Author's Note – Prompt fill for "tf_speedwriting". More at the end so I don't give anything away. XD Set early in the series, with the original cast (hence no Perceptor to go to).
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.
"When Life Gives You Lemons"
Bumblebee and Spike wandered into Wheeljack's workshop. They'd been having a friendly debate about the fact that Earth bumblebees were not, according to physics, supposed to be able to fly and how exactly they managed it anyway. This had come up roundaboutly from some of the teasing the Minibot had been getting after an encounter last week with the Decepticons. Ironhide had picked him up and tossed him because he couldn't reach, couldn't jump that high, and "really should consider getting a booster pack like Sideswipe's". The pair was now approaching the one who was currently the closest the Ark had to a specialist in the physical sciences.
Bumblebee stopped a full two steps after Spike did, pausing to look back at his human friend who had halted suddenly at the doorway with an odd expression on his face. The Minibot watched him scan the room quizzically.
"Wheeljack?" Spike called to empty air as the engineer was not immediately in sight. "Are you cleaning in here or something?"
"Spike? Oh, hey!" came the call from farther in the room, around storage shelving and back in a corner from the sounds of it. "Cleanin'? Um . . . no. Why?"
"I smell lemons."
"Is that what that smell is?" Bumblebee asked. He'd dismissed the strange odor he encountered when the door opened as just some new chemical in the engineer's arsenal of supplies.
Spike nodded. "A lot of cleaners have a lemon scent added to them to give them a sense of freshness. It's pretty common."
"Cleaners?" Wheeljack appeared around a mound of detritus, wiping his hands on a cleaning rag. "Ooooh, now that's a thought . . . "
Bumblebee groaned as the engineer's voice trailed off, mind very likely now toying with six more possible projects than it had been an astro-second ago. "What are you working on, Wheeljack?"
"Huh?" The question seemed to bring the engineer back from his musings. Vocal flanges flickering happily, he went into one of his common rambles as he snagged Bumblebee's arm and dragged the Minibot deeper into the room. "I'm experimentin' with energon mixtures. Hey, Spike, did ya know that citrus juices can be combustible?"
Bumblebee saw the human's eyes go wide as he shook his head. "Seriously?"
"Yeah! Somethin' in the chemical make-up turns incendiary when mixed with energon. But only if it's handled violently. It has ta be, like, thrown or shaken or dropped really hard. Look!"
By then, they had arrived at the back corner, where the engineer had set up a cubicle of blast walls with a narrow doorway. Standing just outside of that was a table with a human-sized shipping crate of what Bumblebee thought he recognized to be lemons.
Wheeljack let go of the Minibot's arm as he turned to the table, gingerly picking up one of the little fruits between thumb and forefinger. The lemon was, in Wheeljack's hand, about the size of a small grape in Spike's. In his other hand, he wielded a syringe, the hot pink glow of energon visible in the barrel. He slowly injected enough energon into the lemon that Bumblebee wondered how it didn't start to change color, then gently shook it, flicking his hand around at the wrist. "See? Nothin'. But . . . " The engineer turned and threw the lemon into the blast cubicle, where it split open against a pile of branches from the forest outside, the tart fluid within instantly combusting with a bright, if brief, flame as it splashed across the wood, dying before it caught the branches on fire.
"Whoa." Spike was staring with eyes even wider than before. "I don't know if I think that's cool or . . . kind of scary, Wheeljack. Fruit's not supposed to be able to just . . . burst into flames like that. What if someone ate one of those?"
Bumblebee had to agree. "Energon's highly toxic to organic systems, Wheeljack. You know that."
"Yeah, I know that. Obviously, they're not meant for consumption. 'Least not unless you're tryin' ta kill someone." Which, by his tone, he was not suggesting by any means. He shifted, gesturing at a pile of more produce crates, some empty, most of them full. "The American Army contacted me a while ago, concerned about what might happen if human terrorist groups got a hold of a way ta produce energon an' tried ta smuggle it from one place ta another, either hidin' it from the Decepticons or from other, human-enemy organizations. One of the things we discussed was hidin' it in other fluids, things that people might not think ta scan or didn't really have a means to. Like fruit." He picked up and injected another lemon, then offered it to Spike. "Wanna try?" He gestured at the cubicle.
Spike accepted the yellow fruit with care, then turned and lobbed it at the woodpile. It smashed with another burst of flames that died just as quickly, again failing to catch the dry wood or leaves alight. "Doesn't last very long, at least."
Bumblebee couldn't decide if his friend sounded relieved or disappointed by that.
Wheeljack, on the other hand, was clearly the latter. "Yeah. Actually, I've been playin' with ways ta try ta prolong the reaction. Make the lemon pulp more . . . gelatinous or somethin' maybe."
At this, Bumblebee shook his head with a soft, repressed groan. "Wheeljack, I think the humans already have something like that. I saw it on a history special about an intercontinental conflict named 'World War Two'. They call it napalm."
The engineer perked in a way that made the Minibot regret having even considered revealing that tidbit to him. "Really?"
Bumblebee and Spike exchanged looks, then the Minibot was turning on a heel. "I'll go warn Optimus."
Spike hesitated only a fraction of an astro-second before trotting after him. "I'll go with you."
"Let him know I'll have a report ta him by mornin'!" Wheeljack called after them. "Gonna play with addin' aluminum salts ta things before I finalize my-." The door shut behind them, cutting off the last of the engineer's cheery comment.
Bumblebee quickened his pace.
AN: This stemmed from two things. More immediately, the prompt from "tf_speedwriting" – "experimenting with energon". But before that, I had a nebulous want to do something with a quote that was shared with me a few months prior by a friend. Apparently it's from the game Portal 2 - "When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back! Get mad! I don't want your damn lemons, what the hell am I supposed to do with these? Demand to see life's manager! Make life rue the day it thought it could give Cave Johnson lemons! Do you know who I am? I'm the man who's gonna burn your house down! With the lemons! I'm gonna get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that burns your house down!"
My inner!Jack heard that and went "Oh! OH! Bet I could do it!" …now I know how he did it. 9,9 XD