This fic is based on something I've always wondered about.

On with the fic.

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It was an ancient practice derived from the brilliant minds of the two of the most skilled warriors known to transformers. It required skill, cunning, bravery and ball bearings to perform. It was a deadly art if executed correctly and fatal to those who were on its receiving end.

"Get off of me you parasitic scraplet!"

"Steer, Sunstreaker, Steer! Wait! I mean away from me! Steer away from me!"

And sometimes it was fatal to those who preformed it as well; so was the practice of Jet judo.

Having almost gotten his head cleaved off by an out of control Thundercracker, no thanks to Sunstreaker, Sideswipe was currently hanging onto Skywarp with a grip that would shame the Jaws of Life. Which was a good idea considering the fact that the jet began to barrel roll in attempt to shake off the unwanted passenger.

"Your driving sucks! I'm revoking your pilot's license later!" Sideswipe hollered at his brother through their private com-line.

"Thanks! I'll file that notice under the not caring section, right below your plan to smother Red's room with peanut butter!" Sunstreaker yelled back, tightening his vice grip on the blue jet's nose as they vanished into a cloud.

"Get off!" Skywarp shrieked as he accelerated in an attempt to lose the large mech (by Autobot standards anyway) hanging off his wings. Sideswipe had no intention to free fall for 40,000 feet so he clung firm.

The jet was getting desperate. The twins were getting better at their jet judo and it was coming to the point it was near impossible to shake them off. In a last ditch attempt to lose Sideswipe, Skywarp did something that had never occurred to him to try in that particular situation.

He teleported.

With a poof, they were gone from the battlefield.

Teleporting was a strange experience. It was a brief second of darkness, and it felt like every atom in one's body was being pulled in different directions by a powerful force. You would be surrounded by a hazy, black chaos, but that would fade to light. The scenery and location would be completely different and all of your atoms would snap back together like a clap of thunder.

If you were not used to it could be a very disorienting experience, and much to Skywarp's delight it had the desired affect. In the woozy daze Sideswipe's grip loosened and the warrior mech slipped off of the black seeker's wings.

Skywarp watched gleefully as the red mech hurdled down toward the Earth. Satisfied with seeing the Autobot plummet to the ground and positive that there was no way that any of his idiotic, Autobot friends would be able to save him from the imminent impact, he teleported himself away to where the rest of the Decepticons were fighting the Autobots.

So, Sideswipe began the 40,000 ft free fall he had been trying to avoid. For a moment his thoughts went blank before finally registering, 'Huh. I'm falling.' That luckily kicked his mind into gear.

He wasn't worried. Most Autobots, save for maybe Tracks or the aerial bots, would've just been screwed in that situation, but Skywarp had made a huge miscalculation regarding Sideswipe.

The red bot revved the engines of his jet pack.

After a split second delay there was an explosion of heat from the mechanism. Warmth from the flames of the thrusters ran down Sideswipe's back and legs and he was propelled forward at an incredible speed. It looked like he was home free.

Not three seconds later there was the sound of metal grinding on metal, and the jet pack began to click and churn in objection to being utilized so soon.

That wasn't supposed to happen.

OK. So now Sideswipe was worried.

It didn't take long for Sideswipe to figure out his folly. He had used it only a few minutes before to its maximum in order to reach Skywarp. It was still overheated from that time. Using the jet pack again so soon was exhausting it of its nonexistent energy.

To his horror it was only a few more seconds later that it began to waver.

Sideswipe was by then 20,000 feet into the air. All the jet pack had to do was last up until he descended to a level that would not cause him to shatter into a million metal shards if he fell.

So it went 15,000 ft, 10,000 ft, 5,000 ft… His trusted jet pack was holding out weakly yet doing the job of keeping him airborne… 2,500 ft, 1,500 ft, 1,000 ft, farther down he went…

Then the engine kicked out.

And since Sideswipe's jet pack forgot not to die he dropped the last 100 feet and went crashing into the earth.

Sideswipe's back protested the rough landing and shrieked an off key duet of rock and jet pack shrapnel. He tumbled through the dirt and rock of the desert until finally coming to a halt and, blessedly, his painful concert of screaming injuries and aching body parts came to a halt. Yet his plight did not go with out an encore.

His jet pack sputtered with a snap, a crackle and "popped" with a small fireworks show before fizzling into the world of the broken and busted. Sideswipe ripped it off his back and stared at the steaming engine aghast.

"Ah come on, don't do this to me!" Sideswipe cried melodramatically attempting to resuscitate the mangled machine with the ever effective 'smack it until it works' method. It gave one last pitiful pop before breaking down completely. Sideswipe mourned solemnly. "You were a great partner in the heat of battle and never failed me. May you rest in piece in the Well of All Sparks little buddy… and say hi to that thing Wheeljack made last week. It was actually pretty cool before it detonated."

With his dead jet pack in tow, Sideswipe straightened to a stand and brushed himself free of dirt and sand. Placing his free hand on his hip he took a look around.

"Looks like we're not in Kansas anymore, Toto," Sideswipe muttered to his lifeless jet pack. "Might as well see where over the rainbow we were tossed off at."

He tried accessing his built in GPS and was received by earsplitting feedback. "OW! What the frick? " he recoiled in shock and pain and shut the malfunctioning system off as fast he physically could. His audios continued to ring long after the horrific noise stopped.

"My navigational system must've been fragged on my landing." He tried accessing his comline but only got white noise. "And my comlink is fried too. Wonderful."

It was time for good old fashion observational skills.

Sideswipe's gaze swept the area. The ground was the same dry, cracked terrain speckled with shrubs as the other place had been. He was still in the great Basin desert that much was certain. Problem was that the desert stretched all the way from California to Utah. He could've been anywhere in that space, not necessarily still in Nevada.

How was he going to get back? Would it be smart to wait until the Autobots traced him? Would they even be able to trace him with all of his navigational and system beacons fragged? Or should he hazard attempting to find his way back himself? He was no Hound, and had minimal tracking skills, but he was sure he'd be able to find the base. How hard could it be?

He scanned the desert. The barren wasteland that was the great basin expanded as far as the optic could see.

But no, that wasn't true. Some 300 yards away he could see the highway. That was always a good start. He jogged over to it quickly, scowling all the while. Every time he stepped on one of the spindly shrub plants their twiggy bodies would get wedged into the grip plating on the bottom of his ped. They crunched unpleasantly and he figured he'd be getting splitters out of those joints for at least a week.

When he reached the highway he stood and stared at it dumbly, looking both ways in indecision. Which way should he go?

Not a moment to soon though he saw something that completely halted all questions regarding how he would get back to the Ark.

Rolling down the cracked, bleached asphalt he could see two familiar vehicles. A red Freightliner Cab-over-engine truck and a black and white Porsche were barreling down the deserted roadway.

Sideswipe's lip components lifted to form a grin. Talk about getting rescued by the Calvary. Now he wouldn't have to navigate his way back to the Ark.

"Optimus? Jazz! Hey, over here!" He called waving his arms, jumping up and down frantically. The two vehicles bypassed him completely and kept on going. Sideswipe stopped his idiotic pantomiming, and for a brief moment was insulted by the fact he was completely ignored. "Where are you going? Wait up!" He called.

The red Lamborghini subspaced his broken jetpack, transformed, revved his engines and sped after the two retreating figures in the distance.

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The Decepticons were gone finally. Unfortunately they had been able to escape with an ample amount of energon cubes from a coal plant.

The Autobots were busy tending to their wounded on the field before they left. There had been a couple of casualties in the fray but they hadn't been severe, and no life had been lost. Cliffjumper had one of his horns broken off via Ravage, Sunstreaker was out cold after being dropped on his head by Thundercracker, and nobody could even get near Windcharger because his magnetic field was fritzing. The poor Bot was covered in half of their group's weaponry already along with other bits and pieces of metal that had been within his proximity.

As the Bot's were patching themselves together Jazz did the headcount to make sure everyone was accounted for.

Everyone was there except for a single, red Lamborghini.

Jazz sighed in minor annoyance. Normally he had no problems with the young bot's antics but he just wanted to get back home. He was missing a monster movie marathon on channel 7.

He activated his comlink and transmitted a message over to Sideswipe. "Hey, Sides. The battle's over. Come out from wherever ya-" He was cut short as the sound of white noise filled the airwaves. Jazz stood in puzzlement before he tried sharpening the frequency. "Sideswipe?" The electrical buzz only got louder. Odd. That had never happened before.

If the 'Bot had just turned his com off there'd be more off a humming sound. The frequency he was receiving was the kind that only happened when the com was broken or the 'Bot was offli-

Oh. Oh, Slag.

He looked frantically around to make sure he hadn't just missed Sideswipe amongst the crowd. He redid the headcount once, twice but to his horror the red mech just wasn't there.

He was beginning to panic. Jazz rarely panicked.

Frantically, Jazz began pacing back and forth past the group of roughed up Autobots in search of any sign of a red Lamborghini. He quickly zipped through the throngs of injured mechs but there was no sign of the MIA red frontline mech.

On his frenzied hunt for Sideswipe Jazz instead found Brawn and Trailbreaker some ways away. The fact that they had both been in the twin's initial squad during the Decepticon raid registered and he quickly made his way through the crowd toward them.

They had probably seen Sides last. Perhaps they knew where the missing twin was.

"Hey, Brawn, Trailbreaker!" He hailed the two as he closed the distance with a few more steps. He tried to keep the tone in his voice even keeled, cool.

"What's up, Jazz?" Brawn greeted.

"Sideswipe was in your group, right? Have either of ya seen him anywhere?" Jazz's voice held the barest of nervous undertones in it.

Brawn blinked in confusion and gave Trailbreaker a questioning look. The defensive strategist shrugged.

"He an' his brother attacked the Decepticon jets. I know Sunstreaker's over there somewhere shortening Ratchet's lifespan or somethin' cuz of that fall, but I haven't seen Sides since," Brawn finally said.

"Yeah. At the beginning of the battle the two just jetted off to antagonize the Seekers. Sideswipe took off all willy-nilly with that jetpack of his and last I saw he was terrorizing Skywarp," Trailbreaker began thoughtfully. "Why? Do you need him for something? Or did he break something? He broke something didn't he?"

Jazz stood in stony silence.

Seekers? Skywarp?

"Uh oh." Jazz tried his comline again and received static once more. He tried talking anyway. "Come on, Sideswipe, this isn't funny! Where are ya?"

No reply. Just the monotonous buzz of white noise.

"Wait. You mean Sideswipe's not here?" Trailbreaker asked in surprise.

"I can't get 'em on the horn," Jazz said, slightly alarmed, as he kept trying to call. "And I can't detect his energy signal in the immediate area." 'Keep it cool jazz. Cool as a cucumber.'

"Did he desert us?" Trailbreaker asked horrified. Jazz shot him a dirty look.

"You stupid? Sideswipe wouldn't go up and leave the Autobot's like that! And he definitely wouldn't just leave his brother behind!"

But if that wasn't the case then it meant Sideswipe was missing.

Brawn was silent, a grim expression on his face "…Do you think the Decepticons-" He quieted and the others shifted uncomfortably.

The three mechs didn't even want to think of that possibility.

"Naw. Sideswipe wouldn't let himself be-"

Jazz was cut off by a deep, fourth voice. "Jazz?"

Brawn and Trailbreaker jumped at the sound, but Jazz calmly looked back to see Optimus Prime standing behind them.

"Hey, Prime," Jazz responded airily.

Their leader was scuffed from the battle and his windshields were cracked but otherwise appeared to be faring well. "Was everyone accounted for in the roll call? How are the troops doing?"

"Pretty good… I guess," Jazz began vaguely. He really hated this part.

"You guess," Prime repeated flatly.

"Weeeell, 'Charger still needs to be demagnetized and everyone's here for th' most part but…" Jazz shifted from foot to foot uncomfortably.

"But what?" Optimus asked with his voice laced with tension.

"We're a mech short." Jazz scratched the back of his head absent-mindedly.

Optimus's optics flashed cold as ice, obviously taken aback. "We're missing someone?"

"Yeah."

"Who?"

No point in hiding it. It would be obvious soon anyways.

"We lost Sideswipe," Jazz blurted quickly.

Those three words gave Optimus a slight start, and a numb feeling washed through his body. He stood quietly for a few seconds but finally he asked, "How… did it happen?"

"We're not sure. He was fighting Skywarp and just like that he was gone," Brawn stated solemnly.

Optimus hunched over somberly but quickly straightened. "Does Sunstreaker know?"

"Not yet. Thundercracker was able to shake ol' Sunny off and he sorta landed on his head. Ratch' says he won't be awake for a while," Jazz grimly explained.

"I see. Was the body recovered?"

Brawn looked at him quizzically. "Err. What, body? There's no body."

Optimus's optics widened. Had the young warrior's body been completely vaporized? How? How?

This was a grim day for the Autobots indeed.

"I… I will inform Sunstreaker of his brother's loss...and the other troops..." The gold warrior was going to be devastated. Ratchet probably wasn't going to fare well with the news either but it was his duty as Prime-

Trailbreaker and Brawn shared a confused look.

"Oh…" understanding suddenly dawned on Jazz. "OH! You think he...No Prime, we didn't mean what it sounded like." ''Least I hope not.'

"Am I missing something, Jazz? You said we lost him in battle."

"No, Optimus. I meant we really lost Sideswipe. We have no idea where he is."

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They had been driving in silence for nearly an hour.

"Guys, please talk to me. Why are you both so quiet?" Sideswipe whined.

The two vehicles rolled on silently.

"Jazz, come on. What did I do? Are you mad at me?" He received no reply.

What had he done to piss the two off to the point they were using the silent treatment on him? And come to think of it, where was every body else?

For the first time in an hour Sideswipe realized just how empty the highway was.

There was no Hound going on and on about some strange desert flora he found, no absent minded Bluestreak chatter, no Gears grumbling about aching joints and fried dermal plates, no Sunstreaker-

Where was Sunstreaker?

"Optimus. Where's my brother?" Sideswipe asked with mild concern.

He received no reply.

"Optimus, no disrespect or anything but where the hell are we going, and why isn't anyone else here?"

Instead of giving a reply the truck turned off on an approaching ramp while the Porsche kept going straight down the highway.

"Err…" Sideswipe, after a split second decision, followed his "leader" down the ramp. "Prime? Where are we going? How come Jazz left? Where's everybody?" The red truck didn't reply and turned again, this time into a truck pit stop.

The truck rolled slowly and came to a halt in one of the double wide parking spaces next to a blue and black semi. Sideswipe parked himself next to the large vehicle as well.

The red Lamborghini noticed that a lot of greasy, rough looking humans were scowling at him. He sort of wanted to scowl back but ignored them instead. "Prime… Why are we here?" he questioned his leader again.

Just then the cab door of the red truck opened and a huge bald man stepped out. He had large bushy eyebrows and a massive dark beard that swallowed half of his face and made Sideswipe question if the man had a mouth. It almost looked like all of the hair on his head may have been transplanted to his face.

He scratched his backside, hocked and spit a logy, and walked toward the small convenience store while digging in the back pocket of his worn jeans in search for crumpled cash.

It didn't take a genius to figure out that that truck was not Optimus Prime, and Sideswipe realized his folly.

"…whoops."

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This is going to be a short story, only one or two more chapters longer. It originally was going to be a one shot but I split it up.

Anyway reviews are loved, cc is appreciated and flames are used for marshmallows.