A Twin for a Twin
New Summary:Skyler's life is insane. It starts with a simple paint job, then getting kidnapped by an alien robot just as his twin brother goes missing. The alien? Sunstreaker. He's looking for Sideswipe. Intel wars, heists, & a race against the odds, in one fic.
A/N: Special thanks to Thatgirlbehindyou, new-species26, Saphireblu987, precious92, XxBlackEaglexX, Savior Angel, Uncertain-Angel, Crowthing/Crowlette, Kat Shadow, GlitchGirl23 (seven consecutive reviews), Nightlightbee, kittyqueen101, psc8850, Khalthar, Rainspiral, lilyou2 and Fyrearth for the reviews! If you happen to be lazy to log in, plz just type in your username, that way if you have any questions I could reply. Thanks to xx-I-love-books-xx, 7 Saivona seaschell, and NightFuryCrazy for the favs! Thanks to harry/ginny4eva, ironaft30, and Pixie Star Fire the alert! Thank you to Celelanthir for adding this fic to their C2s!
Extremely special thanks to Shizuka Suzuki! (explained later at the end of the chapter)
If you alerted, fav, and reviewed as well, your name comes out once. I don't mind if you have anything in mind but don't wish to share it with others, so if you're not comfortable in writing a public review, I'm open to have feedback through PM.
Main Notes: We're on 10,500 hits with 148 reviews! We finally hit the 10.5k mark! Woohoo! Always a HUGE pat on the back, hugs, and many, many thanks for your ever support in this fic! XD I know I may seem a little tizzy in the last chapter, but I was hoping to get some feedback how I executed a real-life like hacker war. I'm glad to have meet and in some cases went beyond the expectations of my readers. Thank you all who have reviewed! It's more than I ever hoped for! I'm also updating my summary to get the better overall feel of the story.
As for replies... I didn't get to reply any reviews this time (argh, RL stuff coming in and out), but in turn there's some goodies I prepared on my profile for the compensation. Yes, a celebration for the 10.5 hits mark! But.. I'll explain later on at the end of this chapter.
Faster update this time around...
Just as they run from Oakley...
Our heroes are stuck in a city with 'Cons...
Enjoy the Ride!
~ Chapter 14: Congratulations! You've won Murphy's Jackpot! – What's with Organic Con Femmes? ~
Con man Log Entry 3.04: Luck dives into the Trash Can
Denver, Colorado, US.
So Steve finally cracks and now I'm on the lamb. It didn't actually help that Murphy was rubbing his law into my face.
In fact, I think I've won the Murphy Jackpot Lottery.
Let's see… I have the FBI, the NSA, the CIA, and nearly every Intel agency in the US after me already with a bounty on my head… I got Decepticons and Autobots who want me because I'm the key to half of the Lazaros.
That was expected.
Afterward, I get a bomb dropped in my lap.
You're probably wondering what it is.
A call from Keith (early in morning after I SMS-ed him), and he said that Rachel was pissed at me for not contacting her over the phone.
I forgot about her.
She obviously wanted to know what the heck happened to me in Kansas City. Also, apparently not-so-lucky-for-me Catherine/Cathy was in Denver and when Rachel and her get together usually means some serious trouble for me. What trouble? Keeping secrets from them, not to mention I was still empty handed as far as my brother was concerned.
Steve was nicked away by Sideswipe, remember?* Insert cursing words here*
So, if I wasn't careful, just say – I'm in deep trouble and they were intent in brutally interrogating me. They were both my con sisters, and when you're dealing with female con artists, BEWARE.
If there's anything that the usual Con man should be worried about, it was to never give the opposite sex in the same field any reason to have a grudge against you. There is a reason why in the thievery world that the women are respected on equal terms. One, they're the best and least suspected by authorities when it comes to infiltration. Two, they can get away with things that men cannot do (for pride's sake and for formal situations). And lastly, they are the weakness of man himself, which is good as most marks that are conned on are the majority of the male population.
On the other hand, there's a really scary saying that female con artists go by if there is any chance that you are stupid enough to mess with them.
The quote goes:
"A woman once said that a man is like a deck of playing cards… you need:
A Heart to love him.
A Diamond to marry him.
A Club to smash his f**king head in, and
A Spade to bury the bastard."
Understand what I meant by REALLY SCARY now?
No wonder Uncle Rusty and the other guys married so late or – in fact – some, never married; at least when your partner is a Con artist too.
Not that I want to offend ladies by writing this (I don't a have any objections about getting married either), but I'm just giving an extreme example on what the female Con artist would do when you piss them off to the limit. Even Uncle Robert and my cousin Linus have their own sore spots when it comes to Aunt Molly; she currently holds a strategic position in the Interpol (her work's like Uncle Robert in a way) but she won't hesitate to pull some strings if she sees her husband or son doing something incredibly stupid.
…And pretty much I was sure she wouldn't hesitate to do it if it came to me and Steve.
By ALL counts, I'm intent to AVOID IT at ALL costs.
If Steve was with me right now, I was sure he'd agreed with me too.
I remember at one point when Aunt Molly had to pull some strings during Uncle Danny's VS the Night Fox heist because they were in a sticky situation she made sure to get Linus out of it. Linus didn't get out of it without a flattened ego out of it though. The story of 'your-mom-had-to-pull-you-out-of-the-sticky-situation-because- you-screwed-up-big-time' made it to the con family meetings for months afterwards. Uncle Robert pestered him over and over all those times and it was a reminder for all of us younger soon-to-be grifters that you don't screw up on a big job. My cousin wasn't really happy about being set as an example to the con family, but, hey, he was just glad enough he didn't end up staying in jail for a couple of years.
And if facing both my cousin Rachel AND Catherine wasn't enough… guess who we bumped into in Denver?
Well, 'spotted out of the blue' was more like it.
There were TWO Decepticons in Denver patrolling the area and their communication systems were FULLY online.
How am I going to get out of this one?
Not my lucky week, eh?
Early morning in Denver was greeted with a dingy old dusty garage in what seemed to be the rougher side of the city where English wasn't exactly the first language you would hear in the streets. Rather, it was more of an ethnic settlement gathering where what the mech had heard were human who were 'Hispanic' or at least where the majority of the area population speak Spanish. It wasn't the most comfortable place Sunstreaker had been during his whole life, but he didn't like getting dust particles on him with the already dead bugs that were still on his exterior and the noise of the morning of some crazy fleshlings shouting on the streets was just plain aggravating.
Thanking Primus he was going to get his wash very soon, he watched his human charge give a can of oil to the small bumbling sparkling in their midst. Sunny could've been more demanding about their place to stay for those few hours they had rested, if they weren't in such a dire situation right now. And speaking of dangerous situations, getting two Decepticons in one city was more than enough to make him tolerate his filthy exterior for what he wanted – a few more hours of safety.
With Flipluck with them now, Sunstreaker was not going to risk going into battle unless there was no way to avoid it. He might have issues if it was another normal full grown mech, but getting a sparkling into a fight was considered despicable by Cybertronian standards. The idea reminded him a bad memory when the youth sector was destroyed by the Decepticons; the only survivor they found was Bumblebee. On the other hand, there was no way around it as they had to kill those 'Cons before they leave for their next destination. Without a real full-proof plan, the Autobot guessed he'd just hide for the moment.
Still, the Decepticons wasn't the only problem that their motley group was faced with.
There were a few problems that lead them to why they were staying in their place right now. The basic reason because it was the only thing available as they arrived early in the morning. It was rather difficult to get a hold of anyone since bothering organic fleshlings during their re-charge didn't get useful results (it was a Sunday or an organic's day off). However, the main reason why they were here and not with Skyler's con family was because the young con man had… 'family' problems.
"Are you going to meet Rachel after you wash me?" Sunstreaker internally rolled his optics as he was fed up with all the mumbling Skyler was doing to calm himself down.
Turning on the water, Skyler wiped over the mech's hood with a plastic cloth with a sigh getting rid of a couple of insects on it. "You think I want to meet her?"
"Heh, you're trying miserably hard to avoid her like she's a curse, human," the mech laughingly mocked his charge.
"Of course I don't want to meet her now!" the youth exclaimed with a scowl on his face. "I'm pretty much empty handed without Steve. Not to mention, Cathy's got her back. In the most literal case, I'm going to get interrogated by both Rachel and Cathy together." Skyler snorted, "There's no way I'm letting Rachel into this crappy mess. She thinks I might change my mind from before. Having Uncle Robert know about this is more than enough."
Sunstreaker didn't understand why the human was hesitant all about this. "I don't get it, but, why are you backing off from two femmes on this?"
"They're not just two normal females, Sunstreaker," Skyler pointed out the problem. "Two female Con Artists; Rachel alone I can deal with, but Cathy? She has a class of her own and she's a natural Roper. I wouldn't be surprised if she somehow coerced me into telling about this Intel war I'm stuck in at the moment." He sighed as he slapped his hand on his forehead. "Having two of them targeting me spells disaster. It's the reason why even if the ratio in con groups that there's more men than women, they usually have a respective spot among the guys; Adam's weakness is Eve."
"That's why she was roping that big fleshy you stole from back in Louisiana?" Sunstreaker asked curiously.
Skyler blinked, "You were there when Cathy, Dexter, and I conned on the walrus guy?"
The mech snorted. "Well, I was targeting you and wondering what you were doing. That Dexter friend of yours seems to have a bad habit of 'fandom' for elite cars and I'd rather not have him find out about any of us Autobots."
"That's a given," Skyler laughed. The youth figured that Sunstreaker did what he could to try and plan how to kidnap him back then. In a way, he was glad he did end up being kidnapped because of the recent events with meeting Flipluck and Steve was now with Sideswipe. "How much do you know about Cathy anyway? You were following me around," he hinted.
"Not much, but I can say she's confident in what she does. She used her charm like it was nothing and sprung the trap on your target while she gave the goods to you," Sunny remembered from his memory bank and noting that also by her looks, to humans she was considered very attractive by male fleshlings. "What's a matter, human? Is she your weakness? I thought your con family rule has the 'privacy rule' you upheld so much all this time. It shouldn't be a problem to you." His charge was just stubborn when it came to these things.
A sigh came from the youth's mouth. He scratched his head while figuring out how he was going to explain it to the mech.
Flipluck being silent all this time shifted his head sideways as he listened to both his caretakers talking. Seeing Skyler looking like he was in trouble and it didn't seem like Sunstreaker understood what perhaps his other caretaker meant, he decided to suggest something. "Is it because Cathy is a sister to Skyler?"
Both of his caretakers had to their attention on the sparkling as they both forgot he was listening in.
"What makes you think that, runt?" Sunny questioned.
Flipluck shuttered his optics as he remembered it. "Umm – Tiffany said she had friends at school she said who were her sisters. Really close friends, but family!" he chirped happily. "Maybe, Sky and Cathy friends but siblings too?"
Skyler put a hand on his mouth as he chuckled. Flipluck's perceptiveness of things as well as his time with Uncle Robert somehow managed to rub off into him. "That's actually correct, Flipluck. She's my con sister. Or you could say she's already like my own sibling to me even though we're not related by blood." He then faced the mech, "In your terms Sunstreaker, she's an adopted sibling."
Sunstreaker thought of the rule, "So does that mean she's exempted from your so-called privacy rule? What happened to Rachel who's your blood cousin?"
"That just depends on the situation," Skyler noted. "Uncle Robert already had a word in not telling this alien business to Tim or Rachel, but there's a chance Linus is allowed in because he's my Uncle's son; but he's the eldest out of all of us as cousins. As for Cathy, she's a lot closer to me than Rachel when it comes into the con family thing, because she's been longer in the con heists than Rachel."
The mech took a while as he processed it. "Your relationships in a con family are confusing. The only thing my processor is telling me is that seniority in doing heists means Cathy has better rights than your cousin."
"That's what I meant," Skyler agreed at the mech's statement. "I've worked frequently with Cathy before, so I trust her and she trusts me just the same with our own secrets." Then his face turned sour, "Which… she can demand from me why I'm not with Steve and what the hell I'm doing right now." He then mumbled, "Lying to her is a waste of time and making her an enemy is NOT an option."
"Can't you just talk to her nicely?" the sparkling chirped up. Flipluck looked earnestly at his caretaker with worry. "Maybe you can't tell Rachel because Uncle Robert says no, but you can tell Cathy!"
"Hmph, looks like the sparkling defeated you for this one Skyler," Sunstreaker commented his charge with snigger.
Skyler gave a frown at the warrior in alt-form feeling insulted, "What? You're okay with that?" He didn't buy on what the mech was saying. "You're going to say yes about me telling Cathy?"
Sunstreaker grumbled. "Heh. Think about it, human. In our situation, I think we're looking for allies, not enemies. We've got enough of those for Primus' sake!" With all the human authorities targeting them, perhaps it was wiser not to make any more human enemies because they could report on Skyler out of spite. He couldn't care less about those other fleshlings but he did care of the safety of the sparkling and his human charge's safety. A pause. "Besides, your con family is nearly an equivalent to what clans are like on Cybertron. What is their secret, stays their secret."
The mech did have a valid point there.
Wait a sec – clans?
"You've got clans?" Skyler asked as this was something new he learned about Cybertronians. "Do they like – uh – share sparks like you said before?"
"Nearly the same, but it's more like a personal connection server amongst each other, not an exact bond." the mech said. He then shrugged, "But they value secrecy the most. From the way I heard from you or your uncle it seems your con family meets the description."
"Makes sense," the youth agreed. Skyler breathed out, "Since Cathy's an OK then it's good with that. Still doesn't solve our problem with these Decepticons in the city."
The sparkling looked scared as he shivered in worry of both of his caretakers' safety, "You have to fight with them?" His memory of seeing Skyler fighting with his uncle back then didn't go well for him.
Skyler kneeled down to Flipluck's level, "Hey, I know you don't like the fighting, but we're doing what we can to not get caught and keep you safe. If they get to us, they'd do horrible things to us, and I can't imagine what they'd do with what we have to the other Autobots and humans."
"You have to fight because you want to protect, right?" Flipluck asked as he remembered the film he watched with his friend the day before.
Skyler was surprised at this, "Yeah. Where did you learn that Flipluck?"
"I watched a movie yesterday with Tiffany, called The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," Flipluck answered looking at the floor as if it were interesting not meeting Skyler's eyes. "So, is Sun in a war like it?"
"Yeah," Skyler sighed as he knew there was no way hiding it from Flipluck.
Sunstreaker on the other hand was clueless on what Skyler was talking about, "Lion? Witch? Wardrobe?"
"It's a classic fiction story for children. Try checking the data files on literature I gave you and search for the author by the name of C. S. Lewis." Skyler explained as he stood up to get the bucked filled with soap. "It's the story how four children were transported into another world through a wardrobe but they had to fight a large battle with the witch's army to save it."
Quickly as his human partner said C.S. Lewis Sunstreaker came up with a result, and he found the story Flipluck mentioned. "You give stories like this to younglings?" he asked incredulously.
"Believe it or not, I read that book in class in third grade," Skyler shrugged as he wasn't sure how a three year-old Cybertronian was compared to a human. "The war is mostly black and white."
"I see," the mech said. He didn't like seeing Flipluck was going to have to learn so much earlier than Bumblebee had ever done in his sparkling days, but in their situation, maybe watching that story with a human youngling made Flipluck understand the situation they were in was a good thing in a way. Still the mech didn't like that he was going to lose his innocence far too early. "What are we planning to do about them?"
Skyler looked rather annoyed as he was stumped on that one. Their previous 'Con hunt was at their advantage because they knew they had a Decepticon after them. Yet, this time around to have them driving into a city with two cons didn't bode well. The con man was worried about their communication devices being online. He was lucky enough to know that Sunstreaker was able to detect them in the city.
Something suddenly hit the con man.
Hold on –
Sunstreaker was able to detect Decepticon in a range of a city?
Seeing the human's questioning face, Sunstreaker guessed he was confused about something and it was bothering him. "Skyler? What's with the face?"
Skyler frowned. "How can you detect Decepticon signatures or specific signatures, Sunstreaker?" He paused but then he brought up a memory, "Back when we were disguising ourselves in Kansas City, Ironhide had no idea that you were there but you did through your scanners. Back in Springfield, Dreadnought was only half guessing you were the yellow Lamborghini. Otherwise he would have been in the same blind state like Ironhide." The youth breathed short in realization, "They must have scanners too, so why weren't you detected by them?"
There was a tense silence from Sunny. Having a smart human was one thing, a sharp one that had a knack to spot out the details to find it as fact was another.
"Sun okay?" Flipluck was worried why Sunstreaker was quiet for a good long while.
"Pit," the mech grumbled. "To think you'd notice it –" His voice sounded like he didn't want to explain it, but he knew that Skyler needed to know of his 'other' condition. "I'd rather not you or Flipluck hear about it, it's – not something I like to remember back when I was caught by the 'Cons."
Skyler knew what Sunstreaker had meant, and he gulped at the thought of being experimented on, because it didn't make him feel well. Add in there was a sparkling with them, he knew better than to expose the worst and gruesome parts of war on what they did to prisoners. "Alright, ignore what happened. How's it affecting you?"
"It's placed within the bond," Sunstreaker said feeling slightly grateful that Skyler knew when not to talk about war casualties in front of a sparkling. "Soundwave tampered with my bond with Sides but he didn't realize it had an advantage effect for me. I can detect other Decepticons I came into contact with on their ship, and I can somehow mess with their scanners in thinking I'm not a Cybertronian."
The con man blinked. "That's actually good news you can't be detected, and you can avoid and know who you want to hunt down." But Skyler knew that the Autobot in front of him left the aftereffects hanging. "You haven't told us about what the problem is though."
An uncomfortable shrug. "It's permanent," Sunstreaker snorted. "Hatchet might be able to fix my bond with my twin somehow, but since that ability is somehow engraved into the bond and it's a part of me. If Sides comes into contact with it, then it's going to be the same for him too."
"You're worried he might not accept it well?" Skyler asked.
The silence was a clear indication to both the con man and sparkling Sunstreaker did not like it.
Knowing that it was a sensitive issue on the mech, Skyler decided he wouldn't press further. The good news was that they had that advantage to do and go as they please without getting detected and they might have a clue to who's in the city. All he had to do now was figure out the plans to get rid of all the 'Cons in the Denver.
Flipluck on the other hand kept his optics at both his caretakers who seemed to be lost with their own thoughts. To someone as young as him he thought the idea being on an adventure was thrilling like in those cartoons that he watched but he never thought he was really brave like those people were in facing real danger. Now that he was in the character's 'shoes' Flipluck didn't feel so confident anymore. "Sun? Sky? Will I have to fight too?" The sparkling didn't like to hear his own voice capacitor was quivering.
Sunstreaker's emotions weren't readable as he was in alt-form. But from the air vented out he didn't approve of it. "Silly sparkling, I'm not letting any 'Con near you. So don't think about fighting, we'll handle that."
The sparkling didn't seem to be motivated by Sunny's statement, instead he moped. "But can't I help? I don't want to be useless… even if it's a little."
The mech didn't like where this was going, and just as he was about to get angry at the notion of Flipluck joining in – he felt a hand on his alt-form. Skyler seemed to look at him in a manner that said that he was going to take care of it. Sunstreaker only sighed in contempt and let the human do the talking. He knew he was never the right sort of bot to handle these situations as he was a natural sociopath. The only reason he could stand Skyler was the fact he was patient and talked only about what's important without prying into privacy too much. So he watched what the human was going to do next.
Skyler grabbed a small stool and as he washed Sunstreaker's underside with soap he ushered Flipluck to come over and take a seat on the other stool that was unoccupied. Flipluck immediately came over and sat seeing what his human caretaker would like to say. The con man gave the small sparkling a brief shoulder hug and said lightly, "In con family, there's no one who's useless. You have your own worth and role. Okay, Flipluck?"
Flipluck pouted, "But I don't know what my role is. How do I know I'm useful?"
"Just by being who you are," Skyler pointed out pointing his finger to the sparkling's chassis where his spark was. "It's okay being a kid, you're meant to find out what you're good at. Give it time, you'll find your role. It's a part of growing up."
Tiny blue optics looked at Skyler with confusion, "Why?"
"Because," Skyler said as he wiped off more small insects of the mech's exterior. "You need to find out what you're good at, what you're not good at, what you like doing, what you don't like doing, etc. Start small and learn a bit of everything, and see what you can handle." He then smiled, "You might find something you never expected, and you'll find out what your role is, and what you want to be."
"Was it the same way for you?" the small mech asked inquisitively.
Skyler chuckled, "Pretty much the same. I learned what I could, took whatever lesson I liked doing and ended wanting to become a detail man. I have other things I like doing like painting for arts and hacking for technology." Giving a small ruffle on the small mech's head he said, "Don't worry, you'll eventually find it."
Flipluck brightened up at this and was very glad that his human caretaker was understanding. His head leaned sideways, "So, what I do now?"
"How about helping me wash Sunstreaker?" Skyler offered. "It's a small role, but it's being helpful that counts."
"Ooh!" the sparkling's eyes shimmered in delight. "Okay! Okay!"
"Just don't scratch the paint," Sunstreaker gruffly commented.
Skyler rolled his eyes and smacked the mech's hood lightly.
"Skyler! What was THAT for?" the mech snapped. Sunny checked his hood and scanned over himself if there were any scratches to find there were none to his spark's relief.
The youth sighed, "Just give some credit to Flipluck, alright? You said it yourself we'll handle the fighting."
"Pfft, fine," Sunstreaker said indifferently. He snorted, "Go and help the human, runt."
The pout immediately disappeared as soon as he heard Sunstreaker's approval, and Flipluck excitedly got a soap bucket and start helping out Skyler applying soap to the other side of his alt form.
Thinking of their main problem at the moment the mech started the conversation again, "Are you going to meet your cousin or not?"
That of course made the human in front of him tense up and stopped what he was doing. Skyler sighed, "Can't I avoid her?" He asked hopefully.
"Stop being stubborn, Skyler," Sunny said as he inwardly rolled his optics. "You said it yourself that you don't want both of those femmes to interrogate you. You should handle her first if you don't want more trouble. Having more trouble is not what we need right now – we've got two 'Cons to get rid of."
The youth was giving the mech a scornful look that said he wasn't giving up.
Sunstreaker huffed out his vents, "Fine, we'll see later on how Robert thinks of his nephew cowering behind a wall because of two femmes."
"Hey!" Skyler complained. "Don't tell me you're going into the blackmailing too!"
A loud laugh came from the Toyota Camry. "Heh, I've been doing it since I've been welcomed to the 'family'. Don't think you're immune to it." There was a triumphant tone in Sunny's voice.
"Tch. Damn it," the con man muttered. "Fine – I'll call her and then meet her. Happy now?" Skyler was more than reluctant to do this, but he didn't want any blackmail material on him.
"Acceptable," the mech chuckled at the human.
Skyler grumbled and muttered incoherently as he applied more soap on the hood.
After the con man was done washing the mech (with the help of Flipluck), he finished up by having a quick breakfast and packed up what was outside his bags, and finally with the guts he had – made the dreaded phone call.
Skyler sighed as someone picked up the phone who he knew was his cousin, "Hello? Rachel? We need to talk."
He was so not looking forward to meeting her.
Why was he feeling so nervous?
Steve was utterly confused with his feelings.
Were they his or Skyler's?
He blinked, and then shook his head.
Whoa there Steve, time out! Time out!
The hacker sighed in the rather deserted corridor and calmed himself down. After breathing in and out and he was certain it wasn't bothering him, Steve walked to the mess hall. A couple of soldiers who passed by would either wave at him happily or would give a nod of respect. Steve wasn't at ease about it as he wasn't used to getting that much attention, but all the same he did save those people who had their jobs on the line because of Galloway's interventions in the political grounds. The Intel people and as well as the Pentagon group like Glen and Maggie were off writing their reports.
He had to say it was also an odd morning, since Sideswipe was off on duty he had been in the company of the female Autobots or femmes with Bluestreak, Wheelie, and the minor twins. Obviously, that meant he spent time with Mikaela, Fig, and Leo.
The group wasn't all that quiet as they had Bluestreak doing all the talking and even Fig was keeping up with him, often speaking back to his mother language or Spanish. It didn't bother Steve at all because he could understand it, but he made a polite request every now and then because Mikaela was with them.
Wheelie was a small Cybertronian with an alt-form of what seemed like those toy remote cars. Nearly all the time he was trying to get Mikaela's attention if he was allowed to hump on her leg to Steve's disgust (but he chose to not comment on it anyway). Thankfully, with the threat from Chromia (being a female version of Ironhide), Wheelie shut up. Well, Steve would do the same when facing a large canon in the face. Flare Up like her name was easily swayed to join her sister energetically ready to join in shooting the small mech, but thanks to Arcee who was slightly more subtle than the rest of the triplets – made sure they didn't send Wheelie to the medic. Ratchet was having a bad mood today as Red Alert glitched again because of some security problem.
As for the smaller twins Mudflap and Skids, they were messing around with Leo. It seemed like it was their favorite pastime because Leo was very reactive no matter what they did. If anything, Steve would say Leo had a high ignorance level. All the same, the smaller twins were caring in their own way albeit more playful considering age wise they would probably be slightly younger than Bumblebee.
Steve had to say they were a really odd and loud bunch together. However they mentioned they were currently at base because of the Decepticons being active they had called in all civilians or at least all who were directly linked to the people of NEST. The young hacker only briefly heard most of the families of the soldiers like Major Lennox's and Sergeant Epps' were all sent out to a NEST base at Diego Garcia which was the main NEST base in the middle of the Indian Ocean further southwest of India. Sam's parents were also known to be there as well, which made Steve wonder why he wasn't with them too. He guessed that he was here because they needed him if Skyler was ever taken in.
When the hacker got to the mess hall, there were plenty of soldiers milling about. Steve had taken his one tray share of food for lunch and quickly walked to where Mikaela's table was at. Wheelie and the other bots in holoform were mysteriously absent.
"Hey," Steve said as he hovered over, "Mind if I sit with you?"
"No, not at all," the girl said as she welcomed him to the table. "Take a seat."
The hacker nodded with thanks and sat down. Feeling hungry that noon, he ate what was on his plate quickly despite the fact that he wasn't into military food. Leo soon joined them after with Steve moving to one side so he could sit beside him. Steve noted that the soldiers were kind of edgy and were speaking in hushed tones around him.
He looked to Mikaela. In a quiet voice he asked, "Would you happen to know what's going on? Everyone seems… edgy or something."
Mikaela shrugged, "I heard Arcee and other Autobots are avoiding someone, but I'm not sure who. The news came in just an hour ago."
Leo look to the left and then to the right. He gave a signal to the two others on the table with him to come closer. "Bad news, we got another Galloway guy; except, he's a weapons inspector."
Steve blinked at that skeptically, "Weapons inspector?"
"It's not that the person has clearance for it right?" Mikaela asked knowing just how heavy the restrictions for knowing the existence of the Autobots were from her boyfriend.
The other shook his head, "Nope, but the soldiers think that he's bad news." Leo then looked at Steve worriedly. "Most likely he's here because of the Autobots aren't letting Galloway in, but also he's probably looking for you Steve."
Steve didn't comment anything on that; there was a chance people would want to get their hands on the Lazaros. He chose to ask something else, "How bad is it with the new guy?"
Leo sighed. "I dunno, but I bet you everything, that whatever Galloway sent, it isn't going to be good."
"Does Sam know about this?" Mikaela said anxiously.
"He does, but he's stuck in a meeting with the higher-ups and Galloway too. I'm not surprised if Galloway planned it that way." Leo said sarcastically. He knew more than enough about the liaison who would do anything to make Sam slip up somehow.
Mikaela was going to ask another pressing question, but was interrupted as the mess hall was silent and all heads were looking in the direction of the door. Just as they were talking about him, the said weapons inspector walked in with an aide of sorts. A man in his mid 30s, brown groomed hair slicked to the back, he was regal looking, wearing large round sunglasses, in a grey suit that screamed he was important. Looking around the room as he took his sunglasses off revealing grey eyes, he spotted his target.
Steve slightly cursed himself over why the man had always had good eyesight on what he was looking for.
As he walked towards the hacker, the soldiers were keeping an eye on how Steve was fairing. They seemed to be ready for anything if things got messy.
The hacker was thankful for the worry of the other soldiers, but shook his head he'd try to handle what ever the weapons inspector wanted.
Besides, this person was a familiar face. Yet, they were both bound by the rules.
"You're the second hacker are you?" the man said brightly that Steve swore his teeth would have shined if it were a television toothpaste ad, and gave his hand out. "I'm Jack Lockery, weapons inspector for NEST at the moment."
"Y-Yes," Steve answered brief as he warily took the man's hand and shook it. "Steve Knight."
The grip as they shook was twice as they both looked at each other in the eyes. Definitely a familiar.
"Would you happen to be able to operate the Lazaros? It would be interesting to see how it works," the man inquiringly said in a casual tone. He was a man straight to the point.
Both Leo and Mikaela looked at Steve anxiously. From Jack's face they knew this person was hungry for any information on the weapons of the Cybertronians, and that Steve's A.I. was the key to unlocking it.
Steve shook his head. "I'm still prohibited in handling computers around base, yesterday was special case. And it's that I don't have permission to open it for the NEST team," he said impassively.
This time Jack kept on smiling, "I could arrange it if you want to, son." He took out a metallic case, and wrote something on the piece of card before he gave it to Steve. "I'm a bit on a tight schedule, here's my number. You need anything, just give me a call." Still smiling as ever and the greed going off in waves, the man took Steve's hand placed the card in it. "I think we might have a good agreement if you're up to it."
"And if I'm not interested?" Steve replied curtly with his own question.
There was a slightly malicious face on the weapons inspector, "Director Galloway and I can arrange something to make you interested."
The hacker didn't back off, it was Fig that stepped in, "Sir, there's a call for you at the main office. It's the Director, Sir."
His expression immediately changed to his regal stature, "Of course. Thank you, soldier." Jack looked at Steve again, "Remember, the offer still stands." With a small wave he exited the mess hall quickly with his aide. As soon as he left the soldiers went back murmuring on what just happened.
"Are you okay, buddy?" Fig asked.
Steve nodded to Fig, "For now it's not a big deal. I can't say for later though."
Leo agreed to that, "You got what he said? He said he'd 'make' you interested. Sam's got to know about this!"
"I'll tell him," Mikaela volunteered. She then looked at Steve, "I think you should avoid him or stick to Sideswipe while he's at base."
"Yeah," Steve agreed with them. He turned around and quickly used a card trick skill.
Unknown to Fig or the others, Steve carefully slid the card together, showing there were two cards stuck together instead of one. The hacker rolled his eyes rapidly as he knew it was the cheapest and most effective trick for a short message. He was glad enough everyone else wasn't extremely observant. He blinked at the message:
~ Meet me at 1pm in W room. ~
As soon as he read it, Steve wasted no time in sliding up the cards, sealed them together and looked around for an ashtray. "Here's one." He then said aloud to the soldiers nearby him, "Anyone got a lighter?"
The one table of heavy smokers volunteered immediately and Steve got himself a metal lighter.
Finally burning them on an ashtray, he got rid of the evidence. No one saw he had two cards but everyone who saw him burn the Director's assistant's name card from afar seemed to clap at him or gave him thumbs up. Steve sat there contemplating how he was going to meet Jack without the others knowing. It was Leo who came over to him and had a questioning look.
"Are you making sure the thing is turning to ashes?" Leo asked.
Steve gave him blank look, and shrugged. "I'd prefer not to have his number around with me. It's not like I have a cell phone or anything around the base."
Mikaela was happy that Steve was on their side but she still wasn't sure if burning his name card was enough. "It's not like it's going to help in stopping him from coming after you."
"Still, I'm happier not carrying it around with me," Steve noted. "It's not that it's got any use –"
Steve blinked as he touched and felt a tinge of pain on his left cheek.
Mikaela frowned, "What's wrong Steve?"
"I don't know – it feels like…"
Getting slapped by a crying girl.
Way to go on being the heartless bastard, Skyler.
And DAMN… that HURT.
If getting hit by a hard slap wasn't enough, Skyler hissed in pain as this was the second time he got slapped on the face on the same side.
"I HATE you," Rachel said bitterly and without giving him a chance to say anything, she left walking out of the garage.
Left in the room Cathy gave Skyler a good stern glare she was going to interrogate him senseless and said, "I will hear everything from YOU later." Then she walked out to chase Skyler's cousin as she mumbled about why some men are so dense when it came to women's feelings sometimes with a huff.
Skyler rolled his eyes. He was fed up at all the pestering done by Rachel he used one of the rules in the 'code' on Rachel that she had no way of knowing what he was up to now. The con man was just as hurt to use it against her and it may make him look like a heartless person, but he did have orders from his uncle and by no way he was going to break it to Rachel. Knowing how Rachel would have reacted, Skyler let his cousin slap him. She did deserve some sort of lashing at him on her part.
As he kept on massaging at his burning cheek, small towel flew to his face softly. Skyler blinked and brushed the thrown wet towel off his face and turned to see a familiar face, but a face he hadn't seen perhaps over a year or so.
"Darlita?" the hacker asked surprised she was here.
"Yup." A red head girl said. She held him a rectangular ice pack. "Here, Cathy said you'll need this for your cheek."
The hacker wasn't expecting the 22 year old in these parts. Not a really tall girl that had tanned skin (probably going to the beach too often), with red short choppy hair with green eyes and freckles on her face. Darlita was the only female explosives/demolitions expert in his generation; but why she was here made him curious. As far as he knew, she usually stayed at San Francisco in the Bay area.
Skyler accepted the icepack and eyed it skeptically, "Cathy did?"
The girl rolled her eyes, "Please, just because she doesn't agree with what you did; it doesn't mean she doesn't care about you." Darlita sat down on the bench that Skyler sat on. "I heard bits of the fight. You used the 'all or nothing' code that even Cathy couldn't interfere with, didn't you?"
Feeling relief of the cold on his cheek he nodded. Skyler was sure his cousin deliberately widened her hand to make the slap more painful. Larger surface area equals more pain. "I had to. I'm in really deep shit right now. Rachel cannot get into it. Way to dangerous."
"You want to talk about it?" the red head girl asked.
The con man gave her a dubious look.
Darlita only laughed instead, "Suppose not. I'm forgetting guys don't 'talk about it' like girls do." She sighed, "Well, don't get all angry on me, alright, Sky? I'm not in a good mood myself really because of things happening recently, but I won't butt in too deep if you want it as a secret. I'm here to get my frustration out in a quieter place."
"And you chose the kitchen?" Skyler asked awkwardly.
The female demolitions expert nodded, "Being here beats with going around with the girls who are probably babbling about cursing you or conning you back. Plus the guys are locking up the meeting room for the next con." A growl escaped her lips. "And I came all the way here for nothing."
"Don't tell me," the con man started, "You got nothing to blow up."
Darlita looked at Skyler with astonishment, "Darn it – you're getting sharper than last year."
This time it was Skyler's turn to roll his eyes, "Come on Lita, you've been lighting up anything that blows like Chinese firecrackers from Uncle Yen as a habit since we were in primary school. I was wondering why you were here. You usually don't come to these parts."
"Like you," Darlita nodded, "I've been drifting for two months since I'm on vacation. I still got another month before I get called into real work again. But since the job's done and everything, I'm heading back the day after tomorrow."
"Work with Keith?" Skyler asked. "You got paid fairly for it, right?"
"Yeah, but my stuff wasn't needed in the end," the girl said disappointedly. "I'm not sure what to do with the extra batch of explosives I have. I can't just blow them up for fun."
Skyler thought of his current situation, and thought that perhaps a good amount of explosives could help with his Decepticon problem. However, considering this was Darlita's explosives he needed her to do the blowing up procedures. Her explosives were more sophisticated and had designs that only she specialized at. Skyler was insistent on telling Cathy about his major problem, but now he was weighing the options how he should approach Darlita about it too. He knew handling two Decepticons with only Sunstreaker was going to be tough. Plus, help was rare in the worst situations; he might as well make take the opportunity while he had gotten lucky. It wasn't going to be every time he was in trouble he'd bump into his con family. Hopefully it wouldn't end up in a disaster.
"Funny," the young man said. "Usually blowing things up is fun for you. You could always get the goods sent back to San Francisco, your employees and co-workers could use the extra ammunition."
Darlita didn't look impressed, "What part don't you get I want to get rid off them?"
"None," Skyler said dryly. "You're forgetting I'm a guy. I don't have a woman's intuition. We guys won't get what you're hinting at unless you make it clear, Lita."
Frustrated, the red head girl wiped her face and looked to her friend. "Snake, I need to get rid of a couple sacks of explosives. Is there anything you can come up with?"
Now Skyler knew he was going to tread on this one carefully. "I do have an idea, Fuse; the problem is… you're going to have to get involved with the trouble I'm in."
The demolition girl noticed Skyler's seriousness on the topic as he used her Con alias back at her. She knew from that face that he was really honest about it. "How bad is it? Bad in getting into trouble with the family, the authorities, or you somehow in trouble with the government?" she asked with the last part hoping it was a joke.
"Last two you mentioned," Skyler said indifferently. He stood up and started to walk away but stopped at the door. "I'll give you time to think over it. It's really a life and death situation sort of thing. So please don't tell Rachel about this."
"Yes, Lita?" he looked back.
"Are you going to tell Cathy about your problem?" she asked hesitant. Darlita had seen Skyler being serious before, and if he really meant it then perhaps her friend was in a life and death situation that was not to be trifled with.
Skyler looked at her uneasily, "I've been planning to. I just don't know how she's going to take it. Preferably I don't want her to know on her own. Girls need someone to talk to get with their problems right?" There was a nod from his friend. "You can tell her I'll need to speak to her about it. Take your time on making your own decision though; it might really change your life completely. I'll be in the garage if you need me."
Soon, he walked over towards the garage in the small villa that was currently Keith's con group meeting place to stay when they were discussing over with their plans for heists. Skyler got a warm welcome to come and stay over, but the group was rather a bit sour with him after what happened in Springfield about his poker winnings.
When he got to the garage he was greeted by Flipluck who was waving from Sunstreaker's interior. Immediately afterward being bored, he was playing on the PSP again. The mech insisted Flipluck hid inside him during their stay in Denver.
Sunstreaker looked amusedly at the human who was holding an ice pack covered with a towel on his cheek. "So, I take it that it's over between you and your cousin?" his voice was at a mid volume to not alert anyone else in the house.
Skyler look sourly at the blue Toyota Prius alt-form and sat down on a stool that was nearby. "I got slapped in the face twice by Rachel and Cathy's eager for my interrogation."
"You have any ideas how to handle our 'Con problem?" Sunstreaker asked totally ignoring the human's misfortune. He hoped there was at least more information on it.
"Other than Cathy, I think I'll let in a friend in on this. Her name's Darlita, the girl with the red hair."
This perked the mech's interest, "What's so good about this femme and where does she stand in your con family?"
"I heard she has a problem in getting rid of extra explosives. If she agrees, we're going to get her help," Skyler explained. He gave the Autobot a reassuring look. "About where she stands, she has more seniority than both Cathy and I. While most of us were still in high school, she's been blowing things up in real cons and heists. Long story short, she's the only female demolitions expert in my generation that has the most experience."
Sunstreaker was mildly surprised, but he shrugged it off just how in Skyler's con family there was just nearly every sort of person with their own specialty. "Reasonable. But the fact that she may not agree can be a problem."
The young con man thought more on their situation. "Sunstreaker, would you happen to know which Decepticons are in Denver? You knew about Dreadnought following you."
The Autobot warrior vented out air, "That's because I fought him beforehand." A pause. "But the signature scans do work, if I'm correct the Decepticons are Mindwipe and Shriller."
"Any specific things we should watch out for, with these bots?" Skyler questioned as he was already starting to formulate plans in his head.
"Shriller like his name uses high pitched frequencies to make his enemies paralyzed for a brief moment," the Autobot described. "He's a coward, and usually hides or fights behind other 'Cons. I can easily frag him by deactivating my audio receptors. The problem is Mindwipe."
Nodding to the name, Skyler already had a hunch that he wasn't named Mindwipe for nothing. "I'm guessing Mindwipe has a special ability then?"
"It's like an overriding program for us Cybertronians, as we don't have a sub-conscious like humans," Sunstreaker hinted. "Perhaps – according to your language the best word would be 'hypnotism'."
Skyler blinked with surprised, "Whoa! And I thought I've known weirder things." He scratched his head, "From what I'm guessing Shriller's a mid to short distance attacker and Mindwipe's a short distance attacker. That's going to give us problems." Seeing the warrior mech was a front-liner, he needed to get close but without getting paralyzed and hypnotized. There was still the online communications problem too. The human then blinked as he forgot one minor problem, "Sunstreaker, what are their alt-forms?"
"Shriller's a black Mercedes sedan car," Sunny snorted with dislike. However he growled at the next 'Con mentioned. "Mindwipe's what you humans call a news copter."
And we got ourselves a flier.
WHY does Murphy hate me?
The youth scowled. He was fine with taking out ground Decepticons, but with some bot that can fly… this was really bad. Skyler was questioning if he could snipe the 'Con down to the ground. A ground target wasn't as bad when it came to winds and such; but a flying vehicle? The calculations were different, and there was more of a chance to miss the intended target – especially small places of wiring or the connection joint of the limb that the flying bot had. Skyler did not want to waste so much of Uncle Franz's special explosive ammo early in the journey.
Just as Skyler was going to say something, he noticed Flipluck inside the mech changed into his alt-form quickly and Sunstreaker had not said a word. Hearing incoming footsteps, the con man turned his head and saw both Cathy and Darlita coming into the room.
The next thing the con man knew a punch was headed his way; but he caught it with his free hand.
Cathy was disappointed in not getting her intended target.
Skyler sighed, "Sorry, but Rachel had the right to slap me on the face." He knew better than to think Cathy was just a weak Barbie doll type of girl since she had looks that even models would kill for. That had always been her disguise and even now; the moment people fell for it they were already her victims. Her earned Con alias as 'Charm Speaker' wasn't just a nickname; it was what made her dangerous.
'Charm Speaker' wasn't fazed at all, "Lita and I wanted to talk about this mess you're stuck in. We both agreed it's best we know it together."
Skyler let Cathy's arm go but he was still on guard in case Cathy tried to do anything else. He then turned to the red head, "You sure of this? My problem might ruin your life permanently."
Green eyes met blue. Darlita nodded, "I've done my thinking on it and I do need to get my stuff used up. On the other hand, all cons and even capers are all about whether you're in till the end, or out. My decision is in, so no worries. Alrighty, Sky?"
As both girls were serious, Skyler handed them both stools. "It's going to take a while to explain everything, so you girls might as well sit down." He asked Cathy, "Where's Rachel?"
"Went out with Susan for some R&R after what you've done to her," the charm speaker said accusingly of the con man.
"More like going to the bar to get some 'glug glug and Woohoo' plus a guy hunt," Darlita added.
Skyler gave out a frustrated sigh as they were seeing him as the really bad guy. "Just so you girls know, I'm not happy about hurting her either. Uncle Robert made me swear not to tell her or Tim on the code. Her or her brother knowing is out of the question."
Darlita only blinked. "Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Hold on a sec! You met with Uncle Robert and he made you swear to not say anything about it to Rachel?"
"It's as serious as it gets," Skyler huffed. "Not to mention Steve's involved in it too."
Cathy looked thoughtful. "How deep in trouble are you with the authorities? And what's it got to do with Steve?" She wondered just what did Skyler do or steal that caught the attention of so many people.
"Would you two happen to remember a hacker war of two hackers that made it over the internet that blocked one hacker who was going to destroy a military Intel server?" the con man asked back.
"The Furta Duo," Cathy said knowing what had happened. She gasped as she added up the facts, "Wait – You and Steve are the hackers?"
Skyler gravely nodded. "That's right. It gets worse after that, though."
With this, both Cathy and Darlita had their full attention on Skyler.
"I know this sounds stupid," Skyler said as he scratched his head, "But…I'm being chased down because I'm a target for the government conspiracy involving aliens."
The room was quiet for five seconds…
…before it was filled with hysterical girls going into giggling fits.
Man… I knew they wouldn't believe it. How am I going to explain it all to them properly? Skyler sulked.
Cathy was first to recover. She was about to add in a joke since it sounded so bizarre but cut short on it as she noticed to find Skyler's expression as one he only reserved when he was worried about Steve. From what she knew, that wasn't the type of face Skyler used when he lied. It was plain truth.
Not wasting time, Catherine tapped on Darlita's shoulder to point out that it was serious. In mutual understanding, the red head stopped and calmed down.
On cue Skyler said, "It sounds crazy, but the government's been hiding it; we're in a war in-between ETs. There's two factions, one that you can say want the human race destroyed and the other that's helping us." He breathed out a sigh. "What Steve and I made, the bad guys want it since we're a threat to their Intel. They're after me."
Charm Speaker wasn't sure where this was going, but she chose to listen more on it. "Tell us what you can tell us, Sky. We might not believe you because we don't know anything, perhaps knowing more details we'll understand and believe somehow."
"I suppose that's a ditto for me," the female demolitions expert piped in. "I'm a sucker for conspiracy theories, but I'm more than happy to know a real one. It's a candy I can't miss." Now noticing Skyler looked relived, she tugged him playfully. "Spill the beans, Snake."
That noon he told both of them where it mostly started on Earth in 2007.
Nevada, NEST Base…
Steve wasn't sure what the cause was of why his cheek burned. His twin brother was never a womanizer and he wasn't sure it was the effects of meeting a random girl on the street. He inwardly hoped that it wasn't because he got caught up by those Intel agents either. Yet, as he didn't feel any feelings of being threatened Steve guessed his twin was safe for now.
Going to the indicated room or what many may call the washroom, Steve arrived in time avoiding any Autobot or soldier as he got in. Nearly most of the soldiers were training with the bots, the rest were scattered off base doing guarding duties, including his guardian. For him, it was necessary that he handled this quietly considering that the NEST team had no idea on who Jack truly was. To his expectation, he was alone there and checked it thoroughly that it was completely empty.
I don't like lying to the Autobots or the others, but I need my own information on the outside world.
Seconds later, Jack Lockery came in and pulled his sunglasses off.
"Didn't expect you were the hacker, Serpent," The weapons inspector said casually. "Not to mention Snake's your partner."
Steve replied, "I could say the same for you, Vulture. So, is being an assistant to the National Security Advisor any fun?"
Jack chuckled, "You've grown kid. If your father saw what you have done recently I'm pretty certain he's laughing plus bragging 'bout you and your brother to the other dead ones around him in his grave." His more manipulative and even hostile facade was gone from his face. "We're going to keep this meeting short, or else people might suspect something between us, and I prefer they don't."
Steve nodded at that and decided to cut to the chase. "Are you here on work? Or the double work?" Working normally or working for the 'family'?
"Double work," the man said with a smirk. "Galloway's a cake that one can't afford to miss. But he's an edgy one, kinda got to take it slow to get what I want. It's been challenging." Jack seemed to notice that Steve now had put his guard down as he knew they were now on familiar grounds. He was just as curious on why Steve was still here and being cooperative with the military people. "You okay here? Don't mean to barge in or anything, but when I heard you got into this mess and that Snake's a target for nearly every Intel agency in America, you got me worried."
"It's safe for now," Steve assured. "As long I stay on base. It's my brother I'm worried about."
The other nodded understandingly, "I may not look like it, but if I hear anything I'll try to let you know, kid."
However, Steve raised an eyebrow at that, "I'm assuming you want something in return? If yes, I'll be willing to let in some Intel." A trade for a trade.
Jack could only smile at that, "You make a really helpful nephew you know that? On the better side, I'm glad that memory of yours came in handy in my lessons."
"Dad's lessons," Steve corrected. Looking at his watch he asked his con uncle, "What do you want to know?"
"As you know, Galloway's wanted these weapons technology that this part of the military has been hiding. Well – that is what he tells me," Jack rolled his eyes and sighed expressively widening his hands out exaggeratingly. "I thought I could hear more of the truth from you."
"How much clearance were you given?" the hacker asked.
"As far as that this military group is concerned – I'd say the fact they fight against terrorists and are very special," the man stressed the word 'special'. "I don't know about it, but it's rather a stupid way to hide that sort of info since the guy who's the NSA can't get hold of the 'new weapons plans'. I've been in the weapons trade for years and a guy in Galloway's position usually gets what he wants. The fact he can't, smells like a cheap cover up to me."
The hacker nodded to that, "It is. He's got other plans so a couple of politicians get a boost in their profits for weapons development. But I got to say Galloway's trying to take on something bigger than he can chew."
Now seeing that Steve knew the information to the weapons the weapons inspector blinked, "You know what those weapons are?"
"Mostly, but trust me Uncle Jack, you don't want to get involved," Steve warned. "In the Con Danger Factor, this deal is really messy."
Jack wasn't buying it, "Steve, just what level are we talking here? I'm surprised by your attitude you're taking it personally."
"Triple S, or the most dangerous our type of people avoid," Steve scowled. "It is personal. I swear on the code I'd rather not have you get mixed into this crap, but it happened."
"No way, I came here to do my job kid." He paused when he realized the level Steve said. "Geez, a triple S?" the man shook his head and combed his hair back in worry knowing it screamed danger and the level wasn't going to be easy to deal with. He sighed, "I really don't want to go against you kid. If not, can you tell me how it's personal to you?"
Steve decided to tell him mostly the truth, "These guys who have the technology are fighting terrorists who have the same high level technology we can't handle. I owe a life debt to one of the soldiers."
"That doesn't explain how you got it personal," Jack pointed out impatiently.
The youth sighed, "The terrorists these guys are fighting are the very ones responsible for the deaths of my parents and Scarlet back in Mission City! If Galloway disbands the team because of the whole technology issue, more people are going to be killed because he didn't know what was more important than getting more profit to some rowdy politicians."
"…Wait." Jack paused. "You're saying these guys fight the ones who killed Taylor?"
Steve nodded silently as Jack eyes turned sharper. The hacker knew all too well of that look, it was a face when a con man sparked the first drop of vengeance. He didn't blame Jack for reacting that way, because just as Steve and even Skyler had their own mentors – their father was a mentor to Jack in the same way. His 'uncle' that was younger than his other uncles had admired his father to the point he had considered his father as an older brother.
The man shook his head in not believing it. To be precise, Taylor had considered him as his number one protégé. And when he died, so did all his hopes of getting the approval of Taylor that he was his next successor. At least until Skyler was then proved worthy to step into Taylor's place. Jack was now seeing why it was personal, and perhaps he'd better plan over on what he was going to do after knowing this information.
Jack was now thoughtful, "Well – that certainly changes things." His eyes narrowed to Steve, "You probably know I want those guys dead for what they did to Taylor, the fact I'm working against what I'm supposed to be doing is a problem. I can't back off from this job."
"Then keep the job," Steve supported his uncle. "We'll just have to make it look convincing that we're on opposite sides. Besides, you probably had made promises to Galloway you never intended to keep."
His uncle smirked, "Well you know what my kind say."
"In Greed We Trust," Steve quoted off what lobbyist grifters pledge was/is. "I don't want to think I'm ever going there and join your kind." They were still con artists, minus the stealing and more elite lobbying. Elite – like parliamentary officials, governors, and in some rare cases superstars.
Jack laughed lightly, "You don't need to kid, there's more of your generation coming in soon. You're better at what Danny and Rusty does. Lobbyist Grifters do need stolen info now and then which is where hackers come in." Then his face turned serious, "So, what will it be?"
"I'd rather avoid any clearance problems," Steve noted. "I can generally tell you about a few of the personnel around the base are like and what they are doing generally. Or at least the ones you're interested with. In turn, you warn me if Galloway decides to jump the gun and if you ever meet Skyler, say to him I'm doing this on my own will."
"Deal," the lobbyist nodded as he took out his hand for a shake, "I'm swearing on the code for this."
Steve took his uncle's hand and shook it, "It's on the code." A pause. "What's your first task on the base anyway?"
"Recruiting you, actually," Jack smiled knowing he'd be going against his mentor's son. "Am I going to expect a good lashing from you?"
The youth rolled his eyes, "I think that's pretty obvious; the challenge is on." He then thought of an important factor, "By the way, I got a very protective bodyguard that I'm assigned to. I'm warning you a he has a bad temper, it can get dangerous if you push it over too much. NSA assistant or not."
"I'll keep that in mind," Jack said noting that detail. Looking to his watch he sighed knowing he had another meeting. "I gotta go, nice talking to you, kid. Take care of yourself, we're gonna have to make the show a little more lively after this." He smiled in the thought his job wasn't going to be boring than initially was.
"You as well, Serpent."
Steve waited more than a few seconds as Jack left the toilet. As Jack headed towards the left that headed towards the meeting rooms, Steve took to the opposite direction to not catch any attention he had anything to do with the weapons inspector most of the NEST team had targeted as Galloway's 'henchman'. He breathed in relief to see at least one familiar face on base, although they were going to fight one another. Like the Con alias Uncle Jack was given by his dad, the youth knew how much of an opportunist Uncle Jack was and when he saw something he could get to, he wasn't going to let go, and didn't mind waiting at any opening opportunity at a mark/meal. Just like a vulture.
I hope Sam's going to last against him.
Steve wouldn't be surprised if the Autobot Ambassador did give up.
He was trained by Dad personally.
Not that many people knew of it, meetings with the con family were always done carefully or at least in a private area where access was limited to the public but didn't catch the attention of authorities. Jack wasn't your typical lobbyist; he was the type that resorted to nearly just about any method to get whatever he wanted. Steve pretty much was acquainted with all the methods the lobbyist liked to use with all those times Uncle Jack visited his family, so he wasn't worried at all about going against him.
But the problem lay with all the others who were at the base.
Sam, the army people, and even the of staff of NEST, and even the Autobots have no idea.
More importantly, Sideswipe.
Sure, Steve did give a warning to his uncle about the mech's temper – it didn't mean that it was going to stop the lobbyist from doing the real damage on the negotiations part. Steve scratched his head and thought that maybe being with the mech more might help Sideswipe trust him more about dealing with his uncle as the weapons inspector that everyone believed he was 'evil'. If he held on his own, then Sides could avoid attacking another human.
When Steve made it outside, he spotted his guardian rolling to the front of him in his sliver Corvette alt-form. "Hey Sides, how's everything?"
"Boring," the mech sighed. "Always the usual patrol, but a soldier's gotta do it."
"If it's okay with you, can I join you?" Steve asked. He then added, "If you could use a person to talk you out of your boredom that is."
Perking up at the idea will make his boredom disappear and he could do his job as a guardian at the same time, Sideswipe welcomed him in by opening the door. The human complied by going in his interior.
"You doing okay?" Sides asked as he scanned Steve as soon the human stepped in and they were driving away on base.
Steve scowled at the dashboard, "Could you warn me when you do that?" He slightly shuddered at the feeling as his memory of being scanned by the medic jump into his head.
"Sorry, I was requested by Big Boss and Hatchet to check every few breems on your condition. Just following orders." the mech said apologetically. He sighed, "I heard from the other bots you met our new annoyance on base."
The youth didn't look happy about it either going with the way he should be acting, "No kidding, the first instant he meets me I get a card from him." A sarcastic laugh. He then acted an impersonation of the inspector, "Need anything? Just call me."
"Then you burnt the card?" Sideswipe asked knowing what happened.
Steve rolled his eyes, "It's dead weight, Sideswipe. Like hell he's going to help me in finding my twin without a consequence. I'd have to go against you guys. And seriously – I'd rather not have the Lazaros in the hands of a guy like him."
A snarl came from the warrior, "If he even thinks about making you join Galloway, he's in for trouble with me."
Holding his hands up in a peaceful gesture, Steve tried to ease the Autobot down, "Easy Sides, I know you really want to slice him up literally – But – I'd rather not you get into trouble. I mean – you getting in trouble by Galloway was already a nightmare. Don't need to add more oil to the roaring bon fire."
"What do you suggest we do?" the mech asked. Sideswipe never liked going into the political side of the war, but with Steve being his charge – he found he was starting to respect Bumblebee who was Sam's guardian.
"Nothing for now," Steve replied calmly. "NEST isn't really in a condition to do anything at the moment. Not after Soundwave's attack, I wouldn't be surprised if everyone's writing reports on it. We might as well endure for now."
Sideswipe was slightly startled at his charge's reaction. "You seem awfully calm after yesterday's events."
Steve's face turned to an uncomfortable look, "On the inside, I'm freaked out with the whole situation just as everyone is. I'm just doing what I can after what I've done to my twin. I just – can't shake off that feeling Skyler's angry with you guys."
"I'm sure it's just a misunderstanding, Steve," Sides said trying to cheer up Steve. "Maybe he's only aware that you were hurt. As stupid as it sounds, it's just like elder twins to worry to the point of extreme. There are some points back then that even Sunny misunderstood and he usually takes it out on the other bots when I get hurt." A pause. "My twin lashes out before he thinks it through thoroughly, but that's the way he is."
"Skyler's quite the opposite in a way. That's what I'm worried about. He figures everything out before he usually comes up with a conclusion – I'm afraid he's going to get it wrong somehow." Steve argued lightly. "He sort of takes details to the extreme."
"Why's that?" the Autobot asked incredulously. Why would Skyler go to the extreme just didn't made sense in his processor.
"Because of me," the hacker sighed. "You can imagine how easily I pick up things and memorize them without a fault? Skyler's kept up with me to the point he's good at many things by being an info junkie." It was a memory the hacker didn't like how they were always compared to each other at school. His elder twin had to work extra hard in setting a right example to his younger siblings. Steve pointed out, "He's not as sharp in the memory department like me, but his analyzing skills and his perception is way better than mine."
The mech thought of Jazz and Ironhide who were now with both the Major and the Sergeant. "You know he's going to make it difficult for Major Lennox and Sergeant Epps to find any information at finding him, right?" The youth nod in turn. "I think they might have convincing issues if they ever meet your brother without you."
"Is there a way I could meet Skyler somehow if they ever find him to help convincing him to help NEST?" Steve hoped at the thought of meeting Skyler.
Sideswipe was silent for a while before he answered, "Sorry Steve, but I don't think Optimus or any of the higher ups are going to let you off base for some time. After you made Soundwave back off, the Decepticons would be in hot pursuit looking for you."
Steve was disappointed to hear that, he wanted to complain but managed to stop himself. He knew placing more problems on Sideswipe wasn't a good idea. The idea of making another prank while NEST wasn't in a good situation was unthinkable. Thinking about the idea that he had Uncle Jack as his means of other Intel was probably his only motivation right now. He wondered if he could somehow contact the others in his con family through the lobbyist, but shook out of it. It was a bad idea – having Uncle Robert known by the government was enough and he didn't want to drag the whole family in.
What now? The hacker shifted through his memories to think of something to do to distract him from boredom.
"What is it, Steve?" Sides answered back as his charge suddenly had a different look on his face.
"Are the training grounds still going on with the training?" Steve asked. He then looked to his watch. "You have a training session in like 10 minutes or so right?"
The bot was silent as he shuttered his optics. "Don't tell me you memorized my schedule."
The hacker laughed, "I know nearly all the schedules of the Autobots and some of the soldiers off by heart already. It's hard for me to forget."
Scarp. I forgot about that. Sideswipe was going to have to get used to Steve's ability. "So why'd you ask?"
"I never got to actually see the training going on around base," Steve shrugged. "Not like I have much to do anyway, Simmons is off with Sam for more UN negotiations with Prowl."
At the thought that Steve might enjoy a few explosions as well a good fight with his commander who was on base, Sides smirked inwardly. "You'll be in for a treat, Steve. I'm going to battle Big Boss today."
Steve now looked interested about his current guardian fighting with the Autobot CO, "You can handle a huge bot like him?"
"You haven't seen anything yet!" Sideswipe said happily as he drove towards the training grounds.
The hacker smiled at his guardian's enthusiastic behavior to fight his own commander, perhaps today wasn't going to be so boring after all.
Aww! He's soooo cuuuute!" Darlita squealed cuddling the sparkling in her arms. "Can I keep him?"
Flipluck on the other hand was purely embarrassed looking bashfully away from her. This was the first time a human cuddled him. The fact Cathy who had a thing for cute things was stroking the bundle of wires on the head only made him purr.
Sunstreaker still quiet in his alt-form felt disgusted. Like Pit I want any organic femmes on me. He wouldn't even process about anyone touching him and ruining his paint job. However on a tactical point of view, he did approve of the sparkling taking all the attention so the femmes could somehow be a part of their plan in getting rid of Mindwipe and Shriller.
The con man not too far away was inwardly rolling his eyes, as he realized a little too late, that the girls did have an affinity for anything cute. What he didn't expect was that it included alien toddlers or sparklings. In a way he was glad to introduce Flipluck first, rather than Sunstreaker. He had explained everything as well as every place he had been since his departure from Louisiana. Seeing they were taking it well, that left the introductions for the mech.
It was Catherine that was first to realize that they were one person short. "Where's Flipluck's caretaker? Should he be around?" When Skyler put his hand on the hood of the car he was touching she understood. "He's the car?"
To the surprise of the girls a male voice came out of the car, "Hmph. Finally someone figures out I'm the car and not hiding in it."
Darlita was shocked. She had seen many robotic works in her field but to think the alien was disguised as a car was something else entirely. "You've been listening in on us all along?"
A snort. "Do you see any other car here?" The red head shook her head. "That's your answer."
Darlita wasn't finished yet. Taking note on the mech's alternative form of a car to Flipluck that was just an automatic card shuffler, she blurted out, "How tall are you in your – uh – other form?"
This time the Autobot couldn't care less about real introductions and immediately transformed without giving any warnings to the humans. He made sure when his full form was up, his head did not collide with the roof. The girls were stunned to see his current form their mouths wide open. "This form is what we call bi-pedal form."
Cathy couldn't help but feel amazed, hell, she had seen a lot of weird things from her family con gatherings; but this Autonomous Robotic Organism took the number one spot. She was slightly afraid of 'him' since the bot was large and putting on her flight reflex. However, as she saw Flipluck run over to the mech and begin hugging his wheels, he didn't seem to look as frightening as seconds went by. The demolition girl she noted seemed to find the bot as a new idol as her eyes in a sense looked like they were twinkling in finding a new toy. Cathy wasn't surprised as her work did relate to robotics in some way.
Turning to her con brother, Cathy asked, "Skyler? What's the problem you're facing here in Denver?"
There was a frown on Skyler's face, "We've got two Decepticons in the city, their abilities are giving us problems, and we're at a disadvantage. We need to get rid of them before we leave the city and head for Salt Lake City." He was glad enough the girls were taking Sunstreaker well; he thought they'd really freak out like his uncle.
"But with Lita's explosives she needs to get rid of, all we need is the place and plans to execute it," Cathy listed off the things they could do next.
"That's the general idea," the con man agreed.
Darlita to the surprise of everyone jumped for joy, "You guys! I owe you big time! YES! I finally get to see things go boom!" She then muttered about how she was going to use her stock to the fullest ramblingly to the point that no one understood her.
Two Cybertronians and the other two humans blinked in an awkward silence.
"So," Sunstreaker raised his voice slightly as he was somewhat trying to get everyone back to the main problem. All of them finally had their eyes on him. His attention was the femme that had the con alias as 'Fuse'. "Where are your explosives?"
The red head replied, "Back at one of the warehouses I rented. The whole stock's there."
Skyler looked at Cathy in question.
"Don't look at me that way, Sky. I have no idea about her explosives, I just dropped in Denver today remember?" Cathy made her point clear.
The con man shrugged, "You never know." A pause. "Well, one way to find out." He then gave the demolitions expert an interested look. "How about we take a drive to your rented warehouse?"
"Snake and Charm Speaker," Darlita announced proudly, "You won't regret working with me."
They arrived at the warehouse in one piece. Not that anything happened on the roads as they drove towards their intended location, but the fact they managed to pass by the two Decepticons without getting detected was another stroke of luck. With Sunstreaker having three human passengers and having an alt-form that was blue he passed by them without too much trouble.
Like always, the Decepticons didn't seem to think about their alt-forms as a good disguise missing the parts where humans would consider the details in an odd way. Shriller was a TV broadcasting van minus the reporters with the crew and Mindwipe simply flew overhead as a matching media but in a guise of a news copter that was not a local channel. Oddly enough, the Decepticon symbols were clear as day on their bodies. According to Sunstreaker's scans they seemed to be scouting the northern side of the city which was the opposite direction they were heading to.
To Sunstreaker's relief, the warehouse was tall enough for him to change into his bi-pedal form without hitting his head on the roof and as it was an enclosed space he freely could be in his true form with no worry. He rolled in carefully and scanned around to see what the femme had in store. There was a car that was parked covered by a hood which didn't interest the mech. When he got to the explosives he was relived what they were looking for.
"Seems all the explosives are in order," the mech said gruffly.
Cathy blinked at that, "How do you know there are explosives here? The whole place is covered with sheets."
"I scanned the place," Sunny said and turning off into another direction where the sparkling run off to, leaving no room for reply. He did not want Flipluck to touch anything that might accidentally explode, avoiding interacting with the femme was a bonus.
The female con artist gave an odd look to Skyler hinting the mech.
He shrugged, "That's the way Sunstreaker is. He's not really the social type."
Cathy nodded at that and helped with uncovering the sheets with both Skyler and Darlita. She read what her side had after she uncovered her sheets, "We got TNT, AMFO, C4s, and… grenade launchers?" She gave the other girl with a horrified look, "Girl, what are you trying to do? Go all 'terrorist' on the Mark?"
The girl with her Con alias as 'Fuse' easily shrugged it off doing an 'evil' smile. "Never know when you're prepared or not."
Looking at all of those things uncovered by his side of the sheets, Skyler's attention was on one point. "Are those rocket launchers?" he pointed.
Darlita smiled as she skipped over and picked one up. "Yup! A beauty isn't she?"
"Even if you used them in Keith's previous heist, it'd still be overkill, Lita," Skyler muttered as he silently agreed with Cathy. The hacker now knew why 'Ghost' wasn't all that sure to use her explosives. It didn't fit in with his stealth escapes. Darlita definitely had taken the insanity level further than he expected.
"But these little babies are going to solve your problem, right?" Lita said with glee. Stroking the rocket launcher lovingly and looking at the rest of explosives in the room with caring eyes she said, "Let's get all of you ready to blow some big bad bots to bits!"
Sunstreaker couldn't help but twitch at the femme's crazed antics for explosives with Flipluck in one hand. The sparkling was giggling to himself, being distracted yet again in trying to solve a card trick that this time Cathy taught him.
"You know what, Skyler?"
"I think now I'm starting to question her sanity," the mech commented.
Skyler shook his head as he laughed, "Be glad you only know half of it."
Sunstreaker rolled his optics. Pit-spawned femme, thank Primus Wheeljack and her won't ever meet.
The warrior was just glad enough it was the 'Cons that were going to get a taste of the explosives, and not him.
Autobot Mission Log Entry 3.04: Working on the Hunt with Con Femmes
Denver, Colorado, US.
In a city with two Decepticons with their communications system fully online was probably the worst slag we've gotten into so far. Not to mention we had a sparkling with us and both Decepticons were Mindwipe and Shriller. Those two weren't pure front-line warriors, more of the support soldiers for the fighters.
Getting them as a set together was fragging bad luck I tell you.
For some reason I had theory that Primus was giving us all the bad luck in the universe of getting into an enemy scout's territory.
Skyler on the other hand had his own con family problems, since my twin Sideswipe had taken Steve with him, he got into trouble with his cousin Rachel. He even got slapped for it, which he accepted it. I didn't understand why he did; I suppose it was out of respect since he could not tell her. The Pit I understand with human relations! I didn't understand why he was afraid by a bunch of femmes.
He then corrected me they were 'Femme Con Artists'.
The only thing I did understand was the fact that in a con family, con femmes were not to be underestimated or trifled with recklessly.
I was certain of the organic by the name of Cathy, on how she worked with Skyler when I spied on her back before I kidnapped him. She by no doubt had a type of advantage on male fleshlings around her like a magnet and was confident in using it to her ends. The other femme I was not sure about at first.
To the horror of my spark, I found that this femme demolitions/explosives expert wasn't what she seemed.
She made Wheeljack look docile with his explosives with the way she was treating (hugging and stroking them with love) the bombs like they were her younglings.
While her body vitals showed nothing on my scanners, I was sure she was clinically insane when it came to explosives.
I'd rather not get near her if I have to, and by Primus; I was not going to keep Flipluck anywhere near her explosives. Wheeljack did explosives testing because he wants to see effective results. The femme? She just wanted to see things explode for the fun of it. She was like a Wheeljack being a trigger happy Ironhide, add in an obsession to see something explode.
That night, the humans decided to stay overnight in the warehouse to plan on getting rid of the Decepticons we were facing. I wasn't shocked to see that they were declaring Skyler as their current group leader, but the fact that both femmes were ganging up to defeat him in a decision making was funny.
Uh – Not that I'd tell anyone that – Like Pit I would.
I was also curious why they had these 'Con aliases'. I thought in the previous hunt that they were just temporary code names, but it seems not. I understood why the femme Cathy was called 'Charm Speaker' and Darlita was called 'Fuse'. What I didn't understand was the fact Skyler had the alias 'Snake'. What did he have to do with an organic limbless species?
I had yet to see how the con family worked, but con aliases were like a designation when you were in the Con family. That night when Skyler mentioned that Robert proclaimed I was actually welcomed to the family, the femmes were all in to get me a con alias as well. I didn't really care about it but they were persistent about it.
I just hope it didn't sound stupid.
Other than that, having more explosives and allies for Decepticon hunting turned the tide in our favor.
It was about time we did the second hunt for Decepticons.
Another chapter done!
NEST gets another 'Galloway' who is actually Steve's 'uncle'... How will Sam, the Autobots and the NEST team will handle it?
Skyler gets it bad by going against girls, and Sunstreaker finds out that girls especially female con artists are frightning...
And we'll be hunting 'Cons in the next one, so stay tunned!
Okay... Explanations... For reaching 10.5 k hits on this fic, I'm letting in some goodies on my profile for you guys and gals on this fic. First off, Fan art of the human twins Skyler and Steve by Shizuka Suzuki. Thank you so much for those AMAZING digital sketches! xD I love your interpretation on the twins! Second, a signature art of Flipluck is there too (based on a Cybertronian drone but chibi-fied).
Thirdly, are blog pages of this fic which are general descriptions. Main Bots (the Twin S&S + Soundwave) in the fic are the bots taking the main spotlight. My OCs page is a full detail bio of Skyler, Steve + Flipluck. And last but not least, the 1st part (most frequently mentioned in the fic) of the Ocean's cast bio. I bet many of you might not be bothered to look for what the Ocean characters look like or have no idea - so, that page will explain the their relationship to the twins in this fic plus see who are their actors/actresses. The second will be posted later on (as there are many characters).
A special bonus... does anyone like making things from paper? I have a hobby for paper crafting (making paper models), and as apparent, I found some for the TF movies (hell, even for the upcoming TF3). I haven't tried making Ironhide yet, but I think that's my next project in my spare time (whenever that is). lol. You can find the links at the most bottom of my profile.
I managed to get my hands on the TF comics for the Dark of the Moon prequel the other day. Gotta say I was shocked what happened after to Galloway. But hey... he still doesn't make an appearance in the next movie anyway. The good news is the Arcee triplets are alive after ROTF (be grateful Arcee triplet fans!). There's a post on the prequel comics on my blog if anyone is interested.
Thanks for hearing me out! As always, any sort of feedback is always appriciated! xD
Please don't be shy! I know there are a lot of people reading this fic, so please drop by a review, constructive criticism, opinions, and suggestions if you have any.