Will Not Drive Us Hence
… Here at least
We shall be free; th' Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:…
“Blast it, why couldn’t you have thought of that five minutes ago!?”
“Because I was rather preoccupied with you being flat on your back and possessed by a malevolent non-corporeal intelligence!”
“Don’t remind me!” Starscream shot back. Why does it always happen like this? Starscream demanded internally. Nothing happens until someone mentions something nasty that could happen, which then proceeds to happen! In this case, Dreadmoon had asked if the alien Whisperers could possess the Stormworld base through the lightning rod that gave the station power. Apparently they could.
Crowbar, Gadget, and Shrillcry were already in the generator room, frantically trying to shut off the intake, when Starscream, Dreadmoon, and M-03 arrived. Razorshift and Sway arrived a few seconds later. Shatterwing was absent, but being himself possessed by a Whisperer, it was expected.
“What’s happening?” demanded Sway.
Shrillcry yanked a lever to no obvious effect. “Some sort of overload! We can’t stop it before the whole generator blows!”
Starscream ran to a console and tried to shunt the power to the overflows. “It’s worse than that. The madness that killed Skyvortex’s crew was brought on by non-corporeal aliens that ride the lightning to get into mechanical systems. If the generator blows, if we’re caught in the explosion… What are the rest of you doing here? If you can’t make yourselves useful, get out of range!”
“Maybe we can throw this thing into reverse, blast your critters out!” yelled Shrillcry.
Crowbar shielded his optics from the lights. “Will that work?”
“Who knows? We’ve got to do something!”
Starscream’s sensors detected the surge an instant before the generator’s instruments did. “It’s going to…”
The generator exploded in an blast of light and metal before Starscream could attempt to stop it with his null-ray, sending everyone diving for cover. Faster than the Insecticon, Razorshift threw Shrillcry out of the way, then phased to let the blast pass harmlessly through him. Crowbar was knocked to the ground when a large piece of shrapnel drove into his back. Another piece nearly sheared Starscream’s left wing off. Power arced from the machine, driving electric talons into Sway.
The dragonfly screamed as the circuit was made, but it wasn’t pain that made her cry out. Something was in the electric arc, something that was tearing into her mind even as the current tore through her carapace. I don’t deserve this! A warrior should die in battle! I hope you’re sorry you sent me here, Kickback, you creep!..
The explosion was finished in seconds, but chaos and noise still reigned. Most of the noise was coming from Sway, thrashing on the ground as if to fend off an invisible enemy and keening fit to wake the dead. Freeing himself from a pile of rubble, Starscream yelled, “Someone stop her before she screams the place apart!” Which, given Sway’s strange voice, was entirely possible. She could kick in harmonics that could make her opponent feel as if they would rattle apart.
“The Whisperers ride electricity!” Dreadmoon shouted, trying to be heard above the dragonfly’s wail. “If anyone else was hit…”
Starscream roughly grabbed M-03 by her arm and hauled her to her feet. “She seems to be fighting it; would it be possible for you to remove the Whisperer from her mind?”
The engineer tried to twist away. “If I did, it would take me!”
“Then pull Sway’s mind into yourself!”
On one hand there was uncertain termination if the Whisperer caught her. On the other was certain termination if she disobeyed. While Dreadmoon held the struggling Insecticon, M-03 jabbed one of her cables into her neck, and was immediately plunged into the swirling maelstrom that was Sway’s mind:
There were thoughts here; alien patterns flashing as quick as reflections on water, light and scattered and so very different that there was no way no way at all to ever understand…
There were other thoughts, and they felt heavy as earth compared to the fleeting alien patterns: I can’t die yet! I’ve still got to kick that stupid grasshopper’s abdomen around the South Continent for getting me into this mess!..
It was easy enough to decide which voice to download, and M-03 did as quickly as possible, before the Whisperer sensed her. As soon as the transfer completed, M-03 ripped herself away from the Insecticon with enough force to stumble back into her commander. “Did you get her?”
“Yes, Starscream.” M-03 had saved Sway’s mind. Literally. A Transformer couldn’t safely store another’s mind within themselves, but M-03 was a Deceptitraan computer, and there was more than enough disk space. Now, if the Whisperer could be flushed out somehow, Sway could be returned to her body. Or a new body could be made.
And just because it worked didn’t mean that M-03 liked to take that kind of risk. Not that Starscream cared. He tore off the dangling part of his wing and glowered at the general assembly. “Right, then, was anyone else hit by the energy of that explosion?”
“As if anyone was watching!” shouted Shrillcry.
There was a gasp from Razorshift, crouched on the floor and trembling.. “Great Cybertron, I was… No… no, I shifted,” he said. “I shifted. It went right through me, but I felt it… She was right. I wasn’t prepared… I wasn’t prepared for anything like this…”
“Relax, soldier,” snapped Starscream. First Shatterwing, now Sway, maybe others. The generator was destroyed; their supplies would hold for a while, but not indefinitely. They had one advantage over Skyvortex’s crew - they knew what they were fighting. And there was a relatively simple way to learn if anyone else had been possessed. “On your feet, Decepticons,” he ordered sharply. “Let’s see if anyone else has electrical burns on their shell.”
The others quickly obeyed… except for one. The Whisperers might have got her, but they made one severe error: Gadget was tiny, and while her mind was theirs, her body’s systems had been fused by the power influx. Crowbar immediately knelt by the ruin of his assistant. Starscream thought to stop him, but reconsidered; no matter what looked out from behind Gadget’s eyes, it would be trapped within that broken form.
Gadget would have to be destroyed - and Shatterwing as well, whenever they found him - for the safety of the others. Starscream set his jaw; they were already dead, destroyed by the Whisperers. Terminating the bodies would merely be vengeance…
Without looking up from his assistant, Crowbar asked, “Could you do the same thing for Gadget? Transferring her mind so we can save her?”
M-03 knelt down, cautiously touched a tendril to the tiny Decepticon, and immediately recoiled. “No. The Whisperer had already begun to bind.”
“What the Whisperers don’t realise is that they don’t just take the bodies of their victims, they also merge with their minds,” said Starscream. “That’s why Skyvortex’s crew seemed insane rather than possessed; they were themselves, but they were something else, too.”
“Then she’s still in there somewhere…”
“She isn’t,” said Dreadmoon quietly, still holding Sway’s possessed shell. “There’d be no way to separate the two personalities. If she’s still Gadget at all, she’s insane. She’s trapped in a nightmare.”
Crowbar glared at him. “Shatterwing seemed sane enough.”
There was a short, bitter laugh from Razorshift. “Shatterwing was suicidal. His mind would have folded so completely that only the Whisperer would be left. They’re kind of dumb, don’t you think? You’d think they’d have realised that their mental patterns are completely incompatible with ours; if they possess one of us, chances are they go insane, too.”
“They’re dangerous. No one ever said they were smart,” Starscream reminded him.
The dragonfly twisted in Dreadmoon’s grasp, but her - its? - efforts were futile. It buzzed angrily, perhaps trying to speak, perhaps not even aware of what it was doing. Starscream looked down at it. “Someone cut her vocal circuits, just in case the Whisperer figures out how to use them. Then toss her in the brig until we think of something better to do with her. We’ve got to find Shatterwing, we’ve got to come up with a defence against the Whisperers, and I don’t care how it happens.” He turned on his heel and stalked out.
Razorshift phased, but before the dragonfly could react, he slashed a shadow-hand through it, shorting its circuits. As it folded, Razorshift solidified, took it from the monitor and headed for the door, tossing in a ‘come here’ nod to Shrillcry. They left.
Dreadmoon shot a nervous glance between Crowbar and the door, looking relieved when the black Decepticon waved him away. A moment later, M-03 left as well.
After a few minutes, without looking up, Crowbar asked, “You’re still here?”
“I didn’t think you should be left alone,” said Vapourtrail. The shuttle crouched down by him, where he was cradling what was left of Gadget.
“I can’t kill her.”
“She’s already dead.”
He considered glaring at her, or yelling, or even lashing out, but what good would it do? “I can’t do it. You were sparked; why can’t you understand? Who built you?”
“His name was Lightray. It doesn’t matter.”
This time, Crowbar looked up. “Why not?”
Vapourtrail shrugged. “Why should it? I was built only to be a scientist, given tools and a form useful to that purpose. Certainly I’m grateful that he created me, but we parted ways less than a week after I awakened.”
“No bond at all?” asked Crowbar. The scientist shook her head, and he sighed. “You can’t understand, then. I didn’t just create a tech, I created a partner.” He looked back down at his creation, his assistant, his child. “Go. The others need your skill.”
“I have to do this on my own.” Vapourtrail nodded and walked out, leaving him alone with his thoughts.
He couldn’t kill her.
She’s already dead. It’s better if she is dead, because anything left of her mind would be insane. If she’s alive, she’s trapped in a nightmare and there’s no way out. There’s nothing you can do.
Of course, Crowbar intended to try.
She’s trapped in a nightmare and there’s no way out.
There was one way.
But not yet.
Shrillcry finished her alterations, carefully stepped back to the cell door, and closed it. When she turned to leave the brig, she jumped. “Razorshift! You’re still here?”
The black Seeker nodded. “You needed a guard, in case she came to again.”
“She’s a good warrior. I hope we get her back.”
The mantis shot a quick look over her shoulder as she walked down the hall. “No hard feelings that she kicked your afterburner the first week we got here?”
Razorshift laughed shortly. “Not anymore. Not now. We’re all in this together. Besides,” - and this time the smile wasn’t forced - “she cheated.”
“You used your abilities, she used hers. Seemed fair to me.” Shrillcry had carefully removed Sway’s power rectifier chip; if the Whisperer figured out how to use Sway’s sonic powers, it could rattle the bars off the cell.
The tone was teasing, so Razorshift answered in kind. “I’d have beat her if we’d called a ‘no powers’ battle instead of letting her hum at me.” Then, darkening again. “I am concerned about her, though. One of those alien things ripped through me while I was phased, and I can still feel it, like every molecule in my body is greasy. She was actually sharing her body with it…”
“M-03 got her out in time,” said Shrillcry fervently, because the alternative was too horrible to contemplate.
The intraship communications system chose that moment to activate, blaring forth with Starscream’s voice: “Shrillcry, Razorshift, report to the lab.”
The base’s computer lab wasn’t an ideal place to hold a meeting. Starscream, Dreadmoon, and M-03 had already swiped the only chairs in the room, running on a ‘first come, first serve’ basis. Vapourtrail was leaning against a console. Crowbar was conspicuously absent from the meeting, but no one mentioned it. Razorshift stood loosely at attention. Shrillcry perched on the table and queried, “What’s up?”
“We have an idea on how to create a shield against the Whisperers,” said Starscream, gesturing to those already present. “We know what they want is physical bodies; that’s why Razorshift wasn’t possessed when the generator exploded - they can only bind to normal matter.” It was also why the ghost-like Mourningstar could deal with them, but no need to spread that little story around…
He looked over at the black Seeker. “The idea is simply this: To convert your power rectifier chip into a type of field-generator. Not to phase us all, but merely to convince the Whisperers that whatever is in the field’s range is of no use to them.”
Shrillcry nodded. “I’ll get right on it. Raze?..”
The air warrior shrugged. “I don’t like to lose my powers, but I’d rather get back to Cybertron alive and get a new PR chip.”
“I should go as well,” added M-03. “I can help with the creation of the device, and I will certainly need to be there for its testing on Sway.”
There was a slightly embarrassed noise from Vapourtrail. “Erm, why are we doing this? Even though the ship can’t fly any more, we can still get back to Cybertron ourselves. Why don’t we just leave?”
“It’s safer for me here than on Cybertron,” said M-03.
“The flight through the storm to get orbital could be more dangerous than staying here,” added Dreadmoon.
“I want Sway back,” piped Shrillcry.
“I want the Whisperers to pay for destroying our people,” growled Razorshift.
“Decepticons never surrender,” snapped Starscream. Damned if he was going to let a bunch of disembodied aliens allow Megatron to win this one. “Vapourtrail, see if you can come up with some type of… I don’t know, a mini-lightning rod with some sort of cage attachment. See if we can trap the Whisperers. Razorshift, come up to the control room whenever Shrillcry is done with you. We need a way to find Shatterwing.” With their assignments, the Decepticons split up.
He wasn’t entirely certain why they were looking for Shatterwing. The possessed Seeker was dangerous, certainly, but by now he would also be running low on power. The only place to refuel would be the base itself, and if he returned, the others would destroy him. Since he was out and running around, there was a minimum amount of damage he could cause, even before his fuel ran out. Besides, chasing him was risky.
Starscream, Dreadmoon, and Razorshift flew low, skimming the trees. At that altitude and the fact that they kept moving cut the risk of lightning strike to acceptable levels. Still, Razorshift was feeling somewhat nervous without his powers. He probably shouldn’t have come along, but Shatterwing was his… he considered the word ‘friend’ and quickly rejected it. They’d been in the same flight back on Cybertron, but Shatterwing had never been close to any of the others.
“You’ve been quiet.”
Were he in robot-mode, Razorshift might have jumped at Starscream’s sudden intrusion on his thoughts. As it was, the black pyramid-jet simply switched on his radio. “Buzz off. I used to be Shatterwing’s commanding officer. I don’t particularly like hunting one of my own people.”
“Oh, and I do?”
“It was your idea.”
“That isn’t what he meant.”
“Shut up, Dreadmoon.” Razorshift switched off his radio to sulk. The monitor’s comment didn’t help. Of course that loopy Starscream wouldn’t think twice about hunting one of Razorshift’s people… but Shatterwing belonged to him now. They all did, which wasn’t a reassuring thought. It wasn’t as if Starscream’s track record on this mission had been particularly stellar.
His radio activated. Starscream, again: “Look, we want to capture Shatterwing alive if possible. The phase-shift device might be able to separate the Whisperer from him.”
“You want to use him as a test subject?”
“Of course!” shrieked Starscream. “Otherwise he’s dead anyway! If he must die, I want it to count for something, rather than just letting him de-energize! Now either stop questioning me or go back to base!”
In answer, Razorshift held formation. Starscream was nuts, but he did have a point. Besides, he still thought of Shatterwing as his responsibility. “How are we supposed to find him, anyway?”
“Your comm circuits open automatically when someone radios you,” said Dreadmoon. “The Whisperer either hasn’t noticed or doesn’t know how to turn them off. Shatterwing’s own radio is working as a tracer.”
“Hnh. We gaining on him?”
“I think so. My instruments place him at about seven kilometres away. Unfortunately, at least one of those kilometres is up.”
“We’re not flying any higher and that’s final,” said Starscream. “I refuse to lose any more people.”
Another few minutes brought them to Shatterwing’s approximate location, minus a kilometre and a half straight up. The purple Seeker couldn’t be seen; the storm got in the way. The three Decepticons shifted to robot-mode and landed to discuss strategy. Razorshift made a face at the sky. “If I had my power rectifier chip, I could just fly up and short him out.”
Starscream ignored him, though inwardly kicked himself. He should have thought of that before having Shrillcry remove it, but he wanted to start work on the phase-shield device. It was a scientist’s way of thinking, not a warrior’s, and it worried him. Still, there wasn’t anything he could do about it now. Turning to Dreadmoon he asked, “Have you still got the trace on Shatterwing?”
“Could we use it against him?”
The monitor gave him a disbelieving look. “How? By shouting really loud and hoping we’ll overload his circuits?”
“Don’t be difficult,” directed Starscream. “Could you use the radio link as a target-lock?”
Dreadmoon nodded slowly. “It should work. I’ll be able to hit him, but I’ll have no way of knowing what part of him I’ll hit.”
“Shut down your comm-link so that I can set a trace on him,” directed Starscream. “I can knock him out of the sky with a null-ray, and the fall shouldn’t harm him overmuch.”
Dreadmoon cut his own link, allowing his commander to take over. Starscream mentally tied his radio trace to his weapon systems, and took aim at the sky. He fired off three shots in rapid succession to be sure, then said, “He’s hit; I lost the trace. I should be able to extrapolate his position from the last known data, though.”
He shifted and took off, the others following him. Ten minutes later, Shatterwing’s damaged but still-functional form was found nearly half a kilometre away from the estimated crash site. The Seeker was loaded into Dreadmoon, and the Decepticons returned to base.
It could see him, he knew, with its strange senses that weren’t sight.
In another way, Mourningstar could see the Whisperer. The Hunter had no eyes and therefore couldn’t see, but he could still sense energy patterns. The Insecticon’s body manifested in one way, and the Whisperer within registered in another. He knew where the walls of the ship were because of the power that flowed through them. He could perceive trees and other living things in much the same way. Even the bluffs that the base perched on was visible because of the microscopic life there. Only if it was dead, de-energized, and decontaminated would something be invisible to Mourningstar.
Whisperers were hard to look at, but it was even more difficult to look away. He had implied to Starscream that he had a bargain with the aliens, which was a lie. He never reached an understanding with the Whisperers because there was no way to understand them. It might have been because they were no more intelligent than animals, but Mourningstar didn’t think so. The Whisperers were simply too alien to comprehend.
They didn’t understand him, either. They knew he was there and seemed to react to his presence, but they reacted in such a way that he was never sure. It was all very confusing.
He helped them - at least, he assumed he was helping them. He did show them that they could infect the station through the lightning rod. Mourningstar did this because, despite his Hunter function, he was possessed of a wide streak of scientific curiousity. Once Starscream’s pet monitor mentioned the idea, Mourningstar just had to test it. That, and it amused him.
He knew they wanted physical bodies. He just didn’t know why. It wasn’t like they knew how to use them. The Insecticon’s body had barely moved since it was tossed in the cell. They had done well with the one Seeker, however… perhaps his mind had collapsed enough to give the Whisperer complete control, while still retaining automatic functions. Or perhaps, since he was the first one taken, the Whisperer had time to adapt to a physical body.
Mourningstar felt the energy currents shift, signalling the appearance of others in the room. Yes, here was the nimble-minded Insecticon engineer, and here was the changeling Deceptitraan, and here, ah, yes, here was Starscream. He briefly considered slipping back into the Seeker’s mind, but decided against it. He didn’t want to tip his hand yet; it was more fun to let Starscream wonder if he still existed.
The Deceptitraan carried a device of some sort, and curious, Mourningstar, in his way, drifted closer. There was power here…
The power lanced out, straight through his non-corporeal form, and Mourningstar fled. Not because the device affected him at all; something happened behind him.
The Whisperer screamed.
At least, whatever it was doing manifested as a scream to Mourningstar. The waves it gave off were excruciating, tearing through him like shrapnel and distorting his own pattern. He had to get away…
“Did it work?”
Memory, crouched in the cell by Sway’s still form, looked up at her commander’s voice. “I think so. I don’t sense the Whisperer.”
The Seeker nodded. “Take her to the repair bay and give her a full-spectrum energy scan, just to make sure. If it’s truly gone, see if you can get Sway back.” It was a victory, at least. The device hadn’t worked on Shatterwing; his mind had almost completely collapsed in on itself, leaving only the alien. Razorshift had looked away while Starscream had performed the necessary task of pulling the purple Seeker’s fuel lines.
Starscream looked over at Shrillcry. There wasn’t anything else for the mantis to do at the moment; besides, she would fret until her friend was safe. “Yes. I’ll take the shield device to Crowbar. It might help Gadget.”
When Starscream walked into Crowbar’s lab, the mechanic was nowhere in evidence, so he decided to poke around a bit. The place was an absolute mess; tools, materials, and half-finished machines of ambiguous purposes filled every available surface. The worktable was clean, but that was only because someone had merely swept all the junk to the side with his arm. And, of course, there was Gadget.
Crowbar hadn’t repaired her, not entirely. It wasn’t as if she could feel pain, and with all her relays fused, she couldn’t move to cause herself any more damage. The tiny orange Decepticon was lying on a diagnostic table - one that, to Starscream’s satisfaction, was attached to its own generator rather than the base’s power supply; the Whisperer couldn’t transfer to the ship, - probably borrowed from the repair bay. Several of the displays were lit, but it was the one that showed brainwave readouts that caught Starscream’s attention: It showed a curving red line, but there were breaks in it. And there was a white line, or a fragmented line?… A pattern?.. The readout was hard to look at…
Starscream jumped slightly, pulled from the quasi-hypnotic display. “Crowbar. I’ve brought the phase-shield generator. It exorcised the Whisperer from Sway, but didn’t work for Shatterwing and it might not work for Gadget.” The mechanic hadn’t been at the meeting, but Vapourtrail had left him a report so he knew what was going on.
The black Decepticon nodded. “I have to try.”
The Seeker nodded, lifting the device to work the controls. The field flashed out - the brainwave readout display went wild for a second, then settled itself back to where it had been. Starscream switched off the device, tried it again, then set it down. “It won’t work. It’s bound itself to her and won’t be tricked by the field.”
Starscream nodded and left. Slowly, Crowbar walked over to the diagnostic table and began disconnecting the various input wires. With a sigh, he looked down at his assistant. There was nothing to say, nothing that could be said. How could he say, ‘Good-bye, I have to kill you,’ to his child?
“You were my greatest creation,” Crowbar told her quietly, finally, praying that something, something behind her optics understood, and disconnected her fuel line.
Sway regained consciousness, but didn’t activate her optics yet.
She was lying on a table, she felt, and someone was holding her hand. Her right one. She thought: I’m back on Coleop. I’m back in the Hive with Kickback hovering nearby, and when I open my eyes, he’ll say…
“Sway? Sway, come on, tell me someone’s home!”
“Shrill?” So much for clichés… His type of line, though, Sway thought, allowing sight to return and peer up into Shrillcry’s worried face.
The mantis squeezed her hand, then looked across her at the other in the room. “Is she?..”
“It’s her and no other,” replied Memory.
“Yes!” whooped Shrillcry, punching the air. “Memory, you’re a miracle worker!”
“‘Memory’?” asked Sway. “Not, hmm, ‘M-03’?”
The computer engineer nodded. “Due to circumstances, I have been officially accepted as a member of the crew. If I am to be treated as a Decepticon, I felt I should have a Decepticon name.”
Sway shrugged. Shrillcry grinned: “Works for me. Come on, Sway; we’d better report to the Great Screaming One that you’ve returned to the land of the living.” With a cheery wave, the Insecticons left.
Memory absently began to tidy up the work area. Leave it to the fringe-dwelling Insecticons to welcome a changeling with open arms. Vapourtrail was fairly accepting as well; all the others had existed during the era that Deceptitraan computers were in use and saw her more as a clever toy than a person. It wasn’t fair; she might have been nothing more than a fancy machine, but that was all they were, too. She knew enough about Decepticon mentality that they’d accept her eventually, once she’d proven her worth to their cause. They just took time to get past the xenophobia inherent in all races that think themselves superior.
“I hate this.”
Dreadmoon waited, watching Starscream in the glow of the smelter. In theory, melting down the shells of the fallen - or, in Lightseeker’s case, what was left of her body, - would have been the job of one of the techs, but neither Crowbar nor Shrillcry - understandably - wanted to do it. So, as commander, Starscream had taken on the task himself.
“I hate this,” he repeated, with emphasis. “They were my people, and I failed them. And he’s probably laughing at me from Earth, or Cybertron, or wherever he’s chosen to be at the moment. ‘Good work, Starscream. You’ve set a new record - killing three of your people and disembodying a fourth, all within a month, and it’s not even a military mission’,” growled Starscream in a reasonable parody of Megatron’s voice.
The monitor stood back in the shadows; from Starscream’s perspective, he was a collection of blue highlights with glowing, red eyes. “We did get Sway back. And you couldn’t predict what would happen.”
Starscream kicked the smelter, not hard enough to cause a dent. “I should have been able to! I should have done a full investigation of Skyvortex’s base! I should have wrung Memory’s stupid neck until she confessed everything she knew! I should have taken Skyvortex’s logs more seriously and had Lightseeker on constant look-out! I should have paid attention to my own blasted senses!” Starscream’s voice rose steadily until it was a shout.
Abruptly, he stopped. “And I should have listened to you.”
“I only make suggestions, Commander.”
“Stop that. I don’t need a subordinate right now,” snapped Starscream. “I need an equal with an unbiased opinion. You told me to slow down, but I didn’t and I missed things. You went through the effort of profiling the crew and I ignored it, instead of keeping a closer watch on Shatterwing.” He leaned on the edge of the smelter, bathing his face in the hot, golden light. “He was right. I can’t handle a command position.”
“You expected a military assignment. You haven’t been a scientist for millions of years.”
“That’s no excuse. I haven’t forgotten anything.” Starscream paused, and continued quietly, “I tried to forget, but I just pushed it aside. I should have known better, but I was too busy thinking of ways to get back at Megatron for putting me on this lousy assignment! Even when he’s not around, he’s running my life!”
Dreadmoon shook his head. “You’re here, he’s not. This is your project, not his. And there’s still work to do.”
The Seeker sighed. “Isn’t there always? At least we’ll be able to keep busy rather than just brooding over things. Vapourtrail’s little traps are our next priority.”
“It’s not fair.” The surviving Insecticons sat at the mouth of the hangar, robot-mode, dangling their feet off the edge, letting the rain blow over them.
“Mm, life isn’t fair.”
Shrillcry stood up suddenly, turning on the dragonfly. “Shut up! Shut up! I’ve had it with your moodiness! So Kickback panicked and sent you away on the first assignment that came up. Get over it! Lightseeker is dead, terminated, gone! We may one day return to Coleop, but she never will!”
Silence hung between the two for several minutes. Then, “Shrillcry? Mm, I’m sorry, Shrill. I’m, hmm, on edge.”
“I’m scared, too. At least we know what we’re up against.”
“But we, hmm, can’t fight it!” shouted Sway, standing. “We’ve got a defence, but it’s not the same thing! I need an enemy I can fight! That, hmm, thing, it… it… If Memory hadn’t…”
Shrillcry laid a hand on the taller Insecticon’s shoulder. “I’m sorry I yelled at you. Come on; I’ve got a small stash of high-grade copper/carbon alloy rods back in my quarters. I swiped them back when Crow was testing the refinery, and if he ever finds out I took them, I’m in for trouble.”
The dragonfly managed a smile. “You want help, hmm, getting rid of the evidence?” It was a stereotype that Insecticons could always be distracted with food. It was true, but it was still a stereotype. Sway quietly followed her friend back into the base.
To be continued ...