----------Fire and Flight-------------
-------------Written By: Reality Obscured-------------
Airazor spread her wings, taking off from the tree where she had been perched. She caught the wind like an expert, soaring up high above the vast forest jungle spread out below. It had been just over a week since anything with the Preds had gone down. She and Tigertron had been assigned to patrol this area, it having been the last sector the Predacons had been sighted in. Of course, not a single Predicon had been seen.
"Now if only I knew where Stripes has gone off to." She said to herself, her vision crossing all the open areas of the trees that she could see.
Tigertron had been keeping in touch with her, all right. Every day he made his every megacycle reports via com-link, although she hadn't seen him in nearly five days straight now. There wasn't a big rush or need to find him at all, but it would be nice to see another creature besides that of one of the normal animals that lived around here. She just preferred not to be alone for that long!
There was movement just to her right, and she banked toward it, landing lightly on a tree branch. Zooming in with her optics, finding out what the movement was wasn't a problem at all. Tigertron –she knew him apart from other white tigers easily now- was in her sights. At first he looked like he was searching for something in the bushes, but then he began to walk backwards in the manner as if…as if he was dragging something. He pulled out the full body of a deer by the leg into the opening.
"Now this I don't understand." She said to herself. "Maybe it's just one of Tigertron's things… Er, whatever his things are."
She knew well that Maximals and Predicons needed to eat in order to replenish the energy of their organic parts, but why was Tigertron dragging the deer?
Her confusion was settled when a shock of surprise hit her. Hard. She almost lost her grip on the branch. Two white tiger cubs walked out from the bushes slowly, moving to the deer, but not touching it until Tigertron nodded toward them. After that little action that he had given they both leapt to the feast. Tigertron turned around and strode off a few feet before he disappeared into the green foliage.
Airazor's vision returned to normal. Ok, Tigertron with two cubs? He was a male, so that left that particular option out. He was a robot, so that one left having cubs with anyone else other than another Transformer out. Before she could think too hard on it she heard a familiar voice.
"Are you watching something?"
She startled, losing a feather in the process, and looked down. Of all people, Tigertron was standing underneath her on the ground. She smiled at him.
"Cute cubs." She said, then asked, "Where'd you find them?"
Tigertron turned around and looked toward the cubs' direction. "They…were Snowstalkers." He held an expression of sadness for a moment, although it was evident he made the effort to pull himself out of it. "The one on the right is Lightfoot. The other is Whiskers."
She looked at them now as well. "Did you name them?"
"No." He answered. "Snowstalker did. She told me about them a couple of weeks before…" He cut off his own sentence.
Airazor didn't ask any further into it. It was more than obvious to her how Tigertron had felt for Snowstalker. That was also why he was still taking to his bouts of depression so often still whenever the thought of Snowstalker crossed his mind. He was doing much better now than he had been before…when he had given up fighting entirely for a little while…
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Tigertron watched Airazor settle down to sleep, her form perched on the higher, thicker branch of the top of a tree. She shook her head once before turning it around, just as a bird would do, to place her beak into the feathers of her back. Airazor's beast form held more dominance than she knew. She had never deactivated the programming chip in her that blocked her beast urges. Neither had he.
It wasn't a wonder Optimus teamed the two of them up so often. They worked well together in a team, and Airazor got along in the wild just as well as he.
He took his eyes from her, settling down into the bushes to sleep.
Tigertron was racing through the undergrowth of the jungle, his movements pausing with an abrupt halt just as he came to a small field of tall, brown grass. With the stealth he had gained from his beast mode he padded through, easing toward movement up ahead that had caught his eye. His hunter spirit had taken hold strong.
He could feel his need…his want…to pounce and take hold…
With one swift move, he leapt through the grass, his streamlined body separating the grass easily, growling and showing his fangs when he landed on the other side in a small clearing… His growls halted as Snowstalker came into his sight, her tail and ears flicking upward at him. He smiled and began to walk toward her, but found himself one again still as two tiger cubs, Lightfoot and Whiskers, moved out from the underbrush to come near to Snowstalker's hind paws. They appeared to be welcoming in to join them, and he would have gladly… If he could have… When he attempted to move toward them he found himself as still as a stone statue! He couldn't move! They began to move away, leaving him behind, hardly even looking back upon his form.
Suddenly, dark green vines began to slither up from the ground, twisting around to envelope his body in a leafy cocoon. He fought against it, but only won the battle when he had transformed into robot mode, snapping the vine with ease. The vines ripped away from him and fell limp to the sides. Looking around, he saw Snowstalker and the cubs nowhere.
The cry of a hawk caught his attention. He peered up into the sky. A hawk alright, looked like Airazor, was soaring in circles on an air current overhead.
He moved his attention once more toward where Snowstalker and her cubs had disappeared. Two vines shot out, wrapping around each of his forearms. He growled, pulling at them with all his might. They wouldn't give…
The ground started to shake, cracking open right underneath him. His eyes went wide as the earth split wide open. Now, the vines were his only saviors as he was hanging over the pit, a river of bright red lava flowing beneath him…
Tigertron awoke with a start, catching his breath. He had to calm himself, reminding the bestial part of himself that he was ok and not really over a lava pit but in the jungle, right where he had fallen asleep. Big difference.
He stood up and stretched, finding a great need to walk this unwanted nightmare off. There were signs in the dream he had to contemplate. That is, if he could understand any of them at all.
Airazor's night would have gone by a little more uneventful than Tigertron's…
A missile exploded against the tree, sending Airazor flying to the ground. Fully awake now, she transformed into robot mode and rolled out of the way just as the tree fell right where she had hit. The insatiable, annoying buzzing of a certain Predicon could be heard somewhere nearby. Great. She thought. Can't a girl get some shut-eye?
"That hurt." She stood up, dusting herself off for a second before she took off into the sky. As Tigertron would say, she had a Predicon to hunt.
Waspinator, meanwhile, had been too busy enjoying what he thought was a nice little victory dance to see Airazor leave. In robot mode, he had now arrived in the area where the tree that he had blasted had fallen, thinking very much so that he had won this little skirmish.
"Wazzzpinator blasted bird-bot." He laughed/giggled in his own buzzing way. "Smashed bird-bot with tree…" He transformed back into beast mode and started to fly away. However, he halted as something came to him, and he talked to himself some more. "But Megatron would want proof. Awww… Wazzpinator will just have to get proof!"
He spun around and flew back to the felled tree, transforming just as he landed on the ground. He grabbed the tree and tried to lift it up. Couldn't. He got a good, firm grip on the underside of the tree. No good there, either. Angry, he kicked it.
"Stupid tree." He crossed his arms. "Megatron won't take Waspinator's word for it." He slumped over the tree in anguish.
"I don't think he's going to be all that disappointed." Airazor said, positioning herself just behind where Waspinator stood. Waspinator turned around just in time to see Airazor wave. "Bye-bye now."
She shot her forearm darts at him. She aimed the darts so that they pinned Waspinator to the tree. As a finisher, she punched the insect right between the eyes. He really saw stars before he finally just decided that unconsciousness might be the better, less painful choice…
Airazor tapped the com-link on her wrist. "Airazor to Tigertron." No answer. "Tigertron, can you hear me?" Static was all that answered her.
Interference of some kind. She and Tigertron hadn't had any problems communicating before. The most she could think of was that somehow the Predicons had managed to put up a signal dampening tower without being noticed. She started to take off into the sky. Tigertron would have to be found the old fashioned way, then. No feathers off of her back.
"Ahhh!" A small red missile exploded in the small of her back, knocking her out of the sky. Instead of just hitting the ground she slammed into a tree first, falling through the branches and then only to hit the earth.
"Don't you know Predicons always travel in groups?" The voice of Terrorsaur laughed as he flew into sight.
Airazor pushed herself to her feet. She started to fly… She never left the ground. The explosion must have thrown off her flight systems! Terrorsaur began to bombard the ground with missiles, the explosion of one throwing her back onto the ground once again. She got to her feet and ran behind a tree, taking cover while getting ready her wrist missiles once again. She jumped out of cover just long enough to fire a few shots at him before returning to the safety of the tree.
"Airazor to Tigertron!" She tried her com-link again. "I could really use some help, Stripes!" No answer, still…
"All Maximals will burn!"
Airazor gasped as she looked to her right just in time to avoid an energy blast from Inferno's huge gun. Her tree now destroyed, she ran to take cover behind yet another. All these trees being knocked down… Tigertron really wasn't going to like this…so where was he?!
"You cannot hide, Maximal." Inferno shouted. "This forest will burn, and you will burn with it!"
He set his gun for flamethrower mode. He aimed it at some nearby bushes, the flames shooting out the end igniting them. The tree nearby was already partly dead, so it was really easy for it to catch fire as well. The flames were starting to spread, quickly at that, and already Airazor could feel the heat licking at her.
She frowned. "This is not good…"
Tigertron, in beast mode, ran through the jungle as fast as he could manage, leaping over fallen trees and tearing through vines in the process. The missile fire that he had heard had come from quite a long way away. Without a doubt it was the Predicons up to their old tricks again, and Airazor was probably in the middle of it. And yet, even though it was night, something was causing the line above the trees to glow slightly brighter…
As he grew closer, he knew why.
A blast of heat hit his face, and he stopped, the pupils of his eyes growing smaller, his eyes wide, and his teeth bared in a snarl. The jungle was on fire! He transformed to robot mode, pulling out his gun. Terrorsaur could be seen just above the jungle canopy, firing down into the flames. Was Airazor in there? He had to take the chance! Covering his eyes the best he could with his hand and forearm in front of him, he pushed into the heat.
It wasn't long before he was able to follow Inferno's maniacal laughter to where he needed to be. Airazor was caught behind a tree, kneeled down with her hand over her mouth, coughing against the smoke. Inferno was firing upon her, the tree she was hiding behind nearly ready to fall.
Tigertron didn't speak. He took aim and fired. Inferno caught he blast directly in his chest plate. Another energy blast took him in the head, and another in his abdomen.
"Surprise attack! There is more of the enemy!" Inferno got up, activating his flight mode and leaping into the sky.
"Like it matters!" Terrorsaur took aim and fired at the white and light blue Transformer.
Tigertron dodged out of the way and started to make his way closer to Airazor. Soon the flames even prevented him from getting that far. "Airazor, take flight and warn Optimus!"
She coughed a couple more times before she managed to get out any words. "…Can't! My flight system's damaged!" She coughed. "Can't contact the base, either!"
Tigertron growled. This was just great…
Then, a sound that seemed to only reach his ears and his ears alone. The sound of two very terrified tiger cubs… Whiskers and Lightpaw… They were in the fire as well! He turned, seeing them just in a clearing not too far away, huddled together and hissing at the flames as they grew closer. He started to run toward them… A flaming tree fell in his way, becoming a flaming log that seemed to just be there only to block his path.
"Argh…" He fell back from the fire, backing up a couple of feet as the intense heat blasted him. He set his gun and fired it upon the log. A cool mist came out of the end, cold as ice. An extinguisher for the flames.
He leapt up on the log and started for the cubs. Terrorsaur saw this, and the predicament tickled him to no end! He fired at Tigertron's feet, the ensuing explosion from his missiles hitting the ground knocking Tigertron off of his path. Tigertron rolled with the impact and came to a kneeling position on one knee, firing a few energy blasts at Terrorsaur. Terrorsaur was, unfortunately for him, on the receiving end of three out of six blasts. Tigertron turned only to see his own pathway now blocked entirely by the fire…
Airazor's path was open, and she went for it. She didn't feel quite like her friend felt for these cubs, but she knew she couldn't just let them die! Not while they still had a chance! She ran for them, scooping them up in her arms as she passed by. They didn't fight her, which she fully expected. Actually, she was expecting several claw marks to come out of this. Strange she didn't get any… If she was, maybe she just couldn't feel it.
Tigertron could see where she was heading. Taking her lead, he was soon running just a few feet behind her as they headed for what looked like the edge of the jungle. Through the sound of the crackling flames they couldn't hear what they were coming up upon, but they both knew. They had patrolled this area enough to know that there was a river just beyond that tree line…
Once on the other side, Airazor, cubs, and Tigertron all leapt into the flowing water…
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Airazor flew up, landing on the ground close to where Tigertron sat, both of them in beast mode. In a cave not too far away lay the two white snow tiger cubs. They were cuddled up to one another, keeping each others' damp body warm.
"How are they doing?" Airazor asked. "Better, I hope."
"They are alive, thanks to you." Tigertron smiled at her. "I haven't thanked you yet for saving them. Thank you."
Airazor just smiled, saying nothing. She was still a little stiff, but could get around all right. She still couldn't fly in her robot mode. Maybe when her beast mode finished a little bit more of the internal repairs she would find her way back to the Axalon to get fixed up…
As if reading her mind… "You are damaged. It'd be wise if you returned to base."
"This?" Airazor spread her wings slightly. "Don't worry about it. I'll be ok."
Tigertron didn't argue. He had said the same thing many times in his short life here, always relying more on his beast mode's ability to repair than the CR chamber. It was Tigertron who spoke now.
"Yes, we will have to return to the base soon enough." He said. "But for now, let us enjoy the peace that the moment brings us."