Quick note - this chapter takes place during IDW's Transformers: Devastation.


28. Playing with Kids

Present Day – Tampa, Florida

"You know, Sunshine, I think this might be it," Sideswipe says.

Sunstreaker can't answer. It taking all his energy to block out the cacophony of voices in his head and the sharp pain of them digging around in his processor all at once. Invading. Searching. He can feel them in there, the Others, the Headmasters. They can see everything. They know everything. All his secrets, all his emotions and thoughts and memories brought to the surface for all to see.

And then there's that new one, so small, so helpless.

"This would almost be funny," Sideswipe says. He's crouched down now, next to Sunstreaker's disjointed head, petting the one side that isn't bleeding wires.

Sunstreaker can't remember the human's name. He did. He'd uttered it just a few moments ago. But it's hard to hold on to any one thought for any amount of time. The kid's name is gone. He's jabbering something so Sunstreaker tries to focus.

His mind is drifting. One moment Sideswipe is crouched next to him and the next he's swinging from Thundercracker's back and he says, "Look. See? There's nothing to it." And he unfurls a pair of giant, organic wings and starts to float to the ground.

"…headmasters, they look like you and think like you."

Oh. The kid. Right.

"Yeah," Sunstreaker tries to say but it comes out a guttural buzz.

The kid chatters some more and Sideswipe is looking at him and then back to Sunstreaker.

"Focus, Sunny. This part's important," he says.

"…one more in there?"

What?

Oh.

The kid's got his hand on the switch to that little machine tucked into the wall, the one that makes them, forges the uplink into his processor. Makes them Headmasters. He knows what the kid is asking. He wonders if the kid does.

"Heh. Why not?" he says.

Digging around. The Others are looking, searching. They're tailing two Autobots through Chicago. The little he's seen through the carbon-monkeys makes him think one is Wheeljack. The other, he doesn't know. At least one of the little parasites has been trashed but the Others are closing in.

He wishes the kid had just gone ahead and done what he'd asked and killed him already. He understands, though. This is the kid's only chance of getting out of here and hey, maybe he really will be able to get back, find the others, Prowl, Ratchet, the Prime. Maybe he really will be able to get Sunstreaker out of there, away from the humans, away from Machination. The little slagger managed to survive up until now, despite everything.

"Ah… anything else I should know?" the kid says.

Sunstreaker looks over. Sideswipe is still leaning against him and he can almost feel the pulse of his twin's spark. The poor kid looks scared. He's seen that expression more times on more mechs than he cares to think about. He can at least give this one a fair warning.

"Yeah," he says. "It's painful."

"Oh, great. Now he tells me—"

In an instant Sunstreaker's world turns white and he can hear the kid screaming and he thinks he might be screaming or maybe it's just Sideswipe. Memories… not just his own. They never are. That cautious expression on Sideswipe's face as Sunstreaker led him to the arena that first time. His mother manages through a drunken slur to demand just where in the hell he got that piece of shit van. The first time he saw that grainy photo on the internet and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that there was other life out there and maybe the world wasn't so small and horrible. He was covered in that alien's filthy, organic guts and the look on Synapse's face and he felt, for once, that maybe it was okay to let up once in a while. He taped X-Files every Friday and watched it after his mom had passed out on the couch.

"Sunny!"

He had to go see for himself. He'd gotten a job at that crappy little taco shack and saved up for almost a year to get a car. Lord Megatron stood there and he knelt down on one knee; they called him a monster but he knew that he was nothing compared to the real monster before him. He sat at the computer waiting for the dial-up to connect. He was eight years old and Dad had just brought the computer home for Megan and him to share. Watching that other 'con be ripped apart for his failure and he vowed it would never happen to him.

"Sunny!"

Mom's spaghetti. The cinnamon smell of Christmas and the warm look on Dad's face when he tore into the present and said, "Hey, thanks kiddo." The high grade was a little bitter but it was strong and that was all that mattered. He didn't just look good, he looked perfect. He hated his nose. Carrie had laughed when he'd asked her if she wanted to go see the new sci-fi movie at the Cineplex. He missed Sideswipe. He would rather have his legs ripped off than admit it, but he wished more than anything that his brother was there, stupid grin and all. He was sorry he had left.

"Sunny!"

It had hurt worse than anything, even worse that that time he'd looked up to find Sideswipe standing on the edge of that crater and the horror written on his face. Worse was the humiliation. And the terror. He couldn't move. The humans had him clamped down and he could see the primitive tools lining the wall like some crude torture chamber. And one meat-bag was walking towards him with the welder and he was below his jaw, over his neck, and the pain lit up white hot.

He was screaming. Screaming, screaming. On the ground, the Decepticons around him as Megatron reached for him again and he knew, he knew that he was never going to see his brother again. Saw pieces torn out, saw inner systems lying around him.

The humans ignored his pleading as they cut into his chest panels and pulled and then came the most awful sense of disconnection. Sideswipe stood there holding Sunstreaker's head to his chest and he could feel his brother's pain bleeding through his frame.

Have to get out. Have to get out! Sunstreaker would know!

Hunter. The human's name is Hunter.

The Others scream, too, one by one. He can feel them die and with each flicker comes a small wave of soothing relief.

Hunter's limbs feel weird; they're shifting and it's terrifying. But the other voice, the Sunstreaker-voice knows it's natural.

And it is, for him.

Slow. Too slow. They must be tampering with Sunstreaker.

Discordant. Time doesn't exist. Just pain.

"Sunstreaker!"

Where is Sideswipe? He wants Sideswipe.

Freedom! That big, ugly bug-bastard misses and Hunter plows through the wall and takes off down the open road. It feels really weird moving such a large body. But Hunter will get used to it. He has to. Now if he can just raise one of the Autobots on the communications he knows he must have…

Everything is getting fuzzy. It doesn't hurt much anymore.

A warm frame next to his. A soothing presence. He thinks he'll miss it.

Why is Sideswipe's smile so sad?

THE END


...Not. Here's a preview of what I'm working on next:

Timothy McCarter is having a bad night. It's 3:18 am, he's stuck in a giant, mechanical body traveling through Chicago disguised as a bright yellow Lamborghini, it's been two days since he woke up in a ditch, and some punk in a red sports car has been tailgating for the last three miles.

Anyone know a beta reader with a lot of time to kill and the patience of a saint?

Lookit! I finished a multi-chapter story! I've never done that before.

Oh my god, this story wouldn't have made it without your guys' reviews. I mean that. Every time I started to get discouraged, I read through the stuff you wrote and then got my ass back to work and re-edited the chapters until they were better. The praise was nice (like, really, really nice), but so were the questions and the tidbits that made me realize I'd forgotten something or hadn't made something clear. Those help the most and I thank those of you who spotted them and let me know. Hopefully, this next story will have improved. So thank you very, very much.

I hope to see you in two months or so (the sequel is getting kind of long). It's gonna be rated M, so if you're perusing through the main list about two or three months from now, you might wanna have that checked. Aside from that, I'm working on the next chapter of 'Through Another's Eyes' so that should be up in a week or two.

See ya. ^^

I WILL HAVE IT FINISHED BEFORE THE NEW MOVIE COMES OUT.