Author: Another chapter! Whooo....Just want to take moment to thank everyone who read, reviews, faovrites, alerts, whatever. You guys give me warm fuzzies.
My eyes opened and I stretched, having felt Tailwind start to wake. I stood and walked over to him, and turned off the spark-dampener before he had woke fully—I knew he wouldn't appreciate his signature being scrambled with while he was awake.
He finally came entirely online with a groan as I examined his body. He had healed somewhat, but we would probably be grounded for another day.
"How're you feeling, Tailwind?" I asked.
"Awful," the flier replied grumpily.
I patted him in fake sympathy and walked away. "How much longer do you think it'll take for you to heal?"
Tailwind obviously took a moment to run an internal scan before he said "Half a day?"
"Is that 'when I'll be fly-able' or 'when I'll be healed'?"
"They mean the same thing," Tailwind asserted.
I rolled my eyes. "Sure, whatever." I stood and cracked my back. "Go back into recharge. I'll take a look around just to make sure we're not in trouble. You might have to fly sooner. I'll wake you if that's the case."
Tailwind grumbled a little, but I knew when he went back into recharge. I turned on the spark-signature scrambler again and walked towards the entrance. I closed my eyes and listened.
It was all idiotic conversations, mundane things...ah. For the most part.
There was an underlying conversation, heavily encoded, but nothing that I couldn't bust wide open. I shifted on my feet, unhappy. Interpol was on our trail, and knew what Tailwind was, and so were in contact with the 'bots. I really wasn't ready to confront them yet. So I settled myself and completely scrambled the signal, bouncing falsified answers to both that were convincing enough and said in the same voice that no-one questioned the authenticity.
I'm good at what I do.
Still...we were facing a problem.
I opened my eyes and looked at the Decepticon sitting silently across from me. With a sigh I stood and cracked my back before pinging my master. I received confirmation before sending a wordless inquiry to him—I needed Tailwind's specs and some rudimentary knowledge of how to repair him so we could get off the ground faster.
After the smallest pause the information came back to me, and I pinged gratitude before cutting the connection.
I suppose that's one thing that's advantageous about being almost part of Soundwave—sometimes, hell, most of the time—words aren't necessary.
I look around and find some things I could use as rudimentary tools before walking over to Tailwind and examining him critically. There were some places that needed just a little patching up, while others needed severe repairs—the kind that I couldn't do, but which Mikaela...
My face tightened in pain and I shook the memories away, my hands remaining steady the entire time. She was no longer a part of my life. I hadn't seen her in years. She had no doubt moved on, found someone else. Maybe she was still on the base, perhaps she had forsaken the Autobots.
Curious, I looked her up on the internet.
There was almost nothing about her, which meant she was still on base with the Autobots. I found out that there had been a funeral for me, just for closure for my parents. I was a hailed a hero. It made my heart ache.
I was caught in nostalgia and ended up looking up everything about the people who had populated my old life as I worked on Tailwind. By the time I finished my trip down memory lane, I had done some extensive surface repairs on the flier. I listened in on the Interpol conversation and tensed. I took the spark-scrambler off and woke Tailwind.
"Hurry! Interpol is coming for us!"
"People with Autobot connections."
Tailwind popped open his cab and made a surprised sound. "You did repairs."
"I take care of my partners." Oh, the double entrandre.
Tailwind powered up and I began my jamming sequence. He blasted—literally—out of where we had been hiding and took to the sky. The human military had taken his being a jet into account, as there were fliers there as well—Autobot ones.
"Fragging 'bots," Tailwind snarled. "I hate their fliers! Can you do anything to help, Screen?"
"Give me a moment!" I snarled. I took a deep breath, forming a quick plan.
First things first—alert Soundwave. Back-up would be nice, and it's not beneath me to ask, although the flier I was with would probably rather die than ask for help. Stupid pride.
I sent a wordless thought/request to Soundwave, who, after a pause, responded with the affirmative. He would send Decepticon backup. Of the Seeker or other kind, I was unsure. I was pretty sure Tailwind would be mortified if the others in his squad came to his aid, so I pinged that question, which was answered in the negative. The others were busy on their own missions. We would be getting Starscream's group. That was probably even worse. Definitely for me, anyway.
Now to scramble communications.
That promised to be difficult, with how Tailwind was flying. The curses he was using were inventive, and I filed them away for later use.
Still, I couldn't concentrate, and I knew he needed to transform to fight better.
"What?" Tailwind half-exclaimed.
"Drop me over an Autobot! I'll disable them, and it'll give me intimate access to their communication systems. Not to mention allowing you to fight."
"Smart little pet, aren't you?" Tailwind murmured. "Here we go!"
Tailwind made a number of moves that should've been impossible for a jet to make before turning upside down, the hatch opening simultaneously. I free-fell for what felt like forever before I landed on an Autobot flier.
Thankfully, my weight is no different than a normal human's, so it was barely registered, especially when a Cybertronian is in fight mode.
I should know. I was almost successful in taking Skywarp out this one time...
But that's unimportant.
I maneuvered so I was clinging to chinks in armor, and through an effort of will, more or less short-circuited the flier's systems with the lightest touch on his wiring. It also gave me brief access to the Autobot frequencies, which I memorized. They'd definitely come in handy.
While I was falling with the baffled and panicky Autobot, I moved and, through a really big effort of strength, managed to do the equivalent of snapping the flier's neck by yanking out some delicate and important wiring hidden by plates of armor that anything larger would never be able to reach through.
I could feel when he died. Do you know how disturbing that is? It's why I usually refrain from fighting. Much easier to let other people do the killing for you.
I scrambled across the fallen Autobot's body and looked around, the wind whistling past my ears, making my eyes water, my clothes snapping in the wind and flattening against my body.
It's a terrifying sight, seeing another flier coming straight at you for killing who might have possibly been their mate.
Thankfully, a familiar form dropped out of the sky and landed on the approaching flier, ripping a wing off, sending him spiraling downwards. Tailwind flew over to me and I jumped into a waiting hand, clinging to the large fingers carefully.
The Decepticon flier fired off a few shots which, while missing their mark, were distracting.
Although the arrival of back-up was even more distracting.
Why don't we get out of here? I offered to him, only able to speak over a private channel since I was in contact with him.
Tailwind was briefly surprised before smirking, looking over his shoulder at Starscream's trine. Let's do it.
Oh, there are times I'm so glad I'm a Decepticon. An Autobot would have gone, "No! I have to stay to help my comrades!" Not a Decepticon. Other people around to take the damage for you? Fine. Time to leave.
I was tossed in the air briefly before falling into Tailwind's waiting cockpit, the hatch closing over me.
I braced myself as he activated his cloaking capabilities, flying up into the stratosphere and away, keeping in the calmer air layer.
I sighed and closed my eyes. "I'm gonna listen in on the Autobots."
"You can do that?"
"Now that I know their frequencies, I can," I mumbled and turned outwards, finding the encrypted channels.
It was difficult, but I eventually grew used to the Autobot dialect.
Of course, they were talking about me.
How'd he go down? There were no Seekers near him!
That one wasn't a Seeker—just an airborne menace. I didn't recognize him.
Probably some kind of espionage.
How'd he down Sky High?
I don't know!
There was an unhappy pause before I could almost hear the ding of a thought popping up.
I think someone was accompanying the flier.
They would've had to be small. I don't know of any flier who would take someone on willingly.
Barricade and Blackout both worked with smaller mechs than themselves.
Still, it didn't feel like a Cybertronian.
Tread Bolt, are you tracking the flier?
There was a brief pause before an affirmative was pinged back.
That caused me to come back to my senses and throw them out for a different purpose. When I swore using many of the same inventive expletives that my airborne partner had used, I got a questioning sound.
"We have an Autobot flier after us. Tread Bolt."
"What?! I don't sense him at all."
"A stealth flier to track a stealth flier," I murmured before placing my hands delicately on the controls before me. After a moment, I found his sensors and augmented them with my own, which caused him to jolt in surprise.
Before using a number of other swears that I filed away for later perusal.
"I need to maintain contact to keep my sensors with yours. But I would like to escape from the Autobot."
Straps flowed over me and bound me to my spot so I couldn't move. "Get ready, Screen."
I braced myself, but wasn't prepared at all for the fancy flying Tailwind pulled. That he braked first and let the faster Autobot flier scream past him was a surprise. When one of his shots made contact with Tread Bolt, it obviously surprised the Autobot, causing his cloaking to fall momentarily.
It was long enough for me to get a steady lock on him.
The fight became a game of cat-and-mouse, each vanishing—or attempting to vanish—from detection while trying to keep the other from doing the same. Eventually, I simply closed my eyes and trusted Tailwind to know what he was doing.
I detected an Autobot distress signal coming from Tailwind's opponent and quickly set about intercepting it, keeping it from reaching its intended recipient, whomever that may be.
"Tailwind," I said tightly, all of my efforts wearing me thin. I couldn't keep up much longer without passing out. Endurance is one of my strong-points, but I can only do so much for so long.
Tailwind executed a maneuver that left my head spinning and my stomach in my heels, and in the background I heard an unhappy wail from our pursuer. Tailwind vamoosed quickly, his radar cloaking, along with my addition of visual, making him invisible to all detection.
Eventually, after far too long, Tailwind's straps loosened and pulled away, allowing me to let go and lean back in the seat.
"Let's not do that again," I muttered, keeping up my visual cloaking but letting all other sensors rest.
Tailwind chuckled. "Seconded. I say we find some place to rest before continuing our mission."
"Mmm..." I murmured before falling asleep.
I woke with a back-ache and a pounding headache, which made me groan and grimace in pain.
Perhaps multitasking like that was a bad idea.
I blinked blearily and smiled faintly as the voice registered as both familiar and not threatening. "Yeah. You get any recharge time?"
"Yeah," Tailwind replied. "We're in a safe enough place."
I sat up further and looked around. "I'm surprised that you actually chose a cave. Where are we anyway?"
"Somewhere in Mongolia," Tailwind supplied.
I made a sound of understanding before pushing up on the hatch gently, which was opened for me. I stepped out and Tailwind transformed immediately, wincing.
"How badly are you hurt?" I asked, surprised at the concern in my voice. Was a flier actually growing on me? Horror of horrors!
"Not too badly. That Autobot flier got it worse than I did." Tailwind looked at me. "Which is because of you."
I shifted on my feet, inexplicably embarrassed. I suppose it was because the only praise I'd ever received was from Soundwave. "Well, if you went down, I did too. It was only prudent," I muttered.
"Of course," Tailwind replied, the smallest smirk in his voice.
I rolled my eyes and wandered a little away, reaching out for my Master.
He connected with me almost instantaneously, which made me shiver. There was a transfer of memory-data, and I slipped in a request that Tailwind be considered for promotion, or at least to be moved out of the Air Strike Patrol...or take it over. Any advancement would be appreciated.
There was a "I'll consider it" feeling from Soundwave before it broke off, making me sigh.
"It's incredibly strange to see an organic's eyes glow red," Tailwind commented, obviously intrigued. "Why?"
"I contacted my Master," I said with a small, satiated smile. "Told him where we are, what happened, thanked him for the backup, etc."
"You called for Screamer's trine?" Tailwind half-exclaimed.
"Hey, don't bitch."
Tailwind huffed and shook his head, which made him wince.
"You need to see a medic, doncha?" I said, cocking my head to the side. "I can patch up the little things, but..."
"Just need more rest," Tailwind said gruffly, although there was a undertone of pain to his voice.
I nodded slowly. "Do that. I'll keep watch."
He grumbled, but eventually folded back into jet form and, as far as I could tell, passed out.
I walked to the mouth of the cave and looked around from the safety of the shadows.
There was nothing for miles around. Either on the ground or in the sky—very few satellites made their way over this particular part of the Earth that were of much use.
That didn't mean there weren't government spy satellites wandering around for me to tap into—the only thing was that Soundwave was exponentially better than I at it, so I was responsible for all the communications satellites (phone, satellite TV, etc.). There was a lot of crap to sift through, and as Soundwave had better things to do than listen to humans talk at each other, it got delegated to me.
Have I mentioned that I get bored very easily?
I began pacing the width of the cave, and then went exploring into its recesses, always keeping an ear out for Tailwind or someone else approaching. My sensors were trained very hard on detecting Autobot frequencies, and there was no stealthy 'bot that would be able to get by me. Not unless they somehow learned to dampen their spark-signatures, which I had discovered most were wont to do. I had someone explain it to me as their spark-signature proclaims who they are and to do suppress that would be like denying who they were. I never had any problem with it, since my identity was fluid—organic and not.
I felt one—no, three—Autobot fliers approaching. I quickly ran to Tailwind and, placing a hand on him, dampened his spark signature, while also projecting a false one about...oh, a mile, two miles, away. I felt them turn towards that and once I was sure they were chasing ghosts I dropped the signal, focusing on maintaining our safety.
I really dislike the prospect of dying—once was more than enough. The only problem with being a Decepticon is that you're constantly tense, since the attack could come from either your frenemies or foes. It's exhausting. I was keeping track of both Autobot and Decepticon channels, even when the lines became heavily encrypted.
Hey, I take my intel job very seriously and you'd be surprised at what you could learn when sentients speak candidly. I had diffused a number of Starscream's plans against Megatron that way.
Trust me, I prefer Megatron over Starscream not only because that is my Master's preference, but also because I can't stand the Seeker.
After the three Autobot fliers had faded into the aether, I was left alone with my thoughts and a heavily injured Tailwind.
Well, not entirely alone. Soundwave is always with me. When all else falls, returning to being a part of him is a way to pass the time. I set up a few precuations that I continually carried with me to make sure that we were invisible to detection before sitting down against a wall and closing my eyes.
I guess what I'm about to describe might be considered gratuitous, but, really, in order to understand my motivations, my continued desire to remain with Soundwave, it's necessary.
Nonetheless, you could theoretically skip this section without affecting the plot of the story I am weaving.
As my eyes closed I sought out the connection that I have with Soundwave and let myself focus on it, lose myself in it. I felt him recognize my presence and link me to the part reserved for my consciousness and spark, enveloping me in a deep, penetrating feeling of safety and home.
But, more than that, there was a feeling of belonging. It sent shivers of pleasure through me, stealing my breath away. Being so close to someone, being so intimiately connected to the point of being a part of them...Soundwave knows the effect it has on me and regards it with a detached amusement. He knows that the feeling I was experiencing would keep me with him, no matter how tempting it would be to turn and try to forsake him.
Pleasure is the best way to hook someone and keep them by your side. If you—and only you—can make someone feel more alive, more real, that person will never want to leave you. It was that way with Soundwave and I. I was addicted and more than content to do what I was ordered just to feel the ecstasy from being intwined with my Master.
I didn't know if the others felt the same way, and didn't care. A loss for them if they didn't enjoy being with Soundwave as much as I did.
I let my will go, allowed my Self to fade into Soundwave, resting and gathering my strained resources.
Three days later, Tailwind was ready to take to the skies again. I was unsure as to the prudence of that decision, but it wasn't mine to make. Fliers are a proud breed of Cybertronian, and hell if I tell him that the gouge on his side looks nasty, maybe he should let it heal for another day.
"We're going to make a quick run over Asia, then I want you to drop me off in the States. The 'bots will know your face and make by now, so you won't be safe, even with your superior stealth capabilities."
Tailwind did not seem pleased by this. "I'm planning on seeing if I can be assigned to this place. It is...more interesting than other planets I've been sent to."
I smiled faintly. I think I was growing on the flier, if only because I was incredibly useful to him. "You still need to see a medic," I pointed out. "Drop me off, then go get yourself looked at, m'kay?"
Tailwind gave me the dirtiest look, which I simply smirked at.
"If I need to, I can make that an order and there will be nothing you can do except follow it."
"I'm a Prime," I drawled. "It commands a certain respect, and comes with a few perks. Admittedly, Optimus doesn't use most of them because he's an Autobot..."
"Those did happen to be your teammates at one point."
"Tailwind, I'm a Decepticon. I'm a part of Soundwave. My opinion has changed."
Tailwind gave me a considering look before nodding, a vicious smile forming on his face. "I understand. Now, let's get back to work."
I smirked faintly as he transformed back into his jet mode and hopped in once he was finished. He taxied to the outside and took off, I prepared for the vicious acceleration this time. We entered the air and he cloaked himself from electronic detection as I extended my visual cloaking to him.
"What'd you do?" he asked me, sounding faintly nervous as he detected my sensory overlay.
"I have a visual cloak. I've extended it to you," I told him.
"I see," he said slowly. "That must come in handy."
"Hey, not all of us espionage can be big fighter jets capable of defending themselves with weapons."
The flight was in comfortable silence, I having to briefly learn Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Russian to be able to cross metaphorical wires. Tailwind was more careful this time, flying at a slower speed higher up. Tailwind could, apparently, go up pretty high, almost to the thermosphere. That is impressive.
We cruised along before I got a ping from my Master, causing me to sit up straighter.
Yes? I asked almost eagerly.
Soundwave sent me a packet of information before disconnecting, leaving me to sift through what he had given me while also paying half-attention to the information flying around me.
I could feel Tailwind beginning to falter and said, "Why don't we find someplace to land? You've been pushing yourself for the last half hour. We don't need you to be hurt anymore than you already are."
"I'm fine," Tailwind growled.
I placed my hands on his controls and brought up all of his diagnostics, showing him that he wasn't fine. At all.
"There's a Decepticon base not too far from here," I said and showed him the coordinates. "It's still under construction, but it's safe for you. Lots of dampening systems."
Tailwind made an annoyed sound of acknowledgement.
It took us an hour, but we eventually got to the base, I sending the code to drop the safeguards, allowing Tailwind a safe landing. I hopped out and ran a hand along Tailwind, pulling away all my sensors and returning them to my self. "I'll see you around, 'wind. Hopefully we will end up working together again," I said casually as I walked away from the hangar.
The flier didn't both to grace me with a response, as I had used a nickname, but I didn't care. My latest mission was bothering me unnecessarily.
I suppose it was to be the true test of whether or not I had left my life as Sam Witwicky behind.
My mission was to infiltrate one of the Autobots' bases. Yes, bases. Plural. They weren't afforded the luxury of having only one base anymore—not with how well-informed and coordinated the Decepticons had become. The bases were scattered about the world, but the closest and largest was still Diego Garcia. Nonetheless, that would be incredibly difficult to infiltrate, considering that it already had been by the Insecticons and Ravage. I would need to go after a different one if I wanted to be successful.
I paused, going through the information I had been given and sighed heavily. There was no choice—it had to be Diego Garcia.
I ran a hand through my hair and sighed, my feet taking me away from the 'con base and out into the rest of the continent. It was such an insult that the Decepticons were able to have a base in the United States without anyone noticing. Then again, since I and my Master had a hand in its development, it was the most secure and well-hidden place possible.
My feet kicked up dust puffs as I walked along, drought having plagued the plains states for the past few years. There were still people who clung to their farms, but as the water crisis was escalating, many moved out in favor of the more economical option of indoor farming. Water could simply be continually recycled, the climate could be controlled, quality was assured...there was really no downside except the lack of need for human labor.
It had been a benefit of the technology I leaked from the Cybertronians.
What? It's still my planet. I don't want to see it all get shot to hell.
The sky was crystalline blue above me, the distant roar of jet engines above me making my skin crawl. Thankfully, I knew the difference between a Cybertronian jet engine and a human jet engine—both military and civilian, and could tell that whoever was up there wasn't looking for me.
As I walked, I thought and planned.
The sea-faring Decepticons were spotty at best—most didn't like me. They'd risk Soundwave's wrath as long as they got rid of me. The fliers—the spies—had a little more respect for me, as could be evidenced by being caught by Tailwind when he could've let me plummet and die. So, I would have to be caught somewhere near a different Autobot base and prove dangerous enough to capture but not kill.
Now that would be the hard part. For the most part—for both sides—it was see-enemy-kill-it. What would I do that would make them capture me but not kill me?
My stride hitched as an idea dawned on me. The 'bots were all about redeeming the lost. My spark-signature was still Sam, even though the Decepticon flavour betrayed my allegiance. A smile slowly spread across my face.
Yes. Yes, that would work quite nicely.
Scenario: Through "ineptitude" I get chased down and cornered. The hope is that it's Ratchet, Bumblebee, Optimus, or Jolt who find me, since they are the ones familiar with my spark-signature. Everyone else would find it...odd...but wouldn't look too far beyond that. However, those four would hesitate, especially if I wore my original appearance. It's impossible to change one's base spark-signature, even though overtones can be added—such as my Soundwave claim and Decepticon allegiance, but there's always a part that remains solidly SAM. Or Screen. Or whatever I decide to call myself.
So. Get caught snooping by one of them and I won't be shot on sight. Will they capture me? There's always the possibility that they'll kill me anyway for daring to imitate Sam in such a warped manner. Ratchet would know otherwise, though. He knows it's impossible to duplicate spark-signatures down to the minutia. Hmm...not the best plan, but how else would I get captured, not killed, and get to Diego Garcia? Infiltration by any normal means would be a pain and mostly impossible. I could imagine that the security checkpoints they had were paranoid. Especially with Red Alert about.
I sighed and ran a hand through my hair, kicking a rock at my feet. Which base to get caught at, then? I kept an idle ear to the conversations flying around me before a smirk formed on my face. Perhaps I wouldn't even have to work that hard...