, and hired a tutor to begin their downloads and training exercises for adulthood.

The brown mechling was painted a deep carmine, reminiscent of the setting sun long ago. The ashen gray mechling was painted gold, though he scowled at the first three color choices the femme offered. With a disdainful optic he stared at the pallet, and only when the femme laughed and conceded, did he allow her to paint him the new scheme.

The younglings were named Sideswipe and Sunstreaker, and they were dotted on by the staff at the masters estate. Being too young to understand, they watched as mechs and femmes came and went all hours of the cycle, many of them finding difficulty in walking. The slaves of the house attended to every aspect of running the large estate, and the twins curiously watched the progression of visitors through the door. As they matured, they noted the mannerisms of the household, adopting the same attitude, as it was expected of those in service. Many a time the master would slip his hand between the legs of his femme slaves, and they would oblige, their faces blank and impassive as he took his fill of their offering. One evening the twins witnessed their master grinding his body against a femme, and from the noises both were making, it was quite painful. They thought about offering assistance, but not wanting to earn the ire of their master, they remained in the shadow, watching as their master made the femme cry, a horrible screeching noise filling their audios as he pressed her into the floor. Sunstreaker had made a noise of interest, wanting to do something to stop the crying, but the noise attracted the attention of their master. With a twisted look that made both of their tanks clench, he pressed the femme violently into the floor, where she sobbed and begged for leniency. The master was deaf to her pleas.

The next day, both twins were performing their maintenance detail when Sideswipe felt something slip between his legs. He beeped, looking down and finding his master’s hand rubbing along his lower regions. Having been trained to mimic the other staff, he widened his stance, curious as to what his master was doing. This was something new. Sunstreaker had halted his cleaning detail when he felt fingers ghosting over his own plating. He watched from across the hall, curious to the sensation tingling along his lower regions.

Sideswipe frowned, feeling as if he had lowered himself into something hot. His lower body felt overheated and very uncomfortable. Frowning, he looked to his master, his look asking permission for an explanation, but the master only smiled, his fingers caressing along the heating panel and rubbing along the seams. With a gasp Sideswipe felt his interface panel retract for the first time. Unbidden, Sunstreaker copied his twin, his own face registering shock as the new systems warmed in arousing attention.

Sideswipe was going to take the bold step in asking what was happening, when he felt something extremely uncomfortable. His master’s digits were pressing along a very sensitive area, and from the resistance that greeted the probe, his digits weren’t supposed to go there. Sideswipe winced and stepped back, trying to put distance between the painful exploration, but his master copied his move, his fingers rubbing and circling the rubber seal that strained to prevent further intrusion.

“Master?” Sideswipe asked, taking another step back and pressing his legs together, effectively limiting his master’s exploration.

“You do not disobey me,” his master ground out.

“I do not understand,” Sideswipe said, blinking furiously, trying to make sense of the sensory input and the violent drumming of his spark. His optics darted over his master’s shoulder and found Sunstreaker standing a step behind their master, his expression one of confusion and pain as he mirrored his twin.

“You two are going to fetch a good price,” their master said, removing his hand and slipping the probing digits into his oral cavity. He hummed, enjoying the untouched taste of his young charge. He felt Sunstreaker’s presence before he saw him, and with a start, turned to see the golden twin standing directly behind him. His optics drifted to the golden mechs waist and with great delight, he saw the retracted panel.

“I think its time I collected on my investment,” the master said, sidestepping the golden mech and gliding to his office to make several important calls.

“What is this?” Sideswipe asked, his hand going to his interface array and feeling the warmed panel.

“I do not know,” Sunstreaker admitted, searching his own body and finding it very odd. He didn’t like the sensations being filtered from his twin or his own body.

Several cycles later and the twins were ordered to clean and buff themselves for presentation. Several femmes were ordered to assist in their proper preparation. The twins obliged, not understanding the reason behind their detailed maintenance, but graciously accepted the feminine help. When they were finished, the twins shone like precious gems just cast from the fiery tempest.

As fluid as liquid metal they strode into the viewing room, ready to do their master’s bidding, as they always have. They didn’t notice the rooms occupants until they were stationed behind their master, their heads bowed in respect.

“Lie on the tables and retract your covers,” their master ordered.

Both twins looked up with curious expressions. Their master turned and slipped his hands between their jeweled thighs, rubbing against the forgotten panel and hissed in their audios, “You will retract these panels and allow your bodies to be examined.”

Unsure of the motivation to do such a thing, both twins looked to the small tables in front of their master. They were little more than serving tables, hardly big enough to lie on comfortably, but they ventured to the side, looking the smooth polished surfaces over with curiosity. A femme approached and gave both a sad look before grasping Sideswipe’s shoulders and sitting him on the end of the table. She pressed him back to lie down, which he obliged, his optics darting around the room and wondering what was the reasoning behind this kind of mood and apparent presentation. When his head rested on the table, she pressed on his knees, silently biding him to open them. He looked to his twin and found Sunstreaker watching from the edge of his own table, his head canting as he tried to decipher the motives for such a strange service. Neither twin had to assume this position before. It was most strange.

The femme applied pressure to the inside of Sideswipe’s knees, her expression darkening, her bottom lip component pressed between her denta. Sideswipe gave her a soothing smile, hoping to ease her obvious concern and separated his knees. She smiled, running her hand down his legs in sorrowful encouragement and stepped away.

“Remain where you are,” the master commanded. Sideswipe arched up to look at his master. “Now, retract your panel and allow them to inspect you.”

Sideswipe was going to ask who would be doing the inspection, and why, when he heard a deep gruff growl.

“The panel won’t retract,” it said in annoyance.

“Retract,” the master commanded.

Sideswipe looked between his twin and his master, clearly not knowing how to obey. Sunstreaker was pushed onto his back by the femme, his legs spread and dangling over the end just like his twin.

“Forgive me master, but they are still young,” the femme supplied, taking the risk of speaking out of turn. There was a chance she would be reprimanded later, but the clients were getting restless, and that meant that pain would befall every slave, not just the ones currently on display. “Perhaps they do not yet understand the sequence to open their panels.”

Instead of berating the slave, the master of the house gave a thoughtful nod. He recalled the twins reaction upon their first inspection. He gave a nod to the femme, who smiled at Sunstreaker, her delicate fingers tracing over his lower body, dipping to the seams and caressing the sensitive wires beneath. Sunstreaker’s optics widened, intrigued by the femmes actions as his lower regions started to get warm. Sideswipe pulled himself partially upright, watching as the femme moved along his brother, her touch transmitting to him via their link. When her fingers teased around the edges of the heating panel, it caused both panels to retract. Sideswipe gave a startled hiss, looking at his own body and wondering what the sensations were filtering across his sensor net.

As soon as the panel slid aside, the femme offered a mournful smile and stepped away. Sunstreaker rose up part of the way to ask her what was happening, when his master’s voice cracked like a whip.

“Remain,” he snapped.

Sunstreaker relented, falling back onto the table and remaining immobile. He heard shuffling pedes and mumbled voices and when he turned his head aside, he noted there were at least thirty mechs in the room. All of them were taking turns stepping forward, their fingers tracing the rubber seal on one, then the other twin. The action caused both twins to jump and shy away, but their master’s voice made it clear that if they didn’t allow this inspection, his justice would be swift. Their protoforms still bore the marks of his first punishment. It wasn’t something that was easily forgotten.

Writhing, feeling hot and uncomfortable the twins remained on their respective tables. Servos ghosted over their frames, traced their seals, each exam costing their resolve. Sideswipe started to tremble, not liking the situation. Sunstreaker tried to send comfort and reassurance, but his attempts were weak as he too was subjected to the humiliation. He didn’t know what was going on, but he knew he didn’t like it. It felt…. Wrong.

“As you can see, both retain their seals,” their master said, smiling in an oily way. “Now, not only is this opportunity unique, but it offers another rare occurrence that will be granted to only one mech, and one mech only. One may have the rare opportunity to berth twins.”

The assembled mechs quirked their brow plates and narrowed their optics in interest. The twins looked to one another, not quite grasping the connotation of ‘berth.’ They had their own berth they shared when they charged. Did their master mean for them to charge with someone else? That seemed to be an odd thing to do.

“You do not believe this… this..” the mech said, motioning to the displayed wares with a questioning stare. “That their existence is a perversion of Primus or an aberration that one would be wise to avoid?”

“Society follows our lead and looks to us for their guidance and assurance,” one mech intoned, getting several mechs to nod in agreement.

“We are the upper echelon of Cybertron,” a blue mech said in a cultured tone that made Sunstreaker perk up. The accent was very intriguing. “If the commoners found out about this… auction…. Then how do you think they would perceive us?”

“We could lose our business contacts,” another mech put in.

“Or our licenses,” added another.

“What could be so unique that it would intrigue the upper class into a perverse deal that many would frown upon and cause our Nobility to be questioned?” the blue mech asked.

Sunstreaker hid a smile. He thought the mech talked funny.

The master went between the tables, his fingers lightly touching the deep set red that made Sideswipe look up with innocent optics. “You see, they are spark-split twins. A rarity within itself, but it offers a very unique situation, that I know your varied and cultured palettes will appreciate. What one twin experiences,” the master said, pinching Sideswipe’s arm. To the gathered mechs surprise, Sunstreaker winced as well, his arm jerking. “The other senses as well.”

Several mechs scrutinized the displayed wares with more interest. It was true they were the elite of society, but as the generous master of the house insinuated, they also had refined and various tastes for pleasure. A gift like this was truly rare. And it increased the price of the two being offered. It was one thing to berth a slave or innocent that housed only one spark. It was something new altogether to berth beings that only had half a spark. The illicitness of their lives alone was enough to make their proposition very savory.

“Five hundred,” the blue mech said, not one to mince words or waste time.

“I am not parting them,” the master said, giving the blue mech a narrowed optic. His spark was already thrumming with anticipation of a hefty return on his investment. Five hundred credits was a very nice bid. “They are to be berthed together.”

The Noble mech regarded the master with a steely expression before answering. “I am aware of the parameters. My bid still stands at five hundred thousand credits.”

The master’s fuel pump faltered. His knee joints almost sent him to the floor. That was far more than what he ever expected the twins to fetch. Apparently his clientele were aware of the unique opportunity and were willing to pay for its once in a lifetime occurrence.

“Six hundred,” another mech said, giving the blue mech a challenging look.

“Seven,” the blue mech countered, not perturbed by a possible usurper.

The twins exchanged confused looks, listening as the credit totals climbed higher. Sideswipe’s head lulled to the side, watching as the blue mech eliminated two challengers, his posture one of refinement and expensive tastes. Sunstreaker sent a wave of laughter through their bond every time the blue mech spoke, letting Sideswipe know how much the mechs voice tickled his twin. There was just something about his tone. His mannerisms. His poise. He exuded power and confidence. But it all seemed so fake and transparent.

Sideswipe was pulled from his thoughts as his masters voice rose. “One point nine million credits. Going once. Going twice.” He paused, looking between the assorted Nobles and nodding to the blue mech. “Sold!”

The blue mech inclined his head, acknowledging the win as his fellow elitists congratulated him on his purchase. As the mechs mingled and offered their praises to the blue mech, the master tapped both twins on their shoulders.

“Up,” he commanded. “You are to obey his commands as if they were my own. Understand?”

The twins nodded as they slowly pulled themselves up.

When they returned to a seated position, their interface panels remaining open, the master turned to the femme who had attended them. “Take them to chamber five.”

She nodded and gestured for the twins to follow. They did as commanded, Sideswipe walking funny as his interface panel refused to return to its closed position. Whatever had forced it to open was keeping it that way until he somehow found a way to get it to close. The intricacies of his body were new to him.

As the trio entered chamber five, the femme motioned for Sunstreaker to climb onto the berth. He looked to his twin, who shrugged, his optics darting around the room and taking in its lavish accommodations. Perhaps their master was pleased with them and they were granted new quarters? The plush berth was certainly a vast improvement to the cold metal they usually charged on. Sunstreaker’s attention was drifting around the room as well, sharing his brother’s emotional joy at being provided with better quarters. Both twins could easily fit on this new berth. It was quite spacious and the padding on it was divine. There were also pillows scattered about and shelves lining the wall that were littered with many colored bottles and neatly folded cloths.

“Just… relax,” the femme said softly in Sunstreaker’s audio, earning his wonder-filled optics. “Trust me. This goes easier if you relax and don’t resist.”

“What are you talking about?” Sunstreaker asked, then jumped as a metal shackle was firmly attached to his wrist. He hissed, pulling on the metal. “What are you doing?”

“All slaves are to be restrained during their Breaking,” she replied, giving Sunstreaker a look of sorrow.

Sideswipe was at his twin’s side, his hand grasping the femme’s and pulling her away from his brother. “What are you doing?”

“The master commands it,” she said, trying to instill the sense of importance to the two mechs.

Sideswipe gasped as a metal shackle snapped onto his wrist. He tugged on the chain, and before he knew what was happening, the femme had shackled the other as well. Sunstreaker rose to protest, but she easily overpowered his small frame and secured his bonds as well. The lock had barely clicked shut when the door opened and the blue regal mech stepped inside. He nodded to the attendant and she gave a curtsy of respect before taking her leave, her optics sorrowful to the two bound to the berth.

The Noble shut the door and hit the locks, looking at his purchase with feral optics. He felt his interface array come online with fervor, and stepped toward the two cringing mechs. --------------------------------

When the Noble had consummated his bargain he rose, stretching in languid motion and feeling the soothing tingle on his plating that came only after intense interfacing. He removed a cloth and wiped down his panels, smiling at his own silver stain and the juvenile gray stain of his two conquests mingling with his own fluids. When he was presentable, he unlocked the door with a special code and disappeared through the door without a backward glance.

Sideswipe was lying on his side, his body trembling so hard it caused the world to distort. His plating felt alive and crawling, covering his body with filth and humiliation. He felt through the bond he shared with his twin and instead of the warm, soothing presence that normally greeted his inquiry, a distant, aching void answered. Sideswipe shuddered even harder.

Sunstreaker lay on his side as well, though he wasn’t curled in on himself like his twin.

He felt… cold.

Empty.

Detached.

He felt like his spark had been extinguished by the lustful Noble, who not only enjoyed taking their valves, but their oral cavities and finally, breaking their spike seals and holding them by the throat as he rode them to completion. Not only were both broken and humiliated, but they shared the same never-ending, vividly vicious loop of reliving the moment when their twin was taken, their screams echoing in the other’s spark. It was bad enough being used and violated so thoroughly that it stole the warmth of your frame and stilled your spark, but to sense the same thing happening to your twin and being powerless to stop their pain…. It was torture of the highest degree.

The twins weren’t sure how long they were in that torture chamber, but the femme that had secured them came in after the Noble had left to release them from their bonds. She wiped a tentative hand over Sideswipe’s face, causing him to flinch from the contact. Sadly she went to Sunstreaker, and when she saw the deadened look in his optics, her spark faltered.

“I am sorry,” she said, wanting to soothe their pain. But it was something that all slaves, especially those that worked in a pleasure house, had to endure. They were at their masters whimsy, and they could do nothing to stop the ravaging of their spirit.

Sunstreaker’s chains fell away and he got up, every intention of finding an acid bath and committing himself to its gentle release, but the femme captured his attention with a firm hand on his shoulder.

“The master wishes to see you both,” she said, her face twisting in agony. “Now that you have been broken, it is his turn to berth you.”

Sunstreaker’s expression faltered, a frown wanting to form but his spark didn’t have the energy to convey such emotion. He felt drained, physically and mentally. And the waves of pain and anguish coming from his twin was rubbing his senses raw, until they were bleeding just as badly as his sore body.

“No,” Sideswipe whispered when she went to pull him to his pedes. “I can not do this.”

“It is what is expected,” she said, taking the chance to pull him into a hug. She could feel the tremors of his body rattle her soul. “The master has been more than gracious with you, allowing you time before entering his service.”

Sunstreaker rose, his body throbbing in pain, burning with humiliation, but his spark cold. He looked at the distraught form of his brother held protectively by the femme who had chained them to their fate and felt his bitterness rise. He pushed her away, grabbing his brother by an arm and hauling him to his pedes.

“We leave,” Sunstreaker said, his usually vibrant voice was flat, emotionless.

“You can not,” the femme said, darting in front of them to block their path. “The master will have you beaten for trying to leave.” Her face twisted in tragic pain, her voice soft and mousey. “Or worse.”

“What could be worse than this?” Sunstreaker asked, his voice turning harsh, brutal.

“The master can have you chained and taken by members of staff and all his guests,” she said, fear making her voice crack. “Your body will be free. All may partake of you until he had deemed you sufficiently corrected.”

Sideswipe started to shake harder at her words. Sunstreaker tightened his grip on his twin, sending reassurance through their bond and nudging his brother with his head to gain his attention. Sideswipe returned the gesture, pressing their foreheads together, a soft whine emanating from his chassis.

The femme squeaked, visibly shaken by something. With a desperate plea she motioned toward the door. “Our master hates to be kept waiting. He is expecting you in his quarters.” She grasped Sunstreaker’s arm, her optics wide and pleading. “You must submit to him, or else face a crowd who will violate you far beyond your imagination.”

Sideswipe’s tremors became more pronounced at her words. Sunstreaker puffed his vents and took the first step toward their doom. He wasn’t going to allow his brother to suffer like that again. The pain inflicted on his body had been easily forgotten, cast aside and overlooked. It was like he stepped away from his frame and entertained the outside world. The pain coming from his twin during his violation had been his undoing. If it took Sunstreaker allowing anyone to take his body as the Noble had done, then he was willing to sacrifice himself to save his twin from such a fate.

Sideswipe shook with each step, his body just as tender as his brother’s. He couldn’t face the idea of having another to do those horrible things to him, cause him such pain and spark deep ache that wouldn’t stop. It replayed over and over in a constant stream, haunting his steps as he allowed his brother to guide their destiny. He reached through the bond and found Sunstreaker’s gentle presence, soothing and loving though there were phantoms flares of cold emptiness. Sunstreaker was calm. Centered. His strength gave Sideswipe strength. They could get through this. They had survived this long.

The twins made their slow progress to their master’s quarters, their bodies aching in places they didn’t know they had. When they palmed the door chime, the door slid aside to reveal their masters inner chambers. Very few had been allowed the privilege to see where the master of the house resided. He preferred to take his fill of his slaves out in the main house or in his office. His private chambers were sacred. He feared the taint of the slaves would linger in his quarters, so he rarely allowed any into such a hallow domain.

Sunstreaker lead the way inside, placing himself in front of his twin as he walked to their master. His expression was neutral as he walked the short distance to the master’s berth, where he was comfortably laying on pillows, a crystal goblet in his servos.

“What took you?” he demanded, sitting his goblet on a nearby stand. When he shifted, Sunstreaker could see the thick appendage identical to that which ravaged his and his twin’s body. He felt something deep within his soul. “Well, never mind. The fact is you are here now.”

Sunstreaker refused to take the last step to put him in the master’s reach. Sideswipe stood two paces behind Sunstreaker and was sending questioning waves through the bond, unsure to his brother’s motives.

Their master looked their bodies up and down, noting the silver stains of the Noble that still tainted their thighs. He smiled, his hand going to his own body and much to the twins shocked horror, that degrading appendage began to stir.

“I have made a decision,” the master said, stroking himself into readiness, his optics traveling over the twin frames, though Sideswipe shied behind his twin, unable to make optic contact. “You have provided me with a hefty credit account. So much in fact that I can retire from my current occupation and never be worried about comfort again.” His hand stilled its actions. He removed it, using his crooked finger to beckon Sunstreaker toward him. “Now that you have been broken, I can take my fill and never worry about having to share you with any future customers.” When Sunstreaker took that last step, their master smiled, his hand slipping between golden legs and finding the exposed valve, tracing the slick entrance that lingered with the faint essence of the Noble.

Sideswipe felt their masters touch and cringed, knowing that he too will be hosting his master within his body soon enough. He felt like crying, staring at Sunstreaker’s back as he allowed himself to be drawn toward the mech. He shuddered as he felt the phantom touches of their master on his brother’s body.

“Come here,” their master said, pulling Sunstreaker forward, his hands going behind the golden mech’s knees and directing him to open his legs. He slid forward on the berth, pulling the taut valve toward his spike and lining them up in perfect unison.

“I’ve waited a long time for this,” he said, pulling Sunstreaker down on top of him.

Sunstreaker winced at the sudden rough entry, his newly awakened body finding it difficult to adjust to the rigid girth now stretching him to his limit. He could feel his brother’s panic and pain bleeding through the bond, but he didn’t hesitate. He allowed his master to claim him, his vents hitching as his body protested the intimate contact after such a brusque and violent first claiming.

Sunstreaker’s expression didn’t change. He remained emotionless, not caring what was happening to his body. His master hissed, grasping his hips and pulling him flush against him. A low moan escaped the mechs throat as he allowed himself to sample the treat that had been dangled in front of him for so long. His hands steadied the golden hips as he moved within his new conquest, his intimate exploration slow and attentive as his spike sought nodes to exchange a charge.

Their master closed his optics, relishing the sensation of a new valve. His pleasure slaves were nice, their knowledge expanding their horizons and allowing them to versify their pleasure experience. But, there was something about a new, untrained valve that the pleasure slaves could never replicate. He lay back on the berth, simply allowing the tenderness of the moment to envelope him. He smiled when he felt Sunstreaker move, his hand tentatively touching his master’s chest and arms, then to his neck and along his jaw. The new pleasure slave may have just been broken but apparently he was a fast learner. Gasps of pleasure floated from the master’s vocalizer, giving the young mech the incentive he needed to continue his exploration. If Sunstreaker was going to assume his role as personal pleasure slave, he had to know all the nuances of his master.

Sunstreaker felt his body rise as the mech below him started to thrust up, his hands resting on Sunstreaker’s hips and pulling against him in little spastic jerks. As he remained impassive, Sunstreaker’s left hand teased along his master’s jaw, then to his throat, caressing the cabling and pulsing energon line. With lightening speed, Sunstreaker clamped down on the pulse of life, his fingers digging into the pliable metal mesh.

The master choked and gasped, twisting his head, trying to dislodge the crushing vice like grip, but Sunstreaker was unresponsive. The master’s hands left Sunstreaker’s hips and grasped at his crushing left hand. Though he didn’t need air like an organic, his main processor needed fresh energon to keep it functioning, and Sunstreaker’s vice cut the flow. The strength in his hand was enough to crush the master’s vocalizer, effectively making him mute.

Sideswipe watched as his brother rose and fell on top of their master in a perfect reenactment of the blue mech’s handling of their bodies, and only after minute observation did he notice that their master wasn’t emitting the sounds like the blue mech. He moved as if to extricate Sunstreaker from his person. Pedes kicked the air, banged the berth, flailed about, trying to displace the heavy mech off his body.

Sunstreaker centered his weight into his lower body, pinning his master in place. With his right hand he caressed along his master’s side, just like a lover would do, before wedging his fingertips beneath the protoform covering and wrenching the metal free. Sideswipe was at his brother’s side, speaking in a far away voice, his hand on Sunstreaker’s right arm. Their master bucked and kicked, trying to throw off his attacker, but the lack of energon to his processor was starting to cloud his senses. Sunstreaker surged upward with a powerful thrust, and had one been peering inside the room, they would have believed the master was thoroughly enjoying his new pleasure slave. When the last piece of covering was pulled away, Sunstreaker delve his hand inside the internal workings of his lord and master, and with a satisfying clench, his fingertips brushed the spark chamber.

The master’s optics went wide, knowing what his pleasure slave was trying to do. His efforts increased, but the lack of energon to his main processor was causing residual failures. His body couldn’t understand the mental pulses from the sluggish transponder. Having been deprived of fuel, coding programs began to shut down, unable to function due to the error messages warping their parameters. With feeble whimpers, the master looked imploringly at his attacker, who had remained expressionless during the whole encounter.

Sunstreaker’s optics were half lidded, his focus distant as he returned slowly to his own processor. He looked down at the supplicating mech below him and for a brief second, he felt like granting mercy to the desperate, choking gasps of his victim. Then the body below him surged, impaling the thick length further inside his body and reawakening the pain and cold emptiness that had been forged by such a violent, intimate act. And all mercy evaporated.

Sunstreaker’s fingers curled around the master’s spark chamber, earning a simpering cry as the master felt the intimate brush of death. The master’s optics slid in and out of focus, his processor blurring into shades of gold. When he felt the fingers tighten their hold, he emitted a sparkling’s chirp of fear. A sound that resembled the noises of his charges not so long ago when he had first purchased them.

Sunstreaker grasped the silver chamber, his processor not even registering how small it was in his grip. With ferocity never displayed before on his calm, innocent features, Sunstreaker snarled in animalistic revenge, squeezing the thin metal and yanking it free from its housing. The body below him buckled like a savage beast defiantly refusing to be tamed but Sunstreaker locked his lower body and held on, his will stronger than the beast now succumbing. The light flickered inside the spark chamber as the last few tendrils of connective fiber kept it anchored to the mechs frame. Sunstreaker sneered at the flickering light, his grip on his master’s throat relaxing.

With a strangled, wheezing noise, the masters optics flared, his body pitching forward toward the mech who had ended his existence. The last thing the master saw was the monster he helped create.

The charge of the fading spark warmed Sunstreaker’s hand, but he didn’t relinquish his hold. With a triumphant look, Sunstreaker crushed the silver cylinder in his hand, feeling the final surge of the mech inside him before his body relaxed into death.

“What… what have you done?” Sideswipe asked in hushed whispers, his venting coming in harsh gasps that sounded as painful as the master’s final moments.

“Freed us from this Pit,” Sunstreaker said, climbing off the master and grimacing when the now limp body slid from his sore valve. He grabbed a nearby cloth and tossed it to his brother and added, “Clean yourself. We leave this place at the end of cycle.”

“Wha..” Sideswipe started, but Sunstreaker snapped, cutting off any further questions.

“Just do it!” Sunstreaker said, wiping down his own plating. He found a few spare datapads and energon, storing them in his limited subspace. “We will remain here until late cycle. Then when everyone else is charging, we slip out, informing the slaves that the master demanded rest. By the time they figure out he is terminated, we should be long gone.”

Sideswipe nodded numbly, wincing as he wiped the sensitive areas where the Noble had taken his fill. A sickening screech of twisted metal made him jump, and with wide optics he stared in abject horror as his twin twisted one of the master’s arms off.

“What are you doing?” Sideswipe asked, feeling as if his spark was going to fade.

“Taking out the slag,” Sunstreaker answered, opening the recycling chute that lead into the lower bowels of the pleasure house. Scrap metals and recyclables were placed down the chute to be taken to the smelter. Sunstreaker tore off the other arm, not perturbed by the dribble of graying energon or the ashen tint of death along the once pristine armor of the lord and master. “Hopefully we can buy some time if they believed he has left to attend other business.”

“So you send him to the smelters?” Sideswipe asked, feeling like purging his tank with the callous disregard his twin was showing toward their former master.

“He deserves worse, but I do not have the time,” Sunstreaker amended. He nodded toward the berth. “Get some charge. We leave in a few cycles.”

Sideswipe climbed up onto the berth, settling against the posh cushion and feeling a very strange sensation. He believed he was to be violated in this very berth, forever chained to it like a slave. And yet, his brother had allowed himself to be taken first, luring their master into a false sense of security before relieving him of his life. Now, the slaves rest on the plush pillows and soft curves and the master pulled apart and sent down to the smelters. Sideswipe felt something deep within his half spark, something that resonated throughout his twin’s frame.

Sideswipe wasn’t sure, but it felt like… freedom.

“Put this in your subspace,” Sunstreaker said, handing a datachip with their masters financial codes. Sunstreaker had found them in his master’s subspace pockets. And since the mech would no longer be needing his credits, Sunstreaker thought it only fair they be returned to the mechs who had paid the ultimate price.

“What’s this for?” Sideswipe asked, placing a few bottles of paint into his subspace that Sunstreaker handed over.

“We will need to disguise ourselves,” Sunstreaker said, pulling off his master’s head and sending it down the chute. Sideswipe gagged.

Several minutes passed, Sunstreaker pulling off pieces of their master and sending them down the chute. Sideswipe pointedly turned away and lowered his audios to muffle some of the rending metal.

“What are we going to do?” Sideswipe asked, not daring to glance at his twin.

Sunstreaker removed the limp appendage that had caused all this pain and suffering and tossed it down the chute. “We go east. Somewhere where they don’t know us and no one will be looking for us.” Sunstreaker pulled the lower half of his master apart, wincing from the jumping sparks and sent the masters pelvis sliding down the darkness. “We will go to Kaon. Maybe find work.”

“And if we don’t find anything in Kaon?” Sideswipe asked, feeling his tank churn with the sounds his brother was producing with their masters shell.

“Then we go further,” Sunstreaker said, hoisting his masters chest into the chute and sending the last trace of the vile mech into oblivion. “We can go to Praxus or Altihex. Either way, we have to leave Iacon.”

“I will miss our home,” Sideswipe muttered, tucking his chin to his knees and curling on his side.

“This is not our home,” Sunstreaker said in his audio. Sideswipe flinched at the close proximity, but didn’t shy away when his twin wrapped his arms around him and pulled him close. “Our home will be somewhere else. Far away from here.”

“Yes, far away,” Sideswipe said wistfully, pulling his brothers arms tighter around him. “We will be safe in Kaon.”

Chapter Text

On Primus’ Side

AN: Well, after the torture I put the twins through last chapter, I decided to reward them. I thought about a brothel but I think I came up with something better.

000-OOOO-IIIII-0000-OOOO-IIII-0000-OOOO-IIII-000-OOOO

“Hurry!” Sunstreaker hissed, motioning for his twin to join him in the shadows.

“I am!” Sideswipe bit back, his optics darting along the alley before he scrambled across the expanse to join his twin. “If you hadn’t stolen that datapad!”

“I thought it was a financial pad,” Sunstreaker offered, choosing to keep the stolen pad hidden in his subspace. “I thought we could hack it to get credits.”

“Brilliant,’ Sideswipe sneered in sarcasm. Sunstreaker glared in evil contempt.

Distant sounds of running pedes echoed into the confines of the alley, and like frightened glitch mice, the twins recoiled further into the shadows though the darkness did little to hide their bright paint scheme. A distinct mech voice called for a search, his lackeys giving the affirmative as they started to distribute and hunt for their thieving prey.

“Not good,” Sideswipe breathed, turning and heading to the other end of the alley.

Sunstreaker sighed and followed, his steps just as light as his twins as to not attract unwanted attention. The alley split into two directions and Sideswipe pulled up, looking between the streets to find the best route to escape the Enforcers.

“Which way?” Sideswipe asked himself, looking left then right.

Sunstreaker sidestepped his brother and walked to the center of the parted alleys, his optics and audios on full alert. He pointed down the right alley and muttered, “Enforcers. Four.”

“So, left it is,” Sideswipe said, turning to run in the direction, but Sunstreaker grasped his arm before he could pass.

“Enforcers that way too,” Sunstreaker said, hearing the far away sound of searching pedes.

“So we go…. Up?” Sideswipe said, glancing upward, looking for a ladder or stair case to lead the twins to safety. Unfortunately, there was nothing but smooth, metal walls all around.

“Down,” Sunstreaker amended, nodding toward the apex of the alley.

Sideswipe frowned but glanced in the direction his brother indicated and after a few seconds, he could see the outline of a hidden doorway. Local street artists had graffitied the area so heavily; it blended in to its surroundings. It was easily overlooked, and only by Sunstreaker’s keen artistic optic was the escape route discovered.

“Let’s go!” Sideswipe hissed, hearing the Enforcers coming closer.

The duo slipped around the corner just as Enforcers started to file into the alley. Sideswipe led the way and as they ventured into the lower levels, both twins had to engage their night vision to see properly on the uneven stairs. The stairs went a level below and branched off into a wide square, offering many avenues of escape. Sideswipe turned to grin at his twin, but his spark stopped in his chest when he heard an Enforcer shout for back up because they found an access point to the lower levels.

“Slag,” Sideswipe muttered, breaking out into a run, Sunstreaker hot on his pedes.

They ran down the street, ducked in an alley, crossed a busy intersection, then down an adjacent alley. As soon as they turned the corner, both ran into identical obstacles that sent both on the defensive. Sputtering and flailing their arms, the twins disengaged themselves from the flowing metallic material that had been hanging across the alley like a web. Sunstreaker disentangled himself and held up the fine woven metal threads to reveal the sigil of Primus upon the shroud.

As if in sign, there was a roar of orders from Enforcers greeting their sublevel back up members, and for some strange, unfathomable reason, both twins pulled the holy cloaks about their shoulders and drew the hoods upon their heads. Sunstreaker had a hard time keeping the material around his audio fins, the metal mesh making it difficult for him to vent the heat from his body. Both walked in slow measured steps, their heads bowed. Not sure where they were going, they turned back onto the main street and almost knocked over an Enforcer.

“Pardon! Have you seen two thieves?” the Enforcer asked, then sputtered, lowering himself into a bow of reverence. “Forgive my insolence. I had not realized who I was addressing.”

The twin bond was flooded with surprise from both twins and with an unsure motion, Sideswipe raised his hand in dismissal. The trio was spared any further awkwardness when another Enforcer knocked on a door on the right. The door opened and a pretty femme, wearing nothing but her protoform answered. All males stared in abject wonder and awestruck delight.

“Excuse me, but have you seen two thieves?” he asked, bowing respectively when he realized his audience.

“There have been no thieves to pass this threshold,” she responded in a cultured tone that sent shivers down Sunstreaker’s spinal column.

“May we search for the ones that may have taken refuge inside your order?” he asked, rising to full standing height and flexing his body in suggestive male dominance.

“No,” the femme answered, unperturbed by the posturing male. “The unanointed may not pass the threshold. Only the holy may enter for this is a place of Primus and his chosen few. We would not have our Order soiled with those who are unclean.”

“Understood,” the Enforcer said, taking his leave. He knew he wasn’t allowed inside the religious orders. Only those chosen by Primus would be allowed to enter and those who intruded could be ordered to termination for sacrilege against their maker.

The femme looked to the other three standing just a few feet away and upon seeing the shrouded duo, she smiled, bowing in respect and opening the door. “The Oracles have been expected, and are most welcome in Primus’ domain.”

Sideswipe sent a startled pulse through the bond he shared with his twin, but Sunstreaker was already accepting her invitation. By some strange pull, he went willingly into the dark domain of the religious order, Sideswipe following behind to fit in and not arouse suspicion from the Enforcer.

The femme slammed the door shut and motioned down the hall, where a room was glowing in bright colors. Curious, the twins ventured forth, noting the dismal lighting in the hall, the drab, plain walls, and the lack of decorative furniture that usually came with an occupied dwelling. When the twins entered the room at the end, they felt their intakes stall.

The walls, floor, and ceiling were highly polished. An illumination bank offered a glowing respite from the dismal hallway, its light bouncing off the polished metal. There was an orb centered in the room, its glassy surface dark and swirling with grey. Seated around the orb, on cushions plush enough to make a Tower mech envious, were half a dozen femmes. And to the twins shocked delight, they were all bare to their protoforms.

“Femmes!” the escorting femme called, clapping her hands and getting the attention of the assembled females. “Our Oracles have arrived.”

There was a general chattering and whispering as the assembled femmes took in the two shrouded forms. They all wore gracious smiles and gazed upon the newcomers with something akin to worship and reverence.

‘Oracles?’ Sunstreaker asked over their bond.

‘Well, it’s a job I never considered,’ Sideswipe said, his engine giving a little rev as he took in the general beauty of the adoring female population. ‘But a gift from Primus, we most certainly are.’

Sunstreaker suppressed a snicker as the escorting femme stepped forward, her arms outstretched.

“Please, remove your coverings. They are not needed in the place of Primus,” she said, waiting expectantly for the twins to divest themselves of their garments.

Hoping for the best, Sideswipe dropped his hood, Sunstreaker soon to follow. The watching femmes took a collective intake, their optics wide as they stared at the two mechs. With all the will power he possessed, Sideswipe unclasped the cloak and swung it off his shoulders, placing it in the escorting femme’s awaiting arms. Sunstreaker’s soon joined it.

But the femme’s optics were fixed on the two mechs. Not their attire.

“Something wrong?” Sideswipe asked, sending a mental command to his brother to get ready to run if the situation turned vicious. Neither were too fond of hurting a femme, but if any of them started screaming in terror then they would have to make a run for it.

“Forgive my optics,” the femme said, pulling her gaze away with reluctance to look at the floor. “It is just the Holy Order has never sent a mech to our establishment before.”

“No mechs?” Sunstreaker asked, feeling a strange sensation swell in his spark. It was magnified by Sideswipe, who was fighting gallantly with keeping the knowing smirk off his face.

“Only femmes have ever graced the Order of Primus, Oracles of Prima, who direct our will and give us guidance,” she answered, her face still lowered in reverence. “We are humbled an honored by your presence.”

Sideswipe couldn’t stop the smirk that he sent to his brother before he turned his attention back to the femme. He couldn’t prevent the lie from falling so easily from his lip components. “We have come by command of the Holy Order.”

“We have been expecting your visitation since our Oracle succumbed to the Devine Wisdom.” The femme answered, allowing her gaze to rise once more to show her readiness to comply with the ones sent from their Holy capitol.

‘Devine Wisdom?’ Sideswipe asked through the bond, though he kept his face neutral.

‘Something you will never fall prey to,’ Sunstreaker shot back, his own gaze lingering on the bare femmes kneeling on the ornamental cushions. He could feel his body heat just looking at them.

“Why do you wear such armaments?” the femme asked, her face contorted in curiosity. “You are the chosen of Primus. Surely you are not bothered by those who respect the holy order?”

“We have traveled through rough and unfriendly terrain,” Sunstreaker provided. “Not all of Cybertron respect Primus and his chosen Oracles.”

“They are not needed here, in this place of sanctuary and worship,” the femme said in understanding, glancing to the finely polished ruby and gold armor that adorned the twin frames. “Please, remove your coverings.”

Sunstreaker’s optic ridge shot up, wondering if he understood the femme correctly, but Sideswipe was already undoing the latches and letting his armor fall to the floor. Sunstreaker reluctantly followed, not sure how he felt about the situation. He didn’t like being vulnerable, and being stripped down to ones protoform was as vulnerable as you could get, except revealing your spark. And there was no way in the pit he was going to do that to strangers, femmes or not.

Sunstreaker’s modesty evaporated upon seeing the wide, hungry gaze of the femmes as he removed the last piece of golden armor. They stared, transfixed by the two male specimens standing before them, just as bare and vulnerable as themselves. And as natural for all males, both twins had to puff themselves and display their masculinity for their appreciative feminine audience.

As one unit the femmes rose from their cushions and approached the two mechs. Their optics roved over the male forms, paying particular notice to the lower half of their bodies, which vastly differed from their own smooth, feminine wiles.

“Will you allow us to bathe you?” one asked, her optics were clouded with an unknown emotion as she felt her legs tremble.

“Bathe?” Sunstreaker asked. It had been awhile since either twin enjoyed a descent wash, and if these femmes were willing to do the job for them, that was an erotic, and very agreeable invitation.

“You must be properly attended before you may take the High Oracle’s position,” a femme stated, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “Only when the body is cleaned and purified will one be able to commune with Primus or his chosen vessel, Prima.”

“Of course,” Sideswipe said, offering a charming smile as two femmes grasped his arms and lead him to another room.

Sunstreaker soon followed, though he rankled at having two strangers touch him. He didn’t like being vulnerable and he most certainly didn’t like the feeling he was put on display like a prized slave up for bids. He had enough of that lifestyle before he slaughtered his ‘master’ and freed himself and his twin from the vile mech’s greedy clutches.

The femmes led the brothers to a shimmering pool, and without invitation, the femmes ventured into the water. The twins couldn’t stop the gasp as they felt the warm tingling water sweep across their tense frames. The water felt fantastic, course the company was making it difficult to concentrate on the attributes of the bath.

“Allow us,” one femme said, dipping her fingers along the seams of Sideswipe’s back and up along his shoulder.

He closed his optics, relishing the feeling of the supple feminine fingers ghosting over his weary body and sending him falling in an abyss of soothing comfort.

Sunstreaker was fairing no better. As soon as the femmes started to caress his body in physical worship, he dropped his guard and allowed them free reign over his body. And though he could feel contentment seeping through the bond with his twin, Sunstreaker’s own body was having a different reaction. He groaned, his servos sliding up a femme’s delicate curves. She gasped in surprise at the movement, and when Sunstreaker opened his optics, her own questionable gaze greeted his.

“All must be cleansed to commune with Primus,” Sunstreaker whispered, and felt his elation double when she nodded in understanding, returning her attention to the delicate caress of his arm and shoulder.

Sunstreaker fought hard not to groan, but the femmes were proving to be very adept at cleaning. When one slipped her hand below the water to massage his spike, he couldn’t stop the lust filled groan, nor the pressurizing of his spike in answer. She gasped, staring with wide optics as the strange appendage rose from the water.

“What is that?” she asked, staring unashamed at his spike.

Sideswipe heard his own attending femmes gasp and looked to his twin, grinning at the crowning spike that mirrored his own.

“A blessing from Primus,” Sunstreaker muttered, pulling a femme toward him and capturing her mouth in a needy kiss.

She sputtered against him for a moment before relaxing, enjoying the new Oracle’s teachings. These lessons were far different than what the female Oracle taught, and by the heating of her body, she knew it was the will of Primus. Her spark faltered, sending her processor into a strange, but very pleasant buzz. She gasped, her fingers digging into the sensitive mesh of his protoform when his hand slipped below the water to caress between her legs.

It was Sunstreaker’s turn to gasp. He glanced to his twin and saw the same expression mirrored on his face as he too explored his feminine contingent. Wanting confirmation, Sunstreaker slipped his fingers along the interface panel of another femme on his opposite side and sure enough, both of his attending femmes retained their seals. And by Sideswipe’s flooding surprise, his femmes were of the same factory sealed condition.

Sideswipe withdrew his exploration, earning dual looks of confusion, both femmes now panting in open submission. Their optics were clouded into darkness, their bodies awakened to what a male Oracle could provide. They were confused as to why their new spiritual leader was hesitant to bestow such a blessing, and the strange sensations filtering over their bodies, but they knew, deep in their processors, this was just the beginning of the anointment. He glanced over to his twin and bit back a groan, watching as two femmes leaned against Sunstreaker’s frame, their optics closed, whimpers escaping, and his servos vigorous beneath the surface of the water. The wide open bond didn’t help his constitution any. Sunstreaker was projecting so much lust, Sideswipe nearly overloaded just from the thought.

One of the femmes cried out, falling against Sunstreaker, her body trembling as her legs refused to hold her weight. He cradled her against him, and with deliberate slowness, pulled her with him as he stepped back, the ledge of a seat bumping his knees as he grasped the femme’s hips. He sat down, pulling the femme with him, his hands directing her to open her legs as she hovered over him, her face expectant and unsure. He smiled, feeling her innocence caress his spike in unspoken question.

“Blessed be Primus,” Sunstreaker whispered, watching as her face morphed into surety.

Without further objection, he lifted her onto his spike, breaking her seal and pulling her flush against him. He hissed as her fingers dug into the sensitive seams of his protoform, a cry escaping her as she felt the full length of his blessing. Their discomfort was eased as femmes started to caress the two, bathing them in the cleansing spring and marking their physical blessing.

Sideswipe couldn’t hold back the groan of longing as he felt his brother take the femme. The sensation sent a jolt through his body and out of instinctual programming, he grasped a femme, lifted her into his arms and lowered her onto his own spike. She accepted his motion, watching how the others had began their blessing, and though she was unsure of her role in such traditional ritual the new Oracles bestowed, she allowed her body to accept his blessing.

And the blessing was more than what she anticipated. She cried out, her voice taken from her as the Oracle sealed their lips together, his generosity extending to take her pain and replace it with a strange sensation of pleasure and heat as he inhabited her body, touching her core and igniting something deep inside.

“Blessed be Primus,” Sideswipe muttered his brother’s words, giving in to the physical sensation and knowing that all of the attending femmes were more than willing to accept the offering of their new Oracles.

The two Oracles shouted just as much praise and adulation as the willing femmes, each eager to accept the blessing offered by their male counterparts.

For the first time in the femmes existence, Primus was sought and seen, his named screamed to the heavens by every femme of the Holy Order. Many, many times.

000-OOOO-IIIII-0000-OOOO-IIII-0000-OOOO-IIII-000-OOOO

AN: Lucky bitches. LOL

Chapter Text

PAINT STREAKS

AN: As always, I don’t know where this came from and I take no responsibility to how it’s read and the possible consequences.

I just write what the twins say and what I witness.

All parties are innocent until blackmail payments have been made.

00000-III-OOO-0III-0000-OOOO-IIII-000-OOO-IIIIII

*Poke*

“Stop.”

*Poke* *Poke*

“Touch me again, you die.”

“You sound just like that first femme we fell for.”

“Looking back….” Sunstreaker sighed, his gaze shifting to the distant past. “We could have done better.”

“Always.”

Sideswipe shifted on the edge of his berth that was situated right next to his twins. They were in an isolation ward in Polyhex. Their convoy was attacked on the way back to Iacon and as they scrambled for cover, Sunstreaker took a hit and the twins woke up in the dull orange drab of a med bay. Though judging by the soot and cracked foundations, it wasn’t in common use.

*Poke*

CLANG!

Sideswipe went sailing off his berth and landed flat on his back, his dazed optics barely perceiving the mocking orange ceiling. His focus shifted to the white blob that indicated Ratchet’s return to the isolation ward. A sparkling like chirp came from Sideswipe’s vocalizer, the circuits trying to recalibrate after Sunstreaker’s strike.

Ratchet’s face was impassive, a first for him.

“Idiot,” Ratchet said, ignoring the infantile chirps and going to his true patient. “How do you feel?”

“I’ll slagging kill you for this!” Sunstreaker growled, bristling though his frame did little to intimidate.

“Doubt it,” Ratchet muttered, unfazed by the murderous stare.

“What were you thinking?” Sunstreaker screamed. The noise brought Sideswipe back to awareness and on his pedes in an instant, though he swayed slightly from the disorientation. He sat down on his berth with a groan.

“I was trying to save your aft!” Ratchet snarled back.

“Next time, DON’T!” Sunstreaker snapped, earning a thrum of anger from his twin. Sunstreaker sputtered, not used to being on the receiving end of such hateful, negative emotions. He was usually the one projecting them. Of course, he was usually in his own frame and not inhabiting the sleek, sexy curves of a very attractive femme. He was used to rough and tumble attitudes, fearful looks, and intimidating physically and having a scary reputation. His voice could move troops and his dark scowl could make the most seasoned of warrior wet themselves with oil. His very presence was enough to put everyone in the vicinity on guard in case his notorious temper flared to life. Not to mention his usual body was honed, polished, flawlessly designed and carried with a deity’s grace. His voice was deep and commanding. His hands strong and formidable, his interfacing ability, the thing of legends.

Now he had a feminine lilt, petite stature, curves in the wrong (or right) places and his (her) limbs paled to his usual strength. And no matter how hard he tried, he lacked the physical presence to intimidate.

And Sideswipe wouldn’t stop staring.

And the inclination Sideswipe was naturally having to the feminine frame was bleeding through the bond, despite his best efforts to control it.

So now, Sunstreaker also wanted to seduce himself.

Slagging great. Why couldn’t Ratchet just let the stray mortar rocket hit him and extinguish his spark?

A hurt feeling accompanied that thought. He gave his brother an apologetic look that was shook off with an aggravated growl. Blast! He was only in this frame for a few waking moments and he was already going soft!

“Next time, I’ll shoot you myself!” Ratchet snapped with a serious face, but anyone who knew him well enough could understand the tense posture in his frame. He hated to lose patients. And he most certainly wasn’t going to lose his favorite pair. It was only by quick thinking that he had thought to transfer Sunstreaker’s spark and processor into the femme frame uncovered at the vacated medical facility they were using as shelter until reinforcements could arrive. Someone either didn’t survive to receive their upgrade, or circumstances forced them to leave the shell behind. Either way, Ratchet, and Sunstreaker, was lucky.

Sunstreaker’s golden body was in the corner of the impromptu isolation ward. Spark transference is risky business and requires a sterile environment. Ratchet had to improvise. It was no where near the perfection he upheld in his normal medbay back at Iacon, but it had served its purpose. Sunstreaker had survived the transfer, an angsty Sideswipe standing by in case he was needed to merge with his twin to filter and stabilize his unsteady spark.

When Sunstreaker first woke up and saw his battered, lifeless shell, a thin curl of smoke was still escaping from the blasted hole in his chest so near his spark chamber, he thought he had terminated and was now haunting his old body. Then he jolted upright at sensing his twin’s presence nearby. When he sat up on the berth, a flash of lust from his brother assaulted his spark before quelling into general attraction. And when Sunstreaker looked at the body that responded to his mental command, he paused. Where golden plating used to reside, he was now adorned in a pale lavender shade, with black accents that showed off the gentle curves of his legs, slender waist, and a protrusion on his chest that most certainly wasn’t there when he woke up earlier that day.

Ratchet glared, his armor puffing in a display of superiority. He knew he was stronger than Sunstreaker right now. Ratchet was mean, and could hold his own in the medical ward, often subduing mechs twice his size. But he could never match Sunstreaker for strength, agility, or fighting style. Now he could easily dominate the femme frame, his burly physique more than capable of subduing the unruly front liner.

Sunstreaker pouted, not liking the fact that he lacked his usual intimidation. Ratchet could take him now. And though they had come to blows many times, Ratchet could now put up a serious fight against anything Sunstreaker could throw at him. Ratchet was also the only one who could remedy the situation, so terminating him wasn’t on the agenda. No matter how much Sunstreaker entertained the idea.

If Sunstreaker wanted his usual tough, strong, sexy mech frame back, he had to admit defeat. That was something that left a bitter taste in his oral cavity.

Slag.

Sunstreaker pulled himself to his full, and disappointing height, barely reaching Ratchet’s chin with his helm.

“Get me back into my body,” Sunstreaker snarled with as much vehemence the femme frame could produce, optics narrowing in anger. “Or else!”

Ratchet paused in his rebuttal, taking a half step back. Sunstreaker may be inhabiting a femme body, but there were some looks that all males knew, regardless of species. How Sunstreaker managed to pull it off stunned and terrified Ratchet at the same time.

Another lustful wave nudged his spark and with annoyed optics, he redirected his laser-like glare to his twin.

“Would you knock that off?” Sunstreaker snapped.

Sideswipe leaned against the makeshift berth he had charged on while Sunstreaker underwent the delicate and dangerous transference process. He offered a lopsided, cheesy grin before adding, “Sorry, babe.”

Sunstreaker may have been in a different frame, but he was still fast. And the lighter alloy of the femme frame gave him a surprise of added speed and agility. He clipped his brother upside the helm and sent him sprawling once again.

“You’re disgusting,” Sunstreaker growled.

Sideswipe sat on the floor, rubbing the side of his helm and shrugging in acceptance. It was weird. But the twins thrived on the strange and chaotic.

“If you two have finished?” Ratchet asked in exasperation. When dual looks of mulish affirmation greeted his searching gaze, Ratchet continued. “I don’t know how well that frame can adapt to your unique situation. So until I can get your old frame back to my medbay and repaired, I want to keep you in isolation.”

“Keep your delicate features away from unsavory savages,” Sideswipe grinned, regaining his pedes but keeping a safe distance from his brother, turned sister, lightening fast retribution. Primus. He didn’t know Sunstreaker could move so fast. The lighter alloys made a lot of difference. Course, the pale lavender armor couldn’t withstand being on the front line. One shot and it would melt into slag. You gained speed and mobility with the thinner alloys, but lost a considerable degree of protection.

“No,” Ratchet said, then amended, “Well, in part, yes.”

Sunstreaker’s dark purple gaze bore into Ratchet’s own pale blue, causing the medic to stall. He felt his systems heat with the look of soft feminine curves and the color was very flattering to the petite frame. Ratchet jolted himself, remembering it was Sunstreaker in the frame and not a willing, available femme.

That sobered his libido.

“The reason I want you two in here is because I’m not sure how that femme processor will handle a mechs mentality. Not to mention your spark and the spark chamber specifications for that frame are barely within stable matching parameters. Your spark could destabilize despite my best efforts, and I wouldn’t put it past you to be so spiteful to terminate right when I thought I saved you.”

The frame may have been different, but Sunstreaker’s customary sneer entrenched itself on the delicate, feminine face.

Any further verbal sparring was cut short when shouts echoed outside the room.

“We’ve been discovered!”

“Incoming!”

“Missiles incoming! Brace for impact!”

“Where the slag is Ratchet?”

Ratchet darted out of the room, leaving the twins alone to stare in horror and disgrace as they were forced to remain hidden for protection. It rankled both of them to be so vulnerable and helpless. Their jobs required them to be on the front lines. And here they both were holed up in an isolation ward with an empty shell for company, the soundtrack of their friends engaging the enemy in the distance.

The building rocked on its foundations, causing a large crack to form over the isolation ward. Sideswipe sent a pang of worry through the bond, knowing that if the roof fell, there was a chance the femme frame wouldn’t survive the destruction. Femme bodies weren’t meant to withstand a building collapsing on them. Sunstreaker glanced to his inert golden shell, worrying etching his features. Weapons fire erupted outside and a high pitched whistling soon followed.

Sunstreaker and Sideswipe exchanged a look. They had been on the front lines long enough to recognize the sound. Another missile was incoming. Sideswipe jumped toward his twin to protect the smaller frame, but Sunstreaker had already leapt to the side, landing over his old shell in protection. If it received any more damage, he would be stuck in the feminine body, and that wasn’t a prospect he found enthralling. Sideswipe scrambled the short distance to his brother, just as the impact hit the side of the building. There was a dull roaring, followed by a loud thunderous clap, before the structure started to groan. Sunstreaker flung the femme body across his golden chest, protecting the gaping hole to prevent further injury. Sideswipe pressed his body over the lavender frame and prayed to Primus the building wouldn’t fall on them.

Primus smiled on the duo, as the building gave an ominous creak, but remained upright. Shouts outside signaled that backup had arrived, and with the booming thunder of cannons, only Ironhide could be leading the charge. Both twins sighed in relief, relaxing slightly and waited for the signal to evacuate the temporary stronghold.

Sideswipe snickered, his chest causing Sunstreaker’s lavender back to jostle as they separated a little since the danger was passed.

“What’s so funny?” Sunstreaker asked, knowing the giddy feeling in his spark wasn’t going to mean something good coming from his brother’s vocalizer.

“I always imagined a scene like this,” Sideswipe snickered, bracing his hands on either side of his brother’s lifeless golden shell and new lavender body.

Sunstreaker groaned, not disappointed by his brother’s idiocy.

“Femme between us,” Sideswipe added, feeling his systems heat with the thought. It didn’t help the feminine curves were very close to his main sensors, and the heat radiating off the body was registering all kinds of wonderful things to his circuits.

Sunstreaker could sense the heating frame, though the sensations were dulled because of the imbalance in his borrowed frame. The happy pangs in his spark were giving mixed signals, and Sunstreaker growled. He turned his dark purple optics to his brother and jerked his head toward his inert golden form.

“You dreamt of facing a femme with my empty shell?” Sunstreaker asked.

Sideswipe’s cheeky look disappeared. He forgot how close he came to losing his brother. He frowned, looking perturbed and ducked his head, pressing his forehead against Sunstreaker’s.

“Never,” Sideswipe whispered. “You terminate, I follow. That’s just how it goes.”

Sunstreaker allowed the close proximity, knowing his twin was just as terrified as he was. If his former body was damaged and he had to reside in the femme frame, things could go bad. Sunstreaker sighed, resting his helm against his twins, feeling the syncopated pulse of their unified sparks. It didn’t matter the frame. They were still brothers. Bound together through fate. Sunstreaker expelled a heavy ex-vent, withdrawing from his twins affection so no one would walk in and get the wrong idea. The idea was made worse when Sideswipe offered his signature mischievous grin before planting a kiss on Sunstreaker’s cheek.

With a snarl, Sunstreaker drew back his tiny fist and threw all his weight behind the punch. His fist landed squarely on his brother’s interface panel, sending vibrating shockwaves through his body and destabilizing some very sensitive, and partly primed, circuits.

Sideswipe let out a howl, grasping his interface panel in pain and toppling sideways as the pain disrupted his senses.

“Fragger,” Sunstreaker snapped, drawing his fist back and looking at the smaller knuckles for signs of damage. He smirked, seeing the pristine metal gleaming back as if mocking his twin’s pain.

Ratchet came running in, not perturbed by a groaning Sideswipe and triumphant lavender Sunstreaker, and motioned to the empty golden shell.

“The transport trailer is fixed,” Ratchet said, nodding to the golden frame. His left arm sported a few holes and soot, obviously damage taken during the squirmish. It hung limp at his side. “Get Sunstreaker’s body into the trailer and both of you keep it safe.”

“Right,” Sunstreaker said, going to Ratchet and turning to look over his shoulder at his still moaning twin. “Get my frame.”

“Why can’t you do it?” Sideswipe asked through gritted lip components. He flexed his legs, trying to ward off the residual sting that burned his neural relays like liquid fire.

“You’re a mech. You do it,” Sunstreaker offered as response, placing hands on hips and looking like a put out female about to break loose on an idiotic male.

“Fragger,” Sideswipe spat, gaining his feet and pulling the lifeless form into his arms, mindful of the gaping hole in the golden chest. He followed the duo out of the isolation ward, wincing as he walked.

As Autobots tended to the wounded and checked weapons, shouting orders and surveying hiding places for potential enemies, Sideswipe looked to the inert form in his arms. He felt his spark clench, threatening to still altogether. He was used to that golden frame fighting by his side and threatening him with all manner of repercussions if he got scratched. He wasn’t used to seeing Sunstreaker so silent and lifeless. The normal thrum of a spark didn’t answer from the shell held in his arms. The systems were cold, the armor slightly grey around the edges from lack of energon flow. The shell was simply a busted, hollow vessel where his brother once inhabited. The charred hole in the middle of the golden chest brought reality crashing down on Sideswipe, who felt his fuel pump falter along with his step. He came so close to losing his twin.

As if in answer, there came a soothing, gentle presence in his spark and mind. The beat of life in his chest called to its other half, and rejoiced when it was answered, creating a symphony in their souls.

Sideswipe squared his shoulders and proudly carried his brother’s frame to the awaiting medical transport, where soldiers were filing in various states of distress. Sunstreaker lead the way to the transport and when he rounded the corner, he ran into the black and white form of Prowl.

Prowl blinked at the strange lavender femme being followed by Sideswipe, carrying the limp body of his twin.

“Prowl,” Sunstreaker said in a soft, feminine voice that gained the instant attention of all mechs in the vicinity.

Jazz was overseeing the evacuation of refugees, his Special Ops agents stationed around the perimeter and offering cover. He stopped talking and looked behind him upon hearing the feminine tones. A startled beep escaped before he could stop himself. With wide smile and friendly swagger, Jazz strode forward, throwing all his charm into his cultured voice.

“Hello,” he said, coming to stand next to his best friend and puffing his armor slightly in macho superiority.

“Shove it, Jazz,” the lavender femme snarled, stalking into the trailer without a backward glance.

Stunned, Jazz saw Sideswipe carrying Sunstreaker’s lifeless shell. But instead of looking devastated, Sideswipe smirked and walked up to the senior officers.

“Don’t frag him off,” Sideswipe said, still having some difficulty in walking. “Trust me. It hurts like the Pit.”

Jazz noticed the front liner’s limp and with a surprised noise shared by Prowl, both noticed the lavender paint embedded in the deep dent in the dead center of Sideswipe’s interface panel. Both mechs cringed, Prowl more subtle than Jazz. When Sideswipe disappeared inside the transport, the two senior officers exchanged looks.

“Who was that?” Jazz asked.

“Sunstreaker was transferred to an empty shell until his body can be repaired,” Prowl reported, having received Ratchet’s report as soon as they made secured contact.

Jazz gasped, glancing at the spot where Sideswipe had disappeared into the transport carrying Sunstreaker’s deadened frame.

“Primus,” Jazz muttered. Prowl nodded in agreement.

“We will have to keep the twins separated from the other soldiers until Sunstreaker can be transferred back into his old frame,’ Prowl said.

“Yeah, with Sunny’s attitude, he’s likely to terminate any mech who puts the moves on him,” Jazz said, suddenly feeling very cold.

“I’m surprised he spared you,” Prowl smirked before returning to his duty of overseeing the soldier placement.

Jazz stood open mouthed at the joke and its implication.

Chapter Text

“You’re not going to win, Sides,” Smokescreen taunted, saluting his opponent with his glass before downing the shot.

Sideswipe grinned, rubbing his midsection in answer. “I have the perfect remedy to your scrap iron tank.”

“I doubt it,” Smokescreen added, knowing that Sideswipe had yet to win a drinking game against the seasoned Praxian.

Sideswipe took his shot, giving his best award winning smile to his counterpart and sat the glass down for the next shot.

“You’re going down, Smokey,” he promised, optics glinting in mischief that didn’t bode well for the Praxian.

Smokescreen wasn’t going to be deterred. He had planned the game out perfectly. He knew his absorption rate and sideswipes, due to previous games, and had calculated when Sideswipe would succumb to his overcharge. The Red Lamborghini had done it so many times in the past, it was a wonder still tried to beat Smokescreen.

It started out as a friendly drinking game that quickly morphed into a drunken rivalry of legendary proportion. Sideswipe worked on his remedies, challenged Smokescreen to a drinking contest, and by almost the same time every game, Sideswipe collapsed with overcharge.

His remedies were infamous, and he never stopped trying to perfect his ‘cure.’ It became a game that every time Sideswipe passed out, Smokescreen would write on him. It had started out with a simple, “I WIN” on his chassis that escalated into obscene and sometimes twisted parodies of friendship.

When Sideswipe became intoxicated, he became an easy target. And if he pissed off Smokescreen for any particular prank or battle field miscalculation, Smokescreen took out on the ruby hide, one insult after another.

Well, Sideswipe had had enough.

His losing streak was now at an end. He had been brewing some special high grade, testing its affects and counter affects with his newest batch of remedies when he made a grand discovery. He planned on putting that discovery to use tonight. And win his first ever drinking game against Smokescreen.

Sunstreaker set down the new shots, removing the empty glasses and going to the large dispenser the twins had set up for the party. Everyone was enjoying themselves, Prowl having sequestrated himself in his quarters to avoid the crowds as usual. So the illegal high grade flowed freely. Jazz had the party in full swing, dancing his spark out on the dance floor and shaking his aft like no tomorrow. The other mechs were getting into the party as well, most opting for a little shot of the high potency energon. Just a few sips and they could feel their circuits tingling. The twins had outdone themselves this time. They were pests but they were also master brewers. They could take anything and make it into a liquid to get overcharged on. Sideswipe’s best concoction was derived from a specially processed crude oil, some electrical charge ‘borrowed’ from the human power grid and his secret ingredient, a bottle of Pepto Bismol.

The mechs still hadn’t figured it out.

“Why am I here again?” Sunstreaker asked, bringing over a dozen more shots and setting the tray down in front of the two alcoholic combatants.

“To ensure we get the same amount of the same stuff,” Sideswipe said.

Smokescreen nodded, remembering Sideswipe had tried the ‘diluted energon’ tactic before. “So no one cheats and uses a lower grade.”

“I’m not a mediator,” Sunstreaker muttered.

“Yes, you are,” Sideswipe, gave his brother a grin as he took a shot that mirrored Smokescreen.

“I’m only doing this because you promised me that I would have some ‘Sideswipe free’ time to try that new medium,” Sunstreaker said, noting his brother’s optics were already showing a higher charge. He looked to Smokescreen and noted that he too bore the signs of charged circuits.

“You’re acting like a couple of foolish sots.” Sunstreaker said, perturbed by the giddy feeling filtering through their shared bond like rain trickling over armor. “What do you get out this?”

“My dignity,” Sideswipe answered, feeling the charge wash over his system and ignite his circuits.

“Oh… you don’t have enough credits to pay for that.’ Sunstreaker deadpanned, counting off the internal timer and setting up the next shots for the drinking duo.

“Which is why I’m drinking to regain it.’ Sideswipe answered without looking at his twin. His optics was focused on Smokescreen, watching as the charge circulated through his systems.

“Dear brother, you have it backwards.” Sunstreaker sighed. He honestly didn’t understand how someone would drink themselves into such a stupor, complete with nasty side effects, and be anxious to perform the procedure over again. With fervor.

“Shut up.” Sideswipe snapped, gracing his brother with an annoyed look. The high grade was filtering through his system at an accelerated rate. He could feel the buzz already tingling along his spinal strut.

Sunstreaker offered a defensive growl, slamming the two glasses in front of the dueling drunks, his optics dark and glaring at his twin.

Sideswipe ignored his twin and matched Smokescreen for the shot and downed his glass. Both mechs hiccupped, though Sideswipe’s was a bit more pronounced. His entire chassis seemed to expand then collapse in on itself. The charge was packing quite the wallop.

Sunstreaker kept up a constant stream of complaints, sounding more and more like Gears. The room slowly emptied out, most bots going to sleep it off before their next shift. Jazz tottered on unsteady pedes toward the door. Sunstreaker broke his verbal litany to direct the dizzy mech toward Prowl’s quarters, to which Jazz gave a drunken chirp and staggered out the door. He collided with the bulkhead a few paces away, his electronic snores filling the hall. Sunstreaker sighed, knowing he missed out on another good jibe at the SIC’s expense. He really enjoyed sending Jazz on these suicide missions. His attention was drawn to the two dueling mechs at the table, both wafting the scent of overcharge.

Sideswipe and Smokescreen were almost nose to nose, slowing reciting the Cybertronian alphabet. Sunstreaker listened to their jumbled stream and realized that both were missing the same letters in the same sequence. He stared at his twin, wondering if he had synced a cable with the Praxian and they were reading each others minds. It was freaky.

As Smokescreen was distracted by Sideswipe, Sunstreaker set up the next round, his hand brushing his twins in an unspoken message.

Sideswipe hiccupped but grinned at Smokescreen, who returned the pleasantly hostile expression. Both took their shots and recited an ancient ballad that Ironhide had taught the crew when they first joined. The rhymes were complicated and easily confused, the stanzas just as elaborate as any musical composition. Very few mastered the art of repeating it while intoxicated. The entire body of the ballad was almost one hundred paragraphs, and by the time the duo got the end, repeating several phrases over and over like a broken record, four more shots had been ingested.

Sideswipe sneered at Smokescreen’s bright optics, and before the frontliner knew what was happening, the Praxian had face planted onto the table. Sideswipe whooped, slapping the table and spilling the shots Sunstreaker had just presented.

“Bout time,” Sunstreaker said, eyeing the unconscious form with distaste. “I thought it would never work.”

Sideswipe gave a bleary hiccup before turning and purging his tanks. After several minutes he stopped, wiping his face and looking at his disgusted twin.

“Better,” he said, trying and failing to look cool after his purge.

“Whatever,” Sunstreaker said returning the shots to the dispenser. It was nearly empty.

When he turned, Sideswipe was standing on unsteady pedes, holding onto the table for support. It was going to take him some time to throw off the extra charge that lingered from the absorbed high grade. Sunstreaker went to his twin’s side, looking into bright, but still cognizant and mischievous, optics.

“Why do I let you talk me into these things?” he asked holding out his arms to steady his twin.

“Because you love me and know I’m a genius,” Sideswipe offered, overbalancing slightly before finding security in his brother’s embrace. He let out a little chuckle and whispered in Sunstreaker’s audio, “This is going to be awesome.”

Sunstreaker offered a muffled snort in answer.

----------- @@-----------

Smokescreen awoke to a strange sensation. He was lying on his side with two warm bodies pressed against his front and back. One warm body he may have agreed to. Being drunk off his aft had lowered his resistance to cheap moves and some bots were notorious. But two bodies?

He opened bleary optics to see Sideswipe’s serene face staring back. He let out a startled beep, jolting from his position and felt arms tighten around his middle, preventing escape. A face nuzzled between his door wings, and he’d be slagged if the other bot didn’t know exactly how to stimulate to send pleasurable ripples across his sensor net. He gave a shudder against his will, feeling a hot exvent along the sensors and a deep growl that reverberated from the chest pressed against his back into his own chassis. The vibration was pleasantly deep, feeling as if his soul was being called from some unknown depths. A tentative hand brushed against his cheek gaining his attention. Sideswipe’s face loomed close, his optics glazed in a dreamy expression, a soft smile highlighting his face. His voice was soft when he spoke.

“Did you mean it?” he asked his fingers tracing over Smokescreen’s still open lip components.

“Mean… mean what?” Smoke asked, feeling the nuzzling face plant a kiss on a sensor that instantly sent his internal temp skyrocketing.

Oh blast.

Realization hit like Omega Supreme’s fist. If Sideswipe was in front, then it could only be Sunstreaker behind. It wasn’t very smart to turn your back on such a volatile and dangerous mech. And he was currently nuzzling between Smokescreen’s doorwings in a familiar and oh so achingly sweet way that had the Praxian shivering despite himself. It was rare to find someone who knew how to manipulate door wings to the best possible stimulation. His attention was torn from his trembling door wings to Sideswipe’s genuinely bashful face.

“That you love me,” Sideswipe said, his head canting aside as if ashamed to admit hearing such words of endearment.

“Love?” Smokescreen squeaked, his body going stiff, and not from the possessive embrace around his waist. “What do you mean… love?”

Sideswipe leaned forward, brushing his olfactory sensor against Smokescreen’s own before muttering in a gentle tone, “You said that you loved me.”

“I did?” Smokescreen asked, finding his body trembling in abject fear. The arms tightened around him, Sunstreaker’s grumbling chassis sending tortuous messages across his sensor array.

Fingers traced Smokescreen still gaping lip components as Sideswipe whispered, “Do you really mean it?”

Smokescreen pushed away from Sideswipe, his fuel pump going at maximum output. When a cool sensation passed across his lower regions, he glanced down. and found his interface panel open. The sight made him scramble up on the berth, staring at the offending, yet explanatory, panel. Sunstreaker relented his place between the door wings and relaxed back on the berth, staring up to the Praxian with half lidded optics.

“What’s wrong?” Sunstreaker asked in a soft and lazy voice. His hand stroked along his abdominal plating and thighs.

Smokescreen’s optics followed the talented fingers and felt his tanks clench. There were blue transfer streaks along Sunstreaker’s body. Transfer marks that only came with vigorous interfacing. He looked to Sideswipe and noted that he too bore the blue of interface scratches.

“What happened last night?” Smokescreen asked, noting the silver stains that accented his interface panels. There were also trace amounts of red and gold in numerous streaks along his midsection and thighs. He had a sinking feeling of what happened. He just wanted verbal confirmation.

Then he’d go jump in the volcano.

“I won our game,” Sideswipe said, rising to sit on the berth. He made a show of closing his interface panel, the glimmer of silver faint upon his person. “When we were helping you to your quarters, you said you have always loved me and wanted to interface.”

“I… I did?“ Smokescreen asked, combing through his memory banks and finding nothing but blank static.

“You were so sincere,” Sideswipe said, kneeling on the berth, his hand going to caress Smokescreen’s cheek in an affectionate way. “I couldn’t resist. And…“ Sideswipe’s facial plates heated, as he turned with bashful optics. “I think I love you too.”

“It’s not often we find someone who accepts both of us,” Sunstreaker said, rising up and stroking a door wing, causing it to tremble. He flooded the bond with intense amusement.

“Love?” Smokescreen yelped, jumping off the berth, his doorwings twitching. “I wasn’t in control. You can’t believe everything I say. I didn’t mean… I..I mean to say, I ….”

“What are saying?” Sideswipe asked, his optics narrowing into a stricken frown. “That you don’t love me?”

“I had too much to drink,” Smokescreen said, trying to interject remorse and shame into his voice. “I was drunk and I took advantage of you while in a compromised situation.” He tried to turn the blame onto himself, hoping to survive the wrath of the twins. How he survived interfacing with them, he’d never know. He just wanted to get out, get to his quarters unscathed, and scrub his body clean.

Of course, there was the fact he’d never be able to delete waking up to Sideswipe’s tranquil face, his soft voice as he asked for confirmation for a love that he had apparently wanted and reciprocated. A love that Smokescreen didn’t have, didn’t want, and couldn’t remember.

Primus, how did he get into such a situation?

“You … took… advantage…?” Sideswipe asked, his optics going wide in realization. He looked like a kicked turbo puppy. Bluestreak had nothing on Sideswipe

Smokescreen felt guilt and shame take over his processor.

“When I’m under the influence, it affects my judgment. I’m sorry. I don’t wish to lead you on and give you a false sense that I had intended on cultivating such a relationship when in fact I was too drunk to know what was happening and I shouldn’t cause further harm by pretending that I was coherent . You deserve the truth and you deserve to be treated with respect. Two things that I fear I have failed to provide.”

“You lied to me?” Sideswipe asked, his voice harsh, static making the timber pitch and waver. “You only told me you loved me to get me in the berth?”

“I …I was drunk… and…” Smokescreen tried again, feeling more and more guilt ridden.

“You used me,” Sideswipe said, his voice stricken. His optics filled with shame as he turned them away from the sputtering Praxian.

“And me,” Sunstreaker said, rising from the berth to square off against the apparent transgressor.

“No!” Smokescreen snapped hastily. “No! I never meant any of this to happen. I didn’t want to hurt either of you but I fear that while I was too intoxicated to be coherent, I have said,” Smokescreen looked to the pearly silver that highlighted all three of their interface panels, “And done, things that make me ashamed of myself.”

“You’re ashamed?” Sideswipe asked, his vents hitching. “You face us. Tell me that you love me and when I admit that I’ve fallen for you, you tell me it was all a lie? That you don’t remember what we shared?!”

Smokescreen looked to his interface panel, mind reeling. He honestly couldn’t remember what happened. The last fleeting image that was in his processor was of Sideswipe’s face mere inches from his own, reciting a ballad that Ironhide had taught and…. Oh. A love ballad.

“I’m sorry,’ Smokescreen admitted, door wings drooping in defeat. “I was drunk. I know that is not an excuse but while my circuits were so overcharged, I have led you on. For that, I am sorry.” He looked to Sideswipe, then to Sunstreaker, both of whom were staring daggers at him. “I can’t remember what happened, but I assure you, I had no intentions of causing either of you such grief.”

“Get out!” Sunstreaker shouted, his fists curling at his side

Smokescreen didn’t need telling twice. With one last sorrowful expression, he darted from the room. When the door shut Sunstreaker looked to his brother and smiled.

“You were good,” Sunstreaker said.

Sideswipe swung his legs over the edge of the berth, his expression cheerful. “Throw me a chamois.”

Sunstreaker grabbed a cleaning cloth from the ample pile and tossed it to his twin, his expression matching his brothers. Sideswipe stared with appreciative optics to the marks on his body, his hand hovering as if reluctant to remove them. His engine gave a rev.

“You’re incorrigible.” Sunstreaker said as he noted Sideswipe’s reaction.

Sideswipe offered a partial shrug. “I’m tired of always losing to that fragger. Just thought I’d give him a reason to pause the next time he wants to brag about all the times he’s beaten me and how he’s ‘so good’.”

“You’re diabolical,” Sunstreaker said, grabbing a cloth and wiping down his plating.

Sideswipe grinned, nodding toward the disappearing silver stains on both their interface panels. “You were the one who thought of acrylic paint.”

“Like I’d want to face that,” Sunstreaker said with a jerk of his helm toward the door where Smokescreen had disappeared.

“Think he’ll figure out we never faced?” Sideswipe asked, easily erasing the painted streaks of false interface.

“Eventually.” Sunstreaker said, thankful that his artistic talents could provide such dastardly and conniving entertainment.

Sideswipe sent a questionable look to his twin, their bond wide open and allowing both to bask in the pleasure of a prank well executed.

Sunstreaker preened, giving his brother his most handsome and devilish look before adding, “No one forgets having a Lamborghini.”

Chapter Text

The party was in full swing when Sunstreaker entered the rec room. Mechs lingered in groups, talking, singing, and even a few were trying to have an argument, though they kept losing their train of thought and remedying the situation with another drink. It was a typical evening on the ARK.

Sunstreaker went to the dispensary and filled a cube, ignoring the general chatter around him. He didn’t like groups, or loud noises. Only necessity had forced him to brave coming into the common room while everyone was amicable after hours. The twins only kept high grade stored in their room, and not needing an overcharge with an early morning shift the next day, he opted for regular grade. He wanted to get his ration and go back to the silent solitude of his quarters. But his golden paint shone like a star, and captured his twins’ attention.

“Sunny!” Sideswipe called, brandishing a cube of high grade and motioning for his twin to join him at the table with Jazz, Prowl (who was glaring daggers at Jazz), Ironhide, Hound (who was unconscious), and Smokescreen, who was shuffling cards and grinning at Prowl’s demeanor. “Come join us!”

Sunstreaker gave a sneer and exited the room without a backward glance. Sideswipe sighed, slouching back in his seat and downing his cube in one long draught. He tossed the empty cube behind him to the considerable pile and grabbed another from the side table.

“He has an early shift,” Prowl said not bothering to grab the hand he was dealt. His ire was focused on Jazz, who had effectively leaned back in his chair and pinned the Praxian’s door wing into place. Jazz knew how to subdue in any situation. Whether he was conscious of it or not, it was hard to tell. “He’s wise in not getting overcharged, unlike some of our crew members.”

Jazz offered a lopsided grin, grabbing Prowl’s cards and holding them next to his own, playing the mechs hand for him. “Sunny’s never been one to socialize,” Jazz put in giving a significant look to Prowl and adding, “Like someone else I know. Apparently some bots aren’t programmed to be social.”

“He used to love parties,” Sideswipe said, and no one could miss the grief in his voice. He stared morosely at his new cube, tilting it and making the purple liquid slosh in its crystalline cage.

Everyone exchanged looks, knowing Sunstreaker had the reputation of being ‘unfriendly’ since the twins joined the Autobot ranks. It was shocking news to learn that he had once enjoyed socializing festivities.

It was like someone saying that Prime had a past life at a pleasure house.

“What happened?” Smokescreen asked, the underlying psychologist in him rearing its head. He wasn’t the only one that was curious though. Jazz and Ironhide had stopped surveying their cards and were now looking at Sideswipe. Hound was still face down on the table.

“Why doesn’t Sunstreaker like parties?” Ironhide asked, twirling his cards though he hadn’t looked at his hand yet. “I mean, he was a famous artist. Surely he had to attend parties and gallery openings.”

“Kaon,” Sideswipe answered, his optics dimming in memory.

“The gladiatorial circuit?” Prowl prompted.

Sideswipe nodded, his face graying with long forgotten memory.

“I would think the crowds would have appealed to Sunstreaker,” Jazz put in, surveying Sideswipe with intense scrutiny. “Entertaining a crowd and draining their accounts as they overcharged. Hear them screaming your designation and having femmes throwing themselves at you. All the adulation and admiration a mech could hope for.”

“Especially when you have to kill your opponent,” Sideswipe said, earning startled beeps from his table mates. Everyone looked at him with a strange mixture of fear and trepidation. They knew the twins had endured fighting for the gladiatorial circuit for a long time. Rumor had it, they excelled in the lethal tournaments, but neither openly spoke about what went on in the Pits of Kaon.

“You killed for…. entertainment?” Prowl asked, noting the look of abject sorrow on Sideswipe’s face. It looked very out of place compared to the more jovial, pranking mood for which he was notorious.

“We fought in the regular matches and by accident, we were billed for a death match,” Sideswipe said, staring at his cube. His own cards lay untouched in front of him. “But the first time the crowd roared for termination, we had no choice.”

Jazz leaned forward to better glimpse Sideswipe, his action freeing up Prowl’s trapped doorwing, but the Praxian remained stationary, still staring at Sideswipe.

“There’s always a choice,’ Jazz put in, as if was the most obvious thing in the world.

“We didn’t want to terminate someone,” Sideswipe confided to his audience, his gaze still far away in another time and place. “But our opponents nearly terminated us, and when we realized we could lose each other,” He offered a partial shrug. “Sunny just…snapped.”

The assembled bots felt their energon lines run cold at the harsh tone Sideswipe adopted as he continued, lost in memory.

“I thought the first time he terminated someone would repulse him, as it had repulsed me, but Sunny actually enjoyed it. He felt something that he had never experienced before. And that feeling is what drove him to terminate anyone who crossed him.”

“What was that?” Prowl asked, making a note to keep whatever it was away from Sunstreaker in the future.

“Control,” Sideswipe said, looking to Prowl and making the Second recoil slightly from the look of pained desperation on Sideswipe’s face. “We couldn’t control our lives. We were bought and sold and slaved out to anyone who paid a fair price,” Sideswipe admitted, not noticing the shameful looks he was receiving. No one knew the extent of the twins’ enslavement, their past kept private for obvious reasons. “We couldn’t control when we ate, when we charged, who shared our berth, who we fought against, but this...” Sideswipe gave Prowl a hurt expression, “Sunny could control who lived and who terminated.”

“More like, uncontrolled,” Ironhide put in, dropping his cards as no one seemed to be interested in playing their game.

“He was uncontrollable, yes,” Sideswipe admitted, he downed the rest of his high grade and grabbed another cube from the side table. It was lucky he had so much liquid courage filling his tanks. He didn’t divulge such information freely. And there was a good chance he wouldn’t remember the conversation tomorrow.

“Sunny lost his control,” Sideswipe continued, “He terminated every opponent, even if it wasn’t a death match. He saw, he raged, he terminated. And all to the roaring laughter of the crowds.” He stared into the shimmering depths of his cube, lost in bitter thought. “You think battling Deceptions is bad. You should fight a death match for entertainment. All chanting your designation and screaming for your hand to extinguish a spark. A life taken, simply because they wish to see that brilliant life disappear into darkness.”

Smokescreen nodded, filing away the information. Now that Sideswipe was well past intoxicated, he offered information that wasn’t even given in confidence. Not that either twin resorted to Smokescreen’s profession before.

“That’s why Sunstreaker doesn’t want to be around groups,” Smokescreen said with a thoughtful expression. Now that he had this little piece of the puzzle, he could better formulate a way to help Sunstreaker. Though there was a good chance he could get slagged for even offering. Sunstreaker didn’t like to talk to others about his past, nor his feelings. He usually spoke with violence.

Sideswipe offered a nod, glancing to the Praxian sitting opposite.

“He enjoyed the noise too much,” Sideswipe admitted, his gaze returning to that faraway place. “He was like watching death in fast forward. And the exhilaration of his name being screamed by thousands of spectators, was intoxicating. He craved their bloodlust, using it to fuel his actions and take even more lives.”

Smokescreen expelled a slow ex-vent, scrutinizing the ruby Lamborghini. “And what stopped him? Surly if he enjoyed the roar of the crowd and the adulation, he would have kept going. So, what stopped him and caused him to join the Autobot ranks?”

“Me.” Sideswipe looked up, and the table felt his spark burn at the raw grief. “Sunstreaker’s last opponent, was me.”

“But if he terminated you, wouldn’t that mean he would terminate as well?” Jazz asked. It was often joked that neither twin could perish because their spark could latch onto the other and continue to exist.

“We were ordered to fight each other,” Sideswipe admitted, feeling his tanks churn at the memory. He closed his optics, shaking his head in slow motion as he relived the worst moment of his life. The cube in his hand cracked as he clutched it. “Sunny lost himself to the will of the crowd. He attacked me. I doubt he really wanted to do me harm, but the look in his optics as he charged…. I will never forget it. He was just so… angry. In that moment, I knew Sunstreaker was capable of anything.” Sideswipe downed the contents of the cube and gave his head a little shake as the extra charge made him see double. “I dropped my guard and allowed him to strike me.”

“Why would you do such a thing?” Prowl asked, wondering what could have went through each twins processors in that moment. It was very perplexing. He felt his battle computer engage and churn with random equations.

“I didn’t want to live with a brother who turned into a monster,” Sideswipe said simply, swaying a little as he turned in his seat to regard Prowl, both of him. “He struck me down, and as he stood ready to deliver the fatal blow…he came back. My Sunny came back. He saw what he had done and refused to fight any longer. When our handler had us brought before him for punishment, Sunstreaker attacked and terminated him. He found the disabling device for our slave collars, freed all the slaves, and we left. A few days later, we joined up.”

“So that’s why Sunstreaker doesn’t like parties,” Smokescreen put in thoughtfully. “The crowds remind him of what he allowed himself to become.”

“Now, all he wants is to be left alone,” Sideswipe said, ”Just… peace and quiet for his processor.”

“If you call a war quiet and peaceful,” Jazz snorted.

Sideswipe’s gaze drifted toward the empty cube, his brow furrowing in deep thought. “All Sunny wants is peace and quiet. Away from those who would erase his will and force him into becoming a drone for their entertainment.” He let out a hiccupping chirp, his expression still disturbed. “He only wants to hear silence.”

“That is something we all wish,” Prowl said in a soft tone, earning several nods in agreement.

Sideswipe gave a little start, as if noticing those gathered around him for the first time. His overly bright optics fell on Prowl and with another hiccupping chirp, he declared, “I love you!” before faceplanting on the Praxian’s chassis.

Prowl sighed, knowing the frontliner was just overcharged…. Again. He twitched a doorwing in annoyance and felt a sudden burst of relief when he realized Jazz no longer had the doorwing pinned. He pushed from the table, hoisting an unconscious Sideswipe against him. “I’ll drop him at his quarters.”

Jazz grinned, earning Prowl’s questioning glare.

“I said you looked irresistible with that new wax job,” Jazz smirked.

Prowl rolled his optics and hugged Sideswipe against him as he stood, pulling both from their seats. “I’ll take him to his berth.”

“I didn’t think you’d be one to take advantage,” Jazz ginned, picking up his forgotten cards and scowling at the horrible hand he was dealt.

Prowl offered a snort, “Unlike yourself, I do not take advantage of those who can not fend for themselves.“

“Ouch man, that stung,” Jazz called, not looking up from his hand as he shuffled his cards, weighing his options. He took three from Prowl’s hand and shuffled them with his own, his optics narrowing at the new configuration.

Prow dragged the unconscious Sideswipe out of the rec room and toward his quarters. Not wanting to barge in and have Sunstreaker attack the unannounced stranger, Prowl hit the door chime, alerting the other occupant to his visit. When Sunstreaker answered the door it was with his usual scowl.

”Apologies for the interruption, but your brother seems to have overindulged,” Prowl said, waiting for Sunstreaker to make the first move.

As expected, Sunstreaker stepped aside, giving the Second a clear path to the other berth. Prowl suppressed a scoff, but dragged the unconscious Lamborghini and dropped him on his berth. He turned to leave, noticing Sunstreaker still stationed at the door, a dark look on his face. When Prowl went to the door, he stopped in front of the golden twin, his expression neutral. Sunstreaker gave him a hard stare, clearly not liking the sudden attention or invasion of personal space.

“You have my word, you will find peace,” Prowl said, and without another word, he left, leaving behind a stunned Sunstreaker and a snoring Sideswipe.

Sunstreaker shut the door, his expression frozen in shock. When a particularly loud snore permeated the room, he zeroed in on its source, his fists forming at his sides as he stalked to his brother. He had a feeling that his twin was in a talkative mood this evening with the high grade. When Sideswipe snored again, Sunstreaker placed his foot against his brother’s side and shoved him forward, ramming his face against the berth and wall. When Sideswipe’s face was smashed into the crease eliminating his snores, Sunstreaker ex-vented and returned to his berth.

Silence reigned once more.

Chapter Text

“This is all your fault,” Sunstreaker snapped, arms crossed over his chassis.

“How is it my fault?” Sideswipe countered, his middle finger extended toward traffic.

Several motorists honked and shouted, some even returning the gesture. Sideswipe frowned, wondering why no one seemed to have a positive reaction to the gesture. Humans did it all the time as a ritual sign of greeting or requiring assistance.

“And you’re doing it wrong,” Sunstreaker snapped. “You are supposed to use your thumb and point it in the direction you want to go.”

Sideswipe’s brow ridge arched as he thought, then lowered his middle finger, stuck out his thumb and turned pointing away from traffic, his thumb held in front of him and showing the direction he wanted to go. He looked like an artist lining up a horizon sketch.

“If you hadn’t insisted we take that detour….” Sunstreaker snarled, his anger rising. He slapped his brother’s hand and spun him around to face the oncoming traffic. “You stand facing the traffic and point your thumb OVER your shoulder! Idiot!”

“How do you know?” Sideswipe retorted, slapping his brother in return.

“Television programs,” Sunstreaker jeered, giving his brother an incredulous look. “And why am I letting you do this? I would have a better chance at getting noticed.”

“Yeah right!” Sideswipe snorted, waving to traffic and earning a few beeps in recognition.

“And you think you’ll get attention faster than me?” Sunstreaker asked incredulously.

“We’re twins, idiot,” Sideswipe retorted, trying to wave at traffic. People swerved around them, but any actual confrontation was avoided, and by the scared looks on the human faces, no one was going to be offering assistance anytime soon. No one pulled over to ask the wayward bots if they needed help. Apparently the alien allies were nice to look at, but people were still scared to come to near in fear of the giant beings.

“Yeah, but even blind humans can see which of us is best.”

“This isn’t working.” Sideswipe sighed, throwing his hands up in defeat.

“Let me try,” Sunstreaker gave one of his rare smiles. It was sad he didn’t smile more often, because it only enhanced his beauty. The perpetual scowl only gave him a dark aura, adding to his mystery.

“If you think you can,” Sideswipe snorted, going to the side to watch his twin at work.

Sunstreaker stood by the side of the road, watching the oncoming cars, his optics darting to family sedan to utility vehicle. He remained motionless for a long moment, studying the road. Then a sporty car came flying up the highway, barreling down the road in the fast lane, honking at the slower drivers. Sunstreaker allowed a small curl of his lip before stepping to the middle of the highway. He angled his leg out slightly, his fingers skirting the edges of his upper thigh and gently lifted the edges to reveal the shiny platinum of his protoform.

All cars on the highway stopped.

Sideswipe stood agape.

Sunstreaker looked over his shoulder, giving his twin a cheeky look. “Sometimes you have to show a little undercarriage.”

Sideswipe shook his head. “You’re such a whore.”

“I’m not a whore,” Sunstreaker said, ignoring the humans now shouting at the duo for their attention. “I’m a tease.”

“Right,” Sideswipe nodded, going to a pretty femme that had been driving the flashy sports car. “Tracks is the whore.”

“Slagging right,” Sunstreaker said, carefully smoothing his plating and giving it an extra buff, just to make it shine.

“Excuse me, Miss, but do you have a car phone we could use?” Sideswipe asked in a polite and devilishly handsome way. “We had an accident and need to call home.”

“Uhmm…. Sure?” The woman said, fumbling with the telephone mounted on the dashboard.

“It’s a local call,” Sideswipe added, flashing a dangerously wicked smile that had the human femme smiling in appraisal.

Sideswipe easily connected to the device and dialed the Autobots number, silently grateful the humans had given them a contact number for emergencies.

“Red? It’s Sideswipe,” he said, hearing the twitchy mechs voice answer. The call was full of static, though a lot of the noise could be blamed on the mech answering the call. “We had a bit of an accident and need the Doc Bot. Can you send Ratchet to,” Sideswipe rose up, looking around and found a green marker, “Highway fifty-six, just after the one ten marker?”

The femme driving the sports car looked to Sunstreaker, her human eyes glittering with the sparkling gold. She smiled, seeing the ‘Lamborghini’ stamp of his alt mode. When she saw Sunstreaker’s face, she gasped in both fear and awe. He was gorgeous, but also glaring in a deadly way that made her blood freeze in her veins.

“Thanks, Red,” Sideswipe said, removing his connection to the car phone. He turned to his twin, “Help is on its way.”

“Joy,” Sunstreaker muttered, drifting to the edge of the road and away from the gawking human femme. Something about the twinkle in her optics unnerved him. She looked like she wanted to either talk to him, or touch him. He wasn’t fond of either idea.

“Thank you, Miss,” Sideswipe said and joined his twin, hearing the roar of traffic start to flow once again. He leaned against his brother, bumping shoulders. “That human looked like she wanted to eat you or drive you.”

Sunstreaker gave a shudder. “Not going to happen.”

“Well, you have to admit,” Sideswipe said, waiting until his brother locked optics with him. “She has excellent taste.”

Chapter Text

0000-iiii-oooo-00000-iiiii—oooooo-0000000-OOOOOO

“SIDESWIPE!” the name rang out from a very disgruntled mech. The cacophony of his noise was soon drowning out the groans, moans, and threats of the crew, who nursed aching processors and fitful tanks. When the rare party was allowed, the mechs overindulged. And with their exercise into inebriation, there came the inevitable after effects. Audios rang in a symphony of resounding beats and irritating pulses that somehow found the right frequency to grate on a mechs nerve center.

“What the slag?” Someone yelled in alarm.

Groans chorused again, this time, having a reason for that particular tone of voice.

Sideswipe was at it again.

“That fragger!” someone shouted, stumbling from the dazed and confused arms of their comrade and directing his uneven step toward the exit of the unfortunate bots quarters.

Bots exited someone else’s quarters, rubbing their helms and heading toward the Command Hub, where Sideswipe was scheduled for the morning shift at the monitors. With an assortment of mechs greeting each other in gruff growls and disoriented huffs, they stalked as a mad mob toward their victim, every intention of ganging up on him. If there was enough mechs, and they were quick enough, they may get away with murder. Several gained the Commander Center and scanned the room with bleary optics, looking for their target.

“SIDESWIPE!” a voice thundered throughout the base, causing everyone to stall and glance around, expecting to see the pit maker come to deliver his judgment upon their guilty helms.

Time stopped. Even the monitors in the command hub were quiet. No one dared to break the silence. Just as the spell was cast, there came the booming footfalls of one very pissed of mech.

When Prime first burst into the Command Hub, one would assume he was preparing to face down Megatron to the death. Not that he wasn’t currently searching for his target to unleash an unholy pit upon. Pity the mech to face his wrath.

Prime’s optics darted to the monitor bank, but instead of seeing Sideswipe’s ruby colored armor, there was a golden ray of sunshine sitting in the seat.

“Sunstreaker?” Prime barked, causing the handful of newly arriving mechs to jump, both from his tone and from the painful dissonance from his voice. Sunstreaker didn’t even flinch.

“Yeah?’ Sunstreaker asked without looking to his commander. He had a feeling what had crawled up Prime’s tailpipe and died.

Where is your brother?” Prime asked, coming to stand directly behind the golden warrior who seemed immune to the murder lurking in the air.

“Who knows where my lush of a brother has hidden himself,” Sunstreaker said turning bored optics from the screen and emitting a startled gasp.

Prime’s chest plates proudly proclaimed ‘Elita isn’t the only ONE’, while his interface panel declared, ‘I’m PRIME for a reason’, with a rather crude painting of a spike down the right thigh.

“I suggest you find out where your twin is currently located, “ Prowl added having joined the duo unnoticed. Sunstreaker looked to his favorite antagonist and couldn’t stop the laugh. Prowls’ body was painted in bright red lips, with the connotation ‘Jazz was here… and here… and here… and here.’

All over his body.

Sunstreaker looked back to the monitors, trying to suppress his laughter, but his shoulder shook with the effort. It was then that Prowl noticed the feed on the screens and let out an angered puff through his vents.

“Let me guess, Sideswipe has sabotaged the monitors?” Prowl asked, his doorwings hitching as his anger was brought to a simmer.

“I’ve been trying to break the loop but I’m having difficulty,” Sunstreaker admitted, typing in a series of command codes, but Tele-Tran refused to cooperate. Ironhide came storming in, his growl reaching the audios of the three mechs before to announce his arrival.

“Sunstreaker? Where’s your idiot twin?” Ironhide barked.

“I don’t know,” Sunstreaker said, finding the whole scene to be hilarious. He sent up a redundant program to record on the still functioning cameras. This was black mail for the ages! “He asked me to cover his shift this morning. I’m guessing he got over energized and passed out somewhere.”

“You wait until I find the slagger,” Ironhide snarled, earning a defensive reaction from Sunstreaker. He may not agree with his twin on some aspects, but he’d be slagged if he allowed anyone else to beat on his brother. That was reserved for only Sunstreaker.

Too bad Sunstreaker couldn’t keep a straight face upon seeing Ironhide’s message. Ironhide’s chassis was painted with feminine curves while his interface panel bore the message ‘Chromia’s bitch.’

One by one, mechs filtered into the command center. Most staggered, each grasping their aching helms and wondering who let Omega Supreme sit on them. Whatever the twins had brewed into the new mix of high grade, it sure packed a punch.

Hound wore a sign in black lettering ‘I love to do it in the mud.’

Mirage sported an epithet that read, ‘I’m so uptight, my aft plates squeak.’

Jazz declared, ‘Doorwings make me hot.’

That particular message caused Prowl to go from simmering to a full boil.

Bluestreak was peering sleepy optic to the others who smirked. It took him a moment to read the declaration of ‘This mouth can do more than just talk.’

After the message sunk in, he ran from the room bleating like an injured sparkling.

Gears scowled at everyone’s personal jibes against their personalities and ‘prowess’… his own sign merely warned people ‘If you see me coming, run the other direction.’ Though he felt comforted by the fact he didn’t have vulgar graffiti like the others, he still felt slighted that he didn’t get considered for such

“I’m going to kill your brother,” Smokescreen said, his arm draped over his chassis to hide the decree ‘Check out the rack, Boys’.

“Get in line,” Sunstreaker grunted, unperturbed by the looks he was receiving on his brothers behalf.

“Prime, something has to be done about this childish behavior,” Prowl said, ignoring the snickers as everyone’s attention focused to his own body art. Jazz was snickering, then puckering his lip components and sending mock kisses toward the other black and white, earning even more laughter. The chuckles turned into groans as helms pounded and tanks threatened to empty.

“I agree,” Smokescreen said, standing beside his brethren in a show of a united front. He waited until Prowl’s attention was on Prime before lowering his arm and comparing their chassis. Prowl noticed the action, and gave his fellow Praxian a death glare.

“This has gone from childish fun to physiological torture,” Smokescreen added, snapping out of his daze and focusing on the task at hand.

“Agreed,’ said Prime, turning from his two fuming officers to the silent frontline mech. “Sunstreaker, where is Sideswipe?”

“I’m right here,” Sideswipe said, his voice sounding just as gruff and confused as everyone else’s. When everyone turned at the sound of his voice, furious retribution instantly died down and was replaced with confused incredulity.

Sideswipe helm was labeled, ‘EMPTY’ and on his interface panel, it read, ‘Here too.’

“What’s… going ….on?” Sideswipe asked, just noticing the graffiti that adorned his fellow Autobots. He quickly looked to his own chassis in fear, and when he realized what was on his interface panel, he spun Huffer around to use his mirrors. With a groan he closed his optics.

“Very funny,” Sideswipe said, though his voice lacked any humor.

“You didn’t do this?” Ironhide asked, stalking toward the twitching Lamborghini.

“How could I have done this?” Sideswipe said, giving the weapons specialist an exasperated look. “I’ve been unconscious.”

“Could have done it sleepwalking,’ Ratchet said, glowering over his painted windshield that said, ‘Forget the wrench. Screw this!’

“Did you do this?” Jazz asked, finding the paint to be resistant to being scratched off. Apparently it was going to take more than just a few flicks of fingers to erase the messages.

“What? No!...but I wouldn’t mind taking the credit. This is primo work. Wish I would have thought of this earlier.” Sideswipe admitted, looking around to the irrated mechs and their insightful proclamations.

“Right,” Ironhide sighed. Leave it to Sideswipe to want to take responsibility for someone else’s prank. If it was good, he’d take the fall, regardless. He was an idiot that way.

“Leave it to Sideswipe to find this crude defacing of bodies and personal space to be commendable.” Prowl offered, scratching at his own painted sign. He wondered what was in it to cause it to itch so much.

“Idiot,” Ironhide muttered, earning a cross look from Sideswipe.

“Prime!” Red Alert shouted, entering the room at a dead run and nearly colliding with his intended audience.

No one could hold back the snickers as Red’s graffiti declared, ‘I’m smoking hot and in need of a big hose.’

“We are aware of the situation, Red Alert,” Prime said, halting the sputtering mech’s speech. “We are trying to ascertain the culprit.”

“That’s easy,” Red Alert spat, throwing his hands up in exasperation. “It was Sideswipe.”

“Sorry, bro, but it wasn’t me,’ Sideswipe said, noting how Sunstreaker frowned at the familiar designation for one of their biggest rivals.

Red Alert turned livid optics to his greatest threat to security, when he faltered, noting Sideswipe also bore crude graffiti. The chances of Sideswipe pranking himself were astronomical, so that eliminated that possibility. Red went to the main monitor, his hands brushing Sunstreaker’s aside to type in the override codes on the now inactive security monitors.

Sunstreaker offered a low growl but pushed away from the monitor. He knew Red Alert was focused on the task of finding the culprit. Since Sunstreaker couldn’t hack the code, he had a feeling that Red Alert could. He was a paranoid glitch, but he was good at his job.

“It appears that only the internal cameras were made inoperable,” Red Alert said, his hands flying over the keyboard and inserting codes so fast it was hard to decipher them. Sunstreaker stared at the screen, his processor zeroed in on the lines of code used to hack and retrace the system. Red Alert was so caught up in his investigation, he didn’t notice his astute audience.

“So there hasn’t been a perimeter breach?” Prowl asked, joining the white Lamborghini at the consol.

“According to the logs, it’s been quiet,” Red Alert stated, trying redundancy programs to bring up crucial information. “But we can’t be sure until I run a system wide scan and dump and reconfigure the input data time stamps.”

“Sounds painful,” Sideswipe said, his hand absently rubbing his midsection to order to ease the rumbling of his tank.

“I’ll find the culprit, believe me,” Red Alert promised the room at large. Several mechs excused themselves to head to the washracks and remove the evidence of someone’s jovial mood.

“Am I free to go?” Sunstreaker asked, stretching and hearing several pops in his frame. “I’ve been at the monitors all night while you ingrates celebrated and I’m in need of a decent charge.”

Prowl skimmed the duty logs and sure enough, Sunstreaker had been on monitor duty since the evening shift mechs had left to attend Jazz’s most recent party. Sideswipe was supposed to relieve Sunstreaker, but with the red warrior currently leaning toward the trash can, there was a chance he wasn’t going to be fit to perform his shift.

“Go ahead,” Prowl said, nodding toward the door. “You are dismissed.”

Sunstreaker rose from his chair and stepped toward the exit before Red Alert halted his progress.

“You were at the monitors all night?” Red Alert asked, his gaze still focused on the screen and trying to break its looping cycle.

“Yeah,” Sunstreaker admitted.

“And you didn’t see anything?”

“No. As soon as I got here, I stared at the boring screens,” Sunstreaker said, hearing his berth calling his designation with a sweet lilt.

“And you didn’t notice they had been playing on a loop?” Red Alert asked, pulling his gaze away to stare at the golden mech with a hard, cruel look.

Sunstreaker instantly riled, his optics narrowing at the silent posturing. Insinuation was a good way to get yourself slagged.

“I didn’t know about the looping program until morning, when I noticed no activity in the halls,” Sunstreaker said, his armor puffing up in superior display. He may be the same build as the Security Director, but Red Alert was outmatched in strength, endurance and skill.

Red Alert didn’t say another word as he turned back to the monitor and tried another code to break through. He knew when Sunstreaker started to get that look that it was time to mute your vocalizer lest he hand it to you when you regained consciousness in the medical ward a week later.

Just when Sunstreaker made it to the door several things happened at once.

First, shouts echoed down the hall from the washracks. Second, the comm. link was filled with protesting mechs informing their comrades that the black paint adorning their frames had been mixed with an adhesive. A permanent adhesive. To remove their personal messages, they would have to strip down to the primer and reapply their paint schemes.

Third, Red Alert bypassed the system and found that the cameras had been sabotaged internally at a backup terminal. And the security code used to initiate the loop had been Prime’s own. Red Alert turned to interrogate Prime, Prowl and Jazz jumped to their leader’s defense, Ironhide thundered above the din and Sideswipe felt a most curious sensation.

Giddiness. With a strange tinge that made his circuits itch.

He turned curious optics to his twin, questions flooding their link, his expression neutral.

Sunstreaker quirked one optic ridge and gave a barely perceived jerk of his head toward the command staff who were bickering like younglings. He rolled his optics, showing his annoyance at the idiocy and childishness displayed by their own mature commanders. It was funny about how the senior officers lectured about maturity and respect when they were acting like the very soldiers they chastised.

Sideswipe snickered too, hearing Red Alert flat out accuse Prime of manipulating the cameras so he could enact his ‘diabolical scheme.’ A shouting match ensued, following Sunstreaker’s audios down the hall and only being muffled by the closing of his door.

For the first time in a long time, Sunstreaker laughed, doubling over and grabbing his midsection as his transformation seams threatened to rupture. He heard Sideswipe yelling down the hall about the most recent prank not being his fault, followed by thunderous bellows from the other half of the crew who just awoke from their drunken stupor. Apparently Sideswipe was headed for the smelter. And by his high pitched screaming, his comrades in arms were about to catch him.

Sunstreaker chuckled, extending his hands and taking in the thin, delicate, artistic fingers. A smudge of black paint was on his left knuckles, blending into the natural scheme of his frame. With a devilish smirk, he wiped off the incriminating evidence and stretched out on his berth, ready to enjoy some peace and solitude from his conniving twin.

Chapter Text

The twins stood outside of the main conference room. Sideswipe bounced on his pedes his systems humming so high they threatened to break the sound barrier. Sunstreaker stood against the wall, arms crossed over his chest, scowl scanning the corridor with precise movement. Nothing was going to catch him unaware. They may be in the middle of the Autobot’s main strong hold, but it didn’t mean there weren’t spies and saboteurs sneaking around to wreck some havoc. The newly painted Autobot sigil was upon both of their bodies.

“What do you think they want with us?” Sideswipe asked, halting his bouncing to rock on his pedes.

“Better not be for experiments,” Sunstreaker answered casting his gaze down the hall toward distant noise.

“Doubtful,” Sideswipe said, his giddiness bleeding over the bond. He was like a sparkling being offered a present if they were good. The anticipation was killing him.

“Stop doing that,” Sunstreaker muttered, his hand going to rub his chest above his spark chamber.

Sideswipe offered a cheesy grin, flooding the link with love, adoration, affection and all the warm fuzzy feelings that made Sunstreaker’s tank churn. Sunstreaker pushed off from the wall and took one step toward his twin, his optics clouding over with rage. Sideswipe immediately halted his teasing and sent a pulse of foreboding toward his brother. The sudden switch in emotion didn’t faze Sunstreaker. As soon as he was within arm’s length, he reached out and grasped his brother by the throat.

Sideswipe tugged at the hand clutching his throat. He didn’t need oxygen to breath but Sunstreaker’s grip was pinching a wire. His hold was rather lax, considering the power behind his frame.

The door chose that moment to open. A startled gasp greeted the twins’ audios before someone had the audacity, or the stupidity, to reach out and grab Sunstreaker’s arm. The owner of the arm probably only wanted to separate what he thought was a confrontation, but what he got instead was a face full of enraged Pit fighter.

Sunstreaker was before the new mech in a spark beat, their olfactory sensors brushing against one another. The stranger’s arm had been deflected and now hung limp at his side, a stinging shudder still pronounced along the plating.

“Explain yourself,” the mech said in a cultured tone.

“Frag off,” Sunstreaker growled, chest vibrating with his words.

“Sunny,” Sideswipe said, placing his arm between his brother’s golden chest and the black and white chest of his competition.

“I suggest you heed the advice,” the mech said, his door wings flared wide in intimidation.

It didn’t work on Sunstreaker. He had terminated Praxian’s before.

“I suggest you keep your servos to yourself lest you have them removed,” Sunstreaker answered, his voice sending shivers along spinal struts. How the mech managed to hit that deep, resonant tone, no one knew. But another black and white mech in the room perked up with interest.

“Stand down, the both of you,” a commanding voice resounded from the room.

The black and white mech instantly dropped to a submissive stance, squared his shoulders, hiked his doorwings and spun, nearly clipping Sunstreaker with the appendages. He walked to his chair and sat down with all the royalty associated with the Tower mechs.

“Sit down,” the voice ordered.

The twins stepped hesitatingly into the room, unsure of where they were to sit. Every bot of high command was present. It was very unnerving and disconcerting. Steps slow, unsure, the twins ventured into the room, Sunstreaker falling into step behind his twin.

A long table, seating at least thirty mechs and femmes was centered in the room. The chairs were evenly spaced, allowing even a doorwinger amply room to move without fear of damaging their notorious attributes. The twins collective gaze traveled the length of the table and with dual noises of shocked embarrassment, realized the Prime was standing in expectation. His hand gestured toward the two chairs seated on his left. Obediently the twins took the offered seats, the two black and white officers sitting opposite. The twins felt like this was a trial before an execution.

“I am Optimus Prime,” the cultured voice of the Autobot leader rang out into ever corner of the room. “You are not in trouble and there is no cause for dissent between yourself and any member of my staff.”

The black and white officer that accosted Sunstreaker narrowed his gaze ever so slightly. It was obvious he held some sort of grudge against the mech who disobeyed his orders. Having the mech to also tell him to ‘frag off’ was another serious offence. Not to mention the slagger had moved too fast to retaliate

Sunstreaker directed his gaze from Prime to the black and white seated on his right, giving the door winged mech a curled lip in answer. He wasn’t going to let the Prime dictate who he could hate and who he could show leniency toward. Only Sideswipe had that type of sway over him, and it wasn’t exercised often.

“This is an informal meeting, allowing you to meet my staff and to choose which option would be best for you, either individually or together,’ Prime continued.

Sunstreaker’s gaze snapped back to the Prime. He sent a wave of trepidation toward his twin, who mirrored the sentiment. When mechs started talking about ‘options’, it usually meant the twins were going to have to make a tough decision.

And it almost always ended in suffering.

“When you both enlisted you received updates and virus checks,” Prime said, nodding toward the white clad mech seated halfway down the table. “Along with various other standardized tests required by all who enter our ranks.”

The twins looked to the mech indicated and noticed the medic who had attended them when they first enlisted. He was gruff, direct, and didn’t take slag from anyone. The twins liked him immediately.

“One of the exams revealed some interesting results,” Prime said, gaining the attention of the two mechs. He could see the cogs working in their processors, trying to understand which test was being referred to when one of them opened their vocalizer. And the wrong thing came out.

“So we’re split spark twins,” Sideswipe said with a forceful voice. His gaze hardened when he stared into the optics of the Autobot leader. “It doesn’t mean we should be locked up and experimented on!”

Several gasps went throughout the ranks. Whispers rose up. If possible, the black and white doorwinged mech’s gaze turned even harder, boring into the two sitting opposite. The other black and white registered surprise before his lip components curled into a crooked smirk.

Sunstreaker turned icy optics to the others at the table and noticed, with a strange pang of shock, that most were now staring in abject fear of the two. A couple shook their heads, staring with accusing optics to the two that defied the will of Primus and split into two beings.

Sideswipe’s gaze followed his brothers, both sending a continuous stream of turmoil, trepidation, and a rising fear that they were about to fight for their lives. Again. Bots didn’t take too well to learning that two amongst their midst were considered defective.

On most of Cybertron, when a mech or femme is found to have glitches, they are reprogrammed. And if they can’t be reprogrammed, they are terminated and sent to the smelters. Defects were an almost certain death to anyone.

It was as the twins watched the muttering table that Sideswipe noticed something and brought it to his brother’s attention. The white medic who had ran their scans was scowling at the assembled bots, his lip curled in anger. His gaze traveled to each whispering bot, and though the twins could hear nothing between them, the scandalized bot would glance to the medic and still their vocalizers.

Apparently the medic had not divulged the twins unique nature.

“You didn’t tell them?” Sunstreaker asked, finding his vocalizer. He wasn’t one to speak, but when the situation called for it, he could hold his own in a conversation.

“It was no one’s business,” the medic replied with his usual curt tone. His optics cast down the table, earning silence. “And the information better not leave this room or the consequences will be dire to the one with a loose vocalizer.”

Several bots looked down in shame.

The twins exchanged a look. Sunstreaker felt a strange sensation along his spark chamber. It was mirrored back as both started to rub along their chest plating directly above their spark chambers. Not knowing this strange new sensation, they mentally evaluated the feeling, trying to find the correct label. Their musings were cut short when the black and white mech without doorwings spoke up.

“Oh, you have to let me have them now!” he said, looking to Prime with the wide expectant optics of a youngling about to receive a special gift.

Both twins focused their optics on the mech, terror flooding their link. What did he mean, he wanted them? Oh Primus, it was the Pits all over again. Except now, instead of being experimented on and forced to fight for entertainment, they would be subjected to who knows what in the Autobot ranks. With Prime, the leader of the planet, anything could be done to the twins and the perpetrator would have the full blessing of the Prime!

The doorwinged mech turned in slow motion, giving his counterpart a look that stated he believed the other mech was a lunatic.

“Jazz,” the doorwinged mech said in a warning tone.

‘Jazz’ offered a wide grin, unperturbed by the other mech’s expression.

“The only one who gets to decide where they are going is the two who are involved,” Prime said, cutting off any verbal sparring that may break out among his ranking officers. Honestly, some days he was in charge of a bunch of sparklings!

“Fine,” Jazz said with an airy wave of his servo. He looked to the twins and gave them his most charming, and rather seductive grin.

“The reason you are called here is because of your test scores,” Prime said, cutting off any further arguments. The twins gave the Autobot leader a perplexed look before he added, “Both of you have scored so highly upon your evaluations that you may chose what division would best suit you.”

Jazz offered a waggle of his brow plating, that eerie grin still fixed upon his face.

“Prowl is in charge of our tactical division,” Prime said, gesturing toward the mech with the door wings. “He oversees our battle strategies, diversionary tactics and battlefield simulations to prevent further loss of life. You may choose to work under him any in one of these fields.”

“Jazz is our Special Ops mech,” Prime said, earning that ever present grin from Jazz. “His specialties include sabotage, infiltration, extraction, and alternative means of intelligence gathering.”

“Like hacking,” Jazz added, his grin turning to predatory. “No processor I can’t navigate.”

“You may choose to work under Jazz’s tutelage under any of his specialties,” Prime said, shaking his head at Jazz’s look. He knew what was going through the mech’s processor. It wasn’t good. Or sane. Typical of Jazz.

“You’re combat skills have been evaluated by Ironhide,’ Prime said, directing the twins’ gaze toward the weapons master, who narrowed his optics at the duo. “If you are willing, you may extend your skills to include a variety of weapons or assist in the tutelage of others in the art of self defense.”

Ironhide glared at the two. He didn’t like either of them. Ever since they had bested him in hand to hand combat, and embarrassed him in front of the new troops, he had every intention of getting even. Ironhide held a grudge like no other. He hoped they wouldn’t choose his division. There would be a high probability of his cannons going off and terminating one or both of the cocky menaces.

“Red Alert is my Head of Security,” Prime said, drawing the twins attention to a mech that resembled the twins own build. “His job is to keep the base safe and secure which includes the installation and counterattacks against his own security systems and picking the mechs best suited as security to enforce the rules.”

The twins gaze went from Red Alert to the medic, expecting to hear the details of his job and the possibilities that awaited them in the medical wing. The mech spoke up, surprising them both.

“Don’t look at me,” the medic said, crossing his arms over his chassis and glaring at the two in turn. “I don’t want you.”

The twins shared a warm thrum of affection toward the gruff mech. Here was someone who they could relate…. and annoy. The odds were high that the medic had a decent vocabulary and could hold his own in a verbal sparring match. He had already kept the twins in check during their exams. Not to mention he had the bulk to put up a good fight if it came to blows.

“You may choose any of their offered stations,’ Prime said, redirecting the twins to him. “Or you may choose combat.”

The twins exchanged a look, their bond full of silent communication.

“You may work in tandem or in opposite fields,” Prime reiterated, hoping to convey the magnitude of the offer presented. “Whatever your decisions, we honor your wishes. The choice is yours.”

It took only a few seconds for the twins to reach a united conclusion. Working apart was out of the question. Working together on a project was a disaster waiting to happen. Neither could go too long without goading the other into an argument. Sitting behind a desk wasn’t an option, due to the fact that it was boring and the twins would end up committing suicide to escape the tedium. Reporting to either of the mechs mentioned would mean having to conform to rules, regulations, and slogging through endless stacks of paperwork and meaningless forms. Not to mention the idea of having a superior really corroded their circuits. They liked free reign. They liked the freedom of doing what they wanted, when they wanted and not having someone to punish them for harmless transgressions. They liked the freedom that combat allowed.

Sideswipe turned toward Prime and answered, “We choose the front lines.”

“What? Why?” Prowl asked his face a mask of shocked incredulity.

“Because fighting is what we do best,” Sideswipe said, looking to the doorwinged mech and feeling his brother’s mirth over their bond.

“But your scores…” Prowl trailed off, picking up a datapad and giving it a wave.

“We do what we do best,” Sideswipe said with a shrug. “If we’re behind the lines we can’t ensure that the enemy won’t make it through. But if we’re out on the front lines…”

“The enemy doesn’t stand a chance,” Sunstreaker put in. Every bot present suppressed a shiver at his tone.

“That is sound logic,” Prowl muttered.

“But you will be required to terminate mechs,” Ironhide said, gauging the twins’ reaction.

Both offered partial shrugs.

“It’s what we do best,” Sideswipe said.

“You mean, you don’t have a problem with it?” Ironhide asked, his voice tinged with skepticism.

“No,” Sunstreaker answered, staring daggers at the red mech.

“Waste of talent,” Jazz said, leaning back in his chair and observing the two sitting opposite. They were a conundrum.

“Processors can become overtaxed. Systems develop glitches. A mech can lose their mind wondering if they made the right decision and deal with the consequences of lives lost due to ill timed or misdirected actions,” Sideswipe said. “Out on the battlefield it’s simple. Kill or be killed. We can control what happens on a more personal level and won’t be plagued during charge about whether or not we made a correct decision.”

“So you would rather terminate a mech than direct another to do the action?” Ironhide asked.

“I would know that the mech was terminated properly,” Sunstreaker said, his icy optics boring into the darker blue of the weapon’s master. “Without hesitation.”

Something about the golden warrior’s tone sent a cold tingle along spinal struts. The short demonstration the twins performed during their initial introduction to the Autobot forces were of any indication, both were well adept at terminating an opponent and would have no problem in sending someone to the smelter. It was cold, cruel, calculating, and something that was needed while fighting on the front lines. One had to have a resolve made of titanium to be the first wave of attack in the middle of a slaughter.

“You both wish to remain in infantry?” Prime asked.

“Yes,” the twins chimed in unison.

“Very well,” Prime said with a nod toward Prowl, who typed on a datapad. “Your decision has been recorded and your schedule augmented accordingly. If at any time you wish to change your processor, you have but to notify the Command Staff.”

“Doubtful,” Sideswipe said, but inclined his head in respect to the leader’s words.

“If there are no more issues,” Prime said to the room at large. When silence greeted his inquiry he gave a nod and added, “Dismissed.”

The bots stood as one unit until Prime left the room, disappearing with Prowl and Red Alert flanking him. Several of the bots who had been whispering chose to collect in small knit circles and continue their conversation. Ratchet elbowed past them with an irritated huff and disappeared out the door. No one approached the twins. Optics stared at them, hands shielded flapping lip components, helms shook in answer to whispered words, but no one approached the two.

Sideswipe grabbed his twins’ wrist, tugging him toward the door. Sunstreaker offered a parting sneer before following his brother out. The door closed behind them. Neither were aware they were followed until a third set of pedefalls resounded in the corridor. Both turned to find Jazz had followed them out.

How did the sneaky mech move so fast? Without being heard?

“Are you sure you made the right decision?” Jazz asked when the duo turned to greet him in open hostility.

“Hoping we’d change our minds and work for you?” Sideswipe asked, one brow ridge cocking with the question.

“I was hoping you would be open to the suggestion,” Jazz admitted, his optics darting across the two frames behind his visor. “Special Ops has a lot to offer.”

“Not interested,” Sunstreaker said, having that itchy feeling along his plating that meant he was being scrutinized.

“Could be beneficial,” Jazz said nonchalantly, rocking a little on his pedes.

“No,” Sideswipe said, feeling a dark thrum coming from his twin. Jazz was standing too close for the golden mech’s liking. Both could feel the shorter mechs EM field brush against theirs ever so often. It was like being caressed by a live wire.

“Your scores ranked as high as my own,” Jazz pressed onward, oblivious to the torrential storm building within arms reach. “I could show you a thing or two about subterfuge and infiltration. Teach you the proper way to infiltrate and help you polish your skills so no one would see you coming.”

“Not interested,” Sideswipe parroted his brother’s words, sending a pulse of reassurance to the antsy warrior.

Sunstreaker flexed his body, the tension building with each passing second. Not only was the black and white mech encroaching on their personal space and not understanding their undesirable stance with his proposal, with the way Jazz was speaking, it was like he was questioning the twins’ abilities. As if Jazz alone could perform precise feats and execute moves without detection. It was insulting.

“With your natural talents, I could…” Jazz started, but his words were cut off as Sunstreaker moved in a blur of gold.

Before Jazz could continue, Sunstreaker had grasped the smaller mech, shoving him forward. Both twins locked their arms into position, effectively trapping Jazz between them. If he wanted to escape his gilded cage, he’d have to go through one of the twins.

Jazz’s helm almost collided with Sideswipe’s chin. Sunstreaker’s expert and unexpected handling had sent the smaller mech reeling. One minute he was staring between the twins, spouting his promises, the next he was forcibly grabbed and caged between the two. Sunstreaker stood against his back, the growl coming from him deep enough to resonate in Jazz’s frantic spark. Sideswipe stood before Jazz, his carmine armor blocking all view of the outside world. Escape was cut off as gold and red intertwined on both sides, keeping Jazz immobile between them.

“I doubt you could teach us anything,” Sideswipe said, his voice rumbling from his chassis and causing the proximity sensors on Jazz to go haywire. “But if you think you could take us, I invite you to try.”

“Not my intent,” Jazz said, relaxing in a submissive display. He had no intention of inciting their wrath. He may be good, but with the prowess just displayed by the two mechs currently encasing him in their midst, his odds of survival were nominal.

“I suggest you find someone else to harass,” Sunstreaker rumbled, his voice coming from all around.

Jazz shivered from the timbre. And the threat. He knew he overstepped his bounds with these two volatile mechs. He tried another tactic to defuse the situation.

“Didn’t mean to harass. Just wanted to extend a servo of welcome and admiration,” Jazz said, looking up slightly into Sideswipe’s optics. “Talent such as yours is to be appreciated and I may have gotten carried away in my adulation of your skills. Please, accept my apologies.”

“Flattery will get you slagged,” Sunstreaker growled, his arms closing in and making Jazz feel like he was in a compacting unit.

Sideswipe’s fingers tightened on his brother’s arm, gaining his attention.

“You do not fear us?” Sideswipe asked, watching as the black and white mech stood impassive between the two worst mechs ever built. “You do not believe we are abnormal and deserve a one way trip to the smelters?”

“We’re all abnormal,” Jazz said without flinching from the oppressive cage he was held in. “But that’s what makes us unique. We’re not lower than anyone else and we’re no better. We are what we are and we do what we do best.”

Sideswipe narrowed his optics, staring at Jazz, trying to decipher his motives. Sunstreaker allowed his brother the contemplative silence, knowing Sideswipe had a better handle on judging character. Sunstreaker didn’t have such judgments. He wanted to throttle or terminate them all, regardless.

With a nod Sideswipe disengaged from his twin, their arms falling lax at their side. Jazz remained motionless, not wanting to make any sudden move in case either decided they needed some physical exertion and wanted to take out their stress on him.

“Try to remember that the next time you corner Pit fighters,” Sideswipe said, jerking his head in dismissal.

Jazz nodded, looking over his shoulder and gracing Sunstreaker with a crooked grin that the golden mech didn’t return.

“Sorry mechs. Like I said, I get carried away,” Jazz said, laughter tingeing his voice. “I didn’t mean any offense.”

“Just remember who you’re dealing with,” Sideswipe reiterated. He nodded toward the hall and without another word, Sunstreaker sidestepped a stunned Jazz and followed his twin down the corridor. They disappeared without a backward glance.

“Oh, I remember,” Jazz said long after the twins departed. He stared at the place where they disappeared, a grin on his face. “But you forget who I am.”

Chapter Text

Sideswipe closed the door behind him, his face so bright with happiness it lit up the room. Sunstreaker scoffed, feeling the giddy sensation in his spark that signaled his twin was up to no good. And by the look on his face, he had already pulled his prank and was waiting to hear the fallout.

Not a good combination when one wanted peace, quiet, and no chance of being sent to the brig for a crime not committed.

“What now?” Sunstreaker asked, knowing his brother was dying to spill the energon on his latest prank.

“Just added a few things to the energon dispenser,” Sideswipe grinned, locking the door though it was useless with the Command staff having all their access codes.

“Like what?” Sunstreaker asked. He had been victimized by his brother and his experiments for years. He knew some of the side effects. They weren’t pretty.

“Well…. I don’t remember everything I put in there,” Sideswipe said with a frown. He shrugged and reclined on his berth. “But the first ten cubes are going to have a surprise.”

“Thank Primus I already refueled,” Sunstreaker said, wondering if he was going to be serving brig time for this prank.

Sideswipe giggled and settled into a light charge, waiting for his name to be inevitably called. It took nearly two hours, but soon Sideswipe was hearing the fruit of his labors.

“Mirage? Mirage, what’s wrong?” a voice called out in a panic.

There came a high pitched squealing noise followed by pounding footfalls. The owner of the footfalls disappeared down the distant corridor, and as their thunderous tone disappeared, there came a soft scratching at the twins’ door. Sideswipe got up from his berth, grin still firmly planted on his face, and opened the door. As he had expected there was no one in sight.

But something pushed past him and a child like giggle could be heard.

Sunstreaker rose from the berth, his legs swinging over the edge as he sensed another spark enter the room. He knew it was Mirage. Could tell by the broadcasting spark signature. What Sunstreaker didn’t like was the fact that the Noble was cloaked and sneaking around again. He’d been chastised several times by the twins in the past. Why he chose to sneak back in after the last thrashing left him hospitalized for a week, Sunstreaker wasn’t sure. But he didn’t like it.

Then there came the soft giggles.

Sideswipe’s grin broadened and he looked to his twin. “Sunny, do you think we’re haunted?”

“Obviously,” Sunstreaker said, noting the odd distortion on the far left wall. Mirage may be able to cloak, but if one knew how to search, they could find his distorted outline. It was odd that he was giving himself away with the child-like noises. It was almost as if he was playing….with… Oh. Both twins looked to each other in clear understanding.

Mirage must have gotten one of the first ten cubes. And by the way he was acting, it had shut down his adult rationale and was allowing him to relive his sparkling-hood. Oh, this was going to be perfect!

A distinct laugh was heard before being muffled, little electronic chirps escaping as Mirage found the situation funny.

“What do you think we should do?” Sideswipe said, closing the door and pretending to be scared.

“Exorcise it, of course,” Sunstreaker said. He didn’t like the Noble. He didn’t want to play games. And he most certainly didn’t enjoy having his personal space invaded by an invisible visitor.

“Oh, I’m too scared,” Sideswipe said, pretending to cower. “I’m scared of monsters.”

“Groowllll!” Mirage said, decloaking and pretending to leap and scratch at the two mechs who he was ‘stalking.’

“Oh Primus!” Sideswipe yelled, pressing himself back against the door in mock fear.

Mirage turned to Sunstreaker, who sneered at the uptight mech before Mirage launched himself at the golden warrior. Sunstreaker emitted a startled squawk before finding his lap filled with a giggling, chirping Noble. Sunstreaker looked to his twin in terror.

Hand to hand combat he could handle. Fighting to the death he could handle. Sending a mech to the medical ward was a privilege. Earning the reputation as a mech NOT to cross was a glorious title.

But cuddling a full grown mech who cooed like a sparkling and nuzzled against your chest?

Sunstreaker blew a fuse.

With a soft pop the golden menace that defeated gladiators, took on Megatron and lived to tell the tale, and had been known to massacre thousands, couldn’t fathom how he was to react. He keeled over backward, Mirage riding his golden frame down where it clanged onto the berth.

Mirage giggled, pressing his cheek against the golden chest and listened to the spark pulse. He curled up against his warm protector, his systems signaling a shut down. And like a creator and sparkling, Sunstreaker and Mirage reposed on the berth in perfect peace.

Sideswipe smiled, taking a picture of the sweet and ‘oh so blackmailable’ scene before hearing someone scream. Knowing his twin was just unconscious, Sideswipe slipped out of the door and down the hall. He skidded to a halt finding Ironhide brandishing a chair at the consol, warbling acerbic Cybertronian to the inanimate offender. When the consol beeped about an incoming transmission, Ironhide bellowed a death threat and fired a cannon at the consol. It melted into a pile of slag within seconds, the molten scoria creeping across the floor with apparent sentience.

“Sideswipe?” Jazz called, waving the red frontliner to him. “Do you have a servo in all of this?”

“I just added a little something extra to the energon dispenser,” Sideswipe admitted. He couldn’t lie to Jazz. The fragger always knew. “It should wear off in an hour or two.”

“Slagging perfect,” Jazz said, watching as Ratchet went chasing Wheeljack through the base, bellowing about a misbehaving ‘sparkling’. Wheeljack was crying like one, so it was a fair assumption.

Prime came running into the commander center, his optics wide.

“Oh frag me backwards,” Jazz moaned, knowing Prime had succumbed to the insanity now plaguing the base thanks to Sideswipe.

“Oh Primus, not you to!” Prime declared, looking panic stricken.

“What? You mean, you aren’t dosed?” Jazz asked, hope coloring his voice.

“Dosed with what?” Prime asked. He looked from Jazz to Sideswipe, and like a thundercloud rolling in, his optics darkened and narrowed. “Sideswipe?”

“Umm… yeah?” Sideswipe asked in a timid voice. He knew that tone. He was in trouble.

“You wouldn’t happen to have a servo in this… this… insanity? Would you?” Prime asked, already knowing the truth by the guilty look the Lamborghini wore.

“It was just a joke,” Sideswipe said with a hurt expression.

“What did you do?” Prime asked, wanting the full account so he could get Ratchet to fix the problem.

“I added a few things to the energon dispenser, but it only affects the first ten cubes,” Sideswipe said, giving his leader a look that meant he was remorseful.

Prime didn’t fall for it.

“What did you put in?” Prime demanded.

“I don’t… umm… remember,” Sideswipe admitted. “Honestly! I don’t recall everything I put in, but I know it won’t last more than an hour, two at the most. I promise!”

“Primus, I hope so,” Prime muttered, a shiver running through his massive frame.

“What did you see, Prime?” Jazz asked, having a feeling that it was something bad to get Prime so shook up.

“Gears was being… nice,” Prime said, looking like he was going to cry. “And Perceptor was…. was…. well….” Prime paused, thinking how best to put it. No other alternative presented itself. “Perceptor was engaging in …amorous ….situations.”

“With who?” Sideswipe asked, optics so wide it looked like he was using two satellite dishes as optics.

“Gears,” Prime said, wincing on the words as the scene replayed itself in his cortex. Primus, he was never going to be able to purge his memory cache. “And… a calculator…..” he took a deep breath before adding, “And a pogo stick, an electro rod and stasis cuffs.”

“For Gears?” Jazz asked aghast.

“Kinky,’ Sideswipe said, optics still transmitting via satellite.

“Perceptor asked Gears if he would be willing to indulge in a fantasy, Gears said he would be happy too, and the last thing I saw was Perceptor pressing Gears against the work bench, and something was buzzing, they were pawing at each other, gasping, groaning, and by Primus, I had to get out of there!” Prime said, his frame gave another involuntary rattle.

“Slag man, now you have me curious,” Sideswipe said, looking toward the direction of the scientists’ laboratory.

“Don’t go in there!” Prime said, grasping Sideswipe’s arm before he could pass by. “I mean it, Sideswipe!”

“Oh…. Slag,” Jazz muttered, his optics going wide with realization and fear. “Oh… slag… slag… SLAG!”

And before Prime or Sideswipe knew what was going on, Jazz had ran from the room chanting the mantra. The stoic leader of the Autobots and the ruby frontliner exchanged a look for one point three seconds before following the Porsche as he ran toward the officer’s offices.

“What’s wrong, Jazz?” Prime yelled, watching as the black and white disappeared around the corner.

Sideswipe felt his tank clench. He knew what lay at the end of that hall. He’d been a visitor enough times.

Prowl’s office.

“Oh, slag!” Sideswipe screeched, picking up speed and gaining Jazz’s side just as he touched the door and threw it open.

Prowl was sitting at his desk as usual, stylus in one hand, datapad in the other. His doorwings were arched in an elegant sweep, his back straight, but it looked ‘feigned.’

“Can I help you?” Prowl asked upon looking toward the disturbance in his doorway.

There was an empty cube sitting on Prowl’s desk.

“Prowl, buddy, you feeling alright?” Jazz asked, stepping into the room and looking between the empty cube and Prowl’s benign face.

“I’ve never felt better, Jazz,” Prowl answered in his usual tone, though something was… off.

Having been around the SIC for several millennia, all three mechs knew something was amiss. Prowl’s normal clipped tone was missing. He kept his answers short and spoke in his ever annoying precise way, but there was a laxness about his frame. The normal poise was missing. Not to mention that with all the mechs currently suffering from some sort of malady caused by Sideswipe’s concoction, and other mechs running around trying to contain the situation, Prowl should have been on the proverbial warpath. But he was sitting quietly in his office, working.

Sideswipe canted his head, his olfactory sensor detecting something odd. There was a strange odor. Sideswipe took a deep draught, trying to identify the scent. He could almost place it. It was just there, right on the edge of his consciousness, almost labeled, when his attention was drawn to his worst enemy.

Prowl’s hands went lax, dropping the stylus and datapad. His doorwings hitched higher, his venting became harsh and labored, his optics fluttering closed as he tipped his head back. He grasped the desk, his body heaving. There was a cackle of energy across his frame, followed by the pleasurable gasping cry of a Praxian overloading. Doorwings fluttering, body trembling, soft noises escaping from parted lip components, Prowl shuddered hard before collapsing forward on his desk.

The three mechs stood transfixed, unable to move or speak. Until Sideswipe found his vocalizer.

“Was that Prowl’s “O” face?” Sideswipe deadpanned.

Prime released a scared noise before turning on his heel and leaving Prowl’s office. Jazz soon followed, grabbing Sideswipe’s arm as the ruby frontliner kept taking an inhale, now understanding it was the distinct ionized aroma of overload. Prowl’s door closed with a snap, Jazz physically marching the Lamborghini down the hall and away from another unfortunate victim.

“So these ingredients you put in the energon,” Jazz was saying, trying to distract Sideswipe from any further pranks involving Prowl. “What exactly were they? And are you sure they will wear off in an hour or two?”

“Don’t recall everything,” Sideswipe admitted, filing away the incriminating evidence to share with his twin when he was able to be rebooted. “And I tested something similar last month. Only lasted a couple of hours. Had some tingling pedes for a day after, and I slept a lot.”

“Whatever you concocted,” Jazz said with a shake of his head. “It appears it makes mechs become opposite of their normal personality. Or at least perform things they wouldn’t do under normal circumstances.”

“Cool,” Sideswipe said, earning a whack to the helm courtesy of a pissed off Jazz. If Sideswipe’s usual keepers were incapacitated and couldn’t control his immature nature, then it was up to Jazz to step up.

“Try to remember what you added to the energon,” Jazz said, giving Sideswipe’s arm a little squeeze to reiterate his point. Wheeljack’s crying form went tearing past with Ratchet screaming after him to go take a nap. “Sideswipe, I will personally ensure that Prowl will leave you alone for an entire month if you promise me you will bring me that full list of ‘ingredients’.”

“Can I have that in writing?” Sideswipe asked, his processor already active with possible pranks to pull off if he was free to do what he wanted for a month.

“Absolutely,” Jazz said with his customary ‘trust me’ grin. “You bring me that list, and I’ll ensure that you stay out of the brig or punishment detail for a full month.”

Powerglide chose that moment to come ‘flying’ down the hallway, his arms out at his side and a buzzing airplane noise coming from his vocalizer. He entered the command hub and circled the molten pile of slag that once been the consol that Ironhide enacted his revenge upon. Powerglide continued to circle, drawn in to the changing color of the scoria.

Bumblebee came stomping through the command center, his face drawn down in anger.

“Shut up, Hound, you slagging piece…” Bumblebee was expounding to Hound, who looked extremely upset.

“Bumblebee! That is no way to talk to your Prime!” Hound shouted, his finger pointing at the minibot with sharp relief.

“Oh, Primus,” Jazz sighed, wanting so badly to curl up in a dark place and await the tsunami of idiocy.

“This is soooo cool!” Sideswipe crooned, earning another smack to the helm from Jazz.

----- ----- THREE DAYS LATER ----- ----- -----

“You are to remain confined to the brig until Ratchet has had a chance to run a full analysis of every affected mech on base,” Prowl was saying, staring at Sideswipe between the energy bars. “Until Ratchet recovers, you are to remain here so that he may deal with you when he is mentally stable.”

“He never was to begin with,” Sideswipe muttered, resting his chin on his hand.

Prowl growled and left the brooding mech to his thoughts.

The joke didn’t seem so funny now.

Ironhide had melted a good portion of consoles, believing that they were Cons in disguise due to the fact that he couldn’t contact any of his friends on Cybertron. He didn’t understand that millions of years had passed and that he was stranded on another planet.

Hound had sent out multiple orders, demanding others follow his lead as he was a ‘Prime.’ When he came out of his stupor forty hours later, he was highly embarrassed and the demands he had asked of his comrades. Everyone kept bowing and calling him “Your Primeship”, just to watch his face plates heat up.

Gears snapped out of dementia the same time as Perceptor. As both disentangled themselves from a rather risqué position, they went their separate ways without speaking a word. Course Gears complained about the scuff marks along his body and the sensation of feeling tired, but he never voiced a word about the pleasant tingle nor the peace that filled his spark. Perceptor was seen slinking off to the washracks and remained under the spray for a long time, the burnt pieces of a calculator found on the floor sometime later by the cleaning crew.

Wheeljack and Mirage were returned to normal intelligence. Mirage offered apologies to Sunstreaker for charging on the golden warrior but Sunstreaker remained unconscious. His systems were shut down until Ratchet could enact the proper repair to the damaged code and then reboot his systems. Mirage had slipped through the door with a Noble’s grace, gliding away like a well satisfied courtesan.

Bumblebee apologized to everyone over and over, explaining he didn’t mean to use such course words and vulgar phrases. No one paid him any mind. In fact, several offered a congratulations for a rant and rage well done. Everyone was impressed with the minibots vocabulary.

Powerglide had ‘flown’ around the base in circles, making himself dizzy, and had collapsed into a fit of giggles. When he was stabilized once again he ‘took off’ from the Command Hub and flew straight into a bulkhead. When he woke up he was sore but back to his usual self.

No one was more embarrassed than Prowl. Apparently the additives had settled into the tactician’s rarely used ‘pleasure’ center and had initiated an overload every hour on the hour. When Prowl awoke from his forty-third consecutive overload, his overtaxed body had collapsed, forcing him into a deep stasis that allowed him to recover. Eleven hours later he awoke and limped to the washracks, scrubbing away the evidence of his previous activities. After receiving a hasty report from Jazz, he cornered the other black and white and demanded to know the real, uncensored story. When he realized he had overloaded in front Prime, Jazz and Sideswipe, Prowl locked up and rebooted an hour later. He spent several hours rescrubbing his plating of the evidence of his impromptu side effects.

And after he was presentable, he tracked down Sideswipe and physically dragged him to the brig, where he threw the frontliner in and activated the bars.

Now Sideswipe was sitting alone in a cell with no one to talk to. No one to sense or exchange emotions through a bond, considering Sunstreaker was still knocked out cold on his berth. Half the crew hated him and the other half were planning his dismemberment. And when Sunstreaker woke up, he would probably be the only one who would try such drastic measures.

The only one who had yet to throw off the effects was Ratchet. Apparently the CMO was under the impression that he was a lone care giver in a youngling facility. As the additives started to filter away, Ratchet had moments of lucidity. Which involved realizing who had victimized him, then he threatened to rip the Lamborghini apart in retribution, then followed by a relapse that caused the CMO to ‘correct’ every Autobot within visual range. Jazz made sure to put Sideswipe in Ratchet’s field of vision and laughed himself silly as the CMO spanked the protesting frontliner.

Jazz stopped laughing when Ratchet turned his ire to him and pulled the Porsche over his lap and spanked the TIC.

Sideswipe was in the brig for a grand total of eighteen minutes when the alarm sounded. The energy bars deactivated and he raced out, knowing he was called to action. He skidded into the Command Hub just in time to hear Prime yell, “Roll out!”

“Where are we going?” Sideswipe asked Jazz.

“Power plant two miles from here,” Jazz said sending a databurst with full information.

Sideswipe took up position in front of Prime, his scanners on alert for Decepticons. He wished Sunstreaker was with him. He really missed his twin. He didn’t like being so alone.

“Seekers, one o’clock!” Sideswipe yelled out, transforming and igniting his jet pack.

The approaching seekers scattered, trying to avoid the flying Autobot and his weapon’s fire. Sideswipe whooped and catcalled, flying among the clouds and chasing after Starscream. He was shot in the leg by Skywarp who teleported in and fired on the surprised Lamborghini. Sideswipe landed on top of a Conehead as he was passing by and like a roller coaster enthusiast, Sideswipe yelled in appreciation.

Prime transformed and jumped on Megatron, sending the duo tumbling along the uneven Earth. Megatron cursed a storm, Prime shushing the warlord and correcting his grammar. Megatron was so enthralled in the fight that the oddity of the situation didn’t sink in.

Autobots and Decepticons jumped into battle, Astrotrain taking off with a shipment of energon cubes. He was guarded by Blitzwing and Thundercracker, who had scattered the Autobots below with a sonic bomb.

Astrotrain was a dot on the horizon when Thundercracker returned to his trine mates. Starscream was catcalling the Conehead that had a Lamborghini ornament, making both Thundercracker and Skywarp blush with the Air Commanders sullied mouth. It was when Starscream landed and aimed a volley of shots toward Megatron and Prime that a voice thundered above the din.

“That will be enough of that language!” Ratchet roared, smacking the cassette twins and leaving them dazed on the ground.

Starscream kept taunting and firing, though with his horrible aim he missed his targets by a wide margin. He missed the stern look being cast around the battlefield.

Ratchet had his hands on his hips. The explosions rocked the foundations of the power plant in the distance. Weapon’s fire filled the air, smoke coiling high into the sky, and all manner of assorted languages and expressions filling the airwaves. A loud boom went off, causing the unsuspecting mechs to stagger. Mechs screamed in pain, yelled obscenities, cursed the ones who caused such turmoil, and fists were flying everywhere.

Ratchet had had enough.

“Alright! Nap time!” Ratchet yelled over the whole battlefield.

The mechs closest immediately halted their actions. The Autobots knew what was coming and dropped to the ground, sitting like sparklings awaiting their caregiver. The Decepticons stood transfixed, unable to comprehend what was happening. Ratchet stalked to the nearest Decepticon and clocked him upside the helm, sending him crashing to the ground next to the submissive Autobot.

Prime halted his struggle against Megatron, gave the fierce warlord a wide optic look and sat down. He looked up to Megatron, his expression clearly meaning the mighty leader of the Decepticon army was to plant his white aft on the ground next to his mortal enemy.

“What are you doing, Prime?” Megatron asked, perturbed by his arch enemy’s odd behavior.

“Sit down and shut up,” Prime snapped, grasping Megatron’s wrist and jerking him downward to join the esteemed Prime on the ground.

Megatron opened his mouth to protest but his optics raked the battlefield and realized that many of the Autobots were dropping onto their afts and sitting like scolded sparklings. A clang and bang signaled that a Decepticon had been too slow in moving and ended up dazed upon the ground, the Autobot CMO poised above him with hands on hips.

“What is going on?” Megatron snarled.

Prime’s hand shot out and slapped across his counterparts lip components, his optics going wide in shock. “Shhh! You’ll draw his attention.”

“Mmhhppptttt?” Megatron managed to say through Prime’s oppressing digits.

“Ratchet ingested energon that Sideswipe had tainted. His systems are having a hard time distributing the additives causing his processor to misinterpret information and cause hallucinations,” Prime explained, earning an optic roll from Megatron.

Apparently the Decepticon warlord didn’t realize the strength and despotic behavior that could be implemented by the CMO. His education was brought up to speed as he watched his idiotic winged Air Commander launch into a tirade at the CMO for hitting Skywarp, when Ratchet moved so quickly, he was a blur of white. Megatron watched in wide optic fascination as Ratchet stormed to the winged menace, unafraid and looking just as murderous as Megatron when his nerve circuits were past their endurance. Though instead of yelling threats and punching Starscream, Ratchet let loose a long verbal stream of assorted curses that earned instant appraisal and respect from both factions. His trusted wrench made one tiny, pinpoint strike and like a drunken butterfly, Starscream flapped his arms, spun around in a clumsy pirouette and face planted into the ground, his aft sticking up in the air as consciousness fled from his frame.

“The other affected mechs were back to normal in a day or two,” Prime whispered to his now shocked enemy. “But Ratchet’s systems are different. He believes he’s caretaker to sparklings and enacts this hallucination until the additives filter through his systems and allow him to become lucid again.”

Megatron removed Prime’s hand, his face one of disbelief.

“This is your best assault upon the Decepticon forces?” Megatron asked, his customary sneer lighting up his face. “You would have me to believe your medical officer is fantasizing that we are his charges?”

Prime nodded, feeling his tank threatening to purge when he heard the thunderous footfalls of his doom come storming up to his side. He let out an un-adult like whimper before closing his optics.

What is going on here?” Ratchet demanded, his optics sparkling in anger.

Megatron felt his ire rise. He was no one’s sparkling. He was not under the protective graces of a carrier, perceived or otherwise. He was almost as old as the towering Autobot. He was a warlord. A leader. One to be feared and obeyed. How dare this mentally deranged usurper undermine his leadership of his army. Their commands were issued from his vocalizer, not a hallucinating medical officer.

Megatron gained his pedes, standing a full head taller than Ratchet. His armor puffed in ritual display, showing his aggressive stance against the other posturing male. He wasn’t going to take orders nor submit to a perceived superior.

“Sit down you fool,” Prime hissed under his breathing function.

“I asked what was going on,” Ratchet repeated, his voice dropping into the level that meant certain punishment to all errant sparklings.

Prime cringed. He knew what was coming.

“Knock him on his slagging aft!” Sideswipe crowed from where he was sitting with two of the Coneheads.

“I said enough of that language,” Ratchet snapped, causing Sideswipe to give his most innocent and adorable look. It didn’t work.

“I am the leader of the Decepticons!” Megatron roared, his fusion cannon warming up with impending doom. “I do not take orders from you!”

“I don’t care who you think you are,” Ratchet roared right back, causing Megatron to falter and take a step back. Ratchet advanced, ignorant of the hissing cannon that could end his life. “When an adult gives you an order, you will follow it. I don’t care if you think you’re Prime. You WILL obey!”

Megatron’s indignation was cut short as something solid connected with his head, sending him reeling in a dizzy whirlwind of color. He felt the ground collide with his knees before rough hands grabbed the scruff of his neck and spun him around onto his aft. He landed with an undignified thump, his vision still awhirl with color.

“You raise your voice to me again and I’ll beat your aft off of your frame,” Ratchet threatened. He cast a glare at Prime, who immediately bowed his head in submission.

Megatron could only offer a jumbled protest that died in his vocalizer as Ratchet gave him a warning shake.

“Now, I said it was nap time,” Ratchet said, releasing his hold on the Decepticon warlord and pushing him toward the ground. “Lie down and charge. If you refuse, you will regret it.”

Prime splayed himself on the ground in contrite innocence when Ratchet looked to him in expectation. With a satisfied smirk, Ratchet stormed off to put the next ‘sparkling’ down for a nap. Megatron rolled to his side, then onto his front, his head still swimming with the dehabilitating blow.

“What… is wrong with that crazy fragger?” Megatron whispered to his enemy, his vision slowly discerning Ratchet stalking through the battlefield, rendering soldiers inert on the ground in an imposed nap time.

“Apparently Ratchet’s systems cant handle the additives that Sideswipe put in the dispenser,” Prime whispered, rolling onto his front, his shoulder inches away from Megatron’s own. “They have collected in his main distribution center, causing his processor to revert back to the time he was a caretaker at a youngling center. When they filter through, he’ll become lucid again.”

“What kind of additive are we talking about?” Megatron asked, his vision clearing in time to see Soundwave forcefully shoved onto his back. Ravage and Lazerbeak taking up positions next to the master in timid obedience, curling up next to Soundwave’s chest and settling down like good mannered sparklings.

“I have no idea,’ Prime said, turning to look at Megatron. “But rest assured I will be banning the substance from base.”

“Are we all this susceptible to the additive?” Megatron asked, his tank clenching with the thought of him parading around demanding that grown adults have to take a nap in the middle of a warzone.

“I don’t know,’ Prime admitted. “Ratchet is the only one who can determine the side effects and right now, his processor is too addled to be of assistance.”

“I never thought I’d say this, but I want to go back to Nemesis,” Megatron said, watching as Ratchet engaged in a stare down with Prowl. In the blink of an optic the tactician froze up and keeled over, Ratchet’s smirk lighting up the battle field like a star.

“I hope this filters through his system soon,” Prime said, hefting a heavy gust of air through his vents. “He’s already punished half of the Autobot ranks and keeps demanding we have naps and early bedtime.”

“He’s been influenced too much by human culture,” Megatron added, watching as Ratchet graced Bumblebee with an affectionate pat and murmured words of endearment.

“Too much, I’m afraid,” Prime said, finding the scene to be rather nice, if not odd. “He washed Ironhide’s mouth out with solvent, sent Prowl to his room, took Jazz’s stereo away, grounded Powerglide, and has spanked almost every one of us.”

Megatron’s head turned in slow motion, his optics wide as he stared at his most hated enemy.

Prime didn’t seemed fazed by his mortal enemy as he continued, “I must admit, it’s been nice to avoid paperwork and the endless datapads that all demand attention and immediate action.”

“I refuse to do it,” Megatron said, gathering his wits once again. “I make Starscream deal with the finer points of running the Decepticon army.”

“Lucky,’ Prime said, wanting to laugh at the idle conversation the two were having. It was like they were younglings again. “Right now, I’d enjoy a good human negotiation and inventory supply list than being forced to ‘color’.”

“Color?” Megatron asked, watching as Ratchet slipped between inert bodies to ascertain who was talking too loudly.

Prime waited a moment as Ratchet sourced out the problem and optics narrowing, stalked toward Sideswipe.

“Ratchet says we’re too young for datapads and seeing war related materials,” Prime whispered, watching as Ratchet grasped Sideswipe by his scruff bar and hauled him to his feet. “So we spend an hour every day coloring pictures.”

“Sounds horrible,” Megatron said, his optics now transfixed on Sideswipe’s protesting form as Ratchet directed them to a boulder.

“It’s actually quite relaxing after awhile,” Prime said, not bothering to come to his soldier’s defense. Sideswipe had it coming. In more ways than one.

“I should try it,” Megatron admitted, hiding his smirk as Ratchet sat on the boulder and pulled Sideswipe to him.

With an undignified squawk, Sideswipe was clipped on the helm, disorienting him. His indignity rose when he felt Ratchet’s legs press against his chest and then the sharp sting of the medic’s hand as he brought it down, hard, on the frontliner’s aft. Loud reports echoed across the now silent landscape. Each thundering clang was punctuated by Sideswipe’s yelp of pain and cries of innocent protests.

Megatron’s shoulder shook with laughter as he watched the Autobot CMO spank the insane front line warrior as if he were nothing more than a disobedient sparkling. He turned his ruby optics to Prime, noting the blue optics was twinkling with mirth as he too suppressed his laughter.

A particularly loud clap ended the verbal barrage and without looking toward the whimpering soldier, Megatron whispered, “I’m soooo glad he’s on your side.”

Chapter Text

‘Sideswipe, I need to speak with you,’ Prowl called through the comms.

Sideswipe continued to laugh with his friends in the rec room while he acknowledged the summons. ‘On my way.’

Sideswipe nudged his brother, who was uncommonly social as of late. When Sunstreaker showed no desire of moving aside, Sideswipe shoved him. Sunstreaker shoved back. Sideswipe shoved harder. Sunstreaker drew back his fist with every intention of correcting his brother on the wrong assumption that one can shove the gorgeous mech and not suffer consequences, when Sideswipe’s irate glare burned into his spark.

“Prowl just commed me,” Sideswipe snapped, giving his brother another shove to prove his vehemence. “If I’m late, he’ll trump up some stupid charge and then I’ll be stuck doing who knows what with who knows who and if I’m going to be jailed for being late, then I’m dragging your aft into the equation and you can suffer with me.”

Sunstreaker lowered his fist and moved aside, allowing his brother the chance to leave the booth. His scowl was deep as he glared at his twin. He didn’t want to be alone with the other mechs. They got on his nerve function. One or two was okay but four was asking too much of the golden Lamborghini. He was just learning to come out of his preverbal shell, but still needed his twin nearby to deflect the majority of the attention. Sideswipe was the natural life of the party. Sunstreaker was just the observing optics that watched everyone enjoy themselves without partaking in the fun himself. He wasn’t programmed for group activities unless it meant beating the slag out of someone or terminating them . He was good at both. But that was a very limited resume when it came to social skills.

“I’ll be back shortly,” Sideswipe said giving a nod to Hound, Jazz, Bumblebee, and Hoist. Mirage nodded in greeting as Sideswipe passed.

The noble made for the only occupied table and sat down beside of Sunstreaker, expecting him to slide in and allow the Tower brat to rest his cube on the table. Sunstreaker remained motionless, except his lip plating, and that curled as soon as the Noble made for their table. Mirage gave Sunstreaker a long suffering sigh and scooted to where he was seated more at the neighboring table than with the group.

Sunstreaker felt his ire rise upon seeing the tower brat and snapped to his pedes. In a few strides he was out of the rec room and heading toward the open road for a long, and hopefully Red Alert-free, drive. He saw Sideswipe disappear into the command Hub before following Prowl out, the Praxian lost in thought as he read a report on a datapad. Needing solitude, Sunstreaker left, racing to destinations unknown. Had he would have stayed, he would have been stupefied at what Prowl was perusing and even more shocked as to why the Praxian asked Sideswipe to join him.

“Walk with me,” Prowl commanded, his pedes as ever, light upon the floor.

Sideswipe fell into step, noting that though Prowl was of heavier build, he barely made a sound with his pedefalls. It was rather creepy. A mech that big shouldn’t be able to sneak around so quietly, especially if he didn’t reveal his secret to those who could put such talent to good use.

“I need you to pull a prank,” Prowl said, highlighting a section of the screen for later dissection. He was several steps away when he realized he was alone. He turned, finding Sideswipe standing frozen, one pede having yet to descend to the floor with his last step. It look like Wheeljack froze him again. “Sideswipe, are you functional?”

Sideswipe shuttered his optics for a moment, placed his pede upon the ground and opened his optics in slow motion. Prowl stood a few paces away looking concerned.

“I think I need to have my audios checked,” Sideswipe said, taking the few steps toward his superior officer. He shook his helm and rubbed his temples as he gained Prowl’s side. “I could have sworn you told me to pull a prank.”

“I did,” Prowl said in that flat tone that got him laughed at more often than anyone cared to admit. How he could deliver some of the most hysterical, perverted, or downright sadistic one-liners and not crack a smile was anyone’s guess. It seemed unnatural. No one should have such a neutral expression.

“What?” Sideswipe asked in a little gush of air. He shook his helm again to clear the fog but Prowl merely waited in his ever patient way as he gained control over himself.

“Stop shaking your helm,” Prowl said, wondering how the frontliner didn’t make himself dizzy with such actions. “You look like a dog twitching with fleas.”

Sideswipe’s optical ridge shot up, expecting to see Prowl crack a smile but as ever, he was passive. He sighed inwardly before mustering up the courage to ask, “Why do you need me to pull a prank?”

“Not a prank per say,” Prowl amended, motioning for Sideswipe to follow him toward his office. “It is merely an unplanned eruption to daily life to precipitate the odd occurrence of a Decepticon infiltration and to ascertain our ability to prepare and engage in unexpected combat.”

“What?” Sideswipe asked, not sure he was understanding his parameters.

“I want you to set up a simulation,” Prowl paused, turning to look at Sideswipe and reiterating in a clear tone, “Simulation only, of a Decepticon attack. As our troops are caught unaware, I will evaluate each of them for efficiency, accuracy, and response to unexpected, critical situations.”

The duo turned the corner that lead to Prowl’s office. The door stood as always, in taunting orange and glaring brighter than the hull.

“I don’t get it,” Sideswipe said, staring at Prowl as if the Praxian had lost his mind. There was a good chance the glitch had done permanent damage. “You want me to fake a Con attack so you can watch how everyone will react?”

“In the past we had the constant threat of Decepticon incursion,” Prowl explained. His door wings hitched a little higher, causing Sideswipe to pay particularly close attention. “With the limited Decepticons available on Earth, and the high concentration of human populace, I need to evaluate everyone to ensure we are not falling lax in our duties and become too complacent with the sparse engagements thus far.”

“You want to make sure everyone doesn’t get lazy and put the fear of Primus into them in case we’re ever attacked for real?” Sideswipe surmised. “Just because the Cons aren’t as active, we now have other civilians to consider for casualties.”

“Precisely,” Prowl nodded. “Since I can no longer do such evaluations due to the lack of constant battles and limited access to training areas, I must…” Prowl paused, flicking a doorwing in agitation before amending, “Improvise.”

Sideswipe still looked shocked and somewhat skeptical. There was a good chance he was a second away from comming Ratchet for assistance.

“If you have any questions, you may ask Prime for clarification,” Prowl insisted, that annoyed expression flittering across his face. It seemed to be the only expression he could present.

Sideswipe narrowed his optics, trying to understand the situation. No, Prowl had never come to him with such a request before. No, Prowl wasn’t the joking type. Prowl wouldn’t suggest he go to Prime if this was not already approved by the higher ups. Yes, it was most definitely doable. Yes, Sideswipe had correlating ideas and multiple props. Yes he was looking forward to scaring the oil out of everyone. Yes, he was feeling that tingling in his circuits that meant good, violent and potentially devastating things were going to happen.

He would take it as a personal insult if someone was unaffected by the calamity he was formulating.

“You must inform Prime and myself of your intentions so we may be prepared and conduct our own evaluations accordingly,” Prowl said, putting down the ground rules before Sideswipe got carried away and his audios shut down. He had a habit of doing that.

“You’re actually giving me permission to do this” Sideswipe asked, staring slack jawed at Prowl. It was like all the Earth holidays rolled into one!

“Yes,” Prowl said, feeling that a burning sensation that only Sideswipe could accomplish. “I grant you permission and have already spoken to Prime about requisitioning your services, as it were. We both condone the choice and await your suggestions for approval.”

Sideswipe made a noise of surprise and joy, the sound coming out like a strangled owl. His body tensed, his hands clapped together and a high pitched whine filled the air as he got his mental cogs to working. Like a streaking meteorite he was gone, his burning trail left in his wake that disappeared around the corner.

Prowl offered a soft whimper before entering his office and finding the softest place on the floor to crash. He could deal with the processor aches when he woke up. Right now, he wanted to be blissfully unaware and allow Sideswipe free reign to plot his scenarios.

All the processor aches and the ensuing aggravated bots when they realized this whole thing was a test was going to push Prowl’s seemingly limitless patience. But he wasn’t going to back down nor ignore a direct order. Prime had held a valid point in noticing his troops weren’t as alert and responsive as they should be. Why Prowl immediately thought of Sideswipe and even broached the subject with the esteemed leader, the Praxian would never know. He succumbed to the shut down, knowing he was going to be hearing a lot of asinine, childish, and potentially hazardous scenarios when Sideswipe finished his scheming.

Primus. He must be delusional.

Chapter Text

Starscream wanted to pace so badly, but the injury to his right thruster prevented his mobility and subsequently, his transformation. He was in no condition to be pacing, but the fact that the simple act had been banished from him made it all the more desirable. He settled for sitting on the side of the too small berth, tapping his left thruster against the metal. The action didn’t do anything to quell the intense need for motion the seeker craved, so regardless of medical advice, he stood up on his injured thruster. And squawked, cursed, and landed with an undignified clank onto the berth.

Primus he hated inactivity.

He hated being injured.

And he slagging hated being stuck in the enemy brig! Slag Megatron for leaving him behind when an arrant shot from the Autobot sniper clipped his wing. As he performed the tightest corkscrew maneuver ever attempted, a blazing fire swept along his thrusters and destroyed the majority of the circuitry. A small part of his CPU wondered if the tyrant hadn’t shot him as he spiraled out of control toward enemy lines. He wouldn’t put it past him. Primus knows Starscream had taken such pot shots at his leader when he was down. Slagger deserved them, in the seeker’s opinion.

So here he was, locked away in a cell clearly designed for a ground frame, with a busted thruster and a horrible processor ache from landing upside down on a hard, metallic body. He had intended on taking out an Autobot with his landing (he refused to admit to a crash), but his injury was so severe he lost consciousness before he had targeted anyone in particular. The only proof he had of his impromptu landing was the violent streaking of red paint and the unfocused rantings of an enraged medic as he applied a rough field patch. Next thing Starscream knew he woke up in a cell and was unable to stretch his wings in the cramped space.

Distant voices drew his attention to the hall, where the lights blazed so brightly it made the orange walls glow like an inferno. Starscream narrowed his optics, hearing the voices become more distinct. With a sinking feeling he realized who was coming to torment him.

Those two blasted twins that enjoyed launching themselves at the seekers. Well, Starscream wasn’t going to back down from a fight, whether it was verbal or physical, but he be slagged if he allowed them to get the upper hand. After millions of years, there were thousands of nights spent with his trinemates wondering about the complexity of the Autobot twins and their unnatural obsession with anything with wings. He had a rather lengthy resume of questions and insults that would no doubt put the troublesome duo in their place. And if he ever made it back to the Nemesis, hopefully he’d have some answers and maybe win a bet or two.

Soon the twins entered the brig, the red one trying to assuage the grim look his golden twin wore.

“How was I supposed to know the stupid Cons would attack and it would throw my timetable off?” Sideswipe was saying, completely oblivious to their audience.

“You should never use a timer,” Sunstreaker grunted, optics glowering. “It’s only a matter of time….”

The duo stopped directly opposite of Starscream, though they kept their backs to his cell. Instead they faced the two empty cells across from the caged seeker and continued their conversation.

“I’ve tried using remotes,” Sideswipe said, a touch of sullenness in his voice. “They’re easier to detect if you’re actively broadcasting. Red’s caught on. I’ve had to change the game plan.”

Sunstreaker snorted in disgust and without invitation, stepped into the left cell. Sideswipe offered a partial shrug and entered the right. Both turned and planted themselves on the berths, facing the Decepticon captive on the other side. Starscream offered a curled sneer, just waiting for the jibes, but the twins paid him no mind.

Sideswipe stretched out on the berth, tucking his arms behind his head and staring up the ceiling. He had to raise his voice so his brother could hear. “You know, we’re in here so often, why do we even bother having quarters? Shouldn’t we just move our berths down here and make it permanent? Seems such a waste of space.”

Sunstreaker ignored the glaring seeker and assumed the same position as his brother before answering. “I bet if you asked Prowl, he’d freeze up and Ratchet would have our ball bearings on a silver platter for spazzing him out again.”

“Yeah, don’t want to irritate the one who can pull your plugs out through your muffler,” Sideswipe agreed.

Starscream looked between the two, clearly at a loss as to why they were there. No one had escorted them and the bars hadn’t been activated. They were free mechs to do what they please, and yet they ventured to the brig of their own accord? Starscream narrowed his optics at the two, wondering if they were playing some sort of mind game with him. It wasn’t usual for them to ignore an enemy and carry on a conversation as if no one else was around. He opened his mouth to start the verbal sparring, when suddenly there was a loud clanging noise, followed by a small explosion.

A small part of Starscream perked up, thinking his comrades had come to his rescue, but with the relaxed look the twins were still sporting, it was unlikely there was a rescue campaign. His curiosity increased when he noticed Sideswipe hold up his hand, fingers splayed and started a countdown.

“Five…Four…Three... Two….One….” Sideswipe called, ticking off his fingers. Before he could announce the reason like a side show charlatan, a voice thundered throughout the base.

“Sideswipe! Sunstreaker!” The voice was definitely the Second In Command’s. And boy did he sound pissed!

Sideswipe offered a happy chirp, before changing his demeanor into one of abject supplication. He answered via the ships internal comms, “We’re already in the brig.”

A sputtering hiss filled the intercom before a rough static-filled noise announced that control had once again been regained. “One week! You know the drill!”

“Yeah, which is why we’re in here in the first place,” Sunstreaker snapped back. He was already in trouble for something Sideswipe did, he may as well do something to earn his punishment. Riling up Prowl seemed to be a good idea.

As Starscream leaned against the edge of his berth, he stared at the twins in confusion. Apparently they not only made Decepticons miserable, but they did things to their own teammates as well. Starscream wondered briefly if they had been in communiqué with Skywarp, who was just as notorious for that little quirk.

Just as Starscream opened his mouth to inquiry about the twins level of sanity, there came the footfalls of Cybertronian feet. Prowl literally erupted into the hall, his steps so heavy they rang like church bells for the two doomed soldiers. He stopped in front of their cells, looking from one to the other, his doorwings arched so high in a “V” that it looked quite uncomfortable. Starscream winced slightly.

“Explain yourselves!” Prowl demanded.

“Jazz always schedules the game in the afternoon,” Sideswipe started, trying to look as innocent as possible. It didn’t work. “I was hoping to get him because you know how he keeps saying that he’s too highly trained and no one has been able to get the drop on him.”

Prowl offered a curt nod but didn’t speak.

“Well, it really gets on a mechs nerves,” Sideswipe said, now acting irritated. “I mean, I have a reputation to uphold! I couldn’t let him continue to brag about being so good he’d never be caught unaware.”

“So you deemed it necessary to tar and feather him?” Prowl asked, one doorwing giving a little twitch. Not a good sign. His hand slammed down on the control box a bit too hard. Both cells alighted with bars, keeping the three combatants safely away from each other. It could have been interpreted as Prowl’s way of instating their punishment, but in truth, the tactician needed the physical barrier between him and the Pit-Spawned troublemakers else he’d throttle the both of them.

“I didn’t use real tar, just some children’s glue with food coloring. It’ll come off with a good wash,” Sideswipe said, waving his hand in a dismissive manner. Didn’t seem to sink in that his Commanding Officer was standing just a few feet away and his hands were ready to exact revenge. Course there was high energy bars separating them, so that could have bolstered Sideswipe’s spinal strut. The only thing on Sideswipe’s processor though was his beautifully planned prank and the results. Suddenly Sideswipe perked up, rising on the berth, optics wide as they gleamed in mischief. “Did I get him? Is my record now intact?”

“Your record will continue to grow as long as Prime allows you two to function in this army,” Prowl said coolly, trying and failing to calm down. The last thing he needed was his own record detailing his dismemberment of two soldiers and subsequent, though well deserved, courts martial and incarceration. “But to answer your questions,” and he allowed himself a malicious sneer that caught the two frontliners by surprise, “No, you didn’t get Jazz. You got Smokescreen, Hound, Mirage, and Ironhide.”

“Ouch,” Sunstreaker muttered, knowing that Smokescreen held a grudge like no other. Mirage could easily cloak and make your life miserable. Ironhide could shoot you and not think twice. The only one who would be able to take the joke was Hound, but since he had just been discharged from the infirmary, there was a chance the ‘innocent glue’ could cause unexpected and unintentional side effects. And that would bring Ratchet into the mix of retribution seekers.

It was not looking good for the twins. Their life expectancy just lowered considerably.

The sound of a pissed off mech approaching echoed down the corridor. It didn’t take long for Ironhide to appear, though it was hard to discern the weapon’s master as he was covered in thick black, syrupy strands and accented by numerous multicolored feathers. He went straight to the black and white commander and shoved a cube of energon in his hands before offering a leering snarl to the two cells occupants then stormed off. His steps disappeared before the twins pulled themselves from their stupor.

“He looked good,” Sunstreaker snorted.

Prowl’s optics narrowed into slits. “Your punishment detail consists of one week in the brig, followed by a month of cleaning and maintenance duty in the Med Bay.”

Both twins started at the announcement. They expected the brig time and maybe some menial work, but to be ordered into Ratchet’s domain while their transgression was still fresh? It wasn’t a good combination.

“Would it help my case to know that I didn’t have a hand in the trap, or in its planning?” Sunstreaker asked, wishing Prowl would just order the firing squad and be done with it.

“No,” Prowl snapped.

“Figured not,” Sunstreaker groused, plopping back on the berth and draping an arm over his optics.

“Traitor,” Sideswipe growled from his cell, sending his twin a dark thrum through their bond.

“Every mech for himself when Hatchet’s involved,” Sunstreaker answered, not perturbed by his twin or Commander.

“You know the rules,” Prowl said, feeling so angry he could probably wipe out the entire Decepticon faction without pause.

“Yeah, yeah,” Sideswipe said, nonchalantly. “We’re the reason why the rules were written.”

“Well, at least you get a new season to entertain you,” Prowl said cryptically, earning dual looks of shocked fear.

Whatever put the twins on such edge didn’t bode well for Starscream. He felt a chill run along his spinal strut. Something about the way these three had a battle of the wills… it was very unsettling. Suddenly Prowl turned, facing the other captive in the cell block. Out of habit, Starscream pushed himself further back on the berth, trying to put as much distance between himself and the crazed Autobots as possible. Sadly, in a cell, there was only so far a seeker could go. His wings bumped the wall, resigning him to his fate.

Prowl stalked to the seeker’s cell and placed the energon cube in a drawer. With a code he closed the hatch, pushing it through the wall, where it protruded into Starscream’s cell. The lid automatically flipped up, revealing the cube.

“Drink,” Prowl commanded sternly.

Usually Starscream would bristle at being ordered by anyone, but today he did the wise thing and held his vocalizer. He slid from the berth and hobbled the few paces to the offered cube and picked it up, his optics never leaving his captor.

“It hasn’t been tampered with,” Prowl added, noting the seekers reluctance to drink.

Truthfully the cube had been tampered with, but only with additives and a special nutritional blend designed for seekers. When Ratchet had hastened through Starscream’s repairs, he had noticed the seeker was vastly undernourished. Megatron had yet to contact the Autobots with demands of his Air Commander’s return, so Ratchet was going to use his captivity as a means to replenish his systems.

Starscream looked at the glowing purple fuel and felt his tanks churn. It had been ages since he had a decent amount of pure energon, and from the soft fumes coming from the cube, it was a rather potent grade, just perfect for a seeker’s frame. His systems flashed warnings across his diagnostic relay and with reluctance, he downed the cube in a few easy gulps. If he was going to mount an escape, he needed his strength.

The fuel tingled on the way down, and as soon as it hit his tanks, his absorption relays kicked into gear. A warmth spread over his frame, enveloping his body and soothing across his wings. He gave an involuntary moan, ignoring the small part of his processor that was suggesting he save some for his wingmates. But it tasted sooooo good….

When the warmth had passed, he placed the cube back into the slot and pressed the return button. Remembering who was glaring at him from the other side of the bars, his smugness returned. When Prowl picked up the empty cube, Starscream sneered. “I’ll have another, Barkeep.”

Prowl’s optics darkened and for a moment, Starscream was sure the stoic Second was going to disengage the energy bars and twist his wings into submission. Megatron did it so often, Starscream could recognize the look before the action. Considering the foul mood the tactician was in and the still supercilious looks the twins wore, the seeker was treading in highly dangerous waters.

Prowl gave a curt nod and said, “Ratchet will be by shortly with another cube.”

“What?” Starscream asked, completely shocked to learn he was getting what he wanted. Something that like never happened on Nemesis.

“He believes that you should have a cube every four hours, but if you feel so inclined, you can have as much as you need,” Prowl said, some of his anger dissipating now that he wasn’t facing two pain in the aft glitches.

Starscream stared speechless at the Second. The first time in recorded history that has been accomplished.

Without another word, Prowl spun on his heel and left, not daring to look into the opposite cells. It was a good thing too, because he was receiving a lecherous grin and snarling scowl.

When Prowl was gone, Sideswipe called across the hall, “Hey Screamer!”

Starscream snapped out of his stunned stupor to stare at the red menace. “Don’t call me that!”

Ignoring the irate glare sent his way, Sideswipe smiled and continued on as if he wasn’t receiving the worlds deadliest glare. “Just wanted to let you know that was an awesome landing.”

“Shut up!” Starscream snarled, his temper emboldened by the warm energon. “Some fool shot me down!”

“Yeah, that was much was obvious,” Sunstreaker added, enjoying the rage now smoldering behind crimson optics. “Your thrusters were on fire and were you screaming like a feme.”

Starscream’s hands curled into fists. His voice was a very touchy subject. But before he could launch into a tirade, Sideswipe cut across.

“Well, whether someone shot you or not, the fact remains that you couldn’t have performed a better landing even if you had months to practice!” Sideswipe crowed, rising up on the berth and sitting on the edge. His face was alight with genuine amusement. “Prime never saw you coming!”

“I could…..co…” Starscream’s anger ebbed away, replaced by confusion. It took a moment for Sideswipe’s words to sink in. He could only stare dumbly at the opposite cell. “Prime?”

“Yeah, it was fantastic!” Sideswipe whooped, giving the seeker a beaming smile. “Prime and Megs were fighting, Megatron somehow gained the upper hand, had Prime lined up, and here you drop in and land right on top of Prime, deflecting Megatron’s shot!”

“I did what?” Starscream asked, looking over the red streaks against his white plating. “I landed on …Prime?”

“Knocked him out,” Sunstreaker said, a rare smile gracing his face.

“Megs was slagged off!” Sideswipe added, his face still beaming with excitement. “He was ready to end Prime and here you fall in, knock him out, and took Megs’ glory!”

Starscream allowed himself a smirk. Anything he could do to get under Megatron’s plating was good, and the fact that he performed this particular stunt while unconscious only further aggrieved the tyrant.

“Everyone thought Megs had taken out Prime, so everyone concentrated their fire on Megs, which caused him to order an immediate retreat,” Sideswipe continued, enjoying having a rapt audience. “Megs tucked tailpipes and disappeared and we found you passed out on top of Prime.”

“Priceless,” Sunstreaker snickered.

“Did I terminate him?” Starscream asked eagerly. It would have been glorious if he took out their more feared rival. It would make Megatron’s humiliation double.

“Naw, just knocked him cold,” Sideswipe said, oblivious to the disappointed look on the seeker’s face. “He came to a few minutes later, saw how bad you were injured and ordered Ratchet to patch you up.”

Starscream examined his thruster and with a disgruntled noise, realized that not only had the burns been attended to, but several circuits that had been disabled for quite some time were starting to come online.

Just as Sideswipe mentioned the medic, his bulk came through the door like a snowstorm. He stomped to the seekers cell and deposited the cube in the small drawer as Prowl had done, and punched in his code. With a beep it sealed on the outside and reopened inside the cell.

“Drink it slowly,” Ratchet said with a dark glower. “Don’t need you getting overcharged.”

“Why not?” Sideswipe asked, hiding his amusement when Ratchet visibly stiffened at his voice. “It’s not like we have decent entertainment around here. A drunk Screamer could be very entertaining.”

Starscream grabbed the cube and hobbled back to his berth, trying to put as much distance as possible away from the medic, who now looked ready to erupt. Ratchet whirled on the twins, his plating radiating heat in a mirage effect as he slowly stepped toward their cells. He resembled a predatory ghost, ready to pounce on its unsuspecting prey.

“You just wait until your sentence is up,” he breathed, his voice coming out as a raspy growl.

Starscream wanted to run and hide at the tone. He nearly fell over when both twins offered partial shrugs in answer, not perturbed in the least by what was to come when they were freed. Had they no sense of self preservation?

“Ratchet, I know you’re in love with us, but we’ve tried to tell you, we’re not interested,” Sideswipe said in all sincerity.

Ratchet’s low growl turned into a roar as he punched in a code on Sideswipe’s cell. The bars disappeared and Ratchet stormed in. Starscream stared, transfixed as the medic, the one who swore to protect and preserve all life literally throttled the red menace. His first strike was well aimed, sending the frontliner into a dizzying scramble that left him vulnerable. Sideswipe squawked with each strike and tried to defend himself, but Ratchet’s knowledgeable hands struck in all the right places, rendering him helpless.

“Whack him a few times for me!” Sunstreaker called, not bothered in the least that his twin was being mech handled in the next cell.

After a minute of clangs, bangs, yelps, and a plethora of curses, Ratchet exited Sideswipe’s cell. He pawed the control box on the way, causing the electric bars to spring to life. Without another word he disappeared down the hall.

Starscream wondered if the red twin was still alive, considering his unmoving frame and his quiet demeanor. When Sideswipe showed no signs of life, he called, “Are you dead?”

Sideswipe remained motionless. Sunstreaker gave the seeker half a glance before answering, “He’s not dead. Just offline. He’ll wake up aching but laughing. He always does.”

“Insane,” Starscream muttered just loud enough for Sunstreaker to hear.

“Yes, he is,” Sunstreaker agreed, then amended, “And an idiot.”

Just then the lights flickered. The only illumination was coming from the recessed lights out in the hall and the blue and red optics of the captives. Starscream let out an involuntary hiss, expecting the worst.

“Relax,” Sunstreaker called. “It’s just lights out. One of the punishments is an early bedtime.” A gruff snort graced the cell before he added, “The other thing Prowl insists on torturing us with is early morning television.”

“What?” Starscream sputtered in the dark.

“Usually something associated with sparkling education,” Sunstreaker offered, not realizing this had been the most he’d spoken to anyone outside of his brother in over a week. “Prowl thinks it will work on us, but it hasn’t so far. Doesn’t stop him from trying, though. Poor mech. Just doesn’t seem to understand what he’s up against.”

Starscream watched in fascination as Sunstreaker completely powered down in his cell, his optics shuttering and systems cycling into a low hum. Sideswipe was currently residing on the floor, one leg propped up on the berth. Several white scratched adorned his paint.

Starscream downed the second cube and placed it back in the receptacle before returning to his own berth. It took some time, but he was able to get comfortable. The warm energon coursing through his systems made sure he shut down in record time.

The cell blocks were roused out of their collective recharge when the lights flared into existence and small screens appeared along the wall in every cell.

“Slag,” Sunstreaker muttered, throwing his arm over his optics.

Sideswipe let out a high pitched keen as he moved from his makeshift bed. When he onlined his optics, he started to giggle, rubbing his helm and wincing at a particularly nasty dent.

“Slagging psycho,” he muttered.

Starscream’s optics fluttered open and upon seeing the unfamiliar orange ceiling, bolted upright, scraping a wing along the wall. He winced, distancing himself from the wall and turned to glare at the screen. Images of fleshlings and puppets filled the screen, along with the most annoying song Starscream could ever recall hearing. It only stopped when the humans started talking in small words, obviously centering their attention on immature humans who would be watching their broadcast. Starscream found it insulting.

Sideswipe actually sang along to the theme and perked up, watching with drowsy optics as the screen displayed the childish program. Sunstreaker resigned himself to listening to the broadcast, knowing Prowl would give them a pop quiz when they got out. If all questions weren’t answered correctly, then it was back to the cell and back to the programming. It was a dirty, sneaky, disgusting trick, and the twins secretly admired the tactician for coming up with such a diabolical form of punishment.

The day progressed slowly for the incarcerated. Starscream received cubes every four hours, which he hungrily devoured, and stowed a little in subspace for his trinemates, if he ever got out of this hellish Pit.

Afternoon came and went and still the incessant drone of children’s programming filled the cells. The twins seemed to be quite entertained, even singing along to the theme songs and making rude comments to perfectly innocent looking puppets and their respective puppeteers. It was quite funny, though Starscream would never admit anything out loud.

By midday, the flyer was ready to commit suicide.

“When will it end?” He howled after the fifth hour.

“Should have been over by now, but knowing Prowl, he’s just sadistic enough to play the entire season,” Sideswipe answered, then made a loud, gaseous noise at the screen.

Several more hours passed by.

As Ratchet placed two low grade cubes in the twin’s cells, and turned to place Starscream’s in the drawer, the seeker grasped the energy bars and snarled, “Get Prime!”

“Problem?” Ratchet asked in mild concern. He noticed the seeker’s hands starting to burn with the energy of the bars. “Remove your hands and I’ll get him.”

Starscream released the bars, growling more in anger and frustration than pain. The energy burns on his hands were nothing compared to what he’d received from Megatron on a regular basis. Physical pain he could handle. Emotional pain he could handle. Psychological torture he could handle, but not coupled with incessant singing and errant stupidity. It was too much!

“I want to speak to Prime, now!” Starscream fumed. In his barely contained fury, his voice became rough and deep, something the Autobots noticed with a start.

He was really pissed.

A moment later Prime came into the brig, looking curiously to Ratchet, who had taken a moment to scan Starscream through the energy bars. He was quite pleased with the progress the seeker was making in his rehabilitation.

“You wished to speak to me?” Prime asked when he gained Starscream’s cell.

“You win,” Starscream spat, optics glaring a red so intense; it looked like they were going to melt his face. “Release me!”

Prime canted his head slightly, unsure of the seeker and his intentions. He was notorious for being manipulative and cunning. He wouldn’t put it past the tri-colored jet to use a bit of subterfuge to escape his prison cell.

“I’m afraid that’s impossible,” Prime said.

Starscream opened his mouth to argue, when the screens showed the ending credits of a mild mannered elderly human, who wished everyone a load of ‘weak, emotional’, slag before signing off. Then the screen erupted with a large purple dinosaur and both twins erupted in a high spirited version of the theme song, complete with sound effects provided by Sideswipe.

Starscream growled so hard his frame vibrated. He stared at the Autobot leader with all the malice and disgust he could muster and ground out through gritted denta, “I quit! The war! The Decepticons! I quit it all! Just get me the frag out of here!”

“Beg pardon?” Ratchet asked, taken aback.

“I quit! Do you hear me?” Starscream ranted, grasping the energy bars again and earning a bark of reprimand from the medic. “I never want to slagging see any of you again. I’m going back to Nemesis, collecting my trinemates and we’re going somewhere quiet and safe from Autobot insanity!”

Prime stood agape. Though he expected Starscream to lie and manipulate to get out of the Autobot brig, there was something in his optics that said he was telling the truth.

“You … quit?” Prime asked.

“Yes!” Starscream hissed. “I didn’t sign up for this insanity! If Megatron wants to stop me, he’ll just have to terminate me! I’m not doing this anymore! I quit!”

To reiterate his point, the jet roughly scratched the Decepticon sigil off his wings, growling oaths and using words the collected mechs had never heard. Sideswipe filed them away for later use. When there wasn’t a hint of purple anywhere on the flyer’s frame, he spun on the Prime, optics blazing.

“Release me. Now.” He growled.

Unsure what motivated him, Prime hit the release button. The bars disappeared and Starscream stepped out into the hall, glaring daggers. And to the bafflement of all, turned on his thrustered heel and stalked toward the exit. Ratchet and Prime followed along, Prime sending out a comm. to alert everyone of the Decepticon’s release. Many stared opened mouthed as Starscream stalked past them. No words, no dirty looks, or threatening behavior was displayed in any way. He simply walked by his most hated enemies without a glance. When he reached the entrance to the Ark, he ignited his thrusters, the damaged thruster sputtering for a moment before catching, and disappeared on the horizon.

Down in the brig, the twins were staring open mouthed at the now empty cell across from theirs.

“…..What?” Sunstreaker was able to formulate after a moment.

Sideswipe offered a partial shrug, returning his attention to the screen. “Maybe he didn’t want to be our neighbor?”

Chapter Text

GUESTS, please don’t feel left out. I always send my thanks to all reviewers but if I don’t know your ID then I cant send out the message. Though some don’t log in, PLEASE know that I appreciate all that is written and I sincerely hope that ya’ll stick with me and I hope you enjoy my insanity.

“I think the twins are up to something,” Jazz said, watching the two move through the rec room with a grace even the saboteur couldn’t accomplish.

“They’re always up to something,” Prowl said, sipping his energon cube and reading a holonovel.

“Something more than usual,” Jazz said, watching how the two pushed each other back and forth before disappearing through the door. A few seconds later, there was a heavy bang in the hall punctuated by Sunstreaker’s murderous voice calling for his twins tailpipes. The noise level grew with the heated words.

“I think you should keep an optic on them.” Jazz winced at some of the promised threats now filtering through his highly attuned audios.

“I always do,” Prowl said, still engrossed in his holonovel.

“I have an itching in my circuits,” Jazz said, his special ops skills served him well. He knew the twins were up to something. He just didn’t know what.

“You should go to Ratchet,” Prowl said, taking another sip of his warmed energon. “You may have caught something. You could have a rash.”

“Haven’t had one of those since before the war,” Jazz said in all honesty, causing Prowl to nearly do a spit take.

Prowl lowered his cube and turned in slow motion to his counterpart, his optics imploring. “What?”

“Yeah, went off world to some place,” Jazz offered a shrug, his vents hitching in a laugh as he recalled his adventure. “Met up with some natives, who were rather interested in our anatomy, and to be honest, theirs were rather nice as well.”

Prowl sat with a stunned expression, not sure he was hearing correctly.

“As the humans say, we fooled around,” Jazz offered another shrug, telling the tale as if it wasn’t something to be ashamed or concerned about. “Came back to Cybertron, and the next day, I had itchy plating. Didn’t think anything of it. Then the itch got worse and worse and by the time the medic treated me, I had a rust rash that required isolation due to the complexity of the strain.”

“Where did you get it?” Prowl asked, still wondering if he was going to crash or not with the information. His optics roved the upper body of his black and white counterpart.

“Where do you think?” Jazz waggled his brow plates suggestively then snickered at Prowl’s scandalous look. He laughed, extending his leg and allowing his pede to peek over the side of the table. “My pedes. Had the rust rash on my pedes. Their reproductive organs were on their feet. So, when we played… footsie….”

Prowl let out a strange noise that caused Jazz to give him a concerned look.

“No, this itch is more along my sensors that alert me to danger,” Jazz said his optics going back to where the twins had disappeared. His pede returned to the floor. He rubbed it back and forth out of nervous habit. “No chance of anything rusting off. At least I hope not.”

Prowl opened his mouth to say something but Ironhide’s voice came over the main comms.

‘Ironhide to Prowl.’

‘Prowl here. Go ahead.’

‘Sunstreaker and Sideswipe are beating the slag out of each other in hallway delta.’ Ironhide reported.

‘Is anyone else involved?’

‘No.’

‘Property damage?’

‘No.’

‘Personal?’

‘No.’

‘Damage to ship?’

‘No.’

‘Life threatening injuries?’

‘No, at least, least, not yet.’

‘Weapons out or discharged?’

‘No.’

‘Then leave them to it,’ Prowl said. He turned to Jazz and added, “And do not play footsie with the locals. There are regulations about such interactions.”

“Almost lost a pede for that little experiment,” Jazz said, giving Prowl a serious look that meant he wasn’t considering any more encounters with alien life. “Need pedes in my line of work. Can’t sneak around with a gimpy pede that squeaks.”

“It would have thrown off your dancing as well,” Prowl offered a smirk before returning his attention back to the comms and Ironhide’s sputtering.

Jazz’s shocked expression stared at Prowl as Ironhide protested over comms.

’Leave them?’ Ironhide asked, sounding surprised.

‘Leave them.’ Prowl reiterated. ‘It’s easier to let them fight it out than to break them up. If you break them up, they will just restart the fight somewhere else and next time innocent bystanders could be harmed.’

‘Understood.’ Ironhide said, then groaned in sympathy. ‘Uh, Prowl? There may be a problem.’

‘What would that be?’ Prowl asked just waiting for the metaphorical shoe to drop.

‘Sideswipe just ripped off Sunstreaker’s olfactory sensor.’ Ironhide’s voice was thin, scared.

‘Oh slag.’ Jazz muttered, then opened an immediate comm. to Ratchet. ‘Sideswipe tore off Sunstreaker’s olfactory sensor. Be prepared for an eruption.’

‘I can hear them fighting from here,’ Ratchet answered. His voice dropped to a low, predatory rumble. ‘Leave them to me.’

Jazz shivered.

‘Oh! Oh, Slag! Oh, man, that is NOT pretty!’ Ironhide said, keeping up a verbal commentary as the twins’ ruckus could now be heard throughout the entire ship.

Using his overrides, Prowl thundered over the comms. ‘Sideswipe! Sunstreaker! Desist this immediately or you will spend the next six months catering to the pre school children of Eden Elementary.’

It was instantaneous. The noise stopped. Ironhide let out a pained hiss through the comm., obviously witnessing something epic.

‘Fine!’ Sideswipe shouted, surprising the Second and the Third with the malice in his voice. ‘I’ll let the Sunny baby get his way!’

‘Now get to med bay and have Ratchet to check you over and if either of you so much as raise your voices, both of you will be spending time at Eden Elementary offering yourselves as playground equipment while the new gym is constructed,’ Prowl said with a cool tone that had an edge on it that could have sliced plating into shreds.

‘Fine!’ Sideswipe yelled over comms, though his voice carried to the rec room.

Prowl closed the line and sipped his energon once again, calm and serene. Jazz stared at him in awe.

Down in hallway Delta, Sunstreaker was poised over his brother, fist drawn back, murder gleaming in his optics, his olfactory sensor removed and leaving a sparking, gaping hole. Ironhide chose that moment to disappear, knowing that if anyone spotted Sunstreaker looking anything but perfect, he’d end them.

Sideswipe pushed himself from the bulkhead where he had fallen against during the struggle. But instead of showing his brother pure loathing, as Sunstreaker had been transmitting the entire fight, his face was split into a diabolical grin.

“Ready for phase two?” Sideswipe asked.

“I can’t believe I let you talk me into this,” Sunstreaker sighed, his hand going to his face and checking out the damage. When he found the place where his olfactory sensor used to be, he glared at Sideswipe, his engine rumbling in true rage.

“All part of the plan,” Sideswipe said in a placating tone, holding up his hands to calm his twin. He flooded their bond with positive emotion, earning himself another rumble of warning. “You wanted Ratchet to fix your nose last time but he wouldn’t. Remember?”

Sunstreaker halted his advance, exhaling a hot gust in defeat. He had wanted Ratchet to fix his imperfect countenance after a Con had punched him in the face. But Ratchet, being the ever tack in the tire, refused to smooth out the bump in the bridge line along the elegantly proportioned nose. Now, having had said sense removed, rather brutally but his pain receptors had been turned off before the fight, Ratchet would have no choice but to use Sunstreaker’s own artistically rendered blueprint to fix his ill-perceived imperfection.

“I can’t stop now,” Sunstreaker said in defeat, giving his twin a hard look that meant that if this didn’t work, there would be a real fight later.

“That’s the spirit!” Sideswipe said, clapping his brother on the back and turning him toward the doomed path that led to med bay. As Sideswipe stepped forward, a grinding, screeching noise erupted from his hip. His leg wobbled, his body threatening to bend at the waist. Sideswipe looked at his dysfunctional hip with a frown then turned to his twin.

“Do you mind removing your nose from my ass so I can walk?” Sideswipe deadpanned.

Sunstreaker huffed an angered noise but complied, removing the now useless sensor from between his brother’s aft plates from where it was shoved during their fight.

Sideswipe extended his leg without the horrible noise and offered his brother a devilish look. “Now, let’s go and get Ratchet to fix you up.”

Sunstreaker nodded, hoping that he didn’t meet anyone on the way to medbay. He had never looked so ugly in his life not counting having his nose askew at .004% microns and an indentation from a Con’s knuckle that Ratchet refused to treat.

And if Sideswipe’s plan didn’t work, Sunstreaker’s foot would soon replace where his nose had been jammed during the skirmish.

Chapter Text

“I hate you,” Sunstreaker said in the darkness.

“You’re mouth says hate but your optics say love,” Sideswipe answered in that annoying tone that drove Sunstreaker to violence.

“Shut up,” Sunstreaker snapped, feeling that insane giddiness bleed through the bond. Sideswipe was trying to boost the mood, despite the current situation.

A silence lapsed, a couple pebbles falling from their anchors and tumbling down over Sideswipe’s body to land on Sunstreaker who growled at the slight against his vanity.

“Love me?” Sideswipe asked, and instead of being his playful self, he sounded childish, and almost…. scared? of the answer.

“No, you’re ugly,” Sunstreaker answered, feeling a gust of air that signaled Sideswipe’s relief. The sensation was short lived however. Rock groaned from over head, dust falling on the two soldiers.

“We’re twins.” Sideswipe said, and there was no mistaking the dramatic optic roll in the dark.

“Yeah, but I got the looks,” Sunstreaker answered.

Silence fell again. The ground rumbled with thunder, the weight of the heavens bearing down. Sideswipe asked again, though his voice sounded unsure, unsteady. His body was shaking with exertion.

“Still love me?”

If this was their end, then he wanted to make sure he terminated with the knowledge that he was loved by someone, even if it was just his twin. There was something sad about terminating without knowing you were ever loved.

“Against my better judgment.” Sunstreaker answered, not liking the pang of desperation and fear Sideswipe was trying hard to quell deep in his spark.

Sideswipe winced, a loud grinding issuing from his shoulders as the joints started to buckle. His vents were coming in short, broken rasps, his suffering starting to bleed through to Sunstreaker, who recoiled. Hoping to take Sideswipe’s processor off the situation, Sunstreaker spoke up.

“Did you see what happened to my leg?” Sunstreaker asked, the pain receptors turned off due to trauma. He couldn’t feel anything from the waist down. Thank Primus.

“It was… by the door,” Sideswipe answered, his voice straining.

“I bet the cave in smashed it,” Sunstreaker sighed. “Ratchet’s going to blow a gasket when he has rebuild my leg again.”

“Same one?” Sideswipe asked, his words costing a great effort. He was under terrible strain, but Sunstreaker’s conversation was helping.

“Yeah,” Sunstreaker said, trying to shift, but finding his body pinned into place by his brother. He sighed, cursing his luck. “He should have several on hand due to the frequency he has to replace it.”

The twins were doing basic repair duty along the ARK when the volcano decided to hiccup, thanks to Wheeljack’s knocking along its magma chamber, and the roof had literally fell on top of the two. The initial rubble had landed on Sunstreaker, who hissed more from the scratches than from actual pain of having his leg pinned beneath a stray boulder. Sideswipe was tugging on his brother in an effort to free him, when the ceiling started to lower. The boulder shifted, ripping off Sunstreaker’s left leg just above the knee. The floor gave way, taking the twins down another level, leaving Sunstreaker’s trapped leg beneath the weight of the boulder on the floor above.

Only by Sideswipe’s quick thinking where the twins spared a crushing death. Sideswipe had enough time to turn their bodies, landing on top of Sunstreaker and engaging his pile drivers. Now, Sunstreaker lay flat on his face, Sideswipe poised above him in a plank position, his pile drivers braced on either side of Sunstreaker’s shoulders. The weight of the roof was straining Sideswipe’s frame. He didn’t have Brawn’s strength. His pile drivers enabled him to have a stronger sub-frame, but the strain of holding up the mountain was disintegrating his joints. Sideswipe buckled, pained hisses coming from between his clenched lip components. Sunstreaker sent reassurance and strength through the bond, but it wasn’t an emotional strength that Sideswipe needed, it was physical. His body wasn’t built to hold up a mountain.

The mountain grumbled in protest again, sending a shower of small rocks and powdered earth falling on to the two pinned beneath its mass. Sideswipe grunted, hearing another pop in his joints as his systems gave one by one. A hydraulic gave out, hissing in the dark like an angry snake.

“Wish they would hurry up,” Sideswipe growled, his frame shaking with effort.

“Your locator beacon on?” Sunstreaker asked, though he could feel the pulse of the frequency thrumming his own his body as well. Two signals calling for help, screaming for their friends to rescue them from the premature burial.

“What do you think?” Sideswipe snapped, his spinal strut feeling like it was about to snap. He lowered himself a little further, his arms trembling. The rock shifted, raining debris on its victims. The change in pressure caused Sideswipe to shift, the weight bearing down on him at a different angle. A groan of metal issued from his spinal strut as his body bowed in supplication. If his shoulders gave out before help could arrive, there was a good chance both would terminated from the weight of the rock. Sideswipe’s tensile strength was the only thing keeping them from being buried under volcanic rock and twisted metal from the compromised ship.

“Hold on,” Sunstreaker whispered in the dark, wishing he could lend physical strength to help his twin. It irritated him that he was helpless, powerless to assist Sideswipe when both their lives were in peril. “Hold on just a little longer.”

“What do you think I’m trying to do!” Sideswipe shouted in his brothers audio. He didn’t mean to be so waspish, but the strain was getting to him. Warning lights flooded his vision into red as bloody as his armor. Systems threatened to crash all together. Pressure was being lost through fissures sustained in the straining cables and tubes. His entire body was quaking in turbulence, and his strength was waning with each passing second.

“They better hurry,” Sideswipe gasped, another pop issuing from his shoulder. The sound was accompanied by a significant portion of the rock shifting, crumbling away and encasing the two mechs.

There was a long, low groan of metal warping, followed by Sideswipe’s fluent cursing. Sideswipe had to cycle air through his vents at a quickened pace, making the air hot and stifling in the confined space. It was taking twice the effort to cool his systems, and the atmosphere was becoming thick with rock dust, clogging the panting vents. Any complaint about being breathed on was quieted in Sunstreaker’s vocalizer.

“Primus,” Sideswipe muttered, feeling as if the mountain was trying to staple his arms into place. “This hurts.”

“I think I hear voices,” Sunstreaker said, his audio turned into the noise in case the volcano decided to get fussy again. If they had another trembler now, it could mean their termination.

Sideswipe snorted, the rock shifting again and forcing him to press his legs against his twins. “I always knew you were a few nuts loose of a tune up.”

Sunstreaker ignored the jibe, hearing the strain in his brother’s voice.

Sunstreaker hated this as much as his brother. It was one thing to fall in battle, preferably taking an enemy with you. But to be crushed by tons of rock, suffering a slow compression until the mountain gave one last sigh to represent your life and then…termination? That was too much.

“I hear something,” Sunstreaker said, his audios a bit more attuned due to the ornamental augmentations. There was a moment of intense silence, then Sideswipe heard it. Voices. Their friends were coming! The question was, could they make it before Sideswipe’s armor buckled and his frame snapped?

“On the count of three, start yelling,’ Sunstreaker said. Hearing a warning hiss as Sideswipe now had his entire lower body pressing him into the rock floor. If this is what Sideswipe was feeling, Sunstreaker felt a wave of pity that was squashed with his determination that they survive this ordeal. “One. Two Three!”

In unison, the twins started shouting. ‘We’re here! Help! Hurry! We’re right here!”

The voices shouted back, though the tons of rock muffled their words, but it was clear they had doubled their efforts to dig the twins out. Sunstreaker coughed through his vents, the condensation forming from his overheating twin making his own venting become harsh, the air unfit for circulation. It was a good thing the twins didn’t require oxygen to survive. They would have already suffocated in the rocky tomb.

“Just a little longer,” Sunstreaker said, wanting to give Sideswipe some hope. He could feel his brother’s pain bleeding thought like a torrent. It was stealing his resolve, feeling his twin lose hope.

The rocks shifted, rumbling low in the bowels the earth. The sound reminded one of a giant slumbering beast, fearful when woken. Sideswipe gaped, a whine issuing from his vocalizer before he could stop himself. He fell forward, his upper body barely hovering over his brother’s inert form below before dropping in agonizing protest. Sunstreaker could feel his brother’s chest pressed against his back, and the tremors that coursed through his frame rattled Sunstreaker’s plating.

A voice called, muffled though distinguishable. “Almost there! Just hold on guys!’

“What the slag?” Sunstreaker muttered hoping to boost his brother’s spirits by making fun of the situation “I think that was Gears. Man, if it’s Gears, just let go and drop the rock. I don’t want to be rescued by that miniature aft.”

Sideswipe snickered against his will. He was grateful for the distraction; though there was a good chance he wouldn’t be able to withstand the pressure for much longer. His internal HUD was scrolling a long list of injuries, warning of emergency shut down procedures due to structural damage. He didn’t have much time. And in essence, Sunstreaker didn’t either.

Sideswipe didn’t know if it was fatigue or his processor playing tricks, but he felt the mountain get lighter.

Rock crumbled all around, falling over the duo, coloring them in the shade of unkempt dishevelment. Sideswipe’s shoulders gave one last whining grind of protest before the metal split, rendering his joints useless. He collapsed strutless on top of his twin, earning a painful grunt as Sunstreaker was compressed into the floor. Sideswipe was sandwiched between the volcanic rock against his back and his gasping twin below. Sunstreaker’s words were muffled due to his face being smashed into the ground, but Sideswipe understood him nonetheless. The last chunk of debris was shifted, giving a welcomed respite to the two who thought their time was up.

“Primus, I’m tired,” Sideswipe sighed, his lip components pressed against Sunstreaker’s neck. It felt good to not have a mountain sitting on his back.

“Get off me,” Sunstreaker muttered, half heartedly. His brother’s sharp chin was cutting into the join of his neck. “I don’t want anyone to see us like this.”

“My body is broken and my systems paralyzed. Can’t move, Bro,” Sideswipe informed his twin, his shoulders popping and hissing as the pressure was finally released. The sound resembled pressure valves releasing steam when it had built up past the point of endurance.

“Aww.. how sweet,’ Brawn chuckled, using his reinforced joints to their full advantage and removing the last of the boulders from the two Lamborghinis. “Did I interrupt a touching moment?”

“I can’t move,” Sideswipe called, feeling his brother’s growl reverberate through his own chest. “Systems overheat and destabilized. My frame has snapped in several places. Structural compromise is at seventy-four percent. Emergency stasis lock in two minutes.”

“Sunstreaker?” Brawn called, seeing the golden paint peek from beneath the red.

“Missing a leg and has busted joints,” Sideswipe called, his voice able to carry better than Sunstreaker’s muffled words. There was also a slim chance that Sunstreaker’s jaw had been dislocated when Sideswipe’s strength gave out and landed on top of him.

“Hold on, we’ll get you,” Brawn called, and started yelling over his shoulder for Ratchet to be prepared for a set of busted Lamborghinis.

“Oh man, saved by minibots?” Sideswipe said, giving a long suffering groan. They weren’t going to live this down any time soon.

“And the dust, its clogging up my lines,” Gears was complaining as he shifted the smaller rocks out of the way and wedged himself into the small opening they had made in the rockslide. Windcharger and Cliffjumper rolled their optics at Gears complaints. Both looked ready to commit the murder Sunstreaker was prepared for.

“I can stand being saved by the minibots,” Sunstreaker muttered so only Sideswipe could hear. “As long as I’m allowed to put Gears in our grave.”

Chapter Text

Wheeljack hummed to himself as he worked. It had been at least a month since he was able to get a project finished. The Cons had been abnormally active for the past few weeks, prompting the inventor to shunt his projects aside in favor in assisting Ratchet in the medical bay. Soft whistling drew his attention to the door, where a flash of red sauntered inside.

“Sideswipe,” Wheeljack greeted, glancing up. His head fins flashed a bluish-green.

“I’m here for my sentence,” Sideswipe informed the inventor, plopping his frame onto a stool next to the workbench.

“It’s not a sentence,” Wheeljack chided, a soldering iron casting his cheery visage in a soft ember. “It’s either you serve your punishment detail with me, or with Ratchet, and I believe Ratchet is in a foul mood.”

“Tell me about it,” Sideswipe groused, grabbing a scrap piece of metal off the workbench and twiddling it between his fingers. “I swear, his EM field is so chaotic, it make Sunny’s seem like a calm lake.”

Wheeljack smirked at the comparative. Ratchet had been rather hostile as of late. Moreso than usual anyway. Wheeljack was debating on whether or not to bring it to the medic’s attention. He decided to wait until he was repaired from whatever self inflicted explosive malady sent him to the medical ward next time. Ratchet was less abusive of him while he was recovering. When he was fully healed though, rehabilitation took a little longer due to Ratchet’s temper.

“Don’t touch that,” Wheeljack called.

Sideswipe’s servo returned to his body where it was trying to ascertain a cool looking device sitting on the back of the workbench.

“So, what do you want me to do?” Sideswipe asked, looking around the assorted junk.

“You can categorize parts according to the bins,” Wheeljack said, nodding toward the assortment of multi-colored trays that graced the top of the work station. Each one was labeled with different parts and categorized by size.

“This junk?” Sideswipe said, motioning toward the piled tables. “I can’t tell what to keep and what to toss!”

“All of it is be kept,” Wheeljack said and sent the frontliner a databurst of his full assignment.

Sideswipe groaned, knowing it was going to take him hours to clear off at least one table of the clutter. And knowing Wheeljack, the table would be back to messy order tomorrow. Wheeljack couldn’t keep any area clean for long. His own quarters was labeled a hazardous zone by Ratchet eons ago. No one dared to go near that section of ship except the medical officer, and that was only under direct armed guard.

“Fine,” Sideswipe sighed, grabbing several bolts and finding their assigned bins labeled on the wall. He dropped them into the black box marked with the appropriate sizes and instead of hearing the metallic clink of metal striking, the plastic bin offered a dull thud. Sideswipe pulled the small plastic bins out and tipped them forward, searching for their labeled contents.

All were empty.

Figures.

Leave it to Wheeljack to make a mess and then request help in putting his work station back in order so he could mess it up again.

Three hours later and Sideswipe had made progress. Two of the bins for nuts and bolts had been filed to capacity and Sideswipe had to find an available container to put the spare, labeled with contents and size of course. He rolled his optics wondering how long Wheeljack could go adhering to his own labels before everything became a jumbled mess again. Probably not more than twenty-four hours.

Assorted screws were placed in orange bins. They were soon joined by burnt circuit boards in red, chips in green, small cylinder shaped things Sideswipe didn’t know the function of in the white, and for some odd reason, two inch stripes of burnt copper wiring that went into blue. Why the inventor needed to keep burnt wires was a mystery. It was better not to dwell on such things. Sideswipe could crash his processor.

With the clearing of the assorted junk, Sideswipe could now see the object that had first gathered his interest so many hours before. It was squat, silver, with a lot of intriguing, must-be-pushed buttons. He looked at the device, which hummed softly in song, a little green light blinking every ninety seconds.

Sideswipe’s helm cocked to the side, watching the light with childlike fascination. He reached for the appliance again before being halted by a watchful Wheeljack.

“Sideswipe. Don’t touch,” Wheeljack said, going to one of the newly assorted bins and dumping its contents onto the counter, picking out a handful of needed screws, then leaving the mess behind.

Sideswipe now knew how the place got so messy. Wheeljack was almost as bad as himself. Course, Sideswipe never blew himself up. Well, almost never.

“Work on the next table, please,” Wheeljack called, bending to task of securing a piece of metal over the innards of what he was working on.

Sideswipe sighed and went back to work. Another hour passed, this time the ruby mech finding a mess that made his plating stand up on end. There were pieces of what looked like spark chambers and main processors. Those were parts that were normally reserved for medical staff, seeing how they had need for such items to save someone’s life. To see such things in the inventors workshop was unnerving.

Such devices in the hands of a crazed, mechanical genius meant that bad things happened. Sideswipe would know. He and Sunstreaker had a nasty encounter with a mech who not only liked to experiment in fields that made the spark falter, but he was especially interested in the twins own unusual lives. The ‘tests’ the two endured still haunted charging hours, and the marks left by the mech had not only imprinted on their psyches but their frames as well. Sunstreaker had a particularly nasty mark on his body courtesy of the vile scientist. Its meaning so repugnant, Ratchet had purged his tank when he first discovered its existence.

Second workbench cleared and Sideswipe looked over to the first bench, noting that a third of its surface was covered in junk once again. Wheeljack needed a full service maid, not a front line warrior who picked up after him like a dotting creator. Sideswipe sighed and walked to where the inventor was bent over his latest project. His focus was intent upon a circuit board so small; Sideswipe had to use his focusing lenses to see it in detail.

Wheeljack remained ignorant to his presence. Sideswipe waited, tapping his pede in a soft rhythm. When Wheeljack made no motion to acknowledge him, Sideswipe went back to the first bench and began clearing its surface once again.

The little squat device blinked green, the color of ‘GO’ in Lamborghini language. Sideswipe couldn’t help himself. He reached for the buttons, just to touch one. The red one looked promising and it matched his paint scheme. It wasn’t a coincidence in his mind.

“Sideswipe, don’t touch,” Wheeljack said without looking up from his project. “It’s not for you to play with.”

“But it matches my paint,” Sideswipe said, sounding so much like Sunstreaker it caused Wheeljack to pause. He looked up to see Sideswipe’s outstretched digit nearing its target.

“Sideswipe! I’m warning you!” Wheeljack called.

“Yeah yeah, and we all know how well THAT works out,” Sideswipe said, touching the little red button.

“Don’t!” Wheeljack yelled, taking one step from his current project toward the red Lamborghini. He didn’t make it in time.

BOOM

Sideswipe’s world exploded into a super nova of color and thunder. He landed in a dazed heap against the work station that held Wheeljack’s current project. The new device offered a little shake of its parts before falling silent. The contraption Sideswipe touched emitted a few feeble beeps before going dormant.

‘Wheeljack to Ratchet!’ the inventor called on his private link to the medic. ‘Emergency in my lab. Sideswipe touched something he shouldn’t and it just knocked him senseless.’

‘He’s already senseless,’ Ratchet retaliated, but headed toward his favorite destination. ‘Maybe some sense got knocked into him for a change?’

‘He’s unresponsive,’ Wheeljack reported, his limited scanners employed, searching for damage. ‘Spark pulse is erratic. His optics are half shuddered and unfocused. He isn’t responding to his name.’

Ratchet entered the lab at that moment and without word, knelt down in front of the ruby mech. He extended two hardline connections and brought up Sideswipe’s internal displays, checking over his systems for damage. Most systems registered the normal parameters. A couple did not. The main system that was askew was Sideswipe’s memory files. The second file was a redundant system used on a subconscious level. It was the part that rationalized life, existence, time of day/night, interpreted between past memories and present reality.

Sideswipe’s helm lulled and Ratchet let out a growling oath that made Wheeljack rock back on his haunches. There was a sizable dent in Sideswipe’s helm where he had impacted the leg of the table. Being anchored into place, the table acted like a stanchion, immediately halted the warrior’s unexpected flight across the room.

A soft chirping noise escaped Sideswipe’s vocalizer as he started to blink in slow motion. It took a few moments for his optics to regain their focus and when they did, they found a concerned Ratchet hovering over him.

”Ratchet?” Sideswipe asked, his voice coming out slurred and heavy.

“Yes, Sideswipe. How are you feeling?” Ratchet asked, his medical overrides already instating new parameters to assist Sideswipe’s patch program in putting his processor back in order.

“Tired,” Sideswipe said, exhaling a heavy exhaust. “I thought we’d never make it.”

Ratchet and Wheeljack exchanged a look. Ratchet turned back to his patient and asked, “Sideswipe, do you know where you are?”

Sideswipe’s head lulled to the side and with a tired whine to his hydraulics, he said, “Looks like the science lab in Iacon.” He gave his helm a little shake, which only made his dizziness get worse. He groaned, doubling over and grasping his helm while he balanced his elbows on his knees. “Primus, what did I have to drink last night?”

“You touched something you shouldn’t have and it exploded,” Ratchet explained, before Wheeljack interrupted.

“Actually, it did what it was supposed to do,” Wheeljack said, earning a hard, cold stare from Ratchet. He looked away in sheepishness, his hand rubbing the back of his neck.

“Sideswipe, we are on Earth. We crashed here four million years ago and was in stasis until the volcano erupted and reactivated our systems,” Ratchet said, watching Sideswipe’s face for signs of recognition.

“Oh…” Sideswipe frowned, his processor trying to decipher all the input. He let out a gust of air and added, “Oh yeah. Cons made us crash. They always make us crash. Last week, in Kaon, we had four transports to go down and…”

“Sideswipe!” Ratchet snapped, drawing the Lamborghini out of his dazed recollection. “Stop babbling. You sound like Bluestreak!”

“Who?” Sideswipe asked.

Ratchet sighed at Sideswipe’s curious expression.

“Never mind. You’re off active duty for awhile,” Ratchet said, watching Sideswipe frown at the command. While Sideswipe tried to understand what his ‘active duty’ entailed, Ratchet opened a comm.. ‘Ratchet to Prowl.’

‘Prowl here, go ahead.’

‘Sideswipe just knocked his screws loose in Wheeljack’s lab,’ Ratchet said, watching as Sideswipe looked to Wheeljack and asked for his designation. ‘I’m putting him on medical leave.’

‘How long?’ Prowl asked, already formulating a change in schedules.

‘Three days to start,’ Ratchet said, sighing to himself. ‘I’ll reevaluate him then and we can go from there.’

‘Understood. Sideswipe has been removed from the duty roster and is under medical supervision,’ Prowl said before cutting the connection.

“Let’s get you to med bay,” Ratchet said, helping Wheeljack pull Sideswipe to his pedes. The front liner swayed a little before following Ratchet out the door.

As Ratchet crossed the threshold he looked over his shoulder and added, “And you better have an explanation to that contraption that did this or so help me, I’ll weld your trouble making aft to the laboratory door!”

Wheeljack gulped in fear and picked up the now dormant device. He followed Ratchet out, explaining the new device as just being a prototype for a new children’s toy. Knowing that all beings, regardless of origin, were drawn to buttons, he had created a device that catered to such base-line programming. But there was a little glitch in the system.

Sideswipe sat through Ratchet’s evaluation and extensive exam before being released. Ratchet gave the confused warrior a layout of the ARK and surrounding area, though Sideswipe was not allowed further than one hundred yards from the ARK. Not only was it for his safety, but for the other Autobots and humans as well. Sideswipe didn’t know what a human was, and just as a precaution, he was given a datapacket by Ratchet with full, current explanations. Sideswipe took it all in stride, like always, but there were moments when he sat in confused silence, until passing the incident off as being a residual effect of his overcharge. He was dismissed from med bay with orders to return to his quarters and await his brother. Ratchet was hoping that Sunstreaker could help his brother remember what happened, but the golden mech was currently on a scouting mission with Bluestreak, and the duo weren’t due back for another five hours.

An hour after Sideswipe was dismissed from medbay, Smokescreen was walking toward his quarters when he heard the noise. It sounded soft, feeble, and tore directly into the Praxian’s spark. He zeroed in on the sound and grasped the handle to a little used supply closet. He opened the door and immediately felt his spark seize.

Sideswipe lay curled up into a small, whimpering ball. When the door opened he recoiled, trying to draw himself into a tighter ball, his body shaking with muffled sobs.

“Sideswipe?” Smokescreen said, stepping into the closet. Without thought he pulled the crying warrior against him and began to rock him as one would a distraught child.

Sideswipe clung to the warmth of the body holding him. His sobs increased, his trembling frame causing Smokescreen’s to rattle.

“What’s wrong?” Smokescreen asked, caressing the helm tucked against his neck with parental affection. “What happened?”

“It wasn’t my fault,” Sideswipe muttered between whimpers. “I didn’t mean to.”

“Do what?” Smokescreen asked, now rocking the mech cradled against him. Smokescreen felt his spark soar, feeling like a creator all over again. It had been a long time since he felt such strong emotional attachment.

“I deserve my punishment,” Sideswipe said, his vocalizer buzzing with static as he tried to gather strength for whatever punishment that was to befall him. “I’m bad. I’m broken. I shouldn’t be alive.”

Smokescreen wanted to beat the slag out of whoever had told the Lamborghini such a thing. He was about to ask the bots designation, but Sideswipe’s next words stole his inner strength.

“I deserve to be terminated. I’m just junk. Only good for spare parts and a good frag,” Sideswipe sputtered. With trembling hands he stroked the chassis in front of him, his digits going southern toward the gray interface panel. “I’ll hold still this time. You don’t have to hurt me. I won’t cry again.”

Smokescreen captured the probing servo and clutched it in his own, drawing his near his spark. He tightened his hold on Sideswipe and muttered, “I won’t let anyone hurt you. You’re safe. I promise.”

Soft snuffling noises came from Sideswipe’s vocalizer as past pain and torment rose up like acid. Smokescreen held him close, muttering reassurance and promises.

‘Smokescreen to Prowl,’ the Diversion expert called.

‘Prowl here,’ was the immediate answer.

‘Sideswipe is in supply closet beta six, suffering from a repressed emotional trauma,’ Smokescreen said, not wanting to give away too much in case someone was listening in. Besides, he felt uncomfortable explaining a mech’s private life with anyone else. Didn’t seem ethical.

‘I will send Ratchet to your current location,’ Prowl said.

‘No!’ Smokescreen snapped. He calmed himself, shushing a whimpering Lamborghini in his arms before adding, ‘Sideswipe’s emotional state is compromised. Given previous experience in such matters, I can make the assumption that if other mechs are around him, it may cause further emotional strife. I suggest keeping everyone away from this area until his emotions have stabilized. And I think it wise to get Sunstreaker here as soon as possible.’

‘I have already commed him. He will be back in half an hour.’ Prowl reported. ‘Is Sideswipe a threat to himself or others?’

‘No, but in his current state, he may perceive others to be a threat to him,’ Smokescreen answered, hoping Prowl didn’t ask for elaboration. He was already uncomfortable with what he reported so far. ‘Please ask Blaster to cover for me until I can ensure Sideswipe’s mental health and safety.’

‘I have informed everyone to keep clear,’ Prowl said, adding yet another adjustment to the schedule. ‘Blaster had agreed and Jazz has offered additional coverage if so needed.’

‘Thank you,’ Smokescreen said, but the transmission was already cut.

Sunstreaker returned in a foul mood, which wasn’t unusual. When Ratchet pinged for his location, the golden mech had refused to answer, having a feeling that the sputtering sensation filling the bond with his twin was cause for the medic’s twisted panties. He met Ratchet’s usual growled greeting and like two posturing tomcats the two headstrong mechs argued. Ratchet was vehement about Sunstreaker’s apparent disregard for his twin and Sunstreaker believed Ratchet to be overreacting. It was only when Sunstreaker gasp and fell against the bulkhead that he realized the true depth of the situation. Using the desperate plea in his spark as a beacon, Sunstreaker raced through the halls and skidded to a halt in front of the closet. The door had been left partly open. Sunstreaker threw it wide and found his twin crying in the arms of Smokescreen.

When the door was flung open, Smokescreen prepared a verbal bashing that would have given Ratchet a run for his credits. But upon seeing Sunstreaker’s livid expression, he turned to the mech in his arms and spoke.

“Sunstreaker is here,” Smokescreen said, halting his soothing ministrations.

Sideswipe opened bleary optics to see his brother, standing like a golden god, framed in the doorway. He let out a sparkling like chirp before pulling free of his pseudo-creator and reaching for his twin.

“Sunny,” Sideswipe muttered, burying his face against his brother’s neck as Sunstreaker knelt in the doorway. “I hurt. Make it stop.”

“I will,’ Sunstreaker said, pulling Sideswipe into a hug and filling their bond with all the love and possessiveness he could muster. It had the desired effect. Sideswipe calmed, his whimpers falling away into hushed sounds, his frame slowing its tremors.

Smokescreen rose to his pedes, his doorwings extending in agitation over the situation and to relieve the kinks that had formed from being crammed into a closet for nearly an hour.

“Explain, please, why Sideswipe believes that everyone is going to hurt him,’ Smokescreen said, towering above the twins.

Ratchet stood behind Sunstreaker, blocking any possible retreat if the golden mech decided to rise and make a run for it. But with Sideswipe clutched so vehemently against his chest, his fear slow to subside, Sunstreaker wasn’t going anywhere.

“And don’t you dare say its none of our business,’ Ratchet added, putting his hands on his hips and giving Sunstreaker the look that meant explanations better be forthcoming or there were scratches in his near future.

Knowing he was boxed in, and with Sideswipe clinging to his frame, preventing escape, Sunstreaker sighed and started to explain. He didn’t want to get into details, not with Sideswipe still so entrenched in the past. Not to mention it was part of a painful time in the twins past and neither felt comfortable in giving the details of their youth.

“We were sold to a pleasure house when we were young,” Sunstreaker said, tightening his grip on his brother. The tremors were subsiding but the ruby mech was still flooding the bond with apprehension and loneliness. “When we refused to cater to such, indulgences, we were punished.”

Sideswipe let out a whine, snuggling closer to his twin.

Sunstreaker soothed his brother and sent him a strong protective pulse, letting him know he wasn’t alone. He gazed up into Smokescreen’s stern face and added, “We were sent to opposite sides of the compound, where we were educated on our function by numerous high paying clientele.”

Smokescreen felt like he wanted to purge. Ratchet was fairing no better.

“We had no choice, no control, and was taken by many until we slipped into stasis from lack of energy,” Sunstreaker said, feeling his brother’s gentle brush against his mind. He was depleted, both physically and emotionally and he needed assurance his twin was nearby. He needed to feel protected.

“It hurts so bad,” Sideswipe muttered so softly it was difficult to hear. He pulled his brother against him, trying to meld their frames into one before he added, “It hurts. Please, don’t let them do that to me again. I don’t want to do that anymore. Make them stop.”

“I made them stop,” Sunstreaker said, turning his attention to his brother. “It’s all over. They won’t hurt us again.”

“Promise?” Sideswipe’s voice was soft, meek, and wrenched the spark out of the two mechs witnessing such travesty.

“I promise,” Sunstreaker said, his gentle gaze leaving his twin to stare with cruel bite into Smokescreen’s own optics. “NO one will hurt or use us again.”

Those words were the affirmation Sideswipe was looking for. He sagged against his brother, all tenseness and suffering gone. It was replaced with weariness and relief.

“Would you like me to give him a sedative to help him relax and maybe charge?” Ratchet asked, placing his hand on Sunstreaker’s shoulder.

Sunstreaker tensed but shook his head. “I can get him to charge.”

“Ratchet?” Sideswipe asked, raising his head to stare in confusion as he took in the tight confines of the supply closet. “Is that Ratchet?”

“Yes, Sideswipe, it’s me,” Ratchet said, kneeling down behind Sunstreaker. He kept a suitable distance in case his proximity would cause Sideswipe to regress back into his previous state.

“Hi, Ratchet,” Sideswipe said, his grin looking lopsided in his fatigue. “What are you doing here?”

“I was worried about you and came to check on you,” Ratchet admitted.

“That sounds like you,” Sideswipe said with a half hearted laugh. His optics went unfocused, his helm swaying a little. Sunstreaker’s grip tightened on his brother. “Ratchet can help, Sunny. Ratchet is strong. He can protect us.”

“Yes, I can,” Ratchet said, wanting so desperately to find the mech responsible for this tragedy and rip his spark from his chamber. Medical codes be slagged to the Pit. Ratchet wanted retribution and would have no problem in exacting proper punishment to the one who caused the twins such harm.

Sideswipe sighed and nuzzled his brother. Ratchet put his hands on Sunstreaker’s back.

“Let’s get you two to your quarters,” Ratchet said, slipping his hands under Sunstreaker’s arms and helping him to hoist Sideswipe into a standing position. Sunstreaker offered a noise of affirmation before leading his brother toward their quarters, Ratchet a few paces behind.

When the twins were several paces ahead, Ratchet turned to Smokescreen. “If I ever find the mech who did that to them….”

“You’d have to get in line,” the Praxian said, exiting the closet and stretching his door wings.

The twins made it to their quarters without encountering any other ARK members, a fact that Sunstreaker was glad. Ratchet waited until both were inside before shutting the door and giving the two privacy and peace. Sunstreaker helped his twin into their quarters and just like old times, directed Sideswipe to his berth, where he pressed himself against the wall, facing outward, his hand extended to Sunstreaker in invitation.

Sunstreaker couldn’t say no. He crawled in with his twin, his processor flashing back to their youth when one had been brutalized by the clients at the pleasure house and needed physical comfort to get through the pain and torment. Sideswipe latched onto him like a terrified sparkling, the shaking starting all over again. He muffled a supplicating cry against his brother as he clutched at the golden frame. Not having the constitution to endure such emotional bleeding, Sunstreaker snuggled closer. And though it had been ages since such a thing was needed, he sent the command to open his chest plates. As the golden plates rearranged themselves and his spark chamber split, Sideswipe’s own half spark answered the unspoken summons. As soon as both sparks were exposed they reached for each other, pulling together to become one and whole. Sideswipe instantly slumped in submission, feeling his brother’s protectiveness and love flowing unchecked through their combined sparks. Sunstreaker felt his brother’s pain and turmoil, and like so many times before, he drew his twin in, taking the pain and sending it to somewhere dark where it couldn’t hurt them again.

When Sunstreaker woke up, his tank gave a rumble in disagreement. He checked his chronometer and found that twelve hours had past. It was now just after two in the morning. He looked to his brother and found him sleeping blissfully unaware. Knowing that Sideswipe would need fuel as well, the golden mech slipped from his brother’s grip and headed out the door. With a fast step he went to the rec room, filled two cubes and made his way back toward his quarters. When he opened the door it was to find an empty room. He sighed, placing the two cubes on a nearby table. He turned to go on the mech-hunt for his brother when he received a startling summons.

‘Sunstreaker, could you come to my quarters please?’ Prime’s voice came over comms, along with an echoing ping that was meant to awaken the warrior if he was in deep charge.

‘I’m busy,’ Sunstreaker said, stepping out in the hall and looking up and down for signs of his brother.

‘If you are looking for your brother, he is currently curled up beside of me,’ Prime said with a touch of humor. ‘I would appreciate it if you could come and collect him.’

‘On my way,’ Sunstreaker said, heading down the left side corridor and taking another left to Prime’s personal quarters.

Sunstreaker punched in his access code and with a beep, the door opened. Though Sunstreaker had a strong constitution and could hold back his mirth in the funniest of situations, he couldn’t stop the choked laugh that had escaped.

Prime lay on his berth, Sideswipe tucked against his side like a sparkling. Prime’s arm was around the ruby mech’s shoulders as Sideswipe babbled about what sounded like a bad horror movie.

“And then, there was this guy,” Sideswipe said, talking to Prime as if he was explaining something to his long lost creator. “And he went into the basement and didn’t come back. Do you know why?” Sideswipe asked, then when Prime made no answer, Sideswipe continued, “There were werewolves in the basement playing poker, and when the guy saw them, he screamed, they ate him, and went back to playing poker.”

“Really?” Prime asked, sounding enthralled by the account.

“Do you think that will help your investigation?” Sideswipe asked, sounding skeptical, yet hopeful.

Sunstreaker just stared. He knew he was grinning in a maniacal way, but there was just something funny about Sideswipe curled up against Prime and giving an incoherent testimony. Sunstreaker figured he was just tired and that this scene brought up concerns about Sideswipe’s mental stability, but Sunstreaker couldn’t bring himself to speak.

“I believe your brother is here,” Prime said, hoping to get Sideswipe to focus.

Sideswipe frowned and looked toward the door. He smiled, giving Prime’s torso an affectionate pat and a muttered, “Good Kitty,” before getting up and smiling at his twin.

“Sunstreaker? What are you doing here?” Sideswipe asked, looking happily surprised.

“Come to get you,” Sunstreaker said, holding out his hand for his brother to take. Sideswipe took the offered hand, giving a happy chirp as Sunstreaker turned to leave.

Sideswipe dug in his pedes and whined, “But what about the investigation?”

“What investigation?” Sunstreaker asked, turning to his brother.

Sideswipe looked confused for a moment and didn’t answer.

“Come on,” Sunstreaker said, tugging his twin toward the door. “It’s late and I’m exhausted.”

Sideswipe nodded and followed his brother. When he was standing at Prime’s door he looked back and added, “I hope I could help you. Let me know if you catch the guy.”

“Will do,” Prime called before the door slid shut.

Sunstreaker lead his brother back to their quarters, made him drink the cube and then tucked him in, where Sideswipe refused to charge until Sunstreaker sang a lullaby. Not sure what to sing, Sunstreaker remembered an old ballad from Cybertron and sang it until his twin was asleep. Sighing in exhaustion, Sunstreaker lay down his head and fell into a deep charge.

The next morning, Sunstreaker was pulled out of slumber by Prowl’s annoying voice.

‘Prowl to Sunstreaker. Respond.’

‘Sunstreaker here. What do you want?’

‘Your brother was found in the brig, where he said he was serving his sentence. I thought you were watching him.’

‘I am, but I need charge, slag it!’ Sunstreaker snapped, looking to the empty berth. ‘He must have awakened early.’

‘Please hurry. Red Alert informed me that Sideswipe is on his way to the Command Center.’ Prowl said, and there was real irritation in his voice. ‘And I do not believe he is stable enough to return to duty.’

‘What was your first clue?’ Sunstreaker snapped, stumbling from the berth and out the door.

Sideswipe strode into the Command Center with the air of a superior mech in every way. His paint was rather shiny, the edges to his frame crisp and neat. His back strut was as rigid as Prowl’s own. His shoulders were squared, his steps light, but purposeful. He nodded to Jazz in a stiff, formal way, before going to the main terminal and punching in random numbers.

“Sideswipe, what are you doing?” Prowl asked, hoping the mech didn’t crash Tele-Tran.

“I am updating the system and checking Tele-Tran’s parameters,” Sideswipe answered in a steely, hard voice. It sounded odd coming from the normally laughing and cheeky mech.

“Tele-Tran has already been analyzed this month,” Prowl reported, watching as numbers flickered across the main screen. “I must ask you to cease your actions.”

Without turning around, Sideswipe called, “It’s my job to ensure the safety of this crew and I will not allow you to hinder my job.” He turned his steely gaze over his shoulder and glared at Prowl with a look that made the Praxian shiver despite himself. “And I will not tolerate insubordination.”

Sideswipe turned back to the screen, his attention split between checking Tele-Tran for possible defection and writing out two adjacent programs. Sunstreaker entered the room and headed straight for his brother.

“Come on, Sides, let’s go get some breakfast,” Sunstreaker said, hoping to get his brother’s attention drawn toward refueling. Sideswipe was usually distracted by the prospect of food. But not this time. He jerked his arm out of his brother’s grip.

“Do not touch me!” Sideswipe snarled, giving his brother a death glare before returning his attention back to the console.

Sunstreaker stood agape, staring at his twin. The rage and insolence flooding the bond shocked and unnerved him. Sideswipe usually filled the bond with love and adoration, using the sentiments to torture Sunstreaker with all the ‘happy’ feelings that made him uncomfortable.

“I have work to do, Sunstreaker. I suggest you find something to occupy your processor,” Sideswipe said in dismissal, going back to his multiple tasks without blinking an optic.

‘Perceptor and Wheeljack to the Command Center,’ Prowl called. ‘Sideswipe is doing something to Tele-Tran and to be safe, I would appreciate a thorough analysis.’

‘On our way,’ came the two answers almost in unison.

When the two bots came into the main control room, Sideswipe finished up with whatever he was trying to do. He looked over his shoulder, saw the two mechs, and nodded toward Tele-Tran.

“I have begun the program installation and I believe the two of you will be able to finish where I left off,” Sideswipe said, stepping away from the console and going to the security monitor. He gave the screen a stern scrutinizing look before nodding in affirmation and turning to Prowl. “Everything seems to be in order. You have the bridge, Number One.”

With a curt nod, Sideswipe left, Sunstreaker trailing behind.

“What was that all about?” Wheeljack asked Prowl, noting the tactician seemed stunned into inactivity.

Prowl pulled himself out of his stupor, and near shut down, to address the two mechs who just arrived. “Please make sure Sideswipe didn’t corrupt and compromise Tele-Tran.”

Perceptor went to the main terminal, pulling up the three programs that Sideswipe had been working on. It was a full minute later that he gave an excited beep that sounded like a sputtering truck.

“Primus!” the scientist gasped.

“Bad?” Wheeljack asked, leaning over from where he was examining the systems check that Sideswipe had instigated. It took the inventor a moment to read over the lines of code but his shock was easily painted on his face the more he read.

“What did he do?” Prowl asked, not liking the shocked Perceptor and stupefied Wheeljack looks he was watching.

“He wrote a program,” Perceptor said, nodding to one of the small boxes on the screen. “It’s incomplete but the magnifications of this is…. Its….”

“Genius,” Wheeljack summed it up. “There’s two, many three little additions to the end and Sideswipe is responsible for solving a problem we have barely scratched the surface of.”

“Which is?” Prowl asked, finding it hard to believe that Sideswipe could be labeled a genius.

“Energy conversion for Cybertron,” Perceptor added, entranced by the dancing figures on the screen. “He’s come up with a universal adaptation that can make just about anything available able to be converted to raw materials that will allow latent energy to be released into kinetic, and even using the conversion method as a powering supply so once it gets started, it becomes a self contained environmental energy source.”

“The analysis he was doing on Tele-Tran explains the second program he was writing,” Wheeljack said, shrinking the energy formulation and bringing the second box into standard viewing size. “This is a program that will allow Tele-Tran to expand parameters without sacrificing space and the ability to run self checks and patches.”

“Ingenious,” Perceptor said, looking over the code with intent optics.

“Who’s ingenious?” Ironhide asked, joining the group.

“Apparently Sideswipe,” Prowl said, watching as the two science mechs started talking in techno-speech about the augmentations and the benefits that were to be gained.

“He’s an idiot,” Ironhide scoffed. “Just saw him singing in the hall.”

“He always sings,” Jazz said, with a huge grin on his face as he returned to the Command Center. He looked to Prowl’s questioning stare and added, “His lyrics were colorful. Certainly not standard when the song was original produced.”

“If a song talks about Megatron in black lace panties, then I believe I no longer wish to listen to public radio,” Ironhide deadpanned.

“He just made a pass at Mirage,” Jazz grinned, jerking his thumb over his shoulder toward the hall. “Thought Mirage was a femme and made a rather crude proposition.”

“He’s going to be insufferable,” Prowl muttered, knowing the Tower mech didn’t take too kindly to be thought of as feminine.

“He always is,” Ironhide said, his grin matching Jazz’s.

There was a loud shout, followed by a banging clang that meant someone just got knocked against a bulkhead. Sunstreaker’s voice came over comms, asking Ratchet to attend Mirage as the mech was unconscious. Sunstreaker’s voice was quickly followed by Red Alerts, informing the crew that Sideswipe just tried to molest the Tower brat before Mirage shoved his unwanted pursuer into the wall. Mirage was quickly knocked flat on his aft by an enraged Sunstreaker, who picked his confused brother up and was trying to escort him to their quarters but Sideswipe was arguing and trying to gain freedom.

Prowl’s attention was called back to the scientists when Perceptor grabbed Wheeljack and had the inventor to scan over the other program that had been written in hasty symbols. Prowl sighed, wondering what Sideswipe had done when Wheeljack’s overly bright optics turned to him with an announcement that made his fins flash like a disco.

“Sideswipe figured out how to double Tele-Tran’s output,” Wheeljack reported. “And create a firewall that’s impossible to penetrate.”

“I’m having difficulty in finding a flaw to the routine, but I do believe your assumption is correct,” Perceptor added, scanning the codes to check the validity of the new program.

“I tell you, he’s a genius,” Wheeljack said with a smile.

“Your genius is currently throwing Bumblebee in the air,” Prowl reported, having just got a full detailed summary from the minibot and other witnesses. “He believes Bumblebee is a new toy and is … playing.. with him.”

“All geniuses are a little bit crazy,” Wheeljack said in self defense.

“Huffer is running his mouth,” Jazz reported, hearing the comm. chatter from the mechs in the rec room. “There’s a good chance there’s going to be a fight in the rec room.”

“Ironhide, Jazz, with me,” Prowl ordered, opening a comm. to Ratchet and pinging the medic to the rec room.

As the three officers neared the rec room, there came a loud crashing sound, followed by a heavy thump and a clang of a body falling to the ground. The officers ran into the room to find several of the minibots standing around a dazed Bumblebee. Sideswipe was unconscious on the floor with Sunstreaker standing over him, hands on hips and the look of the pit maker about to unleash untold horrors.

“What is going on?” Prowl demanded, going to Sunstreaker to ensure he didn’t attack anyone. The others could care for Bee. But with Sunstreaker’s history, it was wise to find out what happened and deal with the consequences if and when he exploded.

“Sunstreaker was protecting me,” Bumblebee said, his hand grasping his helm to steady his surroundings. “Sideswipe said he was going to go throw me in the smelter because that’s where bad toys went and next thing I knew, Sunstreaker had decked him.”

Sunstreaker looked to Prowl, his optics the icy hue of dismantlement.

“Is this true?” Prowl asked.

“He’s not thinking right,” Sunstreaker said, nodding to the heap that was his brother. “I was afraid he would be serious and terminate Bumblebee.”

“What the slag happened?” Ratchet yelled, entering the room and immediately going to Sideswipe. He hooked into the frontliner’s systems while casting a reproachful glare at Sunstreaker and Prowl. “Who did this?”

“I did,” Sunstreaker said without remorse. “He was going to hurt Bumblebee.”

“Thanks, Sunstreaker,” Bee said, coming to stand next to the other yellow mech and giving him a grateful smile. “I don’t mind playing along with being a toy but I don’t think I want to pretend to be scrap metal.”

“You’re not scrap metal, Bee,” Sideswipe said with a slur. Everyone looked to the downed bot as he shuttered his optics and pulled himself upright. He looked to Sunstreaker and snickered, “You look like a superhero, Bro.”

“Sideswipe, do you know where you are?” Ratchet asked, his hardline connection giving him the data on Sideswipe’s condition. It seemed the knock to the helm and the resulting fall, had knocked his cogs back into a regular alignment.

“Rec room,” Sideswipe said, looking around, then nodded to everyone standing around him. “And Jazz, Prowler, Ironhide, you Ratchet, and my brother, the Hero.”

“Slag,” Sunstreaker muttered, clearly taking Sideswipe’s definition to be another symptom.

“I mean, where we are. What is our current location?” Ratchet asked.

“Earth. Oregon. Mt. Hilary I believe the humans call it. In the rec room, with me laying on the floor and the five of you standing over me like pissed off guards.” His expression turned wary. “Why are all of you standing guard over me? What happened?”

“Take him to med bay,” Ratchet said to Sunstreaker, earning a disapproving look from Sunstreaker that was instantly dropped from Ratchet’s return glare. “I’ll run a few tests and if he’s better, then I’ll release him for duty in a few days.”

“Better?” Sideswipe asked as Sunstreaker hoisted him to his pedes. “Better from what? What is going on guys?”

“I’ll let you explain,” Ratchet said to Sunstreaker as they duo passed.

“Thanks,” Sunstreaker growled out, steering his brother toward med bay.

“Let me know when he is fit to duty,” Prowl said as the three mechs started toward the door. “I wish Sideswipe to explain his calculations and possibly assist Wheeljack and Perceptor in the installation of his programs.”

“What is he talking about?” Sideswipe asked his brother. “I don’t know how to write programs.”

“Long story,” Sunstreaker said, linking arms with his brother and directing him toward the med bay and hopefully, an end to all the insanity.

Chapter Text

“Okay mechs, the game is Tell No Lies,” Smokescreen said, setting up the shots of high grade. “Last one to remain conscious, and Tele-Tran is monitoring, is the winner. Agreed?”

“Agreed.” Came the response from Jazz, Ironhide, Sunstreaker, Sideswipe, Tracks, and Mirage.

“Don’t know why we’re playing this again,” Ironhide groused, staring at the cube as it was divided between the players. “We know whose going to win.”

Mirage and Jazz shared a look, both having cultured tanks that allowed them to hold back more high grade than most. Their only true competition was Smokescreen, who seemed to have two hollow legs, a reserve tank, a fast analyzer and distribution processor. The mechs had learned of the drinking game last week, after hearing their new human allies speak of such games. Sparkplug recalled some vivid college years, Spike safely at school and not overhearing the sultry details of his father’s earlier days. As soon as the college pranks and drinking games came up, all mechs on the ARK snapped to attention and absorbed the information.

Sideswipe just left the brig for the most recent ‘college related’ prank. It had worked beautifully, but had caught Prowl and Prime in the trap and earned the front liner a three day stint. He laughed the entire trip to the brig, sparkles falling from the senior officers in a parade like shower. Prime wiggling his aft to a gentle rain of sparkling glitter remained transfixed foremost in the frontliner’s main memory banks.

“Just a note of caution,” Ratchet called to the guilty mechs at the table. “The next drunken mech who makes a pass at me will find out how aggressive a medic can be when sufficiently aroused.” Ratchet offered a lecherous grin before adding, “And I won’t be a gentlemech about it.”

With a cheeky look he exited the rec room, his circuits singing with the happiness that only comes from seeing a group of war torn veteran mechs visibly blanch at the prospect of what you’d do to their fragile bodies while intoxicated.

“Well, that’s as good as reason as any to join AA,” Sideswipe said, giving the glowing shot of high grade a frightened look.

“He couldn’t handle our engines,” Sunstreaker said, his dark manner causing the lighting overhead to dim. Ironhide leaned away from the golden warrior out of the instinct for self preservation.

“I don’t ever want to test that theory,” Sideswipe admitted, not bothering to hide a shiver.

“I’ll give you good odds on interface related injuries,’ Smokescreen taunted, trying and failing to ignore the irate glare thrown at him from Jazz and Ironhide. They both liked and respected the CMO. And they were downright terrified of him on any given situation.

“I’d rather keep my parts on me and not in a specimen jar,” Sunstreaker added, recoiling a little at the thought of someone getting that close to him. Just the thought sent chills along his spinal strut.

Smokescreen grinned and started the game, declaring he had never started a ‘barroom brawl’. The other mechs, minus Mirage all took a shot of high grade. It went down smooth, as always with the twins particular brew. Next it was Tracks, who declared he had never been so drunk he went home with a stranger.

He was the only one who didn’t take a shot. He smiled, thinking he had the game in hand.

Every since Sparkplug recalled some of his college days to the mechs, they had been keen on learning drinking games. Well, some bots were more keen than others, the terror twins at the top of the list. They wanted anything that would give them the advantage. So here they all sat, declaring secrets they normally wouldn’t divulge, all in the name of gaining the upper hand to get the other players drunk faster.

Mirage indulged that he had never berthed anyone of low standing. That brought a round of confusion until he elaborated that he only indulged in pleasure with the high priced courtesans and other Tower brats such as himself. Sideswipe admitted to never berthing a courtesan and with a simpering look, Mirage took a shot. Sunstreaker was next, and couldn’t help but admitting that he never drank from specially brewed high grade by the elite of Cybertron. Mirage took another drink, Jazz and Ironhide soon following.

The game went round and round, each level getting more and more intense, and outlandish with each ingested shot. Two hours later, it was Jazz, Smokescreen and the twins remaining. All four were intoxicated with the abundant charge from the high grade. Jazz was swaying, his vision focused on the shot glass that held the pretty swimming liquid he was drowning in.

“I’ve neffer faced a bonded,” Jazz said.

The twins and Smokescreen took shots, their optics bleary and difficult to focus. Sideswipe hiccupped with an electronic noise before filling his emptied glass.

“I’ff neffer faced a Prax-shun,” Sideswipe admitted, then added, “Shame too…. Preffy door w-lings.”

Jazz and Smokescreen shook a shot. Jazz hiccupped and fell sideways in his seat, his systems so overcharged they buzzed in his frame like angry hornets.

That left Smokescreen and the twins. Three arch rivals that always tried to one up each other, the Praxian always ending up on the top of the dominance list. A fact which irked the twins and caused them no undue amount of stress and worry. They couldn’t fathom how the sneaky Praxian was able to ingest so much high grade and still function. The twins had learned how to hold their high grade while fighting in Kaon. They were well versed in the art of intoxication, Sideswipe moreso than Sunstreaker.

Sunstreaker turned blurry optics to his opponent and smiled, “I’ve neffer ash-ked about feelings.”

Smokescreen smirked but took his shot. He licked his lips and said, “I’ff neffer had a twin.”

Both Lamborghinis took their shots, their heads buzzing with the symphony of overcharge.

Sideswipe hiccupped and gave his most studios-while-drunk-stare and added, “I’ff neffer won against you wiff drinking hi-hic!-grade.”

Smokescreen took a shot, his expression one of soured drunkenness.

“I’ff neffer won neffer,” Sunstreaker added.

Smokescreen took another shot, his optics threatening to go blank from the overcharge.

“I’ff neffer lost to you,” he said, trumping the twins at their own game.

“Cards,” Sideswipe smiled, still not drunk enough to catch the loophole.

Smokescreen frowned, trying to remember the thread of conversation, when Sideswipe interrupted his garbled thoughts.

“I’ff neffer had doorz-w-lings,” Sideswipe slurred.

Smokescreen growled low and took a shot. His door wings hitched high on his back, then sank to match his drunken stupor.

“I’ff neffer had d-loor wings,” Sunstreaker added, causing Smokescreen to pout and take another shot.

“I’ff neffer not had door-slings,” Smokescreen said, causing both twins to frown in confusion. He frowned too, trying to remember the conversation, and out of habit, all three grabbed their glasses and downed their shots.

With a high pitched squeal, Smokescreen keeled over, his systems firing off the excess charge in a fit of static.

“We’ff won,” Sunstreaker said, elated that they had finally out drank the resident lush.

“Finnaly,” Sideswipe muttered, moving to get up but the heavy weight in his pedes prevented movement.

With a groan he bent double, releasing the catch along his ankle. A thin tube was exposed. Sideswipe snapped the end off and allowed the backed up high grade to flow onto the floor. He turned to the other pede and repeated the process, emptying his newly installed reserve tanks of the purple charged fluid. The puddles looked exactly like a mech purging his tanks, so their clever deception was safe.

After a couple of minutes Sideswipe sat back and sighed in triumph. He noted Sunstreaker fumbling with his hidden release and with a clearer processor, he undone the catch that allowed his twin to expel the excess fluid.

“Smart idea,” Sideswipe said when he noted Sunstreaker’s optics return to their usual icy blue glaze.

“We can’t beat him without some help,” Sunstreaker said, stretching and feeling the lethargy of overcharge leave his system.

“I wonder how he does it?” Sideswipe said, getting to his pedes and traveling around the table to accost his opponent.

Smokescreen was draped across his chair, door wings drooping at odd angles. Sideswipe approached, the heady fumes of high grade wafting across his sensors so strong they gave him a processor ache.

“Primus, we drink a lot,” Sunstreaker said, looking at the large puddle on the floor where the twins had emptied their hidden, and illegal, reserve tanks.

“All in the name of justice,” Sideswipe said as he looked Smokescreen over. Sunstreaker’s snort escaped his notice as he glanced along the Praxian’s body. Wires, cables, plating, all seemed to be in order. Smokescreen’s physique didn’t differ from Prowl’s or Bluestreak’s, and the twins had enough close encounters to notice any oddities to a Praxian frame.

“Check his tank,” Sunstreaker said, drawing up next to his twin and looking over the Praxian frame. He gave a shiver of disgust. The bulky frames weren’t pleasing to the optics. At least not in Sunstreaker’s opinion.

“I’m not sticking my hand anywhere inside his internals,” Sideswipe said, pushing Smokescreen off his seat. He landed with a clanging thump onto the floor, where Sideswipe rolled him onto his back, mindful of the lax doorwings.

“Funny how a Praxian build is rather bulky and uninteresting when they are active,” Sunstreaker said, his artistic optic catching the light and angles of the sleeping Praxian. “But they change completely into something unique and attractive when unconscious and unsuspecting.”

Sideswipe offered a low hum for an answer, his hands pressing along Smokescreen’s body. After searching his torso, he opted to check the Praxian’s pedes, thinking that he too had secret reserve tanks installed. But upon further examination, Sideswipe found the usual metal and glass that decorated the Praxian’s pedes.

“I don’t know where he puts it,” Sideswipe admitted, rubbing the back of his neck in exasperation. His overcharge reared it’s head, the residual charge lingering along his relays though his reserve tanks were empty. He collapsed beside of Smokescreen, his head buried along a shoulder and doorwing.

“Sideswipe, what are you doing?” Prowl asked.

Sunstreaker offered his customary sneer of contempt before giving a disgusted look to his twin.

Sideswipe rolled sideways, glancing at the SIC with one bleary optic before muttering, “What does it look like?”

“I suggest you take your liaison to another location,” Prowl deadpanned, flicking a door wing in irritation.

Sideswipe nuzzled against Smokescreen’s panels in an affectionate, suggestive way. Prowl wondered why his brethren wasn’t responding to the stimuli. When Smokescreen’s head lulled to the side, Prowl had his answer. He frowned, hands on hips, exasperation written all over his features.

“Sideswipe, Smokescreen is unconscious,” Prowl informed the drunken warrior.

“I know,” Sideswipe said, wrapping an arm around the Diversionary Experts waist, his fingers nimble along the seams. “I won the game.”

“I see,” Prowl said with a sigh. He was well aware of the contest between the two. The only thing he couldn’t understand was why Sideswipe was showing such affection to a mech he considered his sworn enemy. “So why are you molesting him?”

Sunstreaker snorted. Sideswipe giggled, his fingers playing more animatedly across the unconscious mech’s torso.

“Can’t very well do it while he’s awake!” Sideswipe answered with an electronic snort that died in his vocalizer as he frowned at the Praxian. His fingers brushed something strange along Smokescreen’s left ‘rib’. “What’s this?”

Prowl looked to what had drawn the drunken frontliner’s attention and gave a shrug. “That is where his secondary relay is located.”

“Second?...” Sideswipe frowned, his fingers tracing the weld scar.

“Smokescreen was damaged at the beginning of the war,” Prowl said, giving the frontliner a mixed look. “His main absorption array was damaged so Ratchet installed a secondary system. He is able to use his primary array to absorb fuel, or reroute his systems to the secondary redundant system, which utilizes at a slower absorption rate.”

“What?” Sunstreaker asked, fanning his face to get the fumes of high grade away from him.

“Smokescreen can alternate between which absorption array is active and use the other as reserve,” Prowl explained, not understanding why both twins were looking mutinous. “Due to such augmentations, he can remain active for twice the length of time before charging and refueling, which enables him to perform his job when on the front lines.”

“Sure it does,” Sunstreaker said, turning his murderous gaze to Smokescreen.

“I thought you knew this,” Prowl said, looking from one twin to the other.

“No, we didn’t,” Sideswipe said, leering over the unconscious Praxian. “But rest assured, we will remember it and use it accordingly.”

Prowl opened his mouth to argue, but then he recalled all the times that Smokescreen had lured the twins into a drinking contest. The abuse and blackmail the twins had to endure was enough to make anyone crazy with revenge. And as he gazed between the two of them, he saw Sideswipe’s hand caress along a door wing. Something told him that retribution would be swift, though not lethal.

Which was odd, considering it was the twin terrors.

But Prowl had no reason to believe that Smokescreen would come to harm. The twins would enact their pranks, get their revenge and Smokescreen would learn his lesson. And he needed to learn it. Many a soldier had fallen victim to his ruse. It was time he got a dose of some good old fashioned comeuppance. Prowl offered a curt nod and took his leave.

If anyone could deal Smokescreen out a dose of medicine, it was the two bitterest pills in the Army.

And Prowl silently cheered them on.

Chapter Text

Primus looked upon his children with a sad expression. Like all children they had to grow and learn, and though the journey may be difficult and fraught with peril, there was always the reward of peaceful slumber in eternity. Many had to be sparked, and though it pained the deity to think on it, many had to perish. There were lessons that his children needed to learn, and though he had gifted them with a spiritual knowledge of seeking his wisdom, very few exercised the gift. As fewer and fewer turned to their creator for strength and guidance, their ignorance caused them to stray from their chosen path. War ravaged their world, their people suffering at the hands of corrupt and insatiable. Wishing to give his children another chance, Primus took a piece of his own spark, willingly given from its powerful wielder, and encased in a holy relic that only the honorable would be allowed to successfully carry.

Many had tried to take the Matrix of leadership, either by force or misunderstanding, and as the ancient artifact passed from frame to frame, it sought the true essence of its wielder. If they were found unworthy, the Matrix would refuse to bestow its grace upon their frames. Most of the rejected would pass the Matrix to the next possible candidate, their own sparks heavy with the weight of guilt and selfish disgust. But there were the spare few who refused to accept the artifacts judgment upon their sparks and tried to carry its burden by the sheer voracity of their will.

Every one of them had met with a tormented and painful end.

The Matrix chose its bearer. Those who were unworthy were not given a second consideration, and if they reared against the Will of Primus, they suffered his wrath accordingly.

Primus paused, watching the beings of his creation enjoy their lives. Their joy and adoration were contagious. The look upon their faces and the overwhelming sense of love spoke to the very soul of the heavenly deity. He never felt more proud of his creations than when they sought inner peace, and in essence, found the spiritual link residing in every one of their sparks. All they had to do was seek their Creator, and they would find him. His line of communication was always open, their sparks a direct link to his own.

But with the good also came the terrible.

War.

Poverty.

Slavery.

All of his creations put through the fires of the Pit. There were the few periods of peace and prosperity, but compared to the time stream of eternity, they were but blinks. Hatred filled their sparks. Those who were bore of lower caste were considered the dregs of society, giving the upper class citizens the cultivated masses needed to attend to their needs. Some of those needs were so perverse, Primus adverted his sight in shame.

A governing body was established during one of the rare moments of peace time, and though the intention was just, the sparks of those assigned to such lofty positions was never for the betterment of the suffering people. Personal agendas took priority, allowing a larger rift to form amongst the populace.

Primus extended his hand and sent his messages, every spark beating within his own spark. All their voices joined together. Peace was fragile and broken on many occasions, those who were answering Primus’ call were lost without proper direction. Their attempts at uniting a fractured world was weak and easily overlooked, the governing body firmly entrenched into the footholds of society. So Primus decided to send out one last call. If his children did not correct their ways, he would allow them to fail. They had fallen deaf for too long. If they did not answer his last summons, then he would allow them to decay, wither away with time.

And so his call went forth.

Those in power could not hear his words, nor sense his presence in their sparks. Their sparks had grown cold and harsh, keeping them wrapped in the steeliness of their resolve and righteous superiority. Those who heard his call stood up and took notice, and unlike most documented figures of renown, it was not the Lords and Princes and Senators that graced the pages of history.

Primus’ call was heard in the dark, underground rings of Kaon. And it was heard along the fast, bustling warehouse district.

A gladiator, fed up with the inequity, his hands stained with the lifeblood of his fellow Cybertronians. Spark pounding, he raged through the arena, terminating the glorified owners and with voice raised high, he freed the enslaved, and rallied their sparks into following his lead. One of many such campaigns to his credit.

And in answer to the gladiator, there was a timid, yet friendly dock worker. He had been carrying crates off a merchants transport when the call was heard. He dropped the crate, his head canting, and something telling him to redirect his path into Iacon. Without knowledge of the upper districts, and unknown of his destination, he marched into the heart of the city, bypassed security measures that conveniently missed his presence, and ventured into the housing complex of the current Prime. With strong, confident steps, the mech sought the unthinkable. And as soon as his optics fell upon the regal Prime, he felt his chest swell. Unbidden his chest plates parted, and as the Prime and his delegates gaped at the stranger, the Prime jerked rigid, his own chest plates parting. And like a lost child finding its parent, the Matrix removed itself from its corrupted carrier to fly into the willing body of a pure, innocent, incorruptible young dock worker.

The old Prime fell lifeless on the floor. His job was done. He had bore the burden until his own spark was corrupted with the very thing that plagued his people and caused such strife. Every mech in the room followed their esteemed leader in death. Without a word, the ghostly dock worker exited the building and returned to work, the Matrix finding refuge in the purity of the spark that pulsed against its casing. It’s time was near.

Now, even the most famous and noteworthy have their place in history, and though time would record them as the important ones, Primus knew otherwise. To protect the honored soul that carried the fractured piece of his spark, he had to make sure his symbol, and its bearer, would be well guarded. Primus smiled, granting sparks across the universe, creating them in their appointed time.

Being the all knowing God of the Cybertronian race, Primus realized that this uprising would be the last of its kind. For if his chosen champions failed, then his children would be lost. Their lives would be forfeit, because they refused to listen and forgot their heritage. The worst of times had to come to fruition, or else the blind would never see the fault in their existence. Primus felt saddened, knowing his children would have to suffer horrible atrocities, their very sparks singed by the fiery Pits, purifying and cleansing their dark spirits and allowing them to realize the distance they had with their creator. They would suffer, and not all would survive the trial. But it was one last desperate hope to show his children how far they have gone, and how far they must come to regain their place of honor.

It would take strength of spirit to endure the tortures of the world. Pain and suffering would be a constant companion, reminding those who had fallen, how far they had to go in order to reach the end of their journey. For when they were cast from the tempest of strife and damnation, they could stand strong, defending those who were too weak to rise from the ashes.

They must endure the horrors of war. And though they may fail, at least they would know in their sparks that they did their best. They had stood for what was right. They defended the weak, even at the cost of their own life. They protected the righteous and just, and though they may not understand their role in the forging of great leaders, they knew deep in their souls that their place was by the appointed mechs side.

That strength of character would not only define an individual, but it would allow them to carve their own place in history. They stood by their leader’s side, upholding his judgments and following his command, even if it meant their termination. And though they would never rule a nation, their names would become legend.

Primus smiled, watching his newly appointed leader stumble about his life, not realizing the burden he now possessed within his worn frame. The time was soon approaching. This mech would rise beyond the others who bore the Matrix, and with his humble beginnings, he would forge the way to an everlasting peace.

But for him to do such great and honorable things, he must come to power, and though he may be surrounded by friends and loyal soldiers, Primus would trust no other than his own appointed guardians to protect his most precious bearer.

With a wave of his hand, Primus plucked a spark from the awaiting Well. At his command the spark split, and with his mighty hand, he placed the twin sparks in the time stream, sending them into a world that would not only ridicule and torment them, but would also grant them a most sacred place. The twin sparks took their frames, endured their trials, suffered through great agony, and when their time came to take their rightful place, they stood up without hesitation, ready to be of the service they were sent to provide.

They remained in the background, ensuring the chosen bearer of Primus’ spark would be safe. Exhausted, beaten, battered and raw, the two sparks continued their struggle, remaining true to their duty and to their Prime. And though they were of lowly positions, both in life and in rank, they served dutifully, until Primus called for their return to the Well.

When they heard the blessed call, they both smiled, and faded from the physical plane, returning to the place from whence they came.

Chapter Text

Sideswipe raced through the streets, Bluestreak hot on his tailpipes. They took the sharp turns with ease. Well, the sports car took the turns with ease. Bluestreak grunted to maintain control and grimaced every time he fishtailed in overcompensation. The trek was wrecking havoc on his systems. His shocks would need attention, if not replaced all together. His struts were taking quite the beating, along with very sensitive junctures in his undercarriage. But no matter how much he hurt, or feared Ratchet’s wrath, he did a very surprising thing.

Bluestreak didn’t complain. In fact, he was so intent on losing his pursuer, nothing crossed his mind to voice aloud, other than the occasional grunt due centrifugal force. Datsuns weren’t meant for these speeds or curb hugging maneuvers. Lamborghinis on the other hand, they were BORN for such tight courses.

“Just a little further, Blue!” Sideswipe yelled, taking an abrupt turn and heading down a disused alley.

“Thank Primus!” the gunner called back, dodging the debris and praying nothing bounced into his rims or undercarriage.

The duo shot out across traffic, a blur of blood and shadow, only to disappear down another alley. As soon as the two registered to other motorist, they were gone. Sideswipe took a right hand turn, earning a soft groan from his tires, and swerved toward the intended target. Bluestreak’s tires screamed in protest, which thankfully drowned out the creaks and growls from his overtaxed engine.

Sideswipe disappeared into a narrow valley of concrete, flicking on his high beams, prompting Bluestreak to do the same.

“Where are we?” Bluestreak asked, panting from the exertion.

“Underground parking garage,” Sideswipe answered, deciding on the lowest possible level. “Seeker scanners can’t penetrate through all this concrete and steel. Not to mention, the seekers are far too big to fit in here, and just about every one of the Decepticons are afraid of dark, underground places.”

“Really?” Bluestreak asked, genuinely surprised by the proclamation.

“Yeah. Ever notice how Cons are reluctant go underground?” Sideswipe maneuvered himself along the mix of other automobiles and extinguished his lights. Bluestreak’s instantly followed. “Seekers are the worst, but if you notice, all the Cons seem to have a problem with being underground.”

“How do they survive being on the ocean floor then?” Bluestreak wondered, filing away Sideswipes information for later use.

“Don’t know,” Sideswipe admitted. “Maybe it has something to do with the darkness there; they just think it looks like space. Or maybe the water is so blue; they think it’s the sky. But I know for a fact that the seekers have to get out every so many solars to fly. ”

“I can understand how they wouldn’t want to be underground,” Bluestreak muttered.

“They slander ground frames, but we’re more resilient than they are,” Sideswipe goaded. “At least I don’t think claustrophobia is a glitch in the Autobots. Don’t think anyone has a problem being underground.”

“Gears says it’s like being buried alive,” Bluestreak added, remembering the day of the rather gruesome conversation. It still gave him nightmares.

“Yes, we’ll he’s always been one to know all the aspects of slow or painful deactivation,” Sideswipe growled, finding a section of the garage that offered a more secure location. They were only two floors below the street, but eight more levels crowned the structure. The far side where the two were taking refuge was flanked by large office buildings, the back alley far too small to allow a jet to land and begin a search.

“What do we do?” Bluestreak asked, his frame giving an involuntary shudder. He had taken a hit that fried his transformation cog. He was stuck in vehicular form. Not a good mode for a sniper.

“We lay low, keep ourselves calm, and try not to draw attention,” Sideswipe answered. “Pull in.”

Bluestreak obeyed, putting his front bumper nearly flush against the concrete of the support stanchion. Sideswipe pulled in beside the gunner, though he chose to back into his spot. If trouble arose, he was the only one capable of warding off an attack.

Though how much of a threat he could pose was still in question. His weapons had been lost, and there was a nasty hole in his shoulder curtsey of a lucky shot from Starscream. His transformation had been rough and painful, but he had done what was necessary to speed to Bluestreak, who had been exposed during the fight and damaged. Thankfully the Autobots were near a city, and Sideswipe had led the injured gunner to safety as the Autobots fell back to regroup and wait for back up.

“The Cons knocked out my communications relay,” Bluestreak said after a moment of trying different bandwidths.

“Mine as well,” Sideswipe was reluctant to admit it to the already scared Datsun. “But we don’t need to broadcast our location in case the Cons are close by. Don’t need the company.”

“But the Autobots won’t know where to find us,” Bluestreak exclaimed, his frame starting to tremble.

“Yeah, they will,” Sideswipe said in nonchalance.

A roar of jet engine resounded in the concrete cave, indicating the Cons were still looking for their victims.

“Dampen your energy field,” Sideswipe whispered as his signature dropped off Blue’s sensors.

“Sideswipe!” Bluestreak hissed, reluctant to mask his signature. It was dark, cold, and with nothing but ordinary cars dotted here and there, it was lonely without the constant energy field brushing against his own from Sideswipe. He hated being alone, almost as much as he hated silence.

“Blue, open your passenger door,” Sideswipe ordered. “No arguments, just do it.”

The gray door slowly opened, as if not trusting its neighbor. Sideswipe waited until the door was fully extended, before opening his own door, slowly backing up until blood red met steel grey. Bluestreak relaxed, blanketing his signature.

“Keep calm and quiet,” Sideswipe ordered softly as the sound of engines faltered then stilled as the jets landed on a wider street and were beginning to search for their prey.

“I don’t like this,” Bluestreak whispered, though his nervousness had been reduced.

Sideswipe sent a low pulse through his door, his arm rest flush against Bluestreak’s. He knew the gunner wasn’t normally so shaky, having been conditioned to spend hours in secreted locations, remaining motionless and out of communication range. It was basic training for snipers or those in Special Ops. What had Bluestreak so terrified was the thought of being stuck in alt mode, with no means of defense, no communications, and being left alone in a cold, dark, place while death circled overhead. It was Praxus all over again. Something the young gunner could never quite shake, no matter how extensive the training.

A car alarm went off in the distance.

“I think they’re getting closer,” Bluestreak whispered. “What are we going to do? No one knows where we are? How can they find us?”

“Shhhhh,” Sideswipe gently admonished. “Don’t worry. Help is on the way.”

“How can you be sure?” Bluestreak whimpered, pressing his door into Sideswipe’s for reassurance.

“You forget who you’re with,” Sideswipe said with a soft chuckle that instantly died when there came a resounding crash above them.

“They’re here!” Bluestreak squeaked.

“So let’s pretend we’re not,” Sideswipe added, sending a warm tingle through his door that carried through to the gunner. “Don’t make a sound. Just let them bang around like glitches.”

Bluestreak sent a return pulse through his door. He was grateful Sideswipe wasn’t teasing him about his fear and he secretly hoped the ruby warrior wouldn’t hold his irrational behavior against him. He liked the ruby warrior, and to some extent, his twin. Both were fun to be around and always had fun. Course, Bluestreak’s disciplinary folder had expanded drastically since he started spending more time with the duo, but as he explained to Prowl, sometimes a bot was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. There was never any malice or revenge intended, and after Bluestreak’s pleas, Prowl had begun to let some things slide.

A crash echoed, followed by the sound of renting metal. A building collapsed nearby, the vibration felt through the tires of the hidden Autobots in the underground garage. Humans began shouting, screaming, adding to the cacophony of stampeding feet.

Bluestreak fought the urge to cry. He knew Sideswipe was a formidable warrior and could take on anyone twice his size, but if the jets decided to attack at the same time, Sideswipe would be easily overpowered. He was good, but he wasn’t supernatural. Bluestreak felt his unease ebb from the small pulses Sideswipe was feeding through the sensors in his door. He had to admit, Sideswipe knew how to calm someone. Nothing more sensitive than a doorwinger’s doors, especially around the armrest where the sensors were more advanced due to their protruding nature. He wondered if Sideswipe knew that about doorwings or was just performing a natural, every day action to soothe shaky nerves.

“Shhh….. easy,” Sideswipe muttered.

Bluestreak willed himself to calm, knowing that Sideswipe had his bumper. But how in the name of Primus were the Autobots going to be able to find the two wayward mechs in a city this large and a battle so chaotic?

Suddenly the sound of wrenching metal could be heard deep in the bowels of the underground. Curses buffered down, then came the steady staccato of weapons fire. Car alarms screamed, drowning out the vocalizations of the infuriated Cons. A sonic boom went off, rattling the parking structure so violently a shower of dust fell on the Autobot hoods, ghosting their paint. The sounds of crumbling concrete greeted their audios before the far away section of the building collapsed.

Bluestreak emitted a tiny squeak in alarm, but Sideswipe remained impassive. The Lamborghini settled low on his tires, the Datsun quickly following suit.

Laser fire erupted from somewhere up above, followed by muted shouts. There were no mistaking Starscream’s null rays as they screamed just as loudly as their owner. Another explosion followed by the thundering of jet engines, angry shouts, and another sonic boom, then all was silent.

“Bout time,” Sideswipe said, rising on his tires and pulling out of the parking slot. “Come on, Blue, let’s get you to the doc bot.”

“We can’t go out there!” Bluestreak gasped, his panic returning when Sideswipe broke physical contact. “The Cons will get us!”

“Cons are gone. It’s safe now,” Sideswipe said, idling in place until Bluestreak moved. He didn’t want to leave the gunner alone.

“How can you be so sure?” Bluestreak asked, clearly not believing the frontliner. “You don’t know who’s out there!”

“Bluestreak, I assure you, it’s safe,” Sideswipe said, turning on his lights to their fullest extent.

“Our communications are down!” Bluestreak added.

Realizing the gunner wasn’t cottoning on, Sideswipe gave a small laugh. “Bluestreak, I don’t need communications to know when my twin is near.”

“Sunstreaker….” Bluestreak muttered, his processor finally catching up. “If Sunstreaker’s nearby, then that means our friends are with him.”

“That’s usually how it goes,” Sideswipe mused.

Bluestreak pulled away from his parking place and kept pace behind Sideswipe, who Bluestreak just noticed was favoring his left side. As soon as the two drove out into daylight, the sun fell on top of the ruby warrior and gave him a hard fist to the roof.

“Ouch! Sunstreaker! Knock it off!” Sideswipe barked in anger and pain.

“Fragger! Up and leaving in the middle of a fight!” Sunstreaker snarled, drawing his fist back for another strike. “Cons swarming all over and my idiot brother decides to disappear.”

“I didn’t leave out of spite,” Sideswipe griped, transforming and pushing his brother away from him. When Sunstreaker made to advance, Sideswipe pointed his finger at the mangled Datsun. “Blue’s cover was blown and the seekers were targeting him. He was outgunned and injured.”

Sunstreaker halted his advance and took in the battered form idling silently behind Sideswipe. Ratchet rushed over, barking orders for Wheeljack to stay off his mangled pede and ride in Prime’s trailer. When Ratchet spotted Bluestreak, his demeanor instantly softened and with a delicacy unheard of in the medic, he started to work on the damaged circuitry.

“How bad, Ratchet?” Sideswipe asked, turning from his twin.

“It looks like he went off-roading with Hound again,” Ratchet grumbled, light from the welder flickering across his visage.

“Busted cogs, two ruptured hoses, and several burns,” Ratchet prattled on, reading through the diagnostics scrolling through his HUD. “You’re struts are compromised, transformation cog is offline, and it looks like you have a blown fuse that’s disabled your launchers.”

“Seekers,” Bluestreak explained in a nervous chuckle, hoping Ratchet wouldn’t employ his infamous wrenches. So far, the youngster had been spared such drastic treatments. He was grateful Ratchet had turned off his pain receptors, though his frame did give involuntary twitches from Ratchet’s hasty field repairs.

Sunstreaker gave the battered gray hood a cross look that softened. “Next time do us a favor and don’t blow your cover. I don’t think we would survive long enough to explain to Prowl how we lost you.”

Bluestreak opened his vocalizer to speak but Sunstreaker gave a curt nod and took his leave, Sideswipe following behind.

Chapter Text

Sideswipe rolled onto his side, his tanks threatening to purge.

“Oh, Primus,” he groaned, his optics fighting to remain closed.

“Get up!” Sunstreaker yelled.

“Ouch!” Sideswipe whined, grasping his helm and covering his audios. “Volume Sunny”

Sunstreaker smirked, noting the signs of overenergizing. The fact that Sideswipe had been brought back to their shared quarters by a very annoyed Prowl also clued the golden mech into his brother’s most recent activities. Add to the fact that there was the usual graffiti painting Sideswipes aft, and there was a high probability that he had overindulged, again, and lost who knows what in a wager against the resident cast iron tank.

“Have fun, did you?” Sunstreaker asked, hands on hips and staring at the groaning mass of ruby metal that once resembled his twin.

“Primus,” Sideswipe moaned again, gasping at the boiling sensation in his tank.

“Close,” Sunstreaker said, puffing his armor in a preen “But you’re still on the duty roster for patrol this afternoon with Bluestreak.”

“Can’t do it,” Sideswipe said, rubbing his midsection in an effort to sooth his discomfort.

“Do you think Prowl will let you off the hook so easily?” Sunstreaker asked, poised like an irate God over a supplicating minion.

“Cover?” Sideswipe muttered, trying to plead with his twin but finding the urge to purge to be causing him great distress. He opted to send his torment over their bond. So caught up in his own misery, he didn’t see his brother flinch from the wide open bond now sharing their pain and suffering.

“Fine,” Sunstreaker said, crossing his arms over his chassis and looking away in disgust. “I’m always stuck with covering for your drunken aft.”

Gratitude flooded the bond.

“But I want something in return,” Sunstreaker said, pointing a finger at his twin but Sideswipe’s optics were closed and missed the gesture.

Hurt and anguish was his answer.

“Cute,” Sunstreaker snorted, tapping his pede and causing Sideswipe to moan and roll onto his front, pressing his face into the cushion of the berth. The neat scrawl of Smokescreen’s writing was visible on his aft.

“I think Smokescreen should visit a psychologist,” Sunstreaker said, adding the “written on aft tally” to 1821. Smokescreen must be an aft mech. He certainly liked to write on it more than any other body part. Not to mention that Sideswipe made a very amicable message board when inebriated.

“This weekend, our quarters, all to myself,” Sunstreaker said, stating his terms.

A muffled noise was his reply.

“I’ve been watching an art program on the human broadcasting and I would like to try to blend the mediums. To do that I need peace and quiet. Two things I know you’re allergic. So, next weekend, for seventy two hours, you will not step a pede inside our quarters. Deal?”

Sideswipe gave a thumbs up, that quickly turned into a mad gasp for the waste receptacle as he purged his tank. The congealed energon splattered, causing Sunstreaker to sigh and turn away.

Sunstreaker left without another word, hoping his brother didn’t get any of his sick on the floor or his berth. If he did, there was a good chance that he’d migrate to Sunstreaker’s berth, and repeat the process. Sunstreaker would hate to have to murder his twin.

“Sunstreaker,” Prowl greeted at the entrance to the ARK.

Sunstreaker offered a curt nod in affirmation before finding Bluestreak’s gray frame babbling away to Hound and Preceptor who were needing a third opinion on a recent sample. Unfortunately Bluestreak had a tendency to stray off topic and now both mechs stood looking bewildered and a little confused.

“Come on Motor Mouth,” Sunstreaker yelled, transforming and revving his engine.

‘Where’s Sideswipe?’ Bluestreak asked when he gained the other mech’s side. Sideswipe was his usual partner on Sunday patrol.

“Charging,’ Sunstreaker replied with another rev.

“Oh,’ Bluestreak said, looking a little worried. He got along great with Sideswipe.

Sunstreaker, well, no one really got along with him. He was trouble on four tires.

“It’s alright, Bluestreak,” Prowl said, typing on his datapad. “Sunstreaker agreed to the shift modification last night when I spoke to him.”

“Sideswipe over-charged again?” Bluestreak asked in a timid way. He wasn’t sure what Sunstreaker’s reaction would be and he either wanted back up from the senior officer, or to look adorable enough to prevent a throttling. Either way, he wasn’t taking any chances.

“My brother is an idiotic sot,” Sunstreaker said, then started rolling toward the road that lead into the city. “Come on Blue. We have asphalt to cover.”

Bluestreak exchanged a mixed look with Prowl, who gave a nod in silent excuse and turned to answer a summons by Red Alert. With a sigh of defeat Bluestreak followed Sunstreaker to the horizon. As they navigated the twists and turns that marked a typical Oregon road, Bluestreak couldn’t stand the lone rustling of wind over his grill. Weighing his option of being throttled into stasis by an overzealous Lamborghini, versus the pained silence that haunted his waking hours, Bluestreak opted to start a conversation. His words were cut off as Sunstreaker spoke.

“You’re quiet today,” Sunstreaker said, enjoying the feeling of having the wind whipping through his grill.

It felt nice to sample Earth’s clean air. It always lifted his spirits. Usually Sideswipe accompanied Sunstreaker on his scheduled patrols, being the only one who could withstand the violent temper and acidic words. Not to mention Sunstreaker enjoyed a heavy pace that only someone with a modified engine could keep. Thankfully, Bluestreak was formatted with all the right modifications. He kept an even pace with his patrol partner.

“Not sure what to say,” Bluestreak admitted. With the other Autobots it was easy to talk. The topics flowed with ease and his vocalizer kept up without hesitation. With Sunstreaker, he had to chose his words carefully and navigate the non-defensive course of conversation, least he end up in a ditch on the side of the road.

“That’s a first for you,” Sunstreaker jibed, finding the elation in his spark that meant his twin was unconscious again.

Bluestreak made a soft noise that sounded like a hurtful sigh, his acceleration lagging just a fraction.

“You can talk,” Sunstreaker offered, feeling a sadness wash over him. He knew Bluestreak’s history. “I don’t mind a little conversation.”

Bluestreak perked up, his engine revving as he gained the couple of paces from Sunstreaker.

“I know it gets annoying,’ Bluestreak started, feeling as if he needed to explain his compulsion to his partner. Hopefully Sunstreaker would understand and not beat him into stasis. “But I grew up in a family unit of six. There was always noise and activity and companionship. After Praxus fell, there was only silence.”

Sunstreaker remained quiet, listening to the gunner and finding a new respect for the mech he normally considered to be a nuisance.

“All the bombs and explosions. People screaming, shouting, filling the airwaves with static and pain,’ Bluestreak said, delving back into the memories he despised. “All of my people, screaming for help. Asking for the horror to stop. Begging for mercy. Then all at once, nothing. All of their voices were muted, as if they never existed.”

Sunstreaker turned onto the highway, his scanners employed but he ignored them in favor of his partner’s recollection.

“My family was gone. All of my friends, terminated,” Bluestreak said, feeling that sinking feeling in his tanks that threatened to drown him in sorrow. “I’ll never hear their voices again. They were lost in the silence that took my city. But when I talk, it’s like I’m talking to them, just waiting for them to answer. All I have to do is keep talking, and they will hear me and answer back. They will hear me.”

“I’m sorry, Blue,” Sunstreaker said and for once, he meant it. He knew the gunner had survived the destruction of Praxus, but he never realized how much it still haunted the talkative mech. He knew that Praxian’s were generally a very close knit city, their community built on bonds of family and friendship. It was difficult to imagine being surrounded by loved ones, then have them taken away and thrown into solitude. The idea of being parted from Sideswipe, however annoying he was, Sunstreaker couldn’t imagine never having to see, hear, or sense his twin again. It was a bewildering thought.

“I have the Autobots as my family now,’ Bluestreak said, pulling himself from his daze. “I’m no longer alone. I have a lot of people to talk to now.”

Sunstreaker offered a snort of derision. He didn’t like talking. He didn’t like people. And he didn’t like people talking to him.

But instead of giving him his usual comfort, the fact annoyed him. He swerved to avoid a pothole and almost collided with Bluestreak.

“Unit of six?” Sunstreaker asked, finding the number to be rather high for a Cybertronian family unit.

“I had two brothers and a sister,” Bluestreak said, feeling his spark pang at their loss. “My older brother, Rapidfire, used his body to shield me when our housing unit collapsed.”

Sunstreaker frowned, waiting for Bluestreak to continue, and then wished he hadn’t.

“One of the structural beams snapped in two and pierced his spark chamber,” Bluestreak said, his voice dropping low with the pain of memory. “He was smiling at me and telling me to calm down when he terminated.”

Sunstreaker felt something inside his spark chamber beat out a frantic pulse. The idea of staring into the optics of a loved one as they terminated was something that haunted Sunstreaker during his charging hours. Yes, he had terminated mech and femme alike. Yes, he had done so with great joy, and equally, hollow detachment. In the gladiatorial rings, it was kill or be killed. There was no room for error or sympathetic weakness. The same rules applied to war. But there was something about having the one you love perish right before your optics. His attention was drawn back to his patrol partner when Bluestreak continued speaking.

“Do you mind if we stop somewhere?” Bluestreak asked.

“Not really,” Sunstreaker said, mulling over the young gunners words.

“Follow me,” Bluestreak said, taking an exit ramp and heading toward one of the many vistas that overlook the ocean.

Sunstreaker knew the place that Bluestreak was directing them to, but held his vocalizer. Sunstreaker had painted many a sunrise from this particular location. When the duo reached the overlook, they transformed. Bluestreak stepped near the edge of the railing the humans had put up to prevent cars from driving off the cliff. The railing came up to his ankle.

“Do you see that cove?’ Bluestreak asked, pointing to the sharp niche cut into the rock face.

Sunstreaker nodded, having the early morning sunlight as it painted the crashing waves when they hit the rocks. When the new dawn crested on the horizon, the violent water in the cove provided a myriad of color and dancing light. Sunstreaker loved this cove.

“That shade of blue, there at the recessed point of the cove,” Bluestreak said, his optics fixed on the ocean that captured his attention. “That was the color of my creators. They were both a deep shade of blue. That is the exact color of their plating… when they were alive.” Bluestreak’s servo pointed to the far edges of the water, where it lapped in brutal waves against the sharp rocks. “The foam that forms along that ridge looks like the pale yellow of my femme creator, Chatterbox. She was in the communications tower when the seekers destroyed it.”

Sunstreaker could feel the hurt and turmoil, crashing and rolling like the waves down blow. Not knowing what to say he opted for silence, allowing Bluestreak the chance to continue.

“My sire was a mech by the name of Broadstroke,” Bluestreak added, his optics fixated on the patch of ocean that reminded him of his lost family. “He was a dock worker, but he always had a passion for art.” Bluestreak looked to his silent partner, his optics lit up with happy promise. “You would have gotten along great with him. He would have loved your work.”

Sunstreaker offered a half smile, not sure what to say. He didn’t like conversations for this specific reason. Emotions. Feelings were brought up and openly displayed and though Sunstreaker could terminate a mech without hesitation, discussing feelings scared him more than going head first into battle. He just didn’t know how to cope. And going back to the ARK while feeling like this was sure to end badly. For someone. Sunstreaker needed time to sort through his emotions and to file them away so they wouldn’t interfere with his normal, caustic attitude.

Primus, is this what Prowl feels? Is that why he’s always so distant and seemingly emotionless?

Sunstreaker frowned, not knowing why all these thoughts and emotions were weighing so heavily on him. It wasn’t like him to experience such things. That was more Sideswipe’s aspect of their bond. Realization hit like Devastator’s fist. Sideswipe was unconscious, which meant that Sunstreaker had to deal with the emotional aspect of their bond without having his twin to run the metaphorical interference. If this was what Sideswipe experienced all the time, Sunstreaker just may have to cut the fragger some slack.

Maybe.

“What do you say, we stay awhile?” Sunstreaker asked, taking the bold step of sitting on the edge of the vista, mindful of the railing. He didn’t think it was wise to go back to the ARK.

“If you want,” Bluestreak said, a little too eager to plant himself on the lookout, his gaze drifting to the alcove that shimmered with the colors of his family.

The traffic in the distance faded away, commuters returning from their liturgical practices to attend lunches and family gatherings. Since the day was sunny with a gentle, cooling breeze, most opted for the park or down by the beach. The two Autobots on the lookout were safe from prying eyes and nosy humans.

The duo sat in silence for an hour. Sunstreaker found it refreshing and was grateful his companion was able to hold his vocalizer so he could sort through his emotions. When he turned to speak to his companion, he was struck with the melancholy displayed on the usually naïve and boyish face. It didn’t seem right. Such dark and heinious things should never haunt someone with such a good spark and gentle demeanor.

‘Red Alert to Sunstreaker,’ Red Alert’s voice came crackling over the comms.

‘Sunstreaker here. What do you want?’ Sunstreaker answered, watching Bluestreak’s face as he stared morosely at the cresting water below.

‘Tele-Tran reports you have been stationary for the last ninety-seven minutes,’ Red Alert said, sounding suspicious.

‘We are surveying the ocean and will return to base when we’re slagging ready,’ Sunstreaker said, cutting the transmission.

Sunstreaker’s attention remained fixed on Bluestreak, who continued to stare at the water. A part of Sunstreaker wanted his brother there so he could beat the slag out of him and deal with the emotional turmoil now boiling in his spark chamber. His thoughts were interrupted when Bluestreak turned to him, his normal happy-go-lucky self back on his face and giving Sunstreaker an expectant look.

“You ready to go back?” Bluestreak asked, his expression looking rather forced.

“We can stay a little longer, if you like,” Sunstreaker said, settling himself in a comfortable position and gazing out over the crystalline waters.

That seemed to be what Bluestreak wanted to hear. He gave a happy chirp and followed his companion’s gaze across the water. The sun crawled across the sky and sat on the horizon, watching the two lone Autobots on the vista. With great reluctance, it dipped behind the sea, sending its last rays toward the beach in goodbye. When darkness had fallen, Sunstreaker rose to his pedes, hearing a pop in his joints that meant he’d been stationary for too long. Bluestreak mirrored his actions, though his joints only offered a soft hiss of hydraulics. He was used to remaining statuesque for long periods of time due to his sniper training.

Sunstreaker was surprised the Praxian had remained quiet during the rest of the day. But with his gaze mesmerized by the secluded cove, he had very little to say. It was a welcomed relief. But with the darkness hovering over Bluestreak, Sunstreaker didn’t think there was anything to say to lift his spirits.

“Ready?” Bluestreak asked, turning toward the road and transforming.

“If you are,” Sunstreaker said, storing the images he took into his memory banks.

As the duo headed back to base, Bluestreak’s headlights leading the way, Sunstreaker ran through the shifting colors that he witnessed while in the company of someone else’s memories. When he got back to his quarters he found them Sideswipe-free, and spent the next few days collecting the supplies he needed for his weekend project.

The next weekend, Sideswipe was unceremoniously kicked out of the quarters he shared with his twin. Griping and protesting he went to Blaster’s quarters, seeing how he was the only bot without a roommate due to his musical snoring. Sunstreaker left his makeshift studio only once to collect a couple of cubes before returning to his quarters, no one offering comment on his paint splattered body, or the paintbrushes tucked into the side of his windshield like a smock.

When Bluestreak awoke from charge early Monday morning, it was to find a wrapped package at the foot of his berth. Frowning he pulled off the paper and couldn’t stop the gasping cry that escaped.

A perfect rendition of the cove was frozen forever on the canvas. The hues of the blue ocean frosted by pale yellow foam, was the exact color of his lost creators. The water looked as if it was in motion, crashing on the rocks, the spray offering a ultra-violet rainbow as the dying sun caught the vapor.

Bluestreak sat in awe, staring at the masterpiece, tears of coolant leaking from his optics. There was no doubt as to who was responsible. Sunstreaker’s Cybertronian symbol was delicately blended into the lower right hand corner. The golden mech had captured the depth of the water, echoing the depth of longing and pain from the mech who gained a modicum of connection with his long-lost family. Bluestreak was granted a little glimmer of peace, even if it was only available on canvas.

As Bluestreak stared at his gift, Sunstreaker exited the ARK, whistling a little tune and causing the other mechs to steer clear. If Sunstreaker was in such a happy mood, there was a good chance the sky was about to fall, Decepticons would declare their unrequited love toward the Autobots, and the Pit Maker would dance naked with Primus around the sun.

Sunstreaker transformed and zoomed off to the horizon, chasing the sun to its resting place.

Chapter Text

“Welcome to your first self defense lesson you processorless glitches,” Ironhide barked, spinning on his heel and stalking down the line of new recruits. “You think you’re tough? Well, you’re not! You think you can outwit the enemy? You’re mistaken. You think you can defeat a Con by sheer strength? You’re a weakling. You think you can outmatch a seasoned soldier? You’re about to get your aft handed to you.”

A soft snicker rent the crowd. Several bots stiffened, their optics going wide when they noted the red mech in front of them falter. They pressed their lip components together in a thin line, proving they were not the source of the disruption.

Ironhide missed his step when he heard the mirth. He halted mid-stride, turning on his heel and staring at the scared and ramrod straight recruits. Each one showed the proper amount of fear and respect that the weapon’s master garnered. A glimmer of red caught his attention.

“Do you have something to say, femme?” he barked to the obviously guilty mech.

A cheeky smile was sent his way before a strong, male voice answered, “Plenty.”

“Well then, why don’t you come forward and educate the class, if you’re so skilled,” Ironhide barked, motioning for the mech to join him in front of the recruits.

“Gladly,” the red mech said, sauntering forward. He was shadowed by a golden mech who kept his optics trained on the red armor in front of him. When the red mech stood in front of Ironhide, he offered a wide, friendly smile that the weapon’s master did not return.

“Who’s the turbo puppy?” Ironhide asked, nodding toward the silent gold mech.

Before Ironhide could blink, the gold mech had punched him twice in the face and flipped him onto his back, his arms pinned beneath him and pain filling his sensor net. A golden pede was planted on the middle of Ironhide’s chest, ensuring his immobility and attention. The red mech knelt in front of the disabled mech, his charming smile still in place.

“That is my brother,” he said, nodding toward the golden mech. “His designation is Sunstreaker. I am Sideswipe.”

“Get off of me!” Ironhide yelled, struggling with the odd angle. He never felt so helpless, nor so embarrassed, in all his life. How the mech got the drop on him, he’d never know.

“Let him go, Sunny,” Sideswipe said, returning to a standing position. Sunstreaker released Ironhide’s cursing form and retreated behind his twin, his optics hard and unwavering. With the same lightening speed he clipped his brother upside the helm, sending him staggering sideways.

“Don’t call me that,” Sunstreaker growled, his deep bass voice sending shivers down the other mechs’ spines.

“As you can tell, we are well versed in the art of self defense,” Sideswipe said, rubbing the side of his helm and casting his brother a reproachful look, which was reciprocated. “I suggest you allow us to excel to the next lesson, where we may actually learn something of importance.”

Ironhide gained his feet, staring malevolently at the two who dared to interfere with his class.

“Self defense huh?” Ironhide taunted, widening his stanch and taking a defensive posture. “Think you could take me down.”

“In a spark beat,” Sideswipe smiled.

“Let’s see you try, femme,” Ironhide jibed.

Sideswipe canted his head, Sunstreaker mirroring the action. And before Ironhide knew it he was flat on his back again staring up at a smiling Sideswipe. Though the mech was attractive, Ironhide was getting tired of looking up at him upside down.

“How did you do that?” Ironhide barked, scrambling to his pedes and squaring off against the relaxed and easy going mech.

“Fighting in Kaon taught us a lot of tricks,” Sideswipe said, jerking his head toward his brother who scowled in answer. “We can defend and we can kill. Have no problem with either. You point us to who you want terminated, and we’ll get the job done. Without hesitation.”

Ironhide stared at the two, his processor active. The Autobots could use the skills these two possessed. And from the way both handled themselves, and rendered Ironhide immobile, then there was little that the weapon’s master could teach them that would assist them in doing their job. The main thing Ironhide had to worry about was a mech’s ability to terminate another’s spark. Most recruits had a difficult time in adjusting to the role of obedient soldier. Apparently that type of training was unnecessary with these two. A welcome change.

“Report to Ratchet for full medical check up,” Ironhide said, softening his stance in a show of non-aggression. “Have to make sure you’re up on all virus scans before we send you out to face the enemy.”

“I’ll be slagged if I ‘face any of them,” Sunstreaker said, his deep timbre causing that damnable shudder to run through so many spinal struts.

Sideswipe snickered at his brother’s joke and lead the way from the stunned weapon’s specialist.

“Wonder who will be doing our scans?” Sunstreaker said, following his twin into the main command area.

“Hope it’s a femme,’ Sideswipe said, waggling his brow plating in a suggestive manner.

Sunstreaker made a noncommittal noise, glancing at the directional signs in the hall. He made a mental note of the Armory and Main Command Center. It would be wise to know their location in case of an attack.

The med bay doors were the usual pristine white with the red markings and sigils for medical care. Sideswipe puffed his armor, flexing his powerful build and stepped forward, activating the doors. They opened without a sound, allowing admittance. As soon as both brothers crossed the threshold it was utter chaos. White clad medics were bustling about the room scanning over readouts and nodding in affirmation of findings. Almost every berth sported a mech or femme. One medic performed a system check while another checked over structure. Another hooked a hardline into the patient and scoured through virus programming and checking on intelligence modules. Those with extra skills were being lead off by specialists for testing and further training, herding them toward questionable futures. All those clad in white were gruff, burly looking mechs who seemed more interested in their tests than their actual patients.

“Slag,” Sideswipe sighed, looking at the scanning medical personal. “All mechs. Just our luck.”

“You there,” A medic called, pointing to the twins. “Find a berth and await your turn. Stay out of or way and you won’t get slagged.”

“I’d like to see you try,” Sideswipe smiled before sauntering over to a free berth and sitting down. Sunstreaker joined him, as was their usual custom. One didn’t go anywhere without the other.

A white clad mech showed up, frowned at the two sharing a berth, then shrugged, starting his integrity scans. Both new recruits showed wear to their bodies and lack of proper nourishment, which was rather common in the current war torn cityscape. But their physical infrastructure scans were good, considering the normal weakling builds coming through the door. Both of these new mechs wore dense, protective armor that wasn’t found in the general population. Formatting them to combat armor wasn’t necessary. Their own armaments were more than capable of withstanding combat. Close range fighting and weapons fire would also be easily deflected.

Without a word the medic hurried off to the next mech in line.

“That was odd,” Sideswipe said, watching as the medical staff danced in a crazy pattern that sent the processor spinning. One would think they were crazed and uncoordinated but when the twins watched the dance more closely, they realized that they were working in tandem. A coordinated dance of life and death. Beautiful, Efficient. And from the raging coming from one medic in particular, it was proving to be disastrous as well. Apparently not all medics were privy to the syncopated dance and were throwing off their counterparts.

”What were you thinking?” the burly medic yelled at a cowering recruit who had two junior medics cowering behind him. “Structural integrity is at eighty one percent. Prior damage, untreated, leaving behind residual scarring that will impede neural connectivity. Processor damage and two compromised major circuit boards and you think you were going to let this mech get placed in the ranks?”

A loud squeal of fear came from the mech before he keeled over into unconsciousness, exposing the two cowering medics behind. The screaming white medic turned away, his gaze zeroing in on the two bright colored mechs sharing a berth. He stalked up to them, expecting them to cower like all the rest. But both offered relaxed gazes. Well, the red one was grinning in an idiot. The yellow one was scowling, optics hard as titanium.

“Separate,” he barked.

The two mechs looked to one another and then back to the medic and shook their heads.

“No,” The red one said. “We stay together.“

“Is that so?” the medic asked, barreling down up on the two.

Now, any normal mech or femme would see that look the medic wore and know they were about to meet the Pit maker. But the two mechs on the exam berth merely offered cool looks and unwavering frames. They weren’t going to be swayed by the mechs thunderous orders.

“Designations?” the medic asked, staring between the two who dared to disobey his orders.

“Sideswipe and Sunstreaker,” Sideswipe answered, pointing to himself and his twin. “What’s your designation?”

“Ratchet. CMO of the Autobots. And you better remember it!” Ratchet’s voice thundered from the underworld.

Most mechs in the room flinched. Sideswipe and Sunstreaker merely gazed with impassive expressions at the one who ruled the medical ward with an iron fist clutching a wrench.

“Reason for enrollment?” Ratchet asked, sizing up the two recruits.

“That’s our business.” Sideswipe said.

Much to Ratchet’s chagrin, the ruby mech wasn’t twitching under his reproachful glare.

“Oh really?” the medic asked. “So you expect me to believe that two able bodied mechs such as yourselves volunteered to fight for… what? Equality? Compassion? Protecting innocents? Prime doesn’t have time to entertain glitched idiots who are looking for a quick rush.” He gave a derisive snort, looking from one to the other. They resembled the usual mechs who were all vocalizer and no substance. Half of the recruits weren’t physically or emotionally stable enough to fight. The other half had difficulty in pointing a weapon and taking another’s life. Ratchet was curious as to which category these two would fit.

“This new Prime seems to have his cogs in working order,” Sideswipe said with a half shrug. “And we figured he could use some help.” Sideswipe offered a quick, serious expression before treating back to his quirky grin “And we’re just the mechs for the job.”

“Qualifications?” Ratchet asked, skeptical about the two. He doubted that either were serious about fighting. Most mechs were all talk and no action.

“Pit fighting in Kaon” Sideswipe said, sending his twin a jubilant pulse when Ratchet emitted a startled beep. There was just something about the way bots reacted when they found out you killed for a living. It was priceless.

“You going to give me problems?” Ratchet asked, one optic cocked in expectation. He knew the type of personality that thrived in the illegal gladiatorial rings. They were trouble wrapped in chaos and hidden behind mischievous malice.

“Only if you want us to,” Sideswipe smiled.

Ratchet noticed Sunstreaker’s quiet demeanor and asked, ”Do you speak?”

“When needed,” Sunstreaker offered, his scowl still entrenched on his face.

Ratchet huffed but didn’t press. He motioned to the new vacant berth beside of them and nodded, ‘You, over there. You, stay there.”

“We stay together,” Sideswipe said, all jovial mood gone in a spark beat.

“I’m not joking,” Ratchet said, optics narrowing.

“Neither am I,” Sideswipe put in. “Run your scans, but we won’t be separated.”

Ratchet paused, staring between the two sets of unblinking optics. Both were a cold, icy blue that bore directly into his spark. He felt a shiver around his spark casing. These two didn’t take orders very well. They were going to be a handful.

“Very well,” Ratchet relented.

The green spray of a scanner erupted from the medic, gliding over Sideswipe’s ruby armor, then to Sunstreaker’s. Both twins watched for signs of recognition when the scanners passed over their chests. Every medic had the same response. Shock. Incredulity. Fascination. ….fear.

They were abnormal. They shouldn’t be alive. But yet, they broke all odds and strived in a world that physically demanded they couldn’t exist.

But Ratchet made no motion of understanding. No startled expression. His scanners passed over their chests twice. Sunstreaker tensed, ready to act at a moments notice. He didn’t like the solemn look the medic wore. The disquiet unnerved the golden gladiator. Ratchet should be showing the usual signs of disgust and loathing. It was what the twins had come to expect from every one who attended their structural health.

But Ratchet didn’t display any of the normal reactions associated with finding split spark twins. He adjusted his scanners and ran the tests again, the green light dancing across the two chassis.

A second medic came up, hardline connection at the ready to scan for viruses and to check for upgrades, but Ratchet waved him off. The dismissed medic gave his superior a confused look, but ventured to the next patient without word.

Ratchet’s open hardline connector extended from his left wrist. He stepped forward, grasping Sideswipe’s hand and connected their ports.

Sideswipe felt his firewalls fall away as the medical overrides threw his systems wide open for inspection. Beside him Sunstreaker tensed. He could sense the intrusion upon his brother’s mind. Though he wasn’t the one enduring the excavation, he could sense the unease and surprise filtering through their open bond. Main systems were opened and checked, virus programs were pursued, data caches were scoured.

But memory files and subfolders that made a bot who they were, were overlooked. Systems were reconfigured, offering Sideswipe a surprising ability to calculate and react, his processor speed nearly doubling as Ratchet deactivated basic programming that became redundant with adulthood. Being a Pit fighter for who knew how long, Sideswipe didn’t have the maturity to understand how his processor worked and therefore, didn’t know how to turn off the instinctual settings that were no longer needed in adult frames. His intelligence quota was higher than expected for a lowly pit fighter. Most were considered just dumb brutes who fought, killed, or stared at blank walls until ordered to perform a task.

“You need a deep system scan and defrag,” Ratchet said to Sideswipe. “I’m going to initiate the sequence. While you’re out I’m going to remove the damaged circuitry to your shoulder and reinforce the actuators on your left side.”

“I have pile drivers that slags my structure,” Sideswipe admitted, feeling his brother’s anxiety over the thought of being unconscious with this unknown mech affecting ‘repairs’. Sideswipe sent reassurance to his twin. The medic was right. Sideswipe did need repairs and a good defrag. Sideswipe could never get his systems to apply that aspect of his programming.

Worry and fear seeped into the bond and he sent a half glance to his brother. Both were startled when Ratchet spoke to Sunstreaker.

“I take it you are in the same condition?” Ratchet said, not waiting for a confirmation. Still connected to Sideswipe Ratchet opened a port on his right wrist and reached for Sunstreaker.

Unfortunately Sunstreaker wasn’t in a mood to be touched. As soon as Ratchet brushed against his plating, Sunstreaker lashed out, cuffing the medic on the face in warning. And before Sunstreaker knew what was happening, Ratchet had reciprocated with a powerful slap that sent the golden mech reeling. As Sunstreaker tried to recalibrate his equilibrium circuits, Ratchet grabbed his wrist in a deathlike vice and slammed into his firewalls so hard Sunstreaker gasp at the ferocity.

Sideswipe stared open mouthed at Ratchet. No one dared to touch Sunstreaker. Well, people dared all the time but they rarely survived the encounter. Sideswipe was dumbfounded as to how Ratchet still existed.

And the surprise flowing through the bond sent his processor into a dizzy whirlwind. Sunstreaker didn’t like anyone. He never wanted anyone around. Didn’t want to talk. Didn’t want to socialize. Didn’t like to be challenged.

And Ratchet just cuffed him like an unruly sparkling with the speed and agility that rivaled the Pit fighters’ own. Not only was he fast and accurate, having knocked Sunstreaker’s circuitry into a chaotic mess that he was having a hard time recovering from, but Ratchet had done so without fear of retaliation or possible termination. He had reacted as the twins, with careful, precise attack, though Ratchet didn’t intend on terminating his patient. He just wanted cooperation.

“I’ll initiate a shut down sequence,” Ratchet said, as if he never touched the stunned golden mech. “You should wake up feeling a lot better than what your slagged up systems are currently reading.”

“You know we can terminate you in the blink of an optic, right?” Sideswipe asked, feeling something boil within his twin that made his tanks clench.

“And you know that one strand of errant coding and I can crash your systems so badly you spend the rest of your limited existed in a state of unfathomable misery and suffering?” Ratchet asked unperturbed.

“But there are two of us,” Sunstreaker said barely audible. His optics were narrowed as he sorted through his emotions to find out what emotion he should center on. And decide if he was going to kill this insolent medic.

“And I know that if I terminate one, I‘ll terminate the other,” Ratchet said, his voice dropping so low only the twins could hear. He looked form one to the other, his expression sharp and unrelenting. “I have dealt with twins before. You may believe it gives you leeway for obnoxious behavior and that gives you some right to bestow your warped sense of humor on others. But know this,” Ratchet took a step closer, looming over the duo and shielding them from the rest of the medical facility. “Just because you are split spark twins does not mean you garner any special privilege or ranking. You are just any other mechs on the street. You mess with my patients or destabilize the function of my medical facility, and there won’t be a pit deep enough you can go that I can’t find you. Am I understood?”

Sideswipe beamed a glorious smile, looking up into the optics of the only one whoever treated the twins as any normal mech.

“Abundantly clear, Ratchet.”

Ratchet looked to Sunstreaker, who still had his torn expression. With a slow nod Sunstreaker added, “You are understood.”

“Good,” Ratchet said, starling both twins with the strength along the hardline connection as both felt an overwhelming pressure in their processors as the medic began their deep stasis procedure. Primus, the medic had a powerful processor!

“When you wake up, you’ll feel like you just walked off the factory floor.” Ratchet said with a smile that seemed more predatory than reassuring.

“I’d settle for less aching in my processor,” Sunstreaker admitted, feeling a burning sensation along his neural net.

Ratchet leaned over the golden warrior, causing him tense. Sideswipe’s presence curled in his twins in reassurance.

“Believe me when I say, that in my medical ward, you will get nothing but the best,” Ratchet said, starting the shut down cycle so his two patients could get some rest before he affected their repairs. “And you will never be treated as differently as any other mech.”

----- }_____......... ------ }______ …. ------ }_____

Sunstreaker awoke to strange sensation. He was content, comfortable. His body wasn’t aching or sore. The berth was well cushioned and a warm body was pressed against his side. He opened his optics and looked to his right shoulder and felt Sideswipe curl tighter around him, his arm draped over his brother’s midsection. Sunstreaker thought back, trying to remember where they were. It obviously wasn’t the Pits or a hostelry. The room smelled too clean. It was when his main systems booted up that he remembered.

Structural integrity was at one hundred percent. Processor activity was rising steadily toward the same percentage. Neural synapses were firing with razor sharp efficiency. Fluid pressures were at optimal level. System caches were cleaned, filed in orderly fashion, redundant programs turned off and in some cases, erased all together. The irritating scrolling text was gone from his HUD. Core temperature read along the normal parameters and there were additives flowing through his lines that made his body feel fresh and newly activated. Power levels had never been so high, reserves showing ample compliment. Energon levels were low, but that was nothing new. Numbed areas were once again sending signals, making the golden mech feel small inside of his own body. Now he felt as if he could ‘move’ inside his own frame without being restricted by broken hardware, limited energy reserves, burnt out circuit boards and deadened areas where damage had rendered plating and circuits numb.

Sunstreaker had never felt so good. What in the name of Primus could have done to deserve such astute attention to detail? Where did all these meticulous repairs with a caring servo come from?

Then it hit him.

They had enrolled with the Autobots. Their CMO had decided to repair the hasty patch jobs the PIT medic had performed. Sunstreaker shifted, noting that his right knee joint didn’t squeak anymore. Sideswipe’s arm tightened around his middle, his face burrowing further against golden armor as if trying to go through it.

Sunstreaker sighed. Sideswipe always was a cuddler. But he could understand the lethargy. It felt good to be pain free. Sunstreaker stared at the sleeping helm of his twin and felt a gentle peace brush against his spark. Sideswipe was content, his systems showing the same amount of care and professional touch that a true medic could provide.

Sunstreaker had expected the medic to separate him from his twin, seeing how the Pit maser had used the tactic many times to punish the duo. But the medic did in fact have experience with dealing with twins. Both were placed in the same small room on the same berth. There were two cubes of energon on the side table and a stack of datapads.

He looked to Sideswipe again and noted how shiny his armor looked. Apparently the medic ensured a full detailing as well. Sunstreaker felt along his grill and smiled when he realized it was cleaned. And upon closer inspection, Sunstreaker found himself polished like a gilded mirror as well. He smiled, reveling in the feeling of being cleaned to utmost perfection. A mech as handsome as himself could never be dulled and dingy. The medic certainly knew how to treat patients.

Speaking of medic, the door chime signaled a visitor before opening and allowing the medic admittance.

“Feeling better?’ Ratchet asked, datapad in hand as he glanced up to see Sunstreaker’s narrowed optics.

“Much,” Sunstreaker admitted, his voice rumbling from deep in his chassis, causing Sideswipe to stir.

Sideswipe sat up, rubbing his optics. He looked to his twin and offered a strong pulse through the bond, letting his twin know his feelings. Sunstreaker rose from the berth, having been freed of his brother’s hold, and returned the sensation.

“Took a while to get your systems properly cleaned,” Ratchet said, going over the datapad in his hand. He tapped a few symbols before stowing the pad away in his subspace and staring at the two mechs. “I’m surprised the two of you are even functioning. Do you know the extent of damage that was done to your frames? Not to mention the fragged up programming you had that was riddled with so many glitches, I had to dump half your cache and rewrite the codes!”

“Feels great,” Sideswipe said rubbing the side of his helm.

“Well, before you go spouting sentimental slag, we’re going to check to see if there is any residual damage,” Ratchet said, grabbing two datapads off the table and handing one to each twin. “I need to ensure your codes are in working order. So I want both of you to go through these simple tests while I link to your systems. If you feel any discomfort or if something doesn’t make sense, let me know. I may have to write a patch.”

“Understood,” Sideswipe said, taking the datapad.

Sunstreaker took the other and as mirror images both twins turned on the screens and extended their wrists toward the medic. Ratchet fought back an urge to jump for joy, but he extended the two hardline connections from his wrists and connected to both simultaneously.

The twins scoured the datapads, finding that Ratchet was correct in telling them how simple the tests were. When the first one was complete, Ratchet nodded to the next phase, his connection active in pursuing glitches.

As one unit the twins went through every level of the datapad, though Ratchet had only instructed them on the first two tests. Each level increased in difficulty, testing not only a bots recognition and cognition skills, but testing their flexible ability to formulate, plan, and chose the right answer for each scenario. Ratchet remained quiet, allowing the twins free reign, his processor scanning their neural nets and processor activity.

When the tests were complete both twins offered Ratchet the datapads. He disconnected from their systems and took the pads, setting them on the desk once more.

“If you feel up to it, there are a couple more tests I would like you to do,” Ratchet said, grabbing the last two datapads and handing them over.

Both twins took them and extended their wrists, giving permission for the medic to connect to their systems once again. But Ratchet shook his head, the two hardline cables retracting into his wrists.

“Hardline isn’t necessary for this test,” Ratchet said, pulling out a scanner.

“This has nothing to do with being twins, does it?” Sunstreaker asked, having a feeling that someone was once again trying to use the twins as an experiment.

“No. All personnel have to perform theses tests,” Ratchet said, holding up the scanner. “I’m only going to be monitoring your physical reaction.”

The twins offered derisive noises but turned on the datapads. The first test was merely a brief questionnaire, most questions relating to the idea of termination and how best to terminate an opponent. Most recruits balked at this particular aspect of a soldier’s life. They skirted the questions and always went to the next test with nervous disposition.

But not the twins.

They answered the best way to terminate a mech or femme, even giving detailed descriptions of the suitable way according to frame type. When the question popped up about taking a life, neither hesitated in answering ‘yes’. Emotional questions arose, asking if they had a difficult time in charging and if taking a life would affect that aspect of their lives. Both had exchanged a look, smirked, answered ‘NO’ and moved on to the question of where a spark goes after termination.

Sideswipe answered, “To the Well.”

Sunstreaker answered, “Who cares as long as they don’t come back.”

Ratchet watched the twins with a practiced optic. He had noted the damage to their bodies and the unmistakable taste of a master’s handling upon their protoforms. He had no doubt that either wouldn’t mind terminating someone if asked to do so and by both of their calm spark pulses, the idea didn’t disagree with them. Vitals registered steady and calm.

The last test showed pictures of various wartime atrocities. Most recruits