Author's Notes: This fanfic has been stewing in my mind since I read "The Tasmanian Babes Fiasco" by John Birmingham a few months ago. A bunch of post-grad assignments, working on behalf of good taste everywhere, prevented me from writing this right away.

Legal Notes: Transformers and all the characters mentioned are property of Hasbro.

Deep under the oceans of Earth, Deceptibase lay peacefully shrouded in the darkness of depth and night. Deep inside Deceptibase, the steely grey terminals that lined the walls of the Command Centre flickered with information - news feeds, troop movements, security statuses and energon supply readouts - but the room's sole occupant was Soundwave. Constantly bombarded with information, thanks to his role as Communications Officer, Soundwave hardly ever went off duty. He stood quiet and typically unreadable as he scanned a terminal. His indigo armour gleamed.

There was a faint hum as the automatic doors on the far side of the Command Centre opened. Megatron's massive silver form entered and Soundwave looked up expectantly.

"I received your radio message," said Megatron. "How did the inspection of the energon in Bay 12 go?"

"Inspection: unsatisfactory. Energon: mediocre," Soundwave chimed in his melodious voice. He rarely spoke in sentences of more than 2 words at a time. As Communications Officer, brevity was necessarily one of his traits.

Megatron nodded grimly, "Starscream thinks he can ruin my reputation on Cybertron by giving the energon I send a higher rating than it deserves. Fortunately, I have other warriors skilled in science who are totally loyal to me." Megatron smiled at Soundwave.

Soundwave nodded in thanks. The constant concentration that his job required made him usually appear quiet and detached. But to Megatron, who knew him well, Soundwave seemed more detached than usual. Something seemed to be weighing on Soundwave's mind. "Soundwave, what's the matter?" Megatron asked.

"Cassettes: missing," said Soundwave and his melodic voice sounded duller than usual.

Megatron's crimson optics brightened in shock. It was no wonder Soundwave seemed distracted! The cassettes were Soundwave's closest companions and colleagues - and his children.

"Missing?" cried Megatron. "Didn't your cassettes accompany you on your inspection of Bay 12?"

"Affirmative," chimed Soundwave. "Current location: unknown."

Megatron frowned. "Their loss would be a sore blow to the Decepticons. Haven't you been able to track them down telepathically?"

Soundwave shook his head. "Signal: scrambled. Location: Deceptibase. Skywarp: notified."

"Skywarp will find them if they are still in Deceptibase," said Megatron. "And if..."

Megatron's words were cut off by a loud beeping, emanating from Soundwave's chest. "Incoming message. Source: Skywarp," said Soundwave.

Megatron leaned forward, listening intently to Skywarp's excited voice as it emanated from the heavily shielded speakers on Soundwave's chest. "Skywarp reporting: turn to channel 120 immediately!"

Soundwave's crimson optic band narrowed, just slightly.

Megatron's reaction was a little more obvious. His optics flared angrily and he snapped. "You've been watching the news feeds from Cybertron instead of looking for the Soundwave's cassettes? Explain yourself!"

Skywarp stuttered slightly. He'd expected Soundwave's calm, chiming reply, not Megatron's outraged demand. "Err, sir. I mean, I've found the cassettes. They've been taping a news segment all this time. It's on channel 120 right now!"

Megatron glanced at Soundwave, who had raised his optic ridges, just slightly, in confusion. "Soundwave, I take it you didn't order the cassettes to make a news segment? What on Cyber... uh, Earth are they doing?" he wondered aloud.

"You're missing it!" cried Skywarp. "It's all about Starscream!"

Soundwave said nothing, but a panel on his shoulder opened, ejecting a small holographic projector. In a moment a hologram of Soundwave's cassettes - Rumble, Frenzy, Ravage and Laserbeak - appeared. They were standing together in Bay 12, clearly angry. Behind them glowed pastel colored piles of energon cubes. The sound track, with Rumble's voice shouting, snapped suddenly to life.

"...and don't think you're going to get away with this, Starscream. We cassettes have your report and we're going to taste every type of energon you've reviewed and tape our own report with this automatic holographic camera here."

"Where is Reflector when you need them?" interjected Frenzy, giggling.

Rumble frowned a little at his permanently over excited brother. "Just shut up and drink! Remember, this is for Megatron." Rumble turned back to the camera, "Brace yourselves, Decepticons, here we go!"

Megatron smiled, "The cassettes are loyal warriors!"

Soundwave nodded silently.

The automatic camera panned over Soundwave's cassettes as it followed them towards a pile of pale blue energon cubes. Rumble picked a cube up and held it out towards the camera. "This energon was made from something called kerosene," he announced. "And it tastes like..." Rumble took a sip and his whole body froze. His face scrunched up like tin foil.

Frenzy took the cube from his brother's limp hands. He glanced at the camera. "Something tells me this energon tasting thing ain't going to be easy!" Frenzy looked at bit doubtful then shrugged. "Oh well, power to Megatron, I serve only you and all that. Cheers!" Frenzy took a sip. "YUUUKKK!!! That's vile!" he managed to croak out.

Frenzy put the cube on the floor, so Ravage and Laserbeak could taste it. Rumble beckoned the camera around, and with a wry face made his report.

"Starscream promised all sorts of things, like crisp, dry finishes in his report. Mind you, he's lying through his pointy little voice modulator. This energon is a vicious predator, gleefully disemboweling anyone foolish enough to digest it. Overall, though, it isn't too bad. Nice warm afterglow after a really bad start. How did I sound guys?"

Laserbeak squawked. He looked a little worse for energon already.

Rumble glanced at Laserbeak. "Hey I'm new to all this review stuff. Yeah, I know I don't sound very official. Whatever."

Rumble glanced at the report in his hand. "Ok, the next lot of energon was made from hydrogen that we got out of an oil well." Rumble walked, a little unsteadily, to next pile of cubes, these ones a pastel yellow. He picked up the nearest cube and took a sip. His mouth pursed up tightly and he barely managed to swallow. Angrily, he said, "Starscream said all sorts of things like 'pronounced floral bouquet' in the review. What twaddle! This is the kind of floral bouquet I wouldn't send to Optimus Prime's funeral! Mind you, the sickly sweet flavor kind of grows on you after half a cube. Maybe I'll try this one again if I'm feeling really suicidal. Pass the cube on, Frenzy, I'm onto the next lot."

The automatic camera followed Rumble as he staggered to a pile of pastel green cubes. He took a sip from one and gagged. "Ok, this is aviation fuel. The review says Starscream stole this himself from Chicago airport. If so, he got ripped off badly. It tastes awful, like the human pilots stomped through it wearing their socks. But I'm glad the energon got stomped on because it deserved it."

Rumble staggered slightly and nearly lost his balance. "Pretty strong stuff though. Ok, next one is methanol...these white cubes over here."

"Hey, it's Ravage's turn now!" said Frenzy, who then proceeded to stand between Ravage and the camera. Frenzy turned his head back towards Ravage. "What's that Ravage? You think this energon is like cyberwhale urine filtered through sucrose? Frenzy turned back to the camera. "Ravage was swaying when he told me that. Why? Could it be the vast quantities of energon or just the instability of the foundations of Deceptibase? Slagging underwater bases, they're all built on sand. Don't drink this energon, Decepticons! It'll make your base collapse!"

Rumble pushed Frenzy out of the way. Frenzy didn't put up much resistance because the moment he was pushed he lost his balance and staggered out of camera range, spinning his arms in an effort to stay upright.

Rumble said, "I went and tried the grey LP Gas energon cubes while Frenzy was mucking around" Rumble paused. "LP? What does that mean? Low power? Decepticons, let me warn you that these low power energon cubes have FULL NAUSEA VALUE! I'm glad the camera wasn't pointing at me a few moments ago!"

"Point at me! Point at me!" Frenzy sang out. The automatic camera panned around towards the sound. Frenzy tried to put on a calm, official expression when the camera was pointing at him but it didn't really work out. "My brothers think I can't be serious for a whole breem, but I've already tasted the next energon and they haven't. So there!" Frenzy turned and made a face at the rest of the cassettes but quickly remembered the camera and turned back. "This energon was made from hydroelectricity and it was sour and," he tried to pronounce the next two words as best as he could, "Villainously industrial. Starscream was prepared to praise it for its dryness. Laserbeak did at first, until the wracking fuel pump cramps overcame him. I wouldn't even poison a cat with this stuff!"

"The cat's already poisoned!" said Ravage, walking in front of the camera. His usual graceful walk had been replaced with a stagger. "I just tried nuclear electricity energon. Starscream says it was real smooth and pure in his report. I say it tastes like it was already used as backwash before it was cubed. It was enough to set poor Laserbeak rolling around on the floor again. I don't blame Laserbeak, frankly."

Ravage sank slowly out of site as his legs gave way. Rumble stumbled back in front of the camera, clutching a pastel orange cube. By now he looked really confused. "Engine oil. The end...surely this is the end. Nobody can walk straight anymore, and there are some who cannot even crawl straight!"

Rumble gasped, even further distracted by something happening over his shoulder. "I don't believe it, Ravage is up and swilling again! This is beyond comprehension! Why does his energon processor continue to consent to live with him?"

Rumble shook his head and tried to get back to the task at hand. "This energon is kind of nice, but hey, all energon tastes nice after the first few cubes. In fact, it tastes the same coming up as it does going down. Excuse me a moment..." Rumble ran out of view.

The automatic camera panned around, looking for another commentator. It passed over Laserbeak, who was stretched full length on the floor, croaking weakly. Finally it paused over Frenzy, who was just lowering an oddly dark energon cube from his lips.

"Why were we doing this again?" Frenzy groaned. "Laserbeak is nearly comatose. Ravage lives, albeit in a horrifically crippled fashion. Oh yeah, we were checking up on Starscream's reviews. This is the last type of energon and it's made from coal." Frenzy looked up from the review pages. "Oh, oh. Didn't coal make Megatron's joints freeze a while back? Have we all had some of this energon?"

A few groans were heard.

"Why are we still moving then?" asked Frenzy. "If you're watching this, let Soundwave know we're in Bay 12. I can't 'cos my voice modulator is about to freeze u..."

Silence. With nothing moving to point at, the automatic camera switched itself off after a few moments and the transmission ceased.

Megatron had spent some of the cassettes' 'news' segment chuckling to himself about 'those kids'. But he'd gotten quieter the longer he watched and the coal energon had really ruined the joke. Megatron looked at Soundwave who had been typically unreadable throughout the news segment but now appeared more tense than usual. "You've notified med-bay?" Megatron asked.

Soundwave nodded.

Megatron said, "I'll carry the cassettes to med-bay. Meet me there." Megatron hurried away.

By the time Starscream entered Bay 12, a few moments after Megatron's conversation with Soundwave, the cassettes were completely immobilized by the coal energon. This suited Starscream just fine...

Starscream picked up Rumble by the throat. "You slagging little tattletale," he sneered. "I'll teach you," Starscream glanced around at the other prostrate cassettes, "I'll teach you all..."

But a heavy, dark-silver hand clamped down on the air intake on Starscream's left shoulder before he could 'teach' anything.

"Starscream," Megatron purred. "How convenient finding you here..."

In med-bay, Hook watched Soundwave almost imperceptibly pause and appear to listen. Hook barely glanced up. Soundwave was continuously juggling communications channels and Hook guessed correctly that an important briefing had come in. But Hook became puzzled when Soundwave's optic band brightened and his shoulders shook without a sound. 'Did I just see Soundwave laugh?' Hook wondered.

Hook was just about to ask when Megatron entered bearing the immobilized cassettes. From that moment, Hook's mind was on medical matters only, as he used pumps to channel off the excess and harmful energon. Soundwave was once again calm and unreadable, as he helped Hook get his cassettes back into working order.

Soundwave's cassettes were already beginning to regain control of their muscle cables when Hook said, "I supposed Starscream has flown away by now. He usually spends a few days away from base when one of his plans goes awry."

Megatron smiled, "Not this time. He'll spend the next few days sitting around Deceptibase on his best behavior."

Hook snorted, "Starscream is never sits around and behaves."

"He will this time and that's certain," insisted Megatron, winking at Soundwave. "Because Starscream's been doing a little energon tasting of his own!"