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and things went downhill from there
(a desperate plea for fish)
August 16th, 2019 
Burning Fur Mood
[personal profile] atara has always had an interest in giant robots and monsters, so it's no surprised that with some of the recent developments in the Transformers franchise, she'd take a renewed interest. Since I'm married to this big geek, I've got caught up in the aura of her fangirlism. I didn't have much use for Transformers back in the day (other than Beast Wars when it was current), but the old shows exude a certain charm when you watch them now with their implausible yet hackneyed stories and cheesy production values.

Some of the later work is very much improved though. Transformers Prime has decent writing, likeable characters who actually show development over time, and a surprisingly dark theme for what is ostensibly a kids' show. Likewise, Transformers Animated is an interesting dichotomy of bright, cute animation overlaying some remarkably dark themes. It depended a bit more than Prime on plot resulting from characters making bad decisions at times, and not always learning from their mistakes earlier, but they are both series I would recommend.

At some point I am going to read the IDW series that recently wrapped up. I've seen bits and pieces, and it seems to be steeped in depth and interesting story-telling. Also, I've heard nothing but good about it.

The latest series (Transformers: Cyberverse) is pretty good so far.

Finally, skip all the slop by Michael Bay and watch Bumblebee if you want to see a live-action Transformers movie.

Anyway, this preamble all leads up to why I write a Transformers fanfic. [personal profile] atara is a fan of the genre, and she has read some of the better ones to me. I am impressed by the activity and talent level in the Transformers fandom, but the more fan fiction I heard, the more tropes I began to identify in it. In the back of my mind I kept thinking, "I could write this stuff."

Eventually I decided to give it the My Little Golem treatment that I did for My Little Pony. You can read that here if you are not familiar with that piece of work. I knew the characters better from MLP of course, but I did my best to try and keep the characters in this Transformers story at least passingly in-character with the originals. That's a little tricky when some of them change so much from one series to the next in the Transformers universe, so I relied a bit on the fan interpretations that I've heard.

Anyway, the goal here was to do a ludicrous take on the series, while keeping it within the bounds of possibility for a first-series episode.

With that said, please accept my apologies in advance as I present you with...

Part 1

If their body language did not adequately portray the displeasure the two bots had with their current assignment, the steady stream of grumbling from one of them made it no secret. Though they were streaked from head to pede with grime and muck, it was still possible to make out that the speaker's main colour was blue. They both bore the clear hallmarks of ground vehicles, but the blue bot sported prominent door wings that his mostly-green partner lacked.

"Scouting and salvage," said the blue bot in a tone that suggested he'd have turned and spat if his body had been equipped for that function. His green partner gave a non-committal grunt of agreement. Their servos whined, and their pedes squelched as they slogged forward through the greasy, swirling muck of a former battlefield. "Hound, this is straight up revenge for talking back to you-know-who." Skids swivelled his torso and held up both his hands at chest height, waving them at the other bot with fingers and thumbs spread in a way that made it clear to whom he referred.

"Maybe you could put those jazz hands to better use and help me haul this trailer," said Hound. His Jeep mode had a trailer hitch, but they'd established early on that the muddy field was not friendly to wheeled travel. His workmate grumbled in response, but he grabbed one of the front corners of the cart and helped free it from where it had become mired. "You should watch what you say," added Hound, lowering his vocalizer to a hushed tone. "You never know who might be in hearing range, and you don't want to get this assignment extended again."

The half-laden trailer they were pulling was a recalcitrant beast, and it seemed to delight in catching its fat tires in every bit of tangled wreckage - Cybertronian or organic - that littered the terrain. The area itself was comprised mostly of mud and craters. They'd seen pictures of the area before the battle, and it was something that the humans would have referred to as verdant and lush. Now it was mud mixed with the fluids and bits of Cybertronians, and the former organic life that had once thrived there.

And lots of craters.

And an omnipresent greasy, toxic, slightly-corrosive haze that crawled over the landscape like it had a life of its own.

A gleam through the haze-muted sunlight caught the optics of the smaller bot, and he pointed to a nearby hillock. "There’s something over there," said Skids.

They dragged the reluctant cart up to the base of the small rise and let its tongue drop unceremoniously into the mire. The muck bubbled and hissed as the hitch slowly sunk through its oily top layer into the unimaginable horrors beneath.

"OK then, what do we have here?" said Skids. He rubbed his chin and knelt in the muck for a closer look at the metallic gleam, grimacing inwardly as he felt greasy mud squeeze up through the joints and gears in his knee before oozing out the top. He straightened his fingers and drove his giant red hand into the muddy hill beside the gleaming metal bit. He felt around until he got a solid grip on something and pulled it free. The hill relinquished its hold with a wet sucking sound on what looked like a blobby, slightly misshapen dumbbell.

Skids stood up and vigorously shook the bulk of clinging mud free of his hand and the object he held. He pulled away more of the clinging filth with his free hand before holding it up for mutual inspection.

"Oh look" he said drily. "It's one third of a transformation cog with the inner flywheel attached. It's a good thing we found this because there's probably a war veteran out there with two thirds of a transformation cog banging around in his abdomen, looking for another third that's just this size."

"Give it a rest," said Hound, adding a light modulation of annoyance to his voice. "I ain't happy to be out here either, but this is important. We need all the spare parts and metal we can scavenge."

"There, you said it!" The blue bot waggled the broken transformation cog at his partner. "We're not salvaging, we're scavenging. These fields have been picked over by both sides for anything of possible value." He threw the cog into the trailer where it bounced and clanged among the other useless parts they'd found. A good portion of their haul consisted of fingers, toes, and a surprising number of left optics.

Hound creaked out a shrug of ambivalence and turned to sift through a different patch of the hillside, running his large black fingers through the surface goop trying to find the treasures beneath. Meanwhile his partner addressed the hole that had not entirely filled itself back in from his last extraction.

"What else are you hiding in there?" Skids said, leaning close. He jammed his hands into the wet opening and used them like a bivalve speculum to spread the sides a bit. He held an optic close to the hole and peered into its muddy inner sanctum. A moment later he pushed himself violently back from the hillock and landed on his metal butt with a muddy retort.

"Why in Primus’s name did I put my face up to that hole?" he wailed. He pounded the mud fruitlessly with his balled fists, sending a spray of the swirling goop up in fountains of horridness around himself. "I hate this. I hate everything about this assignment!"

"What's wrong?" asked Hound, voice modulated with a careful mix of concern and irritation for his overly dramatic workmate. He stood from where he had been probing the mud, clutching drippy prizes in both hands.

"I'll tell you what's wrong," said Skids sourly. He wrestled his backside free of the clingy mud and crawled over to the opening in the hill that was already closing on itself again. He thrust his hand deep into the opening and pulled out a ... thing. Whatever it was, it deformed and quivered slightly in his hand as he pulled it free. Flexible hoses and tubes hung out of it on all sides. He held it aloft and gave it an angry shake, causing it to jiggle all over. "Why do these exist?"

"What is it?" asked Hound. He made no attempt to mute the overtones of disgust that came through his audio enunciator, and his optics never wavered from the object in the other bot's hands. "It looks organic."

"It's an energon denaturing sac," said the other bot. "It processes the leftover energon after our systems have extracted all of the critical components out of it and helps package it for expulsion. Everyone's got one of these in them." He gave it another shake. "Well, rumour has it that Megatron has two of them, which explains why he can consume dark energon and that other crap he ingests."

The green bot busied himself with de-mucking his own finds, but he kept the smaller bot talking because it was a relief to have him not complaining about the conditions for a change. "So if we all have one, and it serves a purpose, then what's the problem with it existing? I mean, it's not the most pleasant thing..."

"What's the problem?" Skids' engines revved and he stamped one of his pedes noisily in the mud. "This does not belong in a bot. This is the kind of thing that I've seen fall out of organics during battle. There are so many more elegant, less disgusting and organic ways to denature energon for disposal. Why do we have ... this?"

"But it does the job," said Hound. He'd cleared away enough muck to show that he was holding the upper and lower halves of what remained of an empty head - or possibly halves of two different heads, as there was no obvious way to fit them together.

"But it's an organic design." Skids pressed on. "It's the kind of thing that makes one question the idea of Intelligent Forging. If we are all made in the image of Primus, then why do we have a squishy, bulbous, organic-like sac in our innards? These things are notorious for leaking and making embarrassing sounds. If Primus is perfect, and we are forged in his image, then why do we have one of these?"

The green bot looked around furtively and lowered the volume of his vocals. "You should be careful with that kind of talk," he cautioned. "That borders on heresy."

"You've got one of these in your gut," said Skids. He closed his thumb over the top of the sac and gave it a squeeze. One of the flexible tubes attached to it flapped freely, belching noxious gas and slimy globules of a brownish-green slurry.

"Primus, that stinks!" bellowed Hound. "Why did you have to squeeze that?" He stepped forward and slapped the sac out of the smaller bot's hand. The device flew free and struck the side of the wheeled cart, where it burst noisily and sprayed the rest of its contents over the wagon and its haul. The jeep bot's vocalizers squealed with the sounds of static and dry heaves as he quickly dropped the head parts he'd been clutching and clapped his hands over his olfactory ports. Acting quickly, the smaller bot scooped up a handful of muck, pushed aside the bigger bot's hands and smacked the mud over his olfactory sensors.

The two of them sat down hard in the muck, and almost by mutual decision they began to chuckle.

"Sorry," said Skids. "I guess we both made some sub-optimal decisions there. I can't wait to deliver this batch back to the base now though." He stopped, and the two went silent as a hail rang out over the secure comm channel.

"Yo, Autobots and Autobotesses, this is your acting base commander Jazz laying down the latest news and directives for all you cool cats out there. Remember that comm silence is still in effect, so this will be a one-way communication."

Skids made jazz-hands again and rolled his eyes, forcing his companion to stifle a snicker.

"First off, we intercepted a shipment of Decepticon energon coming in from Cybertronians, so we'll be relaxing the ration restrictions starting next cycle. I don't know if you bad boy Deceptos have cracked our comm codes yet, but if you're listening I want you to know that this stuff is smoooooth. You're missing out."

"Second item: Whoever thought it was funny to stretch a bi-molecular film over the engergon waste disposal interface hole in the officers' quarters, we will find out who you are, and there will be consequences."

"Third item: I don't know if any of you cats have noticed, but Bluestreak and Smokescreen are, like, the same dude with just a slightly different paint job."

Clearly audible in the background of the comm broadcast was an angry, simultaneous protest of, "We are not!"

"And finally, we've had reports of Decepticreep activity in sector three. If you're working in that sector, duck. This is HQ out."

The comm channel went silent with an audible click.

"We're in sector three," said Hound as he fought his way out of the mud and back onto his pedes. He methodically picked as many muddy bits as he could out of his butt joints and did a few squats to free the rest. "We'd better keep our eyes open for Decepticons. I could usually smell them coming before they'd ever know we were here." He fixed an angry optic on the smaller bot and pointed to his nose.

"Ya, ya," replied Skids who was also dealing with his own uncomfortable ingresses of mud. "I'm just curious what he meant by 'duck'..."

Before Skids could even finish the thought, there came the tremendous buzz and scream of large ordinance falling from the sky and slamming into the ground near their location. The impact site blossomed into a blinding ball of fire, and the shock wave of the blast lifted both bots and their trailer, tossing them into the air like cheap plastic toys.

As the blow hit him, Hound had only time to utter a surprised cry of, "Oh sh..."
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