Author's notes: Finally, the last chapter of what has been my longest fic so far. I want to thank all the people who followed this story. Your support is much appreciated and all your comments treasured.
I hope you will enjoy this. I want to thank KayDeeBlu for beta reading this fic. All those nights talking about Seekers are already unforgettable. SAHS.
If there was one word Skywarp could've applied to the recent events of the past few cycles, silence would've been it, no questions asked.
If he could have added another one, weird would have been the next logical choice.
Because that was what the cycles after returning to Earth brought: silence and oddities.
It started on Cybertron. Thundercracker had returned to Polyhex alone, no traces of what happened with his creator filling him or any further explanations concerning the matter.
Shockwave's unemotional claims about both Seeker's delay in returning to the space bridge were answered with the same coldness. It was obvious the faceless purple Decepticon knew about the little battle in Iacon; he had audios and optics all over Cybertron. Besides, his indifference toward Thundercracker's shattered physical condition confirmed all suspicions. Shockwave knew, which meant Megatron did too. Waiting for consequences was the only option.
And that was precisely what Skywarp had decided to do.
Arriving on Earth was full of uncomfortable subtleties. Skywarp would have preferred giving direct explanations, even filling out one of those obsolete reports. Any formality would have been better than the whispering, the furtive glances, the fingers pointing within the shadows…
But in order to know the exact truths of the rumors, an exhaustive investigation between the base's main gossip spreaders was inevitable. Veracity had to be minimal. Skywarp was sure of it.
Thundercracker… created by an Autobot.
It didn't take very much complex use of one's CPU to know how juicy of a novelty it was to just be tossed aside. In an environment where the word Autobot was a natural hate instigator, logic dictated all empty spaces of said truth had to be filled with all kind of versions, every one more surreal than the previous one.
And that was tiring, not to mention stressful. When Swindle stood in front of Skywarp, point blank asking him his version as an ocular witness, the answer received didn't come in terms of spoken language. Nobody was surprised when the Combaticon was found the next cycle half buried in junk inside the garbage disposal unit.
The situation only got worse when the Stunticons returned from Cybertron. With Thundercracker's secret already long out, the gestalt team's lame attempts at honoring a promise vanished in an astro click. Drag Strip and Wildrider revealed themselves as very talented story tellers, exerting no problems unleashing their imagination about all the details they didn't witness.
Fortunately, the High Command handled the situation with considerable more discretion. It was no secret Megatron and Thundercracker had a private conversation after the blue Seeker was released from the repair bay. The details were never revealed, though it must have been on good terms because Thundercracker left the Command Center in one piece, with all the privileges as a member of the Decepticon Aerial Elite. However, Skywarp was sure instructions had been ordered for Soundwave to have Laserbeak or Buzzsaw keep an optic on the reserved Seeker. Any possibility of treason could never be ignored, even less with a mech that had such close bonds with a member of the enemy faction.
Most surprising by far, was Starscream's attitude. His reaction was totally unexpected: none. He continued addressing Thundercracker with the same pretentious superiority used with all of the Seekers under his command, keeping him inside his very limited circle of trust, if such a thing even existed.
Internally, Skywarp thanked him. Animosity toward his Air Commander had never been hidden, but he had to admit the presumptuous jerk could still favorably surprise. Verbal gratitude was out of the question, though. Starscream would've considered it pathetic as well as weak. Skywarp decided the best way to reciprocate was by not making the high strung Seeker the target of his pranks, at least for a while.
Pranks were the last thing in the black Seeker's CPU in that moment, though.
Rumors didn't kill, neither did devious comments. If so, the Decepticon Empire would be no more. Soon new gossip would take lead and Thundercracker's origins would be left in peace.
That solved one of Skywarp's main problems, but not the principal one.
Now, it was his turn to deal with the silence, and that bothered him horribly. Selfishness and authentic concern about his best friend had the black Seeker in a very bad mood. Patience had come to an abrupt end. Beating the living slag out of Swindle had only been a temporary release. The problem had to be resolved immediately.
It had been extremely difficult, but Skywarp understood. Thundercracker needed time alone to think and recover from his loss. With the exception of formalities relating to missions or duties inside the base, both Seekers hadn't talked at all since their return to Earth. All cheerful chatter from before was now a notorious absence within the Nemesis walls.
Solar cycles continued going by, and with them an expected return to normality was announced. However, fate had bizarre ways of functioning; the fact it was unpredictable didn't help whatsoever. Tranquility never guaranteed completeness. But treacherous placidness always guaranteed storms would still endure.
About to finish his night shift at the Command Center, Skywarp received a certain message from Motormaster.
The black Seeker erased it with contempt. He had been so focused on other issues that the deal with the Stunticons had nearly been forgotten.
Time to pay a debt.
"Punching bag…" he muttered, turning off the monitor at his surveillance station.
A little underworld existed in the lower part of the Nemesis base. Under the arsenals, laboratories, work stations, personal quarters and Command Center, a disorganized group of abandoned storage units served as improvised shelters for fun. Bets, high grade energon, bizarre experiments on human beings and clandestine fights flew with freedom. Every Decepticon on the ship had surrendered to such alternate ways in order to give a little something back to a war lasting way too long.
Storage Unit 4-B.
Combat arena by nature and self proclaimed Stunticon territory, it had been the setting of countless friendly fights, many of them with near fatal results.
When Skywarp entered through the wide door, the possibility of never coming out again was seriously considered.
"You are punctual. Good for you," a deep voice boomed within the partial darkness. Hard shadows projected onto the walls and all over the metallic containers scattered on the floor. Few lights came from the external illumination system of the ship, which were eerily lighting the bottom of the terrestrial sea.
Skywarp adapted his optics but it was an unnecessary adjustment. Motormaster emerged from one of the corners of the storage room, his grey figure clearly visible.
As if waiting for the trailer to move, the remaining Stunticons also advanced, stopping behind their leader. Only Dead End remained motionless, leaning beside a window, staring absent-mindedly at the ocean.
"So… how are we going to do this? Any rules?" Skywarp asked with nothing but serious determination reflecting back.
"None, punk. We're going to hit you until we break our hand joints, no big deal," Wildrider replied, optics shinning with malice.
"Am I allowed to defend myself?"
Motormaster's huge hand grabbed Skywarp's neck, lifting him up from the floor as the designated response.
"Definitely not. What part of punching bag didn't you understand?"
A strong spasm over took Skywarp's neck as it was brutally crushed. Fighting back the urgency of wanting to rid himself of the vicious grip, he succeeded in keeping his arms motionless, accepting a punishment that was only starting.
Motormaster smirked, mercilessly throwing his victim backward. Skywarp crashed against a wall, falling onto his knees.
"I see you didn't use your thrusters to avoid falling. You surprise me, Skywarp."
The black Seeker rubbed his sore neck, standing up uneasily. "I'm honoring my part of the deal…"
Encouraged by their leader's attitude, Breakdown, Drag Strip and Wildrider approached, evil grimaces exhibited on their faces.
Violently, Drag Strip held Skywarp by the shoulders and slammed him against the wall. The black Seeker narrowed his optics at the sight of the fist that rose before him.
Concern for his physical appearance took over any fear of being taken offline permanently. "Just… try not to ruin my face…" the Seeker said wearily.
"I'm so sorry, pretty boy, but when we finish nobody will be able to distinguish you from a Quintesson's aft!" Wildrider shouted.
Drag Strip's fist erupted with brutal strength. A strong sound could be heard as it impacted metal. Groaning in frustration, Drag Strip frantically tried shaking his wrists that were being held firmly by his leader's powerful hand then.
"Aaaaarrgh! You promised we'd have some fun with him!" the yellow Stunticon complained.
"We already have. Now, back off you three!" Motormaster ordered, releasing his subordinate.
Skywarp's face couldn't have showed more confusion as he stared at his attackers. "What the slag is the meaning of this?"
The Stunticon leader shrugged his shoulders. "It means we are done. You can go."
"What sort of joke is this? Didn't you slaggers want a punching bag? Well, here I am!" Skywarp cried.
"Are you deaf, fly boy? Take a walk! This is Stunticon territory," was the rude command from Drag Strip. The Tyrell opened and closed his fists, further making his intimidating point known.
"Take your optics off me, punk!" Breakdown shouted furiously, roughly shoving Skywarp.
The Seeker ignored the paranoid Lamborghini. "But…"
"Let's say you owe us a favor," Motormaster said, folding his arms across his chest.
"I'm not good at repaying favors. This could be your only chance…"
Motormaster's face held a strange expression, something Skywarp had never seen before on the normally psychopathic mech.
"You are not as much of a coward as I thought, Seeker. I respect that," the trailer ended, his tone clearly stressing how the discussion was over.
Slightly shaking his head, Skywarp headed slowly toward the exit.
Dead End's reflective voice could be heard as the Seeker exited through the storage unit's threshold. "Do you think Thundercracker gave his creator a proper homecoming?"
Furious footsteps echoed through the corridors of the Nemesis at an hour in which inactivity was the queen.
Skywarp had had enough.
Not only had he respected Thundercracker's privacy for almost thirty damn cycles, but now he also had to carry the humiliating burden of the Stunticon's mercy.
Walking was unbearable too. Skywarp teleported and reappeared outside his wingmate's personal quarters only to be welcomed by the sight of an Autobot insignia adorning the door.
Rumble and Frenzy… The childish lines of the symbol unmasked the culprits of the prank. Skywarp would enjoy crushing both runts later, no matter what kind of problems would arise with Soundwave.
Acid, solvent… Any corrosive agent would have been welcomed that moment, but impatience drove Skywarp to rub the red insignia off with his own finger tips instead. But the painstaking task soon grew tiring. Putting his fist firmly against the door to announce his presence, Skywarp completely forgot the existence of a certain button mounted on the side that served that purpose.
No answer came from inside.
"TC, it's me… let me in," Skywarp said, trying to calm down. He didn't even know exactly why he was so upset.
Skywarp hit the door again, frantically punching the familiar button at the same time.
"Come on, open up!"
Three unanswered attempts were too many. Thirty cycles of respectful privacy ended that same moment. Skywarp teleported inside Thundercracker's quarters.
It was empty.
He wasn't surprised.
Next subspace jump took Skywarp to the Command Center. Ramjet and Dirge were on guard duty.
"Where's Thundercracker?" the black Seeker demanded, still surrounded by the fading purple light from his physical reappearance.
The two Coneheads flinched at the surprising sight. Although seeing Skywarp teleporting was a usual thing, nobody knew when he would do it and who he would choose to scare.
"Recharging, I suppose. What do we care about what he does when he's not on duty?" Dirge disdainfully spat.
Skywarp folded his arms across his chest. "He's not in the base."
Ramjet burst into laughter, elbowing his companion. "Hey, maybe he's with his Autobot buddies!"
Both Conehead's cackles could be heard beyond the frontiers of the Command Center.
"You better shut your trap hole and give me TC's locality, Ramjet!" scowled Skywarp. Punching bag… yes… he could see the attraction now… Ramjet would be a great acquaintance for anger management purposes.
"Don't you dare to give me orders, Skywarp!" was the furious answer.
"My rank is superior to yours! I have all the right! Now obey my command immediately or I will make that cone head of yours even uglier!"
Ramjet stood up, fists clenched and ready. Any excuse to fight was welcomed.
Buzzing from the computer console displayed the requested coordinates on the huge screen. Dirge punched a few commands making a satellite image of a terrestrial landscape appear, surrounded by a code of Cybertronian characters.
"There. Satisfied now?" he said.
Skywarp ignored Dirge, his attention focusing on the energy signature being displayed.
"Raise the launching platform," he ordered.
"Where is your authorization?" Ramjet spat, not ready to give up the possibility of ruining a certain black and purple paintjob.
Skywarp moved too fast. It was unavoidable. The black hand grabbing the Conehead's neck… widened optics staring straight at the laser rifle aimed toward his face.
"Here it is," Skywarp hissed dangerously.
Once again, Dirge decided on exercising prudence. "Launching platform ready," he mumbled.
Stabbing Ramjet one last killer glance, Skywarp walked toward the entrance of the platform.
"Thanks so much for your help, partner!" Ramjet growled once Skywarp was out of his sight.
"Trust me… better not mess with him right now," Dirge uneasily replied.
37°38′N 123°08′W / 37.633, -123.133. The place indicated by the coordinates was not too far away from the Decepticon base, at least not in Cybertronian terms. Some subspace jumps later, Thundercracker's energy signature appeared on Skywarp's radar, the blue F-15 on a steady course but not yet in his sight.
The place they were flying was unknown. A vast amount of small islands resisted the attacks of a furious sea that crashed against their beaches with vicious rage.
The black Seeker made sure his presence was clear; he had no intentions of surprising his wingmate. After flying above for a couple minutes, Skywarp opened the private frequency only him and Thundercracker shared.
"TC!" Skywarp repeated, his voice firm and loud.
There were very few things the black Seeker hated more than being ignored. From his point of view, it was something very close to aggression.
"Would you mind at least acknowledging my presence?" he shouted.
"Leave, Warp," was the cold answer.
Skywarp relaxed somehow at the sound of his wingmate's voice, definitely a good signal. Encouraged by the little success, he increased velocity. Soon the blue and grey F-15 was finally spotted.
"Could you touch down for a moment, TC? I need to talk to you."
Silence returned, as well as Skywarp's increasing distress.
"I really need to talk to you! Descend!"
"What do I have to do for you to leave me alone for a fragging moment?!" Thundercracker roared, honoring his name and shaking Skywarp's commlink with the potency of his voice.
"Landing would be a good start," Skywarp carefully replied. At least he could feel his friend's rage. It was much better than speculating.
"Stay away! Didn't it come to mind if I had any intentions on talking to you I would've done it already?!"
Thundercracker's roughness was nothing Skywarp hadn't expected.
"You know, TC, I don't think your creator would've approved…"
"Don't talk about him as if you had known him, Skywarp! JUST LEAVE ME ALONE! The last thing I need right now is your non requested attempt of consideration!"
"Would it destroy you to stop for a moment and talk to me? I'm trying to understand you, frag it!"
Thundercracker's answer didn't come with words. The grayish sky announcing the night's end shook and exploded violently around Skywarp. Sonic vibrations of different magnitudes confused his orientation sensors, nearly sending him toward the surface of the sea.
A sonic boom.
Had Thundercracker really done it? Launched a sonic boom at him?
"What the slag are you doing?! Have you lost your fragging mind?!" Skywarp cried furiously.
"That was a warning. Next time I won't be that considerate. Leave!"
Engines roaring with anger, Skywarp increased speed, shortening the distance between them considerably.
The sea breeze vibrated Skywarp's wings again but he didn't care. He was more than capable of anticipating the astro seconds preceding another infamous sonic attack. Surprise could be had once, but not twice.
Just as Thundercracker expected, his high intensity sonic boom was received by an empty space. Transforming into his bipedal mode just in time, the blue Seeker saw his wingmate, who instantly reappeared above his head, already transformed.
Skywarp threw the first punch. Sparks jumped as strong metallic sounds were heard throughout sky. Blocking the attack, Thundercracker impacted his fist directly into his wingmate's face. Immediately, a similar answer was given. Pain and fury mixed without order as both Decepticons fought in the air, each one trying to damage the other as much as possible, all traces of friendship forgotten.
Never, in almost nine million years of knowing each other, had the two Seekers fought. Engaging in violent games were mere rough extensions of what Skywarp considered an essential part of being "best friends." But this was completely different. Thundercracker was trying to hurt Skywarp, wanted to hurt him. That painful confirmation came courtesy of a brutal punch that cracked the black Seeker's left optic.
Skywarp cried out in pain. Was that his friend? Had he risked his life and allowed the Stunticons to humiliate him for this?
The hard surface of the beach received both Decepticons in an explosion of water, sand, and pieces of coral reef. Totally absorbed in their combat, none of them even realized the moment they had stopped flying. Sending gravity to the pit had never been the smartest idea.
Both fliers plummeted out of control, half submerged in water, sea foam erupting with every one of their attacks.
Holding Thundercracker's neck, Skywarp shoved him against an enormous rock. Thundercracker shouted furiously as his head smacked the hard surface behind him again and again.
"What's wrong, TC?! Too rough for you, slagging Autobot?!"
The provocation couldn't have been more effective. Thundercracker pushed Skywarp backward with a violent kick, shattering the black Seeker's cockpit into countless pieces.
"Shut up! You don't have the slightest idea what you are talking about!"
"Then why don't you explain to me, then?!" Skywarp scowled back, returning the courtesy and collapsing Thundercracker's cockpit with a brutal hit of his knee.
"You wouldn't understand! You were created as a Seeker but me… Slag! I'm not even an authentic Seeker!" he cried desperately.
Skywarp dodged a punch that had all intentions of shattering his remaining optic.
"Interesting theory. What do you say about giving it a try, brother?" he smirked evilly.
Putting all his strength in his right foot, Skywarp embedded it onto Thundercracker's right wing. Groaning in pain, Thundercracker fell to his knees, his hand on his damaged wing, salt water caressing his chest.
"That was pretty authentic to me!" Skywarp shouted. "Only a real Seeker has that kind of sensitivity on their wings…" Leaning his body against the huge rock behind him, he rested his arms on his legs, air intakes erupting water heavily.
"If you weren't so stubborn you would understand…" Skywarp continued, staring sadly at his knocked down friend. "A Seeker builds himself. Not even Vector Sigma can create such a thing as an authentic Seeker. But that's not why you're so angry. Blaming yourself for what happened to your creator is not the answer, TC…"
No Decepticon online knew of a more horrible idea than not finishing a fallen enemy. That sacred rule was suddenly painfully remembered as Thundercracker quickly stood up and pounced onto Skywarp, his anger renewed.
The brutal strength of the attack was too much. A crunching noise came from the inferior part of Skywarp's right leg an astro second before unbearable pain started burning in his knee joints. The huge rock behind burst into pieces as both Seekers stomped on it, landing roughly on the beach.
Knowing he couldn't resist much, Skywarp's desperation focused entirely on his fists, blindly directing them toward the rage above. Every punch found metal... every hit cementing its purpose of causing damage.
Lost within the blindness of pain and fury, Skywarp saw the shine. Something fell from one of Thundercracker's arm compartments, opened by the violence of the fight. It was a small and round object.
Instinctively, Skywarp grabbed it, realizing at the same time Thundercracker wasn't fighting back anymore. It was all clear now.
Limping backward, Skywarp stared deeply at the Cybertronian puzzle sphere. "I had forgotten about these toys… I never had one, anyway," he said quietly, all anger vanishing.
Thundercracker sat down on the sand. Sparks jumped from open wounds, his face full of small dents.
"They're not built anymore," he replied weakly.
"You know, TC? Next time you want to punish yourself I would appreciate it if you kept me out of the process. If you wanted so much to be aft kicked you should have paid a visit to the Stunticons…"
Skywarp gave an uneasy step ahead as his knee joint finally gave up, bending painfully as the Seeker fell heavily onto the sand.
"Slag you!" Skywarp cursed. "You broke my fragging knee joint!" he shouted. However, the little metal puzzle was still in his grasp.
Thundercracker bowed his head. "I warned you to leave…"
"You should know me better, TC… I wasn't going to."
"I knew you wouldn't…"
Dense silence prevailed for some minutes. Sea waves continued washing against the beach's edge. The water licked both Decepticon's feet as the sun showered them widely. Morning had arrived.
"I melted his body, just as he requested," Thundercracker finally said.
Skywarp nodded slowly, all attention focused on his friend.
"He said you were kind with him, Warp. I thank you for that," Thundercracker continued.
"Kind? I don't think I was kind… I hope you both were able to solve your differences before he…" Skywarp stopped then, cursing himself internally. He would have given anything for a little bit of prudence in that moment.
"We didn't talk too much; there wasn't really much to say. He said…"
Thundercracker's fists clenched, half buried in the sand. He was shaking, and not because of his injures.
"He said he was proud of me," he continued, his voice broken.
Skywarp dragged his battered structure toward his friend and handed him the Cybertronian puzzle. The blue Seeker took it in silence.
"It must be true. A creator knows about those things, I guess…"
"Do you really think so, Warp? Do you think I have something worth being proud of?"
"I don't know… That's a question you should ask yourself, TC. You are asking the wrong mech here."
Thundercracker stared deeply at his wingmate. "You never had a creator, did you?"
Skywarp shrugged his shoulders. "Not that I needed one. I was built by a machine with the only purpose of becoming a warrior. If it weren't for Vector Sigma I wouldn't be nothing more than a fragging dron."
"I was selfish, Warp. I abandoned my creator for so long and somehow... I thought by coming back I would solve everything."
"Well, somehow you did… You shouldn't blame yourself, bro… Besides we are Seekers… we're supposed to be selfish," Skywarp smirked.
"I thought we were supposed to be vain," Thundercracker added pointedly.
Skywarp's smile increased. Mischievous optics glowed brightly. "We are Primus gift to all femmes, especially me."
"I never thanked you… for saving my life."
"Shut up. You would've done the same for me."
Thundercracker nodded. "You bet your aft I would."
"Then gratitude is out of the question. Besides, if beating the slag out of me is your way of thanking me I prefer you keep it to yourself. My left optic is killing me, you fragger!" Skywarp complained covering his face with both hands.
"Well, if somebody was going to crush me it had to be my best friend... Sorry about your optic, though. I know what it feels. One of those slagging Autobots almost blinded me…"
Skywarp uncovered his face, staring seriously at his wingmate. "Is that the reason, TC… you know… why you don't like to kill Autobots? I mean… because somehow you are an Au..."
"I don't enjoy killing, period. It's as simple as that," interrupted Thundercracker.
"But your beliefs…"
"I'm a Decepticon, Warp. I joined the cause by my own decision. Nothing will change that. But that doesn't stop me from questioning some methods or force me to actually hate the Autobots."
"Frag, that's heavy… Better hope Megatron don't catch you saying that crap."
"He already knows. I told him exactly what I told you."
"And you're still functioning? Primus, TC! You're full of surprises!"
"Megatron doesn't give a slag about my origins or opinions as long as my loyalty remains in place. Not all of us follow the cause passionately; neither do some of the Autobots. Maybe when I have a clear understanding about my part in this war then I'll be able to answer your questions."
Skywarp frowned. He didn't know how to feel. Satisfied? Disappointed? He shook his head, exhausted. One thing was for certain: he had had enough for a cycle.
"Let's get back to base… Our shifts start in a few hours and we need to visit the repair bay beforehand," he said trying to stabilize his leg.
"I know. Hook will have a circuit glitch when he sees us in this condition," Thundercracker replied, standing up.
"We can say we were ambushed by the Aerialbots… that's always a good excuse."
"Let's try keeping our dignity this time. Can you fly?"
"Of course I can! You're not that tough, TC… But this damn knee…" Skywarp complained, unable to stand by himself.
"Here, let me help you," Thundercracker offered, supporting his friend's arm over his shoulder.
Both Seekers slowly levitated, getting away from the refreshing marine breeze.
"We have enough altitude. Are you ready to transform?" Thundercracker asked, still carrying his wingmate.
"I think so…"
The blue Seeker let his friend go. Skywarp hesitated but managed to transform into his alt mode. The black F-15 lost some altitude before stabilizing.
Thundercracker transformed as well and both Decepticons started on their way back.
"TC…" Skywarp's voice said through the commlink.
"Your creator… he was right, you know… he had many reasons to feel proud of you."
Thundercracker didn't reply. Sadness hadn't decreased, but for the first time in millions of vorns, he could see the light that finally had a name.
A/N: That was it… Hope all of you enjoyed this long chapter as much as I enjoyed writing it. I leave this fic loving TC and Warp more than I already did. What is it about Transformers that conquer our hearts, not to mention other organs?
If you would be so kind, please leave a review telling your final comments. Thanks again for reading this story :o)
And don't forget to check the sequel, "Deviant", already posted. Look in my profile for more details.