Beware the Fangirls

Kenya Starflight

One moment there was calm, a silver-gray sky muting light and color just slightly and giving everything a somewhat softer cast. The freshly tilled field below was still soft from the earlier rain showers, and the air smelled of fresh, damp dirt. A lone car cruised leisurely down the road that bordered one side of the field, a spattering of spray kicking up from its back tires. Somewhere a pheasant crowed hoarsely, staking out its territory, but apart from that sound and the rapidly vanishing vehicle there was little activity. It was a tranquil spring day, one that didn't promise wind or a thunderstorm or any other excitement...

The next moment the sky was cleaved open with a terrible metallic sound, like a blade striking metal, and a violet flash made the clouds glow with an eerie cast. From the rent in time and space fell two twisting, writhing forms, one gleaming blue and silver, the other black and violet, both winged and strangely metallic. Just as quickly as it flared to life the light faded and the rip sealed itself, but the two castaways remained to hurtle to the ground and slam into the plowed-up field. Clods of dirt sprayed everywhere at the impact, then all went as perfectly still as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.

It was some time later before Thundercracker onlined with a groan and lifted his head out of the dirt, squinting at his surroundings. At first he wasn't unduly alarmed -- coming online flat on the ground and in some amount of pain was a fairly regular occurrence for him. Another day, after all, meant another battle, and another opportunity for the Autobots to hand him his own aft in the scuffle. Why should this one be any different?

"'Warp?" he ventured, hefting himself to his hands and knees. "Wherever you are, you'd better be all right, because I'm going to kill you myself."

He looked to his immediate right... and groaned. Skywarp lay face-down and spread-eagled on the ground close by, face still buried in the mud and smoke and fluids still trickling from a gaping rent in his back. He was still offline, too, and from the look of it would be offline for a good long while yet.

"Fraggit, just my luck," Thundercracker muttered, shoving himself to his feet. Just his luck that Skywarp would get whacked with a missile at the exact moment he was attempting to teleport. Just his luck that the impact would send Skywarp flying right into Thundercracker. Just his luck that in crashing into him, Skywarp had managed to warp both of them and not just himself to wherever they were now.

"Thundercracker to Decepticons, come in! Repeat, Thundercracker to Decepticons, come in!" His radio hails were met with complete static. Great, just slagging great.

Somewhere in the distance a dog began raising a racket, no doubt picking up the two Seekers' scent and reacting to the intrusion on "his" territory. Knowing it would only be a matter of time before the animal's owners investigated, Thundercracker bent down and hefted Skywarp, slinging his fallen wingmate over his shoulders and carrying him away from the barking. It was fairly slow going, as his feet kept sinking into the moist ground below, but it didn't seem wise to attract additional attention by flying away.

When he reached the road, he found himself staring at it awhile, puzzled. This was by far the largest human road he had ever come across. In fact, it almost looked as big as the roads back on Cybertron...

Then another car crested a slight rise off to his left, and it took only a second for him to compare the size of the vehicle with his own size and come to the startling conclusion. Primus, we've shrunk!

The car shot past without even pausing, though the driver did take the time to sound the vehicle's horn at him. He shook his fist at the vehicle before continuing onward, following the road for lack of any other alternatives. He couldn't worry about his sudden change in size for now -- first priority was to find someplace to conceal himself and his wingmate... his increasingly heavy wingmate, fraggit.

Fortune finally smiled upon him when, after half an hour of hoofing it (and being honked at and yelled at by passing humans), he came upon a farmhouse that looked to be currently abandoned, with an array of car parts and other assorted junk cluttering the front yard and what looked like an abandoned barn not far behind. The barn was so old that he was sure a single touch from a full-sized Transformer would send it collapsing in a heap of splinters, but for now it was their best chance at sanctuary. The humans who owned the property could return to the house at any moment, but he doubted they'd bother to check the decaying barn.

Nudging the door open as best he could with his foot, wincing at the screeching hinges, he hauled Skywarp inside and set him down on the concrete floor. His self-repair looked to have taken care of the leakage, but that tear in the metal was still worrying -- who knew what circuitry beneath it could have been damaged? He wasn't a medic or a technician. There wasn't a thing he could do about the wound. He couldn't contact the Decepticons, he had no idea where they were, and they fragging well couldn't remain here for too long before one of those humans he'd passed got it in their heads to contact the Autobots. They needed help, and they needed it fast.

Go out and find a landmark, he finally decided. A city, a monument, something to pinpoint your location. At least then you'll have some idea of where to go from here.

Finding an old canvas tarp among the odds and ends that had been left in the barn, he covered Skywarp up as best he could just in case a human did decide to go nosing around in here. Then he left and proceeded down the road -- again, not wanting to risk flight and attract undue attention.

He didn't get too far before yet another vehicle, a rusty green pickup truck, roared into view, but this one pulled over to the side of the road rather than shooting on past. The driver, an older human male with gray bristles on his face and a grease-stained cap, rolled down the window and addressed Thundercracker.

"You on your way to that convention in town?"

"Excuse me?" repeated Thundercracker.

"That convention. Ain't Halloween for three more months, so you gotta be here for the convention. Town ain't been the same since those dang Trekkies took it over..."

"Uh..." A convention? Something like Comic-Con or Dragon-Con, then. Skywarp had downloaded pictures of both events and laughed hysterically over how willing humans were to make utter fools of themselves in public like that. Thundercracker had just made a note to avoid such locales -- too weird for his tastes. But here he was being mistaken for one of those bizarre humans who frequented such events. Did he really look that much like a fleshling in a costume?

"You lost, kid?" the man asked, sounding a bit impatient.

"No, no," he replied, finally deciding that being mistaken for a human was unappealing, but at least better than being recognized as a Decepticon. "Just walking to the convention is all."

"Long way to walk. You'll be walking all day just to get to town."

"My... uh... car broke down," he lied.

The man considered, then jerked a thumb over his shoulder, no doubt indicating the bed of the pickup. "Hop in. I'm on my way into town, I can drop you off somewhere and you can call for a tow truck. Be faster for you."

"Um, thanks," he replied, and pulled himself into the back of the truck. Charity offered by a human was something new... but then, he supposed it wasn't odd for a human to help another human. This one just didn't realize he was offering help to a Decepticon.

Once the vehicle was back on the road and continuing on its way, presumably toward "town," the driver flipped open the window that separated him from Thundercracker to continue the conversation. "What're you supposed to be dressed as anyhow?"

"Uh..." Slaggit, he could have used Skywarp's imagination right now. "A Decepticon?"


Thundercracker stared at the back of the man's head. "You've never heard of them?"

"Not off the top of my head, but it rings a bell... wait, you're a Transformer, right?"

"That's what some people call them." At least that was the truth.

"Oh yeah," the man replied with a chuckle. "Remember them. My kids watched that show when they were young. Bought all the toys too, but kept on breaking 'em. Finally had to put my foot down and say 'you want 'em so bad, buy 'em yourself.'" He chuckled. "Bet they wish they'd kept some of them in one piece now -- I hear they fetch a nice price on eBay."

Thundercracker just stared. What was he talking about anyhow?

"Town" turned out to be more of a small city than a town, but perhaps the human who'd offered him a lift didn't necessarily make a distinction. As he jumped down from the truck bed and onto the sidewalk, he noted that, despite there being a miniaturized Seeker on their streets, the humans didn't seem at all frightened of him. Oh, some of them looked at him strangely, and more than a few young children pointed or made awed exclamations, but there was none of the panic or antagonism that was typical of humans who had just spotted a Decepticon intruder.

What they don't know won't hurt you, he thought, striking off. But enough of this. Find out where you are and find some way to contact the Decepticons. Then think of how you're going to frag Skywarp for this mess...

"Nice costume."

He turned to find a young human woman admiring his wings, one hand reached up as if she'd been about to touch them. She wore most of her blond-streaked red hair in a ponytail that hung down between her shoulders, and the rest was covered by a black cap that bore the snarky phrase Don't Go Away Mad -- Just Go Away. But what caught his attention the most was her black T-shirt, which was emblazoned with the motto "To Punish and Enslave..." and a brilliant purple Decepticon sigil.

"What?" he demanded, as taken aback by her attempt to touch him as he was by the symbol she bore.

"Sorry," she said sheepishly, lowering her hand. "I was just curious... what's this made of anyway? Most costumes like this are cardboard and stuff, but this is too shiny... did you cover it in foil or something? Or is it that PVC or whatever it is they use for those stormtrooper costumes..." Her voice trailed off as she realized he was staring at the symbol on her chest, and her face shaded to pink. "Hey, my eyes are up here, pal."

"You're Decepticon?" he asked, bringing his optics up to meet her annoyed gaze.

"To the bone," she replied with the slightest smirk, crossing her arms over her chest. "Aren't you? I mean, you must be if you're dressed like Thundercracker, right?"

It was impossible for humans to be Decepticons, of course, but he supposed she could be an agent of some kind. They'd had the aid of humans before in their schemes. Granted, most of those were hypnotized or just plain insane -- Dr. Arkeville came to mind -- but it wasn't too much of a stretch to think that Megatron might recruit spies or lackeys among the humans to help further his plans. It sounded like this one was getting on airs, though, if she fancied herself a true Decepticon just because Megatron permitted her to wear the symbol as an agent.

"Thank Primus, maybe you can help me," he told her. "And for your information, I'm not one of you fleshlings in costume. I'm a true Decepticon Seeker, Thundercracker."

She gave a disbelieving little laugh. "No way. I'm not that stupid..." She reached out to touch him, and before he could recoil from her hand she'd brushed her fingers over his chestplate. Her eyes widened as she felt, not the plastic or foiled cardboard she'd obviously been expecting, but smooth metal. She stared at him, and the longer she stared the more incredulous her expression became.

"Oh my gosh," she breathed.

"Believe me now?" he demanded. "Don't ask me why I've shrunk, I'm not certain of that myself. But you've got to have some kind of means to contact Megatron..."

She didn't appear to have heard him, or if she had she at least gave no indication. Instead she gave a shrill little cry and bounced on the balls of her feet in excitement.

"This is so cool!" she squealed. "A real Transformer, oh my gosh... you have to let me get pictures of you, or an autograph or something! Wow! Hey, you're not busy, are you? I'd love for you to meet my friends, they'd all be so psyched to meet you!"

"I don't have time for..." he began, but obviously she was past listening to him at this point. Grabbing his hand, she dragged him inside the building they were standing in front of, catching his wing in a door at one point. Before he could reorient his CPU enough to protest she had parked him in a chair, given him orders to "stay right there," and taken off.

Put her under the "just plain insane" category, then, he thought disgustedly. Seemed that Megatron's track record with human recruits was as lousy as his track record with Cybertronian recruits.

He scanned his surroundings, trying to puzzle out just where she had taken him. Where he currently sat looked a bit like a lobby of some sort -- probably in a hotel or similar establishment. A harried-looking receptionist behind the desk was giving directions to a group of men in white armor, pointing down a hallway and saying something about "Nova-Con" being just down the hall. A couple of girls with bright pink hair and wearing pleated skirts chatted and giggled near a small indoor fountain, and slumped in a chair close by was a snoring, rather heavyset man in worn-looking jeans and a shirt and hood of homemade chainmail. On a table just in front of him was scattered an array of pamphlets, what looked to be comic books, and a portable computer unit that was open and online, displaying a rotating Decepticon symbol as a screensaver.

A convention. Just my luck. Well, at least there's enough lunatics in costume here that I'll probably go unnoticed. That's one bright spot to this mess, I guess.

The laptop with the Decepticon symbol on it did intrigue him, and after a quick look around to ensure the crazy woman wasn't within view, he slid it closer and began to tinker. Perhaps this was her link to Megatron, her means of communicating with the Decepticon leader and transmitting information to him...

A folder caught his attention fairly quickly -- something labeled "Transformer Fics." Fics? Was that an acronym for something? Curious, he opened the folder and scanned the contents. Text files all, each with the name of some Cybertronian or other as the file name. The Autobot files could be information she had gleaned about the opposing faction, she supposed, but why were there also Decepticon names among them? Was she a double agent, perhaps?

Catching his own name among the file names, he opened the file and prepared to scan the contents. Beneath the title of the document -- or rather, a big notice reading "Currently Untitled" -- was a message in bold text that read WARNING: CONTAINS GRAPHIC SLASH.

What the frag is slash? he wondered. Some kind of new fighting style? And he scrolled down to scan through the text.

"Mrgle." Skywarp activated his optics, struggling blearily to focus them enough to see. How long had he been out of it? Last thing he remembered was sending a barrage of laser fire after Ironhide's aft, then preparing to teleport... and taking that glancing blow from an enemy missile. The rest was rather fuzzy...

"I'm telling you, I just found him like this!"

"He looks so peaceful... let's not wake him up..."

"Shh, I think he's getting up already..."

"Hnngh?" Skywarp focused his optics enough to get a good look at a face... a human face. A female human was kneeling beside him, her cheek pressed to the floor to look into his optics. She smiled when she noticed he'd come online.

"He's awake!" she squealed.

"Not... so... loud," he grumbled, wincing as her joyous cry sent his cranial unit throbbing. He shifted his legs, discovered someone had tried to cover him up with a tarp of some kind, and kicked it away. The wound in his back stung as dust settled into the crack, but at least his diagnostic wasn't showing anything worse than some mild energon loss and a few torn wires in his weapons systems. Hopefully Hook wasn't in too surly a mood...

"He's gorgeous, isn't he?" someone else marveled. "Oh no, he's hurt!"

"We should do something to help him..."

"What, you know Transformer first aid? It's not like we can slap a Band-Aid on it and make it better."

"Well, there's always duct tape," someone suggested, setting off a chorus of giggles.

"Whoorya?" muttered Skywarp, wincing as "who are you?" came out rather garbled. He pushed himself to his knees, rubbing his helm with one hand and pressing the other to the small of his back as he stretched a bit to work out a kink in his spinal strut. The girls cooed and sighed, still staring at him in utter awe. Skywarp stared back, bemused. These were certainly the biggest humans he'd ever seen...

"Mr. Skywarp, sir, will you autograph something for me?" one of them, a petite woman in a long jeans skirt and a Kingdom Hearts T-shirt, pleaded.

"Huh? Oh, sure." He removed his hand from his back and took the marker she offered him. "Whatcha want signed?"

"I dare you to have him sign your bra," giggled another girl, this one with Optimus Prime on her own shirt.

"Okay!" She pulled her shirt up. "You don't mind, do you?"

"Whatever," Skywarp replied, and scrawled a few glyphs onto the garment. He didn't really understand why humans made such a fuss over certain clothing items, but then, the goofy customs of the species were amusing in their own right. One didn't have to understand them to enjoy their absurdity, after all.

"Thanks!" she giggled.

"Will you sign my shirt?" asked a third girl. "And in English please? I can't read Cybertronian."

"Heh, guess Decepticons are pretty popular in these parts," Skywarp grinned, carefully spelling his name out in the humans' symbols on the sleeve of her Homestar Runner T-shirt. "Who's next?"

It didn't take long for Thundercracker to see that the text file contained no useful information whatsoever -- it was some kind of story the girl had concocted regarding himself and Skywarp. And for some-odd reason she had the two of them getting cuddly. He was NOT the cuddly type, and if Skywarp ever attempted to pin him down and kiss him he'd twist the black Seeker's wings into a pretzel...

But very soon it got far worse than cuddly, and despite his shock and disgust he couldn't tear his optics from the story. Holy Primus below, what the FRAG were they doing?

"You okay, dude?"

"Whaa?" He glanced up to see a man in black robes giving him a concerned look through the pale make-up that covered his face and bald head. "You talking to me?"

"Yeah, I'm talking to you. You all right? You look like someone hit you upside the head with a 2 by 4. Mouth was hanging open and everything."

"Uh... I'm okay," he lied. "Just..." Just about to purge a fuel tank on the floor here, thank you very much crossed his CPU, but he opted not to say that aloud. "...reading something."

He quirked a nonexistent eyebrow. "You found the yaoi, didn't you? You have my sympathy, man." He gave a little wave and walked away.

Thundercracker wondered what the frag yaoi was, then decided he really didn't want to know. He looked back at the text file, gave a little shudder, and closed out of it. Someone obviously needed a lesson in basic Cybertronian anatomy -- the last time he'd checked, he didn't have THAT under his pelvic armor...

"See, he's right here! I told you!"

"Ohmygod, it's him!"

"EEK! I could just die!"

"Isn't he gorgeous? I just wanna melt into the floor..."

Hearing the babble of female voices approach, Thundercracker glanced up and scanned the room, wondering who the poor sap was that the girls were about to mob. Probably some poor pretty-boy of a celebrity -- human femmes certainly seemed to flock around them and swoon whenever the object of their affections so much as breathed in their general direction. But the only people in the lobby now were the frazzled receptionist, the still-snoring guy in chainmail, and the rapidly approaching cluster of squealing, giggling females...

With a sickening sinking of his fuel tank he realized the truth -- HE was the poor sap about to be mobbed.

"I told you guys..." the girl in the Decepticon shirt began, then froze when she saw his hands still on the keyboard of her computer. Hurriedly he snapped the unit shut and pushed it away.

"He's reading your fanfics?" gushed another girl, this one wearing one of those ridiculous pleated skirts, a too-tight white top, and a pair of fake cat's ears pinned to her bright blue hair. "You're so lucky! I'd love for Prowl and Jazz to read mine!"

D-Con Girl blushed furiously.

"Are you sure he's not just wearing some super-fancy costume?" asked another girl... at least, he assumed from the voice that this one was female, despite the fact that she was covered head to toe in cardboard and silver contact paper in a crude but recognizable mimicry of Megatron. "I've seen some really good ones..."

"Metal ones?" D-Con Girl demanded, poking his shoulder. "Trust me, this isn't a costume. No one can wear a metal costume without passing out. Besides, look at his face -- and REALLY look."

Megatron Girl bent down and peered closely at Thundercracker, closely enough to make him scoot back as far as the chair would allow. Her own face had been liberally smeared in some kind of gray paint, and her eyebrows had been greatly exaggerated with black makeup of some kind, but all the makeup in the world wouldn't make her suddenly resemble the Decepticon Commander.

"That's not latex," she said finally, her mouth twisting thoughtfully. "Funny... I always thought the face was a solid piece, just flexible. But it's a lot of overlapping plates." She reached out and tapped his cheek with one finger thoughtfully.

"Yes, it's overlapping plates, don't touch," Thundercracker growled, pushing her hand away.

The fourth girl in the little entourage, who would have looked perfectly ordinary were it not for the huge wooden paddle with the infamous word YAOI written on it that she was carrying, gasped in wonder. "Oh wow... I forgot how sexy his voice was..."

"I never liked his voice in the cartoon," Cat-Ear Girl replied. "I always thought of him having a voice like Ewan McGregor..."

"I thought he was supposed to have a Brooklyn accent, not a British one," Megatron Girl replied, now poking at his wing.

"Ow!" Thundercracker yelped, jerking the wing out of her reach. "Don't do that!"

"Ooh, so the wings are as sensitive as the fanfics let on?" purred Paddle Girl, reaching out and running a finger along the red stripe on his other wing.

"Don't touch!" he snarled. "This isn't a petting zoo!"

Unfortunately, none of the girls seemed to hear him. If anything, they took his protests as an invitation. Paddle Girl and Megatron Girl occupied themselves with his wings while D-Con Girl examined his left arm gun in minute detail. Cat-Ear Girl settled for leaning so close to him she was nearly in his lap, stroking the side of his helm.

"You're my favorite Seeker, you know," she cooed. "I always thought Seekers were hot, but you were, like, the hottest of them. I like broody, mysterious guys... and you're so much nicer than the average 'Con, y'know?"

Do you have me mixed up with Dirge or something? thought Thundercracker, pressing back as far as he could in the chair in a vain attempt to get her out of his face. And just because I'm not a fan of picking on the squishies doesn't make me fraggin' NICE... His train of thought ended in a startled yelp, and he nearly leaped out of his seat as fingers traced the leading edge of his wing, one of the most tactile-sensitive areas on any Transformers' body.

"Hands off!" he bellowed, struggling to stand up. "I won't tolerate any more of this... ARGH! Whose hand is that?"

"Depends," giggled D-con girl. "Whose aft is this? You call them afts, right?"

"I call that my personal region, ma'am, now move your hand."

"What's under here anyhow?" she asked, rubbing his skidplate as if he hadn't spoken. "Always wondered what you guys looked like without the armor on..."

"I don't have time for an anatomy lesson!" he snapped. "I have to contact Megatron and get help for Skywarp! He's injured and..."

"Skywarp's here?" squealed Paddle Girl, clutching her YAOI paddle to her chest. "Oh WOW! You two are, like, totally my OTP!"

"They're so cute together, aren't they?" agreed D-con Girl, giving his aft a final pat before drawing away. "I guess 'Warp owns your butt then, huh? So I better not touch, he might get jealous..."

"I don't want to know what the frag you're talking about," Thundercracker replied shortly. "If you can help me get in touch with the Decepticons, do so now. If you can't help me, leave me the slag alone!"

Megatron Girl snorted. "Crabby, isn't he? This is why I like Cybertron Thundercracker better..."

"Cybertron Thundercracker's weird," Cat-Ear Girl complained. "I mean, come on, a cannon for an arm? G1 all the way for me!"

"I sure hope Thundercracker makes it into the new movie," Paddle Girl said eagerly. "Or at least in Animated. They need more Seekers..."

"I just wish they hadn't killed all the Seekers off in the movie," complained D-con Girl. "The animated movie, not the live one."

"They didn't kill the coneheads," Megatron Girl pointed out.

"I meant all the CUTE Seekers," corrected D-con Girl. "Starscream, Thundercracker, Skywarp... I don't care about the rest of them..."

Finally, FINALLY, it dawned on Thundercracker what was going on here. All this talk of movies and animation and fan-stuff... it finally clicked in his CPU and cleared the befuddled fog from his processor. This wasn't his universe at all -- wherever Skywarp's teleporting mishap had taken them, it was somewhere where the Decepticons didn't exist except as purest fiction. These girls didn't take him seriously at all because, in their minds, he was simply a fictional character to idolize and fawn over. They didn't fear him in the least -- for how could you fear something that in your universe was simply considered intellectual property?

Skywarp, I am going to feed you to these girls before I kill you, he vowed.

"So how long are you staying?" asked Cat-Ear Girl eagerly. "If you need a place to recharge, I have space in my apartment." The gleam in her eyes was almost frightening.

"You've got so much manga junk in your apartment I'm surprised you can fit in there, let alone a Seeker," Megatron Girl pointed out.

"Manga isn't junk!" protested Cat-Ear Girl.

"Besides, you're a fine one to talk," Paddle Girl retorted. "You can't take a step in your apartment without stepping on a Transformer toy..."

"So sue me, I like giant robots better than comic books," Megatron Girl grumbled.

"Manga, manga, MANGA!" corrected Cat-Ear Girl. "NOT comic books!"

While the girls continued their debate, Thundercracker edged sideways, away from the chair and the pack of fangirls. While nowhere near as stealthy as Ravage or Mirage, he still did a credible job of slipping away unnoticed. That is, a credible job until his foot caught the laptop cord and yanked the machine off the table and onto the floor with a resounding clatter.

"Hey, my compy!" D-con Girl exclaimed.

"Hey, he's getting away!" Paddle Girl announced.

Thundercracker abandoned stealth entirely and bolted, running full-tilt for the hotel doors. He very nearly didn't make it out, for the doorway wasn't wide enough to accommodate his wingspan, but at the very last second he managed to turn and sprint sideways, though he still clipped the doorframe with enough force to bend his wingtip at a weird angle. Ignoring the shouts and pleas of his fans, he bolted away from the hotel...

...and smack into a crowd of convention-goers who were just about to enter the building.

"Is that... Thundercracker?" gaped a girl in a T-shirt that read T.A.R.P. -- Transfans Against Robot Porn.

"Always thought he'd be a lot taller," said her friend, whose own shirt bore an Autobot symbol.

"Who cares?" stated yet another girl, this one in a costume closely resembling Jazz, and she gave a grin that was almost predatory. "I get dibs on the first picture!"

Thundercracker screamed -- and didn't pause to feel the least bit of shame about it either -- and turned on his heel to bolt. Kicking his thrusters into gear, he leaped into the air and transformed as quickly as possible, not caring if he happened to catch one or more fangirls in his backwash. With an earsplitting roar the blue mini-F-15 blasted away, scattering street trash and his own fans in his wake.

"That. Was. AWESOME," breathed Autobot-Girl.

"This is going on my MySpace," grinned Jazz-Girl, holding up her camera phone and still grinning dementedly.

"I'm keeping this shirt!" Anti-Porn Girl announced, displaying the black smudges from the Seeker's backwash proudly. "It's going on my wall!"

Farther down the street, two older men looked up in startled amazement as Thundercracker screamed past, the wake of his passage tearing the newspaper from one's hand and setting the other's dog barking and straining at his leash. They watched in bemusement as the Seeker pulled sharply upward and made his escape.

"What was that?" asked one, keeping a firm grip on his dog's leash.

"Ah, you see all kinds of weird things when the convention's in town," the other said dismissively, getting up with a grunt and setting off to collect his scattered paper. "Best not to ask too many questions is all."

Thundercracker never heard the exchange -- his entire focus was on getting the slag out of this lunatic asylum that passed as an alternate universe, and at this point he didn't care if he attracted undue attention. At this point he'd prefer properly-sized Autobots or even the human military to yet another fangirl. The derelict barn where he'd left Skywarp had never looked so welcome...

Wait a minute, why were there cars surrounding the barn? And one of them had a very prominently displayed Autobot insignia on the hood! Granted, he was unaware of any Autobot on the planet whose alt form was a white Toyota, but one never knew...

His newfound worst nightmare was realized when he transformed and charged into the barn, arm-guns at the ready. Fangirls were in abundance, and even worse, Skywarp was relishing their attention. At the moment the black-and-violet Seeker was chatting amiably with a young woman as he signed her undergarment while two more fussed over the wound on his back, gently covering it in some sort of silvery material.


"Huh?" He glanced up. "Oh, hey TC, whassup? You've got a twitchy plate in your cheek, did you know that..."

"What the frag are you doing?!"

"Giving autographs, why?"

"TC's here!" someone squealed.

"Of course he is!" came the gleeful reply. "You can't have Skywarp without TC! They're the cutest couple ever!"

"We are NOT a couple!" snarled Thundercracker, storming forward and grabbing Skywarp's arm. "And we are NOT staying here a moment longer! We're LEAVING!"

"Hey, I wasn't done with..." protested Skywarp.

Thundercracker had a job of dragging Skywarp out of the barn, partly because his teammate kept digging in his heels and partly because several fangirls were trying to pull him in the opposite direction. But finally a few blasts of his incendiary rifle at the girls' feet drove them away, and he was able to haul Skywarp out without further delay.

"What's your problem anyhow?" demanded Skywarp. "I finally found some humans who don't hate our internals and you go ballistic!"

"Shut up and transform!"

"Okay, okay, Primus..." He took his own sweet time transforming and joining Thundercracker in the air. The fangirls gathered below cheered and waved, and Skywarp waggled his wings in a goodbye before following his wingmate.

"Nice gals," Skywarp noted. "Maybe we'll come back and visit..."

"Warp us back home, Skywarp," snapped Thundercracker.

"How do you expect me to do that?" Skywarp protested. "We got here by a freak accident..."

"Will you just do it?!" And Thundercracker rammed him in the side.

Skywarp yelped in pain but complied, and the two Seekers vanished in a flare of violet.

"...and funny thing was, the second I teleported, we were back on the battlefield," Skywarp explained as Hook peeled the remains of the duct tape from his shoulders, muttering about crude human materials all the while. "No getting whacked by an Autobot missile needed. Weird. But then, everything about it was weird -- giant humans and everything."

Megatron cupped his chin in his hand as he considered Skywarp's story. "Interesting. Very interesting. A universe where we are revered and adored... this must be investigated further."

"And have all the Decepticons go as crazy as Thundercracker did?" demanded Hook, looking up from Skywarp's wound. "I think not."

"Hey, I didn't come back -- ow! -- crazy, did I?" asked Skywarp, wincing as Hook began resoldering the ripped wiring.

"You were crazy to begin with," Scavenger muttered. "You were immune to it."

Megatron's optics moved from the black Seeker to Thundercracker, who was still curled up in a corner and whimpering something about stepping on fangirls. "He will recover," he said dismissively. "We will continue to keep a close optic on these creatures known as 'fangirls.' Perhaps they may be the key to victory in our battle to eliminate the Autobots."

"Ooh, I'd like to see how the Autobots handle fangirls," chuckled Mixmaster, rubbing his hands together gleefully.

"I dunno, the fangirls Skywarp described seemed pretty attracted to Decepticons," Bonecrusher pointed out. "Would they respond to an Autobot the same way?"

"Fraggit, Sides, why do I let you keep talking me into these things?" snapped Sunstreaker, wiping the mud and gunk he'd accrued from landing in the tilled field off his finish with a scowl.

"How was I supposed to know Wheeljack's doohickey would land us here?" protested Sideswipe. "I thought it was just a new hologram thingy."

"Whatever," huffed Sunstreaker. "Just... fix it."

"Oh, yeah, all I have to do is get us unshrunk, figure out where the slag we are, and get us home. Piece of cake." Sideswipe kicked a clod of dirt, watching it arc away and land with a splat in the middle of the road. "Car's coming. Let's wave it down and ask for directions."