Hoo boy. I really had to think hard about sharing this one! Why? Because it's really weird. But in the end…Eh, I figure I may as well let y'all crucify me for my crackiness. Or ignore me. Or whatever. But for the final two chapters that I'm still poking at, I've finished writing this (although there are at least three other stories that have bloomed in my head and that I could write, should I choose to make this a continuity), so updates should be quick.

But first! Notes! Because there are always notes…

1. This is a G1-cartoon-based alternate universe story. It's set in 2009 but ignores the '86 movie business. Apologies to those who like that "business," but frankly my policy has always been, "Movie? What movie?"

2. Crackalicious pair-but-not-really-pair on tap: Starscream and Swoop. Yeah, baby. They have been haunting me off and on in various ways since about…oh…1985. A-yup, I am that whacked, thank you. But, recently, a complete reimagining of Cybertronian biology, history, culture, and social structure and all that kind of stuff up and whacked me over the head. (Warning: It ain't canon in any way, shape, or form. Run away now.) And then my crack pair and said reimagining started to gel in my head such that the reimagining justified, for me at least, the crack and made it un-cracky. Or at least not quite as cracky as it had been. The result is this story.

3. It occurs to me, given some of the things that happen in this story, that I should probably relay how I see the Dinobots, physically, AU or not. I've dropped easily-overlooked hints about the issue in various Dinobot stories that I've written over the years, but I've never explicitly spelled it all out, mostly because it usually doesn't matter. But for this story it sort of does matter on occasion.

So, you need to know that my mind's-eye picture of the Dinobots is actually quite different, in terms of scale, than the way they're drawn on the 'toon and in the comic books and such. It's based more on the relative sizes of the dinosaur/pterosaur species that each Dinobot mimics. (Remember, kids: Pterosaurs are not dinosaurs!) As such, in my mind, Sludge is the largest of the Dinobots, as your average Apatosaurus (née Brontosaurus) was, pardon the technical jargon, freakin' ginormous. Next down in size would be Grimlock and Slag, who'd be roughly the same size as each other and about three-quarters(ish) the size of Sludge. Snarl would be a bit smaller than those two but not by much; he'd be shoulder height to them or thereabouts. But Swoop? Ahhhh, Swoop…

*paleontology geek alert!* *pterosaur fan alert!*

P. longiceps isthe type species of genus Pteranodon andis the smaller of the two known species of said genus. It had a head crest that more or less matches Swoop's, and it had around a 25-foot wingspan. (The other species was larger, but its head didn't look anything like Swoop's, so I'm goin' with P. longiceps here.) Like modern birds, pterosaurs in general had quite small bodies in comparison to their wingspans, and they were hollow-boned and very light for their size, which was necessary for creatures that, like modern albatrosses, likely spent much of their time on the wing. In the case of P. longiceps specifically: While it had a 25-foot wingspan, its body was only about 6 feet long and half of that was its head/jaws. It probably only weighed about 40 pounds or so. For comparison: The size of an F-15E, i.e. Starscream? Yeah, wingspan about 43 feet, length about 65 feet, and weight about 15 tons.

*end geek/fan alert*

So! Taking all of this into account, giving the DinoDads some hefty creative license to make Swoop larger and bulkier than he "should" be in order to accommodate things like missile launchers/ordnance and engines and such, and figuring in the Transformers' Magical Mystical Mass-Shifting Powers™ that tends to make them smaller (or much larger) than they "should" be in their robot forms…Well, in my mind, Swoop is noticeably smaller than the "standard" car Autobots like the Datsuns but bigger than the minibots. In my mind, Swoop's more or less two-thirds the size of Grimlock and about three-quarters the size of Starscream. Or thereabouts.

Yes, yes, I know: Canonically, the Dinobots weren't built on a scale to match the species they mimicked, and the idea was that they were all huge and therefore more intimidating, and blah blah…but in my own little world, they're "to scale" because it soothes my (very) geeky soul. I was a dinosaur geek long before the Dinobots existed, after all. So, if any relative size descriptions in this story make you go "Buh?" that would be why.

Also, on a different note but still concerning the Dinobots: Please note that the Dinobots are 24 years old in this story. As such, they've matured since the second season of the 'toon, the last common canon reference for this story, when they were, basically, babies. For instance, in this story they have mature speech patterns. Well, for the most part, anyway. A certain one is still stubborn about that issue sometimes. *glares at Slag, who gives a fierce raspberry in return* And under stress they'll all occasionally "revert." But generally, they talk like "normal people." Most of them have jobs/functions, too, aside from ass-kicking.

4. My timescale that I like to use when going full-on AU like this is far more compact than is canon, mostly because I find it difficult to wrap my senile mind around the concept of individuals living for one million years, much less multiple millions of years. So, when I go AU, I remove a few orders of magnitude: The Transformers crashed on Earth 4,000 years ago, not four million years ago. The rest of the time scale is similarly compressed. (i.e. Optimus Prime is about 9,000 years old, not nine million.) This often seeps into my sentences here and there, where you'll see "thousands" instead of the "millions" you might expect.

5. This story isn't slash! No, really! Pinky-swear! You'll see why just about immediately. It also isn't a romance, either, which is decidedly strange coming from yours truly, a queen of mush. The "naughty" parts are plug and play, and it's actually the first time I've really messed around with that concept at all, since I usually stick to romance-y lovey-dovey spark-based "OMG, ILU 4EVR!" kind of stuff…which doesn't work at all for my purposes in this story. It's forcing me to think differently, which I guess is a good thing. Anyway, there are no analogues of human naughty bits to be found here, so it's not sticky and therefore not, in my mind, smutty…which raises the question of whether or not this really deserves an M rating. But that's what I gave it, to be safe. There is a theme in it that I guess could be considered mature, besides the "naughty" stuff, so… *shrugs*

6. This story has no relationship whatsoever to any other story/continuity I've ever written. It does refer to some specific stuff I've written in my various Dinobot stories – Swoop's a medic, Sludge is an artist, Swoop once nearly died for no apparent reason whatsoever, etc. – but it is not meant to take place in that same "universe," nor is it at all required that you read those stories, as the references are for the most part mere throw-aways. If you want a deeper understanding of "my" Dinobots, go read those stories, but it isn't really necessary in order to understand this one. In any case, this is a parallel universe to the one I normally write in; some things are the same but other things are very, very different, as you'll see. I should also note that Skyfire, with whom I usually pair Starscream with fanatical OTP fervor, doesn't exist in this AU. Because I say so. ;)

Annnnnnnnd…I think that's about it. If I think of anything else, I'll note it before the affected individual chapters. If you choose to give this thing a shot…Well, enjoy! Don't say that I didn't warn you about the weirdness, though…