Author's note: This fic will have its darker moments, especially towards the end. That being said, enjoy the ride and brace for impact.

Chapter 1: In which Drag Strip races backwards

It was partly Wildrider's fault, and he knew it. No, mostly his fault. After all, it wouldn't have occurred to Drag Strip to try to win a race through the Nemesis while driving backwards if Wildrider hadn't suggested it to him.

And it had been a great race right up till the end. Accelerating furiously to make up for the fact that he wasn't so aerodynamic in reverse, Drag Strip had managed to stay in the lead while Wildrider hung back and thought about letting him win, mostly because that was easier than coping with Drag Strip when he lost. But as they neared the finish line (the door to Corridor C2), Wildrider couldn't resist. He put on a sudden burst of speed, so of course Drag Strip did the same.

The door went down under the yellow racer's momentum and was suddenly a ramp resting on a large shape beneath it. Wildrider couldn't resist that either. He hit the gas pedal, roared up the ramp just behind Drag Strip and soared off it with a happy cry of "Wheeeee!"

That was when he noticed Megatron with his back to the wall of Corridor C2, staring at them as if unable to believe his optics, and that was when it occurred to him to wonder just what – or who – was under the ramp. At cannonpoint, he and Drag Strip picked up the door and helped a dazed Skywarp off the floor. Wildrider would have thought that he of all Decepticons would appreciate the funny side of the situation, but Skywarp seemed to have temporarily lost his sense of humor and Megatron didn't look too amused either.

At any other time Wildrider knew they would have been turned over to Motormaster, who would have hit them both until they couldn't stand unaided, much less race anywhere. Unfortunately the other Stunticons were away on some mission, and Wildrider had a feeling that Megatron wouldn't stop at a simple beating.

Still, the Decepticon commander gave them a chance to account for themselves before he passed judgment, so they followed him to the control room and Wildrider spoke up. "Racing backwards was my idea." Not that self-sacrifice was especially prized among the Stunticons, but he had always thought of Drag Strip as being younger than him somehow, which would have torqued Drag Strip off a complete three-sixty if he had known.

Megatron's optics narrowed. "I don't care whose imbecilic idea it was."

Wildrider's radio picked up an incoming transmission. "I won," Drag Strip said, though he didn't sound too pleased about it.

"You sure did. When Megatron's done with killing us we'll party."

"Since it's apparently necessary to protect this base and everyone else in it from the two of you," Megatron continued, gesturing at Drag Strip, "you are in solitary for three days."

"Ow," Wildrider said over the radio. "Sorry about that." It was the kind of punishment that Breakdown could have tolerated and Dead End would have loved, but Drag Strip didn't like being by himself. Maybe I can break in and smuggle him something.

"And you…" The fusion cannon swung to point at Wildrider. "…can get off this ship."


Megatron grinned. "If you want to tear around and smash up property, make it someone else's. I don't want to see you or hear you until Motormaster gets back and can keep you under some semblance of control."

"But that's three days too," Drag Strip said.

"Now it's four," Megatron said.

"Shut up!" Wildrider said, forgetting to use his radio. "Uh, I was talking to Drag Strip, not you--"

"Five!" Megatron snapped. "And complete radio silence during that time. Do you think I wouldn't know that you two were chattering just now?"

Thanks to that snitch Soundwave, Wildrider thought. Too bad he wasn't under that slagging door. He glared at the Communications Officer.

"Six!" Megatron rose from his chair. "Now get out before I make it any longer!"

Wildrider got out.