Written by Taipan Kiryu
Summary: After making amends with his origins, Thundercracker is forced to deal with long hidden doubts that will lead him to question the Decepticon cause and look for his true identity. The biggest transformations happen inside. Sequel to my fic "Purple rain."
This story follows the events in my fic "Purple rain", in which it's discovered that Thundercracker was created by an Autobot and that he wasn't assembled as a Seeker, but later got reformatted into one.
Two things are certain about Thundercracker: he despises everything that can't fly and he has doubts about the Decepticon cause. During this story, I will focus especially on the second idea.
You don't have to read "Purple rain" in order to follow this fic, but it would help to understand the doubts and inner conflicts that Thundercracker will have to deal with after his return from Cybertron.
I want to deeply thank my friend iratepirate for all her support and beta reading services. Without her, my fics would be a collection of grammar mistakes ;o) I never give her my author's notes to revise, so I assume complete responsability for the typos inside such notes. I'm sure there are some!
Deca-cycle = 3 weeks.
The doubts behind the shadow
Earth had witnessed countless oddities, incorporating many of them into its own nature, into its own sounds and scenarios. But the sight of extraterrestrial sentient robots was still too surprising for the organic planet, not yet ready to add such a scene to its heritage of rarities.
However, nothing would stop a pair of steel titans from colouring the last traces of the night with their own spectrum. Sparks caused by hits and errant shots welcomed the incoming day. But the two metallic beings, completely focused on their combat, ignored the unique view of the pinkish terrestrial dawn.
A black structure disappeared within the last glimpses of darkness. A purple flash later, it reappeared, ready to cause damage. But he wasn't fast enough.
"You are dead, Warp."
Skywarp smirked and shook his head, lifting his arms, signalling his defeat.
"If I hadn't have stayed in my alt mode, this victory wouldn't be yours. You know that, don't you TC?"
"But you transformed, and I knew you would reappear close to these coordinates. Your trajectories are very predictable," Thundercracker continued, lowering the cannon of his weapon from his wingmate's head.
"You say that because you have witnessed them too many times already. We have practiced combat techniques together for thousands of vorns. But don't get too comfortable; I can still surprise you."
"If you say so," Thundercracker replied as he began to lose altitude. "Let's descend. My servo-motor's overheated and I need to cool down."
Both Decepticon Seekers slowly went down and landed in a terrestrial scenery that humans denominated as 'woods'. Thundercracker avoided touching the vegetal specimens of the place, but Skywarp had no problems in pulling out a tree from its roots with a vicious kick.
"These damn things are everywhere," the black jet complained. "They are a real plague."
Thundercracker ignored him and walked toward a near lake. He sat on the edge and submerged his right leg into the crystalline water.
"You are lucky we are oxide-proof," Skywarp said as he sat beside his friend.
"I've discovered that terrestrial water is quite effective for basic cooling off purposes. You should try it sometime, Warp. Somehow it's sort of… relaxing."
"Never. You won't see me touching that dirty liquid unless strictly necessary."
Thundercracker glanced at the lake. It was such a contradiction that on a planet as chaotic as Earth, places like that could exist, so calm… It seemed that the morning wind and some eventual splashing from the organic creatures that inhabited the lake were the only ones who could disturb the tranquil surface of that liquid that mimicked the sky.
"You really hate this planet, right Warp?"
"Don't you? It's a lousy scum pit."
"It's too flat for my taste… but it has some tolerable places, like this one."
"Tolerable?" Skywarp asked, grabbing a big stone and throwing it toward the center of the lake. The rock broke the mirrored surface of the water and sank down, leaving a retinue of waves behind.
"See?" Skywarp continued. "It's just a slagging hole filled with water."
"Your perception is amazing," Thundercracker said ironically.
"You know me, TC. All this hateful tranquillity repulses me… You like it because you are a slagging Autobot in disguise."
Skywarp realized his mistake too late. His hand, about to throw a second stone to the water, froze in the middle of the movement. The rock fell back to the ground.
"Oh slag… I'm sorry, TC… I…"
"It doesn't matter."
"I was just joking," Skywarp continued, strongly hitting his forehead with the palm of his hand. "You know I always talk before thinking… I swear I didn't mean to…"
"I already told you it's alright, Warp. Just forget about it."
An uncomfortable silence reigned for some astro seconds. Skywarp considered throwing a tree into the lake to break its calmed surface again, but for some reason he felt unable to do it. Perhaps Thundercracker was right and those terrestrial spots were somehow… hypnotic. It seemed that war had never touched that lonely location.
"So… how is everything going?" Skywarp asked, daring to speak again.
Thundercracker pulled his leg out from the water and folded it, resting it on the edge of the lake.
"You mean the entire base talking behind my back and distrusting me? The same, I guess," he replied. His deep voice sounded as neutral as always, although Skywarp could perceive a trace of annoyance.
"Well… trust is not part of our programming. Don't take it personal."
"I don't. Everybody can talk slag as far as I'm concerned."
"And how about the Autobot insignias? How many times have they appeared painted outside your quarters?"
"During this current deca-cycle? Four times."
"Only four? Last deca-cycle there were seven."
"Yes, the frequency is decreasing. Lucky me," Thundercracker said ironically.
"Come on… Rumble and Frenzy will get tired of drawing them eventually. I was so close to giving them a lesson the last solar cycle, but Soundwave was dangerously close."
"Don't get yourself in trouble because of me, Warp. I can handle all this by myself."
"I like to harass those runts anyway, don't worry… Besides, you are my brother."
Thundercracker smiled, staring at his wingmate. Skywarp could be an egomaniacal lunatic most of the time, but he also knew better about loyalty than most Decepticons.
"Thank you, Warp… I really appreciate your support."
"Bah, don't mention it… You're not going to try to kiss me now, are you?"
Thundercracker threw a punch as his answer, but the black Seeker agilely blocked it.
"Well, that's better, because you are not my type," Skywarp continued joking. "Did you finish enjoying your new favourite secret place? It's getting late and our combat practice will end in few breems. If we delay any longer Screamer will be all over us the rest of the solar cycle."
Thundercracker got up and followed Skywarp toward the sky. Once again, the extraterrestrial sounds of transformation disrupted the sound spectrum of the organic planet that had been forced to shelter a foreign war.
"Race you to the base," Skywarp transmitted through his com link.
"Too much of an advantage for you. You always teleport."
"I won't do it this time."
"I'm not in the mood."
"You never are when you know you will lose. You perfectly know I'm faster than you, TC."
"Correction: you are more of a cheater than me."
A loud laugh shook the private frequency of both Seekers.
"Yeah… I can't deny that… Aw, but come on, I promise I won't teleport. I bet you five energon cubes that I arrive at least three astroseconds before you."
"Fine. But regular energon cubes; no high grade."
"You always spoil the fun, bro."
Loud engine roars announced the beginning of the race. Skywarp and Thundercracker welcomed the terrestrial day with their unique style, challenging the skies.
Too much alike in their flying manoeuvres, both Decepticons flew one beside the other for the first few breems, making it impossible to predict a winner.
Thundercracker accelerated, although his speed didn't have anything to do with the friendly competition. He simply enjoyed the sky. It was his element; perhaps not the one meant for him, but the one he had chosen. He had sacrificed a lot in order to make that choice a reality.
The Atlantic Ocean was already in sight when he felt Skywarp slightly decreasing his speed. A fast revision of his radar confirmed it.
"Wait, TC… Let's cancel the race."
"Why? What is going on?"
"See it yourself. Check quadrant twenty four-eight."
Thundercracker's radar centered on an energy signal that was slowly approaching.
"Human aircraft…" he concluded. "Disguise your signal, Warp."
"We are still on our practice period. Let's avoid any kind of confrontation."
"And what better practice than some real action?"
"That's not a military aircraft."
"How can you be so sure?"
"You would also be sure if you had read the reports that Starscream added to our data banks."
"They bore me… almost as much as Screamer."
Thundercracker's sigh through the com link sounded more than clear. "Register this, then: Passenger airplane. Denomination: Boeing 777-200ER. Motor PW4084…"
"Fine, fine, I got it… So passenger airplane, huh? Does it carry some kind of weaponry? Missiles, perhaps?"
"Frag it! I had the hope that we could have a decent fight before returning to the base… Where are those accursed Aerialbots when you need them?"
Skywarp growled a colorful mixture of Cybertronian curses for some astroseconds, just as he used to do every time something didn't slightly fill his expectations. Thundercracker decided to ignore him; he knew that eventually his friend would return to his normal prankster and careless self.
But it wouldn't happen that time. After ending his frustrated speech, Skywarp broke the tense silence that followed with a brusque twist toward his left, breaking the perfect formation he had with his wingmate and heading toward the human plane that was very close already.
"Warp! What in the Pit…?"
"You know, TC? I just decided that I will have some action after all. I say we bring down the slagging passenger airplane or whatever its name is."
"That thing has no way to defend itself. What do you expect to win attacking such an inferior opponent?"
"Fun," was Skywarp's dry answer right before accelerating at full speed toward his candidate for target practice.
Thundercracker repressed the angry roar of his engines and followed his wingmate.
"I see it, TC! It's bigger than I thought… and ugly… Thank Primus we weren't reformatted into one of those models… I would look fat transformed into a piece of junk like that."
"And what did you expect from a simple passenger airplane?"
"I expect it to explode into a decent amount of pieces when we make it crash! I bet you ten energon cubes that I can blow its right wing off from this distance. You can take care of the left one."
"Thank you very much for your generosity, but I will decline your offer."
"Fine… you can have the turbines. But don't tell Screamer I gave them away."
"Heat-seeking missiles, seek heat!!" Skywarp cheerfully shouted as two small hatches in the lower part of his fuselage opened and two deadly weapons shone with the sunlight.
About to fulfil his favourite battle cry, Skywarp was forced to perform another violent twist, this time to avoid crashing with the blue and grey shape of his best friend.
"But what the…?! Do you have slag for cerebro-circuits, TC??!! I almost destroyed you, you idiot!"
"Are you going to waste two missiles on a useless and defenseless target? We are supposed to keep a low profile during training missions."
"That's what I am doing!"
"Destroying an aircraft of that size is keeping a low profile to you? Slag it, Warp, I don't want to imagine what you do when you actually want to draw attention."
"By the fragging Matrix… it's just a human plane!"
"That carries 347 flesh creatures on board. Do you think the Autobots will remain arms-folded if we start to assassinate human civilians just for fun? Megatron has been very clear: we must fight the humans mercilessly when they get in our way. He never said anything about attacking non military targets."
Skywarp transformed into his robotic mode. Thundercracker did the same. Both Seekers stared at each other in silence. Far behind them, the Boeing continued its journey, oblivious to the danger that had just grazed it.
"It wouldn't have been my first time," Skywarp harshly said.
The distant sound of the engines of the plane got lost in the distance, even to the advanced audio sensors of both Decepticons.
"You know, TC… sometimes you make it really hard just to try and understand you."
"What is it that you don't understand?" Thundercracker carefully asked.
Skywarp half opened his mouth but didn't say anything. He stayed floating, glancing at his wingmate with a strangely serious expression on his face plates.
"Let's go back to the base," he finally said, transforming and heading toward the Nemesis, this time not taking any deviation.
Thundercracker didn't follow immediately.
To be continued.
Well, that was it for the first chapter. Please let me know if you enjoyed it. I have most of the second chapter already written, so expect a fast update.
I couldn't resist to use the "Heat-seeking missiles..." line, a classic Skywarp's from the G1 episode "SOS Dinobots". Gotta love him!