A/N Warning: slightly mushy story ahead! I wanted to use Sky Linx as the X-factor in the story because his egotistical arrogance is like sandpaper on a sunburn. But he’s an Autobot and would not murder. So...I had to ‘canon-up’.>.<
Little Dinobot Brother
News in Metroplex often flew faster than hot-topic sexcapades in Central City’s upper-class elite. If it contained shock value, news bounced from vocalizer to audio even faster. In this case, the shocking story about Swoop passed from some snitch at Central Command. Rodimus swore whomever was responsible for the leak was going to wax and polish Metroplex’s underlinings top to bottom for the next two years.
That came as small consolation for the Dinobot-suspect or not- victimized by the gossip leak. He disappeared and no one, not even Ultra Magnus knew of the pterodactyl’s whereabouts. Rodimus set Metroplex on ‘quiet alert’, ordering discretion among Kup’s security staff.
Carly Witwicky sternly and officially repudiated the accusations. She pointed out it was not Swoop’s nature to attack a humming bird let alone a jet filled with two hundred Human passengers. But all evidence suggested Swoop intentionally attacked and downed a 747 jet-liner. In spite of her protests, Rodimus ordered Swoop grounded from flying anywhere until they resolved the matter.
All of Metroplex searched for the winged Dinobot; even the city himself failed to find Swoop’s life signature. Fortunately, Rodimus did not interfere with Carly’s determined protection. She searched for the elusive pterodactyl herself and started with Swoop’s Dinobot brothers.
Grimlock stomped around the Dinobot’s lair, his heavy feet pounded the life out of the reenforced metal flooring. In a tantrum, the Dinobot leader transformed in and out of Dinomode.
"Me, Grimlock, not want believe him, Swoop, guilty of crashed plane! But me, Grimlock saw evidence."
Carly watched and listened as the other Dinobots compliantly agreed. Well, except Sludge.
"Me not know why Swoop in trouble," the brontosaur repeated innocently.
Grimlock’s temper got the better of him, "HIM CRASH PLANE!" But the only response he received was a confused expression.
"I don’t understand why Swoop would do something like that," Carly countered. "I mean, it has to be a mistake. Swoop wouldn’t hurt a fly."
"Him not hurt fly," Grimlock snarled, "him killed people."
The Dinobot’s huge TV screen played and replayed the travesty. Two hundred and six passengers and four crew members dead; bodies fried by jet fuel then frozen atop the highest crests of the Cascades.
Investigators found deep claw marks along the body and wings. The jet, forced from the sky, suffered a long slice at the belly by the rocky cliffs.
Prosecutors stated the suspect was either Sky Lynx, who vehemently objected the very notion of his guilt, or Swoop, who had not idea what ‘indictment’ meant. Carly ground her teeth over the newscast. They already considered Swoop guilty and replayed the televised court proceedings.
The airlines lawyer, the Douglas County DA and the state of Oregon’s DA all asked simple questions. "Did you fly on September 15, 2008? Did you see a plane? Did you play with the plane?
Swoop loved to fly around jet liners or other air craft. He liked how excited children waved to him. He was a dolphin, flying around aircraft. So yes, he played with all kinds of airplanes.
Rodimus suffered a constant headache and tried for the millionth time to explain Swoop always flew around air craft but never touched anything.
The ugly claw marks marring the plane’s wings and starboard windows said otherwise. Investigators staunchly held their ground.
Grimlock snarled at the television, disgusted. "Him not Dinobot brother," he growled loud enough for the other three Dinos to hear. "Him now other Swoop. Him evil Swoop."
Carly tried to reason with the Tyrannosaur. But Grimlock refused to accept anything other than what was in front of him. She called him a narrow-minded ninny, which, of course, only confused and irritated the overgrown Shop Vac.
Carly left the Dinobots and struck out on her own once again. The day faded to late afternoon. Security still searched high and low for Swoop. They expanded their search patterns to include the hills and forests surrounding Metroplex, although the city reported never noticing anything leave other than the Aerialbots and a few EDC officers.
Carly used what she knew of Swoop; he was a child of the air. He was a pterodactyl. And Swoop was simple-minded like his brothers. So where would such a person go when he had no other places to be?
She found him sitting alone atop the air command building in Metroplex-right above everyone’s noses. The young woman laughed to herself. Swoop was not aware that the radio frequencies cloaked his life signals from Kup’s security. He simply gravitated to the one thing that made him happiest without disobeying the rules.
She joined him as the winged Dinobot watched planes and other Autobots arrive and depart. Swoop made neither sound nor movement and they sat there for two hours before Carly decided to say something.
"They’re going to find you innocent, Swoop," she said to cheer him up. "They have to."
The quiet pterodactyl solemnly shook his head. "Not make different, Carly. Grimlock say me, Swoop not Dinobot no more. Him say me can’t go back home. No sleep or play with other..." Swoop could not finish. Head into hands, he silently grieved.
Everybody loved a knock-down, aft-dragging game of Dinobot football. But nobody loved it more than the Dinobots. After putting up with too much ‘lip’ from brain dead Autobots during drills, Ultra Magnus decided the best way to vent his frustrations was to play a good rough-and-tumble game with the Dinobots. Not that he could ever get the rules of Dinobot Football correct; no one understood the rules short of ‘get the ball and run like hell’. But it was a great way to let off steam.
Rodimus was not interested. Too many things demanded his time and attention. Too many people came and left and called and whined, needing this or permission for that. After another twenty minutes, the Autobot leader decided a game of football wouldn’t hurt. He dragged Slingshot and Hotspot into it with the excuse that if he was going to get crushed, he’d have someone other than Magnus to scrape him off the ground.
Grimlock and Slag threw their whole selves into the game. Snarl obliged with his usual reluctance. He’d swing at the ball with his tail, watch it fly and land in Slag’s eager, power-hungry hands. Grimlock bypassed Magnus, injured Slingshot and tackled Slag with gusto.
Sludge, however, played with less enthusiasm. He hugged the sidelines, his optics traced movement and trajectory with a frown. His behavior did not escape Rodimus.
After the ball landed in his hands, Roddi threw it to Slag. He grinned mischievously as Grimlock, who ran for Rodimus, made a hairpin turn, dug a trench in the soil and charged for Slag. As all players aimed for the Triceratops, Rodimus jogged off field for Sludge. He gently tagged the Dinobot’s upper arm and motioned for Sludge to follow up the sloping hill. Rodimus plopped at the top, watching the others play. He thumped the ground beside him for Sludge to sit too.
Awkward silence for Sludge.
But Rodimus was everybody’s pal. He drew a warm smile over his face and nodded toward Grimlock as the Dinobot leader toppled with impact from Magnus’ spear. "Hey," he said in a most chipper voice, "what’s going on, Sludge? You’re not happy. I see it there, Buddy."
"No." Sludge’s childlike response came with clear reluctance. "Me, Sludge, miss him... Swoop. Swoop not here."
Rodimus turned back to the game. "I know, Sludge. I know you do. We’re trying to fix it-"
"Him, Grimlock... him say Swoop not Dinobot brother no more. Him said... him say not Swoop, now. Bad Swoop? Evil, Decepticon Swoop? Sludge not understand! Not know why Swoop not Dinobot, not be him, Swoop, no more! Swoop..." Sludge’s voice hitched with sorrow and frustration. Rodimus gave the overgrown Dinobot his full attention because he’d never heard Sludge like this, so distraught, so frustrated with such limited ability to express himself. For the first time, Rodimus didn’t see the huge creature, the tall but gentle stature that defined Sludge; he saw a childlike persona. And this child struggled to understand events and situations beyond his control. He tried to understand the new status Grimlock pinned to Swoop and it made no sense to Sludge at all.
Sludge patted the ground with a hand larger than Rodimus’ own head. "Swoop...caaan’t!" he said it like a new word. The Dinobot’s optics searched Rodimus’ for understanding. "Swoop...can’t!"
Rodimus laid a hand on Sludge’s arm and nodded. "Okay. Okay. You’re right. You’re right. Swoop can’t be bad. You’re right."
Roddi’s agreement gave Sludge the validation he needed and the Brontosaur nodded with a light smile. He communicated and was understood.
"Rodeemus," Sludge added, "if Swoop bad, if him hurt Humans, does him go to jail?"
That was not a question Rodimus wanted to answer. He pushed fear and sadness down so as to stay confident for the Dinobot’s sake. He even tugged on another smile. "Maybe, Sludge. Or maybe we’ll send him to Dinobot Island." oh, that was a fib! But Rodimus covered himself with the word ‘maybe’. Sure it was just semantics, but it was all Sludge could understand. Rodimus knew it’d be worse than jail. If Swoop was guilty, they’d have to put him away. Permanently.
Commotion on the field interrupted the moment. Rodimus watched, bewildered as Magnus tackled Grimlock and head-locked the Dinobot while Grimlock roared and shouted in a tantrum. Then Rodimus found why: Swoop had the football and landed on the field.
Rodimus softly cussed and drove into the field as fast as obstacles allotted. "Whoa, whoa, whoa! Grimlock! GRIMLOCK!! ENOUGH!"
"Not enough! Him, Swoop... traitor!"
Rodimus stabbed a stern finger against the Dinobot’s chest, ignoring Grimlock’s terrifying jaws. "YOU DON’T KNOW THAT! Now CALM DOWN or I’ll assign you to track duty for a week!"
Grimlock calmed enough that Magnus let him go. The oversized can opener-plus-attitude shifted into robot mode. He glared at Swoop.
Rodimus offered Swoop a light smile. "Swoop?"
"Me caught ball." he handed the football to Rodimus with a dejected expression.
"Him NOT play ball!" Grimlock erupted. "Only Dinobots play Dinobot Football."
Magnus glared at him. "I’m not a Dinobot, Grimlock."
"Mmm." Grimlock turned with a low growl. "Only real Dinobots play Dinobot Football." he amended, "You not Dinobot at all. Him, Swoop, pretend Dinobot."
Magnus’ optics flared. "That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard! Swoop is not a ‘pretend’ Dinobot anymore than you are! You both come from the same blue print patterns!"
"Grimlock," Rodimus interrupted. "Are you saying you don’t want Swoop as your brother anymore?"
"Him, Swoop, not, no more."
"Uh, huh." Rodimus backed toward Swoop, but stayed well within Grimlock’s attack range. "Well, if that’s the case, then I’ll take Swoop."
"Huh?" Grimlock asked.
"What?" Magnus and Hotspot echoed.
"Sure," Roddi flared a smile at them all. "If Grimlock doesn’t want Swoop to be his brother anymore, then I’ll take Swoop as my brother. He’s gotta be somebody’s brother; might as well be mine. I mean, after all, you said he’s not a Dinobot anymore. That makes him an Autobot."
Rodimus’ crazy psychology threw Magnus for a moment. But it threw Grimlock’s sensibilities into the next quadrant. The Dinobot leered to say something. He paused, struggling to understand the claim. He tried to say something again and found nothing by which to argue. "Okay," he said with some hesitation. "Me, Grimlock guess it okay." his head tilted to the right with consternation.
The weekend came like a fly crashing into the windshield. An extratropical storm slammed across the mountain ranges. Autobots came and left on emergency jobs, hacking wind-cracked trees and repairing power lines. Airports between Eugene and Seattle, Washington grounded their flights but not before one jet liner en route from Eugene to Sacramento reached beyond the point of safe return.
Southbound Flight 24931 lost communications and disappeared from the radar. The last known coordinates: five miles north by northwest of Elkton. Rodimus gave the Aerialbots permission to search and rescue. But twenty minutes later, Silverbolt, Air Raid and Slingshot took a forced landing along the I-5 freeway just north of Grants Pass. Fireflight crashed into an empty field twenty miles east of Medford and reported minor, but grounding damages. That left one Aerialbot out there and Sky Dive failed to report.
Blaster pushed through all comm channels with no answer. "Zippo has all frequencies on a choke hold, Rodimus," the communications officer reported. "We got ‘cross the board nothin’ out there."
"Patch me to Sky Lynx, Blaster." Rodimus reread the weather report and double checked all road conditions. He weighed in as many options as possible.
"This is Sky Lynx, supreme of the skies."
Rodimus frowned. "Sky Lynx, we have a missing Autobot out there in that storm-"
"I apologize ahead of time, Rodimus Prime. But those winds are gale-force at a hundred and twenty miles per hour. Even as strong and courageous a flier such as I cannot endure such a force."
"I know it’s rough out there, Sky Lynx, but Flight 24391 is lost somewhere south west of Dutch Butte mountain-"
"There are humans in danger? Why didn’t you say so to begin with? I am on the way!"
Rodimus waited. He received accident reports from all over Metroplex and a few from Central City. Twenty minutes, nothing from Sky Lynx. The good thing about the bad weather was all city, county and federal offices closed due to bad weather. It meant he had precious extra time to work on Swoop’s case. But with a missing jet liner and five downed Autobots, Rodimus reluctantly pushed Swoop’s case to the back.
"...tacked!... ere.." Blaster’s chair scraped the flooring as he scrambled to reset, tweak and reroute the communications board. Sky Lynx’s voice squawked over the airwaves, breaking on static and sliced words. Everyone in the command center froze and stared at the A/V boards. "...eat! ...oming... BRACE YOURSELVE-"
Whatever warning Sky Lynx tried to send, it failed to save the city. Three explosions slammed walls, two buildings and the main entrance bridge. Metroplex set off alarms and officers, citizens and enlisted all raced like a nest of frenzied ants.
"Get me a visual!" Rodimus ordered. Two more explosions bombarded the command center and everyone sailed across the room, their bodies rammed the far right side, smashing sensory equipment and control monitors.
Metroplex’s city streets surged with rubble and those who searched frantically for better cover. At the main entrance, a huge lion-like creature climbed the top of the visitor’s building and roared above the buffeting wind. Autobots and Humans scattered like frightened birds.
Slag, assigned to assist immediate bridge repair, knew that roar. Rather than tend to repairs, the Dinobot aided three humans and their vehicles across the gap. He left the post and pushed through the wind, rain and scattering Autobots to confront the lion. The Dinobot faced Razorclaw and drew his sword.
Razorclaw needed no dialog to tell him a challenge was drawn. He laughed into the wind and leapt, claws extended, for the Dinobot. Slag kicked Razorclaw in the jaw and swiped with the blade. Razorclaw landed in rubble. The Predacon rolled, transformed and rushed for the triceratops.
Slag heard Grimlock yell over the Dinobot’s private channels; something about playing roughhouse in the livingroom. Slag shook the Predacon off, shifted to robot and charged with sword in hand. He sliced a nice deep wound along the lion’s left arm a breath before the nearby city streets blew apart. Debris from the explosion pounded the world in a shower of shrapnel.
Bird, Slag transmitted. Grimlock tried to get more out of his brother, but Razorclaw’s next attack downed the Dinobot and the two robo-beasts plunged off the city’s ground level to the underground bunker and once again into Metroplex’s basement and storage area.
Concern for Slag forced the other Dinobots to the surface where they paved through rubble and fleeing Autobots. The city struggled to shift into battle station mode, but damage wrought by Razorclaw’s attacks rendered transformation offline. Snarl and Sludge relieved blocked roadways as Grimlock kept a lookout for Slag.
Two missiles slammed into Grimlock’s left leg. He roared as the Protectobots leapt to his aid. Streetwise created a barricade from a nearby broken bridge while Hotspot searched the sky for Grimlock’s attacker. Blades radioed in the situation. He cursed the wind and icy rain.
"We’re never going to get a fix on whatever’s hitting the city!" he shouted to Hotspot.
The Protectobot commander turned to answer when a red, gold and black eagle dropped from nowhere and walloped Hotspot in the middle. Hotspot’s form rode at the edge of Divebomb’s wing until the Predacon dumped him atop a high building.
Sky Lynx whooshed in to save the day. The storm drowned his usual bout of verbal bravado. He fired at their enemy with less than precise results; the wind threw all his targeting skills out of whack.
Divebomb targeted Sky Lynx on sight and with two well-placed blows, Divebomb severed Lynx’s bottom half. The dark blue half of Sky Lynx tumbled out of control and landed head first in the moat around Metroplex.
Sky spit oversized swear words at the Predacon. The two spun up, up, above the storm into the Earth’s troposphere. Divebomb clawed and hacked at the Autobot until Sky Lynx’s upper portion lost momentum and control. The white bird plunged from the sky, a fallen creature. He landed smack-middle in the muck of a pig farm a mile outside of the small town of Florence.
Razorclaw emerged from Metroplex’s depths. He tried to transform and failed. He scampered over debris and barriers, glancing over his shoulder. He attempted transformation to his lion mode and howled in pain. Run along! Keep going!
Slag wormed his way out the same hole. Under normal circumstances, the triceratops did not have Razorclaw’s speed or agility. But Slag had twice the endurance and a fair fight came like a shot in the dark. The Dinobot tracked his prey until Razorclaw slipped out the city entrance and flew off.
Amused by the chase, Grimlock did not see the trace of shadow aiming for him. Even in the fierce wind, where dust and debris tossed and flew in every direction, Grimlock should have smelled what came for him. A double shot of photon charges blew into his left leg and the Dinobot leader dropped. Between the explosions and the wind, no one heard Slag calling out for his friend and brother.
Grimlock did everything he could to push his languid form to its feet.... foot. Foots. There was only one foot. Snarl shoved through debris to his aid, but the thing in the air strafed the ground behind the Dinobot leader, separating him from Snarl. Grimlock drew his sword and waited for the Predacon’s next attack.
Down, down, the thing dropped like a stone of neutronium. A moment of confusion distracted Grimlock from his impending fight when Divebomb contacted another body with another sword. A familiar screech uttered in the wind and Divebomb flipped backward. Grimlock recovered his disjointed sensors enough to see Divebomb’s attacker.
Not Snarl, as the Dinobot leader anticipated, but Swoop. Swoop came to his aid. More than that, Swoop sliced a nice chunk out of the Predacon’s shell. Eagle and pterodactyl wrestled for control until Divebomb shifted his form and shot upward. With a running start, Swoop followed, tailing Divebomb move for move. Unlike Sky Lynx, Swoop was equipped with greater agility.
Divebomb commanded the winds with ownership. Swoop’s speed did not match the Predacon’s-another reason why Sky Lynx failed.
Swoop baited the Predacon out of the storm and into a bank of clouds rolling off the upper Oregon coastline. The nefarious flying nightmare took the bait, relying only on scanners to track his Dinobot prey. But the rain-burdened cloud cover obscured his senses. The Predacon flew straight until he encountered another target; an oil cruiser.
Divebomb aimed to sink the ship when Swoop shot up from the water directly in front and pelted the Predacon with both missiles and optical lasers.
Divebomb’s form flipped three times and barreled out of control. His systems shortened the moment he hit water. The impact sent him skipping over the ocean’s surface until he collided against a rock island.
Swoop took wing, transformed in the air and blasted the Decepticon bird.
Swoop waited until the storm settled before he returned to Metroplex. The city buzzed with after-disaster activity. A temporary new bridge crossed from road into Autobot city. Rather than flying in, the pterodactyl walked along the bridge. He expected someone to greet him with more questions about planes and things he did in the air. But only Rodimus Prime greeted him
Swoop smiled, though doubt etched his optics. He thought it nice that Rodimus wanted to be his brother. But Rodimus was not a Dinobot like him. Rodimus didn’t play very much.
He and the Autobot leader stood facing one another. Rodimus read him, Swoop only stared at his feet. "Me sorry not come back sooner. Good Dinobots always... oh." Swoop caught himself remembering: "me not Dinobot; Rodimus brother, now."
Rodimus smiled kindly. "Swoop, I think the attack on Metroplex explained everything. Seems it was Divebomb who attacked the planes. We received a communi-um, a note from the captain of the ship out there-the one Divebomb almost destroyed. He saw the whole thing, Swoop. You saved that vessel and you kicked Divebomb into next week. I wish I could have seen that!"
Swoop did not meet Rodimus’ gaze. He sullenly nodded, silently thanking Rodimus for his praise.
Rodimus expected something more, but understood that Swoop hurt inside. He nudged Swoop’s arm. "Hey, come with me. You gotta see something." he led the Dinobot into Central Command’s lower floor, now used as a temporary medbay.
Swoop roved his optics left and right and received a wave hello from two Aerialbots and a derisive snort from a rather bruised, egocentric Sky Lynx. "Me, Swoop not need doctor, Rodeemus."
Roddi smiled over his shoulder. "Yeah, I know, Big Guy. You’re tough as rocks. But there’s somebody here who’s kinda turned into bunny rabbit." he and Swoop trounced down six steps and into another wide room. Rodimus frowned at the tall figure in their path. "Grimlock, you’re supposed to be lying down."
Grimlock, palm out, waved it left to right in denial. "Me no pansy bunny. Me here to ah..." the Dinobot leader, who relied on crutches while waiting for repairs, stared at the floor, at a loss for words.
Rodimus stepped aside so that Almighty Bozo had clear sight of Swoop. Roddi crossed his arms and stared expectantly at Grimlock.
"Me, Grimlock... said bad thing," he stated slowly and clearly. "You, Swoop, not Decepticon. Not evil Swoop. Me not want Rodeemus your brother. Me, Grimlock and him’s other Dinobots want you, Swoop, be our brother." Grimlock paused. "You... come home, now?"
Swoop stared, optics bright and hopeful. "Me Dinobot again?
Grimlock limped closer and wrapped his free arm around Swoop. He released the littler Dinobot and held him at arm’s length. "Me, Grimlock sorry. Swoop good. Always be Little Dinobot Brother."