The debriefing lasted for almost two hours, though it felt magnitudes longer to Breakdown.
After the battle Drag Strip and Motormaster had been the most badly damaged. Neither of them had been able to fly back to the Nemesis under their own power, so Laserbeak and Buzzsaw had been pressed into action again – and had complained every mechanometer of the way about the increased weight. Drag Strip had been sent to the repair bay immediately, but Motormaster had been in somewhat less danger of falling into stasis lock—and Breakdown knew that even if he had, he would never have admitted it, least of all to Megatron.
Besides, Megatron had demanded to know exactly what had happened to them, and after months of not being able to speak to their commander, Motormaster wasn't going to put that off a minute longer.
He did send Wildrider to the repair bay as well—supposedly to get fixed, but they all knew it was because Wildrider couldn't have kept still and quiet if he'd been shot with a null ray. So Dead End and Breakdown flanked Motormaster instead as he stood in the command centre and made his lengthy report.
Breakdown wished they could have been debriefed in private, but of course that wasn't going to happen. Soundwave was present as well, a silent listener and recorder, though Rumble and Frenzy more than made up for that. He guessed they were supposed to be on monitor duty, but they gave the screens only desultory attention while they snickered quietly at Motormaster's report.
The only consolation, as far as Breakdown was concerned, was that Megatron had made it clear he didn't want to hear all the details of their human lives. "You will tell me how this occurred, Motormaster, and how you came to be captured by the Autobots rather than making contact with us. But I have no interest in your experiences as an… organic," Megatron's lip components curled in distaste, "… unless the information is relevant to our war or will give us an advantage against the Autobots."
Breakdown felt disappointed, since that meant Motormaster wouldn't have to squirm under Megatron's incredulous stare as he described how he'd been 'facing a human for free coffee. Still, that also meant the debriefing wasn't likely to take too long, so he resigned himself to wait. He would have liked to edge sideways until he was behind Motormaster entirely, but with Megatron looking at them he didn't dare move.
Against Motormaster's dark paint, rents and burns looked even darker. His self-repair systems had sealed off the worst of the leaks, but motor oil and joint lubricant glistened on his chassis, and he wore them as he would have flaunted Optimus Prime's spilled fuel. His grille was a molten ruin and one side of his cowling crushed, but his stance was as proud and immovable as ever. When he started to speak, Breakdown heard the faint crackle of static in his vocalizer, but that was the only sign of what he'd gone through in the last hour – and the last two months.
They'd forgotten most of it when they'd combined. Not just because their individual personalities sank down, subsumed into the greater whole that was Menasor, but because for the first time in their existence, they had been truly united.
Menasor nearly always awoke in anger, because Motormaster detested knowing their weaknesses even more intimately than usual, and they loathed feeling anything about him. The bitter roiling reaction usually worked against them, making their combined form unstable as the different parts of Menasor's mind tangled in subliminal chaos.
But whenever the huge gestalt had a different target, one they all hated, that anger focused outwards.
So when Menasor had woken for the first time since their change and onlined his optics to the sight of an army of attacking Autobots, they'd been united in their fury, locked together with a single purpose – to crush all those who threatened them. Strength and determination and fearlessness fused with a fierce joy at the rightness of being one again, and Menasor waded into battle with all the unstoppable force of a tornado.
He was outnumbered, of course. Megatron had brought only a few Decepticons with him, aware that greater numbers meant a greater risk of revealing their position. But for all their increased numbers, the Autobots didn't have a functional gestalt. For some reason only four Aerialbots had made it to the battlefield.
There were five Protectobots by then, because no one had realized Breakdown was trying to warn them about the Protectobot helicopter sneaking First Aid into the blast zone. So First Aid's inadvertent transformation occurred behind enemy lines, which might have spelled trouble if the ambulance had not been the worst possible fighter. As for the helicopter, he was too badly damaged from all the fire he'd taken to stand up, much less combine, and was in stasis lock by the time the rest of the Protectobots managed to reach him.
The other Autobots concentrated their shots on Menasor's torso, trying to overwhelm the forcefield, but Menasor charged at them and the Decepticons stayed close behind, using him as cover to shoot back. Only when the Aerialbots swooped low and added their much greater firepower to the assault did Megatron call a retreat, and by then most of the Autobots had fallen back as well.
Menasor's forcefield had gone down too, but the shots that connected were as remote and unimportant as the order to disengage. After far too long being separated, far too long being small and weak and vulnerable, the Stunticons' fuel was boiling for a real battle, and Megatron's roared commands went unnoticed. Breakdown thought later that Megatron had probably been nanoseconds away from shooting Menasor just to get his attention. Fortunately for them all, Soundwave had reached into the raging depths of the gestalt's mind, forcing the fury down under his cold calm authority.
Still seething, Menasor had broken off the battle, and with the common enemy gone, his mind had fragmented into five once again. Unfortunately, at some point during his rampage, a large and heavy foot had come down on the matter-energy converter, crushing it into powder.
None of them, including Menasor, had been angry about that.
Not that Breakdown would have minded saving the matter-energy convertor to use on a certain group of 'cons, like the ones who had stopped them from speaking to Megatron when they'd finally gotten through to the base. Motormaster's tone didn't change as he recounted that incident, but Breakdown felt a dark pleasure trickle through the gestalt link as Motormaster enjoyed the chance to get some of his own back.
Megatron's expression didn't change either, but Soundwave's fingers moved rapidly over his computer console, and Breakdown knew he was checking the transmission logs. Motormaster continued, describing Breakdown's plan to lure Soundwave out—for all Motormaster's faults, he gave his subordinates credit when he felt it was due, but Breakdown twitched as everyone glanced in his direction, and tried to sidle behind Motormaster again.
"I told you that wasn't a real code!" Rumble said to Frenzy. "Looks like a bunch of gibberish some moron threw together, I said—"
Soundwave's visor glowed and the two of them quieted down so Motormaster could continue. Megatron didn't respond until Motormaster described how the Combaticons had chased them and shot Drag Strip.
"That explains it," he said finally—and dangerously mildly, for him. "The Combaticons made a strategic withdrawal to their land base about two joors ago."
One corner of Motormaster's mouth curled up. "Permission to deal with them personally, Lord Megatron?"
"Denied," Megatron said, which Breakdown knew didn't surprise anyone—Megatron would never have condoned infighting among the ranks. "I'll handle this. Continue with your report."
Motormaster's description of events in the Autobot base was much more detailed, and by the time he finished Breakdown was longing for some energon and a long rest. At first he'd been happily distracted by the scrolling systems reports and feedback in his HUD—it was so different to look out at the world through a lens of self-aware diagnostics and powerful scanners—but now he'd gotten used to that again, he was only too aware of how tired he was. The actuators in his legs felt as though they were about to lock up from being held in the same position for too long, but even that didn't bother him as much as the grubby condition of his paintjob. He glanced sideways at Dead End. He must hate it even worse. Maybe a wash…
The silence stretched out once Motormaster had finished speaking, and Megatron said nothing as his red gaze moved over them slowly. That never failed to make Breakdown feel as though he was a specimen under a microscope. He stared at the floor and struggled to keep his engine at a quiet idle; sabotaging anything in the command centre would earn him a fusion cannon blast if he was lucky. And if he wasn't, Megatron might remember how the whole mess got started in the first place, and do worse than just shoot him.
But after what felt like a year, Megatron said, "Very well." Breakdown glanced up hopefully, fixing his optics on one of Megatron's knee-joints. "Dismissed. I want your team in functional order within the next joor, Motormaster. The Stunticons have been absent from their duties for too long."
Breakdown felt another wave of pleasure ripple through the gestalt link, though this one was deeply satisfied rather than malicious. He could almost hear Motormaster thinking that not only were they back to normal, they'd been returned to their place in the Decepticon ranks as well. Megatron hadn't replaced them, though Breakdown was sure he would have at least considered doing so if they'd been gone much longer.
"Yes, Lord Megatron." Motormaster saluted and walked out, Breakdown following at a quick trot and Dead End trailing behind.
Once they were outside, Motormaster stopped. "Got a comm from Scrapper," he said. "The green squad want to check us over even if we're not damaged, so you two are next in line as soon as they're done with Drag Strip. Dead End, you're first. Breakdown, you're next."
Breakdown knew better than to refuse, though the idea of more mechs staring at him was depressing. His pace changed to a shuffle, so he trailed in the rear even more than Dead End as they approached their quarters, but he still spotted the message on Motormaster's door first.
"Who did that?" he said.
Motormaster turned. "Did what?" he said, then followed Breakdown's line of sight. Someone had scrawled "WELCOME BACK STUNTICONS" on his door—but the words were only about six feet off the floor, at the right height for them if they had still been human. Since that put the message on a level with Motormaster's foot, he hadn't seen it.
Dead End had stopped in his tracks when Breakdown did, and the two of them exchanged a quick glance. Motormaster was silent and immobile as he stared at the message, so Breakdown had no idea what he would do next. The security cameras were sure to have recorded the defacement, but Soundwave wasn't likely to let him review the footage.
Motormaster drew his sword. In the poorly lit corridor, the light flaring from the blade's edge was so bright it stung Breakdown's optics, so incandescent it picked out every scrape and burn on Motormaster's frame.
The sword swept down in a smooth unstoppable arc and bit into the metal of the door. Motormaster's face was twisted in pain—the only sign of the effort behind the blow—but his hand twisted the hilt even harder and metal glowed white-hot as it began to melt. The servos in Motormaster's wrist whined as he turned his hand this way and that, digging deep into the metal, slicing out the words that were illegible by then.
The defaced portion of the door, little more than a slab of slag, fell with a soft thud on the floor. Motormaster kicked it away. Both Breakdown and Dead End leaped aside as the smoking clot of half-liquefied metal flew in their direction. It sailed between them and hit the wall at the other end of the corridor, sticking to it with a heavy plop.
It was an unsightly mess, and the damage to Motormaster's door looked even worse. But Breakdown had glanced back just as Motormaster returned his sword to subspace, and he saw the smile that passed over Motormaster's face and was gone almost as fast.
In the dim light, purple optics glowed. "Oh yes," Motormaster said quietly. "We're back."
He hit the access panel with the heel of one hand and his door hissed open. Breakdown waited until it closed again, then took a tentative step towards his own quarters.
"Best not to bother getting too clean." Dead End entered his own access code at his door. "Megatron specified duties, not assignments. We'll probably have to clean out cargo bay seven again."
Breakdown stifled a groan. That area was always getting flooded, though he didn't dare suggest the Constructicons fix the bulkheads permanently or anything. Scrapper's crew took a dim view of anyone trying to tell them how to do their jobs, and one of them might plant a camera inside of him in retaliation.
Cameras… that reminded him of what he had to do next, and he had a little time even if Dead End went to the repair bay immediately. He let himself into his room.
He spent the next hour searching the walls, floor and ceiling carefully while his computer terminal ran security check after security check. He looked under his berth and then took it apart, examining it before putting it back together again. The cabinets all had anti-theft locks, but Breakdown made sure they hadn't been tampered with, then peeled all the posters and maps off the walls, scanned them and stuck them back on.
Finally he sank into his chair and looked around. He'd been so focused on first getting back there and then securing the place that he hadn't had a chance to relax and enjoy his own space—small, but his alone. And it was wonderful to have a computer again, one far more powerful and faster than their Compaq Portable III.
He felt a bit nostalgic—they'd worked so hard for that computer, after all—but when the access screen appeared he started to think of what he could do next. Motormaster would want him to track down the human Ominsky, he felt certain of that, but there was also that race Drag Strip had wanted to win so badly. He could try arranging for Drag Strip to enter it…
Now what the frag was it called again?
Being repaired is slagging boring, Drag Strip thought.
He couldn't move, since the Constructicons had laid him open to the core and disengaged everything below his neck. Hook had threatened to turn off everything above his neck as well if Drag Strip spoke without being spoken to, so he had no choice but to lie there and stare at the ceiling of the repair bay.
He'd done that in the Autobot repair bay as well, but that had been different—back then, he'd been numb with despair as well as damage. At one point he'd thought that he was going to die, but that had been eclipsed by the even worse fear that he would live. It was bad enough being confined to a berth for hours; he couldn't imagine what it would be like to never move under his own power again.
Now, though, he was no longer afraid—just bored, especially since he had no idea how long the repairs would take. He wished Wildrider was there to keep him company, but the Constructicons never kept Wildrider in the repair bay for a moment longer than was necessary, and his repairs were always expedited.
Sighing, Drag Strip offlined his visor and let his imagination take over.
The Tyrell P-34 gleamed in a hundred spotlights and a thousand camera flashes. Its yellow paint looked almost wet, incandescent as the heart of the sun, making the racecar a fleck of flame against the track. As it swung into the penultimate lap, only the Lotus97T, sleek and black with specially designed turning vanes painted silver, was in the lead.
The Tyrell zoomed to catch up, its driver steering expertly to avoid the backwash of air from the Lotus's turning vanes. Engine roaring, the Lotus edged to the inside of the track. That left an opening, and the Tyrell accelerated to take it.
The Lotus slid sideways almost horizontally across the track, aiming for a collision. The Tyrell's driver saw the sudden looming shadow at the last moment. There was no time to dodge, no chance to speed up to get out of the way.
The Tyrell's driver braked instead. The Lotus's spoiler missed the Tyrell's nosecone by mere inches, and huge rear whitewalled tires flung a small cloud of dust and grit into the Tyrell's windscreen. Then the Lotus kicked off, fighting to make the most of its advantage. Its engine revved to a scream.
But the Tyrell's driver had one final card left to play. He accelerated as well, and stayed directly behind the Lotus, out of the vortices generated by the turning vanes. In that position, there was much less air resistance—the Lotus took the brunt of that.
The Lotus accelerated even more as they shot into the last lap. Needles on speedometer gauges touched 300 mph and edged into red zones. The Lotus was now at terminal velocity, wringing full power from its engine.
The Tyrell, hanging tenaciously on to the black car's rear bumper like the shadow of a shadow, raced at the same speed but wasn't using maximum power. The Lotus's own slipstream gave the Tyrell that much of a respite. Not that that helped, since the Tyrell was still in second place.
The checkered flag was only two hundred yards away.
A hundred yards.
Abruptly the Tyrell dived right, simultaneously applying maximum power. Fuel injectors emptied. A supercharged engine howled. In two seconds the Tyrell's speed passed 360 mph, and with a shriek of tortured rubber it passed the Lotus. The Lotus shifted, veering right in a last desperate attempt at a broadside slam, a maneuver that would have had both cars ricocheting out of control if it had worked.
The Tyrell's driver tightened his grip on the steering wheel, slewing the yellow racecar dangerously close to the track wall, and threw all his weight sideways.
The maneuver would have failed if the racecar hadn't been so light, designed to be as aerodynamic as possible. The Tyrell flipped onto three wheels. The other three rode the wall, maintaining just enough speed to slip past the Lotus completely. The moment the Tyrell was clear, the driver flung himself in the opposite direction and the car thudded down on to all six wheels.
With a final roar of acceleration and defiance, it shot ahead. Smoke plumed from its engine. The Lotus ripped the grey streams to ragged ribbons as it fought to catch up, but it was already too late. The flag swept down in a black-and-white arc as the Tyrell sped over the finish line.
The announcers shouted the name of the 1988 Formula One World Champion, but the jubilant shrieks of the crowd drowned even that out. The yellow racecar came to a halt, engine still shuddering, tires burning hot to the touch. A pit crew raced up to it as the driver unbuckled his harness.
When he stepped out of the car and pulled his helmet off, his blond hair was damp with sweat but his grin was as wide as the track itself.
Drag Strip onlined his visor again, feeling his optic ridges pull together. He hadn't expected to be a human again in the fantasy… but now that he came to think about it, he was just as superb in any shape or form. It's all good, he decided and let himself sink back into the wonderful moment.
People were cheering on all sides and so many cameras were going off that they almost blinded him—though he had no difficulty spotting the gleam of the golden cup. For once, though, he looked twice at the person presenting it to him.
Blond hair fell to her shoulders and her figure was shapely even in a jumpsuit. Her eyes were a wide clear grey that looked quicksilver in the spotlights. Drag Strip gave her a nine.
"Hi," she said, smiling. "I'm Michelle."
"Well, hi there, Michelle. Here, let me take that." He reached out for the cup and she laughed before relinquishing it. He wished the other Stunticons had been there to see him.
One of the photographers waved at him. "Can we get a picture of you and Ms. Pfeiffer?"
Michelle laughed again, throatily, and pressed close to Drag Strip, one slender arm slipping around his waist as all the flashbulbs went off. Ten, he decided.
The photography session, delightful though it was, didn't last very long. Drag Strip knew he still had to make a speech of acceptance, give interviews and attend the celebration to be thrown in his honor, but Michelle told his waiting audience that he would be back in five minutes. Then she grabbed his hand and pulled him in the direction of the pit stalls. She stopped in the first unoccupied one, tossing a fire-resistant blanket over the entrance to give them a little privacy.
Then she unzipped her jumpsuit. From throat to waist it peeled apart, and below it she wore a black patent leather costume that gleamed under the lights like a well-polished chassis and hugged her like a second skin. Drag Strip felt his mouth go dry.
"Eleven," he breathed.
"What?" Michelle said.
"Never mind." Drag Strip hurried to take off his own clothes, wondering if there was any way Michelle could keep the black leather outfit on. "Too bad we only have five minutes."
"Well, it's more like two and a half." She slipped her arms around his neck. "Harrison Ford is waiting for you too…"
Wildrider had forgotten his access code, so he had to wait for Soundwave to override and reset the lock. Normally that would have been last on Soundwave's list of priorities, but Wildrider drove around while he was waiting and got back into his room a few minutes later.
It was just as he had left it, the drum kit and toy cars and stuffed kangaroo still waiting for him. And he had something to add to his collection. He reached up and took a small package from subspace.
The package felt tiny and light, but it was the only thing he had brought with him out of his life as a human. As his body had expanded rapidly, his clothes and even his new yellow boots had shredded, but the package hadn't been on his body—it had been clasped tightly to his chest. And before Motormaster's roared command had spun him into a whirlwind of change, Wildrider's one thought had been to shift the package into subspace and keep it safe.
Now he took it between thumb and forefinger, then shook the contents out into his palm. Carefully he unfolded the T-shirt he had designed, pinned it to the wall and stepped back to admire it.
The image on the front was of the five of them. Breakdown was scouting in front, sleek low chassis all but hugging the road. Drag Strip was off to one side, a golden wedge as he did the driving-on-three-wheels maneuver he loved. Dead End raced on the other side, a glossy gleam of dark red paint and darker windows, and Motormaster filled the background like a shark herding pilot fish before it. The grey Ferrari with the red windows had soared off the road entirely, plumes of smoke trailing behind, but all the cars looked about to burst out of the picture.
And the caption below said, "Stunticons do it at speed."
Wildrider turned the stereo on, though he was already pleasantly aware of sound wrapping him like a forcefield—the clank and slide of armor plates and oiled joints, the soft hiss of ventilations and the gurgle of a radiator, the low purr of a high-performance engine, even the crackle of electricity racing through internal circuits. Yeah.
He hadn't really minded being human, but it felt good to be back in his own frame again, able to drive whenever he wanted and smash into anything in his way. He pushed the stereo's volume high. Before he could flop down on to the berth, though, he noticed a scrap of paper that had fallen to the floor while he'd been unfolding the T-shirt. He picked it up and saw it was a check.
Of course, the competition had mentioned something about a prize for the winner, but he'd thought the T-shirt had been the prize. He looked at the dollar figure printed on the check and whistled—or tried to, since his lips were no longer as flexible as a human's and he just made a funny exhaling noise instead. Wow, all those zeros! It was almost a pity they didn't need to pay for anything any more.
He crumpled the check, tossed it across the room and into the waste disposal chute, then settled down on his berth, one foot tapping along to the music.
Yeah, he thought happily.
The fading light of the afternoon sun outlined Breakdown's blue-and-white alt mode with a golden glow, making the fragments of broken glass embedded in his tires glint and sparkle.
Parked beside him on a ridge overlooking the highway, serenaded by the faint wail of sirens in the distance, Dead End felt his spark pulse with a familiar longing.
Control yourself. Being human had made him careless. He'd thought he had it under control, but the human Trevor had shown him just how wrong he was. Now that the gestalt link was active again, he needed to keep a tighter rein on his emotions. One slip could ruin everything.
"I guess we're all back to normal now." Breakdown's tone was tentative, uncertain. This little outing had been his idea—a chance to get out of the base and drive after months of being confined to slow and clumsy, wheel-less human bodies.
"Thank Primus," he replied dryly.
A perverse part of him actually missed it. Not the overall experience, which he'd found degrading and revolting in the extreme, but the nights spent with Breakdown in his arms, his breath warm against Dead End's throat…
He felt his energy field extending outward instinctively, reaching for Breakdown, and ruthlessly yanked it back. Even with the newly-restored gestalt link, that first night back in his own private quarters had been…lonely.
But things were back to normal, he supposed. Their true forms had been restored and they'd all been fully repaired – even Drag Strip, who'd suffered damage the humans considered irreparable. Megatron had seemed satisfied with Motormaster's report, and Motormaster in turn had been…not pleased, but at least not fragged off at them. They'd returned to the base and resumed their duties.
Same base. Same duties. Same gestalt. Same secrets. He cycled his vents in a sigh, sinking lower on his tires. The persistent howl of sirens had faded, leaving only a chorus of buzzing insects to serenade them. He was about to suggest they move on when he felt the familiar press of an energy field against his own.
Dead End started, his windshield wipers flicking in surprise.
"Sorry." Breakdown shifted on his tires, their version of a shrug. "I missed feeling you."
He couldn't have resisted if he'd wanted to. His energy field greeted Breakdown's like the shore embracing the tide, extending and withdrawing, mingling and parting only to merge again, over and over in an endless dance.
Advance and retreat. That, too, was normal. Because Breakdown didn't know, and Dead End couldn't tell him. In a gestalt, you weren't allowed to play favorites. But sometimes, during stolen moments like this, "normal" was enough.
They might have been there for minutes or hours when their comm links crackled in unison. "Stunticons." Motormaster's voice was cold, echoing slightly—and dark with anticipation. "Rendezvous at the intersection of Highway 12 and the I-5. We have an assignment."
Same life…or what passes for it.
Motormaster drove away from the smoking ruins of the health club—a club with an upper floor used for illegal high-stakes gambling—and deleted another name from the list which scrolled up in his HUD. Breakdown hadn't been able to locate the human Ominsky's own living quarters, which had left Motormaster displeased even after Breakdown managed to explain that a loan shark was hardly likely to have his home address considerately entered into anyone's databanks.
But what Breakdown had managed to do was hack into police computers, pulling up the records of every place of business Ominsky was known or suspected to have an investment in. So Motormaster leveled them all one by one, though he still hoped to find and deal with Ominsky personally once he had destroyed the loan shark's livelihood.
He would have liked to do the same to the Combaticons, but he couldn't disobey Megatron's orders, so in the three days since they had returned to the Nemesis he had done nothing more than drive out to the Combaticons' land base. He stayed there just long enough for the Combaticons' perimeter defenses to register his presence, then drove off again, deciding they'd be all the more unnerved if they had no idea what he was planning.
At first he was disappointed Megatron hadn't made a public example of them, but after a day or two Soundwave's cassettes set up a huge vidscreen in the mess hall and played footage of the Combaticons pursuing him and the other Stunticons. Every Decepticon who wasn't on duty crowded around to watch it. Motormaster ignored the spectacle, but he knew Onslaught would never live it down—his team might have had to deal with the embarrassment of having once been human, but the Combaticons were the team who had to suffer the ignominy of failing to defeat them as such.
"But what can you expect from mechs that Starscream put together?" he overheard Drag Strip say.
Starscream was the only 'con who could and did make sarcastic comments about their human condition in Motormaster's presence, capitalizing on the fact that any physical retaliation would be treated as assault on a superior officer. It took all of Motormaster's patience not to react, especially since the other Seekers took their cues from Starscream. Although none of them were stupid enough to sneer at him to his face, they still found ways to rub it in. The latest had been sending him a package that contained scuba-diving equipment. When Motormaster caught himself imagining suitable punishments—tearing off Starscream's shoulder vents and shoving them down his throat, for one—he decided a little time away from the base would be safer for everyone.
Driving helped, systematic destruction helped even more, and Megatron comming him with a new assignment was exactly what he needed. His radar picked up the presence of two other Stunticons converging on his position at speed—Dead End and Breakdown—while Drag Strip and Wildrider commed to say they would head for the coordinates he had transmitted.
Motormaster sped up, saw a line of cars filling an entire lane of the road ahead of him and smashed into them at full speed. The impact shuddered through him deliciously; his forcefield kept the freshly applied black and purple paint from suffering so much as a scratch. He reversed, allowing the humans to stagger out of their ruined vehicles. The best part was yet to come.
He accelerated and drove forward—not at the half of the road now filled with wreckage, but at the lane beside it. Some of the humans were trying to scramble to safety across that lane, and the cars in it had stalled to let them by—or because the drivers were trying to help those too injured to move. Motormaster chuckled under his breath.
Most of the humans saw him coming and screamed, struggling and failing to get out of the way. The road was a scene of chaos, with hardly any room for the humans to maneuver, let alone their cars. Motormaster blared his horn as he bore down on them.
A taxi just ahead of him popped open a rear door and a woman stumbled out, directly into his path. Too stunned to flee, she turned to stare frozen in his direction.
It was Val.
Motormaster swerved instinctively. He changed direction so abruptly that he nearly tipped over as his center of gravity shifted, rocking on his tires until he stabilized again in the next moment. The side of his cab missed Val by three feet. He crashed through a guardrail, although he was accelerating even as he did so—otherwise his trailer, with tons of inertia, would have continued in its previous trajectory and completed the job of flattening her.
She had hurried out of the way by then. Motormaster saw that in his rear-view mirror as he drove off as fast as he could, but the sight in his side-view mirrors was more than enough to distract him. A dark-red Porsche closed in from the right while a blue-and-white Lamborghini caught up on the left. Had they seen what he'd just done?
He opened the Stunticon channel at once, but said nothing.
"Was that…?" Breakdown began.
"I believe so," Dead End replied.
"Wow. He could have turned her into minstrels."
"The word is mincemeat, Breakdown. And… she did make good coffee."
Authors' note : Batman Returns actually came out in 1992, but we just couldn't resist Drag Strip breaking his one-to-ten scale for once.
Thanks to all our readers and reviewers! We enjoyed writing this fic, and we hope you enjoyed reading it.
-anon_decepticon and QoS