Disclaimer: Transformers and all related intellectual property belong to Hasboro/Takara and IDW. I own none of them and make nothing from this.

Warning: This fic may contain material unsuitable for some readers. Reader discretion is advised.

Rated T for violence and thematic elements.

Us Against the World

01. Naughty

Present day - Thunderhead Pass, Cybertron

Sideswipe stares down at the communications terminal and finds that he cannot move. Outside, in the courtyard where Leadfoot had died and some mutant freak had almost blown his legs off, Sideswipe can hear the rest of his team packing up. Clanging and scraping, someone shouting to "get that beam secured before the whole slagging pile comes down!"

None of this matters. The only thing that does, the only thing he sees is the floating glyphs of a message flagged from Optimus Prime. He has read it three times now and still can't quite comprehend it. The words themselves are simple enough: "Take your team to Garrus-9." Easy enough for a protoform to understand. But he stands there and stares and reads it again.

Something is wrong.

Garrus-9 is not Earth. It's nowhere near Earth. It's not even a quick detour on the way to Earth. It's actually about two wormhole jumps in the opposite direction.

Sideswipe checks the marker again, re-reading what he already knows. It is from Prime. It matches all the right Autobot encryption codes, so it's probably not a Decepticon forgery. He wishes it were.

You have to do something.

He wants to sit down. He'd had a feeling something was up even before the voice had started talking to him. Everyone dismissed it as a glitch in his programming, blamed it on his being a twin, blamed it on Sunstreaker. There was some truth to that, but not in the way that Hound and Warpath and Skram thought.

Sunny had been missing for two orns, kidnapped by the flesh-bag species on some mud-ball they called "Earth." Optimus Prime—through Hound—had assured Sideswipe that they were doing everything they could to find Sunny and bring him back, that Sideswipe needed to stay with his unit, that they wouldn't stop until his brother had been found. But Sideswipe knew, he knew that it wasn't true. And so he'd waited until Skram had been called away from his post by the Communications Center and slipped in and hacked the database.

You're out of time.

They were abandoning Sunstreaker.

He feels cold. It's an odd kind of cold, not something he picks up on his sensors. It's internal. He lifts a hand to exit out of the program and wonders for a moment why his fingers are so sluggish. The outside clamor is muted and if he listens carefully, he can swear that there's some kind of buzzing noise, light, distant. He knows that sound. He's heard it twice before.

He pulls himself away from the terminal and the world snaps back into focus. Skram is still helping Warpath load a crate onto one of the repulsor lifts. They'll be finished within a joor or two. Jetfire and his team are inside the makeshift prison, setting up their own equipment with Hound. His team's ship is on the far side of the base. He'd have to get past Warpath and Skram to get to it and he knows that they'll wonder why he's away from his own post. They'll contact Hound. Jetfire's ship is much closer and, as far as Sideswipe can tell, the only mech onboard is the pilot.

No one sees him slip out and around the side of the building. No one sees the extra struts and plating slide down over his arms, forming his best weapon. No one but Sunny, anyway. But Sunny stays quiet, content to walk along beside him as Sideswipe heads up the ramp and into the other ship.