Author's Note – For "tf_speedwriting" on LiveJournal. The prompt was "undead". This fic references another one of mine, "Bad Idea".
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.
"Rule 2: Double Tap"
The battlefield was eerily quiet as Bumblebee and Cliffjumper picked their way through. Bumblebee resolutely did not look too closely at the bodies – the faces – of the fallen. Though the other tried to hide it, the Minibot scout could tell his best friend was more than a little disturbed as well when he finally spoke up.
"So . . . what exactly are we looking for again?" The Minibot warrior's voice was quiet and faintly strained.
"I dunno," Bumblebee whispered back. "Something to move, I guess."
"I'm not reading any life here, Bee. You're sure you saw something move?"
Bumblebee nodded, optics scanning the field ahead of them. He thought back to the most recent scouting mission, one that had carried him across this battlefield on his way back to Iacon. "More than one . . . and I wasn't reading any life signs then either."
"That's not possible, Bee. You know that's not possible, right?"
The scout glanced back over his shoulder at his best friend. "Living crystal 'isn't possible' either, but you remember how well that went over, right?" Cliffjumper just grimaced, and Bumblebee turned to continue.
Cliffjumper tried to step over the arm of an especially large mech, misjudged, and lost his balance. He caught himself with a sharp curse on what remained of the mech's chest.
Though the Minibot had not raised his voice overly loudly, the outburst seemed to echo across the dead stillness, sending a shiver up Bumblebee's spinal struts. He darted his gaze across the battlefield . . . and froze at the sight of movement in the mass of bodies not far from their position.
"CJ!" he hissed, gripping the other's arm and hauling him the rest of the way upright once more.
"What?" the warrior squawked. Bumblebee pointed. Cliffjumper looked . . . and sucked air through his intakes in shock.
Out of a pile of mechanoid debris, four bodies pulled unsteadily to their feet. Three Autobots and a Decepticon . . . though Bumblebee doubted those designations meant anything anymore. Their shells were deactivated grey, their optics dark. They were missing chunks of their armor and even chunks of their substructure. One was short an arm. Another hobbled on a partially-slagged leg. One of the Autobots, Bumblebee could see through a gaping chest wound clean into what had to be the mech's spark chamber . . . only . . . no spark.
The pair began backing away slowly, hoping not to be spotted . . . or . . . otherwise sensed, but then a keening sounded from the foursome – low, thin, and creepier than anything Bumblebee had ever heard, making the cydraulics in his fuel lines run hot.
The Minibots yelped in unison, turning to press back-to-back with weapons drawn as the whole field seemed to erupt with movement. Mechs of both factions and all sizes, shapes, and states of disrepair and disassembly stood and ambled or crawled, all zeroing in on the fresh energy of two living sparks.
"SlagslagslagSLAG!" Cliffjumper ranted, firing his blaster with abandon into the monstrosities closing on them from his side.
Bumblebee was doing the same, cutting at arms and legs and lolling heads with his laser pistol. "No good, CJ! No good!" He heard his voice break with threatening panic – how did one kill something that was already dead!
"I'm seeing that!" Cliffjumper snarled back, also on the edge of hysteria from horror. "HOW THE FRAG ARE THEY MOVING?"
"THE SLAG SHOULD I KNOW?" Then Bumblebee had an idea. "CJ, glass gun! GLASS GUN!"
Cliffjumper gave his best friend a look over his shoulder but obeyed, switching hands with his pistol to pull his glass gas gun from subspace. He washed a grouping of mechs to his right – Bumblebee's left – with a cloud of the aerosol chemical.
Bumblebee swiveled his aim, concentrating on the affected mechs, and the result was just as he'd prayed – whole limbs shattered like glass in place of his laser shots merely burning holes through the structures. "That's it! We'll clear a path out of here."
Cliffjumper nodded with a grunt of acknowledgement, shifting his aim just enough to take on the next few mechs. Together, the two coordinated their shots, driving back the enclosing circle and finally finding a thin spot in the ranks. A glance and a nod was all it took before the two bolted as one, diving through the scant opening. As they did, however, one of the undead horrors managed to catch Cliffjumper's leg, rust-sharpened denta breaking through the thinner superstructure of his thigh when it bit down with a strength it should not have been capable of. Cliffjumper howled in pain and anger before shoving the glass gun against the creature's forehead and firing.
"Let him go!" Bumblebee ordered with a growl, following with a shot from his pistol that exploded the monster's head. He grabbed Cliffjumper's arm and hauled him to his feet, then transformed. "Get on!" The warrior's alt-mode was a wheeled ground vehicle, but Bumblebee's was that of an atmospheric drone with hover and flight capability. He'd be able to flee much faster over this terrain than the other Minibot could hope to. Cliffjumper didn't even hesitate, just holstered his pistols in subspace, threw himself up over Bumblebee's roof, and clung to his forward edges. The espionage scout wasted no time in putting as much distance between them and those undead horrors as he could.
Back at base, they were in the med-bay for barely a breem and only got as far as "something dead-only-not" before Ratchet's optics flashed in bright alarm, his gaze flicking again to Cliffjumper's damaged leg, and he ordered the both of them into Decontamination stat. It was only later that either of them learned the extent of what had happened, as well as the fact that a demolitions team had been sent to completely incinerate that entire area.
The little scout didn't know what lyssabytes were or how it was that they could take over a mech, devouring his spark and reprogramming his systems into some kind of autonomous, instinct- and reaction-driven drone, nor did he want to. As it was, he feared he'd be having nightmares from that fragging battlefield for some time to come. War was ugly, and there was nothing pleasant about a battlefield of dead mechs, but when those mechs started getting back up on their own, there was something about it that was Just. Not. Right.