Disclaimer: I don't own the Lamborghini twins or Transformers, they just popped by for a visit.
Flames to Dust
I guess they were happy that it ended the way it did. I can't imagine the thrill they must have felt, the exhilaration of it all. The simple joy of riding a jet, feeling the wind rushing up to meet you as you cling to something that wasn't meant to be clung to. And the fall, the terribly graceful fall. They soared through the air, they really, truly soared beneath the clouds as they fell, and somehow, it was perfect.
Of course, I doubt that anyone agreed with me. No one spoke as Ratchet knelt beside them silently, and finally turned away to duck his head. I saw the tears streaming down from his optics, and I knew they were gone. Our Lamborghini twins were gone.
Jazz gripped my hand tightly as tiny, crystalline tears trickled out from beneath his visor. I struggled to keep my own tears in check as I looked down at the two still frames. Energon still flowed from their cuts and pooled in the sand beneath them, painting it a shimmering blue.
Ratchet finally closed their optics, doing so with a gentleness he rarely showed in his med bay. I'm glad he did, I don't think I could have looked at them any longer. Optics that were once so full of life, were now blank and empty. It scared me.
Still, no one spoke. We just looked with a morbid fascination at the bodies of the twins. It just didn't seem possible, wasn't conceivable, that they were gone. They were always the first into battle, first to launch themselves into the thick of it. One, efficient and unfeeling, the other, deceptive and ambidextrous. They had lived with the war their entire lives, and it had killed them.
We scattered their ashes to the wind, and they finally flew. They spiraled through the air like a long, coiling ribbon before being whipped away into the clouds. We all watched for a moment, and on some unspoken accord, turned away.
The walk back home was a silent one as we mourned them, the wind had died down and we were left with nothing but the sound of our feet crunching in the leaves. It seemed deafening to my audios, and I suddenly wished that I was smaller so that I didn't make as much noise. It didn't seem right to be crunching through leaves after saying our final good-byes to them.
I knew what came next, and I dreaded it. We would have to clean out their room, empty it so that it could be used for something else. I don't think that it will ever be possible, to not think of it as their space. The reminders were everywhere. Dings in the wall from their fistfights, the bunk bed that was forever welded to the wall, the loose floor panel that I knew concealed their stash of high grade. I had pretended, all these years, to be oblivious to it. It was against protocol of course, but I couldn't bring myself to expose it for fear of lowering the troops overall morale. All of this aside, I found myself sitting on the ground beside Jazz in their room, pulling boxes out from under the bed. One contained sketchbooks, another, art supplies and a collapsible easel. These, I knew, belonged to Sunstreaker. Few knew that he harbored a secret talent for the arts, and had the war not swept him into battle, would have belonged to the top artistic elite. I sighed softly before pushing these aside and reaching for the next box. This one held Sideswipe's prank tools, and what a vast arsenal it was. Paintballs and their matching gun, a large supply of clear fishing line, cans of flamboyant paint, the works. We rifled through box after box, pulling out human movies, cans of yellow and red paint, game chips and a whole bin filled with car magazines. My spark clenched tightly as we worked, and I'm glad that there was no need for conversation.
We stacked the boxes against a wall before moving on to the hidden compartment in the floor. Jazz sat in silence beside me as I pried the floor panel away from the others. Cubes of glowing high grade were carefully lined up in neat rows, projecting a dim glow around themselves. These we placed alongside the boxes, ending up with a surprising amount of cubes. I had begun to push the panel back into place when Jazz stopped me, pulling it to the side and re-exposing the now empty space. With his fingers curled in a loose fist, he tapped the bottom of the cavity and was rewarded with a rather loud sound. It echoed eerily in the silence, ricocheting of the metal walls. But the sound itself was what mattered. It was…hollow.
With cautious movements, Jazz fingered the edges of the recess before finding a small gap and poking a finger through. In a swift motion, he pulled the false bottom away and uncovered a second cache. This one was smaller, and held only a single disk case. With a shaking hand, Jazz lifted the small case out of its hiding spot and held it gently in both hands. He opened it slowly to find a handwritten note sitting on top of a video disk.
Watch this with everyone.
The perfect iaconian calligraphy was distinctly Sunstreaker. Jazz looked up at me, and together, we left for the lounge.
In a few short minutes, we had the force assembled in front of the vidscreen, crowded onto the couches and armrests. Jazz slid the disk into the video player and joined me on the couch. At first, we saw only a large amount of red as Sideswipe fiddled with the recording device. A moment later, he was sitting beside his brother on the bottom bunk in their room.
"Hey guys!" said the red twin, waving at us from the screen. I heard Bumblebee hiccup slightly from the crowd, and felt my own spark tighten at the sight of a still-alive Sideswipe. One of his arms was cabled tightly against his chest, wrapped in a layer of thin black metal. His twin sat beside him, a long gash marring one perfect cheek. Fresh weld scars crisscrossed on his upper body, the paint around them discolored from the heat. This must have been recorded after the skirmish at the power plant, two months ago.
"If you're watching this, we've finally done something stupid and gotten ourselves clobbered by the decepticons." He continued, scratching idly at the cables on his arm. I heard a few mechs around the room take in shuddering breaths, and wondered how exactly Sideswipe could be so bluntly honest about his own death.
"We figured that we couldn't just leave without saying good-bye to you guys, so here we are, talkin' to a camera. We wanted to say something to every one of you, but that'd take hours, so we picked three."
Here, he paused and whispered something to his brother, who shrugged and coughed before looking sullenly at the ground.
"Alright. Prowl man, we're sorry for all the shit we put you through. You didn't deserve most of it, an' we probably gave you a whole lot of head ache over the stuff we pulled. Thanks for puttin' up with us all these years, not everyone's got so much patience."
I was frozen on the spot beside Jazz, my intakes constricting painfully. I could feel the gazes of the mechs around me, watching as I looked away. The feeling of being observed didn't last long, because Sideswipe spoke up again.
"Optimus, thanks for keepin' us around even though we were probably more trouble then we were worth. We've always respected you, even when we were mouthin' back at ya in your office. I know you wanted to kill us sometimes, and we thank you for stickin' by us."
Another pause as Sideswipe cleared his throat and let his words sink in.
"Ratchet, thanks for putting us back together so often. Sure you deny it, but man ya made miracles in that med bay of yours. You're probably beatin' yourself up right now, cause we've finally gotten slagged so bad that you can't fix us up. Don't feel bad, it's not your fault. We've all gotta go sometime, and it was just our turn to head on up to the Matrix. Sunny and I couldn't have asked for a better medic."
Complete silence reigned as I spotted Ratchet across the room. He stood behind one of the sofa's, one hand holding the backrest in a death grip. Despite the epithets he hollered and the tools he launched, Ratchet cared deeply for his patients and I suspect he had a soft spot for the twins. Prime, who stood beside him, placed a comforting hand on his shoulder and squeezed once, releasing some of the tension in the medic's frame.
I turned my attention back to the screen and saw that Sunstreaker had finally turned to face the camera. His arctic blue optics were strangely calm as he stared, seemingly straight at me through the camera.
"There's a few things on the Ark that we left for you guys." He said, his voice hoarse from the repairs. "Sides' book is mixed in with my sketchbooks, every prank that we've pulled since we landed on earth is recorded there."
He paused, reaching under the bed to pull out the box we'd just rifled through. Selecting one of the books, he opened it in front of the camera to show a notebook hidden inside the false cover.
"My art stuff is all in room B23, it's the room assigned to Sideswipe. No one ever bothered to change the assignment when we decided to bunk in here. You can empty it out, do whatever you want with the art supplies and canvases."
Sideswipe took over, grinning his fox-like grin as he spoke. "The wrench we stole from Ratchet last year is wedged between the top bunk in here and the wall, it's been there all this time. Prowl's missing datapad is in his office, taped under the desk, along with the king from his chess set."
My jaw dropped at this as I fought the urge to rush to my office. I'd nearly turned the whole Ark upside down looking for that king, it was currently replaced a chunk of twisted metal from Wheeljack's lab. Across the room, Ratchet was swearing under his breath, probably cursing the twin Lamborghini's to Cybertron and back.
"What else…uh, there's a bunch of high-grade stashed in the east gun turret, you'll have to send a flier up there and pull the laser gun out of its cranny to reach it. Might as well send a minibot up too, it'll be pretty hard to get at. I think there's another few dozen cubes in the training bay, if you yank the wall panel out from behind the weight-rack you'll find 'em."
Sunstreaker joined his twin then, the pair speaking in unison as they stared out at us from the screen.
"That's about it guys, this is our last good-bye. We'll see you all in the Matrix, till all are one."