A light tapping sound echoed through the ship's interior, like some big 'bot was drumming their fingers to stave off boredom. Then came a quiet clang, and the too-loud scatter of datapads across the ground in the silence, followed by hushed cursing. Perhaps not big fingers, then. Perhaps it was little feet. Something touched her chest.
Spacewarp pulled out her pistol before she onlined her eyes.
"What do you think you're doing?"
Her low-light vision kicked in, and she found herself staring down the barrel of her gun at a skinny boat. She paused for a second. She hadn't brought some floozy back to her ship again, had she? No, no, she was supposed to be smarter than that.
The boat sneered at her, and Spacewarp glanced up at the ceiling. Ah, yes. Thunderblast.
"Come on," she pushed herself into a sitting position, "answer the question."
"Nothing!" Thunderblash stomped her tiny feet, "Nothing! Gosh, how rude!"
"Ah ha. Look, honey, I'm not the one with a gun jammed up my nose. Answers forthwith. Now."
She pushed Thunderblast away with the gun and hauled herself out of her berth. Thunderblast stumbled against the wall and stayed there, hands raised to her side to show she wasn't armed. Smart girl.
"Would you believe me if I said I was trying to thank you?" She posed provocatively, her hips jutting out and her back arched.
She dropped the temptress act. "Fine. I wanted the ignition codes and the RISK plans. I'm sick of laying low on this stupid shuttle!"
Spacewarp rolled her eyes and flicked on the main lights. "And who's fault is that?"
"Ransack's," Thunderblast pouted.
Spacewarp pulled a face, "You aren't wrong. Computer, what's our heading?"
"Vector six-five-nine," the synthesised voice of the ship answered her.
"Ah, slag," she grumbled, holstering her pistol, "navigation's shot. We've been drifting off-course all cycle. Marauders," she slapped the wall twice, earning her a glare and a wince from Thunderblast, "up and at 'em! You too, Foldspace!"
The minicons scrambled out of their room—an emptied storage closet, really—and tumbled onto the deck. They pushed themselves upright and more-or-less managed to stand at attention. Foldspace kept nodding off, and Starburst looked scruffier than usual. Boom Tube was busy exchanging glares with Thunderblast.
Spacewarp crouched down. "Jumpdrive, we got the junk to fix a busted navi console?"
The minicon frowned, and chirped in the negative. Spacewarp absently patted his head and sat back on her heels.
"Slag," again. It was such a good expression of any and all types of irritation. "We're gonna need to set down."
"What?" Thunderbast looked genuinely frightened. Spacewarp had no idea why, given that she wasn't the one with a bounty on her pretty little head. "Why?"
"See that?" Spacewarp jabbed her thumb at the navigations console, "We're drifting with a set position. That means the ship can't maintain its spot in space, and because of that, autopilot is busted."
"So? Can't you just like, fly the ship yourself?"
Spacewarp held back a sigh. This ditz. "I dunno. You feel like piloting a shuttle nonstop for a few cycles? There's a reason autopilot was invented."
"Can't be that hard," Thunderblast grumbled.
"Oh? Be my guest then," Spacewarp gestured to the captain's chair.
Thunderblast nervously looked at the controls. She walked across the bridge, past Spacewarp's little cot tucked in the corner, and stared down at the yoke and throttle. She turned her nose up and propped her hip against the captain's seat.
"Yawn," she waved her hand in front of her face, "as if. Besides, isn't it bad manners to make a guest work?"
Spacewarp pushed past her and sat down. "Isn't it bad manners to try and steal my keys? Well, what are you waiting for, an invitation?"
"Strap in," Spacewarp pointed to the co-pilot's seat, "you too, minicons. Know any planets in the system with a good deal on circuit boards?"
"No," Thunderblast awkwardly navigated the myriad straps and buckles. "We just stopped on Spensifax for the guard job, and then well…"
"Ransack, yeah. What a gearbox."
"Totally!" Thunderblast scowled in frustration and started yanking at the safety harness, "How do you—"
"Hey, hands down!" Spacewarp leaned over and clipped her in. "Don't ding my consoles."
"I could've done it myself, thanks! I just… my kibble got in the way."
"Exactly," Thunderblast crossed her ankles and sprawled in the seat. She looked picturesque, but with a root mode as elegant as hers, it was rare that she didn't look good. Not that Spacewarp would ever let her know that; Primus knew she was vain enough without any flattery. "So, where are we going?"
Spacewarp shrugged. "Closest place with a spaceport. We can't risk using the hyperdrive without navigations online; we might fly headfirst into a star. Be a heck of a light show."
In the end, they ended up setting down on Spensifax H's largest moon, it being the only nearby station that could accommodate mechanicals.
Spacewarp flipped out the landing gear. "Hey, gimme fifty credits."
"Me?" Thunderblast looked up from examining the tips of her fingers.
"No, the minicons. Yes, you."
"Because," Spacewarp grunted as she brought the ship down gently, "I need to pay the docking fee, and you and your two goons 'conned me out of my salary."
"Oh, what? Like we were supposed to let you screw up our jobs? No thanks!"
"Might I remind you who's ship you're on?"
"Might I remind you who dragged your blocky aft off Spensifax A? Hmph, maybe I should've let Ransack turn you in for the reward."
"Ah," Spacewarp reached around Thunderblast to engage the docks. She didn't mean to make the other 'bot flinch, but she wasn't complaining, "but who would provide you with good conversation? Fifty credits."
"Heyyy, I bet you can't get out of that harness on your own. C'mon, you're my captive audience until you pay up, and," Spacewarp pressed a humble hand to her chest, "I don't like to brag, but me and the minicons play a mean rendition of the Empyrean Suite on the cyberpipes."
"Ugh, no thank you," Thunderblast retrieved the money from her subspace and slapped it into Spacewarp's hand, "I'd rather be squashed on the side of a quasimatter asteroid."
"Trust me, I share the sentiment. The second I get C and R off my tail I'm dumping you out the airlock."
"Is that before or after you give me back the RISK schematics?"
"Ahh, don't use such big words," Spacewarp tapped the bottom of Thunderblast's chin with the side of her knuckle, and unbuckled her harness, "it ruins the illusion."
The ship set down with a shudder, and the cabin hissed as the air pressure was equalized. Spacewarp stood up and transferred twenty-five credits from the chit to her personal card, then stowed it in her subspace. It was never a bad idea to have extra cash lying around.
Thunderblast wobbled a bit as she stood up. Planet legs. Surprising for a boat, but you never knew with these kinds of things.
"What illusion?" Thunderblast asked as Spacewarp set about retrieving the minicons. The marauders folded up into the Transwarp Blaster, and she swapped it out for her pistol. Foldspace linked up to her arm, and she rolled her shoulders back. Oh, yeah. Mean, lean, and ready to haggle for the best deal on navi console parts.
"That the dim and pretty is an act." Spacewarp glanced down at Thunderblast and opened the loading dock, stepping out into the artificially bright lunar night. Thunderblast followed her.
"Oh," she preened, "you think I'm pretty?"
Spacewarp rolled her eyes. Er, maybe she really was that dippy. She ducked off the platform and closed up the ship once Thunderblast cleared the door.
Spensifax H had three moons. Two of them were too small to foster an atmosphere, but the third had a thriving spaceport. It looked as run down as any other moon 'port Spacewarp had seen, but that only meant it was going to be easy to get the parts she needed. Places like this always had a thriving black market.
Places like this…
"Huh," Spacewarp observed, "this is new."
From the slightly elevated vantage point of the docks, she could see most of the main strip. Moon colonies were your stereotypical sleazy collection of bars, casinos, and strip joints, and, sure, those were all here, but normally they weren't garishly decorated with bright orange—was that vegetation?—orbs, carved with sharp grins. Little wispy bundles of cloth hung from the streetlights, and the air itself stank like candied energon.
"What?" Thunderblast shoved past her, "I want to see—oh. Ew."
"What, you recognize," Spacewarp gestured to the, well, the everything really, "this?"
"Yeah, it's some Earth thing."
Thunderblast glared at her. "It's some stinky mudball in the Sol system. I was stationed there for a while. That's where I got my altmode," she gestured down her body and winked, "They have this festival where they dress up and harass each other for treats. It's called, ah, Hall-o-ween."
Yep," Thunderblast nodded enthusiastically, "it totally looks like this too. All the pumpkins, er, jack o'lanterns, and ghosties," she wiggled her fingers, "spooky!"
"So," Spacewarp nodded, "it's a Hall-o-ween planet, huh? Pretty cool."
"Excuse me!" A smallish 'bot scurried up to them. Spacewarp boggled. "You need to pay for a docking pass."
"Yeah, sure, bonehead," Spacewarp tossed Thunderblast's credit chit at him. While he counted out her change—scraping a small fee off for himself too, no doubt—Spacewarp leaned down to Thunderblast. "Costumes, huh?"
Thunderblast cringed, "I guess. Looks a little silly, doesn't it?"
"Ah, don't say that; you'll jinx it. At least a skeleton is dignified." She stood back up and caught the chit. Five credits remained. Ah, at least this was a con with some sense—didn't get too enthusiastic about biting the hand. "Thanks."
"And your ticket," he handed her a flimsy shred of plastic, "it's good for two cycles. Non-refundable."
"Hopefully, we'll be out of here in one." She stowed the ticket and the chit in her subspace. "Know any good places to pick up circuitry?"
The 'bot squinted at them. "I've got a cousin who deals in junk just off the main drag. Pumpkin Junk; you can't miss it."
"How're the prices?"
"As good as they can be with me directing all the business to her," the 'bot confessed, beaming.
Spacewarp snorted. "Nepotism at its finest, eh? We'll drop by. C'mon, Thunderblast."
Thunderblast rolled her eyes and stuck out her tongue but followed her down the busy street. Spacewarp was decently sized by transformer standards, but giant compared to the other mechanoids and the organics on Spensifax H. The press of the crowd divided before her. Thunderblast took full advantage of that, and kept to Spacewarp's wake.
It was probably smart, given that it looked like they had landed on a planet of costumed freaks.
The most common theme seemed to be pumpkins, skeletons, 'ghosties', and green organics with hooked noses, but there were all types in the crowd. Spacewarp could see an energon pink princess chatting with an organic in a black bodysuit with a pair of fake swords strapped to its back.
"We look a little out of place," she mused, rubbing her chin with her hand.
"Ooh, we should get costumes!" Thunderblast ducked under her arm and stepped in front of her, smiling winsomely.
"Why?" Spacewarp looked down at her, brow raised.
"You just said we look out of place."
"Yeah, so? I look like I care if people judge me?"
"You look like you care if people start talking about the two weird transformers who weren't in costume and the rumors get back to the mob on Spensifax D. Not to mention it makes us a target if Ransack and Crumplezone show up. Besides," she rocked back and forth on her heels, "don't you think it'll be fun?"
"Hn. I can handle the two idiots, but not the mob's attention." Well, she could, but she'd take more damage than she cared to, and there was no guarantee of Thunderblast helping her. "Lead the way."
"Alright!" Thunderblast gave her a thumbs up and grabbed her hand, dragging her to a grimy looking store on the main strip. "Trust me, you always find the cutest stuff in the worst looking shops. I got an adorable pair of optic glass replacements at this awful little place on Inveten IV; I always wear them to staff parties."
"Yeah?" Spacewarp thought back. "I bought a gun once. It works."
Thunderblast gave her a blank look and pushed open the door. It had a little bell that chimed whenever anyone walked in. Spacewarp caught it mid jingle; it was painted orange, with smiling black eyes and a sharp grin. Hall-o-ween planet. Right.
The clerk, a puffy organic with kind eyes, looked up from their datapad as they entered. Spacewarp shifted uncomfortably.
"Oh! You need to get costumes for your minicons, too!"
"Mine nothing," Spacewarp grumbled, but pulled out the Transwarp Blaster and held up her arm nonetheless. "You guys want costumes?"
Foldspace snored softly in response—poor 'bot was getting old—and the Marauders immediately started bickering. Spacewarp let go of the Blaster and the Marauders separated and began punching.
"Hey, hey!" Spacewarp stepped in and plucked Jumpdrive out of the fray. He nodded to her in thanks, then bolted off into the racks of cloth and colored plastisteel. Boom Tube and Starburst continued bickering. Spacewarp shrugged. You couldn't win 'em all.
"Oooh!" Thunderblast squealed, "Look at this!"
Spacewarp dutifully turned and looked at her. "Huh."
"Isn't it adorable?" Thunderblast held the fabric amalgamation up to herself and spun around.
"How do you get it on?" Spacewarp tilted her head. "I mean, you've got the kibble and all. I mean, how would you transform without it getting tangled everywhere?"
Thunderblast rolled her eyes. "Ugh. Don't be boring. I'm going to try it on."
She rushed back towards the dressing rooms. Spacewarp raised her brow. They were robots; they didn't have anything to undress. Whatever. 'Thunderblast is weird' was a mantra at this point.
Spacewarp shrugged and started browsing through a bin of clearance items. She held an eyepatch over her left optic before tossing it back into the pile. 'Unwise to cover your eyes', was something she never said, but needed to start saying, on account of how clever it was. It even rhymed.
Perhaps a jaunty hat instead. Spacewarp plucked a wide brimmed number with a long organic filament tucked into the brim, out of the pile and balanced it on her head. She examined herself in the mirror. Eh, good enough.
"I'm back!" Thunderblast sang. Spacewarp looked up. And squinted.
"That's really… spangly."
"I know; isn't it great!" Thunderblast twirled around. Her costume, which she had somehow managed to get on, was a short, vibrantly colored, and painfully sparkling tube of cloth. Long fringes of shimmering cloth hung off it, and frilled wildly whenever she moved.
"What is it?"
"It's a flapper dress, silly," Thunderblast waved her hand, "Oh, it's another human thing. Look how frilly it is!"
She spun around again, nearly hitting Spacewarp with her kibble.
"Oh, what are you being? We should match!" Thunderblast grabbed her hands and started swinging their arms.
"You take a mood enhancer in there?" Spacewarp squinted at her. "You look positively manic."
"Wow, rude," Thunderblast put her hands on her hips, "Shopping always puts me on a better mood; it's called retail therapy."
"That where you buy a bunch of guns and split before you pay for them? 'Cause that's therapeutic for me."
The cashier quailed.
"Well, don't blow everything up before I get a chance to find some cute accessories. I think this needs a bracket or two, maybe something with neon…" She blinked and squinted at Spacewarp's head, "What are you wearing?"
Spacewarp glanced up. "A hat. Pretty neat, right?"
"Pretty ugly, more like. Ooh, we should match! I'll go find a dress in your size."
"Yeah, no dice. I'll be a space pirate or whatever."
"It doesn't count as a costume when it's literally what you are."
"What's that?" Spacewarp started walking away, "I can't hear you over the minicons."
She left Thunderblast fuming by the clearance bin and wandered off to find Jumpdrive. He was knees deep in a rack of pumpkin costumes, searching for the perfect jack o'lantern face. He pulled himself out of the plastic mess, chirping furiously.
"You too? Well, I think my hat is cool. You finished?"
Jumpdrive held up a mask. It looked basically like all of the other masks Spacewarp had seen, but he seemed to be happy.
"Great, let's grab Boom Tube and Starburst and get out of here. All these racks are making my circuits twitch; too many hiding places."
The other Marauders were still play-fighting, but at least they had picked costumes—Boom Tube was one of those bony things, skeletons, and Starburst was wearing a pointed hat and carrying a stick with smaller sticks attached to the end. He was currently using it to hit Boom Tube, while Boom Tube had detached a skeletal arm and batted him back.
"Alright, alright, break it up. Cute hat," Spacewarp leaned down to fistbump Starburst, "Go pay for your stuff, I'll grab TB."
She turned back towards the clearance bins; Thunderblast was there again, sporting a carbon planet's worth of diamonds.
"Geez," Spacewarp squinted, "you planning on buying the store?"
"Just the shiney bits." Thunderblast looked at her and frowned. "You're really wearing that?"
"Right back at you."
Thunderblast shrugged. "I did my best to stop your fashion nightmare. A reasonable mechanism would have given up ages ago."
"Yeah, reasonable." Spacewarp looked pointedly at Thunderblast. "So are you actually planning on bolting with that or what?"
"Psh, no, silly," Thunderblast reached into her subspace and pulled out a pair of chits, "I lifted these off Ransack and Crumplezone before I left. I'm considering this an all expenses paid vacation in recompense for those gearheads dropping me."
"You're more devious than I thought."
Thunderblast pressed a finger over her mouth and winked. "Well, I am a Deception after all."
"Hn." Spacewarp surreptitiously checked the RISK plans. Still there. Thunderblast followed her back to the cashier and paid for her spangly costume and glittery accessories. Spacewarp leaned forward to pay for her hat (and a little ghost costume for Foldspace, if he wanted something when he woke up), but Thunderblast waved her off.
"Don't worry; I got it!"
Spacewarp frowned behind her mask, but let Thunderblast pay. No matter how amicable she was acting now, that didn't change the fact that a few hours ago she was trying to steal Spacewarp's ship, and that, when it came down to it, they were technically enemies. Thunderblast wasn't nearly as dippy as she seemed.
"You guys finished?" Spacewarp asked the Marauders. They nodded in sync, and transformed back into the Transwarp Blaster.
"Hn, okay," she caught the Blaster neatly, and frowned. "I could just put your masks on the Blaster, if you wanted?"
The minicons agreed, and Spacewarp found herself trying to decorate a gun as a witch, a pumpkin, and a skeleton simultaneously. It mostly worked, and even fit in her holster to boot.
"C'mon Thunderblast," Spacewarp opened the shop and headed outside, "we've got a deal to find."
"Yeah, yeah, coming," Thunderblast ducked out after her. At least being in costume, if one could call a silly hat a costume, averted some of the stares they had been getting. They made their way through the crowd, Spacewarp shouldering anyone who got too close out of her way.
The moon was… well, not beautiful, but enrapturing all the same. It was bright here, and lively in a way she didn't often see. Sure, it was a scummy waypoint to the rest of the system, but it had a certain charm to it, a certain innocence. There was gambling, but it was for candy and sweets, and the only real crime seemed to be childish vandalism—throwing solid inert organic ova and thin sheets of paper at houses. Of course, an innocent exterior was no guarantee this moon wouldn't cause her a major headache. After all, she'd been to a planet made of bubbles and sparkles once, and had to fight her way through a horde of sugar plum fairies to get back to her ship. Foldspace'd had nightmares about tulle and glitter for weeks.
"Planet looks nice, from here," she mused, looking skyward.
"Yeah," Thunderblast sighed, "Call me a romantic, but… this is the kind of sky you get kissed under."
She shot a sideways glance at Spacewarp and fluttered her optics on and off.
"You're no fun."
"Yeah, I do my best."
A bulbous orange mass came into view. It ballooned out from the surrounding shops onto the street, blocking the pedestrians and drivers alike.
"What an eyesore," Thunderblast said.
"Close your eyes then." Spacewarp opened the door. A deep voice laughed maniacally, and Spacewarp drew the Transwarp Blaster before she realized it was some kind of door chime. She sighed, rolled her eyes, and tucked the Blaster away. "Oi, off my arm."
Thunderblast dusted herself off and stood up straight. "Whaaat?" She said at Spacewarp's gaze, "Like I'm going to let myself get shot by some lunatic? Besides, you're plenty tough; you can handle yourself."
"So can you."
"Well," Thunderblast pursed her lips, "not if I have someone to handle it for me."
Spacewarp rolled her eyes and lightly shoved Thunderblast towards the interior of the shop. The floor creaked obnoxiously loudly as they walked, and an eerie wailing moan echoed throughout the room.
"Hey," Spacewarp called out and walked towards the shopkeeper, "you the cousin of the 'bot down by the docks?"
The alien behind the register twirled dramatically, throwing up a cloud of dust and cobwebs. "Why, yes I ammmm."
She was tallish, and had a long, billowing gauze veil tumbling back over her spiky helm. She was a mechanoid, similar enough in build to the bot down at the docks, but slightly broader, and in dour shades of grey and purple, in contrast to her cousin's bright orange and toxic green palette.
"Uh, okay. I'm looking for a replacement set of circuit boards, Omega series, type 4335x-alpha. The beta version will work, too, if that's all you have."
"Ahhh, yesss. Give me a moment to," the alien sighed like she was in a romance holovid, "observe my waressss."
She swept off into the back of the store, kicking up more dust and taking the ghostly moans with her.
"And you call me dramatic," Thunderblast observed.
"You are dramatic. I think she's possessed."
"Seriously? I'm terrified of ghosts."
"Yes, seriously, that's why I'm sticking my tongue out at you."
Thunderblast squinted at her. "You have a mouth."
"Sure. Take me out to a bar tonight and you might see it."
"Ohh? That a promise?"
"It's a promise to shotgun a twenty gallon drum of oil," Spacewarp looked down at her, "Trust me when I say it's hard to chug something through a fueling tube."
Thunderblast sighed. "Again: boring."
The shopkeeper gushed back into the front room. The dust and cobwebs had been joined by a swarm of chittering bats. Spacewarp grabbed Thunderblast's hands before she could swat them away.
"You'll get organic guts all over your hands." And she might hurt them. Sure, Spacewarp was a Decepticon, but mindless killing was so passe.
"Alas," the shopkeep pressed the back of her hand against her forehead, "I'm out of stock."
"What, seriously?" Spacewarp crossed her arms, "Ahh, this is what I get for custom building. Non-stock parts are so hard to find."
"I have a shipment coming in tomorrow. I should be getting a few Omega series boards."
Spacewarp sighed. "Well, at least we have a docking pass for two days. When do you open?"
"Why, the witching hour, of course."
Spacewarp and Thunderblast looked at her blankly.
She rolled her eyes and jabbed her thumb at the sign behind her. "Thirteen o'clock. Says so on the wall."
"Sure, thirteen o'clock," Spacewarp checked her internal chronometer, which was still measuring time by Spensifax A's rotation, and adjusted it based on the clock on the wall. The hands of the clock had little witches riding around on broomsticks, which explained Starburst's stick. "See you then."
Thunderblast was out the door first.
"Ugh," she stomped her feet, "seriously?"
"I thought you were having a blast here. 'All expenses paid vacation', right?"
"I was, but there's a difference between a vacation and being stranded. Now we've got nothing to do but wait, and I hate waiting."
Spacewarp held her hand out to the street. Night was falling, and it seemed like the crowds were just getting bigger the further they rotated away from the sun. Instead of the various shoppers, the crowd seemed to be made of beings of all shape and size with bags full of candy, going door to door to get more from the stores.
"What is this?" Spacewarp mused, "Some kind of sugar-themed extortion?"
"It's the other part of Hall-o-ween, silly: trick-or-treating," Thunderblast explained, "The part where you get candy from strangers."
"This sounds like the set up to a very bad joke."
"No way," Thunderblast held her hand up to show her fingers weren't crossed, "I'm totally genuine! They go around and ask for candy. Look, I'll show you."
She marched over to the nearest store with its front lights on and held out her hands, grinning.
"Trick or treat!"
The old organic manning the front door squinted at her and smiled. "Oh, hello, dear. What's your costume?"
"Flapper," Thunderblast struck a pose and pouted.
"Ah-ha," the organic clapped their hands and produced a bowl of energon goodies from behind her, "how lovely! Now, just take one."
"Thanks!" Thunderblast grabbed the biggest chunk of energon and stuffed it in her mouth, then returned to Spacewarp. "See," she said, her voice muffled, "no problem."
"I can't believe you just ate that."
"What? Like the little old proprietor of," Thunderblast squinted at the neon sign, "Haunted Haberdashery is going to try and poison me?"
"You say that, but in an hour when you're seizing on the ground, I'll be laughing."
"No. Fun." She punctuated each word with a hard poke in the side.
"Yeah, whatever. Hey," Spacewarp's gaze brightened, "you think they have bars on this planet?"
"Can't you just take the pumpkin out?"
"Take the pumpkin out?" The bartender sounded aghast, "How could you say something like that?"
Spacewarp offlined her optics and counted to ten. She wasn't prone to violence, or even real irritation, but all this orange was trying her patience. She vented air and opened her eyes, then took the violently green energon, topped with a tiny pumpkin, back to her table.
"You know," she began, sitting heavily in the only empty chair, "I'm starting to get a little sick of sweet stuff."
Boom Tube looked up from a glass of energon nearly as big as her head and beeped.
"Pft. You just like it because Starburst and Jumpdrive are too spooked to come out."
For all their posturing, the other two Marauders were skittish when it came to scary things. Foldspace on the other hand, had finally woken up from his nap, and scampered off to the little kitchen attached to the bar. Spacewarp only hoped he held off the chemical property damage until she was good and ready to leave. As for the last member of their little party…
"You seen Thunderblast?"
Boom Tube pointed over her shoulder, towards the dance floor. It was, like the rest of the planet, covered in assorted spooky decor. However, unlike the rest of the planet, Thunderblast was there, and she was absolutely tearing it to shreds.
"Didn't know mechanoids could move like that," she observed, "think she has some sort of ball joint system under her armor?"
They both tilted their heads as Thunderblast pulled off a particularly acrobatic maneuver. Boom Tube glanced towards Spacewarp.
"Ahh, don't give me that look. C'mon, I mean it. I don't even like her."
Boom Tube rolled her eyes.
Spacewarp opened her mouth to respond, and Thunderblast slammed into her side, flinging her arms around Spacewarp's neck.
"Heyyyy!" She said, just a touch too loudly.
"Thunderblast," Spacewarp pulled her arms away slightly, "having fun?"
"I'm having a blast," she giggled, "oops, a pun! How about you?"
"Ha, yeah," Spacewarp held up her glass, "they keep putting pumpkins in our drinks."
She gestured to the pile of jack o'lanterns on the table. There were a few odd pairs of synthwax fangs, and one particularly adorable zombie figurine. Maybe she'd keep that for Jumpdrive.
"Oh wow," Thunderblast leaned forwards and touched her bared lips, "you do have a mouth."
"Hey," Spacewarp pushed her fingers away, "hands to yourself."
"I've never seen them," Thunderblast explained, pursuing her own lips, "it's cool."
"Just a mouth. Looks good, works just fine. Don't want much else." Spacewarp shrugged, "Hey, think you can smoke in here?"
Thunderblast shrugged. "I dunno. The fog machine is going pretty heavy, so I don't think anybody would make a fuss."
"Awesome," Spacewarp leaned back in her chair and put her feet up on the table, dislodging the small pyramid of pumpkins. Boom Tube rolled her eyes and went to grab another drink. Spacewarp reached into her subspace and pulled out a cygar, biting the cap off in her teeth and lighting it with a spark from snapping her fingers. It didn't so much burn as radiate, giving off a steady wave of ignited energon. They were terrible for you, and the crystals clogged in your air vents something awful, but Spacewarp had always been a bit of a hedonist.
Thunderblast frowned, and made herself more comfortable on the edge of Spacewarp's chair.
"You know you can sit in Boom Tube's spot. She's gonna be arguing with the bartender for another ten minutes about how much high grade is too much."
"What, you don't like me here?" Thunderblast pouted, then sobered. "Hey…"
"You think Crumplezone and Ransack will team back up with me, once this all blows over?"
"Why do you care? Those guys are idiots."
"Well, yeah, but you know, if you hang out with someone long enough, you get used to them, right?"
Spacewarp looked over at the bar, where Boom Tube was pointing at a bottle of green liquid, and at the back room, where Foldspace was doing Primus knew what to the kitchen, then patted her holster. "Yeah."
"And besides, those two bozos need me around to keep clients from running screaming at the sight of them."
"Pretty crappy friends, huh?"
"As-if. I'm a Decepticon, we don't have friends, we have subordinates, commanders, and minions, or whatever it is Megatron is calling his troops nowadays."
"Psh." Spacewarp reached up to rub Thunderblast's back. She had never been a particularly comforting person, and she wasn't very physical either—mechanoids in general didn't tend to seek touch as a means of communication—but Thunderblast seemed to like it, because she closed her eyes and leaned in against Spacewarp.
"Ugh. I shouldn't have eaten so much candy."
"Why?" Spacewarp leaned back preemptively.
"Sugar makes me melancholy," Thunderblast complained, hiking her legs up and sprawling them across Spacewarp's lap.
"You sure it's the sugar and not the booze?"
"Haha," Thunderblast deadpanned, and stuck her tongue out, "this sucks! We should just go shopping again. That'll make me feel better."
Thunderblast winked. "Well, if you don't want to do that…"
"What?" Spacewarp played along. She frowned. Hn. Her drink was nearly empty, and this was supposed to be her last one tonight, designated flyer and all that.
Thunderblast flung her leg over Spacewarp's hip and straddled her. "You could always just kiss me."
Spacewarp rolled her eyes and pushed Thunderblast's chest away. "You're just saying that because there aren't any power-mad warlords around to hit on."
"Well duh," Thunderblast frowned, "you're the toughest person around. Does it really matter why I want to kiss you?"
"Huh. Guess not." Spacewarp shrugged, snuffed her cygar and dropped it in her subspace, then leaned in. After a few moments of dry, mostly neutral contact, she pulled away.
"You suck at this," Thunderblast whispered against her cheek.
"Yeah, well, life's hard," she picked up Thunderblast and deposited her on the side of the chair. "I'm gonna go check on Foldspace."
"What's he up to?"
"Well, hopefully, he isn't mixing chemical explosives in the kitchen. See you 'round," she gave Thunderblast a two finger salute and kicked off the table, then headed towards the kitchen.
"Ahh, stop that," she grumbled, and pounded her chest a few times, "don't even like her, remember?"
She waited until the bartender was looking the other way, before she slipped into the back room.
"Hey, Foldspace." Spacewarp leaned her hip against the counter. It was a small room, with food for the peckish organics and various energon and oils for the mechanoids. There were a few cupboards, a hotplate back in the corner, and a vacuum cooling unit on the wall. Foldspace was currently huddled in the machinery guts of the vacuum chamber. He beeped absently and handed her a bundle of wires. There was also a blocky mechanoid stuffed under the island in the middle of the room. Spacewarp turned her face away from it—didn't want to be recognized in a line up, after all—but otherwise spared it no thought.
"You find an Omega series board back there?" she joked, setting the wires on the counter.
Foldspace poked his head out and rolled his eyes at her.
"Yeah, yeah. Hey, I'm thinking of heading back to the ship; wanna come with?"
"Eh, figure I need to be ready to get the circuit board and install it tomorrow. Maybe I'm getting old."
The minicon shrugged, and ducked back under the machine.
"Alright. I'll leave the ship unlocked for you, yeah?"
Spacewarp left the kitchen as smoothly as she entered it. She swung by Boom Tube at the bar and told her she was heading back to the ship. Boom Tube shrugged, chugged the rest of her drink, and morphed into her alternate mode, completing the Transwarp Blaster. Spacewarp tucked them back into her holster.
"Hey," she waved down Thunderblast.
Thunderblast looked up from where she'd been pouting at the table. "Yeah?"
"I'm going back to the ship, if you're ready to head out. Foldspace is staying here for a bit longer."
"I guess I'll go with you." Thunderblast seemed really melancholy. Maybe it had been a bad idea to leave her on her own to get trashed. She was pretty steady on her feet, or at least as steady as Spacewarp was.
"Oh, let me grab my drink first!" Thunderblast leaned over the table and snatched a cheery purple drink decorated with a skeleton. She hid it behind her kibble.
"What? I like the glass."
Spacewarp grinned and slung an arm over her shoulder. "Well, I won't tattle. Hey, what do you—"
She pushed open the door and stepped back into the street. "Slag!" she hissed, and shoved Thunderblast back inside.
"Ouch! Hey, watch it!" Thunderblast slapped her hand.
"Shut up and stay down." Spacewarp pushed herself back against the door and peered out the window. Her battle mask slid over her face with an audible 'snick'.
"What is it?" Thunderblast whispered, crouched behind Spacewarp.
"Your two morons, they ever drink?"
"Yeah, sometimes. Why?"
"Because they're heading our way. Ah, damn. Go, back to the table."
Spacewarp hunched her shoulders and dragged Thunderblast back to their table in the corner. The lights were pretty dim, and there was smoke everywhere, but they were two giant, very distinctive robots. It wasn't very easy to keep hidden when the floor shook when you moved at any speed faster than a walk.
"You think they found us?"
Spacewarp shook her head. "I don't think they saw us. Just touring the planet I guess." Something dawned on her. "Wait. Do they have access to their accounts?"
"Like money? I think so," Thunderblast's face fell. "Oh no."
"Yeah. We need to get off this moon. Head down."
The door creaked open, and Crumplezone and Ransack stepped inside. They looked better than the last time Spacewarp had seen them, but the last time she'd seen them, she was shooting them full of holes.
Spacewarp radioed Foldspace. "We've got some unfriendlies coming in the front door. Can you get out through the back?"
He responded, his tone low.
"Alright, get over here if you can; I could really use the firepower," Spacewarp frowned, "Ah, damn. TB, the back is blocked. Think we can slip past them?"
Thunderblast sucked air through her teeth. "Maybe. Crumplezone doesn't see well—too many crashes—but Ransack will notice us."
"Slag," she turned her head to the side and leaned back into the shadows. The two Decepticons stepped up to bar and started talking to the bartender. He looked confused for a few seconds, and eventually pointed towards their table.
"I see them."
"Good." Spacewarp kicked the table over and dove for cover behind it. "So do I."
She leaned around the side of the table and took a few potshots at the bar. The energon caught, and exploded in a ball of flame. Crumplezone and Ransack were flung into the wall opposite from her. The patrons started screaming and running for the door; Spacewarp lowered her audio sensitivity with a wince.
"Foldspace, move, now!" she shouted into the radio. The minicon scrambled out of the kitchen and bolted towards them.
"Did you have to blow everything up?" Thunderblast screamed over the deafening crackle of the flames.
"Kinda in the job description as a hoodlum, yeah!"
Ransack managed to push himself to his feet and whipped out his pistol. He fired a few shots at the surface of the table, charring the metal.
"Hey, you jerk!" Thunderblast screeched and threw a chair at him.
"Thunderblast?" he shouted in the second before it shattered against his head. Foldspace took his distraction as an opportunity to jump behind the table. He shoved a circuit board at Spacewarp and transformed into his altmode, clicking into place on her arm.
"What is this?" she flipped it over and squinted at the label. "An Omega series? Are you serious?"
Foldspace radiated smugness. Spacewarp smirked broadly and rolled her head over the table. She dropped to the ground, narrowly dodging the blaster bolts Ransack and Crumplezone sent her way. She glanced at the burn marks on the wall. Yeah, not great. The fire was slowly growing, devouring the walls and floors.
"TB! Can you clear an exit?"
"I dunno," she grabbed a pumpkin off the floor and tossed it over the table. Laserfire sounded overhead, and the pumpkin came back down, a charred crisp of vegetable matter. "What do you think?"
"Ahhh," she grumbled. Was she really stupid enough to do this? "Here, take this." She shoved the Transwarp Blaster and the circuit board into Thunderblast's hands. "Get to the ship and help Starburst replace the board."
"What are you gonna do?" Thunderblast struggled to tuck the circuit board into her subspace.
"Clear an exit," Spacewarp patted Foldspace. "Be ready to run."
Thunderblast gritted her teeth. "Fine. You better meet me at the ship."
"You better have it fixed when I get there. Deal?" She held out her hand. Thunderblast grabbed it and pulled her into a kiss.
"Deal." She said and crouched against the table. "Ready when you are."
"Now!" Spacewarp roared and grabbed the table. She ran with it like it was a battering ram, plowing shoulder first into Crumplezone. He hit the wall with a grunt and collapses under the table. Ransack was easier, on account of how much smaller he was, and one good kick sent his gun scattering across the floor.
"Foldspace, go with Thunderblast!" she shouted, and threw him towards the door. Thunderblast caught him, fumbled for a second to balance him and the Transwarp Blaster, but managed to slip outside.
"Catch this!" Crumplezone said. Spacewarp's head snapped towards him, and she caught the full force of his fist with her jaw.
"Oof!" She slid against the floor before friction slowed her down, and she sprang upwards, narrowly dodging Ransack's flying kick. She grabbed his ankle and tossed him back at Crumplezone.
"Ah, ouch! Not so hard!" He protested. "Who even are you?"
"What?" Spacewarp paused, her fists up.
"Primus, you just started punching us! What's your deal?"
"How the hell do you not recognize me?" Spacewarp said, "The only reason I'm in this mess to begin with is because you recognized me!"
Crumplezone squinted at her through the smoke and fog. "Spacewarp?"
He sounded almost as baffled as Ransack looked.
"Spacewarp?! We didn't even notice—ah, I mean, you!"
"It was the hat," Crumplezone confessed.
"Feh," she blew the feather out of her face, "alright. Who's first?"
Crumplezone and Ransack looked at each other, shrugged, and simultaneously lunged for her. Spacewarp managed to kick Crumplezone away, but Ransack landed on her shoulder and started pounding her face with his fists. She grunted and stumbled backwards, disoriented.
"No, not towards the fire!" Ransack cried, scrambling onto her other shoulder. She swiped blindly at him, catching his arm and yanking him onto the floor. She stomped on his chest and left him moaning. Thing One down, now where was Thing Two—
Crumplezone caught her with another punch, this time to her stomach. She folded over his fist and wheezed, just for a second, before she dragged up her knee and caught him in the hip. Big cars were built fragile around their joints. Oh, sure, they could take force in the directions they could bend, but if say, one were to grab a leg and yank it sideways…
Crumplezone howled in pain and collapsed onto Spacewarp. She shoved him aside and staggered. Right. Now was probably a good time to leave. The fire had consumed over half the bar, and was beginning to threaten the structural integrity of the place.
Spacewarp limped for the door, holding her side. She made it out into the fresh air, and opened her vents fully. Much better, not being clogged up with smoke.
She transformed into her jet altmode and blasted towards the dockyard. Hopefully Foldspace and Starburst had managed to fix the engine and they were ready to blast out at a moment's notice, because injuries didn't slow a Decepticon down for long.
Especially ones who were pissed.
She flipped out of altmode and landed heavily at the entrance to the docks, limping towards her ship. Ah. What a beauty it was. It'd be somehow even more beautiful if it were already fixed when she boarded. She stumbled into the clearing where her ship was docked and paused.
"What are you doing?" She said cautiously, kicking herself for being so stupid. C'mon, she was supposed to be smarter than this!
Thunderblast looked up from the lift to Ransack and Crumplezone's ship. Spacewarp curled her free hand into a fist.
"You're here!" Strange, Thunderblast didn't sound like someone who was about to betray her and shoot her in the back for the bounty. "C'mon, the minicons have the whole thing fixed."
She grabbed Spacewarp's hand before she could protest and slung her arm over her shoulder, hauling her towards the ship. Spacewarp caught a glimpse of the engines whining to life before Thunderblast shoved her inside the ship and into her chair.
"Can you fly?" Thunderblast asked, her eyes wide.
"I can always fly," Spacewarp leaned forwards and took over from Boom Tube. "Sit down and buckle in."
Thunderblast managed to strap herself in without any help, and the minicons scrambled into their bucket seats. Spacewarp engaged the ignition and the ship blasted off through the atmosphere. It was only once they were charted for an out of the way asteroid near Spensifax K did she release her iron grip on the controls.
"Are we safe?" Thunderblast said. Her voice was loud in the quiet.
"Yeah," Spacewarp coughed, expelling ash and smoke, "I think we're good."
She reached down and surreptitiously wrapped her hand around her pistol. "What were you doing on their ship?"
"Their ship? Oh. Oh!" Thunderblast's face startled with realization. "You think I…"
"I don't know what I think. Why don't you make me think you didn't sell me out. What were you doing on their ship?"
"I didn't double cross you, I swear," Thunderblast held her hands up.
"Then what were you doing?"
"Sabotaging their engines!"
That threw her for a loop.
"What?" Spacewarp raised her brows.
"My drink," she reached behind her and produced an empty glass, decorated with a ghost, "I poured it in their engines. I figured it'd kinda suck if they followed us, again. I mean, it's what got us in this problem in the first place."
Spacewarp sighed, let go of the gun, and collapsed back in her chair. "You had me worried I had gone stupid, y'know?"
"Trust me," Thunderblast leaned her head on her hands, "I share the sentiment."
Spacewarp laughed and slapped her on the shoulder. "You aren't nearly as ditzy as I thought you were."
"Yeah? Well you aren't nearly as dumb," she grabbed Spacewarp's face and yanked her closer, "c'mere."
Spacewarp leaned down and grinned. She could probably come to appreciate Thunderblast's devious sense of guile.
And her company.