He'd said it before, and he'd say it again – being a minibot had its advantages. The little red Autobot looked about his domain with a slight nod of approval. The Ark was huge, it had to be. It was built as an exploration ship that would house a hundred or so normal-sized Cybertronians. None of the rooms had been built specifically for minibots, which was either a horrible misfortune, or the smiling of fate, depending on how you looked at it.
Perceptor liked to think that the fates were having a splendid day when he was assigned to this ship. Sure, he had to share it with some of the quirkiest mechs the Autobots had to offer, but in his mind, it was worth it, just to have this lab. Since it was built with a much larger scientist in mind, it came with plenty of room for anything the little red mech could want to work on. And it was all his.
The mech walked up to a table, and reached for a datapad that contained information about the new plant substance they had found on a planet. A soft trilling sound reached his audios, and he stopped abruptly and looked around. All was silent for a moment, and Perceptor reached back to the data pad. The trilling sound came again. Whirling around, Perceptor tuned his audios as high as they would go and listened. The sound came from the left, and he slowly turned and walked in that direction – taking care to step lightly.
He reached the wall and tilted his head to one side, trying to pinpoint the exact location of the sound. It seemed almost like it was inside the wall. A thin metal hand reached up and touched the wall. The sounds ceased. Perceptor lightly knocked on the wall, and a flurry of trilling issued from behind the panel.
Frowning slightly, the scientist brought a thin tool out of subspace and began removing the panel. The panel though, as luck would have it, did not want to be removed. After a few breems of attempting to carefully remove the stubborn wall panel, Perceptor decided that maybe the wall didn't really need that panel put back on after all. The little scientist's feet clacked against the floor as he stomped his way over to a table to get a relatively small saw.
Clacking back over to the panel, he knocked on the wall again. The trilling sounds were still in the same place. After a brief nod to himself, Perceptor attacked the edges of the panel with the saw – making sure to cut around where the sounds were located. A few moments longer, and the edges of the panel were all cut, but it didn't fall out of the wall like one would expect, it just sat there.
Perceptor let out an aggravated huff before working the ends of his spindly fingers under the new edges of the panel. He tugged on the piece... Nothing. He pulled harder... Still nothing. Fixing the panel with a most hateful glare, the red mech braced his feet up against the wall and pulled with all his might. With an agonized cracking sound, the panel finally broke free from the wall. Unfortunately for Perceptor, it broke free rather abruptly, causing him to fall backwards onto the floor with a loud clang.
Grumbling angrily to himself, Perceptor kicked the panel across the room, watching it slide into the far wall before turning his attention back to the hole in the wall. At a glance, nothing looked wrong – it was just your average hole in the wall. Perceptor walked up to the wall and peered into the hole. Spying a small ball of fluff, he tilted his head to one side as he scanned it. Blue optics widened slightly in surprise as he realized it, whatever it was, was alive.
Reaching into the hole, he gently pulled the small creature out of the wall and held it at arm's length for a moment. He tentatively poked it with one finger, and the creature squeaked at him. Smiling a little, he patted the creature's back – or at least, what he assumed was it's back – and it began trilling again. Perceptor carried the small furry creature over to a table and sat it down. Almost immediately, the little ball of fluff began ambling it's way across the surface, trilling the whole way. It knocked it's front end into a container, spilling the contents across the table top. The scientist frowned as the tiny, organic contents of the jar scattered across the table and the floor.
He grabbed the container before it could roll away itself, and sat it far from the creature. As he watched, the furry creature began eating the contents of the jar. Fascinated, the red mech scanned the creature again as it ate, cataloging the information for later use. Just then, his internal communicator went off – Prowl needed to speak with him.
Making an irritated click at the interruption – he was doing science, for Primus' sake! – Perceptor grabbed the small creature off the table and put it inside a box so it wouldn't run off. Giving the creature one last look, the scientist left the lab.
The meeting with Prowl had turned out to be a meeting involving, in one way or another, nearly every 'bot on the ship and so had taken what felt like an eternity or two to end. After the tactician must have decided that everyone had been tortured enough, the meeting was ended and the assembled 'bots happily scurried away from the room as fast as they could.
Wheeljack stopped Perceptor as he left the room – well, perhaps 'stopped' is an understatement, as the engineer picked up his smaller companion as he was walking out the door.
Perceptor shot the engineer a disproving look, "You could at least warn me before you pick me up."
Wheeljack just laughed, "Yeah, yeah. Hey, wanna grab some energon? Ratchet kicked me out of my lab for the time being."
"He's probably tired of putting you back together," Perceptor guessed.
The engineer shrugged in reply and turned toward the rec hall. Perceptor looked longingly at the ground, but his captor showed no intention of putting him down anytime soon. The scientist's optics brightened as he remembered something, "I'd like to stop by my lab first. There is something I need to check on."
Wheeljack stopped in the hall and gave his companion an amused look. He chuckled as he turned around to go to the science wing, "Some new project? Why didn' ya tell me about it sooner!"
Perceptor half-shrugged, "Because I wasn't exactly planning this project."
Wheeljack arched an optic ridge, but said nothing. The walk to the lab was relatively quick, for Perceptor, as Wheeljack's stride was far larger than his own. The door was keyed open, and Wheeljack said in an amused tone, "I am putting you down now!"
"Thank you for the warning," Perceptor said as his feet touched the floor.
The red mech wandered toward the table where the furry creature was as Wheeljack eyed the hole in the wall and the mutilated panel across the room. Pointing at the hole, the engineer laughed, "Have a little wall trouble, Perce?"
Perceptor shook his head at the nickname, "My name is not 'Perce', Wheeljack. And there was something behind the panel... Which, admittedly, did not want to be removed."
"I can tell... Wait, there was something behind the panel?" Wheeljack looked a bit confused.
Perceptor nodded, "Yes, it's right-" the scientist stopped mid-sentence as he looked inside the box, "-um... here."
Wheeljack strode over and looked over Perceptor's head to see in the box. The scientist simply stared in the box. When he left, there had just been the one creature. Now, there were seven, all different sizes and colors. The white engineer looked at the mass of furry creatures, then at the seemingly frozen Perceptor. With some concern, he asked "Everything OK, Perceptor?"
Perceptor shook his head, as though clearing some thought, and said "Yes. Well, I think. It's just that, when I left for that meeting, there was only the one creature."
Wheeljack looked back in the box, seven was most certainly not the same as one. A string of scientific, and not-so-scientific ideas flitted through the engineer's processor, but before he could voice any of them, the door to Perceptor's lab flew open. A glance at the now open entrance showed two very unhappy, very dented warriors. Sideswipe's optics flicked from Wheeljack, crouched on the ground, to Perceptor, and a not-so-innocent smirk appeared on his face, "We interrupting something?"
Perceptor crossed his arms, "Well, actually,-"
"We need repairs," a rather livid Sunstreaker cut him off.
Wheeljack stood back up and eyed the pair, "Have Ratchet repair you. We're doing an experiment."
Sunstreaker's scowl got even darker, and Sideswipe cast his gaze to the ceiling and explained, "We already went to Hatchet. He chased us out."
"Well... Can you wait? We just got started on this experiment, and-" Wheeljack began, but stopped at the yellow twin's glare, "Oh, uhh, right. Warriors should be ready in case of an attack. C'mon, Perce." He grabbed the scientist off the floor again, much to the minibot's disapproval, and led the twins out of Perceptor's lab and into his own, as he had chairs and berths built for the larger mechs.
The repairs themselves took longer than expected, as Sunstreaker had to make sure everything was just so before he would accept the repairs and finally leave. When everything was to the yellow warrior's liking and the two finally left the lab, Perceptor checked his chronometer – surprised it was so late. Putting the last of the tools away, Perceptor said, "I didn't realize it was getting quite so late. I believe I'm going to grab some energon and head to my quarters for the night."
Wheeljack nodded his agreement, "That mech always takes forever to repair. I'm supposed to be starting some new project Prowl has planned sometime tomorrow, so I'd better get off to recharge. See ya later, Perce! Let me know how those critters are doin' tomorrow!" The engineer waved as he left the lab.
Perceptor trotted out of the room and straight to the rec hall. At the very least, he had to refuel before Ratchet caught him skipping out on energon again. Work or no work, the medic was frighteningly adamant about refuels.
The next day, Perceptor stopped by the rec hall on the way from his quarters to grab a cube of energon before he headed off to the lab. Just as he reached the door to his scientific domain, an explosion sounded from the direction of Wheeljack's lab. A data burst came through from the engineer, on the ship-wide frequency, a moment later, .:It's OK, I got it under control!:.
Shaking his head in amusement, Perceptor keyed open the door to his lab and stepped in. As the lights came up, he froze in shock, the energon cube slipping from his hand and shattering on the floor by his feet. He slowly looked from side to side, refreshing his optics several times to make sure what he was seeing was really there. The scientist went to take a cautious step forward, only to hear an alarmed shriek from the floor. He looked down, one foot still in the air, and saw several furry blobs on the floor where he was about to step.
Still disbelieving the data from his optics, Perceptor stepped around the creatures on the floor and wandered farther into his lab. Everywhere he looked, there was fur. There had to be several hundreds of the small creatures inhabiting his laboratory now. He grabbed a couple off of a desk and the creatures started trilling at him as he carried them to a different table and sat them down next no less than twelve other creatures.
His optics wandered around the room – there were creatures on the floor, the tables, even stuck to the walls! Perceptor's shoulders sagged in astonishment at the hundreds upon hundreds of fuzzy masses all about his lab – he was pretty sure there were more on that desk now. Carefully, so as not to step on any of the organic life forms, he made his way to a cabinet. Pulling open the door proved unfortunate as the scientist was buried under an avalanche of the fuzzy creatures. He didn't even want to know how the things had gotten inside an airtight cabinet.
Just as he was crawling out from under the ever-growing pile of fluff, Perceptor heard the door to his lab hiss open. A familiar voice sounded from the entrance, "Yo, Perceptor, you got any, uh…"
Perceptor tip-toed his way around the creatures on the floor to get in sight of the speaker. The minibot looked up at the now speechless silver mech in the doorway. Trying to seem dignified, Perceptor addressed the mech, "Can I help you Jazz?"
Jazz looked at the minibot scientist, started to say something and stopped. After a moment more of silence, he settled for gesturing helplessly at the wads of fur and saying, "What is all this?"
"It's-" Perceptor paused – he wasn't entirely sure himself. "They're... alive."
Sure, it was unhelpful, but it was a response.
Jazz looked around the room again, "I... see. But what are they?" The saboteur carefully scooped a handful of the creatures off the table and held them closer to his face.
Perceptor shrugged, rather helplessly, "I really am not sure. I found one in the wall, and it appears to have multiplied... quite a lot."
Jazz's head snapped up and then down to the scientist, "All of these... came from one? How long have ya had them?!"
"...An orn... maybe," Perceptor guessed.
The saboteur stared at the scientist with a rather blank look before slowly putting the creatures in his hand back on the table and slowly backing out of the room. The clanging of feet on floor betrayed his mad dash from the science wing. Perceptor watched him go before hopping across a patch of creatures and dashing out the door himself. He locked the door behind him and decided the day would be better spent maintaining Teletraan.
The day outside the lab had been rather uneventful in itself, and now Perceptor was sitting at a table in the rec hall with Wheeljack and Ratchet. The three were discussing nothing much at all when a rather frantic Sideswipe flew through the door and skidded to a halt. The warrior's gaze darted from mech to mech in the room until he found, "RATCHET!!"
The red melee warrior dashed over to the CMO, frantically waving his arms and rapidly trying to explain something. Ratchet scowled as he couldn't understand any of the babble coming out of Sideswipe's vocaliser, and as soon as the warrior was close enough, the medic grabbed his hands and held them still and said, "Stop. And try again. Slowly."
Sideswipe's face twisted into something almost pitiful, and he whispered, "Ratchet, there's something inside me!! I can feel it squirming around!"
The medic raised an optic ridge skeptically, "Inside you?"
Sideswipe nodded, looking for all the world like an over-sized youngling. Ratchet pinched his nose plates and growled, "If this is some prank of yours, I swear to Primus, you'll regret it."
"It's not, I swear!" the warrior whined.
A heavy sigh escaped the medic and he jabbed a finger in the direction of the door, "Medbay."
Sideswipe snapped to near attention and ran out the door. Ratchet gave a weary wave to Wheeljack and Perceptor as he left, mumbling something about retirement. Wheeljack's head fins lit up as he chuckled, "That mech's certainly a strange one."
Perceptor nodded, "Him and his twin."
Wheeljack grinned some more before remembering, "Oh, how are those critters doin'?"
Perceptor's optics flickered in surprise – he'd almost forgotten about the lab full of organic beings. The scientist was suddenly very interested in the table, "Um. They're good. A lot better than I had expected, actually."
Wheeljack tilted his head as he watched Perceptor examine the table, "Are there more?"
Perceptor grimaced lightly, "You could say that."
Wheeljack's grin grew, "How many more?"
The scientist paused as he did a quick calculation, "Based on their previous... reproductions... I'd say a few thousand more by now."
The engineer gave a low whistle, "Damn, if that isn't impressive for wads of fur," he chuckled, "What're you going to do with all of them?"
Perceptor waved a hand unhelpfully, "I don't know. If they'd stop multiplying, maybe I could collect them and we could deposit them on a planet before they escape to the rest of the ship."
Before Wheeljack could respond, alarms started sounding throughout the ship, and Red Alert's panicked voice rang through the P.A., "We've been breached!!! Lock down the ship! There's a Decepticon infestation!"
The two scientists exchanged worried looks as everyone else ran out of the rec hall to their stations. Wheeljack picked Perceptor up and headed to the security center at a brisk trot. Perceptor put a hand over his optics, "This is one time when I really hope the ship is full of Decepticons."
The two reached Red Alert's domain to see the security chief in the hallway, pacing back and forth. As soon as he saw Wheeljack and Perceptor, the red and white launched into a rant about organic Decepticons taking over his office. Wheeljack looked at the door, then at Red Alert, and asked, "So... why are you out here?"
Red Alert gestured wildly at the door, "Because there are nearly a hundred Decepticons in there! I need back up!"
Wheeljack nodded slowly and headed to the door as Perceptor put his face in his hands. The engineer keyed open the door, noting the security director standing far behind him, looking ready to bolt. Perceptor took one look in the office and groaned, "How did they get loose? There's no way out of the lab!"
Red Alert's optics grew huge and he pointed a finger at the pair of scientists, shouting, "They're yours? Traitors!! I knew there were Decepticon sympathizers on board!!"
Wheeljack let Perceptor down and turned to attempt to pacify the irate security director, just as Optimus Prime, Prowl and Ironhide rounded the corner – all ready for battle, and the weapons specialist looking particularly delighted. The engineer put up his hands to slow them down, "Hey now, it's just a false alarm."
Optimus lowered his weapon slightly, but Ironhide and Prowl stayed alert and ready. Prime withdrew his battle mask and looked at Wheeljack with an "explanation, please" expression. The engineer tapped his fingers together as he tried to figure out where to start. Finally he looked into the office and said, "Uh, maybe Perceptor should explain. Right, Perce?"
Perceptor slowly edged out of the infested office and looked up at Prime, "Well, you see, a few orns ago, I found a small organic creature behind a wall panel. I put it in a box while I went to a meeting, and when I got back, there were seven in the box," Wheeljack nodded in agreement, "Then Sunstreaker and Sideswipe needed repairs, so I left again, and when I came back the next morning... There were several hundred of the creatures all about my lab.... So, I locked the door and left."
Optimus waited for a moment, expecting the scientist to continue. When he didn't, he said, "You left?"
"Without informing anyone?"
Perceptor looked at the floor, "Well, Jazz saw them all over the lab."
"Well, that's all fine 'n dandy, but what's it got ta do with Decepticons?" Ironhide groused from behind the Autobot commander.
Perceptor looked back into the office and then replied, "Because now they're in Red Alert's office."
The black weapons specialist huffed angrily before turning and leaving, probably to go to the shooting range. Optimus strode forward and glanced into the office, the ghost of a smile gracing his face as he eyed the hundred odd wads of fluff plastered all over the room. Taking on a commanderly air again, he turned to the mechs still present, "Perceptor, please gather these creatures and take them back to your lab. Wheeljack, you can help him. Try to keep them contained from now on. Red Alert, cancel the alarms."
The commander and tactician then left the three mechs in the hall. Red Alert eyed the two scientists suspiciously as they gathered up all the small creatures and left. As soon as they were gone, the security director did a complete inspection of his office, sealing anything that resembled a crack.
On the way back to Perceptor's lab, the two scientists had to pass the med bay. Just as they were closing in on the oft-avoided doors, the entrance slid open, and Sideswipe wandered out. The red mech began walking toward them, looking quite happy. He raised a hand in a wave and opened his mouth to say something, but froze when he saw Wheeljack's handful of creatures.
A very un-warrior-like shriek tore from the melee warrior and he cried, "Keep those things away from me!!" backing up the whole while. After a few more horrified steps, Sideswipe turned and sprinted down the hall, away from Perceptor and Wheeljack.
Wheeljack stood dumfounded, slowly he looked a Perceptor and wondered, "What got into him?"
Ratchet, having been drawn to the entrance of his lair by the screaming, crossed his arms and grunted, "Something of yours I would guess."
At a mildly confused look from Wheeljack and a heavy sigh from Perceptor, the CMO continued, "I found one of those little... things... crawling around under that pit-spawn's armor."
Perceptor face-palmed, "I have no idea how they got out. There shouldn't have been any way out of the lab."
Ratchet made a disbelieving noise, "Right, and there shouldn't be any way for Sideswipe to get out of the brig, but he does." He eyed Wheeljack's handful of creatures – he was sure it was smaller a moment ago – and said, "So, you want these ones too?"
Wheeljack gave the medic a long blink, "I thought you said there was only one..."
Ratchet nodded, "There was... for about 10 breems. And then all hell broke loose. Those things have to be born pregnant." He shook his head in disbelief and snorted, "You'd better figure out how to catch 'em all, and preferably make them stop reproducing before we're packed in by the little fraggers."
Perceptor flicked his gaze to the ceiling, "Hmh, I'm not even sure what it is that keeps them alive yet."
"Maybe Hound knows," Wheeljack offered as they wandered into the med bay to gather up Ratchet's collection of creatures.
Ratchet and Perceptor gave the engineer blank looks. Wheeljack continued, "Well... Wasn't he the one that found that plant stuff on that planet? Maybe they eat it."
"That... sounds possible," Perceptor mused, picking up some fur balls off the ground.
Ratchet scowled as he scooped the creatures off the desk and dropped them into the overflowing pile in Wheeljack's hands. Once all the furry organics had been collected, Ratchet shooed the two scientists out of the med bay. Spying some out of place tools, the medic went to put them back. Just as his fingers touched one of the tools, the door opened with a hiss. Frowning, Ratchet turned around, ready to gripe at which ever poor mech was interrupting his peace.
Standing in the doorway was Jazz, looking a little too amused for Ratchet's liking. Being supported by the saboteur was a very alarmed looking Prowl. The CMO could just barely make out incoherent mumbling coming from the typically stoic tactician. Ratchet heaved a sigh through his vents and pointed at a nearby repair berth. Jazz nodded once and hauled Prowl over to the berth, pushing the mech back to make him sit.
Ratchet pinned Jazz with a deadpan look and asked, "What happened this time?"
Jazz's mouth twitched up into a smirk, "Well, it seems his office was full 'a those furry critters. Ol' Prowler opened up tha door and... well..." he gestured toward the tactician – the mech's state rather speaking for itself.
Ratchet rubbed a hand over his optics. Whoever was responsible for bringing these pests on board in the first place would definitely be cleaning the ship for the next few vorns. The medic gathered up the tools he would need and walked over to Prowl. He made a shooing motion at Jazz and said, "You, go get all those creatures out of Prowl's office."
Jazz gave a mock salute and sauntered out of the medbay. Ratchet shook his head at the mech before turning and getting to work on Prowl's frazzled processor.
A few orns later, and there wasn't a single area of the ship that was free of the furry plague. Questioning Hound about the creatures hadn't led to much information, other than the fact that he called them 'tribbles' and was rather fond of them. Quite by accident, Wheeljack and Perceptor had figured out that if the tribbles didn't eat, they didn't reproduce. Which, of course, wasn't much help now that the Ark was completely overrun.
Optimus made his way onto the command bridge of the Ark, trying not to step on all the tribbles in the way. Scooting his foot across the floor, he pushed a pile of tribbles off to the side and then swept his chair clean before plopping into it with all the dignity he could muster. The commander's optics glanced around the bridge, noting that each Autobot present was diligently working around all the furry tribbles in the way – periodically sweeping one off a console when it decided to wander around.
Perceptor was sitting at one of the stations, presumably scanning for sources of energon on nearby planets. Optimus shooed an errant tribble of the arm of his chair and sighed slightly. He glanced at the red scientist, "Perceptor, these tribbles have ceased reproducing, correct?"
The minibot turned to face his commander and gave a quick nod, "That is correct, sir. We sealed the rest of their food source in a new container, and they have since stopped their reproduction."
Optimus nodded, more to himself than anything, before replying, "Do you believe it would be possible to gather them all in one of the cargo holds, so they aren't all over the ship?"
Perceptor paused as he made some calculations, and after a moment he said, "I believe that would work. If we moved everything from Bay 1 into Bay 2 then it should be large enough to contain all of the tribbles."
Prime almost sighed with relief, but instead he commanded, "Make it so."
It was a large job, but finally, it was done. Everything had been moved out of the larger cargo bay – much to the disappointment of every mech involved in the rearrangement – and into the smaller bay, making a very large, empty space. Then, with the assistance of every crew member aboard the Ark, all of the tribbles were gathered up and put into the large cargo bay. Perceptor had been sent into the air ducts that ran through the walls of the ship to gather the tribbles hiding in them, and the twins had searched every secret compartment. All of the panels on the consoles had been removed, and Ratchet had modified one of his medical scanners to search inside the walls for the furry beings. At long last, the final handful of tribbles was put through a makeshift "airlock" and into the full-to-the-brim cargo bay.
Every Autobot on board was almost ecstatic that they could walk around without having to shove tribbles out of their way. Optimus silently agreed with his crew – having a clear ship once more was a blessing. Red Alert, Wheeljack and Perceptor had worked together to make sure the cargo bay was completely free of any way for the tribbles to escape again. All was well aboard the Ark. But, like all good things, the wellness vanished like smoke on the wind with one unfortunate sensor sweep.
Blaster spun around after seeing the results of the sweep, "Prime, the Nemesis has been detected on sensors. They've altered course to intercept."
Prime scowled briefly, "Understood, Blaster. Keep me informed of their movements." Blaster gave a sharp nod and turned back to his console.
Optimus opened a ship-wide communication, "Crew, report to battle stations. A Decepticon ship has been reported on an intercept course."
A few moments later, and the Nemesis was well within firing range, but they did not actually open fire, as Optimus thought they would. Instead, a communication appeared on the screen. Starscream's screechy voice soon filled the bridge of the Ark, and Optimus began wondering if the Decepticon was just bored and decided to taunt the Autobots for no apparent reason. More mechs on the bridge began wondering the same things as the self-proclaimed Decepticon leader continued on and on with his ranting.
The screechy Decepticon seemed to remember exactly who he was talking to eventually, and cut the communication. A brief moment of silence ensued before the Ark jerked to one side as it was impacted by missiles from the Nemesis. Optimus began calling commands to the mechs on board and the Ark returned fire. The Decepticon flagship closed the distance between the two vessels, signaling the Decepticon plan to attempt to board the Ark.
Off to one side, Jazz's visor brightened as he took in the scene and began making a plan. The saboteur sent a quick databurst to Sideswipe, .:Hey, Siders. You still got all those huge-aft crates?:.
There was a pause before, .:Yeeeah, why?:.
Jazz grinned to himself, .:Ah got a plan, but Ah'm gonna need a lot 'a help.:.
"...Jazz, the statistical probability that this plan will work is less than 3.23%."
Jazz turned his gaze to the ceiling behind his visor, "It's tha Decepticons, Prowler. It'll work."
Optimus still looked a bit uncomfortable with the saboteur's plan. The commander looked between Prowl and Jazz, "I have to agree with Prowl, Jazz. This plan doesn't sound very likely to work."
Jazz sighed dramatically, "They're 'Cons, yeah?" The other officers nodded. "Con's want energon, am Ah right?" A slightly more hesitant nod. "See! It'll work. We proly can't fight 'em off without wastin' all our resources, so we tell 'em if they stop attackin', we'll give 'em energon. We push the crates inta space and then high-tail outta here!"
Prime sighed and Prowl twitched slightly. The SIC frowned at the silver mech, "It's a logical assumption, but with the Decepticons involved, there are simply too many variables to adequately know-"
Prowl was cut off by a communication screen onlining and a disgruntled-looking Sunstreaker glaring daggers at them from the screen. "We got all of your fragging crates loaded and ready to go." the twin rattled off without invitation.
Jazz gave the screen a thumbs-up and a grin, "Good job, Sunshine! Get ready ta send 'em toward the 'Cons."
Sunstreaker gave Jazz the equivalent of a one-finger salute and a vicious glare before closing the communication. Optimus rubbed his optics wearily, "Jazz. I still do not think this is a very good plan."
Jazz waved a hand dismissively, "Don' worry 'bout it, Prime. It'll work."
"Jazz," Prime growled out.
The silver mech gave Prime the most innocent look he could manage. Optimus was about to launch into a speech about listening to orders, but was cut off by Blaster saying, "Yo! We got Decepticon's on the line!"
Jazz just gave Optimus a double thumbs-up. Prime glared at the saboteur before reluctantly nodding to Blaster. The communication's officer quickly keyed in a command, and Starscream's overly victorious face once again filled the screen. The Decepticon smirked at Optimus, "So, the mighty Prime wishes to surrender?"
Optimus bit back a growl, "I wish to... make a deal, Starscream." Jazz was going to pay for this.
Starscream's smirk morphed into a mocking sneer, "I never thought you would be the mech to make a deal with Decepticons. But, I'm listening."
"We have 75% of our energon stores crated and ready to ship out. We will give it to you in exchange for a cease-fire," Optimus offered.
Starscream arched an optic ridge and paused. Optimus silently hoped the offer didn't seem too outlandish. The Seeker smiled eerily at the Autobot commander, "We accept your offer."
Optimus sighed inwardly, apparently the Decepticons didn't care how bizarre an offer seemed when energon was involved. The Prime nodded and said, "We are releasing the crates now."
He gestured to Blaster, and the communication was closed. Jazz gave a whoop of excitement, "Toldja it'd work!"
Optimus shook his head slightly, "Don't celebrate just yet, Jazz."
Jazz chuckled, "Oh, don' worry. Ah ain't celebratin' yet." The silver mech pulled up the communication line to the cargo bay, "Go ahead and set those crates free!"
Sideswipe was at the screen and gave a quick mock-salute, "Right-O! Set 'em free, bro!"
The mechs on the bridge could hear Sunstreaker's grumblings in the back ground before the hiss of massive hydraulics signaled the outer door being opened. A grinding noise rumbled through the cargo hold and adjacent control room as the large tracks on the floor began carrying the full crates to the exit and sending them out the door. As soon as all the crates were on course to the Nemesis, the door was slowly closed and Sideswipe grinned back at the screen, "We are good to go!"
Prime nodded at the red twin and looked at Blaster, "Let's get out of here before they open those crates."
Blaster chuckled as he powered up the ship's massive engines, moving the Ark out of the way before activating the transwarp drive and maneuvering the ship into the wormhole and far out of the range of the Decepticons.
Starscream waited in the massive bay on the Nemesis surrounded by a visible aura of pride. Sure, the Autobots had gotten away – this time – but the Decepticons had been granted a massive supply of free energon! The crates were all hauled onto the Decepticon ship and Starscream looked eyed the first crate like a child would eye a Christmas present under the tree. He pointed a clawed finger at one of the underlings, "Open it."
The Decepticon in question gave a curt nod and, using a fairly small energon blade, sliced through the restraints holding the crate together. He leapt back in surprise when the front of the crate fell off and a veritable tidal wave of some sort of small particles poured out. The Decepticon's optics widened as he looked from the dusty pile to his leader. Starscream's expression was locked somewhere between horror and anger. The Seeker's optics narrowed dangerously, and he commanded quietly, "Open the others."
The other Decepticons, realizing that they would find themselves on the receiving end of Starscream's weapons scrambled to open the other crates. They were not very surprised to find they did not contain energon. They were, however, rather alarmed at the furry masses that rolled out of all the crates. The silence in the Nemesis was almost tangible. None of the Decepticons knew quite what to do, or expect from their leader. They watched in silence as the furry wads from one of the crates began crawling toward the dusty pile from the first crate.
Several of the Decepticons backed off in horror as they listened to the twittering from the creatures and the pile visibly grew before their optics. Starscream said nothing but abruptly turned and left. Deceived! He had been deceived, by Autobots! He clenched a fist and felt the sudden need to wipe something from existence. Without preamble, he raised an arm and blasted the nearest console before continuing his way to the command center. He dropped, rather unceremoniously, into the command chair, fuming and plotting revenge against the Autobots. Neither he, nor the rest of the Decepticons knew the full extent of the horror that had been unleashed upon their ship.
A/N: Oh, tribbles. You gotta love 'em. I don't own either franchise, I'm just borrowing the characters! :)