Disclaimer: All recognizable characters and places belong to some big companies. Wrenchwielder belongs to himself. I only own the story.
Alone in the dark
Bluestreak wandered through the empty corridors of the Ark. What happened? Where was everybody? Did that shadow just move?
"Bluestreak? You shouldn't be here..."
Bluestreak looked around nervously, ducking into a low corridor on the fifth level, currently the lowest deck of the Ark. It wasn't illuminated, and the gunner was left to searching with the help of his own, quivering headlights. The place was a maze of crisscrossing, strangely shaped and narrow corridors, more of maintenance ducts to be honest, and it took him a while to find what he was looking for. Finally his headlights rested on a small door plate that read 157. Bluestreak sighed nervously, then looked over his shoulder, a bit afraid someone might have followed him here, and at the same time hoping for it.
Taking a deep breath, he reached his hand toward the door, then took it back again. His doorwings fluttered anxiously, he shot another hopeful look back, and then flopped to the floor with a sigh. It was silly, he told himself, there was nothing to be nervous about... Except for the reason why he was down here with a small cylinder of wax and an energon cube in hands.
He looked at the doorplate again, and reset his vocalizer, hoping that the owner of the room would hear him. "So, um, hi Wrenchwielder," he started hesitantly. "You said I could visit you, so, um, like, I wanted to thank you and kind of apologize, 'cause, well, I didn't say anything, really, but for a moment I was thinking you were a Decepticon spy or some psychopath or something, I donno if you could tell, but just in case, I wanted you to know that I'm sorry about it, and..."
Bluestreak paused for a moment, nervously turning a small cylinder in his fingers, noting that it left a thin layer of wax on his finish. "I wasn't really sure about this, and Hound and Beachcomber told me to talk with Spike and turns out humans know a great deal of this kind of things, which is funny now I think of it, 'cause, you know, we're totally different species, and you'd think we wouldn't have much in common, but here we are. And, um, I wanted to thank you for helping me out, I was scared sparkless back there, you know, well, you probably DO know, I was rather obvious I guess...
Bluestreak stumbled through the empty corridors, looking about anxiously. It was so quiet he could hear the soft hum of energy wires in the walls, and that wasn't right. The lights were very dim, even below the emergency lighting, and that was wrong too. Just what he had slept through? Bluestreak shivered. He needed to find Prowl. Prowl would know what to do. Fighting the dizziness, Bluestreak wandered toward Prowl's office. Only after he entered it he realized that the door was open, and that was just so wrong that he almost had a panic attack then and there. Prowl never left his office open, especially when he wasn't there. Bluestreak looked around desperately. "Prowl?" he whispered. And then, louder: "Prowl? Where are you? Where is everybody?"
He went back to the corridor. "Sideswipe? Sunstreaker? Where are you guys?"
Bluestreak's door twitched anxiously, and he hugged himself. Had there been an evacuation? Did everyone leave and left him behind?
He vehemently shook his head in negation. No, they wouldn't do that. "Sides!" he called. "Sunny! Prowl!"
He wobbly ran to the common room. It was as empty as the rest of the base, few half full cubes of energon discarded on the tables. The usually bustling main hall was empty and quiet too. So was the security center. And the holds, and the armory, and the med bay.
The Teletran-1 didn't offer any explanations, its monitor uncaring and dark.
Bluestreak run his hands over his face, trying to quench the rising panic. There had to be an explanation, maybe they were all playing an epic prank on him, though that would have been really unfair, seeing as he only just got relieved of the medical, and probably still had the remnants of anesthetic in his system, and Ratchet was going to kill him when he found out Bluestreak was running around like that instead of resting as told.
But he kept running regardless, determined to find someone, anyone, and finally, at the far end of a corridor, he saw a movement.
"Hey!" he called. "Hey, you there!"
A short, barely higher than a minibot mech was standing near the intersection, and Bluestreak was so relieved to find someone, he didn't even think that he had never seen him before.
"Hey," he gasped, sliding to a halt near the smaller bot. "Do you know what happened? Where is everybody?"
The bot flinched, as if hearing him for the first time, and turned to look at Bluestreak with an expression of surprise bordering on shock on his face. "What are you doing here?"
The datsun blinked, taken aback by the exclamation. "Well, I-" he frowned. "What are you doing here? Who are you? How'd you get here?" He peered at the mech suspiciously. The lights were a bit brighter in this part of corridor, and Bluestreak could make out a dark green and gray paint, and parts that indicated a cybertronian alt mode.
The bot gave him a long look. "I'm Wrenchwielder," he said slowly. "A mechanic, as easily guessed from the name. I was repairing some stuff." He motioned toward the wall, which, the gunner realized, he seemed to be petting when Bluestreak first saw him. Now that he was close, he could see that there was a panel opened, a few wires gleaming with fresh welds.
"Oh," he said. "Well, do you-" The other bot interrupted him.
"You shouldn't be here," he said, and there was something like concern, on maybe pity, in his voice.
Bluestreak felt a fear creeping back. "Why? What happened? Was there an attack? But there would have been alerts, I would have heard sirens..." he trailed off uncertainly. Maybe he did hear sirens. Maybe that was what had woken him up in the first place. He didn't really remember what disturbed his recharge. To think of this, he didn't remember waking up or leaving his room either...
Wrenchwielder watched him carefully. "You have memory problems?" It sounded more like a statement than a question. Bluestreak nodded mutely, still mulling over it in his head. He was at the end of living quarters hallway when he noticed how quiet it was, but what was he doing earlier?
"Tell me what you remember," Wrenchwielder said, moving up the corridor. The gunner followed, glancing at the wall as he went, and wondered briefly when had the mechanic put the panel back on.
"Um, I remember being yelled at by Ratchet, that's always hard to forget, but I think he shouldn't have been that angry because it was not my fault the coneheads spotted me, I mean, I only gave away my position 'cause I had to give cover fire for Jazz and Bumblebee, and it's not like it happens all that often, but Ratchet still said he'd turn me into a floor lamp if he had to do a surgery like that on me ever again, and then he told me I was clear to leave as long as the only thing I did was getting some energon and then recharging, and then I woke up and everyone was gone, and Prowl left his office door open, he never does that, and..."
He suddenly stopped and whirled around. "Did you hear that?" he asked, straining to see anything in the dark hallway. The smaller mech barely spared a glance.
"It's just a glitchmouse. There's plenty of them around."
"Oh." Bluestreak calmed down. "How can you see anything in this gloom?" he asked, wonderingly. Wrenchwielder gave him a weird look, a surprise mixed with pity. "You get used to it after a while," he said eventually. Bluestreak might have wondered on that, but his thoughts went back to the most pressing problem - where was everybody, and why did they left him behind? He squelched a flash of panic. No, no way he ended up a sole survivor of a disaster again, he couldn't have, but where were they?
"The others are fine," Wrenchwielder said, and Bluestreak realized he must have babbled all this out loud. "And they didn't leave you... I mean, they probably don't know that you are... here." The short pause was awkward, but Bluestreak didn't take notice.
"But where are they?" he pressed. "What's going on? Is this a drill or something?"
The mechanic looked away. "I'm not sure I should be telling you this."
"Why not? Is it classified?"
"Yes. Yes, something like that." The relief practically poured of the other's voice. "Classified, in a way. Come on." He started moving again, and Bluestreak followed unhappily, his processor coming up with a plausible script. Something happened that required evacuation, maybe Decepticons planted a bomb, or a virus, or rigged something in the Ark to explode, and since he was recharging at the time, he missed the commotion, and everybody forgot about him (his spark skipped a pulse at that), and then Wrenchwielder was sent in to fix whatever that was. Some secret weapon developed on Cybertron, probably.
"Hey, Wrenchwielder, you don't have an Earth-based alt mode?" A dumb question, he could see that after all, but he spoke up just to drown out the thoughts, and that was the first thing he thought of.
"No, I... didn't have time to get one."
The gunner nodded. "You must have been in a lot of hurry, I imagine. The whole base looks like everyone just dropped what they were doing and left. See, even here..." Bluestreak gestured to the tables in the common room they'd just entered, and froze. He turned back to look at the corridor. "How did we get here so fast?"
The mechanic spared him a glance. "Shortcuts," he explained. "Being a... mechanic... has its perks. You get to know the fastest routs. Sometime gets lonely, though," he added longingly, looking at the young gunner with something akin to hope. Bluestreak shifted uneasily, not sure where this was going, and then jumped, as something moved in his peripheral vision.
"What-?" The spot was obviously empty, but Bluestreak moved in to investigate nevertheless. "Hey, did you see that? There was something here!" He called over his shoulder, noticing that Wrenchwielder looked like he wanted to stop him as a first reaction, but hesitated. It made Bluestreak curious and all the more eager to search the suspicious area, and he moved forward, feeling his way around the tables.
Something like a warm breeze brushed his shoulder, and he recoiled reflexively.
"Ventilation's broken again," he complained, forgetting about the movement. "We keep getting this wild freezing drafts popping up here every now and then. Trailbreaker once walked into one so cold that he dropped a cube. It splashed all over Sunstreaker's legs, and he almost had a core meltdown, 'cause he'd only just got polished, with that fancy French polish too, and Trailbrailker was going out of his way to avoid him for a week or so after that."
He made his way back, and sat down across from the clearly amused mechanic.
"It'd be great if someone finally fixed it. Grapple and Wheeljack couldn't figure out what's causing it, and they used to say we were just imagining things, but once they were checking the wiring on the main ventilator and it blew on Wheeljack so hard he smashed the tester, and now they're saying it's probably Sideswipe's fault, but I'm sure he would tell me about it, so it's not him. Why are you laughing?"
"Sorry." Wrenchwielder tried to straighten his face. "I think I know what's wrong, I'll work on it."
Bluestreak looked at him curiously. "You'll be staying here for longer, then?"
The mechanic smiled lopsidedly. "Most probably, yeah." He opened his mouth to say something else, grimaced, and closed them again. Then he looked around in a universal, embarrassed, 'help, anyone?' gesture, started saying something, and stopped again.
Curious of what he was so hesitant about, Bluestreak just watched him, and in a momentary silence, he heard a soft whisper coming from behind. He stiffened and strained his hearing. There it came again, a soft scratching and few words spoken to quietly to catch the meaning. Looking around didn't do any good, nothing was stirring in the surrounding gloom. Bluestreak frowned. Was the voice carrying from some distant corridor, or was it just a static breakdown from someone's internal radio?
He suddenly sat up straight, blinking. How come he hadn't thought of it earlier?
He hastily radioed Prowl. Even if there was an emergency, and the open channels were blocked, he could at least let the others know where he was, and-
His radio didn't work.
"My radio doesn't work," he said out loud in bewilderment. He ran a self-diagnostic.
He looked down at himself in disbelief, feverishly trying to raise any device other than basics.
"And my diagnostic won't work either, nor scanner, nor radar, nor-" his voice rose by at least two octaves in panic.
"Bluestreak! Bluestreak, calm down." Wrenchwielder crouched in front of him, grabbing his arms. "Please calm down. You've had a surgery, it happens."
Bluestreak froze. The other mech was just steadying him, and there was nothing but concern in his voice, but his touch felt much too intimate for some reason. He shied away from the contact. At least the new concern helped him collect himself.
"I'm fine," he lied. And as if to prove himself wrong, he trembled, and rubbed at his arms in a feeble attempt to warm up himself. He noticed the other bot backing a step, and could almost feel the surprise radiating form him.
"Are you cold?"
"Yeah, my thermostats must be off-line too," He murmured unhappily, and trembled again. "I should go see Ratchet, he is going to have a core meltdown and scold my audios off, and- what?"
The Wrenchwielder was giving him a very strange look. "I think..." He started and trailed off for a moment. "I think you should go back to your room, and... rest. And I'll find Ratchet," he added, seeing that Bluestreak was about to protest.
"Um...ok." Bluestreak stood up, and was shocked how exhausting the simple action was. He felt drained, like after three days of heavy training. When had he grown so weak?
He remembered Wrenchwielder's touch, strange, oily, intruding...
There is no such thing as energy vampires, he told himself firmly, inching away from Wrenchwielder on unsteady legs. I'm still a little drugged, and I overexerted myself, and I'm seeing things...
Indeed, as if on cue, he caught a movement out of the corner of his optic, but when he looked, there was nothing there. Suddenly he wanted nothing more than to go back to his room and lock himself in there for the next month or so.
"I'll walk you there," Wrenchwielder said. "Just in case you collapse on the way."
As it quickly turned out, it was a very real possibility. Just one corridor away from the common room Bluestreak gave up and let the mechanic support him.
Wrenchwielder must have been using shortcuts again, because they were on the living quarters deck in no time. They were rounding a corner, when Bluestreak more felt than saw something passing by them in the darkness. "What was that?"
"Nothing," Wrenchwielder answered (too quickly, too insistently), steering, almost dragging Bluestreak away.
Turning his head frantically, the gunner managed to catch a glimpse of a shadow. A winged shadow.
Seekers! He'd let the Decepticons in! Bluestreak tried to pry himself free. What they'd done with everybody? Where's he taking me?
And then he was in pain. It shot through his entire frame, white hot, sending him face first on the floor. He heard the worried exclamation, and next thing he knew, he was being carried through the corridor so fast he thought they were flying. The door to his room came to view, and his thoughts drifted to his rifle he'd left on the table. In his room, with his rifle, he would be safe.
"The code..." he choked out, reaching toward the keypad.
"It's open," Wrenchwielder answered never slowing down, and the next second they were inside.
Bluestreak thought he saw the air shimmering and shifting in places, but he couldn't concentrate on it, for another wave of pain pulled him to the floor.
"Bluestreak!" The mechanic heaved him up, shaking him lightly. "Wrenchwielder. Quarters 157 on the fifth deck. Come visit me sometime," he said urgently.
And then he pushed the gunner down on the berth so hard, that Bluestreak blacked out on impact.
He woke up in a flash of pain. Every single circuit in his body was on fire, and for few horrible moments his mind wrapped in on itself, too terrified to even begin to contemplate what could have been done to him. He heard a weak moan escape him, and there was an immediate answer from above him.
"Thank the Primus. Bluestreak, can you hear me?"
Bluestreak blinked. "Ra-ratchet?" He stammered. He was in his room. There was one very shaken-looking medic hovering above him. Behind Ratchet's back he saw a concerned face of Prowl, and there were warm flashes of red and yellow in the doorway, indicating that the twins were close by, even if they'd stayed out for the fear of Ratchet.
Bluestreak smiled weakly in relief, and then vocalized his current biggest concern. "Hurts."
Ratchet huffed, pulling a flat rectangular object off the gunner's chest and setting it on a table. With a mild surprise Bluestreak identified it as a shock-box.
"Hurts, hurts," Ratchet grumbled, running on his patient all scans and tests available outside the Med Bay. "Of course it hurts, you half-processored, glitch-ridden chatterbox." His voice was more relieved than sour, but that quickly changed. "I feel tempted to leave you like this," he growled, even as he injected the gunner with light anesthetic and extra coolants. He picked something from the table and shook it at Bluestreak accusingly. "Care to tell me what this is?"
Bluestreak focused on the object. It was a half-empty energon cube. It was obvious that the medic was angry with him for some reason, so he skipped right to the defense.
"You told me to get some energon," he mewled. Ratchet almost shook in outrage.
"No! I very specifically told you to have two cubes of 10 percent mix. NOT half a cube of 50 !"
"No, it's not the same! Primus below, Bluestreak, there's a reason why we bother to process different grades! You overtaxed your fuel line systems, and completely clogged your fuel pump."
"Hey doc, lay off him! You're scaring him." Ratchet glared, and Sideswipe ducked back behind the doorframe. Sunstreaker's scowling face popped up for a second, to say "you are."
Bluestreak smiled. He felt better now, though he knew better than to try and do something stupid, like sitting up for example. He remembered something.
"Say Wrenchwielder 'thanks' from me," he asked drowsily. Ratchet tilted his head.
"Wrenchwielder. You know... the bot who sent you here, small and greenish?" He received a blank look from Ratchet, and noticed that Prowl's doorwings drew slightly back in confusion. He hesitated. "He did send you here, right?"
Ratchet snorted, and jerked his thumb at the three bots behind his back. "No. They dragged me here. They insisted you called for them so loudly, they heard you from across the Ark." He sniffed haughtily, clearly insulted by the notion that he would miss something as basic as one of his patients screaming bloody murder. "Funny no-one else heard anything."
"But..." Bluestreak looked helplessly from one bot to the other. "He said he would go and get you."
Ratchet shrugged. "He didn't. Who's that Wrenchslinger anyway?"
"Wrenchwielder," Prowl corrected quietly. "A technical officer. Specialized in warp engines."
"Oh?" Ratchet turned to look at the tactician. "Some new guy?"
"Not exactly." Prowl's gaze was locked on Bluestreak. "How do you know him?" he questioned.
"I only just met him, during this... oh, right, it was classified. Um, well I you know about him anyway and you're all back now, so I guess it doesn't really matter, right? I run into him during this whole evacuation-thing. Why no-one told me about it anyway? You could have at least radio me, I would have stayed in my room and not wander around wondering what's going on." He looked at the gathered mechs with a hint of reproach, to meet a set of stares of the 'weird' variety.
There was a brief silence.
"Bluestreak," Sideswipe ventured eventually, "what evacuation?"
"...and I got yelled at and grounded by Ratchet again, guess I really scared him, and when I could finally get up, I asked around, and Prowl was the only bot who knew about you, even Optimus didn't remember, and I thought that it really isn't fair, you know. So, I read about all those humans' customs, and I liked this one best, and I think you might like it too, I hope so anyway, so..."
Bluestreak put the things he'd been fiddling with next to the singed doorplate, and unsubspaced a small welding torch. He activated it, and let the flame touch the stick of wax.
The candle lit easily, illuminating the little tableau.
"I remember you, Wrenchwielder," Bluestreak said quietly. Then he turned and went back up, leaving behind the melted, deformed mass of compressed metal that was once the living quarters of the engine maintenance crew.