"Lost Shaker Assault"
Beachcomber flew over another sand dune. It was absolutely exhilarating. This, he thought with a sigh, is what life should always be like. Alone, soaking up the bright sunshine and smelling the salty ocean air. It was times like this that Beachcomber forgot he was in a war for survival and dreamed of a far-off simpler place. A place where the biggest worry was whether to drive north or south.
Beachcomber snapped on his radio. Human music was an experience that Jazz had introduced him to. He didn't like some of it. Some was plain nerve-racking. He preferred a more subdued tune. Blaster called it sissy music, but Beachcomber knew there were some songs that even Blaster liked.
Beachcomber sifted through the dial and stopped at the sound of a familiar melody. Beachcomber smiled again as he soared over another sand dune. Without a doubt, this was Beachcomber's favorite song. True, he didn't understand the all of sentiment behind the words, but the song had a relaxing quality. In fact, Beachcomber found that all of Jimmy Buffett's songs were like this. However, "Margaritaville" was by far his favorite.
And Blaster's as well, he thought as he switched on his dormant Autoband link. I'm sure he'll want to hear this as well, even if it was the middle of the song.
As the lyrics started again, Beachcomber sang along.
"I don't know the reason, I stayed here all season
"Nothin' to show but this brand new tattoo.
"But it's a real beauty, a Mexican cutie.
"How it got here, I haven't a clue.
"Wastin' away again in Margaritaville.
"Searchin' for my lost shaker of salt.
"Some people claim that there's a woman to blame.
"Now I think, hell, it could be my fault.
"I blew out my flip-flop, stepped on a pop-top.
"Cut my heel had to cruise on back home.
"But there's booze in the blender, and soon it will render.
"That frozen concoction that helps me hang on.
"Wastin' away again in Margaritaville.
"Searchin' for my lost shaker of salt.
"Some people claim that there's a woman to blame.
"But I know it's my own damn fault.
"Yes and some people claim that there's a woman to blame.
"And I know it's my own damn fault."
What a great song, Beachcomber thought. He felt a calm rush over him as the last notes of the melody played. A soft tone sounded from the Autoband, indicating an incoming message. Beachcomber mentally activated the console.
"So, what you think, Blaster?" Beachcomber asked.
"That, my friend, is a great song," Blaster answered. "I take back all the things I said about you having bad taste." He paused and then added, "Well, most of them anyway. Carry on, my man."
Beachcomber laughed and continued driving down the beach.
* * *
Frenzy set down his headset and began to franticly reach for several random dials on the monitoring station. Rumble set in to help him.
Buzzsaw looked up from his stations and watched curiously as the two Decepticons twisted dials and called up coding protocols. He had never seen Rumble or Frenzy work so diligently at the monitoring stations. In fact, the only thing Buzzsaw could remember them working diligently at was not working. Finally, his curiosity got the better of him.
"What are you two doing?"
"Didn't you hear that?" Rumble inquired.
"Beachcomber can't sing," Buzzsaw answered apathetically, "So what?"
"Not that," Frenzy said impatiently. "The coded message, you idiot."
"Coded message?" A smile began to form across Buzzsaw's beak. "And just when I didn't think I was going to have a nice laugh today, here come the blunder twins to my rescue."
Rumble glared up at him. "Bite me, beakface. Yes, a coded message. He lost a plan called a Shaker Assault and he was reporting to his headquarters. Now if we can figure out where this Shaker Assault is, we can use it against the Autobots."
Buzzsaw snickered but otherwise remained silent. It had been ages since he had this much potential entertainment at his beckoned call. He wasn't going to let an amusing opportunity get away.
Rumble ignored Buzzsaw's laughter and looked at Frenzy. "Who heard it, right?"
"Well, yeah, it was plain as day. Laserbeak?"
Laserbeak cast a doubtful gaze at Buzzsaw and then studied Rumble and Frenzy. Buzzsaw could never tell what his fellow spy was thinking, not like the dolts sitting at monitoring station.
"Maybe. It's worth looking into, I suppose."
"Alright," Rumble rubbed his hands together eagerly. "Then let's dig into this code."
"I'll contact Onslaught and have him come down," Laserbeak stated. "Maybe he can shed some light on what this Shaker Assault is."
"NO!" Rumble and Frenzy shouted simultaneously. They both stared at the door to the monitoring lab for a long moment. Buzzsaw turned and smirked at the door too. It was obvious they didn't want to attract any attention. Frankly, neither did Buzzsaw. At least not until this comedy had played itself out.
"We're gonna be the ones to figure this out. We don't need any help from an egghead like Onslaught. It'll be a breeze."
"More like a bunch of hot air," Buzzsaw interjected coyly.
Frenzy leaned back in his seat and looked up at Buzzsaw. "You gonna do anything productive, birdbrain?"
"Wasn't planning on it. It would spoil the entertainment value."
Frenzy grimaced at him and turned back to the monitoring station. After a moment, he had the recording queued up to the moment the code was intercepted. Laserbeak swooped down between them and plugged himself into the station, slowly sifting through the message.
"We should start at the beginning and just work our way through this a little at a time," Frenzy said. "Here's the first part. 'I don't know the reason I stayed here all season.'"
"That's simple enough," Rumble interjected. "He was away on a mission and he didn't want to be there."
"Wait," Buzzsaw interrupted, "let me filter my optics before you go on. The deduction is too brilliant for my tender vision."
"Shut up!" Rumble countered fiercely. He looked again at Frenzy. "What's next?"
Frenzy paused as a look of confusion washed over his face. "Um, I'm not sure what this is supposed to mean. "Nothing to show but this brand new tattoo. But it's a real beauty, a Mexican cutie. How it got here I haven't a clue."
"Hmm," Rumble uttered thoughtfully.
For several minutes, the room was quiet except for a few mocking "Hmms" and "Ahhhs" from Buzzsaw. As time passed and Buzzsaw continued to mock their forced thoughtful contemplation, the less Rumble and Frenzy concentrated on the message. A couple of times, it seemed to be everything they could do to stay in their seats and not lunge at him. Only Laserbeak remained focused on code. Buzzsaw had to hand it to him. He was disciplined. He just wondered how long it would take for Laserbeak to figure out how far off base Rumble and Frenzy were.
Laserbeak lifted his head but paused, as if he was uncertain of himself. Finally, he said, "Um, the tattoo part… Well, maybe he found some permanent site."
"Or built something," Rumble added.
"Nah, he doesn't how it got there," Frenzy said. "I think Laserbeak's right. But what could 'a Mexican cutie' be?"
Rumble snapped his fingers. "Isn't there a human fuel station called a QT, someplace they get their energy for their cars and crap?"
Frenzy's expression brightened. "You're right! It's 'a Mexican QT.' So he found a permanent power supply in Mexico. Man, we are on a roll."
"You're on something," Buzzsaw laughed.
Rumble pointed up at Buzzsaw. "I'm really getting sick of that slag."
Buzzsaw just laughed again and shook his head.
"Forget him, Rumble," Frenzy said. "He just won't get to share in the glory, that's all."
"Pity," Buzzsaw snickered.
Frenzy growled in displeasure as he faced the monitoring console again. "Alright, here's the next bit. "Wasting away again in Margaritaville. Looking for my lost Shaker Assault.'" What do you suppose Margaritaville is?"
"Maybe it's a codename for the mission or something," Rumble suggested.
"It's probably just the name of the place where he found the power supply," Laserbeak said. "Maybe Onslaught will know where that is. He knows most of the cities on this planet."
"We are NOT going to let Onslaught in on this," Rumble said angrily. "He'll just take all of the credit. This is our code."
"Think carefully about this for a minute, Laserbeak," Buzzsaw said. "Do you think Onslaught would be best to deal with this 'code?' Or do you think the two geniuses that got their heads stuck in the energon dispenser are the ones to trust?"
Laserbeak looked carefully back and forth between the two Decepticons, both of which were trying very hard not to look at Laserbeak. After weighing his options, Laserbeak disconnected from the console and flew up beside Buzzsaw.
"I think I'm about out of ideas," Laserbeak said, settling on one of the computer banks. "Sorry."
"You'll thank me for this later," Buzzsaw whispered loud enough for Rumble and Frenzy to hear as well.
Rumble glared up at Buzzsaw. "You don't know how much I'm gonna kick your aft later."
"Why don't you just keep on breaking this 'code' and I'll laugh my aft off instead?" Buzzsaw offered.
Frenzy grasped Rumble's shoulder. "Just ignore the buzzard. He's only jealous 'cause he's not gonna get to share any of the praise."
"Yes, that must be it," Buzzsaw responded sarcastically
"So," Frenzy said, ignoring Buzzsaw's chide, "let's assume Margaritaville is a place and move on. This is what's next: 'Some people claim that there's a woman to blame. But I think, hell, it could be my fault.' A woman?"
"Yeah, that blonde chick that's always hanging around the Autobots. The 'Bots think it's her fault they lost the Shaker Assault, but it's really that dumbass tree-hugger Beachcomber."
Buzzsaw cleared his throat. "Are you sure it wasn't Jimmy?"
"Who the hell's Jimmy?" Frenzy shouted. "There's no Jimmy. Just shut up and let the experts handle this. Okay what's next?" Frenzy listened to the message and frowned. "What the hell? Alright listen to this slag: 'I blew out my flip flop, stepped on a pop tart. Cut my heel, had to cruise on bygone.' This is a good code! I don't have any idea what this stuff is supposed to mean. Come on! Pop tarts?"
"So, has the well of intellect finally dried up?" Buzzsaw asked.
Frenzy sighed, obviously trying to keep his anger in check. This was fine with Buzzsaw. They were amusing when they did that.
"Frenzy, did you hear that next part?" Rumble asked. "'But there's boots in the blender and soon a rear-ender. That frozen concoction that helps me hang on.' Weird. Maybe that Autobot fell on his head or something."
"You know, that might explain you guys too." Buzzsaw interrupted. That got a chuckle out of Laserbeak and a couple scowls from Frenzy and Rumble.
Several minutes passed before anybody else spoke. Buzzsaw was starting to get bored. Laserbeak remained his patient self, waiting for the play to finish its course.
Suddenly, Rumble jumped up and yelled, "I got it! The flip-flop has something to do with Skyfire."
Frenzy frowned and looked at doubtfully at his brother. "How do you figure that one?"
Rumble sifted through the few pages of notes they had taken. "Here! 'Flip-flop' means he changed sides. And here, later on: 'frozen con-cock-shun.' We found Skyfire in the ice. He used to be a 'Con. I think the cock part goes without saying. And he shunned us."
Laserbeak shook his head in disbelief. Buzzsaw, however, couldn't stand it any longer. He broke down into hysterical laughter. He was completely lost in it. He didn't notice Laserbeak had moved. And he didn't see Frenzy lunging angrily at him until it was too late.
When he grasped his wings and shoved him off of his perch, Buzzsaw stopped laughing. He placed his talons on Frenzy's chest and kicked, pushing him away from his fragile wings. It still didn't give him enough time to miss crashing to the floor. At least he was able to achieve some semblance of grace, skidding to a stop on his talons. As Frenzy stalked toward him again, Buzzsaw glanced around for Laserbeak. After a second, he saw him flying towards the door and…
"What is going on in here?" the Decepticon leader bellowed, as Laserbeak alighted upon Soundwave's shoulder.
"Um, nothing really," Rumble stammered, "just a little disagreement. But here. Me and Frenzy broke an Autobot code." Rumble handed Soundwave the log they were working on. "Well, we broke part of it, at least."
"Without Laserbeak and Buzzsaw's help," Frenzy added proudly. "Of course, we still don't know what 'boots in the blender' or 'pop tarts' mean, but it's definitely most of the way there."
Megatron frowned. "'Pop tarts.' Soundwave, what are jabbering about?"
Soundwave studied the log for a moment. When he finished, he glanced the two warriors and then back to the log. Finally, he said, "Heh."
Buzzsaw blinked with surprise and leaned closer to Frenzy. "Soundwave just laughed. What does that tell you about that 'code?'"
"Shut up!" Frenzy hissed.
After a moment of conferring with Soundwave, Megatron nodded, obviously trying not to smile. "Well done, Rumble and Frenzy. You've done well to break this code as far as you have. However, in the future, maybe we should leave the code breaking to the experts." Megatron made it clear by his tone that it was an order.
Rumble and Frenzy nodded in unison. When beckoned, Buzzsaw flew and landed on Soundwave's other shoulder as he walked out of the monitoring station. Buzzsaw looked back and watched the two fools congratulating themselves. They're amusing, if nothing else, he thought.
Just before Megatron walked out of the room, he turned and said, "I'll be sure to tell Jimmy you almost broke his code next time I see him."
As the door slid shut, Buzzsaw heard Frenzy ask, "Who the hell is Jimmy?"