Swindle & Wasp - The Difficulty in Finding what They Call "Beautiful"
Chapter 1

Swindle hummed an idle tune as he walked, scanner in servo, keeping a careful eye out for any hidden treasures he could sell. According to the scanner, there was something nearby emitting an energy signal, and currently he was scouting around in the hopes that it could be something he would be able to get a pretty nice price for.

The scanner began to beep loudly then, alerting him to the presence of an object nearby. Swindle smirked, and headed in the direction the device indicated to investigate.

He peered over the grounded meteorite between himself and the object, but as he did his expression fell, for the sight that greeted him there was not something one would call 'treasure' by any means, even by Swindle's standards. Instead, there sat a strange creature, huddled against itself, murmuring nonsense incessantly.

"What in the slag?" Swindle asked aloud.

Reacting to the sound of his vocal, the strange creature looked up, showing its unusual violet optics. It blinked, a look of confusion on its faceplate.

"Who are you?" It asked nervously. "What you want with Wasp?"

Swindle looked it up and down, taking a moment to consider just what the odd thing was before answering it. It had the energy signature of a Cybertronian, an Autobot, to be precise, but it spoke like a much more primitive life form and carried itself in an unusual manner.

Well, it didn't matter. He was sure he could benefit from the meeting somehow.

"So, is Wasp your name?" Swindle asked, in a sly effort to look at friendly as possible.

"Yes, that is Wasp name," The creature answered. "But who are you?"

Swindle walked around the meteorite and stood before Wasp to introduce himself. "I am Swindle, just a simple trader on my way back from Earth." He said, with a pleasant bow. "And you, Wasp. Where do you come from?"

Wasp shied back and hissed at the intruder. "Wasp come from nowhere," He snapped. "Wasp nobody. Swindle-bot go 'way, leave him alone!"

Well, Wasp certainly did not want company. And he probably did not have anything valuable unless it was small, round, and shiny, Swindle guessed irritably. But maybe someone would want Wasp himself, perhaps for a pet, slave, or experiment.

He was a handsome-looking creature, after all, even if he was more than a little strange. Perhaps, Swindle decided, if he could get Wasp to trust him just enough for him to be able to get him back to his ship, he could clean him up and find him a buyer. He could at least make a little cash off of him, if not much.

"Say, Wasp," He purred. "If you have no place to go, why don't you come along with me? You look so hungry... I have some food with me, and a nice, warm place to recharge, too."

Wasp hissed, louder, and backed away. "N-no," He growled. "Wasp not want to go with strange Swindle-bot. Go 'way, leave him alone!"

Swindle was undeterred. He knelt down and drew out a very small energon cube, offering it in the palm of his servo.

"Here you go, Wasp," Swindle said soothingly. "Take it. You can trust me... err, 'Swindle-bot'."

Wasp continued to eye him warily, then rushed forward suddenly, pouncing on the small cube. Swindle had been right; Wasp was very hungry.

*****

What the merchant didn't know, was that Wasp had had no energon and little recharge since he had escaped the Elite Guard brig well over half a lunar cycle ago, and now he was weak and tired. His violet optics were dimmed and he felt weary and achy.

He was more than happy to accept the small cube, even if he did not trust this 'Swindle-bot' or want to follow him wherever it was he was going. It felt good to have just a little in him, even if it was not enough to keep him going for much longer. And Primus knew he didn't have long before the lack of energon caused his systems to fail completely.

"See?" Swindle said. "Swindle-bot won't hurt Wasp, I, err, [i]he[/i] wants to [i]help[/i] Wasp. Swindle-bot [i]friend[/i]."

Wasp eyed him warily. Trust was not something he had in abundance, to be sure. And he certainly was not about to going with strangers again, not when, the last time he had been taken somewhere by strangers Swindle-bot's size, he had been thrown in the brig for stellar cycles on end for a crime he didn't commit.

Wasp hissed again and backed away further. But he could not deny the pain that wracked his frame from stellar cycles of abuse from other inmates, or the weariness, or the aches of starvation that dogged him.

Swindle drew out a few more cubes, and finally, after just cycles of gazing at those life-giving cubes, Wasp could no longer resist. He darted warily toward Swindle, crouching in front of him like an animal to take and devour the cubes.

"So?" Swindle asked coolly, "Do you want to come with Swindle-bot, Wasp?"

Wasp put on a pout. "Fine." He said. "Wasp come with Swindle-bot. But he watch you! Swindle-bot not lock up Wasp or try to hurt him, no! He not touch Wasp panel either!"

*****

Swindle was surprised by this. His panel? He thought. Why would he be concerned about that? Unless, somebody...? Hmm... Could explain why he's so slagged in the processor, but...

"Don't worry, Wasp." Swindle said reassuringly. "Swindle-bot won't lock you up or hurt you in any way at all. He won't touch your panel either."

"Good." Wasp snorted. "Then Swindle-bot give Wasp more energon!"

"I will, I will." Swindle assured him.

Wasp followed at the weapons merchant's side, and it almost surprised Swindle when he walked on his peds instead of on all fours, even if he was slightly hunched over. Still, he thought, perhaps he shouldn't be quite so hard on the creature. Even if he was a bit of a "fixer-upper".

Nevertheless, Swindle took Wasp back to his ship, and fixed up the small Autobot-creature a place to recharge and a bowl of the small cubes. Wasp accepted these things eagerly, and even seemed to be getting somewhat used to the merchant.

Swindle left him to his own devices while he finished his treasure hunting, leaving his security system active to monitor Wasp in the meantime and make sure he didn't try anything funny, since he could not lock him up. Once he returned later that evening, ready to leave for the next planet, he first went back to the place he'd fixed up for Wasp to check on him, and found the small creature curled up in stasis, peacefully recharging, the empty, overturned bowl under his head as a pillow.

It was common to see the merchant grin or smirk, but a pure, genuine smile was a rare, rare thing. Not much in the universe was enough to evoke a feeling of warmth or happiness in a spark as cold and shallow as his. That made this moment an amazing and one-of-a-kind sight, if only someone had been there to see it.

A smile crept slowly across Swindle's faceplate, and he sighed. The sight was something that even he processed as 'cute'.

He had indeed benefited from this meeting, and perhaps finding a buyer for Wasp would not be so hard. But would selling him?