Author's Note – This is set right after "More Than Meets the Eye", so the Decepticons are believed to be gone for good, and the Autobots are just now getting to freely explore a little while the ship's being repaired to head back for Cybertron. For "tf_speedwriting" on LJ. Prompt – "Water"
Disclaimer – "Transformers" and all related characters, events, and concepts belong to Hasbro, Takara, and any other related owners/distributors/producers. I get no monetary benefit from this. My benefit is the enjoyment of dealing with beloved characters.
Bumblebee stuck his head in the training room, optics finding his fellow Minibot right away. "Hey, CJ! I'm heading out to do some exploring. Wanna come with me?"
Cliffjumper lowered his pistol, looking satisfied at the tight grouping of holes he'd just shot into the target down the alley. "Aren't you supposed to be helping with the repairs in the engine room?"
The little espionage agent shrugged. "I've done as much as I could. Wheeljack let me go, and Optimus said I could finish my shift when the next shipment of fuel from the humans gets here, which won't be for another few hours."
"So where you thinking of going, then?"
"Not far, just out into the forest around the base. We've not really had time to explore at all, you know? But now that the Decepticons are gone for good and we'll be heading home soon . . . why not?"
Bumblebee watched his best friend consider it, finally shrugging. "Yeah, I guess. Better than just sitting around here waiting for something to happen."
Bumblebee grinned. "Yep! So let's go look for something."
"What about Spike? Seems like you two have been connected at the data port ever since we met him and Sparkplug."
Bumblebee did wish that his new human friend could be there, but he pushed it aside. "Spike and Sparkplug are in town right now taking care of some things. Windcharger took them since I was busy at the time."
Cliffjumper laughed, holstering his pistol in subspace and crossing to the door to throw an arm around the scout's shoulders. "Wow, you two are separable after all. Who knew? All right, Bee, let's go find some excitement. Been too slagging quiet around here lately."
A yellow VW Beetle and a red modified Porsche 924 Turbo sped side-by-side along the road leading away from the foot of the volcano and along the treeline. Bumblebee was looking for something specific, finally scanning the landmark up ahead. "Here! It's right up here." He slowed to a stop and transformed, pointing at a stand of trees. It wasn't overly obvious, but there was a trail through the foliage that even a larger mech could navigate if he were mindful.
Cliffjumper followed suit, peering at the trees warily. "Pretty dense in there. Visibility'd be low."
Bumblebee laughed. "Oh, c'mon, CJ. You're not scared, are you?"
The warrior growled. "Hardly. But you can't tell me you don't mind walking into what could be a trap. If there's any kind of ambush in there, we'd never see it."
"You might not, but I'm pretty sure I would." The espionage agent had far and away the best visual acuity of all the Autobots, and he knew Cliffjumper knew it too. "Besides, who's going to ambush us? The 'Cons are gone, and you can't tell me you think the humans would."
Cliffjumper huffed. "Okay, okay, you win, Bee." He gestured for the other to lead the way.
Bumblebee headed into the woods, easily picking his way along between the trees following the way about which Hound had told him. As careful as the sixteen-foot advance scout had been, Hound had left notable footprints in the ground, plus the Minibots were a third smaller, so the way was that much clearer to them by comparison. Almost instantly, Bumblebee heard the river up ahead, the one they could see from the Ark. Another few minutes and the two were standing at its edge.
"This!" Cliffjumper sounded incredulous. "This is what you brought me to see? Didn't you get enough of water at Sherman Dam?"
Bumblebee laughed. "Yeah, that was pretty impressive, wasn't it?" He looked up and down the river. "Where do you suppose it all comes from? Or where it goes?"
Cliffjumper folded his arms with a shrug. "Frag if I know. Ask Hound. Bet he could tell you. Or Sparkplug."
Bumblebee knelt down, peering into the water. "Hound says there's animals that live in the water, called fish. They don't have arms or legs, just little flaps on the sides of their chests and one on their back. They're shaped a little like . . . missiles or something. And they can breathe the water like other organics breathe atmosphere."
"Really?" Cliffjumper edged closer, trying to see. "I swear this planet has the most bizarre things I've ever heard of."
Bumblebee thought so too, but he was quite a bit younger than his best friend, having only been operable for a handful of vorns before the Ark's departure from Cybertron, so he was never sure what was truly "odd" and what was something he personally just had no experience with yet.
A flash of motion among a cluster of rocks at the bottom of the river caught the smallest Autobot's attention just then. "Oh! Hey, I think I see something." He turned to look up at Cliffjumper as he pointed but felt the ground under him move when he shifted his weight. Suddenly, it crumbled away altogether, dumping Bumblebee into the river with a startled cry. Water closed over his head before he found the floor of the riverbed and got himself righted. Standing up, he found himself in up to his windshield. "Great. Just great."
Cliffjumper had broken down in a fit of laughter at the sight, and the espionage agent pinned a glare of annoyance on him as the warrior managed to choke out a teasing comment. "Only you, Bee! Only you!"
"Yeah? Well, you better back up before you join me, CJ. Looks like the edge of the river's a little gutted out under your position too."
The warrior obeyed, still snickering. "You okay?"
Bumblebee sighed, expelling a fine spray of water from his vents that set the warrior off in another fit of giggles. "Yeah, I'm fine. Ratchet's probably going to have my hide for having to check me out for debris, though." He studied the shoreline with dismay, noting that most of it for as far as he could see on both sides was similarly eroded. Well, there was always the spot he fell in at. He doubted he could do too much more damage to the area trying to climb back out. "CJ, give me a hand."
Between the two of them, Bumblebee got back up on solid ground, but before he was fully clear of the water, he felt something slip between seams and into the wheel well of his left foot. With a yelp, he threw himself forward onto the ground and twisted around on his aft, left foot held up. He tried to lean and pull his leg in enough to reach it himself, but it was in the outer edge and he couldn't. "Cliffjumper! Something's in my foot! Get it out!"
Cliffjumper's optics flashed in shock. "It what!"
"Don't just stand there! Do something!" Bumblebee could feel it twitching and bucking, and he was afraid it'd find its way deeper into his substructure.
"All right, all right, hold on!" The warrior caught his ankle under one arm. "I think I see it."
Bumblebee shuddered at the unpleasant feeling of the cold, wet thing wiggling around inside, fighting to hold still as his friend dug in with his fingers. "Owowoww!"
"Bumblebee, hold still!"
"Got it!" Cliffjumper let go of Bumblebee's ankle and turned to show him the little silver animal now flopping around in his palm. "Looks like you found a fish after all!"
"More like it found me. It's . . . it's not injured, is it?"
"I wouldn't even know how to tell. It's not leaking fluid, if that means anything. Well, 'cept water, maybe."
"Well . . . better put it back in the river. It's probably trying to breathe and can't."
Cliffjumper did so, attempting to be gentle about having to throw it since he didn't want to get too close to the edge and wind up like Bumblebee. The animal had just disappeared under the surface when a signal buzzed over Bumblebee's comm, making him jump.
/Bumblebee, this is Prowl. Come in./
/Bumblebee here, Prowl. What's up?/
/The fuel shipment arrived early. Where are you?/
/Not far outside the base, at the river. Cliffjumper's with me. We're heading back now./
/Good. Meet me in the main cargo bay. Prowl out./
The channel had been an open one, and Cliffjumper grinned once the transmission was done. "Guess playtime's over. I'm crushed."
"You look it. Come on."
"Yeah, before we have any other wild fish attacks."
Bumblebee groaned, knowing he wouldn't be living that down any time soon.