Why You Should Never Go Unarmed Into A Battle Of Wits
By Epona Harper
Disclaimer: I don't own them. I just borrowed them. No profit was made from this fic, so don't bother suing me.
When the dust settled, the consensus was that Slingshot pretty much had it coming to him. Doesn't matter how easy-going a person is, anyone can be pressed too far. And everyone agreed that the Aerialbot's inflated contempt of all things organic needed to be punctured. The question was who was gonna do the puncturing. Ratchet placed his money on Sparkplug. Hound placed his on Carly...
The final result took everyone by surprise.
It was a fairly quiet afternoon in the Ark when Slingshot decided he needed some power couplers for a project. Finding a decided scarcity of said components in his own supplies, he headed down to the repair bay to try to mooch some off of the Autobots' science team. His timing could have been better. When he arrived, Ratchet, Wheeljack, Perceptor and First Aid were up to their optic guards in...something. It was big, complicated and looked like it had a GO BOOM factor in the quadruple digits. His half-hearted attempts to get attention went unnoticed (all for the best, because Wheeljack would have likely dropped a spanner in precisely the wrong place and created a sizable crater in the repair bay). Slingshot murmured some un-flattering remarks under his breath and was just about to leave when he noticed there was one other being in the bay. It was one of those silly little humans who ran around getting underfoot, but it probably knew where Wheeljack kept the components.
The jet walked over to the workbench where the fleshling was sprawled on its stomach reading a book. Several seconds of looming failed to gain the organic's attention, so he nudged it with his finger.
"Hey. Power couplers."
Spike put down his book, rolled onto his side and replied, "Power couplers to you, too. Gotta admit that's a Cybertonian greeting I've not heard before."
Slingshot blinked. "Huh? What the slag are you talking about?"
The human smiled innocently and sat up. "Well, in most civilized cultures, when you first see someone, you start the conversation with some form of greeting. I'll have to remember that one."
"You don't understand," Slingshot said with a frown. "I need power couplers."
"Oh, then I suggest you get some," Spike answered.
What had started as a simple hunt for parts was quickly becoming a CPU-blowing ordeal. Slingshot clenched his fist and reminded himself that Autobot high command would not look kindly on him smacking that cheery smile off of the human's face. "Does Wheeljack have any spare power couplers?" he grated out between clenched faceplates.
Spike, on the other hand, seemed happily unaware of the mortal threat in Slingshot's undertones. "Oh, he's got plenty. Anything else I can help you with?"
"I need to know where he keeps them, human!" the jet snapped in frustration.
"Then why don't you ask someone?" the human asked. "I'm sure it would be much quicker than hunting around on your own."
A low snicker caught the Aerialbot's attention and he looked over his shoulder to see that all work on the whatsit had ceased, and four sets of vastly amused optics were turned on him. He turned back to Spike who now had a smile on his face that was anything but innocent.
"Because," the human continued, "if someone was to ask me politely, I would tell him that the power couplers are in the second storage room to the right, bin Zeta-Alpha-9. I would also tell him to be sure to update the inventory, or Ratchet might take it out of his hide if they wind up short in a repair session."
Slingshot wasn't the brightest laser in the array, but he now realized he had been played for a fool. Spinning on his heel, he stomped toward the storage room, pointedly ignoring the smothered laughter from the science team and the disgustingly cheerful "You're welcome!" Spike called after him.
The power couplers were right where the human had said. Slingshot took what he needed (carefully noting the change on the inventory) and stalked back out into the bay. He resolutely ignored the amused looks on the other Autobots' faceplates, but, as he passed by Spike's perch, he muttered something rather insulting in Cybertonian.
It took him completely by surprise when the human burst out laughing. "Oh, God, Slingshot!" he gasped out. "Talk about being way off base. What did you do? Sleep through Perceptor's biology briefing?"
"I would not be unduly surprised if he had done so," Perceptor helpfully chimed in, much to Ratchet and Wheeljack's delight.
Slingshot, however was, shall we say less than amused. He spun around to glare down at the smirking young man. "Oh, don't even pretend you understood that!" he snapped.
"Why should I pretend when I understood you perfectly?" Spike replied. "And, for your information, humans reproduce by live birth, so your comment about me being a 'field-assembled refugee from a scrap heap' was dead wrong. I mean, if you're gonna insult someone, at least get it in the ballpark of possibility. If I was going to insult you, I wouldn't call you a 'pus-sucking son of a bitch'. I'd use something more along the lines of..."
With that, Spike switched to Cybertonian. Granted, the language was NOT designed with human vocal cords in mind. Many syllables were distorted by what Ratchet had called his "organic accent" but not enough to keep him from getting the point across. In fact, it seemed to even emphasize the insults. The science team winced as the human's language became increasingly acidic and obscene.
"I knew Spike was learning our language, but where in space did he learn that?" Perceptor whispered.
"Oh, I think I can guess," Wheeljack replied, casting a pointed look at Ratchet. The CMO rolled his optics and made a mental note to rein in his language when minors were present...although it was obvious it was far too late.
Slingshot, on the other hand, was purely stunned. The idea that he was having a new exhaust vent ripped by a human...it was unfathomable. He found himself frozen until Spike's tirade ended in a suggestion that he could "go reformat yourself with a grease gun". The human then coughed and said in a very reasonable voice. "That is, if I really wanted to insult you."
Slingshot stood there for a moment, then decided it was time to exercise the better part of valor. He turned and quietly walked out of the repair bay...only to run into Jazz and Sideswipe who had apparently come to see what all the ruckus was about. From the smiles on their face-plates, they had heard plenty.
There was a great many ripples from this little event. The most far-reaching was the adoption of "organic accent" when an Autobot really wanted to insult someone or vent his frustration. Over the years, this gave rise to the "Invective Voice" of the Cybertonian language. Slightly less far reaching was the lowering of Slingshot's disrespect levels towards organics and the installation of a sign in the repair bay by Sideswipe reading "Warning: Razor-Tongued Human. Do Not Annoy."
Author's note: Special thanks to carvedinshadows whose "Dog Biscuits" story inspired this insanity (Check out his LJ. Particularly the Pet Shop Fun, entries he has archived. That's where I found the "Dog Biscuits" deal.))