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Title: Crash Course, Chapter 6 – Highway Robbery
Author: [livejournal.com profile] anon_decepticon & [livejournal.com profile] mdperera, with input from [livejournal.com profile] kookaburra1701
Rating: PG-13 (for now)
Pairing or Character(s): The Stunticons. No pairings in this chapter.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Transformers.
Warning(s): Humanized TFs (entire story), violence, and smut (in future chapters).
Summary: An accident turns the Stunticons into humans. Now the Decepticons think they're traitors, and other humans think they're eccentric, dangerous...and occasionally, dead sexy. From here, things can only get worse.
Author's Note: For those unaware, “Crash Course” is a collaborative fic jointly written by myself and [livejournal.com profile] mdperera. Previous chapters can be found here on FFN or on our respective journals. Also posted to [livejournal.com profile] gestalt_love. Woohoo, chapter 6! Breakdown's back, and he’d really appreciate it if you’d stop staring at him.



Crash Course, chapter 6: Highway Robbery

Breakdown peered nervously around the corner, his optics scanning the street they’d chosen.

It was deserted, empty save for a scrap of newspaper blowing down the sidewalk. As he watched, a human couple exited a building roughly a block away, crossed the street and headed off in the opposite direction. He watched them as they disappeared into the night.

He fidgeted, adjusting his grip on the heavy metal flashlight, the one they’d found in the Accord’s glove compartment. Of course the street was deserted – that was why they’d chosen this particular spot, because it lacked human witnesses.

Or did it? Breakdown had the distinct feeling that they were being watched.

Stop it, he commanded himself, quashing the urge to look up at the windows of the surrounding buildings. He’d already done that twice in the last few minutes. The ones facing the street opposite them were boarded up, and the ones on either side were mostly dark, staring down at him like black, lifeless optics –

Stop it! he thought. Biting his lip, he reached out blindly to his side with his free hand. Wildrider’s slipped into it.

“Don’t worry, Breaks,” Wildrider said, giving his hand a reassuring squeeze before releasing it again. “Everything’s gonna be fine. Just like last time, all right?”

“Yeah,” he said diffidently. At least it’s not as bad as the bus, he thought. The ride into the city from the service station had been harrowing. Everyone had stared at them, even though they were no longer naked, and if not for the presence of his team, Breakdown would have gotten off before they’d gone two miles. He shuddered, recalling the way the other passengers had whispered to one another as the Stunticons boarded, the way they’d stared when Dead End offered the driver one of the access passes they’d found in the human’s wallet only to be informed contemptuously, Sorry buddy, we don’t take plastic.

That had been embarrassing; apparently the cards weren’t travel passes after all. Dead End had been mortified that his supposition was wrong and had sulked for most of the trip, which hadn’t helped ease Breakdown’s anxiety any.

He slipped his hand into his pocket, feeling the wallet they’d acquired earlier. The location they’d chosen for that ambush had been similar to this one, and he’d felt the same way right up until their chosen target approached them, but they’d succeeded. There was nothing to worry about.

Just one more, he thought. Then we can meet Motormaster and the others at the roundelay point and go back to the motel.

That was probably why he felt so nervous; this was the first time they’d been separated since they became human. Breakdown would have preferred to stick together, but Motormaster had decided they’d have a better shot at getting more money if they split up. He’d taken the tire iron from the car’s trunk, leaving Breakdown and Wildrider with only the flashlight between them.

Not that he’d wanted the tire iron – Breakdown had deliberately chosen the flashlight as his weapon because it was less conspicuous – but he wished he had his concussion rifle instead, or that there’d at least been a weapon for Wildrider, too.

The sound of a door opening reached his audials, and a solitary set of footsteps approached them. Breakdown tensed in anticipation. Beside him, he sensed Wildrider doing the same.

He counted under his breath as the footsteps drew closer. When he got to one, Wildrider stepped out of the alley they’d been lurking in as if he were simply taking a shortcut, deliberately bumping into the human as he strode past.

“Hey, watch where you’re going!”

“Sorry,” Wildrider said. “Didn’t see you th – whoa! What happened to your hair?”

Breakdown frowned. That wasn’t part of the script! He peeked around the corner, praying the human would be too preoccupied by Wildrider to notice him. When he saw him, Wildrider’s odd question abruptly made sense; the man’s head was completely hairless, reflecting the dim yellow glow of the nearby streetlights. He looks like that Aerialbot, he thought as he slipped out of the alley.

The human snorted derisively, trying to shoulder past Wildrider, but Wildrider grabbed his arm.

“Your head is really shiny,” Wildrider said. “Do you polish it?”

“I’ll polish the sidewalk with your face if you don’t get outta my way,” the bald man retorted. “Get lost.”

Wildrider grinned. “Be glad to,” he said, “just as soon as you give me your wallet.”

The man stiffened, his hands curling into fists. “Big mistake, kid,” he said, shaking off Wildrider’s grip and drawing his arm back, but Breakdown was already in motion. The flashlight struck the back of the human’s bald head with unerring precision, and he dropped like a sack of spare parts.

“Good shot,” Wildrider said as they hefted the dazed human and maneuvered his limp form back into the alley. “Told ya everything would be fine.”

“Let’s just get the money and go,” he said, rifling through the bald man’s pockets “I don’t like it here.”

“I like his jacket,” Wildrider said. “You think the boss’d be mad if I took that, too?”

The jacket in question was black leather, and Breakdown understood instantly why Wildrider wanted it – the seats of his alt mode had been upholstered in the same material. “No,” he said. “Just hurry up and get it before he wakes up. I didn’t hit him that hard.” He’d didn’t mention that he’d been afraid to.

Wildrider quickly wrestled the jacket free while Breakdown retrieved the man’s wallet, slipping it into his pocket alongside the first. Afterward he straightened and peered out into the street again. There wasn’t a human in sight.

“Clear,” he said. “Let’s go.”

They left the alley and headed down the street, doing their best to look like they belonged there. The place they’d arranged to meet up with the other Stunticons wasn’t far, but Breakdown still felt uneasy. Even with Wildrider strolling along beside him, he had to fight the urge to quicken his pace.

“You think we should try for another one?” Wildrider asked after they’d gone a few blocks.

“No,” he replied quietly. He couldn’t shake the feeling that they were being watched. “Let’s just go and meet the others. Something’s not right.”

Wildrider scoffed but didn’t argue. Breakdown vented a sigh of relief – at least Wildrider hadn’t teased him about being scared – and cast a quick, nervous glance over his shoulder at the street behind them.

A flicker of movement caught his optic.

He stiffened abruptly, a wave of tension shooting up his backstrut. He found himself longing for his rear view mirror and wishing his human optics functioned as well in the dark as his real ones did. He was certain he’d seen something, but he couldn’t make out anything outside the circles of light the streetlamps cast on the sidewalk. Everything beyond them was shrouded in shadow.

“I think someone’s following us,” he whispered.

Wildrider mimicked his movement, glancing surreptitiously over his shoulder. “I don’t see anything,” he said. “You worry too much, we’re fine.”

He nodded, noting that Wildrider had started walking faster despite his dismissive tone. They hurried on in silence, keeping their heads down. Just a few more blocks…

That was when the sound of footsteps reached their audials.

Breakdown hazarded another glance behind him, his ventilations quickening. A pair of human males was following them, their slow deliberate pace and grim expressions making it clear that he and Wildrider were the focus of their attention.

“Two,” he whispered, looking around for possible escape routes.

Wildrider made a soft sound of acknowledgement. “Even odds,” he murmured back, his tone begging the question – fight, or flee?

But before Breakdown could reply, two more humans stepped out into the street in front of them, blocking their path.

There was an alley immediately to their right. Breakdown grabbed Wildrider’s arm and ducked into it, pulling Wildrider along with him. His grip tightened on the flashlight. He didn’t know who these humans were or what they wanted, but he doubted he or Wildrider would like whatever they had in mind. Dropping all pretense of casualness, they began to run, pelting down the alley as fast as their human legs could carry them.

It ended in a brick wall.

Breakdown whirled around to face the entrance, his optics casting about frantically for some other means of escape. There was a rusted ladder just above him, part of some sort of metal structure that scaled the side of the building to his right, but it hung several feet out of reach. The walls hemming them in were heavily scarred with graffiti and age, lacking either windows or doors. They were trapped.

The two pairs of men appeared at the mouth of the alley. Another man had joined them, and Breakdown recognized immediately that he was their leader – it showed in the way he carried himself, the way the other four hung back a pace as he strode confidently toward them. “Yo, esé,” he said. “You on our turf.”

For all that human culture was still mostly a mystery to him, Breakdown instantly parsed his meaning. These humans had claimed this area as theirs, and found the presence of strangers within it objectionable. As a Decepticon, territorial grievances were something Breakdown could readily understand. His processor was unable to define the word the human had called him, but it identified the language as Spanish, so he responded in kind.

“We’re sorry for trespassing,” he said. “We didn’t know. We’ll leave now.”

The human seemed unimpressed by his offer; his optics narrowed. “Too late for that, holmes.”

One of them must have seen us rob that other human, Breakdown thought. “We’ll give you the money,” he offered.

The human laughed at that, and the others joined him. “Yeah esé, you will,” he said.

Breakdown felt a cold drop of liquid trickle down his backstrut as he realized most of them were armed. At least two of the four blocking their only path of escape were carrying lengths of wood or metal, and from their expressions, they intended to use them.

Never before had Breakdown felt so painfully vulnerable as he did in that moment. As a mech he’d have found their weapons laughable, but to his new human body they were as potentially deadly as Megatron’s fusion cannon. Worse, they were all looking at him..!

He retreated a step, flinching as his unfamiliar clothing brushed against the wall behind him. They were cornered, outnumbered, and outgunned, lacking even the ability to comm for help. He cast an alarmed look at Wildrider as terror tightened his throat, cutting off his air.

Wildrider might have been frightened too, but the maniacal grin that stretched across his lip components seemed anything but. “Don’t worry, Breaks,” he said, sneering at the humans as they began to close in on them. “I’ll deal with these slaggers.”

The leader smirked at his words, raising a hand curled into a loose fist. There was a soft snick, and a slim silvery blade suddenly appeared in it. Breakdown’s optics widened in surprise – did humans have subspace compartments, too?

Wildrider seemed equally impressed by the display. “That’s awesome! How’d you do that?”

“‘Rider, get back,” he hissed, dropping instinctively into a fighting crouch as the humans moved in for the kill.

But instead Wildrider gave a resounding battle cry and threw himself at the humans’ feet, toppling two of them as they faltered in surprise. The third’s initial swing flew harmlessly over his head.

The leader dodged Wildrider’s impromptu charge, and one of the others was standing out of range. Breakdown flung the flashlight at the latter, and was gratified when it accurately pegged the human on the helm, dropping him in his tracks.

Wildrider did his best to keep the other three occupied, twisting and tangling himself around their legs as they tried to punch and kick him, lashing out with a fist to strike at the vulnerable kibble of one while sinking his denta into the lower leg of another. There was a howl of agony, and the two humans left standing redoubled their efforts, smashing their weapons down on Wildrider's back and arms – and head, Breakdown saw in sickening dread – with heavy, meaty thuds.

But Breakdown couldn’t help him. In the moment he’d hesitated, distracted by Wildrider’s attack, the leader came after him with the knife. He ducked back reflexively, narrowly avoiding getting stabbed in the optic, but for a moment he actually thought he had been. A sharp stinging sensation exploded from his forehead, and within seconds he was half blinded by a rush of hot, sticky fluid running down the side of his face.

Breakdown made a wild grab for the human’s arm as the knife slashed at him again, halting the second strike before it could open another gash in his faceplate but slicing open his palm in the process. For a tense moment they grappled, Breakdown’s panic rising as his fluid-slicked grip on the gang leader’s wrist started to slip.

The sound of heavy blows striking home in the alley beyond him were coming faster now, closer together. They’re killing Wildrider, he thought as he dodged a kick from his adversary, fighting to keep the blade away from his face. There’s too many of them; they’re going to –

But before he could finish the thought, the human was jerked out of his grip and thrown against the alley wall. Breakdown looked up in surprise, and met Motormaster’s enraged purple optics. Motormaster looked livid, his expression alone enough to make Breakdown cringe in terror, but at the same time he felt more relieved than he’d ever felt in his life.

Motormaster turned away from him, plucking the gang leader up off the ground and slamming him into the wall a few more times. Breakdown peered past him cautiously, looking for Wildrider.

The two humans who’d been attacking him were now facing off against Drag Strip and Dead End, and for a moment Breakdown couldn’t see Wildrider at all. But then Drag Strip darted to one side to avoid a clumsy strike, and Breakdown spotted him crouched on the ground at Drag Strip’s feet, wobbling unsteadily as he attempted to rise.

He was about to go help him when the shrill wail of police sirens rose up over the sound of blows being exchanged in the alley, freezing the combatants in their tracks. The humans left standing broke off their attack and fled, abandoning their leader.

Motormaster dropped the hapless human and turned to face them, glancing up at the ladder hanging directly above him. “Up,” he commanded.

No one argued; they all knew what those sirens meant. Drag Strip shot forward, scaling Motormaster like a tree and clambering up the ladder. When he reached the first landing, he turned and extended a hand, waiting to assist whoever followed him.

Dead End went next, and then Motormaster lifted Wildrider so that Drag Strip and Dead End could pull him up after them, ignoring his dazed protests that he was fine.

Breakdown turned to follow, pausing when a glint of silver caught his optic. The gang leader’s knife was lying on the ground at Motormaster’s feet, a few inches from its unconscious owner. He scooped it up hastily, securing it between his denta as he accepted the boost Motormaster gave him, and climbed up onto the crowded landing with the others.

Left alone on the ground with the sirens coming closer, Motormaster jumped, catching hold of the lowest rung. The ladder creaked ominously, and for a second Breakdown was afraid it would give way beneath his weight, but to his relief it held, and Motormaster swiftly hauled himself up to join them.

The metal structure rattled as they quickly scaled it, reaching the roof of the building just as the strobing red and blue lights of the police lit the walls of the alley below. Peering over the ledge, they discovered that with the exception of the leader, all of the remaining downed humans had recovered and fled.

They watched in silence as the police roped off the alley with yellow tape and took the lone human into custody, careful not to make a sound. At one point one of the human authority figures glanced up at the ladder, but didn’t bother to climb up and investigate.

They waited for a long time after the police left, crouched and huddled together in the dark, before finally daring to come back down.


*Chapter 7 is here*
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