Pairings: Soundwave/Jazz, who knows what else
Rating: T for Teen
Warnings: a little bondage later on, some very trashy pulp fiction here and there
Summary: Surrounded by the torrid fiction of his fellow Autobots, Jazz uncovers a Decepticon plot hidden amidst their written fantasies. Can the Spec Ops commander turn this plot of high treason into a narrative…of love? OR Jazz is surrounded by a bunch of perverted writers, and wouldn’t you know it, one of them is a Decepticon.
A thin ray of light spilled from the door as it creaked open. On the berth, Fireflight looked up with wide optics, pulling uselessly at the chain on his collar as he cringed against the wall. His whole chassis still ached from the last session. How much more punishment could the young flier take?
From the whip hanging in Starscream's hands, the Decepticon clearly had much more in store for Fireflight.
"Lord Megatron is busy with your friend Silverbolt," Starsceam said, his smile widening as Fireflight trembled. "So I'll take my pleasure and that sweet aft...before I make you part of my Decepticon armada."
"I'll never join you!" Fireflight yelled, turning his head. "I'm a proud Autobot! I'll never-"
His voice hitched as Starscream caught his face and forced him to look up, grabbing Fireflight's hand and putting it over his Decepticon mark.
"In a few orns," Starscream murmured, "you'll be begging for this sigil."
Fireflight whimpered as Starscream forcefully kissed him, a small squeak escaping as the Decepticon slipped his fingers across the soft cables of his hip joint-
The screen of his datapad came up to smack Bumblebee's face and he stumbled back, holding his faceplate. Someone put their hands on his shoulders, steadying him.
"Yo, 'Bee," Jazz said, "careful where you're walking, 'bot."
"Sorry," Bumblebee said, backing up as he rubbed where the datapad had hit. "I should've been looking."
A few chuckles answered him. Bumblebee vented in embarrassment under the optics of several of the officers and-Primus help him-Optimus all gathered just outside Prowl's office.
"No worries." Jazz looked down at the datapad, angling his visor trying to get a look at it. "What'cha reading that's got you so-?"
Bumblebee's optics went wide and he flipped off the datapad and hid it behind his back. "Nothing! Nothing important. Just reports."
His mouth quirking, Jazz stood straight, crossing his arms as he looked at Bumblebee. The smaller bot kept moving back as he spoke, waving his free hand.
"You don't have any reports to file," Jazz said, leaning forward and peering at him.
"So I'd better get writing some," Bumblebee said and kept edging back the way he'd came, glancing over his shoulder once. "I gotta get back to work-file this and get on monitor duty-"
Looking more concerned, Red Alert craned his neck to look over Prowl. "'Monitory duty'? You're not scheduled on that for half a quartex-"
"Oh geez," Bumblebee said with a sheepish grin. "I really better check the roster again. I can't believe I forgot."
"Bumblebee..." Jazz said, a warning in his voice.
"Sir yes sir, I'm right on it!" Bumblebee said in a rush, scooting around the corner so fast that he tripped over his own pedes. As he fell out of sight, there was the distinct sound of a transformation and then the thrum of an engine.
Optimus tilted his head. "Well, that wasn't suspicious at all."
Jazz sighed, holding up his hands in exasperation. "Ladies and gentle 'bots, I give you Spec Ops. Great at sneaking by enemies, not so much around their own officers."
Ironhide chuckled. "Leave the poor 'bot alone. We probably just spooked him. I remember being nervous around brass once upon a time."
"I don't believe you were ever less than gruff or conniving," Jazz said, rejoining the impromptu meeting. On his private channels, however, he send a quick message to Mirage and Smokescreen to find Bumblebee and sit on him until he could get there.
"You'll never forgive me for your promotion?" Ironhide smiled ruefully. "I'm hurt, Jazz. I'm really hurt."
Jazz gave him a look. Many vorns ago, Jazz had enjoyed the life of a simple spy. If he stole a few Decepticon cubes of spiked energon for personal use, he could expect a scolding and extra work. If he teamed up with Blaster to get the whole Spec-Ops division over-energized in the loudest after hours party this side of the galaxy, there would be a headache the next orn and a lecture from Ratchet as he repaired their clogged filters. He followed orders, ran his missions, and danced the stress away every night.
But then Ironhide had seen a greater need for Special Operations to become its own unit, and Jazz had been the natural choice. There had been some concern over his disciplinary record, but no matter how he protested, Jazz now enjoyed the commander's duties of all his previous work plus the added responsibility of staff meetings, training his team and organizing missions.
"Your rusty aft," Jazz said. "You will always owe me for that. All this responsibility can't be good for a mech."
"Nonsense," Prowl said. "If I had known promoting you would curb your worst tendencies, I would have done so a long time ago."
"Sure, sure," Jazz said, his grin coming back. After all this time, nothing relieved stress as much as making the Second in Command's life a little more interesting. "Well, sirs, if you all will excuse me, I'm afraid I actually do have reports to file, and I need to skedaddle before Prowl finds out what I left on his desk."
As Jazz took off with the same backward step Bumblebee had used, giving Prowl a jaunty salute, Red Alert put his arm in front of Prowl before the enforcer could take more than a step.
"Let him go," Red Alert said. "I need to cross-reference some things with you, and whatever he left, it's already on your desk."
"Jazz, you are Third in Command," Prowl said, sternly calling after him. "Act like it!"
"I'll see you later!" Jazz said, drowning out Prowl's grumbles as he rounded the corner. A moment later, a communication pinged on his internal com unit.
"Go ahead, Mirage," Jazz said. A few mechs startled away as he ran past. "Tell me something good."
"I'm at the Tertiary Supply Depot," Mirage continued. "And I have Bumblebee here."
"There we go," Jazz said. "Nice knowing I got at least one mech who can sneak around successfully. You sitting on him like I said?"
"Um, no." Mirage hesitated, sharing what must have been shocked looks with Bumblebee. "I didn't think that was literal."
"Do it," Jazz ordered. "I haven't figured out yet what I'm gonna do to that little brat, and I don't want him spooking and tearing off before I get there."
Another channel opened up, broadcasting static for a moment before Bumblebee spoke up. A faint metallic clink came through, probably the smaller bot's habit of tapping his fingertips when he got nervous and couldn't shoot his stress away.
"Does he have to?" Bumblebee asked. "I'm not going anywhere, I promise, and Mirage might crush me."
"Hey," Mirage snapped. "I'll have you know my frame is refined, lightweight polymer."
"Quit moaning," Jazz said, ignoring the elevator in lieu of the stairs he could take three at a time. "I'm almost to your position. And Mirage, check him out for a datapad. If he's tapping his fingers, that means he ain't got it, and I want it."
Long silence followed, with a thin screech of static that vanished almost as soon as they uttered it. Jazz frowned. Not good. Not only was Mirage not sitting on Bumblebee nor frisking him, but his two operatives were conspiring together.
Jazz slowed, moving silently as he spotted the supply depot. The sliding door was easily as tall as Prime himself and almost as heavy, but luck was with him. Mirage hadn't closed the door after himself, and there was just enough space for Jazz to slip by noiselessly. His mechs weren't at the entrance, and he ghosted through the shelves of armaments, listening for their furtive whispers.
"Get rid of it," Mirage said in a rush. "Just throw it away."
"He knows I had it," Bumblebee argued, punching his datapad's keys audibly too hard. "I can't just hide it."
"Then delete it!"
Jazz paused one shelf away, watching them between stacks of ammunition. Behind his visor, his optics narrowed to slits. Mirage and Bumblebee both hunched over the datapad, with the larger mech throwing furtive glances toward the door while Bumblebee repetitively pushed two buttons over and over. It would've been funny if these weren't two of his most highly trained agents.
"How many do you have on there?" Mirage asked, his voice rising in desperation. "Oh slag, if you have any of the commander's-"
"Lay off! I didn't even download those," Bumblebee said. "But it isn't just deleting them. He'll read the logs, and it takes awhile to upload a good deletion tool. I never thought I'd have to delete my own datapad."
Silent as a cat creeping up on canaries, Jazz stepped out from his cover and leaned against the steel shelves. After taking a few seconds to cross his arms and pedes dramatically, he vented his frustration in a sudden burst that had his mechs jerking straight and Bumblebee hiding the datapad behind his back.
"Which makes me wonder," Jazz said, punctuating each word with harsh, clipped consonants. "What are you trying to hide from me?"
"Commander," Bumblebee squeaked, then coughed in embarrassment and brought his voice back down an octave. "Um, sir, I-"
"Spec Ops," Jazz said over him. "The vanguard of the Autobots, the elite of the anti-Decepticon forces. The very best we have to offer."
Bumblebee's mouth clicked shut, and Mirage winced and turned his head, staring a hole into the floor.
"And inside one breem," Jazz continued, "one bumps into an officer's meeting, draws everyones' attention to something he's trying to hide, runs off like a new recruit, and then can't kill one datapad."
Neither bot spoke up, and Jazz took some measure of comfort that they weren't stupid enough to argue. He pushed off the shelf and walked towards them, giving Mirage a glare for good measure before focusing entirely on Bumblebee.
"It's a wonder the Decepticons haven't already won," Jazz said. "Maybe the only reason I still have mechs to yell at is 'cause Starscream keeps everyone so distracted that your noisy afts don't get shot. Damn, I ought to make him an honorary Spec Ops 'bot, 'cause Primus knows it ain't my mechs winning the war."
"Please, sir," Bumblebee tried, "there was a good reason."
"No," Mirage hissed at him.
"I swear," Jazz said, holding out his hand expectantly. "You and I better have the same idea of 'good'."
Bumblebee looked at him, his optics wide and shimmery under the light like a scolded puppy, and he held the obvious datapad behind his back a moment longer, wrestling with himself. Then Mirage nudged him hard enough to make him sway, and Bumblebee gave him a desperate look, probably begging on their own private intercom for a miraculous way out.
Jazz, Third in Command and most terrifying of all Autobots, almost lost it there, holding in his laugh only by keeping his vents shut tight. But scolding commanders couldn't afford to laugh at their troops, no matter how much they reminded said commander of his own early days. Instead he flashed his visor and lowered his head, focusing tightly on Bumblebee. The datapad was placed in his hand, and Bumblebee pressed one hand against his mouth.
"I haven't read all of them," he pleaded. "Just a couple. I would've told you eventually, I swear-"
Jazz tuned him out, glancing over the datapad and about to bring up the deletion logs. Flustered or not, Bumblebee was still a damn good Spec Ops bot, and he wanted to know what his little soldier had nearly managed to hide.
And then Jazz froze. Tilted his head and brought the screen up a little closer, blinking to make sure his optics weren't seeing things.
"Decepticon Slave-bots in the No-Escape Brothel," he whispered.
Mirage stared at Bumblebee. "You seriously downloaded that one?"
"You got no room to judge," Bumblebee huffed. "Mr. Morphobot Tentacles."
"That didn't include Decepticons," Mirage snapped, then paused. "Wait. Didn't the brothel one have...?"
They both looked at Jazz, then stared at the floor. And their commander took a moment to realize what they meant.
"Wait one sec," Jazz started, waving the datapad like a threat. "You don't seriously mean-"
"We didn't write any of those," Mirage insisted. "I swear!"
Not sure what to think, Jazz looked back at the datapad. I Fought Shockwave's Drone Dolls of Death. Pleasure Logs of Thrust's Insatiate Trine. Lamborghini Twins Do the Ark. The titles pulsed in his cortex like some vile organic breathing, and like staring at a disrupted mech, Jazz looked back in fascinated horror as he double tapped the title.
Fireflight moaned, fighting the coming overload and yet flushed with sickened satisfaction as Starscream whispered obscene praise in his audios.
"Such a strong willed little flier," the Decepticon hissed, running his glossa across the cables in Fireflight's exposed, vulnerable throat. "To resist me this long and still have the strength to stay conscious."
"I won't turn," Fireflight whimpered, driven to the edge of his limits. "You can't make me."
"Ah, but I already have," Starscream chuckled, "and as easily as I make you overload. Here, look at your new decoration, my sweet pet...my newest Decepticon!"
With a gasp, Fireflight looked past Starscream's laughing face to his own chest plating, his wail of pain matching the commander's glee, for there on his armor lay the purple mark of terror, branding him as property of his sworn enemy.
"And just so you realize," Starscream said, forcing still another hot kiss from Fireflight's sore lips, "the depths of your imprisonment, your next playmate shall be my greatest triumph-your Third in Command, broken to my will."
Jazz's head snapped up and locked both of his mechs in a cold, murderous glare.
"Explain. And fast."
With two very reluctant mechs dragging their pedes behind him, Jazz entered the meeting room and twirled his chair wrong way around, plopping down and leaning forward on the back of his chair. The command cadre were there already, and Prowl narrowed his eyes without saying anything. Vorns of experience had taught him that Jazz did not follow standard protocol, and sometimes he did things solely because they irritated the other officers. And if they did let on that it annoyed them, Jazz would simply continue in a bid to get demoted.
"You're wondering why I called you all here today," Jazz said, and snapped his fingers.
Behind him, Mirage and Bumblebee each carefully lay a stack of datapads on the table, gently nudging the top pads so they wouldn't fall over. As they backed away, they set their pedes as quietly as possible, almost as silent as their commander as they came to parade rest behind Jazz.
Ironhide glanced at them, then at the Autobots seated around the conference table. The lower ranks' nerves were so raw he almost expected Bumblebee to start sparking.
"So...what's all this?" Ironhide asked, breaking the silence.
Jazz reached out and pushed the two stacks, sending the datapads clattering across the table. Behind him, Mirage and Bumblebee winced.
"Oh, just wait..." Jazz muttered. "Just wait 'till you see what's been spreading around the Ark without us knowing. Go on, take a look. I can't do justice to it myself."
As if Jazz had spilled out scraplets instead, Prime and Red Alert reached across slowly, hesitating as if the datapads might infect them. Giving them a look, Ratchet grabbed the nearest one and started scrolling over the text.
"Some presentation," Ratchet huffed. "Jazz, you didn't even bother to put them all...on the same...page..."
The medic sat straight, staring intently at the screen.
"'Ratchet's Six Proven Ways to Rev Up Your Engine'?" His voice rose with each word until he was glaring at Jazz, and then at Bumblebee when the Spec Ops Commander didn't react.
Beside him, Perceptor slipped a faint sound of static which he cut off with a terse screech.
Ironhide snickered and settled into his chair, transitioning his optics to a near-sighted reading mode. "Well, ain't this cute. 'Red Alert's optics widened even as he lowered his gaze, fist pressed to his mouth.'"
Heads snapped up in shock, then turned swiftly toward Red Alert, whose jaw dropped as he struggled to say something and couldn't. In growing horror, he realized that the older mech meant to keep reading.
"'His vents worked frantically to cool his impossibly heated system, flushing his faceplate as he spread his pedes ever so slowly-'"
"Stop!" Red Alert dropped his datapad and reached across the table as if he might climb across it. "Ironhide, no!"
"Don't get your undercarriage in a bind," Ironhide laughed, tossing the datapad back into the pile. "Primus, it's been vorns since I've seen these. Nice to know some things don't change."
"'Nice'?" Ratchet demanded.
"What things?" Jazz frowned.
"I'm with Powerglide?" Red Alert gasped, holding Ironhide's datapad at arm's length. When they all looked at him, he tossed the device back and hid his face in one hand.
"Polyhex Manuals," Ironhide said as he picked up another datapad and scrolled idly through it. "Cheap, tawdry stuff put out for a quick overcharge. Used to trade 'em back and forth when I was just a recruit. Whoa, Lamborghini Twins Do the Ark."
Ironhide doubleclicked and began scanning.
"You're seriously not bothered by this?" Perceptor asked, finally in control of his voice again.
"Why is there a 'this' at all?" Red Alert demanded. "Where the slag did this trash come from? Who's writing it?"
"All very good questions," Jazz said, swiveling his chair. "I brought my-"
"Wow," Ironhide said, scrolling quickly. "Jazz, did you see how many Spec Ops stories you're in? Jazz Caught in Starscream's Den of Depravity, Jazz's Interrogation at Soundwave's Pedes..."
"I brought my mechs," Jazz repeated a little louder. "They apparently know where these things are-"
"You're like a superhero master spy in these," Ironhide kept going, tilting the datapad slightly. "'The chains might have been welded, but they couldn't hold him forever-'"
"Ironhide," Prime rumbled in warning.
"Huh, 'Prisoner of Prowl's Brig'-"
Prowl made a strangled sound and studied Bumblebee and Mirage intently. Or rather studied a point on the wall between them.
"Just start talking," Jazz snapped, one hand over his visor.
"Yes sir," Mirage said when Bumblebee hesitated too long. When he glanced over, Bumblebee looked like he would implode if he tried to talk. "Um, half a vorn ago, they just started showing up-"
"Skip the history lesson," Perceptor said. "How are they distributed?"
"Sir, there's a forum on the Ark's sur-net, in the basic code," Mirage said. "The stories are posted there, and then anyone can download whatever they want."
"How many stories are there?" Red Alert asked, still not meeting anyone's optics.
"I...don't know, sir," Mirage said. "Hundreds. Maybe thousands."
"Primus," Red Alert muttered.
"Who knows about it?" Perceptor asked. "And who's doing the writing?"
"We-" Mirage stumbled and glanced back at Bumblebee, who was no help. "We seem to be keeping it away from the officers-um, you, sir. Otherwise, everyone knows."
"Oh Primus." Red Alert sank further into his chair, grasping Perceptor's offered hand.
The motion did not go unnoticed. Mirage and Bumblebee both caught the quick comforting and their glances lingered a klik too long. Both wilted under Prowl's glare.
"Are you contributing to these forums?" he demanded.
"I...did write a couple of stories," Mirage admitted.
"Which ones?" Ironhide asked, not looking up from the datapad.
"For the love of Primus," Ratchet groaned.
"C'mon, kid," Ironhide laughed. "'Fess up."
Mirage glanced at Bumblebee again, but the smaller bot only gave him an innocent look that was no help. Apparently only Mirage had produced any stories, and he was on his own. Squirming as everyone waited, he vented and glanced sideways.
"Turbofoxes Ripped My Finish," he mumbled.
"Heh, overblown adventure stuff," Ironhide nodded, and gave Mirage a knowing look. "And what else?"
"Please, sir," Mirage said, strangling on his embarrassment. "Don't make me..."
"Was that the title?" Ironhide grinned, gleeful at everyone quailing around him. "Or do I gotta get mean?"
"Fireflight in the Morphobot's Tentacles," Mirage said, his optics clamped shut so he didn't have to see their faces. "And Ironhide, Defender of Optimus Prime's Innocence."
The titles hung in the air, impossible to move beyond. Jazz couldn't help looking up, one hand covering his face even as he peered between his fingers at their leader. This meeting had been a mistake. Why had he brought these two? Why did he have to be the one who found out about it? Why was he a damn officer in the first place?
Ironhide almost doubled over as he cackled. "Now that is loyalty you just can't buy. You have the love of your army, Prime."
Optimus vented a whole cycle, regarding his mortified officers and the two mechs who were about to dig a hole in the floor and crawl in after. Red Alert was going to pass out if he didn't stop venting so heavily. Even Jazz, who he could usually count on to handle such unusual circumstances, looked like he was about to draw a knife and slit poor Mirage's cables. Which probably wouldn't kill him since Ratchet was right there, but not something Optimus wanted to see.
"Regardless of how normal this apparently is," Optimus said, and now even Red Alert managed to lift his optics in hope that the Prime shared his embarrassment. "It isn't fair to the mechs who don't want to be the center of someone's written fantasy. I'm assuming no one asks permission from their subjects, Mirage. Are you in any of these?"
Mirage tilted his head. "I admit, I have been a little curious as to which ones I'm in."
"You'll have to ask Cliffjumper," Bumblebee finally managed to say, wincing when Mirage seized up. "I think he's got all the ones where you show up."
"What?" Mirage hissed, glaring at him. "Are you serious?"
"And that's what I'm worried about," Optimus said. "Jazz, I'm going to need a full investigation on this."
"You got it," Jazz muttered.
"And no dead 'bots."
"...they won't be dead, sir."
Optimus thought better of arguing that.
The inner workings of the Ark were deep, filled with cavernous warehousing, narrow corridors between various supply depots and engineering sectors. Most mechs needed to download the ship's mapping hud before they would set foot in some of the deeper levels, although that had less to do with their embarrassment at getting lost and more because of the rumor of a ghostly Decepticon wandering through the dangling cables and cramped walkways, howling in phantom pain as it searched for tender young Autobots.
In fact, the only thing that could prompt any mech down here was an angry Spec Ops commander already thinking about stripping his mechs down for spare parts. Mirage and Bumblebee followed several steps behind him, optics and sensors on highest sensitivity for the first hint of Jazz's displeasure or a ghostly moan. Neither would admit it, but the ghost would have been more welcome.
"Slingshot swears he saw it down here," Bumblebee said.
"That's a ridiculous rumor," Mirage whispered. "While he was boasting, did he also fight it and tell it to slag off the Ark?"
"Maybe," Bumblebee said, looking over his shoulder. "If you aren't scared, how come you're all hunched up against me, huh?"
"You can't tell," Mirage said with a haughty sniff, "but these ceilings are low."
"Uh-huh," Bumblebee muttered. "You know if you turn invisible, ghosts can still see you, right?"
"There are no ghosts down here," Mirage snapped.
"'Cause a ghost can see your spark, not your frame-"
"No, they can't!" Mirage said, chucking Bumblebee not so lightly on the head.
Ahead of them, Jazz stopped walking and pivoted, his visor's thin sliver of light barely giving him a silhouette in the dark. Mirage grabbed Bumblebee, using him as a shield, while the smaller mech squeaked and pushed back against his larger frame.
"If you two don't clam up," Jazz hissed, "and at least pretend I taught you anything, there's gonna be two real ghosts down here."
"You aren't scared of ghosts?" Bumblebee whispered. "Is it 'cause-"
Was it because of all the mechs that Jazz had killed over the vorns, the sheer torrent of death and destruction innuring their leader to the horrors that lay beyond the grave? They all knew Jazz had done some terrible things during the war. None of them had seen his official file, but they knew, just the same as they knew there were ghosts in the Ark.
With a long suffering vent, Jazz tapped an audio horn once. Did they even remember their damn internal communications system?
Dumb 'bots, Jazz grumbled at them both. Put you to work in your home base and you lose all your training.
The Decepticons don't have ghosts on their side, Bumblebee said.
Ain't no ghosts down here, Jazz sighed, turning and leading them through the supply units again. I made that rumor up myself.
I told you so! Mirage said, bopping Bumblebee's head again.
But why'd you make up something like that? Bumblebee asked.
Jazz shrugged. Wanted to give myself a place I could drag mechs I didn't want found.
Both Bumblebee and Mirage came to a halt, standing ramrod straight. A moment later Jazz realized they weren't following him and chuckled to himself, waving one hand reassuringly.
Relax, you two. I kid. I just wanted a spot I could stow some less savory equipment the others wouldn't like, that's all. Prime doesn't need to know every part of my job.
Mirage shared a look with Bumblebee. Both of them knew exactly what Jazz meant. So this was where their commander kept some of their master copies of cortex force downloaders and internal servo disruptors. Some tools still had Decepticon insignias on them, not acceptable for ethical Autobots but too useful to be discarded by more practical bots. Jazz might be scary, but anyone in Special Operations had seen and done things the rest of the Autobots would never know about.
Come on, come on, Jazz said, still walking and turning a corner to vanish in the gloom. Keep up or you'll get left behind with the spoo~ky Decepticon ghost. Legend has it he especially likes snacking on little grounders.
Hardy har, Bumblebee grumbled. You could've told us this was your personal storage depot. It was just a matter of time before you stumbled on us anyway.
Should've known that Scooby Doo routine wouldn't work forever, their commander said. But I didn't expect y'all to turn this into your little erotic clubhouse.
It's not- Mirage started.
Jazz sent a silence command through their array, bringing communication to a halt as he leaned around the corner. A small space had been cleared with a single lamp on the floor and several steel crates positioned in a circle, with empty energon cubes tossed haphazardly around the room. It was clearly an impromptu meeting place, and lounging around the lamp was Sideswipe, a datapad in one hand, a cube in the other. On the floor was Sunstreaker, venting in long regular bursts that made Jazz think it wasn't just energon in those cubes.
To his relief, his bots demonstrated that they could still act like agents, moving to block the other exit with Mirage backing up Bumblebee. Jazz waited a moment to make sure that he hadn't missed anything, and to his surprise a small clatter from the shelves drew his attention to Blaster's cassettes dangling their legs off the side.
Now that is some strange company to be keeping, Jazz wondered. The twins, Eject and Rewind...both of whom seemed quite relaxed with their own smaller energon supply.
"'Jazz held the gun to Soundwave's head'," Sideswipe read, "'but even as the chains fell away, he found he couldn't pull the trigger. Those golden optics-"
"Enough already," Sunstreaker mumbled, turning his gaze away from the lamp. "I don't wanna hear any more of those stupid things."
"You liked 'Fireflight Hooked to a Killer Sharkticon'," Sideswipe argued.
"The adventure ones are cool," Sunstreaker said, and he put his arm over his optics. "The plug 'n play ones are so stupid, though."
"You're still angry about the 'Twins Do the Ark'," Eject said. "You should've known you guys would be popular."
"Well yeah," Sunstreaker said with a grin, one hand running down his own finish. "Sweetest paint job this side of the galaxy. But c'mon...Gears? Seriously, did it have to have Gears in there?"
Taking another sip of doctored energon, Sideswipe scrolled to the next page.
"Hey, check this out," he said. "Wheeljack's Medbay Burst of Lust."
"Is it as bad as 'Engineering Overloads'?" Rewind asked. "If it is, don't bother."
"Yeah," Eject snickered. "Rewind only reads the best Wheeljack ones."
"I do not-"
"'Oh, Ratchet'," Sideswipe interrupted, reading over Rewind's protest with theatrical flair. "'Wheeljack moaned in more than pain as he lay on the medical berth, his outer plating obscenely pulled open and his inner processes revealed, touched by the cool air. 'Please don't,' he cried, jerking futilely on the restraints lashing him down.
"'Ratchet loomed over him, one finger tracing the prone engineer's soft cables, caressing the smooth shell of his spark case. Then his hand turned cruel as he twisted one sensitive screw, drawing a cry from the helpless mech. 'No mercy,' Ratchet said, brushing Wheeljack's faceplate gently and then seizing him when he tried to look away. 'And you, of all 'bots, should appreciate the modifications I'm about to give you.'"
Sideswipe looked up at Rewind, who was about to lean completely off the shelf. "Should I keep going?" he asked with a grin, chuckling when Rewind nodded vigorously.
Before Rewind could say anything, Jazz lifted his head and stepped to the very edge of the dim light. On the other side of the room, Bumblebee and Mirage appeared to surround their prey.
"By all means, keep going," Jazz said with a smile that didn't reach his visor. "How deep you planning on digging your own grave?"
All of them froze. None of them tried to run. The only one Jazz had expected any trouble from merely reached over and grabbed the rest of the energon, disposing of it in one swift go.
"Warned ya this would happen," Sunstreaker grumbled, his engine rumbling with the sudden influx of minerals and coolant.
"Quit getting rid of the evidence," Jazz snapped.
"You're just pissed I'm not leaving it for you," Sunstreaker said, settling back again and already beginning to slur his words. "But I ain't going to the brig sober."
There were serious drawbacks, Jazz thought once again, to being a damn officer.