casusfere: (Burny)
[personal profile] casusfere
Title: Infinite Loop
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Time travel, groundhog-style
Universe: G1
Summary: Vortex is caught in a time loop. It's much less fun than he expected.

A/N: Found a thing in my folders that I'd neglected to post. I'm pretty sure there was a prompt when I wrote this, but I didn't write it down.


The crystal pulsed, despite the steady photon beam pouring into it.

"Combaticons, secure the crystal!" Onslaught's voice cut through the din of cannon fire.

Afterward, he'd never be able to say what color it was, but the light seemed to expand, brightening the longer he looked at it.

"Brawl, down!" Swindle shouted a warning, and fired over the tank's prone form.

A strange humming filled his audios.

"Don't let them take the crystal!"

Vortex's hand closed around the prism.

x-x-x


Cycle: 2

Vortex came to with a start, rotors smacking against the wall as he sat up, weapons coming online.

Swindle made an indistinct noise of complaint as the movement disloged him from where he'd been recharging, curled up across Vortex's leg. Empty high-grade containers clattered to the floor.

Vortex cycled his optics, blinking at the familiar walls of his quarters. "...The frag?"

Swindle onlined his optics and lifted his head just enough to fix Vortex with a disgruntled look. "If you're gonna have issues, do it fraggin' quieter."

"But..." What the slag? They'd just been in a firefight- "Did I take a hit to the processors?" he muttered.

A snort from the vicinity of his knee as Swindle curled back up. "Been askin' that for vorns."

"No, I'm serious," Vortex insisted, poking at a tire. "Last thing I remember's the shootout, with the crystal."

Swindle swatted at his hand without looking. "What fragging crystal? We ain't seen action in almost an orn, 'less you count shovin' Brawl off the overhang yesterday."

"You started it," Vortex said immediately, then frowned. "That wasn't yesterday-" He pulled up his chronometer. "...That was yesterday?" His chronometer told him it was still early morning, in what his memory banks insisted was the day before.

"Issues," growled Swindle. "Go have 'em elsewhere."

"Yeah," Vortex said, uncertain. "...'m gonna go run a diagnostic."

"Have it check your processor while you're at it," Swindle said, pillowing his head on his gyro-gun as Vortex swung his legs off the berth and stood.

"Frag off," Vortex answered automatically. What the frag?

He made it to the hanger bay where they'd unloaded the medical drones without encountering any more of his teammates and snagged a diagnostic scanner plugging it into his wrist port and setting it to scan his chronometer protocols. He hummed a counterpoint to the sound of raised voices a deck away drifting down the open corridor - Blast Off and Brawl arguing again - drumming his fingers impatiently as the scanner worked. The ticklish sensation of foreign code querying his systems faded, and the results lit up his HUD.

No errors found.

The frag? Vortex grumbled to himself, switching the scanner to sort through his memory banks.

"Vortex, what are you doing?" Onslaught demanded from behind him.

Vortex jumped - mechs that fragging big had no right to be that quiet - and glared over his shoulder. "Organizin' my exotic alien porn collection," he said, putting on a bright, cheery tone that he didn't particularly feel at the moment.

Onslaught gave him an unamused look, crossing the distance and grabbing a rotor to keep Vortex from sidling away. He reached over and flipped on the external scanner display. "Duplicate timestamp entries," he read. "What have you been up to?"

"What's your thoughts on time loops?" Vortex offered.

Onslaught didn't dignify that with an answer, but he did set the scanner down and release Vortex's rotor. "When you're finished playing around, we have a mission briefing." He glared down at Vortex. "By which I mean you will be there in exactly twenty breems."

"Yeah, yeah, got it," Vortex said, unplugging the scanner.

Onslaught gave him an inscrutable look for a long moment, then finally turned and left.


x-x-x


"Our objective is this crystal," Onslaught tapped a button, the floating hologram flickering into existence above the table.

Aaaand that cinches it. Vortex tilted his chair back, eyeing the ceiling.

"Vortex, pay attention-"

"Distract guards, blow up temple, retrieve crystal, be smote by alien god," Vortex said boredly. "I got it."

Swindle looked up blearily. "Wait, what temple? Alien god?"

Onslaught scowled. "Intercepting communiques is not a substitute for paying attention to briefings."

"Oh, I didn't. I'm pretty sure I'm stuck in a time loop," Vortex informed them.

No one looked convinced.

"...No one ever believes me," Vortex muttered, crossing his arms and sulking.

x-x-x


"Combaticons, secure the crystal!"

"...Yup, time loop," Vortex sighed.

"Brawl, down!"

Vortex ducked cannon fire, crouching at the base of the alter, and considered his options.

"Don't let them take the crystal!"

"Why not?" He shrugged, and reached for the crystal.

x-x-x


Cycle: 3

The ceiling of his quarters was mocking him, a warm, lightly-rumbling weight across his left leg.

"Note to self, don't take the crystal," he said out loud.

Swindle shifted and grumbled at him.

x-x-x


"I'm stuck in a time loop," Vortex informed Onslaught cheerfully, flopping into the briefing room chair.

To his credit, it only took an astrosecond for Onslaught to absorb this announcement. "I'm sure." And dismiss it, too.

"How else would I know that we're off to capture a glowey crystal-thing that's supposed to have weird religious powers from a race of aliens with more guns than a bunch of organics should rightly have?"

Onslaught gave him a flat look. "How would you like that list organized, alphabetically or by probability?"

"Oh, probability, I might need it for future reference and inspiration."

"Or a better idea, you tell me exactly how it was you've breached security." Onslaught paused. "...This time."

"I told you, time loop."

x-x-x


Vortex glared at the crystal, rubbing the dent in the side of his helm and ignoring the cannon fire behind him. "You're a pain in the aft," he informed the crystal.

"Don't let them take the crystal!"

"...The least you could do is vary the lines a little," he grumbled. He took aim at the crystal with his lasers and fired.

x-x-x


Cycle: 4

"Blowing up crystal: also not a good idea," he told the ceiling.

Swindle grumbled and shifted.

Vortex kicked him off the berth.

x-x-x


Cycle: 5

"Crystal also does not like having things thrown at it," he added, eyeing the sleeping Swindle.

x-x-x


Cycle: 8

"Don't let them get the crystal!"

"Yeah, yeah, you can keep your fragging crystal," Vortex snapped, transforming and taking off. "I'm so outta here!"

x-x-x


Cycle: 9

"...Aaaand now I'm not," he said with a sigh.

x-x-x


Cycle: 15

"No, seriously, time loop!" Vortex trailed after Swindle as the jeeps stomped into the briefing room.

x-x-x


Cycle: 47

"Vortex! Get the fragging crystal!" Swindle yelled, firing over Brawl's head.

"You get it," Vortex snapped. "I'm not touching the fraggin' thing again."

"Fine!" Swindle pushed off the fallen masonry he'd been using for cover and dove behind Vortex. "Cover me, you fragging glitch!"

x-x-x


Cycle: 48

"Oh, that's not fair, I'm not the one who picked it up," Vortex complained to his ceiling.

On his leg, Swindle twitched, then sat up, looking around wildly. "What the frag?"

"Hi," Vortex said.

"What- where-" Swindle's gyro-gun whirred to life.

"That's what I said," Vortex informed him happily. "I told you it was a time loop."

x-x-x


Cycle: 49

"...Okay, so it's a time loop," Swindle admitted grudgingly, into Vortex's shin plating.

Cycle: 51

"Why the frag do I have to be the one waking up with the hangover?" Swindle demanded. Vortex shrugged.

x-x-x


Cycle: 52

"This is fraggin' ridiculous," Swindle growled. "And would you two shut up-" This last was directed at Brawl and Blast Off, arguing much too loudly and too close to the energon dispenser for Swindle's comfort.

"Do not address me in that tone," Blast Off snapped back

Vortex leaned back against a table to watch the ensuing fight with bland interest. "Don't look at me," he told Onslaught when the commander stalked in to find out why his team hadn't made his briefing. "I didn't have anything to do with it this time."

x-x-x


"We need a plan," Swindle hissed.

"Usually, havin' a plan requires havin' some sorta idea on the end goal," Vortex pointed out. "Awful limited things; 'swhy I don't bother with 'em."

Swindle glared.

"I happen to be rather fond of plans," Onslaught cut in coldly.

"Yeah, but it ain't gonna work," Vortex said cheerfully.

Onslaught's engine rumbled. "Would you like to elaborate on that?"

"I would, but previous experience says you're just gonna deck me for it."

x-x-x


"Tell 'em about the time loop, get hit. Don't tell 'em about the time loop, get hit." Vortex's cheery tone was out of place with the complaint.

"Better you than me," Swindle muttered, keeping his voice low. "Fraggin' think you like it. Masochist."

"It just shows he cares," Vortex told him.

Swindle shot Vortex a strange look. "If hittin' people means he likes someone, Ons likes a fraggin' lot of people."

"Yeah, but only a few of us get hit more'n once."

"Seriously, we got a plan? How do we get outta this?"

"No clue."

"Not helpful," Swindle ground out. "What do we know so far?"

"Touching rock equals timeloop?" Vortex shrugged. "Tried taking it, not taking it, runnin' away, shootin' it, throwin' other rocks at it, shootin' the priest, shootin' just about everyone, really..."

"Convincing me to take it," Swindle growled.

"Yup. That too."

"So what else can we try?"

x-x-x


Cycle: 64

"...That didn't work, either" Swindle told Vortex's leg plating.

"Y'know," Vortex said idly, tucking his hands behind his head. "We could just get Ons to take it. Make him figure it out."

"If it doesn't work, we'd be stuck with Onslaught time loopin' with us," Swindle pointed out. "We could try convincin' Blasty to do a nice aerial bombardment."

"Sure, why not?"

x-x-x


Cycle: 65

"Nope."

Swindle just groaned.

x-x-x


Cycle: 67

"...Who grabbed the crystal?" Vortex asked.

Swindle frowned. "Thought you did."

"Nah, I was chasin' the little round squishy."

"Maybe-"

"Would one of you two like to explain why I appear to be trapped in a temporal disturbance?" Blast Off demanded coldly from the doorway.

"Oh. That answers that," Vortex said, bobbing his rotors at Blast Off.

x-x-x


Cycle: 68

"-As you can see from the data, the temporal disturbance spans a period of approximately fourteen joors," Blast Off was saying as Swindle and Vortex trailed into the briefing room.

"And you, Swindle, and Vortex are the only ones experiencing this disturbance?" Onslaught asked, frowning at the datapad.

"Hey, how come he listens to you about the time loop and not us?" Swindle demanded.

Onslaught gave him a flat look. Blast Off ignored him.

Vortex snickered. "Guess, Stumpy."

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