Okay, let's do the time-warp again: Sunstreaker and Sideswipe have arrived on Earth at the same time; they are in the movieverse, significantly before the events of ROTF but after Transformers. Michael Bey, I reject your reality, and substitute my own!

Oh, and a hygrometer, which measures the specific density of liquids, is in fact a necessity if you're going to do your own fermenting and/or distilling. Why or how, deponent knoweth not.

HasTak's and about five other people's, not mine, not for profit.


"I will not sit in the cheap seats," Sunstreaker said forcefully. "It's not a Maxximus G-Force. It's not an Ultima GTR 720. It's not a Bugatti Veyron. It's not an Ariel Atom. It's not a Ferrari Enzo. It's sure as the Pit not a McLaren F1. It's not even a Porsche Carrera GT. You want us, us, to sit in the cheap seats."

"It looks a little like a Bugatti Veyron."

"Will you listen to yourself? Three and a half. Down from two-point-one. Cheap seats."

Ratchet stirred. "Cheap seats or not, I'm done trying to find parts for you two. Your alt form is seventeen years old. In human culture, it's kept in a museum, not driven any longer."

Sideswipe ignored the medic, said to his twin in acknowledgment, "I know. A loss of one and a half kliks. But these are pretty."

"Pretty, my aft. What would you know about pretty?"

At the heart of the debate was the fact that the Bugatti Veyron kicked aft; the Dodge Viper under proposal did not. It also cost roughly one-thirtieth what the Bugatti did.

Sunstreaker was in mourning. He was mourning the imminent death of being, in alt-form, the fastest street-legal model in production. He might have spared a metaphorical tear for their last batch of high-grade, proven better suited for use as explosive than potable, but his real grief was for the fact that Ratchet had refused absolutely to repair Lamborghini Countachs any longer.

The twins had spent two sunny days in holoform, cruising Singapore to gawk at eight high-performance sports cars, with an eye to replacing their alt-forms with something that wasn't last produced seventeen years earlier, which thus could now be graduating high school.

The red mech sighed. "I know; I know. Zero-to-sixty in three vorn. Still, the energon consumption is -"

"Energon consumption is fraggin' terrible for any of 'em," Ratchet said. "You want good energy consumption, get a Pinto."

Sunstreaker twitched.

"And it's pretty," Sideswipe said.

"It's round," Sunstreaker replied. "Organic."

"It's named for a poisonous organic," Ironhide said, offering counterbalance. "Listen up: parts are easy to get, because the thing's still in production."

"It's still cheap seats," the yellow Lamborghini said petulantly.

Ratchet chimed in again: "In the cheap seats, you two will be less of a medical nightmare, because let's face it, you're responsible for about sixty percent of the business I do after every encounter with the Decepticons. That means that you, in your cheap seats, will get your afts out of my med bay and back into battle, where you can trash yourselves again, faster. Got it?"

Prowl was looking through the calendar the Dodge Viper salesman had handed them, occasionally turning it ninety degrees to more closely peruse the likes of Miss July, who was bright maroon and sat patiently on a beach while her squishies did whatever it was that squishies did on the beach.

He turned back to Miss April, who was a golden hue, and spun the calendar to face Sunstreaker.

Who twitched again; but they all knew their Sunstreaker, and this was the twitch they had been aiming for. Mission accomplished: he'd settle for the cheap seats.

Prowl jerked the calendar out of Sideswipe's black grasp, and showed him Miss July.

Sideswipe's optics lit up like beacons. (Make that Mr. July.) "See, Sunny? It looks like a Bugatti Veyron. That ain't cheap seats."

"Yeah, fine. And it is." But it was a losing grumble, and he knew it.

Everyone one the other side of the table from the Terrible Two relaxed: Ironhide, Optimus Prime, Prowl, Jazz, Will Lennox. Ratchet went so far as to let a grin flicker across his face.

Lennox said matter-of-factly, "Great," and picked up the spec sheets, squaring them neatly. "I'll have one here in two weeks, probably."


Nine days later, Will took the elevator up to the humans' platform in the meeting room where work with the Autobots went on.

He stepped out onto the platform, and twelve bright-blue optics snapped to him. "Hi, everyone," he said, and set his stack of papers down in front of him.

"Well?" said Sideswipe, his body language registering eagerness. Autobot faces were rarely expressive. "When will it be here?"

Sunstreaker, slouching in his two-stories-high chair, looked apathetic. Optimus, with Prowl, Ratchet, Jazz, and Ironhide, looked like people at a meeting: ready to be met with, to discuss the matter at hand, and then to go back to being Cybertronians again, whatever that was like.

Will sighed. "I couldn't get it past the accountants and the politicians, for some reason."

Sideswipe and Sunstreaker exchanged a pregnant glance, probably accompanied by a burst of extremely profane Cybertronian, and Prowl sighed.

"They did propose a compromise, however." Will slid the two posters down the table, where the twins extruded from their fingertips tiny and delicate pincers, about Will's height, to hold what to them was postage-stamp sized depiction of housing for their souls. There was a whirr as their optics adjusted to fine-focus.

"But - these are beautiful," Sunstreaker said. "Why will they approve these, and not the others?"

Will shrugged. "I have as little insight into the workings of the political mind as you do, Sunny," he said.

Ratchet looked at the pictures and said, "They have some design features in common with your present alt-mode."

Sunstreaker, the artist of the pair, tilted his head. "Yeah, a little," he conceded. "The door panels look like our decks."

"So, one 2007 Chevy Corvette?"

"Hardtop. I can't see what good a convertible would do in battle," Sideswipe said firmly.

"Chicks like 'em," Will said.

Jazz rolled his optics. "And how many femmes have you met in battle?"

Sunny had focused down on the fine details. "Seven-liter V-8," he added. "One yellow, one red."

"One yellow, one silver," Sideswipe said. Questioning optics trained on him from every direction, and both species, in the room. He shrugged in his own turn. "It's time for a new look."

Will let out a breath. "Okay. Can you guys go scan 'em on your own, if I send you to Mumbai? There's a car dealership there that's holding one on approval. All you have to do is scan it, then tell the guy you don't think it'll work."

Sunstreaker narrowed his optics. "If we do that, it saves the government money," he said. "Were you thinking to capitalize on my political naivete?"

"No, I was hoping to use the money, which is already allocated to us, for party supplies and brewing equipment," Will said. "Weren't you saying you needed some new hoses and stuff? And that your hygrometer is a joke, whatever the slag that is?"

"Excuse me," Optimus said, "I must take a call. Jazz, Prowl, with me." He rose, and exited the meeting room with his usual composure.

"You have a big mouth, old man," Sunstreaker said to Ironhide. "And so do you." His glower transferred itself to Will.

However, Sunny had chosen the wrong man and the wrong mech to intimidate. Will only smiled. Ironhide said merely, "You gave me that information yourself." And Ratchet grinned at the twins.

"Because we thought we could trust you with it, and not have you go blabbing to Optimus and the squishies about it! You're our best customer!"

Ironhide said, "I buy for the whole command staff. Who did you think was drinking your product, anyway? If it was only me I'd be pickled by now."

The twins sulked. It was a Thursday. Will knew that if he didn't get the soon-to-be-ex Lambos out of that sulk, they'd still be at it next Tuesday. He cleared his throat. "If we could go back to the cars, for a moment?"

"Yeah, sure, we'll go to Mumbai," said Sunstreaker. "Scan it, turn the salesman down, come home."

"How much of a deposit did you have to put down on the car?" Sideswipe said, a negotiator by nature who had made himself wealthy once.

"Three point one K American," Will said. "That's more than my last car cost."

"Your last car was a piece of junk," Ratchet said. "I wanted to put a round through its spark casing the moment I met it, just to put it out of its misery."

Will grinned, but Sideswipe ignored Ratchet. "So the car costs sixty-two something odd."

"Yep. Getting you to Mumbai is going to run about six, seven."

"Does that mean we'll get fifty-five grand to upgrade our operation?"

"Twenty-five," Will said.

But Sideswipe was as facile a bargainer as the emporia of Iacon could produce. "Forty. Balance for a party."

"Twenty. Fifteen for the party."

Sides cocked his head to one side. "Twenty-five and ten?"

"Done."


It is possible to procure quite a lot of party material for ten grand. That may have been the reason the twins never did figure out that since the Vipers cost $110,000, and the 'Vettes were $62,000, they were quite firmly ensconced in the cheap seats.

Ratchet, whose med bay was the recipient of the extra $48,000, put the Viper calendar up in his office, and carefully changed the picture on the first of every month, smiling and saying to himself, "Cheap seats," every time.

Whenever Sunstreaker came into his med bay seeking his tender mercies, Ratchet smiled and said, every time, "This way, please. The cheap seats are over here."