The Silver Ridge, flew through space. All who saw it would be tipped off to its allegiance, from it’s spiked architecture to its purple paintjob to the imposing symbol on its hull. A remnant of the once great Decepticon empire, reduced to a command station for pillagers.
Thundercracker walked the halls, silently regarding a datapad. He passed by a few troopers, conversing away about the weapons array being better than ever, thank you Ferak.
He arrived at the elevator and took it down, alone, to the lower deck. He exited into another similar hallway lit with purple and went to his office.
The med-bay doors slid open and he entered, passing the Centurion drone that was posted as a guard. He was spending more and more time here, the crew would pay him visits coming back from raids or just for check-ups. They could rely on him to keep them operational, unlike Scalpel, and not turn them into some sick science experiment, unlike Flatline.
His office was better lit; having the med bay switch from purple to white lighting gave it a softer appearance than the rest of the ship. His desk was to the left of the door, datapads containing the crews tech specs arranged in neat piles. The operating tables spread out, all 12 vacant, waiting for the injured from another run. In the back were the non-responsives, 6 comatose bots that were being kept on life-support. Brain levels were low, and Thundercracker was sure that they were hopeless cases.
The three stasis tubes sat on the left wall, all up in working order to help ease his workload.
The workspace was clean. The beds had the decay and oil washed out of them. His desk and files were organized by name. When a light showed signs of flickering, it was immediately replaced. His laser instruments always were polished and left in their charge slots. He’d almost become obsessed with making his workplace orderly, it was something he could control, here he was the ruler.
No, he wasn’t stir crazy and anxious, get that thought out of your mind.
He sighed and placed his date pad back on the desk, dead center as it should be. He walked over to the non-responsive bots. Two car Vehicons lay on spark support, and a third tank Vehicon was able to sustain himself, but he was likely braindead. On another table was Brawl, fully repaired and ready to go, save for his coma. He and one of the car Vehicons had hit a mine, and both ended up here. Brawl’s tough armor protected him more than the Vehicon currently on spark support, but the damage was still extensive. He’d managed to save both of them, but Brawl just wouldn’t wake up anymore.
He’d explained to Onslaught about this, Brawl’s brain was active, his wounds healed, but there was a disconnect from his mind and body. His spark couldn’t reach his mind, there was some defect. It was a zero point case, he’d explained to their captain, a microscopic injury that couldn’t be fixed by any of their medical advancements. Brawl was unlikely to ever emerge from that coma.
Thundercracker remembered that day when he brought the news to Onslaught. He’d just stared and nodded, face unreadable under the visor and mouth plate. He’d been instructed to monitor the Combaticon, and every month Thundercracker would send in a report. Brawl’s weapons had been removed as had his weapon chip, but unlike the others Thundercracker left it in a container on Brawl’s bedside table, captain’s orders.
The next patient was Shadow Striker, one of their spies. She had been reporting back from their attack on an Autobot base on LV-118 when a sniper took out her team. Only her and the other car Vehicon had survived. Her head had been shattered, and his spark was struck. Thundercracker had barely saved the two of them, while the other wounded had passed on the tables. He’d preserved her brain system, which lay exposed and hooked up to the machines. He knew she’d never have brain signals, and they hadn’t had the materials to rebuild her cranium. The Vehicon was better, but the wound was slowly shrinking his spark, Thundercracker knew he would be dead in a week, Spark support or no.
The final patient, whom he always saved for last and regarded the longest, was Skywarp. A shrapnel grenade had taken him out, just as he was teleporting in. It was pretty nasty, the flying metal had torn through him, and the molecules had partly fused to his innards. It took quite a while to get him stable; he’d rerouted energon, cut out fused or damaged innards. He really should have focused on other patients and if he’d let Skywarp go he could probably have saved three others, but no, he had to keep Skywarp alive.
Thundercracker had fixed him, replaced his canopy, nosecone, his damaged regulators, his fuel pumps. He’d fixed the damaged ventilation shaft and repaired his torn wings. Sadly, Skywarp would not be rejoining the land of the conscious. He’d also suffered a zero point, near his spark. The nanoscopic tear prevented his spark energies from flowing through out his body. His eyes were dark, just like Brawl, he was useless.
Thundercracker remembered his wingmate’s eyes. They were orange, unusual from the normal red or purple of the Decepticons, but his spark had made them glow. They once pierced the night, an oddity among their comrades, now his eyes were dormant.
The six were all silent as the graves they’d made for the dead. He’d clean them all at short intervals, making each seem ready to get up and reassume duty, bar Shadow Striker. He ran a check of all their brain monitors, each minimal to nil.
With this concluded, he returned to his desk. He picked up his data pad, and accessed the thousands of stories he stored on it. From old holopulp, courtesy of Swindle before he fell off the grid, to creations from all over the Universe. Stories from millions of cultures, each a glimpse into their societies. Mechanical, organic, from pictures to movies, to words. Swindle’s brother, Hardtop, had scanned and sent him quite a few comics.
There was so much knowledge here, from societies the Decepticons would pay no heed to until they needed to crush them. Alternian romance novels, depicting the four different types of romance, the book of TITAN, a being said to have created the universe, and so much others. Knockout had sent him quite a few things from his Earth outpost, the Earthlings had a fascinating culture.
Earth, that seemed to be where the endgame was. Megatron and Optimus had gathered there, and Onslaught had wanted the Quantum Engines fixed so they could make the jump.
Megatron was much less enthusiastic since they’d lost Brawl and therefore Bruticus, as he needed muscle. They still had plans to jump, but the importance had diminished severely with Megatron feeling he could take the planet with the soldiers they had. Since then the Silver Ridge had been floating in space, for all intents and purposes they were Decepticon high command now that Megatron had focused his sights on earth.
Thundercracker had seen new members enter and leave the crew since. Swindle was gone, probably off selling arms to different parts of the galaxy. Thundercracker remembered a story Swindle told him about when he sold advanced arms to a world not prepared for them. They just kept asking for more and more, and Swindle was happy to give, he’d made a tidy profit from them, for a year. By the end of that time, there were barely two stones left together in any city on the planet, the civilians had all wiped each other out with the fighting. Swindle joked that it was a shame he couldn’t make any more money, and Thundercracker would never admit that the story of him destabilizing a society and driving it to destruction made him uneasy.
Still, Swindle was gone, and Blast-off had reassigned himself to Chaar. Onslaught and Vortex still ran the ship. With Onslaught, they could pull rank at every outpost they reached, every ship they encountered. At one point they had a small fleet, and had taken a solar system. They’d left the fleet behind to keep power there, so many resources to harvest.
Thundercracker realized that Onslaught was likely the leader in the galactic conflict. They’d lost the Thanatos and all hands during their disastrous attack on Skarro. The natives left none alive. They’d lost Razorclaw and the Predacons, Ruckus, Thrust, and so many others. With Razorclaw gone, and Strika fighting to keep the Quintesson worlds under control, Onslaught was the highest ranked general.
Thundercracker was grateful that their esteemed leader kept the med bay stocked.
His life was fairly dull when off duty. He would monitor the invalids, perform checkups and that was it. He had a lot of free time on his hands until the next conflict, where he, the Diagnostic Drones, and his assistant Spyglass, would be frantic trying to save the critical and fix the injured.
He got up and pulled a chair up to Skywarp’s bed, shifting through his data pad. He did this far too often, but he felt it a duty. When going through the psychology books he found that zero point sufferers could sometimes wake-up through voices or memories, the gap would be bridged. There wasn’t enough research into it, and it was likely pseudoscience, but Thundercracker did so anyway.
Thundercracker had read dozens of his favorite stories to his old wingmate, to no avail, and he’d now just discuss events from the seekers with him.
“Hey again. How’re you doing Skywarp?” He said, “No response huh? That’s fine, you only gotta listen. Heh, I know you hate listening to me ramble on, every time I had to explain a new upgrade to you, you’d just doze off, or do that thing with your hand that makes it look like I’m rambling. Hah! You can’t do that now can you? You’re my captive audience… No, sorry, that wasn’t funny. Though if it were you- you’d laugh, pretty hard I bet. Someone else’s misfortune would always amuse you, wouldn’t it? Bad habits I guess, like when Acid Storm accidently infected himself with cosmic rust. You were on the ground howling, as he was telling me how to mix a cure. He could have died Skywarp, but that stuff always makes you chuckle.”
He sighed again, too much of this and he’d look like a tool.
“Anyway, Starscream keeps sending us reports from Earth. Apparently Megatron’s let him back in. Primus knows what goes through his head, I mean we put up with Scream, but if I was Megatron, I’d chuck him into the sun…”
“You’d have laughed at that too, wouldn’t you? So Starscream’s back in, says they’ve got something big that he can’t tell us over the frequency, lest other Autobots intercept it. If you ask me, it’s another dumb idea. A great plan to grant us ultimate victory! That will fail in some other way. Haven’t we had like tons of those? They never work, personally I think they just get convoluted. You remember Operation fireball? I can’t believe we tried to hit our own planet with a moon? How dumb was that? Anyway, Onslaught’s been saying we’re going to have more soldiers coming aboard soon. Maybe there’ll be someone we know. I know Thrust is gone, and Ramjet too, but maybe they found Slipstream, Sunstorm? We could listen to him uh… preach about Mortilus? Ugh, that would be dull, and he’d keep coming down here to preach. Trying to tell us how to devote our lives to Primus. Yeah, you’d probably push him into the elevator shaft. That’d be stupid, and he’d probably try to melt you, but when has doing something stupid ever stopped you? Hey, remember when-”
His datapad went off and Onslaught’s face appeared, asking all high personal to the Bridge and all others to a TV screen, Megatron was about to make an announcement.
Thundercracker nodded and said to his spark-brother “Good talk Skywarp... Okay, that morbid joke wasn’t even funny, sorry man.”
Thundercracker left his chair, deposited the data pad on his table, dead center, and went to the Bridge.