I apologize that this chapter is so short, but I felt I had to get SOMETHING up after having not updated for so long. I've got that kind of writer's block where you're burnt out at the end of a story and while you know what you want to write, you just can't write it. It's also that kind of block where you have a million new ideas floating through your head and you can't pick which one to write, and you just can't write at ALL.
At least now I can say I finally WANT to write again. (I've been dabbling with a Young Justice fanfic for fun to help myself get back into the writing thing again, which is actually helping quite a bit. I can use the episodes as a vague outline, so I have something solid written for me, but I can write around it and add at will. It's a good kind of exercise.)
And, I WILL finish this story if it's the last thing I do! I am on the very last stretch, the very end of the story. There's literally only a few loose things to tie up, and some things you guys have been waiting for forever now. So trust me, the updates might be extremely slow, but I will get this done!
"NO. No, no, we are NOT doing that, Nightfall. You've got to be out of your fragging mind!"
Nightflier gave a one-sided shrug on the bridge of the NEMESIS. "I'm afraid if this comes down to a vote between us, you've already lost, Ratchet." He nodded his head to Ultra Magnus to the side whose face was pinched unpleasantly. The young flier cracked a Cheshire grin at the appalled jaw-drop Ratchet spared Ultra Magnus.
"I can't believe you agreed to this," he accused the commander.
Ultra Magnus grunted in annoyance and muttered, "He twisted my arm."
"Did not," Nightflier cut in quickly, pointing his finger. "I made the perfect argument. Since the war is over—"
"It's been three days—" Ratchet tried to interject.
"And since the war is over, we're welcoming refugees from the war. And as a Prime who comes from a lower caste, I remember how slagged things were for us, so I'm going to acknowledge the surrendering Decepticons with grace and maturity expected from a Prime."
His lips pursed when Ratchet gave an exasperated roll of his optics. "That is all good and well, Nightfall, but SOUNDWAVE? He was Megatron's third in command! We are not obligated in any fashion to launch a rescue mission for HIM!"
Smirking, Nightflier sat on one hip, pointed his finger at Ratchet, and winked. "See, that's just you being old and cranky and prejudiced," he said, causing Ratchet to flush in anger. "I'm inclined to think that my Prime compassion should extend to him and see if he would like a place in the coming peace." Ratchet muttered something under his breath about Nightflier not "really" being a Prime anymore, prompting Nightflier to add, "And we already agreed that we should still have an acting Prime. But instead of the corrupt Council we had, I want to make sure all the factions are represented, Autobot, Neutral, AND Decepticon."
When Ratchet was just as stumped about what to say to that as Ultra Magnus had been, Nightflier grinned in delight, his good wing fluttering brightly. "Right! So, can you duplicate that ground bridge frequency for me, Ratch? I don't want him running out of energon reserves in the Shadow Zone or this would have been a kinda stupid conversation."
He shook his head, grinning as Ratchet stomped his way across the platform that had been cleared of the debris crashing had caused. Most of the NEMESIS had been cleaned up since it was basically their only place to rest and their only reserves and medical area. As for Unicron all bottled up in his jar . . . Nightflier hid him away. The former Prime thought back on his hiding place for Unicron, decided for the umpteenth time that it was a pretty nifty and clever spot, and hoped no one could ever think like him.
Clicking his heels together, Nightflier fidgeted a little, asking, "So . . . Where's Nightstalker?"
Ratchet didn't glance up from the computer and continued to tap away. "The medical ward."
Nightflier pursed his lips and sauntered a little closer, doing his best to act like he wasn't being nosy while being absolutely perfectly nosy. "Ohhh, okay. So, well, the last time I saw her, she didn't seem sick. She looking at the sparkling again?"
He wrinkled his olfactory system at Ratchet's cryptic answer. So now he was going to be stubborn. He sidled up next to the doctor. "Did the, ah, conversation with her go well?"
"As smoothly as can be expected."
His vents flared in frustration that Ratchet was somehow answering his questions without actually answering them. "So, what's she thinking about being a mom?" There. He had to answer that.
"I suppose you could ask her yourself and see if she'd like to reveal that information."
Nightflier groaned and physically sagged. "Ratchet. You are wonderfully frustrating."
"I could say the same to you," Ratchet shot back. He turned and crossed his arms at the young Prime. He nodded his head towards the computer. "Coordinates are set. Are you ready?"
"Sure," Nightflier said with a wave of his servo. "Ultra Magnus, if for some off chance that he attacks me, can you get him off of me? I won't be of much use, crippled like this. All right, Ratch, open her up!"
He heard Ratchet grumbling to himself about how this was a bad idea, and Nightflier felt Ultra Magnus' presence behind him like a solid rock. The bridge blasted open in a swirl of color, and Nightflier didn't think twice about hopping through.
Nightflier blinked when a blank visor turned up to him. Soundwave was kneeling on the ground, Laserbeak clutched in his lap. Nightflier stared for a klik at the energon pump running between them, and he whirled around so fast that he nearly collided with Ultra Magnus. "We need to get him on the bridge pronto," he blurted, and he darted past his SIC and onto the bridge again, contacting Bumblebee. "Bee? I need an energon cube on the bridge stat, got it? Break all speeding laws, Bee."
There was a beat in which Ultra Magnus didn't come back through the bridge with Soundwave, and Nightflier fidgeted. He almost decided to run back through and see what was taking so long when Magnus walked back through the bridge carrying Soundwave who was too weak to move on his own. He quickly sat him back down, as if touching him was repulsive, and Nightflier skipped forward, kneeling with the Decepticons critically close to shutdown.
Nightflier stared into his visor, trying to see if there were optics behind it. "The war's over," he stated to the Decepticon. He didn't say anything back despite having broken his vow of silence earlier. He just continued to siphon his energon into his cassette. "Megatron's dead. We're starting an era of peace, and that means I'm going to welcome all Decepticons back equally if we put aside our differences." He stared for a moment again, trying and failing to figure out what the enigmatic Decepticon was thinking. Soundwave's head just bobbed slightly, lowering with exhaustion as he gave his energon away to keep his cassette alive. Laserbeak's wings flapped slightly.
Nightflier swore lightly under his breath, saying, "You're going to kill yourself like that . . ." and immediately began to unravel his own energon cord. Behind him, he heard Ratchet start to say, "Nightfall, don't— . . ." but gave it up as quickly as he started. Ignoring modesty and remembering that he'd only done this with his sister before, in the slums of Kaon, Nightflier hooked his energon line into the Decepticon next to him. Soundwave twitched at the intrusion and intimacy of being so close, but didn't struggle. Quietly, Nightflier began to siphon some of his own energon into Soundwave to keep him alive.
No one said anything. The silence was tense because he could feel Magnus and Ratchet with their disapproving glares, but he really couldn't care. This was right, and he knew it. He couldn't afford to be prejudiced against Decepticons with the war over. Wary, maybe, but not judgmental.
There was a squeal as Bumblebee came hurtling into the room at top speed, a half empty energon cube sloshing in his hand. "I came as quick as I could, Nightfa—HOLY scrap, is that Soundwave! Nightfall! What's going on?"
Nightflier just waved his servos at Bumblebee's freaking out. "Bee, calm it down and give me that energon cube."
Bumblebee hesitated and bolted forward again, nearly sloshing some more energon out of the cube. "I'm sorry, I ran so fast some of the energon sloshed out, but I figured it would be better to just get it here as fast as possible since it sounded like an emergency. We're saving Soundwave? What's going on?"
Nightflier extended his hand, curling his fingers for the cube Bumblebee still hadn't handed him. "Bee. Cube."
"O-Oh! Right. Sorry." Bumblebee finally gave Nightflier the cube, fidgeting on his peds in confusion as he looked at the sight of the bots hooked together on the floor.
Nightflier held the cube towards the silent Cons. "Hey. Take it." Soundwave lifted his head wearily, staring at the peace offering. When he didn't take it, Nightflier gestured. "Come on, I can't give you all of my energon. Take it. We're at peace now."
Soundwave stared. Nightflier waited as the Decepticon clearly contemplated something. His helm tipped downwards again to Laserbeak, and Nightflier fluttered his good wing, trying not to wince when he felt the mechanism in his right wing trying to move a dislocated wing. The silence stretched until finally, a slender hand reached out and accepted the energon cube.
Nightflier released a small breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding when Soundwave took his offer. He unhooked from the Decepticon, and wished he hadn't a second later when he watched Soundwave let Laserbeak refuel first, clearly caring little for his own reserves. Nightflier craned his head to where Bumblebee was watching with wide optics. The scout jerked to attention. "Bee, fetch another cube for us, and try to keep it full this time."
He saluted. "Yes, sir." He trotted off, throwing glances behind him until he left the room.
Sitting down fully, Nightflier crossed his legs as Soundwave let Laserbeak refuel. He cleared his throat uncertainly, glancing back at Ultra Magnus and Ratchet. Simultaneously, they both raised their brows at him.
Okay, well don't make him feel intimidated, right?
Huffing a vent and fluttering his wing, Nightflier cleared his throat again. "Well, um . . . I guess you're wondering why we got you out of the Shadowzone. And um . . . Well, the war's over, so I figured it'd be cruel if we left you to rot until shutdown. And—And we're going to have to rebuild Cybertron, so . . ." He cut off short, optics popping as he suddenly waved his servos. "I mean, I'm not meaning to make you a construction worker! No, I mean . . . This is coming out all wrong."
He took a deep breath, trying to settle his frazzled nerves. "What I'm trying to say is, the war's over, and we're going to need a system. And I don't want it to be corrupt like the Council was, so if we have a working Prime, me, and a Council, I want the Council to be made up of Autobots, Neutrals, AND Decepticons." He paused when he could literally FEEL Soundwave's gaze on him. He cleared his throat nervously. "So um, yeah. I'm asking you to be a politician."
When Soundwave only continued to stare behind that faceless mask of his, Fli-Ni began to backpedal harder. "I mean, only if you wanted to, but I really need someone to represent the Decepticons. And I mean, if you hung out with Megatron, I'm sure you're good with politics and things, and I know Thing 1 and Thing 2 back there don't agree with me because they think you're too dangerous, but if we don't show some trust somewhere, we won't ever be able to bridge the gap between Autobots and Decepticons. We—We're all Cybertronians, and we're all going to have to get along to live together because I'd rather bring everyone home instead of splitting us up. And I want things to be fair, not like the old system where people were oppressed, you know that. You lived like that, I lived like that, and I just—I don't want to put people through that. So I mean—I need to make sure some Decepticons are there to represent the surrendering 'Cons because I want them to get fair treatment, and . . . yeah."
Awkwardly falling silent, Nightflier looked away from Soundwave. The 'Con laid aside the empty energon cube, and Laserbeak transformed, latching to Soundwave's chassis. There was a pregnant moment of silence before it was once again broken by the doors whizzing open and Bumblebee chirping, "Uh, another energon cube . . ."
Nightflier nodded his helm towards Soundwave. "It's his." Bumblebee gave a worried look, and he hedged closer to Soundwave. His wings twitched, and he jutted his chin up, bucking up his courage and holding the cube out to him as confidently as possible. Deliberately, Soundwave's hand reached out and took the cube from Bumblebee. The scout immediately took a step away when he could, nodded, and asked, "Anything else?"
Nightflier shook his head. "Nope. That's it." He didn't dismiss Bumblebee, and the scout didn't leave, choosing to stay and figure out what was going on. Soundwave looked down on the cube he held, and then, he nodded.
His wide blue optics widened. "Does that mean you accept?"
Soundwave nodded again. Nightflier nearly let out a hoot before Soundwave reached up, slender fingers clasping his mask. Nightflier's vents seized. Without preamble, Soundwave took off his visor, revealing his face.
Nightflier quickly looked away before peeking back at what was left of his face. The wounds clearly hadn't received the proper medical attention they should have, but they were old, and there was no changing the damages now. A deep gash ran in a horizontal slant across his face, over both optics that were shattered. He began to drink from his energon cube, lucky that his mouth and cheeks were in proper working order. Nightflier stared at his broken, darkened optics, and he looked away again, staring down at his knees.
He was blind.
Shifting uncomfortably at the sudden display of trust, Nightflier cleared his throat, swallowing. Soundwave continued to refuel, tipping back the entire cube steadily until it was empty. Then, he replaced the visor over his face, and the tense spell cast over them was broken by the familiarity of having his face covered.
Soundwave looked at him. Nightflier blinked, trying not to stare too hard, and he cleared his throat again. He patted Soundwave's knee and nodded understandingly. Finally, he stood up, saying, "Well . . . Welcome aboard the NEMESIS and welcome to a new age on Cybertron. You'll have to forgive anyone for the initial distrust, and I'm sure people will keep a really close eye on you, but um . . . Here's to peace."
He stuck out his hand. The silent Decepticon studied him for a minute, and then, he stood. He reached out and took Nightflier's servo, giving him a firm and solid shake.