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Title: 2am Alarm
Rating: PG13
Warning: Spinister has a flamethrower. He uses it.
[ profile] tf_speedwriting Prompt: #2 – Strange sounds at 2am.
Summary: Sometimes, the strange sounds Red Alert hears in the middle of the night really ARE Decepticons breaking into the base.

The early hours of the morning were Red Alert's favorite time. The whole Ark was quiet, even the on duty mechs subdued. Trailbreaker in the commissary, getting his ration before coming on shift. Hoist and Windcharger in the command center, watching the monitors and seeming content to not talk. The prisoner in the brig as recharging, and Bumblebee... was playing tic tac toe on the guard station computer, but at least he was doing it quietly. Even Jazz, taking a stroll around the hanger, was keeping his humming on low volume.

Red Alert kept an optic on the cameras, and busied himself with all the security updates he wasn't able to get done with the interruptions of daytime activities.

He'd almost finished the new encryption algorithm when he heard it, a strange hissing that didn't come from the volcano. He frowned, looking toward the cameras. An error message came up – sensors in the hall near the now-dufunct engine were offline. A malfunction, or attack?

Red Alert to Trailbreaker – I just lost sensors outside the engine room. Please check it out before you come to the control room.

On his screen, Trailbreaker tilted his head toward the commissary camera, and downed the rest of his ration. “Will do, Red,” he said, with none of the impatience the request would have got from most of the crew members.

Thank you.” He pulled up the nearest camera to the offline sensor. The hallway appeared clear; it hadn't been used since last time he'd performed maintenance on the security system there, and nothing seemed disturbed. The area hadn't fared well in the crash or time since, and rubble was strewn across the hallway. None of it seemed to have shifted. He backed up the footage to just before the sensor went out, and let it play.

At first, it seemed nothing was amiss. Then, a second after the sensor went down, a glow lit the hallway, appearing to originate from somewhere just out of frame. What the...

Reaching the hallway now, Red,” Trailbreaker broke in, over the comms. “So far, looks...” Trailbreaker's voice faltered. “We have a problem. Something's melted through the wall here. Metal's still cooling.”

It's what?” Even as he spoke, he was hitting the alarm. Across the ship, blast doors dropped, securing the vital areas of the Autobot base. Automated alarm tones sounded through the comm system, rousing the recharging mechs.

No sign of whatever did it,” Trailbreaker added.

Prowl to Red Alert – What's going on?

We have a breech.” Red Alert said shortly. “Unknown intruders.

Where?” Prowl sounded immediately alert.

Unknown,” Red Alert said. “ Sensors went out near the engine, and Trailbreaker discovered a melted-out section of hull, but no sign of the perpetrator.”

On my way,” Prowl said. “Trailbreaker, stay there but keep your optics on. I'm sending Smokescreen and Ironhide to you.”

Understood,” Trailbreaker said easily. On the monitor, Red Alert could just barely make out the shimmer of the edge of a forcefield.

Nearly a local hour later, they were no closer to finding the intruder. The alarms quieted, but Red Alert refused to give up searching, scanning through every sensor in the Ark. The rest of the Autobot officers currently on base had converged on the security center, with the exception of Trailbreaker, who was keeping an optic on the melted-out hull in case the perpetrator circled back.

“Are we sure it wasn't a blowout from the old engine?” Ratchet asked, slumping in a chair.

Wheeljack hummed thoughtfully. “It's possible; the engine core's still active, after all. I'd haveta take a look to see.”

“No,” Ironhide said. “Wasn't no explosion. No shrapnel, no seismic disturbance, no blast pattern. Whole wall just melted through. I'd say flamethrower, high-heat.”

“We have searched the entire ship,” Prowl pointed out. “The likelihood of an intruder evading the search pattern is astronomically low.”

Red Alert resisted the urge to tell Prowl where he could put his “Astronomically low”. “What's the likelihood of someone melting their way in and then simply leaving?”

Smokescreen gave Red Alert an apologetic look, opening his mouth-

The alarms went off again, registering a massive heat spike.

“What's happening?” Prowl asked.

“Forget that, where?” Ironhide demanded, coming to his feet.

“Brig.” Red Alert brought up the cameras – the brig was one of the most secure and most surveillance area in the Ark, protected by heavy blast doors that should hold up against nearly any hand-held or integrated weapon short of Megatron's fusion cannon.

The first camera he pulled up showed a bubbling mess where the blast doors should be.

“Primus,” Ratchet whispered.

“Bumblebee, what's your situation?” Red Alert switched between cameras, trying to find an angle that showed their attacker.

Holy Frag! Red, someone's just took out the door, but I can't see-” The transmission cut out a squeal of static. In the security center, the cameras went dark.

Bee!” Ratchet lunged to his feet and would have rushed out the door if Jazz hadn't grabbed his arm.

“Easy there, doc,” Jazz cautioned. “I got a feelin' we're gonna need you intact when this is over.” Jazz looked at the others. “C'mon, we'll plan on the run,” he said. “Red, get the cameras back and keep us updated.” Jazz didn't wait for the acknowledgment before taking off for the brig, Prowl and Smokescreen right behind him.

“Frag it!” Ratchet paced the length of the security center, frustrated.

“Getting yourself killed isn't going to help Bumblebee,” Red Alert said, focused on the cameras. It didn't seem to be anything he could fix from here – the best he could do is pull up the next set, further down the corridor. In the main monitor, he brought up the last footage from the disabled brig cameras, cycling through frame by frame. Maybe they'd caught something that would help...

There. He paused the footage. Not much, just a blurred edge of something, a smear of color in a smoke-choked room.

“What's that?” Ratchet leaned over his shoulder, frowning. The color was a garish pink that should have caught the gaze and attracted attention. It reminded Red Alert of spilled energon and fire.

“Frag,” Red Alert said roughly. “Jazz, Prowl, be careful! It's Spinister!”

Aw, hell,” Ironhide said. “Fragging Mayhems. Where's the Wreckers when you need them?”

“Who is Spinister?” Smokescreen asked, confused.

Decepticon assassin, carries a flamethrower that tends to turn people into puddles,” Jazz responded grimly. “Be careful, he's not going to let himself be cornered.

At the brig,” Ironhide said. “I'm goin' in.

We're right behind you.” Jazz passed under the last functioning camera and into the brig corridor, out of the camera view. For a long, nerve-wracking moment, there was nothing. Then, “Brig's clear. Ratchet, get down here.”

Status?” Red Alert demanded, as Ratchet darted out the door.

No sign of Spinister or the prisoner,” Prowl answered. “Bumblebee is...” The tactician hesitated, something that did nothing for Red Alert's peace of mind. “He's alive,” Prowl finished. “It would appear he managed to use the guard station for cover with some success.

How did he get out past the cameras?” Trailbreaker asked.

How does he get anywhere?” Red Alert muttered. “Keep your forcefield up. He might be headed your way.

Got it. Trailbreaker paused. “Hang on, I think I heard something-

This time, the camera was in perfect position to catch the flame hitting Trailbreaker, filling the screen with bright light, then static. “Trailbreaker!

I'm alright, Trailbreaker said, strained. “Other than having bits of wall drip on me, I'm okay. Forcefields held.

“Where's Spinister?”

”Gone. I'm sorry,” Trailbreaker said. ”I barely saw him, and then he was gone again. Think they've escaped. ..What about Bumblebee?

“He'll live,” Ratchet said shortly. ”I can't say much more than that.”

“No one's dead, I'd count it as a win,” Jazz advised.

“Even so, I want patrols in the halls until we can be absolutely certain they're no longer on the base,” Prowl ordered. “Red Alert, get that hole secured.”

On it, Prowl.” Red Alert slumped back in his chair, scrubbing over his face. So much for a quiet night...


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December 2015

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