The red and white mech entered the Security Hub and gently placed the pads he was carrying onto his desk, before slumping into his chair. He opened the top drawer in search of a data pen, and his optics landed on an old photograph at the bottom of the drawer.
One red, one yellow, one white. Grinning like no one's business, and hovering high above the ground.
"Alright y' two aftheads, if y' could sit still for a moment I'll introduce y' to yer wingmate."
A tall, gruff looking seeker stood in the doorway to a common area, two younger seekers inside, lounging.
"We already told you Corkscrew, we don't need a slotting wingmate." One of them said nonchalantly.
"Y' damn well do, punk. Y' know full well we fly in threes!" The older seeker stepped into the room and grabbed the red seeker by a wingtip, making him yelp. "Now if I hear y've chased this n' off, like t' other THREE I've tried assignin' to y', I'm gunna make y' life feel like the Pit, d'y'hear?"
"Leggo o' my wing!" The red seekerlet shrieked.
"Let him go!" His yellow counterpart shouted.
Corkscrew huffed and released the wing of the quivering youth, and turned towards the door. "Well, don't just stand there like an idiot, get in 'ere." He said, motioning to a fourth figure.
Another young seeker stepped into the room. His armour was white, with red and black accents on his arms, legs and wings. His optics were blue, and, even for a seeker he was slight of stature.
And not looking all that confident.
"Alright you two punks better look after the kid." Corkscrew growled.
"What, we're sparkling sitters now?" The yellow seekerlet exclaimed.
The white seeker twitched. "I'm not a sparkling... just because I'm small..." He said, making a valiant attempt at defending himself.
"Sure you're no-AIIE!" The retort was made short abruptly by a boot to the yellow youngling's aft.
"Knock it off!" Corkscrew growled, looming over the seekerlets. "Now, get y' afts to the runway. Y' three are gunna be flyin' together and y're gunna be doin' it NOW."
The two twin seekerlets scrambled out of the room, grabbing their new 'wingmate' on the way and bolting for the upper levels.
"So..." The red seekerlet said once they were out of Corkscrew's audio range."You're the newest loser to be forked our way."
The white seekerlet glared at him. "Not exactly my first choice either, but it was either you two neophytes or be rostered with Skywarp. I think I'll take my chances with the Infamous Twins."
The yellow one snorted in response. "You'll have better luck with that idiot than with us." He growled, not knowing what a 'neophyte' was, but sure it was some sort of insult.
The white one let his optics flicker skyward for a moment before resettling his gaze ahead of him.
"So, you got a name, runt?" The yellow seekerlet asked, as the three of them appeared on the runway, a few other newly slapped together fledgling trines also there for a test flight.
The white seekerlet crossed his arms over his cockpit, staying silent.
The red one scoffed. "Prolly hasn't earned a proper name yet!" He jeered. "Still on your sparkling designation, whitey?"
The twins chuckled. "Oh dear, he DOES still have his sparkling designation! Such a young, frail thing!"
"I said SHUT UP!"
"Sidestream! Sunburst! Rocket! Get your afts over here and into the sky!" One of the instructors barked at them.
"Rocket?" The twins echoed, grinning at their new 'trinemate', who was turning red under the scrutiny. "THAT'S your name?"
"Aww, look at him blush!"
"Gone redder than his painted panels!"
The twins roared with laughter, which made the white seekerlet go even redder."S-shut up..."
The red seekerlet draped his arms over the white one's shoulders. "Aww, come on Red, it's just a bit of fun."
The white seekerlet glared at the pair he was now forced to spend his days with.
"TWINS! AIR! NOW!" The instructor roared, and the two sighed, and took off, pulling some odd sort of two mech flying pattern that they had invented.
The white seeker sighed and watched the two fly. What HAD he gotten himself into by agreeing to fly with them?
"Rocket!" The instructor strode over. "What's put lead in your thrusters?"
"O-oh, nothing, Sir... just... had my first dose of Twin Torture."
"Ooh, you're stuck with the twins as wingmates?"
The instructor smiled at him. "If you can handle the twins for more than a week then you'll have them for the rest of your life, I wager. They'll probably ease up on you the longer you stick with them." He snorted. "Now, get your aft in the air and pull yourself into formation with the braggarts. I plan on seeing those two at the Temple and doing so before I offline from old age would be great."
The white youth gunned his thrusters and transformed while airborne, shooting after the red and yellow forms flying high above him.
"Well well, Red Rocket's come to say hi!" The Red flier jeered as he approached.
"That's not my name, and you know it!"
"Oooh, tetchy, aren't we?" The yellow added. "Come on, Red Rocket, fly with us! See if you can keep up!"
The two tore off into some bizarre rolling pattern, leaving the white flier at the end of a long cloud trail.
"OOOooh, those little..." He snapped after them, thrusters roaring. After how downright rotten they'd made him feel he wasn't about to prove them right by copping out!
Over the course of the four hours that the young seekers had the sky, the twins pulled the new member through just about every flying pattern they had ever come up with. They were determined to stay as a pair, not follow along with the whole Trine slag that the older Seekers couldn't seem to let go of. They never needed anyone but themselves, anyway.
For the longest time, the smaller flier was having trouble just keeping up with the other two, and it wasn't because he was slower. Their patterns seemed so painfully erratic that his processor was falling behind.
Perhaps he was beginning to notice an actual pattern to their movements, or, perhaps they were starting to let him follow along, but, as their time in the air drew to a close, it seemed that the white seekerlet was part of those patterns, rather than just trying to keep up with the other two.
A shrill whistle from below and seemingly all around signalled for the youngsters to all return to the ground. The white seekerlet transformed within a few feet of it and touched down, flopping to his hands and knees, exhausted. Fragging twins...
The tired calm of the runway was suddenly shattered by a very loud, terrified yelp. The twins had flopped themselves down onto one of the white seekerlet's wings each, and no one was surprised that it hadn't sat well with the youngling.
The twins, however, thought it was hilarious.
"He even sounds like an alert siren, with that sound he makes!"
"He does! Red Rocket... more of a Red Alert, to me!"
"G-get off me."
"But your wings are so comfy, Red Alert!"
The white youngling growled, face flushing at the nickname. He figured it was going to stick unless he disproved it right away... which he wasn't doing a great job of right now. "Get OFF!"
The twins pouted, but slid off. They may have been jerks, but even they knew better than to bug a seeker's wings for too long.
The white mech stood, and walked angrily towards the stairs, hands curled into fists. The twins regarded him for a moment, before plodding after him.
As he stared at the photo, he could nearly feel the hum of thrusters at his feet and the rush of air by his wings. He sighed deeply. What a wonder those times had been. And... How lucky it had been that he had stuck with those idiots for as long as he did.
The white seeker let out a shriek of pain as a cannon blast tore through his right wing, and he started to fall. He slammed his blue optics shut as he prepared to become well acquainted with the ground.
"Come on, Red, get it together."
He opened his optics and blinked. A red seeker had swooped in and caught him from plummeting the very many miles to the ground, while a yellow was ducking and weaving through fire from the security cannon below, finally getting close enough to destroy it with a blade attached to his arm.
"What's gotten into you, Red? You're twitchier than usual." Sidestream descended, and set the smaller form on his feet, before having a look at the damage to his wing.
"The combat training isn't exactly helping my nerves."
A whistle sounded from the complex they were attacking. The session was over. And the moment it was, the yellow member of their team soared over.
"What the Pit was that, Red?" He barked, making the wounded seeker flinch. "Primus... hover frozen like that in real combat and you'll be blasted to scrap!"
"Sunburst, I'm aware."
"Then why'd y' go and get shot?"
The white seeker just looked at him. Sunburst had a habit of using anger to cover up what he was really feeling. And there were only two mechs in the entire School that knew how much he worried… for both his brother, and the smaller flier they had let get close.
"We're never going to get out of this blasted hole." The yellow twin grumbled.
As one, the trio looked up at the complex which was still awaiting their return. It was where seekers were sparked, trained, trialled and when they were ready, bound into a Trine. But, unless you were in a Trine, they weren't about to let you leave. And they had very special ways of keeping you there.
"One more subject. That's all we need, Red, ONE!"
"I'm well aware of our scorecard, Sunny."
The yellow seeker glared at the white. "Don't call me that."
The group let out a collective sigh, and picked themselves up, beginning the flight back to familiar ground.
The white seeker looked at the complex as they approached it from his perch on Sidestream's back, frowning the entire way. But, it was not in frustration.
"...I think I've got it."
The twins looked at him. "Huh?"
"I think I've worked out the security plan they're using for this scenario... I..."
There was a contemplative pause.
"Can you break it, Red?"
"If you two are willing to follow a plan, instead of all that crazy improvising you do normally."
"Look, do you want to get out of here or not?"
"Just listen to me this once. Once. Then we'll be out of here and we'll never have to see each other again. Which I'm sure you two will be ecstatic about."
"We'll all have that Trine stuff though, won't we? Will we be able to split up?" Sidestream asked.
"Of course we will."
"Well, I suppose you better start on that security breaker as soon as we get back, Red Alert." Sunburst said, his huff with a sense of finality to it.
"Primus, I wish you would drop that stupid nickname."
The mech sighed, and raised his right hand to look at the palm. Thanks to Shockwave, the delicate and unique mechanics beneath the armour was no longer there. None of it was. The brilliance that was an air faring form had been stamped on. He clenched his fist. Slagger.
Two familiar presences pressed against his mind, having felt the change in their mate's mood. He revelled in their presences for a short moment, before sending a reassuring nudge back to them.
He wasn't fine. But none of them had been since that day.
The three seekers stood in awe of the room they were in. The ceilings were so high that the top was shrouded with shadow. The walls were so far apart that you couldn't see one end from the other. Pillars lined the way from the elevator door and the altar, and everything was covered in hieroglyphs.
"Well now. Are my optics malfunctioning? Sunburst, Sidestream, whatever are you doing down here? Have you come to bother us again?" Asked a voice.
The three young seekers took a moment to find the owner of the voice, their blue optics finally landing on the Elder seeker, standing near a plinth a short distance away.
Sunburst snorted and put his hands on his hips. "Not this time, old man. We're here on business."
"We found someone worth tolerating!" Sidestream added with a large grin, clapping a hand on the white seeker's shoulder, who blushed rather vividly.
The elder in the centre of the room quirked an optic ridge at the three. "You're 'Rocket' correct?"
The white seeker blushed again, for a different reason. "That's my sparkling designation, sir." He forced out, trying to ignore the snickers of the twins.
The elder stared, but then blinked. "Ah, of course. Your creators never forwarded an adult name."
"Yay." It was clear the white seeker didn't think much of his creators, indicated by the bored offside glare that he gave the air beside him.
"Give me your score card, boys."
The three younglings plodded over, the smaller of the three handing a data pad to the old seeker. He cast his grey-blue optics over it, nodding at each 'pass' against the subjects.
"What a surprise this is. I had almost begun to believe we would never come to this day."
"Oh well thanks, old man. Good to see you have faith in us."
The elder shook his head. "Your behaviour thus far has been defiant and delinquent, and you resisted having a trinemate to the very last possible moment."
"It's a dumb tradition; I don't see why you are so insistent." Sidestream muttered.
The elder smiled. If only they knew.
"Well, in light of your recent success…. I believe I can offer you your graduation."
The look on the three young seekers' faces was nothing short of thrilled.
"However we can't very well have you three put into a Trine with young Rocket here still on a sparkling designation."
The twins suddenly broke into uproar.
"WHAT! So we're NEVER going to get out of here?"
"His creators are never going to send him a real name if they haven't by now!"
The elder put his hands up to calm to two. "Not at all what I meant, boys." He soothed. "If you'd let me speak instead of jumping to conclusions and running your mouths..."
The two shrank back into infuriated sulks.
"I was about to suggest that I name him, then Forge your trine."
"You'd do that?" The white seeker exclaimed.
"Of course." The elder smiled. "You're not the first to never be given an adult name."
He blinked. "I'm not?"
"Of course, naming those in this situation is always problematic. I don't know you, so choosing a name that is appropriate may take some time..."
Never ones to wait, the twins spoke up. "Call him Red Alert!"
The white seeker balked.
"He already answers to it, anyway!" The twins grinned at him.
"I hate you both."
The elder was contemplative. "It is a decent name." He said, looking at the score card in his hands again."And you did seem to have some skill in security systems, as well if your grades are anything to go by." He smirked. "I know for a fact that some of these marks are due to your skills, and not that of the twins. It suits you nicely."
The seeker's shoulders slumped. "You can't be serious."
"Come on, Red! It's a good name!"
"Suits you so well!"
"I hate you both. Really, I do."
"Well then it is decided!" The elder took a pen and wrote on the white seeker's file. "Red Alert."
A red hand came to meet an equally red, albeit for different reasons, face.
"Now, are you three ready?" The elder asked. "Once Forged into a trine, you'll be true seekers. Are you ready for that kind of responsibility?"
"Just lay it on us already!" Sunburst exclaimed.
"We're ready for whatever, just let us out of this place!"
The elder's optic ridge rose again. "Very well. Sunburst, stand here. Sidestream, here. Red Alert..." The white seeker groaned, but was ignored. "Here. Power down your optics and drop your firewalls."
Although confused and apprehensive, the three complied. There was a strange, empty moment, where the three standing in a triangle simply stood, listening to the silence.
The newly dubbed Red Alert was the first to notice.
It was not silence.
There was a hum. Two hums. One from each of the twins. A hum and a thump, thump, thump. Power core and spark? Why could he not hear the elder's? Why could he hear the twins'?
The thought fell away from his mind, however, as the sounds that were the twins, the presence of the twins, seemed to consume everything.
The twins never noticed a change in each other, having always felt one another's presence, thoughts and moods, ever since they were sparked. So, the sensation was nothing new.
Sunburst was about to question the point of this standing around, when another presence suddenly seemed to come into focus beside his brother.
The same went for Sidestream.
From a world where there was only the two of them... emerged a third... another mind, gently pressing against theirs. It was strange, yet... familiar at the same time. As if they already knew this presence. This person.
'Red?' They asked.
'...Sunny? Sides?' Was the answer, sounding frightened and unsure, but somehow soothed by their being there.
The three opened their optics at once, and looked at each other, a strange understanding on their faces, as if they suddenly all spoke the same language.
The elder smiled. "It is done."
And then all hell broke loose...
The mech growled to himself. That no good slagging Decepticon... how dare he... how dare he... and he let those other aftheads live... live how they were supposed to... on wings...
The white seeker tried to pull himself along the ground to where his trinemates lay on the ground. They had been caught by surprise.
All around them there was debris, bodies, bits of their own wings. The pain that tore through them wasn't just their own, but of all three of them, their trine bond linking their very cores to one another.
He reached his mates and gently shook them. 'Sunny? Sides?' He pushed his mind against theirs. He wanted them to move... open their optics... anything. He couldn't bring himself to speak... if his vocaliser was even still working.
'Red...' Twin presences rolled against him, as two pairs of optics flickered on.
He let out a half sigh, and smiled. They were still alive.
A tall figure loomed over them, and the three looked up.
With dark purple armour, one eye, and a gun for his left hand, the behemoth had the elder's grey body in his right hand. And now he was looking down at them.
"You three." He said, voice not quite monotonic but pretty close. "This area has been claimed by the Decepticons. Join us and serve Lord Megatron, or be destroyed."
Waves of fear radiated off the three at his feet, but, also, a sense of defiance, too.
"You will not comply?"
"Very well." Tossing the elder's corpse aside, he descended on the trine. Using the weapon of his left hand, he attacked. With painful and brutal strikes of his right hand and shots from his weapon. The made the younglings suffer, before tossing them into a heap to one side. By the time he had finished, there was hardly anything left of them... you couldn't even tell that the three quivering masses on the floor were once seekers.
The figure turned on his heel and strode away.
They lay there for vorns. Slowly losing their energon and their hope that they would ever be found. All they had left of themselves was the thrum of one another. Even as they slipped into Stasis Lock, one by one, they held onto those all consuming hums, and beats, that made up their trine.
When they awoke, the first thing they did was search for those beats again. That presence. They had to know they were near one another.
And they were.
Opening their optics found them in an orange tinted room, each of them lying on a separate berth. A few mechs were in the room, one of them working on something within Red Alert's chassis.
The twins sat up, and looked themselves over.
Seekers they were no longer.
"Oh! You're awake!" One of them exclaimed. "How you feeling?"
Twin stares turned to face the medic. "Who are you?" They asked together.
The medic blinked at their identical tones, but shook his head. "My name is Ratchet. I just fixed the both of you."
'They don't know who or what we are.'
'They've turned us into Ground-Pounders!'
'They've ruined us...'
'They saved us!'
The twins blinked and looked over at their trinemate, who was awake, despite the medic working on his innards, and looking at them.
'Red, go back to sleep.'
'No... Sides... Sunny... these medics saved us... even if they did turn us into groundlings.'
'How does that mean we've been saved? We've been wrecked!'
'That Decepticon thinks we're dead. So he won't come after us.'
The twins looked at each other. Red Alert was right. If they had these medics rebuild them as they should be, then the Decepticon that had destroyed everything wouldn't come after them to finish the job.
Ratchet looked at the twin creatures before him. "So you two got names, or what?" He asked.
Ratchet blinked at them, before looking at the smaller of the three. "And him?"
"Red Alert." They said together.
He shook his head sharply. "Get it together, Red Alert." He muttered, grabbing his pen and slamming the drawer shut. "Those days are done."