So. I wrote "What Goes Around." It was originally conceived as a wacky, vignette-y attempt at a "28 Meme" featuring a truly wacky, out-of-left-field pair. Then it somehow managed not only to morph into a story with something of a plot but also managed to become something that ate my brain because it allows me to do a good deal of world-building, and I like to world-build an awful lot. I do it when I poke at original stuff…but it's not always possible to do it in fanfiction. Unless one goes AU, as this is, of course. So…world-building with my favorite robots, and having fun totally thumbing my nose at anything canon while I'm doing it? Oh, yeah, baby…
That said, this thing will make way less than zero sense if you haven't read "What Goes Around." So if you haven't read that one, don't read this, either.
But anyway, the story grew a continuity, which I do intend to write. In fact, I've already written some of it. But since I can't write chronologically to save my little life, most of what I've written so far takes place a fair bit into the future, although I am working on the story that directly follows "What Goes Around."
Is this that story? Nope. Well, not exactly, anyway. This one will nudge toward the actual story arc and will hint at some things to come, but it won't actually get there. What this is meant to do is to fill in some holes, so to speak. Since "What Goes Around" greatly changed in concept over time – For one thing, it went from narrowly-focused first-person narration from two different viewpoints to the omniscience that third person narration allows – the story lacks some stuff that I wanted to know about (YMMV), but that for whatever reason I wasn't able to address within the confines of that story. Like, what the hell Wheeljack and Ratchet really thought about all of this crap, for instance. Ratchet got some attention, Wheeljack…not so much. This will rectify that because it's always fun to bang their heads together. I also wanted to get some "input" from some of the other characters, too, on both sides. Like the other Dinobots. And like…oh…Optimus Prime. Then there's poor, pretty little Skywarp, cooling his jets while Starscream and Thundercracker got to have all kinds of "fun." This will yank him into the storyline, although given what he has heading his way in the not-too-distant future of this continuity…Heh. (Nightwind's TF Fanfic Rule of Thumb #17: When in doubt, put the Big Hurt™ on Skywarp, if Starscream isn't available.)
But anyway, I'm sorry to say that this is not really meant to be a "plotty" kind of story. There is a general theme of mending (Hence, the title), but it's not really a plot kind of "story." Rather, this is meant mostly to allow me to write stuff that I would have liked to have included in "What Goes Around" but that I couldn't or decided not to include, while also nudging the overall story arc forward maybe a few inches or so. But worry not! There's plenty of plot on the horizon. So much of it that…Well, I haven't entirely gotten it straight in my head yet, I'm afraid. But it'll get there. In the meantime, I give you this. :)
With a weary and drawn-out sigh, Swoop settled herself in front of her quietly-beeping comm console. She regarded the glowing Decepticon sigil that indicated the incoming call's origin for a moment, steeled herself, and then she touched the "Accept" keypad on the console…and was utterly surprised to see Starscream appear on the screen in front of her.
"Starscream!" she uttered, startled. "I thought you were Ratchet."
Starscream frowned at her.
"Last I checked," he archly informed her after a moment of exaggerated consideration. "I am not one of your father-like things. Have you figured out a convenient method of referring to them yet, by the way? Numbering them? Assigning them letters?"
"Oh, stop," she groused. And then she suddenly leaned closer to the screen, eyeing his image critically. "You look terrible," she observed bluntly.
Starscream smiled faintly.
"Thank you so much for noticing," he said wryly. "It's been a very long stretch of days, but Ratchet asked me to call for him. He said that you'd worry if he didn't check in after missing yesterday, so…I'm checking in for him before I hit the proverbial wheat."
"Hay," Swoop absently, automatically corrected; apparently, it was her destiny to, among other things, make corrections when those around her attempted weird human metaphorical aphorisms and then got them wrong.
"What?" Starscream responded, frowning.
"It's 'hay,' not 'wheat,'" Swoop answered.
"Whatever," Starscream responded, waving dismissively at her.
"Is Ratchet all right?" Swoop asked, smothering a grin.
"Perfectly fine," Starscream assured her. "Hale and hearty and grouchier than ever because my comrades are even more insane than yours are. At the moment, he's just…busy."
"Busy?" Swoop repeated.
"Very busy," Starscream confirmed. "Stunticons, Skywarp, and Rumble are a literally explosive mix. So, Ratchet and Hook are spending their evening having a welding bee." At Swoop's dispirited sigh, he added, "Don't worry. No one died. They'll all be fine."
"Well, that's good, at least," she murmured. And then a thought occurred to her. "Wait, you found the Stunticons, then!" she belatedly exclaimed.
"We did," Starscream said with a tired chuckle and a nod. "That's precisely why it's been a long stretch of days and why I look so very stunning at the moment. They required a little…convincing to come into the fold, and the task is a lot harder when there's a brainless gestalt involved."
"I would imagine so," Swoop agreed quietly.
"Actually, I'm not at all certain that they are really convinced," Starscream was saying meanwhile, "but…they're here, at least for the time being. Mostly because they were very low on energon and getting desperate because of it. But," he finished with a philosophical shrug, "I'll take what I can get."
"So now all that's left are…"
"The Combaticons, yes," Starscream finished with a weary sigh. "And then we'll all be one big not-necessarily-happy family, and we can try to get down to business over here. But Soundwave and his kids aren't having much luck tracking them down. The trail keeps going cold. And if they can't find them, then…" Starscream shrugged as his voice trailed off. "I think they might have gone to Cybertron. I've tried contacting Shockwave a number of times to ask after them, but he's still ignoring me. Imagine that."
Swoop snorted at that.
"He's not talking to us, either," she said. "But I guess that isn't very surprising, either," she added with a sigh.
"For all I know," he said, "your 'loving' uncle invited Onslaught up there. According to Soundwave's Cybertron contacts, he's…consolidating. Gathering supplies. Stockpiling resources. And he's taking in anyone he can find, all in anticipation of…invasion."
"I have no intention of 'invading,'" Swoop answered testily, leaning back in her chair and wearily pinching the bridge of her nose, a mannerism she'd long ago picked up from Ratchet.
"I know that, and you know that," Starscream assured her. "But Shockwave?" He made a distinct gesture that clearly demonstrated what he thought of Shockwave's sanity. "Paranoid. Lots and lots of paranoid up there. He's always been that way, but now that you're here he's apparently fifteen times worse."
"Marvelous," Swoop muttered.
"In any case," Starscream said, "we'll keep looking for the Combaticons here on Earth for a few more days. Perhaps there's a rock somewhere that we haven't turned over yet. And if we can't find them after that, we'll just have to move on without them."
"And in the meantime," she asked, "are…people getting along over there?"
Starscream thought about that for a minute.
"Here and there…" he answered hesitantly. Then he shrugged and admitted, "Mostly not. Not yet. It's only been what? Nine days? And there are how many years of issues to deal with here? There's a lot of tension, but so far there have been no severe outbursts of violence, nothing where anyone's gotten seriously damaged. Other than today, and that was all between Decepticons."
"Somehow," Swoop said with a sigh, "that doesn't make me feel a whole lot better."
"I know," Starscream answered quietly. "But bear in mind that the Stunticons, in addition being complete idiots, are also young. Younger than you are, even, though not by much. They don't really understand what's happened, and they certainly don't see the significance of…things. Of you."
"Mmm," Swoop murmured. "I suppose so."
"You might be happy to know that Slag tried to get them to stop fighting, though," Starscream offered as a measure of encouragement, after Swoop had settled into broody silence for a longer period of time than he liked.
"Slag?" Swoop responded, perking up a bit. "Really?"
Starscream nodded, encouraged by her response.
"Really," he confirmed. "In addition to…er, looming, I'm told that he said something about the disagreement being 'illogical.' I really think you need to keep the lad away from Prowl." Swoop chuckled as Starscream continued, "But, so I'm told, he had Skywarp and Rumble starting to back down, and if the Stunticons weren't, as advertised, complete idiots, I think he might have entirely succeeded."
Swoop smiled faintly, fondly.
"Good for him," she said.
"And you also might be happy to know that Ratchet and the Constructicons are getting along well," Starscream continued. "Which is a relief. Frankly, I had feared an outright war in the medbay. Hook can be…a little territorial."
"So can Ratchet," Swoop answered, smiling fondly again. "It's a medic thing. But I guess in this case he's the invader."
"He is, but…Well, Hook calmed down after a few days. He can't help but appreciate and admire Ratchet's abilities, and on the rare occasions that Hook manages to admire something in someone other than himself…Well, let's just say that it goes a long way toward helping him adjust."
Swoop snorted at that.
"And once Hook or Scrapper adjusts," Starscream continued, "the others usually follow their lead like a row of ducklings. So…Better watch out. If Hook, Scrapper, and Ratchet get any chummier, and if Scavenger falls any deeper into what may actually be puppy love, then Ratchet might just decide to join the gestalt."
"That would be horrible!" Swoop immediately exclaimed. "For the gestalt, I mean," she amended and Starscream, despite himself, burst out laughing at her unexpected meaning. "Seriously!" Swoop continued over his laughter. "Can you imagine having Ratchet in your head all the time like that?"
"It can't be much worse than having a certain Dinobot I know in my head all the time," Starscream answered once his laughter had subsided.
Swoop smirked at him.
"I'm not in your head, Starscream," she pointed out.
"Close enough!" he grumbled. "I had a dream about you the other day, you know. A really bad one," he clarified.
"Good!" Swoop asserted. And then she suddenly let out a little groan, winced, and leaned back uncomfortably in her chair.
"Are you all right?" Starscream asked of her, concerned, the bantering gone in an instant. "You look terrible, too, you know," he pointed out to her.
Swoop smirked faintly at him.
"Thanks," she said sourly and then added, "I am very tired, but I'm afraid that I haven't fought and won any battles with any gestalts. It's just…Junior."
"Ah," Starscream said with an understanding nod.
"It's a little uncomfortable having bits and pieces of your innards suddenly yanked away to be used for entirely new purposes," Swoop complained. "I haven't gotten a whole lot of rest for the past…oh, six or eight days now. And it's only going to get worse. Yippee."
Starscream frowned, concerned.
"I could call down to Ratchet and ask him if there's—"
Swoop shook her head, simultaneously holding up a hand to interrupt him.
"Thanks, but no," she said wearily. "He'd only fret and then once he got over that, he'd just consult the same records and databases that I've already consulted. And then he'd nag me, likely hourly, for the next…what? Four-and-a-half months or so?" She leaned back wearily in her chair and heaved an irritated sigh, but she absently stroked her hand over the left side of her upper abdomen, directly her developing child, with gentleness that belied the irritation. Then she said, "I'll be all right. What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger, right?"
Starscream looked very dubious, frowning deeply at her.
"If you're sure…" he eventually answered, hesitantly.
"I'm sure," Swoop assured him with a tired but firm nod. "And don't you dare tell Ratchet that I'm not having fun at the moment," she added, wagging a warning finger at him. "Because if you do, I'll know exactly who to blame for the aggravation."
"Fine," he relented. "I won't tell him. But if you start having serious problems—"
"Ratchet will be the first to know," Swoop assured him. "Well, after me, of course."
"I have your word on that?" Starscream insisted.
"I swear on my great-grandmother's grave," Swoop answered solemnly. "Wherever her grave is. If she has a grave. Whatever."
Starscream snorted and then watched, still concerned, as Swoop shifted uncomfortably in her seat again.
"So what should I tell Ratchet?" he asked her once she had settled herself for the moment.
"What?" Swoop asked distractedly in return, blinking at him, not following for a moment.
"I'm supposed to be checking in for him," Starscream reminded her. "That rather implies that I'll need to relay to him a status report of some sort."
"Oh!" Swoop responded. "Right. Tell him…Tell him Optimus Prime died. That'll rattle his cage."
Starscream snickered but then insisted, "Seriously."
"Seriously…" Swoop answered with a resigned and drawn-out sigh. "Everything's fine here. I'm fine. Junior's fine, if very annoying at the moment. The medbay's fine. Optimus Prime is not, in fact, dead. Even Prowl is fine," she jabbed at him.
"I'm utterly overjoyed," Starscream automatically responded, deadpan.
"One of these days," she said, "one of you is going to tell me what's with you two."
"One of us one of these days, yes," Starscream agreed with an amiable-enough nod. "But not me and not today because I have a date with my berth, and I'm already late. But…"
"But?" Swoop prompted when Starscream continued to hesitate for longer than she could tolerate.
"There, uh…There is one other thing," Starscream said with very uncharacteristic reluctance.
"Yes?" Swoop rather impatiently prompted again when Starscream fell to hesitating again.
Starscream sighed exasperatedly and said, "Skywarp asked me to ask you to ask Thundercracker to contact him. So, consider the note passed on to you. Primus, you'd think they were children or something…" he grumbled.
"He doesn't know?" she asked.
"Skywarp?" Starscream asked. "Hah! If you ever have to place a bet on the subject, my dear, put all of your money on Skywarp not knowing something."
Swoop chuckled, but she said, quietly, "Seriously."
"Well, I haven't told him anything, if that's what you mean," he answered. "It's…not my place. And I doubt that anyone here that Skywarp would talk to knows anything to tell him, besides maybe Ratchet. And I'm going to take a wild leap and guess that Ratchet would sooner swan dive into a pit of boiling acid than talk about Thundercracker at the moment." Swoop smiled sadly as Starscream finished, "So I'd say that it's a safe bet that Skywarp is, as usual, completely clueless. All he knows is that Thundercracker suddenly seems to prefer your company to ours, and he can't begin to fathom why that would be so."
"And it doesn't seem like Thundercracker is in any kind of hurry to enlighten him, either," Swoop observed.
Starscream snorted and said, "That's because he's usually the one mending conflicts, not starting them."
Swoop frowned and asked, "Why would there be a conflict?"
Starscream thought about that for a moment, and then he answered quietly and with a weary sigh, "Let's just say that Skywarp doesn't handle paradigm shifts very well. Everything having to do with you and everything that's recently happened is a big bomb that fell on him when he least expected it."
"Mmm," Swoop murmured. "I imagine so."
"So, just with that, he's…really not in the best of places, at the moment. Adding in Thundercracker's relationship to you and what he did during the uprising and the fact that he wasn't hanging around with us just because he's a loyal little Decepticon…Well, it just might push the little darling over the edge, and I'm going to take another wild leap and guess that Thundercracker would prefer the boiling acid, too, over doing that."
Swoop thought about that, formulated a hundred questions that she knew Starscream wouldn't answer anyway so she tossed them aside, and then she said, "So you're saying that I shouldn't pass on the…uh, note?"
Starscream gave her a surprised look.
"Not at all," he said. "I think that you should definitely pass it on. And I also think that you should have a nice long talk with Thundercracker, and during that nice long talk I think that you should strongly encourage him to do exactly as Skywarp asks."
Swoop frowned and asked, "Why?"
"Because he'll do it if you tell him to," Starscream said with a shrug. "Whereas if I told him to do it, he'd tell me to…Well, he wouldn't comply, that's for sure."
"But if it will only cause conflict, then why—?"
"Because," Starscream answered, "they can't avoid each other, anyway. And as much as I'd like to, I can't avoid them."
Swoop frowned, not understanding, but Starscream continued before she could launch a question.
"They just need to get their act together and work this out," he explained, "for my sanity's sake and because you'll be needing them. But I don't have the time to dance around and play referee for them, so they will just have to grow up and settle this themselves. And it's better that they do it sooner rather than later." Swoop opened her mouth to protest, but Starscream held up a hand at her and said, "Just…talk to Thundercracker, all right? I'm sure he'll tell you everything you want to know. Because I…really don't have the energy for this discussion tonight."
Swoop gave him a glare that lasted for a long moment, but then she sighed resignedly and said, "Fine. I'll go talk to him right now so that you can get on with that date with your berth. Maybe then you can stop looking like something Ravage dragged in."
"Thank you," Starscream answered with a tired smirk. "Good night, Swoop."
"'Night," Swoop murmured, and then she cut the connection. She leaned back in her chair for a moment and grumbled to the empty room at large, "Right. Like I have the energy for this discussion tonight…"
She further grumbled under her breath about being all kinds of involved with very annoying Seekers as she levered herself out of her chair and headed for the door.
Now, I wanted to take some time (or space, as the case may be) to answer some review replies for "What Goes Around," since I like to do such replies "in public," where I can, and I assume that those who liked that story well enough to take the time to leave a comment will likely also read this one…
So, first of all, a general "thank you" to those of you who enjoyed the story and who took the time to say so in a review or to put it on your alerts/favorites. And to those of you who were looking forward to more in this 'verse, I hope that you will enjoy this little one and the arc that this one will lead into…which will actually go back in time, sort of…but anyway! Now, as for those who had asked some specific questions:
Yoru Hana1: I consider this a "parallel universe" to the one I usually write in, yes, which is in turn based on/extrapolated from, but is also slightly "off" from, the canon G1 cartoon 'verse. So, what happens in my other stories can generally be considered background to this 'verse, as well. There are some obvious exceptions, though. For instance, in that 'verse, I pair Slag and Swoop. That is obviously not the case in this one, unless I decide to be really weird…but so far Brain has not gone there. And, honestly, I sincerely hope that Brain doesn't go there because there's already quite enough weird in this 'verse, as far as I'm concerned. And in general I pair Prowl and Jazz, but they definitely aren't and won't be a pair in this 'verse. (I have much eviler things to do with poor Prowl, I'm afraid.) And, as I said in the notes for "What Goes Around," I have done away with Skyfire for this 'verse because…Well, quite frankly, because if he was around, Brain probably would do very weird things. So, those are the major differences, at least that I know of and that I can think of at this moment in time.
Thornwitch: *laughs* The summary for the story is rather vague because, honestly, when I started to post it, it wasn't completely done. The ending and some of the middle details hadn't been determined/written, and I wasn't 100% sure where it was ultimately going to go. In the end, it went off in a direction that I hadn't imagined because it spawned its own continuity, and over time I wrote about eight different endings before I settled on the direction that I wanted. So, it's probably a good thing that I wasn't more specific. Now that the story's done and my overall direction is clearer to me, I'll give thought to revising the summary for the story. Thank you for the reminder. :)
For your other question: Hmmmmm…Other queens in other places is an interesting notion, now that you mention it. My own thinking was simply that there would only be one per generation in the entire species, and once that generation had its "chosen," the others would be out of luck. (Or in luck, depending on how you look at things. As in someone thinking, "Thank Primus it's her and not me! YAY!") However, I wasn't thinking on a galaxy-wide scale, only on a Cybertron scale. So, if removed from Cybertron, like new queen ants on a nuptial flight, who then start a new colony some distance away, then… There are possibilities there. Interesting ones, even, especially if I were to carry the ant analogy forward. (i.e. New ant colonies are pretty much always mutual enemies with the original one, which would be an interesting notion…)
But anyway, that aside… Well, looking at the cartoon, which is always my reference point, there is at least one planet, Paradron (Paratron? Whatever…), that is inhabited by Transformers but that was apparently not, shall we say, "seeded" by the Quintessons. Its population had to come from somewhere, and then it had to be sustained, eh? :) And the animated movie briefly showed us another planet of robots…its name frankly escapes me at the moment, and I'm too lazy to look it up…which Unicron then ate, although whether or not those robots were of Cybertronian origin or were a different "species" was never made clear. And of course, in the 'toon, Rodimus Prime done blowed up Paradron real good (Thus proving that, despite being a whiner at times, he has much bigger balls than Optimus…but that's another story), but since this is an AU…Hmmmmm. I shall bear the thought in mind. Who knows what it might spawn? :) (And of course, if it does spawn something, I shall give you all credit for sticking the ant in my ear, so to speak. ;) )