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Title: Crash Course, Chapter 2 – Where the Rubber Meets the Road
Authors: [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, 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 effort jointly written by myself and [livejournal.com profile] mdperera. Chapter one can be found over on her LJ or here on FFN. Also posted to [livejournal.com profile] gestalt_love. Dead End gets to voice his oh-so-cheery opinion of the situation in this chapter, so expect much doom and gloom as tensions start to rise.


Chapter 2 : Where the Rubber Meets the Road

They were doomed.

Dead End had suspected when he awoke from recharge that morning that today would be a bad day. He tended to think that about every day ever since he’d first onlined in front of Vector Sigma, but never before had his dire predictions fallen so utterly short of reality. The horror of their current situation was so far beyond anything he could have imagined that any prior prognostications seemed downright optimistic by comparison.

That fact that Megatron’s machine had been destroyed by his gestaltmates’ idiocy came as no surprise. The fact that his efforts to stop them had gone ignored was likewise predictable.

What hadn’t been predictable was what had happened next.

“How weird is this, guys? We're all human!”

As one they turned to look at the human who’d spoken with Wildrider’s voice – but not really his voice, Dead End mused – the accent was recognizable, but the sound of it was somehow wrong – and then to the one that had Motormaster’s violet optics – eyes, he corrected himself, they’re called eyes – their gazes questioning.

Motormaster – and it was Motormaster, flesh wrapper aside, just as he was Dead End and Wildrider was Wildrider and the humans with hair that shone blue-black and gold in the bright desert sunlight were Breakdown and Drag Strip – stared back at them and opened his mouth to speak, but was interrupted by a violent tremor that shook the ground beneath their feet.

It was an impact tremor, and many others followed it in rapid succession, creating a continuous series of vibrations not unlike the seaquakes that occasionally shook the Victory, except this quake was coming closer, approaching them with alarming speed. The Combaticons who’d been originally charged with guarding Megatron’s matter-energy converter – Swindle, Vortex and Brawl – were returning.

Motormaster finally found his voice. “Run!” he commanded.

They ran.

“Why are we running?” Wildrider asked, turning his head to look at Motormaster as he spoke and tripping over a clump of creosote in the process that sent him sprawling. He was back on his feet again almost immediately, pounding after them in an effort to catch up.

Motormaster didn’t slacken his pace. “Because if Vortex and Brawl catch us like this, they’ll take us apart.”

“Assuming they don’t just step on us,” Dead End chimed in. “Either way, we’re doomed.”

“I notice you’re still running with the rest of us,” Motormaster snarled pointedly.

Dead End scowled but didn’t bother to reply. He could feel the fragile flesh on the soles of his feet searing and tearing with every stride, and that was more than distracting enough. They were approaching the nearest of the tall cliffs surrounding the clearing; the sheer rock face loomed up in front of them, at least three times larger than it had been when they entered, pockmarked with cracks and holes shrouded in shadow that had seemed like pinholes before but now yawned impossibly wide. They made their way for them instinctively, seeking cover.

**

Finding a shallow cave big enough to shelter the five of them but small enough that the now-much-larger Combaticons wouldn’t bother to investigate it was surprisingly easy, and getting out of the blazing midday sun was an added bonus, but apart from that Dead End saw little about their situation to celebrate.

Motormaster turned away from the entrance where he’d been scanning the horizon for signs of pursuit to face the other members of his gestalt, crouched on the cave floor panting and dripping some strange, greasy fluid. “All right,” he said, glaring murderously at each of them in turn. “What the frag happened?”

They exchanged nervous glances.

“It was Breakdown!” Drag Strip said.

“It was Drag Strip!” Breakdown said in the same moment.

“It was the Autobots!” Wildrider crowed over them both.

Motormaster’s human face was flushed a muddy red from their sprint across the clearing, but it got even redder as he lunged at Wildrider, seizing him by the throat and hauling him clear off the ground. Wildrider made a choking sound as he was hoisted aloft, his hands scrabbling futilely at Motormaster’s wrist, his dangling legs kicking helplessly.

Dead End noted idly just how large their gestalt leader was compared to the rest of them even in their new, far more vulnerable forms. He towered over them, almost as wide as two of them standing side by side, his bulging arm bigger around than Wildrider’s neck trapped in his savage grip.

That and the violence was at least familiar. Less familiar was the look on Wildrider’s face as it swiftly darkened to purple, his eyes widening in panic as he clawed and kicked with increasing desperation.

Motormaster frowned, dropping him abruptly. “What?” he demanded.

Wildrider’s only response was a truly revolting noise somewhere between a gag and a gasp. For a long moment his harsh, rasping breaths were the only sound in the small cave, echoing hollowly off the rock walls.

Motormaster stared at him for long moment before turning his glare on the others. “One of you did this,” he growled. “Now start talking or I start punching."

“It was Breakdown’s fault,” Drag Strip replied immediately.

“It was Drag Strip’s fault,” Breakdown retorted, glaring at him.

Motormaster backhanded them both and looked to him, ignoring their cries of protest. “Well?”

Dead End sighed. “They got in a fight. He activated Megatron’s machine, and he broke it,” he replied, identifying each perpetrator in turn with a sullen jerk of his chin.

“And what were you doing during all of this?”

He offlined his optics in disgust. He’d seen that one coming a mile away. “Musing on the futility of my existence,” he replied sarcastically.

Predictably, Motormaster backhanded him as well.

Afterward he turned back to the cave entrance to stare out over the dry desert landscape, his unfamiliar features shaping themselves into an uncharacteristic expression of deep thought. They left him to it, opting to remain silent and nurse their injuries.

Dead End stared at his feet – bizarre appendages by anyone’s standards, more like grossly deformed hands than anything fit to walk on – noting with disdain the abundance of reddened scrapes and leaking cuts he’d acquired in their flight from the clearing. Human durability left a lot to be desired.

He glanced up at the others, taking in their new, vastly altered forms. That one was Breakdown, huddled close to Drag Strip despite their recent dispute, and over there was Wildrider –

Wait a minute, he thought. Why are they all darker than me?

“Right,” Motormaster said, breaking into his thoughts. “We’ll stay here for now. It’s probably only temporary. We’ll just wait until it wears off.”

“What if it doesn’t?” Breakdown asked.

“Then we’re doomed,” Dead End replied.

**

He was hideous.

There was no use in denying it. The evidence was right there in front of him. Gone were his shoulder wheels and chestplate. His mask and visor were nothing but a memory. He was tiny and lumpy and squashy and there was nothing he could do about it.

It was probably a mercy that his lifespan was now pathetically short.

“My polish is gone,” he remarked to no one in particular, breaking the prolonged silence.

“What?” Wildrider asked, lifting his head from where he’d been resting it against Dead End’s shoulder – his squishy, wheel-less shoulder – and pushing himself into a more upright position. Over the course of their long silent vigil they’d all gravitated into a sort of huddle, although Dead End couldn’t recall making a conscious decision to move closer to the others. Only Motormaster remained apart from them, standing alone at the entrance to the cave.

“I had a new can of polish in my subspace,” he said. “It’s gone.”

“Who cares about polish?” Drag Strip said, sitting up to sneer at him. “Have you noticed we don’t have any energon?”

“You do realize if we did and we drank it, we’d all die?” he replied darkly. He scowled, staring down at his ugly, fleshy hands. “Humans don’t drink energon.”

He was fairly certain they were all dying anyway. He hurt everywhere, not just the agony of the cuts and scrapes on his feet or the knot on his jaw where Motormaster had hit him; there was also a dull ache in his midsection – where my transmission used to be, he thought glumly – and a painful throbbing in his head like someone had been using it to pound out dents. His mouth was unpleasantly dry, and he felt as if his core temperature had dropped at least five degrees since they’d entered the cave.

“How long has it been?” Breakdown asked suddenly.

“We don’t have internal chronometers,” he replied morosely.

“Yes, but it’s been a while, hasn’t it?” Breakdown said, looking over at Motormaster. “It’s been a while, and we’re still human.”

“Of course we are,” Dead End said. “Megatron was planning to use that machine to make energon. What good would it do him if the effects wore off after a few hours?”

Motormaster turned slowly to look at him. So did all the others.

“I told you we were doomed,” he said.

Breakdown turned back to Motormaster. “So what do we do now?”

“We could use the machine to turn ourselves back,” Drag Strip suggested. “Just wait until the Combaticons leave, and then sneak out and – and fix it, somehow. Change back to normal.”

Motormaster frowned, turning back to stare out into the clearing again. He stood stiffly, his feet set slightly apart, his broad shoulders vibrating with tension, silhouetted by the watery orange light of the setting sun.

“Are they still out there?” Drag Strip demanded impatiently.

“Yeah,” Motormaster replied tightly. “They’re dismantling the machine.”

“Oh,” Drag Strip said in a small voice.

For a long time no one spoke. Outside, the Combaticons finished gathering the individual components that made up Megatron’s matter/energy converter and departed, taking with them their last shred of hope.

A curious rumbling, gurgling sound punctuated the tense silence. Dead End, Wildrider and Breakdown all turned to look at Drag Strip, the apparent source of the noise.

“Quit revving your engine, Drag Strip,” Motormaster ordered absently. “I’m trying to think.”

“He doesn’t have an engine,” Dead End muttered.

“We need to contact Megatron,” Motormaster said finally.

“We don’t have comms,” Dead End said.

“I know we don’t have comms!” Motormaster snapped, whirling around to glare at him. “And you should be grateful I don’t have my slagging rifle either. Breakdown, could you do it with a human computer?”

Breakdown sat up a little straighter as he was addressed, frowning thoughtfully. “I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe. But where are we going to get one?”

“We’ll go to a human settlement,” Motormaster replied. “One of their cities. They’ll have one.”

“We’ll need clothes,” Breakdown ventured hesitantly. “Humans always wear clothes. If we don’t have any, they’ll all stare at us.”

“We need food, too,” Wildrider chimed in. “Humans refuel by eating food.”

“So we’ll get some,” Motormaster said.

“We don’t have any money,” Dead End pointed out. “They’re not going to give us all that slag for nothing.”

“Who said anything about giving it to us?” Motormaster growled, his hands clenching into fists. “We’ll just take it.”

“And how exactly are we going to get there?” Dead End retorted. “We don’t have alt modes.”

Motormaster lunged at him with a speed that was downright startling, seizing him by the shoulders and hauling him to his feet, his human features contorting with ill-suppressed rage. “Shut up!” he shouted, his flushed face scant inches from Dead End’s. “Stop telling us what we don’t fragging have and start thinking about how we’re going to get out of this!”

“We're not going to get out of this!” he screamed back, his vocalizer cracking. “We are slagged! We are ugly, squishy, useless organics and we are ALL. GOING. TO DIE!

Motormaster snarled, shoving him violently away. Dead End stumbled backward, barely managing to catch himself against the cave wall before he fell. He leaned heavily against it, venting hard. His skin felt hot and tight, his chest painfully compressed; he couldn’t seem to get enough air. His dry throat ached.

A lengthy silence stretched out between them, filled with the oppressive weight of their stares and punctuated by his own labored breathing. After a moment Motormaster snorted derisively, turning his back on him and stalking back to the cave entrance to look outside again.

“I'd kinda like to have some more fun before I die,” Wildrider said wistfully. “I always wanted to see Disneyland.”

“I wanted to win the Formula One World Championship,” Drag Strip volunteered, not wanting to be outdone.

Breakdown glanced between them, then turned his gaze back to Motormaster. “What are we gonna do?” he asked quietly.

“We’ll walk,” Motormaster replied with grim resolve. “The road's not far; we'll go there. We’ll get a car, find a city. Anyone who’s got a problem with that can make the trip on his hands and knees.”

“Can we get a car each?” Drag Strip asked hopefully. “I want the fastest one.”

Motormaster huffed in exasperation. “We'll get one car and you can have the whole fragging trunk all to yourself, how’s that?”

**

Venturing from the temporary shelter of the cave they had hidden in was strangely daunting. The sun had set, and the sky was darkening rapidly. When Dead End stepped out into the gathering gloom of the desert twilight, he immediately attempted to switch his vision to the infrared spectrum, only to be reminded that he no longer had infrared, or optics for that matter. The realization made him want to fall to his knees and never move again.

But the others kept going, picking their way carefully over the uneven rocky ground, their progress punctuated by the occasional curse or grunt of pain as they attempted to navigate back across the clearing in the steadily growing darkness. He had no choice but to follow.

I don’t deserve this, he thought bitterly. I don’t slagging deserve this.

By the time he slammed his foot into an unseen rock for the third or fourth time, he’d stopped noticing the pain. Pain had become his entire existence, implacable, inescapable.

I tried to stop them, he thought, veering slightly from his chosen course to avoid a dark, spiky clump of unidentifiable plant life. No one ever listens to me.

The others were walking slightly apart from him, just far enough that their quiet murmurs were beyond his audial range, their voices indistinct. Motormaster was even further afield, walking alone several strides ahead of them, his broad form barely discernible in the dark.

Dead End stumbled again, this time falling painfully to his knees, and for a moment he debated not bothering to rise. He placed a hand flat on the ground to brace himself, and blinked when he realized he’d put his palm directly in the center of a tire tread mark – their tread marks – his eyes beset by an odd stinging sensation as he pushed himself upright.

The gnawing ache in his midsection had dulled, but the pounding in his head seemed to grow worse with every step he took, further compounding his misery. His gyros, or whatever it was humans had that passed for gyros, had begun to malfunction; he felt incredibly dizzy. Slow, agonizing death seemed inevitable.

He was so caught up in his litany of despair that he didn’t realize the others had stopped until he bumped into Wildrider’s back. He looked up to find them staring out over a broad expanse of inky asphalt – the highway they’d drove in on.

There wasn’t a single car in sight.

*Chapter 3 is here*

(no subject)

Date: 2010-08-02 08:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sister-dear.livejournal.com
You two are writing humanformers. asdlkfjds :D :D Haha, this is going to be awesome. It already is, really. You're striking a good balance between what they know (humans wear clothes and they eat but not energon), and what they don't. Motormaster choking Wildrider was a perfect example of how they're still them but certain aspects of their behavior really aren't going to work now.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-08-02 11:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anon-decepticon.livejournal.com
You two are writing humanformers.
Yeah, and ironically we've both publicly stated in the past that we didn't like TFs-turned-human fics and/or that we'd never write one*, lol. I'm kind of surprised to be doing it, but I have to admit it's a hell of a lot of fun. We have a lot of great ideas that I can't wait to see executed - it's gonna be a riot.

*I still say this about mpreg, and I'm holding my ground on that one.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-08-02 08:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] caia-comica.livejournal.com
Oh dear. Poor Stunticons! This is really interesting.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-08-03 03:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] astersyn.livejournal.com
Normally I am verrrrry leery of humanformers, but I will put aside my prejudices for something written by you. And you do not disappoint! Realism! (as far as this fandom goes) I love that they aren't automatically clothed. I greatly look forward to the next chapter!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-08-03 03:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anon-decepticon.livejournal.com
Yup! No clothes, no super powers, and no help from outsiders - we're being really mean to them, aren't we? Then again, we did give them nice, healthy bodies - they're all quite physically fit (buff even), have 20-20 vision, and none of them are allergic to bee stings. Generous of us, no?

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