Title: What it Means

Fandom: Transformers

Pairings: Well….blinksblinks Thundercrackers and Skywarp are Companions and wingmates, Starscream used to be their wingmate, and I have an unhealthy fascination with the Screaming One and Megatron. Does this count?

Summary: Another botched mission has some odd results. Thundercracker should have been dead as a result from the impact he took, but strangely enough, he's alive and functioning. And Starscream is…Well, anyway, Thundercracker is unnerved enough to try and figure out what happened.

Date posted: Thursday, March 24, 2005

Part 1

He first became aware of the humming that vibrated through his entire body. The distinctive rhythmic wave that told him his self-repair system was finally beginning to patch up his internal network, sent a jolt of electricity through his central processor. Pain sensors along his body reported extensive external damage but there was nothing life-threatening that he could detect. Surprise, surprise, but he set that thought aside as his optics came back online and he could finally open his eyes.

A quick scan of along his torso revealed the damage the pain sensors had indicated. Parts of his metal skeleton were missing, huge chunks of alloy sheared clean away; chips and scratches littered his frame, and his right ankle joint was completely exposed, dangling from his leg component by a few wires and a slow-leaking micro-fuel tube. His mouth was filled with the acrid taste of burnt energon and oil indicative of more trauma - he reached up with one arm that seemed to be functioning properly, nudging the stump within that was all that remained of the glossa he had bitten off during the crash.

His other limbs were slower to respond, dragging painfully along the dirt as he attempted to sit upright. His wings had folded into their storage compartment on his back upon impact, which had spared them a good deal of damage. He noted the relative intactness of his torso structure and came to the conclusion that the additional layers of his compacted wings had helped to cushion him during the landing. His chest was a smoking ruin of wires and severed nerve lines, gouges ripped and torn through metal plating like hot knives through butter. The sensor-rich dermaplating covering his hands was scraped away, a deep ache resounding forth from the exposed nerve endings, and he could feel the same ache on parts of his helm where he must have ploughed the way with his face.

He thanked Primus his main fuel line was intact though how, he didn't know. Especially with all the energon splashed over him and the ground - one would have thought only a severing of the tube could result in a mess like this. A closer look revealed a patch of something along the line, something to investigate more fully when he was more functional then a newborn 'bot. A hiss of pain escaped him - although he was a tougher breed of Decepticon, even he would not be averse to having his emotional circuits and pain receivers dampened until any or all of the Constructicons could have a go at him.

Thundercracker coughed as spare bits of metal and energon were ejected from his aspiration conduits. That had been one hell of a nasty crash. Damage aside, the furrows about six meters deep and three wide through the dirt, at least a dozen large boulders, and then his spectacular fiery stop at the base of a cliff indicated that he should be so much scrap metal. Instead, his internal repairs were almost complete. Despite the huge loss of energon, the structural damage and the stabbing pain from sensors that would need a complete realigning, he felt he could at the very least make it back to Decepticon headquarters for a repair job. How in the name of Cybertron...?

"It's about time you woke up," came a rasping voice from behind him. Thundercracker whirled around.

Wedged into the base of the cliff, almost tucked behind two large boulders, Starscream glared balefully at him from his huddled position. Thundercracker couldn't tell if there was any damage - the seeker was too curled in on himself. TC managed to get his legs beneath him, balancing gingerly on his broken ankle joint.

"Screamer?" He did a half-hop, half-stumble in Starscream's direction. "What the slag happened?"

"You crashed, idiot." Starscream made no move to get up. "And now that you've finally decided to come online, you can fly back to headquarters and make a report to Megatron."

Thundercracker blinked in confusion, and then jolted as he realized his wings were fully intact even after the impact. They unfurled with a rasp of sheet metal sliding against sheet metal, catching the last of the sun's rays on the razored edges. A pained gasp escaped him as exposed wires brushed across his torso, playing havoc with his damaged sensors. Painful yes, but ultimately not debilitating. His energon levels were enough to get back - he still wasn't sure how that had happened - and his overall energy, while low, was still more then he needed. He looked over at the Air Commander.

"What about you?"

"I shall return to headquarters when my internal systems are at minimum 65 capacity. A few cycles at least." Red optics narrowed at the purple seeker. "Your damage has leveled off enough that you should have minimal difficulties. Get going."

Thundercracker's optics blinked again. A direct order from Starscream was a rarity in itself but that wasn't what made him hesitate. Normally he would have obeyed. Throw a comment, a sneer, but then follow the command - Starscream was a pain in the thrusters on a good day and a complete overhaul on a bad, but he was still the Air Commander, second in command of the entire Decepticon army. But TC felt odd leaving his current situation. Why was Starscream still curled up like that? Internal repairs would work better if he straightened his torso out, let his fuel lines flow smoothly.

"Starscream, what's up? Get a rock stuck in your intake valve?" Using his jets to elevate himself off his broken joint, Thundercracker made a motion in the commander's direction.

In a move that belied any injuries the Seeker might have had, Starscream had his null ray aimed and powered up at the advancing soldier. "I gave you a direct order, Thundercracker."

Thundercracker froze, as much as he could. The strain from his jets unused to performing hovering maneuvers in his current weakened and untransformed stage was causing his entire frame to tremble. "Yeah, but you look shot to hell and back Screamer," he drawled in irritation. "Forgive me for giving a fraggin' bolt for trying to see if you're gonna kick the bucket or what."

"Are your audio receptors malfunctioning?" The high-pitched whine that heralded the charging of Starscream's primary weapon made Thundercracker retrace his steps a bit. "You are to report directly to Decepticon Headquarters. Megatron is expecting a report at 1800 hours and as both of our communications systems are fried, that means a verbal report must be made." Starscream's aim never wavered from the dead center of Thundercrackers' cracked-open chest plate. "Go. Now."

"And we all know how seriously you take giving those reports," Thundercracker huffed indignantly. His wings spread out to their fullest extent short of actually transforming; while he felt he wasn't going to die just yet, he was in no condition to try transforming when he wasn't sure he'd be able to change back. "Fine Screamer, whatever."

He threw one last glare back at his commander, and then forced himself into the air. As the earth fell away from him, gravity made hidden fractures in his system creak and he stifled a wince. Luckily the winds were with him and he was able to lower his power output enough to allow him to glide on the breeze. He had a long flight ahead of him and it only made sense to conserve energy where he could. He had no idea if his locator was functioning even if it was obvious that Starscream's wasn't. He had a lingering hope that Skywarp would have sensed his distress through their connection as wingmates and companions but the sheer distance made that more of a hopeless hope. He couldn't repress a snicker at his thoughts - the idea that his manner of thinking was going 'native' as Rumble put it, was both amusing and alarming.

One of his few functioning gyros beeped a warning that he was listing off-course and he corrected his flight path, nearly over-shooting his goal. Primus, the last time he'd felt this bad, it had been after agreeing to be Mixmaster's taste-tester on their old energon-party nights. And stupid, slagging Starscream - he must have been in better shape then he let on if he was able to threaten him with his null-ray. Yet the Screaming One was making him trudge forth to do his dirty work. Megatron was gonna blow an entire bank of gaskets over the complete meltdown this latest caper had become.

His optics were flickering - Thundercracker cursed his flagging energy levels. Maybe he'd overestimated his internal repair system. He didn't have any clue how much longer he was going to be able to keep functioning and he had only a vague idea of the distance he had left to travel


His neck pipes creaked in protest as he wrenched his head up at the cry coming from above. Skywarp's familiar purple and silver frame soared down in jet mode, transforming as he came to a halt in front of the faltering Thundercracker.

"Man, you look like you're two cycles away from the scrap heap," he whistled appreciatively, giving him a cursory look over with his own scanners.

"That's about how I feel," he rasped, his vocal unit starting to fail. Skywarp nodded sharply and hooked an arm under Thundercrackers, mindful of his wings.

"Well, hang on tight bud. Next stop - well, next few stops anyway, D-Con, HQ!"

Thundercracker shut his optics as a familiar crackling surrounded them. The field that sprung up around Skywarp ruffled his sensors on a good day. As he was now, it was more agony piled on top of the pain he'd already endured. 'Warp had a 'porting distance of about two standard earth kilometers, which meant it would take multiple jumps to get home. He decided stasis mode was looking pretty good at that point, and secure in the knowledge that his wingmate had him, he let himself drift into standby mode. Before he completely checked out, he forced his optics open one more time.

"Warp, Screamer's back there..."

"Yeah, Astrotrain's in charge of his rescue." Skywarp chuckled. "They can shout at each other all the way back for something to do."

Thundercracker smirked. Astrotrain and Starscream's hatred of each other was legendary, but if Megatron had ordered the triple-changer to retrieve his oft-errant second, then Astrotrain would do it. Kicking and screaming all the way, but he would do it. Thundercracker faded away.