Chapter Title: Duck, Duck, Goose
Characters: Skywarp, Starscream, Thundercracker
Chapter rating: PG for potty humor
Chapter summary: Skywarp learns a valuable lesson about organics...just a little too late. Takes place shortly after the events of Revenge of the Fallen.
Author's Note: Due to 's continued fuckery with formatting, I won't be uploading any new stories here. (I will be updating stories that have already been posted.) You can find all of my stories at Archive of Our Own (/users/Kookaburra). Thank you to everyone who reviewed the first chapter, I hope this one is amusing as well. :)
"Slaggit, 'Warp, watch it!"
Thundercracker's warning growl crackled across the comm as Skywarp dove down once again through his and Starscream's formation, forcing the other two jets to scramble in order to avoid a collision.
Skywarp's laughter was his only response. The other seeker was having too much fun! Even though these silly Earth forms that Starscream had insisted they scan were clumsy compared to their normal Cybertronian modes, they were still capable of a satisfactory amount of aerial feats. It had been so long since Skywarp had flown on a world with such a thick atmosphere, and the sensation of air rushing over his wings and ailerons was amazingly satisfying.
He dove again through the cloud cover, breaking through the bottom. Tall spiky, dark green trees stretched out below him, unbroken by human settlement. Starscream had chosen the boreal forest of the Siberian Plateau for their landing site, due to its sparse human population. Pity, Skywarp could have done with some fun. He was still a bit put off about Starscream's insistence that they all have matching gray paintjobs. Skywarp missed his beautiful purple and black markings, but Starscream said that without them, these "humans" wouldn't be able to tell them from their own machines.
Humans must be really stupid, thought Skywarp as he surged back up through the clouds, homing in on his trine-mates' energy signals. Imagine not being able to pick out our EM frequencies from their own dumb vehicles.
As Skywarp broke through the clouds to take his place in the trine's formation, he executed a neat roll for the sheer joy of it. Both he and Thundercracker had felt out of balance while separated from Starscream, and even though they were now on this odd little ball of rock and dirt for the indefinite future, things were much more satisfactory than they had been for a long time. And if they handled things correctly, the Decepticons could have victory over the Autobots under Starscream's command. That would be certain to cement their trine at the top of the Decepticon hierarchy.
"Settle down, Skywarp," Starscream admonished him as he slid back into place. "You should familiarize yourself with your new alt mode before trying more acrobatics."
"Aw, Starscream," said Skywarp petulantly. "We've been space-locked for iages/i, why can't we stretch our new wings? You said yourself that there are no humans around to see us."
There was a frustrated noise from Starscream. "All right, Skywarp. We'll fly towards the magnetic pole for a few more kliks, and then we'll work on some more...challenging maneuvers."
Skywarp couldn't keep a small trill of excitement from his vocalizer. He could feel amusement from the other two filtering down their trine-bond. He decided to ignore it. Besides, the photons that this system's yellow star gave off felt warm and soothing on his wings. He hoped they stayed here for a bit after defeating the Autobots and the pathetic groundcrawlers that inhabited this planet. Skywarp's spark had been taken from the Allspark shortly before the war had broken out, so his only memories of their people's true home was of a war-scarred, barren world, wandering without a star of its own. This one, as dirty and slimy as it was, was much more colorful and interesting to him.
After a few breems of uneventful flying, Starscream sent a playful ping to their comms. He peeled off from their formation with a graceful banking turn, clearly inviting them to follow. Thundercracker mimicked Starscream's maneuver perfectly, then Skywarp fell in behind, but he couldn't resist an extra swoop before taking up his place in the rear.
"Skywarp- you're supposed to be copying me exactly. If you can't, how am I supposed to know when you've mastered flying in your new form?" Starscream said.
"Well, maybe if you had flying that was actually worth copying..." Skywarp retorted.
"Oh, really?" Suddenly Starscream rolled sideways, ending up upside down. Thundercracker and Skywarp followed again. Before Skywarp could tease Starscream again about these simple maneuvers, Starscream's turbines shrieked and he sped off across the sky.
The trio of jets danced across the sky with Starscream in the lead, zipping around and over clouds, looping, twisting, and turning to their spark's delight. Skywarp found all of his processor consumed with trying to follow Starscream. His trine-leader's aerial acrobatics were less showy and dramatic than what he liked to do, but the tight and precise figures Starscream traced out stretched Skywarp's skills to the limit.
Finally, Starscream pulled almost straight up, with Thundercracker right on his tail. Skywarp had been preparing for Starscream to do another inverted switchback, and was taken by surprise. He shot beneath the other two members of his trine, overcorrected, and found himself tumbling through the sky. He managed to right himself with a minimum of fuss, and flew back to where Starscream and Thundercracker were now cruising at a high altitude, as if nothing had happened. Once again, the echoes of their amusement at him filtered through the bond. Skywarp didn't bother blocking his annoyance at it this time.
"You need to stop anticipating, Skywarp," Thundercracker said mildly when Skywarp came back into formation. "That's how the obnoxious red loudmouth singed your tail flap on Charr."
"It's true, Skywarp." Skywarp became even more annoyed at the patronizing tone his trinemates used when imparting wisdom to their youngest team member. "The creatures that inhabit this planet are annoyingly unpredictable. Never assume that they will take the logical option in any encounter."
Skywarp spun his turbines in disgust, and remained silent. But he had an incorrigible personality and soon he was bored with their business like flying. Not even a course change to break up the monotony. He could sense transmissions between Thundercracker and Starscream, and had a sneaking suspicion they were talking about him. It was time to mix things up and make the trip more interesting.
He studied the curious markings on Thundercracker's wings. Starscream had said they were emblems of another nation's air military, across one of the oceans. The five pointed symbol was supposed to represent a star, but Skywarp didn't think it looked anything like one.
More evidence that humans are stupid.
He surreptitiously sidled closer and closer to Thundercracker. Then when he was sure of his target, he shot forward, tapped his nosecone against the marking and darted away. Thundercracker was thrown off balance, and had to transform in mid air to avoid colliding with Starscream, who banked to the side to avoid a tangle up. Skywarp ignored the others' transmitted curses and threats, laughing to himself at the mischief he had caused. He looped around a large column of clouds, and approached from the rear as Thundercracker and Starscream were just collecting themselves.
Now he targeted Starscream. Specifically the human writing on his tail fins. He had a longer run up, but managed to come in from the side and peg Starscream's aileron hard enough to knock him aft-over-nosecone. An incoherent roar of rage erupted from his leader, but all Skywarp could do was laugh as Starscream and Thundercracker gave chase.
"Come back here, you little slagger!" Thundercracker commed.
"You can't catch me, you're obsolete hardware!" Skywarp teased, taking refuge in a cloud bank. Despite their words of anger, Skywarp could feel their pleasure in playing these sky-games with their restored trine.
"Skywarp, you've dented my tail!" Starscream called. "Come back so I can return the favor!"
Skywarp shot up from the cloud, slipping between Thundercracker and Starscream. His turbines screamed, as he shot towards the upper atmosphere. Starscream and Thundercracker were hot on his tail, so he crested the climb, and once again dropped back down towards the Earth. He led them on a dizzying chase among the clouds, enjoying using the puffy billows of condensed moisture for cover. He knew Thundercracker hated getting condensation on his armor, so of course Skywarp took every opportunity to lead them through clouds.
But eventually he realized he was being herded. Starscream had managed to get above him and was slowly forcing him to lose altitude...and where was Thundercracker? A quick check of his proximity sensors made him curse. He tried to roll sideways, but it was already too late. Thundercracker overtook him from behind and gave him a dent matching Starscream's on one of his tailfins. Skywarp could hear Thundercracker laughing as he tumbled through the air. Starscream then followed up with a low level null-ray blast to Skywarp's wing. It wasn't enough to hurt, but the whole appendage immediately went numb. Skywarp sent a curse-filled transmission to his wing-mates as he lost his fine control systems and his flight became erratic. He weaved through the air as if he was over-charged.
"Won't you ever learn when you're outclassed, Skywarp?" Starscream said smugly. Skywarp's sensors told him that his trine leader was preparing another null ray blast, one that targeted his other wing.
"Won't you ever learn not to give yourself away, Starscream?" Skywarp retorted. He cut his engines and dove almost straight down through the clouds.
Once in the low lying cloud cover, Skywarp continued to dive. He would go down, skim the treetops, then warp back and take his team completely by surprise! Yes, that was what he would do it would be fantastic-
Skywarp's engines choked on something soft and squishy. Warning after warning flashed on his HUD, and he lost all control. He experienced a moment of panic when he felt his turbines were completely clogged with the stuff. What could it be? Some weird atmospheric phenomenon? Then there were more thumps and splats, and his sensors and radar became completely covered with the residue of whatever was striking him. Another squishy thing was pulled into a turbine, and Skywarp's dive turned into a true fall.
He plummeted through the underside of the cloud cover. He had been concentrating on surprising his team so much that he hadn't paid any attention to his altimeter. He was low...much too low! There was no time to angle up or even transform, the trees were getting bigger and bigger as he hurtled towards the earth.
But wait! There was a large lake up ahead. Skywarp pushed his hydraulics to the limits of their tolerances, willing his flaps to steer his alt mode towards the water, where he could at least ditch without hitting trees. He was going to make it, he was-
-not going to make it. A huge spiky green plant was in his flight path, between him and the water, and his angle of approach was too steep to avoid hitting it and still make the lake. His only hope was to transform and hope that his less aerodynamic form would slow his descent.
Aw, slag, this is going to hurt...
"...planet is disgusting, Starscream. Let's leave the 'Bots to it." Thundercracker's voice floated into Skywarp's CPU as his reboot sequence finished. He could feel digits poking about in his internals, and cold liquid sloshing around his chassis. As more sensor reports came flooding in, he realized that his engines were still offline, and choked with organic matter.
"I told you before, Thundercracker. We have to make a show of punishing the traitors and avenging the Fallen. Or at least Megatron has to. If he wins, we win. If he falls, I'll be poised to-" One of Starscream's hands yanked at something, and the slippery-slidey organic feeling of something long and stringy being pulled out from his internals made Skywarp jerk and groan in disgust.
"Well, look who finally decided to join the online and functioning!" Thundercracker said. "Now you can pick this stuff out of yourself. Oh, and you're sinking, by the way. Fantastic choice to crash in, a bog."
Skywarp turned his optics on. Both Starscream and Thundercracker were hovering over him, and there appeared to be lots of...white and brown fluffy things in the air and on the ground and...all over him. He sat up. Thundercracker was right, he was indeed sinking into the ground. It was disgustingly soft and mushy, just like everything else on this planet. And now his gray paint was streaked and smeared with more organic matter. It would be ages before he got it out of his internals.
Starscream reached out and grabbed another bit of organic matter with some fluff still clinging to it, and threw it away.
"I thought you said that there wasn't anything to worry about this far north, Starscream?" Skywarp spun his turbine, ejecting more greasy organic filth.
"There are no sapient organics. Or at least, not many."
"What is this?" Thundercracker grabbed a trailing string of gristle and pulled it out from under Skywarp's plating. Skywarp shivered as it slid out from between his gears.
"A lower lifeform. They give human machines quite a bit of trouble as well, so don't worry, Skywarp, you've got that bit of the disguise down perfectly."
"His dedication is astonishing."
"It's a good thing we have our own field frequency or I wouldn't be able to tell him from the sparkless drones that serve the humans."
Skywarp opened his mouth to retort, but he was interrupted by a low, menacing hiss. Three pairs of optics turned to look at the ground.
A small brown goose, with plumage matching the feathers still stuck to Skywarp's plating, walked slowly towards them, neck raised and wings outstretched.
Skywarp scrambled backwards as the goose lowered its head and took a few running strides towards the trine. The hissing increased in volume. How can such a little thing make such a loud noise?
"Some Decepticon warrior!" laughed Starscream. "Are you afraid it's going to throw itself down your turbines?"
"If you're so -umf- brave," said Skywarp, tripping and sliding in the mud as he scrambled to his pedes, "you kill it. I'm getting out of here."
Starscream aimed his cannon at the hissing goose. For a long moment, neither moved, Starscream staring down the barrel, the goose, feathers puffed out and wings upraised, before it finally took another step forward and let out an audio-shorting HONK.
The cannon barrel lowered.
"Disgusting organic – it isn't worth the energy it would take to vaporize it." Starscream raised one pede, holding it over the goose's head. "This is for having the bad taste to live on this miserable dirt ball." The goose continued to hiss, and flapped its wings several times, refusing to back down.
"Uh, Starscream." Thundercracker tapped Starscream on the shoulder.
Thundercracker pointed to the pond.
Several thousand of the horrid mud-gray creatures stared back at them. Skywarp let out a quiet noise of distress and backed up a few steps. The geese were utterly silent, swimming forward towards the intruders calmly yet inexorably.
Starscream lowered his pede, avoiding the goose and stepping back.
Skywarp couldn't take it anymore. The dead black eyes, the utter silence, the knowledge of how disgustingly greasy the innards were when they were sucked into his engines, he just couldn't take it.
"What do you want?" he yelled, his words echoing over the pond. "Go away! Go away!" With a primal war cry, he transformed his armblaster and fired a shot directly into the middle of flock.
The deafening roar of a thousand pairs of powerful wings taking to the air broke the silence of the pond, the honking of the geese taking flight almost drowned out Starscream yelling at him for wasting a blaster shot. But Skywarp didn't care – those dreadful creatures were fleeing in fear instead of staring at them, like they were supposed to, and now he could get back to-
Starscream stopped in mid-harangue as a long smear of white appeared on his shoulder plating. All three looked up at the flock above them before immediately thinking better of it, but it was too late.
More tiny white drops rained down on them, speckling their plating in a matter of moments.
Starscream said nothing, only staring at Skywarp in silence until the last goose had cleared the sky, and the pond was deserted. Oh, slag, this stuff is lime. It's going to eat right through our paint.
The angry screech echoed across the pond and through the trees, scaring every creature into stillness. A white-fronted goose, too heavy with eggs to fly, watched from reeds at the pond's edge as the three intruders stomped off through the mud.
"…Why are we fighting over this planet again, Starscream?"
"Mute it, Skywarp."