Deux Ex Machina
Apparently, it was going to be one of Those Days.
Wayward ( it wasn’t her real name, but it was enough for the purposes of this story, ) a reasonably pretty young woman with brown hair and eyes who claimed to be five-foot-six, and who, strangely for her type of character, did indeed have a boyfriend and a pleasant home-life, ( and while something should be said about her artistic talents and introverted temperament, this sentence is already way too long, ) scowled up at Bonecrusher. Strangely, no one seemed to pay the two any attention, though the street wasn’t without traffic. “Oh no,” said Wayward. “I’m not getting dragged into this. I don’t appear in my own stories.”
The Constructicon didn’t bother to point out that Wayward did appear as an extra in The Human Condition: Working For A Living. She would just claim that since it wasn’t a big part and she wasn’t actually important to the story, it didn’t count. Instead, he shrugged. “You’re in already. Can’t you hear the narration?”
She paused and listened, and made a face as a voice in her mind whispered that she paused and listened, and made a face as a voice in her mind whispered that she paused and listened, and made a face as a voice in her mind whispered that she paused and listened… “I’m not going,” said Wayward, mostly to stop the narrative loop. “I don’t do adventures. I especially don’t do adventures with giant alien robots. Some of us are mortal, you know.”
“I got a feeling that won’t matter,” said Bonecrusher. “C’mon, you’re already part of it - don’t you want to see how it all turns out?”
“You have me confused with someone who likes danger.”
Though she would never be entirely certain how, Wayward soon found herself in Decepticon Headquarters, perched on Bonecrusher’s shoulder.
“I do know how - Bonecrusher carried me,” Wayward said. “I’m just not sure how he convinced me to go with him. I would know, but someone got lazy and did a time-skip, rather than giving any details.”
The details would have just been Wayward and Bonecrusher arguing, and were skipped because they wouldn’t be that interesting.
“I might have argued him out of it!”
Bonecrusher tapped Wayward’s foot to get her attention. “You’re fighting with the narration.”
She started to say something, but instead stopped and changed the subject. “All right, then. Aside from some bad fourth-walling, what’s wrong down here?”
“Ain’tcha noticed yet? - no one sees us.” Bonecrusher stepped into one of the common areas, where Skywarp and Thundercracker were playing cards and listening to Earth rock music. He waved a hand in front of Skywarp. Skywarp ignored the Constructicon. “See, Wayward? I’ve turned invisible or something. They can’t hear me, either… Skywarp! Starscream’s prettier than you are!”
Skywarp didn’t so much as blink, such as a Transformer could. “Weird. Where are the other Constructicons?” asked Wayward.
“I don’t know.”
“I. Don’t. Slagging. Know.” If Bonecrusher had teeth, he’d have clenched them. “I’ve seen Scrapper and Scavenger once or twice since all this started, but never for very long. Mixmaster and Longhaul vanished completely. Hook…” The demolitionist paused. “He’s … around. Usually in the repair bay. But he can’t see me either, and he’s acting wrong …”
Wayward kicked her heels on Bonecrusher’s shoulder. “Why come to me for help?”
There was an uncomfortable pause. Wayward poked him. “Well?”
“The … narration suggested it.”
The intra-ship radio came on, sending Soundwave’s processed voice through the halls: “Meeting at sixteen-hundred hours in control room. Warrior attendance compulsory.”
Bonecrusher shrugged, the motion almost knocking Wayward from her perch. “I’d call that a starting place. Come on.”
“I’m sitting on your shoulder. What choice do I have?”
“Who are all these people?”
“I have no idea. They just started showing up. I know a few of their names, but it’s impossible to keep up.”
Wayward and Bonecrusher hung back at the fringe of the control room, not that it really seemed to matter, invisible as they were. The room was almost full, but Wayward could only recognise a few of the Decepticons - Megatron, Starscream, Soundwave, Astrotrain… For a second, she thought she saw Dirge, but she was wrong. There was Ravage, near Soundwave, and Skywarp and Thundercracker again, and … “Cyclonus!?” demanded Wayward. “What the heck continuity is this?”
“Does it matter?”
“Probably not,” Wayward agreed. “Hmm, the new ones are all jets. Earth-style Seeker jets.”
“Most of ‘em are female, too,” said Bonecrusher. “Don’t ask why - they just are. And if you look at ‘em wrong, they accuse you of underestimating them because they’re female. I saw Ramjet get slapped for it yesterday.”
“I’d underestimate them because most seem to have pink in their designs,” said Wayward, taking a more careful look at the assorted Seekerfemmes. “They’ve all got curves, too. Why would a robot need bosoms? I give up. Who’s the twinkie hanging off of Megatron?”
“Princess Deathdragon. Don’t ask,” said Bonecrusher. Then, “Now shh a minute. Looks like something’s happening up front.”
With his free arm, Megatron gestured proudly to a navy-blue jet that looked like a too-tall Seeker with kibbly-bits added on. He had a proud, noble bearing, and his face was darkly handsome… a fact lost on Bonecrusher and Wayward who just thought he looked like another darn Seeker. “This is Retcon, the greatest Decepticon warrior ever built. He just showed up a few days ago, and already I am so impressed that I’ve decided to make him my new Air Commander.” Retcon smiled, and most of the audience began clapping. A few of the femme-jets fainted. Megatron waited for order to be restored, then began detailing his next attack on the Autobots. Not that the story’s protagonists were really listening.
“Hmm. Starscream glared, but he didn’t protest.” Wayward tapped her fingers in thought. “On one hand, I’d like to find out what’s up with him, but that won’t do any good if he can’t see us. Think you can get through to Hook?”
“Don’t you think I’ve been trying?” demanded the Constructicon. “I’ve shouted at him, I’ve shook him, I even tried to pull him into bind-mode - nothing!”
“Maybe I can think of something. To the repair bay!”
“Order me around again, shorty, and you’ll be walking.”
While the door opened for Bonecrusher and Wayward, Hook didn’t notice the movement. He was reading a trade periodical while Classical music played in the background. “Aside from the fact that he’s listening to human music and reading an actual, paper magazine, he doesn’t seem too wrong,” said Wayward.
“You haven’t seen ‘im in action,” Bonecrusher retorted. “There’s two ways he responds to patients. If they’re seriously damaged, he’s efficient. If they’re not, he’s annoyed that his life was interrupted for something trivial. And I know he hates Earth music.” The demolitionist sighed. “He’s been acting too … well … nice.”
“In theory, you should be trying to step on me,” Wayward reminded him. “Not that I want you to, of course. Though aside from that, you seem to be in your right mind. Why?”
“Ah-h-h, who knows?”
The narration knows. The narration knows all.
Bonecrusher scowled at the air. “Then why doesn’t the narration tell us so we can slagging well get on with it?”
The narration hesitated, hating to give up its secrets, but hating the story it was trapped in more. Retcon is the key, said the narration eventually. Retcon possesses the ability to alter the past to make himself more powerful. Unfortunately, his alterations have made the universe … lame.
Wayward made a razzing noise. “You’re saying we’re trapped in a bad fanfic?”
One with proper spelling and grammar, but, essentially, yes.
“That explains a few things,” said Wayward. “First, how I’m here at all. Second, that I was brought in to help the highly-advanced alien robot. Third, that the alien robot is treating me nice. Fourth, that Decepticon Headquarters is full of Seeker jet girls with bosoms and no real personality.”
“Okay, Spike-Of-The-Decepticons, how come I’m invisible?”
“No need to be insulting,” retorted Wayward. “Most writers forget that that there are six Constructicons, or else they just don’t want to take the time to learn how to tell you apart. Hook is the only one anyone ever writes, while you are the one most likely to be ignored entirely. I write you, though, which is probably why I can see you. Or it might just be a plot contrivance. Or poor planning. You never can tell with these things.”
He waved a hand in front of Hook’s nose again. “I can’t take on Retcon if I can’t affect anything,” growled Bonecrusher. “I need to get into the story.”
“There’s rules - or at least there seem to be rules - for bad fanfic. We just have to use them to our advantage.” She considered that. “So far, I’ve been a fairly classic Mary-Sue. That should give me a spot in it. Set me down on the desk, Bonecrusher; maybe Hook will be able to see me.”
The demolitionist was about to comply when a pink and orange Seekerfemme ran in, bluish tears running down her cheeks. ( “Crying?” asked Wayward. “Windshield-washer fluid, I guess,” replied Bonecrusher. ) “Dawnsparkle,” said Hook, concern lighting his features. “What’s wrong?”
“Oh, Hook!” wailed the femme. “When I awoke from my recharge this morning, I felt awful! I think I’m pregnant! What am I to do? I am a warrior - strong, tough, and even my enemies think I’m a real spitfire! But the woman in me wants to settle down and raise a family! How do I tell my brothers? How do I tell my boyfriend? What do I do?”
“Run away to Tahiti and get the heck out of this story!” yelled Wayward.
“‘Pregnant’?” asked Bonecrusher. However, neither were heard by Hook or Dawnsparkle.
The engineer didn’t so much as lift a scanner. “Dawnsparkle, you should tell your boyfriend. Thundercracker is very understanding. In the meantime, you should take it easy. I’ll ask Megatron to give you a leave of absence until you’re ready to fight again.”
The Seekerfemme smiled and ran out. Bonecrusher turned his head slightly at the indignant noises coming from his shoulder. “Thundercracker and a woman!?” demanded Wayward once she finished spluttering.
“Not everyone thinks him and Skywarp belong together,” said Bonecrusher.
“All right, all right, I’ll grant that,” Wayward sighed. “Still, too bad he ended up with such a ditz.”
Bonecrusher snorted. “Skywarp’s a ditz, too.”
“Skywarp is sensible and level-headed compared to that Dawnsparkle bink,” said Wayward. “Anyway, interruption over, maybe I can catch Hook’s attention.”
She was set on the table, but try as she might, Wayward was completely ignored by the engineer. “Hello! Mary-Sue over here! Gosh I’m clever for getting into Decepticon Base like this! I can probably sing really well, too! Hey, Hook, your mother was a toaster!.. Hmph.”
“Looks like you can’t just appear.”
“This is going to be a really boring story if we can’t get into it,” sulked Wayward. “If logic doesn’t work, it’s time for a plot contrivance. Narration! Write us in!”
The idea was possible, the narration had to admit, but risky. Bonecrusher and Wayward, in their invisible state, couldn’t change the story, but also couldn’t be affected by it. If they entered the plot, they would find themselves getting caught in the clichés and silliness, until they too became vapid, one-dimensional stereotypes.
“I don’t need a lot of time,” said Bonecrusher. “Just long enough to scrap Retcon.”
The story will try to stop you.
“You do, narration, and I’ll track you down and …”
The narration is not the story, said the narration. The narration merely tells it as it happens.
Wayward tapped her foot on Hook’s desk. “Which means we can’t just ask you to say, ‘Retcon tripped and died. The end.’ Something has to kill him… Hmm, you said you knew all. How does this thing end?”
Due to plot contrivances, even the narration could not see the future.
“Slag it. Write us in.”
Hook looked up at a knock on his door. This surprised him for many reasons, most of which involved the fact that his usual patients were distraught femmes who simply barged in sobbing. “Come in.”
The door slid aside, admitting Bonecrusher, who had a human female perched on his shoulder. “Hook! Can you see me?”
“Great!” Bonecrusher draped an arm over his comrade’s shoulders, and dropped his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “Listen, we are in a scrapload of trouble here. Retcon’s been changing the past to make himself more powerful, only it doesn’t quite work that way. He’s not different, but the universe is, and …”
The engineer stiffened, and extracted himself from the contact. “Retcon is the most honourable creature I know. He is highly intelligent and cunning, and the greatest Decepticon warrior in history.”
“No, he isn’t!” snapped Bonecrusher. “He just seems great because everyone else has gone wimpy!”
“I will not hear any other slander against Retcon,” said Hook firmly. “Because you are a fellow Constructicon, I will not report your treasonous words.” With that, he turned his back on them.
While generally an openly-expressive creature, Bonecrusher rarely showed the more vulnerable emotions. Right now he looked like he had been punched in the gut, though he quickly masked it. “All right, Hook. I’m … I’m probably just jealous or somethin’ …” With that, he turned and left the repair bay.
“You going to be okay, Bonecrusher?”
“How would you like it if your fiancé just froze you out like that?” demanded the Constructicon. “It ain’t the same relationship, of course, but you might get a bit of the idea.” Wayward nodded. Trying to define the bonds between the Constructicons had always stymied her, there not being any human equivalent to the deep, strange intimacy of the gestalt link.
“I’ll get my gestaltmates back despite this story,” growled Bonecrusher. “Now that I’m visible, maybe I can figure out a way to thrash Retcon … though I’ll only get one chance if everyone thinks of him as highly as Hook does. But everything should go back to normal once Retcon’s destroyed.”
“What makes you think that?”
“Plot contrivance. Anything else would be too complicated for a story this lame to handle …”
He was interrupted by a purple Seekerfemme with pink trim and violet optics who almost ran him over. “Oh, Bonecrusher,” she cried. “Why can’t I be your girlfriend?”
There were times when the only answer possible was the honest one. “Because I don’t know your name?”
“I’m Starjet,” she said. “I know we’ve never actually met, but I’ve admired you from afar.”
From his shoulder, Bonecrusher could hear the sounds of Wayward trying not to laugh, and nearly choking herself. He ignored the human. “I don’t need a girlfriend. I’m busy. Go away.”
Starjet would not go away. “I’m swift and deadly in combat, master of many Cybertronian martial arts, and all Autobots fear me - except my sister Moonjet who switched sides several millennia ago, the traitor! When we fight we are unmerciful, vicious, and unrelenting! I also make excellent energon goodies.”
“What does that have to do with..?”
“I also have a sixth sense, and I know that there’s terrible danger ahead!”
“Starjet, given that there’s an energy-raid planned for later today, I could have told you that.” Inasmuch as Bonecrusher could get headaches, he was developing one now.
“Oh, why don’t you give yourself to me with the same unrestrained passion that I have for you?” wailed Starjet. With a final sob, she ran away, leaving one stunned Construction and one amused human in the hall.
“You can stop now,” said Bonecrusher a few minutes later.
Wayward managed to catch her breath. “Easy for you to say.” Then she went back to laughing. Eventually she said, “I love how these girls blither about how they’re strong and independent, then spend all of their time crying that they don’t have boyfriends.”
“Why not just hook up with each other and leave the rest of us alone?” demanded Bonecrusher.
“Because while you are an androgynous robot who happens to use the male pronoun, girls like Starjet are indeed girls,” Wayward chuckled. “And I’ve yet to run across a female-female relationship in Transfic.” Then, “Well, what now?”
Bonecrusher grinned. “We’re going on an energy-raid.”
“Bonecrusher, why am I here? I am human, and thus have no place in the middle of a giant robot battle.” They were hanging back on a cliff overlooking the battlefield as the Decepticon strike-force attacked the power station. The Autobots had arrived within minutes, and a heated battle was joined … Well, a half-hearted battle in which bad puns and pointless insults flew more often than the laserfire. There was also quite a bit of swearing, as if the Transformers had suddenly developed an interest in human bodily functions. Wayward spread her hands in exasperation: “Great. Now even the narration is getting sarcastic.”
“Ah-h-h, you’ll be fine,” said Bonecrusher. “The little human sidekicks never die in these things. Besides, you’re a Mary-Sue. You’re immortal.”
Wayward shook her head. “Uh-uh. Mary-Sues can die… though I think they have to sacrifice themselves heroically. Which I’m not doing… You know, that’s the sixth time Megatron has yelled, ‘Die, you accursed Autobots’ within the last five minutes.”
“Just keep out of the way,” said Bonecrusher. “I’m gonna see if I can introduce Retcon to the concept of ‘friendly fire’.” With that, he skidded down the escarpment and into the fray.
“Bonecrusher! If I’m killed, you’ll lose your greatest advocate! BONECRUSHERRRRR!” Wayward sat back on the ground with a disgusted noise. “Ungrateful Constructicon …”
Excuse me, said the narration, but I have to go down to report on the fight. You sulking isn’t that interesting and the readers will get bored.
“Stuff it,” said Wayward.
It was, quite simply, the strangest battle Bonecrusher had ever been in.
Bad aim had always seemed the plague the Decepticons, but in this fight, no one had yet scored a hit with their weapons. A few hand-to-hand fights had broken out, but they were… polite. Listening in, it sounded as if the combatants were truly sorry that they had come to blows, but it had to be done.
And the leaders… Megatron and Prime just wouldn’t shut up. At first, Bonecrusher wondered why no one just shot either while they were orating, then he wondered why he didn’t do it himself. As it turned out, all of his shots missed.
Which was vexing, but it didn’t really matter. What made him angry was that he couldn’t get anywhere near Retcon. The Seeker was always in the air, moving too fast or at just the wrong angle to blast out of the sky. Bonecrusher just needed to get him on the ground. He was strong, he literally knew Seeker design inside and out, and was certain that if he could just get his hands on Retcon, he could tear him apart.
Of course, first he had to get his hands on Retcon …
You might want to duck.
“YOW!” Wayward threw herself to the ground as laserfire lanced overhead. “Oof. Thanks.”
Elsewhere on the battlefield, foreshadowing was happening …
“Sister, I will bring back your head to my Lord Megatron!” cried Starjet.
“Starjet, why don’t you see that the Decepticons are evil?” asked Moonjet. “You should join the Autobots. You would be a great asset to us.”
“Never!” With that, the battle was joined. Within seconds, both Seekers had lost their weapons and were rather ineffectually fighting hand-to-hand. “Remember how it used to be, Moonjet? Fighting side by side, instead of fighting each other?”
Moonjet swung and missed. “Indeed I do, my sister. But we fought for the wrong cause.”
“No, it is you who are wrong!” Starjet shoved her sister with enough force to knock her sprawling.
Unfortunately for the Decepticon, Moonjet landed next to one of her lasers. “Starjet, forgive me.” Then she blasted her, shifted to jet-mode, and flew away. The narration also left, as it now had to watch a Decepticon Apologist act all Honourable.
The blue form of Retcon suddenly stood amidst the chaos. “Optimus Prime! The Autobots are worthy foes, and I hate to see them destroyed. In fact, I hate destruction in all forms. We will decide this battle with single combat, so as to keep casualties and property damage to a minimum! Do you agree?”
“You seem honourable,” said Prime. “I accept.”
“Don’t do it!” cried Prowl. “Retcon is the Decepticons’ greatest warrior! You don’t stand a chance against him!”
“I must take that chance,” Prime replied.
Megatron stood. “Retcon, you traitor! You’re disobeying my orders!”
“I’m doing what is best for the Decepticons!” shouted Retcon. To the surprise of Bonecrusher, but not so much to Wayward who had read one too many fics of this kind, Megatron scowled but let the subject drop.
The fight went on for hours, neither warrior giving nor gaining ground. ( “It has so not been hours!” said Wayward. Who’s telling this story, you or the narration? The narration says it’s been hours, so it’s been hours. ) Both Retcon and Optimus Prime were highly skilled, and while many blows had been struck, neither Transformer had fallen. On the sidelines, Retcon’s girlfriend Silversky commiserated with Elita-1 about how dreadful the war was, and how they would be friends if it wasn’t in the way. Finally, what with one thing and another, Retcon managed to knock Prime down. He didn’t finish him off, of course.
Then, despite the fact that the Decepticons were actually winning, Megatron called for retreat. Bonecrusher flew back up to the top of the cliff and scooped up Wayward. Wayward, who despite the usual advice that one shouldn’t do such things, was watching the ground. “Hey, what’s that down there?”
Bonecrusher looked. “Slag. It’s that scatterhead Starjet. I thought Astrotrain was taking our wounded back.”
“They must have missed her.” Wayward waited.
“You want me to go pick her up, don’t you?”
“Not really, but you’re going to anyway.”
With a longsuffering sigh that Longhaul would have envied, Bonecrusher turned back to collect up the fallen Seeker. However, once he landed by her, he paused and ran a few incredulous scans. “This … this isn’t possible.”
Wayward squirmed a bit to get a better look. “What’s wrong?”
“She’s non-functional. Dead.”
“What? Love-interests never die unless it’s in the arms of their significant other!” She considered that. “Let’s take her back, anyway. Starjet’s a useless ditz, but this wasn’t how she was supposed to go.”
Once back in Decepticon Headquarters, Bonecrusher found an empty workroom and lay Starjet’s shell on the table. Bonecrusher inspected Starjet’s damages while Wayward paced near the Seeker’s feet, talking more-or-less to herself: “She had her stupid psychic ability - she would have told you she was going to die. Suicide, maybe, killing herself out of love for you … except I don’t think she could have shot herself at that angle. And she didn’t seem the depressive type, just clueless. But getting shot down without even saying good-bye? - That’s not pattern.”
“Would you shut up?” asked Bonecrusher. “Sometimes even a bad writer can do things differently, I’m sure.”
“Maybe, but today has been one cliché after another … Hmm. In movies, saying, ‘You can’t die! I love you, godammit!’ works.”
“Too late. She’s already dead.”
“Hmm.” Wayward stopped pacing, then spun to face the Constructicon. “Healing powers! Someone in this loopy place is bound to have healing powers!”
Princess Deathdragon does, said the narration. I might as well tell you now and save time.
“Megatron’s arm-candy, right? Somehow I’m not entirely surprised,” said Wayward. “Could you call her down, Bonecrusher?”
“I might as well, if you and the narration are gonna tag-team me.”
Princess Deathdragon was yet another Seekerfemme, though mostly black … with pink highlights and so many curves that Wayward couldn’t figure out how she could possibly transform, except maybe into a very lumpy jet. She also had an annoyingly breathy voice, and only the narration knew that Wayward thought the princess sounded exactly like what Wayward thought a phone-sex fantasy girl would sound like.
The black femme carefully ran her hands over Starjet’s damages without actually touching them. “While I am Megatron’s girlfriend, a six-changer, and a ruthless Decepticon warrior equal to my male counterparts, I hate all death and pain, and therefore have been granted healing powers. I can bring this one back,” she sighed. “But she’ll have to be repaired first, otherwise she could die again.” Deathdragon carefully touched an edge of Starjet’s armour plating. “Poor thing. These burns on her chassis look as though they were very painful.”
“Not as painful as your misuse of the word ‘chassis’, you twinkie,” muttered Wayward.
“Ignore her,” said Bonecrusher, pushing Deathdragon out the door. “I always do.” Once the door closed, Wayward stuck out her tongue at the Constructicon.
He settled in to work on cutting out the burnt and torn wires in preparation to add new ones. “Where the slag is Hook? I thought you said he was the only Constructicon in these things!”
Wayward sighed, deciding not to point out that Hook still might not be on speaking terms with Bonecrusher. Instead she said, “The story is putting a great deal of effort into setting you up with Starjet. Coincidences will continue to happen until either we solve this thing or you give up and agree to date her.”
“Not slagging likely.” Bonecrusher continued grumbling as he mended the Seeker’s torn wiring. “Why the blazes am I fixing her? She’s just going to wake up and get all fluttery at me.” He took out a fused component, then crossed the room to where the replacements were kept and began digging through a drawer. “The only thing I feel about this loopjob is annoyance. I should just leave her like this and put her out of my misery.”
“You can’t do it. She’s protected by the story, like I am.”
“Can’t you do more than sit there and chat?”
The human shrugged. “I’ve got some mechanical skill, but nothing that could cope with repairs of a giant alien robot … even if I could lift your tools.”
Bonecrusher snorted. “Some Mary-Sue you are.”
“You dragged me along for the ride, Bonecrusher. Besides, I can never be a true Mary-Sue - my singing voice is lousy.”
He slotted the replacement part into position, and began the careful welds to hold it in place. “This is going to take a while and won’t be very interesting,” said Bonecrusher to no one in particular. “Let’s have it with a time-skip.”
“Cool,” said Wayward. “Thanks, narration.”
Before this goes on, I’d like to point out that this time-skip not only covered several hours of repairs, but also Princess Deathdragon’s return, a touching speech about how love conquers all, Deathdragon using her healing powers to recall Starjet’s spark to her shell, and Deathdragon leaving. Also, Bonecrusher and Wayward made faces at Princess Deathdragon whenever she wasn’t looking.
“She had it coming.”
Whatever. Ahem: Repairs finished and once again infused with life, Starjet’s purple optics flickered online. Faster than she should have been able to move in her weakened condition, she stood up and threw her arms around Bonecrusher’s neck. “You saved me! I knew you loved me!”
“Would you get offa me?” Without waiting for a reply, Bonecrusher pried the Seeker’s arms from his person. “You were broken. I fixed you. Then we had Deathdragon come in and do her thing.”
She gazed up at him in adoration, which was rather strange given that every other Seeker Bonecrusher had ever known was taller than him. “You’re a demolitionist, but you put aside your aggressive tendencies for me! Underneath that gruff exterior …”
“… Is a surly interior,” said Wayward.
“… Beats the energon-pump of a compassionate mech,” Starjet finished as if she hadn’t been interrupted. “Ah, the part of me that is warrior loves your rough strength, but the part of me that is woman longs to be sheltered by the gentle nature you guard within!”
Known for his short temper, Bonecrusher finally lost it: “I’m a Constructicon! I fix stuff! Just because my specialty is teardowns doesn’t mean I don’t know how to do a slagging repair job! I’ve forgotten more about repairs than most Transformers can ever know, but no one believes it because they see the word ‘demolitions’ and their brains shut down! I’m more than just the guy who knocks things down, you know!”
For a second, Starjet looked taken aback. Then she smiled. “I believe in you, Bonecrusher.” She gave him a quick, daring kiss on the cheek before running out of the repair bay.
“There’s just no getting through to that… Wayward, if you’re laughing again, I am going to step on you.”
“I’m not laughing. I’m having all-out hysterics.”
Bonecrusher picked up the human by her foot, dangling her in the air. “We’ve still got work to do. You wanted to talk to Starscream, right?”
“Right … No, on second thought, that might be a bad idea. Starscream barely beats out the Insecticons and Constructicons for being my favourite character,” said Wayward. “Favourite characters almost always fall for the Mary-Sue, and we’ve got enough problems with Starjet.”
The Constructicons didn’t have their own rooms… or quarters at all, technically. Mixmaster had his own lab, Scrapper and Hook shared an office, there was a break room in the back of the repair bay, there was a storage area where Scavenger kept his ever-expanding collection of the world’s most useless junk, and neither Longhaul and Bonecrusher had even that much. It was in the junk room that Bonecrusher and Wayward ended up, simply because they were unlikely to run into anyone there.
Bonecrusher set Wayward on one of the shelves ( next to a geode and a small pile of pink, plastic lawn flamingos, ) then sat down himself on something he couldn’t identify, but looked like it could support his weight. “Every time we try to do anything, something dumb sidetracks us!” growled Bonecrusher.
“And her name is Starjet,” said Wayward.
“It was your idea to bring her back for repairs.” With a groan, the Constructicon buried his face in his hands. “The story blocks us at every turn. I might as well give up and accept that I’ll never get my gestalt back. Slag it, I’m going to become the Big, Dumb Demolitionist for real now …”
“You? Give up?” demanded Wayward. “You never give up! You’re the guy who lets buildings fall on his silly head because he thinks it’s fun! And now you’re going to let that Retcon win? What about the other Constructicons? What about the universe!?”
The demolitionist looked up. “We can’t win. It’s over. Get used to being Spike-Of-The-Decepticons.”
“I don’t believe this!” yelled Wayward. “You’re … you’re angsting!”
“I’m not angsting!” roared Bonecrusher.
You’re angsting, said the narration.
“You’ve become the Dark, Brooding, Male Protagonist, and you’re angsting!” Wayward shouted back. “You’re supposed to be the risk-taker, but all you want to do is hang around and sulk!”
“And you’re supposed to be the cautious one of this team-up, not a … a spitfire!”
Constructicon and human glared at each other, then simultaneously looked away. “Sorry, Wayward.”
“No, I’m sorry.”
“I shouldn’t have yelled.”
“I shouldn’t have accused you of going angstful.”
“I shouldn’t have pulled you into the story in the first place.”
“If I never wrote you, you wouldn’t have been brought to me, and you wouldn’t be having to put up with me right now!”
“If I had more personality in the show, I wouldn’t have been so overlooked in fan fiction, leaving you the only one who believes I’m interesting!”
“If only I … Oh, blast! Bonecrusher, we’re apologizing profusely for no good reason!” said Wayward irately. “We’ve got to destroy Retcon before we start having pointless crying fits!”
Bonecrusher was about to reply, but there was a sudden sneeze from behind one of the display cases. He wasn’t entirely surprised to find Starjet hiding there. “How did you get..? No, forget it, I don’t care.”
“I … I overheard your conversation,” she said meekly. “I know why you want to destroy Retcon, but you can’t. He’s too skilled and too powerful.”
“We gotta do it. Everything’s wrong right now,” said Bonecrusher.
As was her wont, Starjet fell sobbing into Bonecrusher’s arms. “No, my love, it’s right! Don’t you see? It’s all so … nice here! Battles are decided in honourable hand-to-hand combat, no one ever dies for long, we Decepticons all regret that we have to raze planets … And you have me. You never have to be lonely again, Bonecrusher; you have me.”
“I don’t have the other Constructicons.”
“How come you know how the universe is supposed to be? You just blinked into existence within the last three days! Probably just before you smacked into Bonecrusher for the first time!” demanded Wayward.
The Seeker pulled away from Bonecrusher far enough to look at the human. “I have a sixth-sense, and could detect the narration. I … listened in on it.”
Sorry, said the narration.
“No, I’m sorry,” sobbed Starjet. “You want to destroy my world!.. But I know that what you intend to do is … is right. I trust you, Bonecrusher. I’ll help you in any way I can.” Her optics sparkled.
“Does Retcon have any weaknesses?” asked Bonecrusher.
Starjet considered that. “He’s very strong and fast, as well as cunning and intelligent. He carries a sword made of negative energy. Sometimes his strong sense of honour makes him hesitate, but he is very noble and loyal to the Decepticon cause. His only weakness is his girlfriend Silversky, whom he would do anything for. In fact, if the choice was between serving the Decepticon cause and saving Silversky, he would choose the latter.”
“Slag. I hate taking hostages; it means you’re really desperate,” grumbled Bonecrusher.
Suddenly, Wayward started laughing again. “Forget the arm-candy; Retcon’s too honourable! Bonecrusher, I think I’ve got a way you can take him on with no interruptions.” She grinned. “Your Decepticon sensibilities might cringe at the idea, though …”
“Anything to get out of this story and my gestalt back,” said Bonecrusher. “Starjet, you’ve … Thanks.”
She blushed. “I trust you, my love,” Starjet said quietly, then kissed him and fled.
Bonecrusher sighed once the door closed. Wayward looked over. “Don’t you dare tell me you’ve fallen for her.”
“No, no, it’s not that.” He wiped an ineffectual hand across his chestplate. “She sure cries a lot. See anything that looks like a towel in all this junk?”
“This is a stupid plan!”
“This whole situation is stupid,” retorted Wayward. “Now do it, okay?”
While Wayward seemed perfectly confident with the plan, Bonecrusher wasn’t. The base’s computer informed them that Retcon was in the control room, so that was where they went. Now Bonecrusher opened the door and quickly looked around. Retcon wasn’t alone, but Wayward assured him it wouldn’t matter. “I suppose I should put you down first,” said Bonecrusher absently, and handed her off to Starscream.
The silver Seeker looked from Bonecrusher to Wayward. “Um …”
“I’m not attracted to robots, so don’t even think about it.”
For reasons of drama, all heads turned to watch Bonecrusher, as if knowing that whatever he was about to do was important, rather than just showing up to perform some routine maintenance. He stood in front of his target and scowled up at him: “Retcon, I challenge you to single combat.”
The Constructicon expected a protest, or a demand to know why he was challenged, but Retcon merely looked noble and honourable and darkly handsome and all those other things people kept describing him as. He asked, “Unarmed and unaided?”
“Of course.” Then, for good measure, though it made a brawler like him feel dirty to say it, Bonecrusher added, “To do anything else would be dishonourable.”
Retcon stood to his full height. “I accept, Bonecrusher of the Constructicons. We will battle at … ungh!”
Bonecrusher took his fist from Retcon’s face, but it was only to punch him again. In fact, he didn’t stop punching until most of the Seeker’s upper body was an unrecognisable tangle of metal. “Slag your honour. I want my gestaltmates back.”
The mangled shell vanished. Bonecrusher collected Wayward up from where she stood on Starscream’s shoulder. No one seemed the slightest bit fazed by any of it.
“Astounding,” said Wayward. “You beat a bad fanfic with common sense. Now, much as I would love to meet the other Constructicons, I ask that you take me home before the silliness wears off and someone tries to step on me.”
Unable to land on Wayward’s actual street due to all the trees in the way, Bonecrusher landed in the middle of a nearby intersection. No one noticed.
“Thank you for a most amazingly stupid time,” said Wayward, reaching up to shake the Constructicon’s hand… as well as she was able with the size difference. “Do me a favour and stay a fictional character, okay?”
“What makes you think you’re not a figment of my imagination?” demanded Bonecrusher.
“You haven’t got an imagination, you bolthead.”
“Thing that goes ‘squeak’ when I step on it.”
Ahem, said the narration, but if anything, both of you are characters in my story.
“Oh, shut up.”