Title: Listen Before Speaking
Author: Koi Lungfish
Disclaimer: Based on characters and situations from The Transformers ((c) 1986 Hasbro, Ltd). Used without permission. Text (c) 2007, Koi Lung Fish (Mark of Lung. All Rights Reserved.)
Continuity: G1 cartoon, Season 2.

"Why don't we just go out there and get him?" Air Raid asked.

(Sssh!) ordered Red Alert, (I'm listening!) He pressed close against the door that separated them - in the dubious safety of a half-collapsed basement, up to their knees in gravel and liberally covered in dirt - from the wide open outdoors and the Decepticon who'd shot Air Raid's tail-section off.

Sunstreaker laid a hand on Air Raid's shoulder, transmitting his comm signal directly into the Aerialbot's hull. (You want to go jumping out there and find we're facing Megatron or something?)

(Are we?) Air Raid replied, touching Sunstreaker's hand with his own.

(Could be.) Sunstreaker looked down at the melted-off stub of Air Raid's tail-section. (Whoever it is has a plasma flamethrower, which isn't standard for anyone on Earth right now.)

(Someone new?)

(Someone broke into the locker with the big shiny toys in it, more likely. Or Thundercracker's upgraded. Or Megatron's out testing a new weapon. Or it's Starscream.)

(Just the one,) Red Alert whispered. (Heavy. Bigger than an Insecticon.)

(Well, that's mostly good,) Sunstreaker said, looking up at the sagging ceiling, spilling streams of dirt down onto his distinctly dusted bodywork. (At least it's not Rumble. I hate digging myself out of his messes.)

(How's Red doing that?) Air Raid asked, trying to stay still as the gravel slid around his wound. The smell of melted metal and singed plastic filled the small space.

(He's got good audios,) Sunstreaker replied. (Not quite as good as Soundwave, but better than just about anyone else.)

(He can tell who's out there just by listening at the door?) Air Raid asked, looking at Sunstreaker in total surprise.

(He could sit at one end of the Ark and listen to your mob whining at the other end,) Sunstreaker said, hefting his gun and running his thumb over the arming stud, activating the electron-pulse function. (In fact, he probably does.) Air Raid looked at him sourly.

(Big, slow,) Red Alert murmured. (Flat feet. Not Long Haul. Not a Seeker.)

Sunstreaker felt his tensors ease down a notch in relief. (Thank Vector Sigma for that.)

(Why? Isn't Megatron more dangerous?)

(According to Bumblebee, who ain't often wrong, Megatron's issued an edict making Earth a no-kill zone,) Sunstreaker said, watching Air Raid boggle.

(What - but - why? They're -) The Aerialbot waved his hands in silent bewilderment.

(You ever seen Prime get angry?) Sunstreaker said softly.


(If we get home with our heads on our shoulders, go ask Teletran-1 about a human called Lord Chumley.) Sunstreaker winced slightly. (That was just Prime getting warmed up. The 'cons know we out-number them two to one. We've got you, we've got the Protectobots, we've got Omega Supreme and we've got more guns in the field that they have, double. They know we could take 'em. They know if they kill one of us then Prime'll blow his entire fuse-box and we'll be onto them faster than magneticks on a neutral, so Megatron's banned any killing. He's a nasty sneak like that.)

(Is that why you and Sideswipe charge around like lunatics?) Air Raid asked, and Sunstreaker suspected he heard a tinge of admiration in his tone.

(Nah, we were built that way.)

(So what's so bad about Seekers?)

(In case you hadn't noticed, there's this Seeker called Starscream who has a little trouble following Megatron's orders...)

(Huh. So why the frack don't we just invade their base and finish them off anyhow?) Air Raid asked, shifting eagerly in his gravel-pile.

(Because Optimus Prime says so,) Sunstreaker said, keeping his optics on Red Alert for a signal to move.

(That's it?) Air Raid exclaimed. (Because Optimus is a coward?)

Sunstreaker scowled at Air Raid, who glared back defiantly. (Listen, if we weren't in danger, I'd fetch you one around the nosecone for that. Don't let me or anyone else hear you calling Prime a coward. If he says no go, he says no go for a reason, even if we scrubbers down at the bottom of the assembly line don't know what it is.)

Air Raid looked sulky. (I don't understand Autobots.)

(Trust me, the feeling is mutual,) Sunstreaker replied. (You want to know the reason, ask Prowl, if you can stay awake for the whole explanation.)

Red Alert sighed.

(It ain't Inferno, Red, he's noisier,) Sunstreaker sent.

(I've always thought sarcasm had no place on the battlefield,) Red Alert said. (It's not Soundwave, or we'd be spotted by now, and it's not Megatron; too light and too loud. I can hear big wheels moving on their suspension, but he's too heavy for Mixmaster and too big in the feet for Long Haul...)

"So it's a big, heavy truck, right? That makes it Prime, right?" Air Raid asked hopefully, forgetting to use his radio. Sunstreaker raised a hand to swat the Aerialbot as Red Alert jumped back from the door, skidding in the gravel, and flattened himself against the wall.

Outside, there came a deep bellow, the pounding of huge footsteps even Sunstreaker could feel, and with a rending crash a gleaming sword slammed through the door, ripping it in half and spilling in daylight shattered by a bulky body outside.

"No," said Red Alert, apparently addressing the blade, "that makes it Motormaster."

Author's notes & addenda:

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