Jazz and Blaster crouched down behind the wall and watched the activity around the small building. Soundwave’s crew of cassettes was standing guard while the tape player seemed to be frozen solid.
Jazz knew that he was listening. He also knew that the ‘Con was listening for them, the ‘Con just didn’t know exactly where they were. In any case, that was about to change. He glanced at Blaster and caught his optic. Blaster nodded. Ready, his expression said.
Without another signal, both ‘Bots leaped to their feet, sound systems blasting at full volume and ran towards the startled tapes and their player.
And they were surprised. None of them had expected a head on assault. Momentarily startled, they were unable to react fast enough and couldn’t stop the Autobots. Jazz sped past Rumble and Frenzy and, with a flick of his wrist, threw a small grenade, which rolled right up to Soundwave’s feet.
Then they were gone, hidden behind another wall.
The grenade detonated with a rather comforting whump. Debris from the building rained down on their heads followed by a solid thump of something landing at their feet.
Jazz glanced down. He cocked his head curiously and then looked at Blaster. Blaster looked down and grinned. He picked up the small blue and white tape player.
He turned it over in his hands and then gave it a shake. With a shrug, he handed it to Jazz. Jazz looked thoughtful then raised a finger as if he had an idea. Handing the tape player back to Blaster, he unspaced two small cans of paint and a pair of paintbrushes. Blaster gave Jazz an amused look. Jazz shrugged and grinned.
Jazz opened the cans and carefully applied a coat of orange paint to the player. Blaster took over and finished the job with a flourish, spraying black paint everywhere.
Jazz grabbed the brush and painted a mustache under Blaster’s nose. Blaster retrieved the brush and gave Jazz glasses. When they were done, Jazz picked up the cassette player and crept back to where the cassettes were laying, still unconscious. He placed it carefully on the remains of a wall so that the tapes would see it right away when they woke up.
Seconds later, the saboteur and the boombox were gone, their mission accomplished with style.
Tracks studied the room with a serious optic.
“It needs something, I believe,” he said without looking at his partner-in-decorating.
Inferno snorted. “We have black cats, pumpkins, witches, spider webs, we even have a fog machine, what else could we possibly need?”
Tracks ignored the sarcasm. “I don’t know,” he said thoughtfully.
Inferno rolled his optics. Any other job, Jazz, with any other partner, he thought. “Tracks, we even have a herd of ghosts. There isn’t room for anything else.”
Tracks turned around taking in the entire room. Yes, something was missing. He spotted the empty space in the far corner of the room. “There. We need something there.” He pointed at the corner and gave Inferno a triumphant grin.
“Oh, fer…” Inferno muttered. “What do you propose we put there?”
Tracks shook his head. “No idea…”
“Hey, guys, what’s up?”
Inferno and Tracks turned and looked at the newcomer.
Jazz grinned and pounded Inferno and Tracks on the back. “Great job, guys, just great. Couldn’t a done better myself. I especially like that crescent moon in the corner,” he said with a wink of an optic behind his visor.
The crescent moon glared down at the trio. “I swear to Primus, when I get down I’m going to murder you all,” Cosmos, his green paint completely covered in black and white, yelled at them. He would’ve shaken a fist too but he was firmly glued to the ceiling.
Jazz entered the conference room and took a look around. He grinned when he realized he wasn’t late for once. The only mechs present for the staff meeting were Wheeljack, Ironhide and Optimus Prime. Optimus was never late and since he was never without Ironhide by his side, it seemed, Ironhide was there. Why Wheeljack was there on time was a mystery.
In the grand scheme of things, though, it was unimportant to Jazz. What was important was his Halloween party.
“So,” he said without preamble. “Who’s coming to my costume party?”
Optimus winced. “Sorry, Jazz. I can’t come. I don’t have a costume.”
Ironhide nodded in agreement. “Sorry, Jazz, same here. Ah just can’t seem ta come up with a costume.”
Wheeljack’s “ears” flashed bright blue as he looked from Optimus to Ironhide then back at Jazz. He knew a good excuse when he heard one. “Nope, can’t make it, sorry. I had a costume but I, uh, blew it up.”
Jazz gave Wheeljack a long, disbelieving look, which lasted all of a microsecond before he smiled again. Far from being discouraged by this response, he said, “Would ya’ll come to the party if ya had costumes?”
the party was that evening, all three mechs figured that this was safe. How could Jazz come up with three costumes in eight hours? It was impossible.
“Sure, Jazz,” Wheeljack said. “I’ll come if you get me a costume.”
Optimus and Ironhide nodded in agreement.
Jazz grinned broadly. “Great, I’ll see ya there.”
The day passed quickly and busily for the three mech. They hardly gave a thought to Jazz’s proposal and were definitely not planning on attending the party.
When no costumes were forthcoming by the end of the day shift, a mere two hours before the party, they all breathed a sigh of relief and started to make plans for a quiet evening.
One hour before the party, Wheeljack returned to his quarters cradling a can of mid-grade and a bunch of engineering datapads. He paused as he noticed the large box on his berth. Aw, no, was his only thought approaching it carefully as if he was afraid it might explode. Without opening it, he picked up the box and dashed into the corridor where he nearly collided with Ironhide and Optimus who were holding identical boxes.
“Not you too?” he asked. “Have you looked?”
Ironhide shook his head sadly.
Optimus sighed deeply. “No,” he said slowly.
“Guess we’re going,” Ironhide drawled unhappily.
“Yep,” Wheeljack said.
“We promised,” Optimus added.
“Yep,” Wheeljack agreed.
“They all looked at each other.
“You first,” they all said together.
Wheeljack’s ears flashed a pale blue. “Let’s all change in our quarters and then meet back here. If they’re really bad, at least we have strength in numbers.”
“You think they’re going to be that bad?” Optimus asked obviously hoping for a negative answer.
Ironhide just looked at him. “What do you think?”
Optimus hung his head.
Ten minutes later they gathered in the corridor again.
“It’s all our fault, you know,” Wheeljack moaned.
“Nothing to be done now. We did agree to the terms,” Optimus reminded them.
“Right, then. To the party,” Ironhide said half-heartedly.
When they arrived at the rec room, they all paused outside the door. They could hear music and laughter. It did sound like fun. And there’d be hi-grade. Maybe even some of Sideswipe’s home brew, anything to take the sting away.
The door slid open and they stepped in. Heads turned and optics and eyes stared. There was stunned silence for a nanosecond. Just time enough for Wheeljack to adjust his blonde wig.
Then Jazz called out, “Carly, Spike, Sparkplug, you made it.”
Optimus sighed and adjusted his yellow construction helmet and then did the same to Ironhide’s. At least they got to dress as males, he thought as he glanced at Wheeljack’s wig and leg warmers.
“Why am I out here on my evening off? Why do I have a dirty pumpkin on my seat?” the red Lamborghini moaned over his commlink as he crept along a muddy dirt track out in the middle of nowhere.
“Because you stole it and Prowl is making you return it,” came the slightly annoyed answer from his companion, a silver and black old style Datsun. “I told you not to take it but you said it would never be missed. You said, ‘this farmer guy has a huge field of these orange things, why would he miss one?’ Because you stole the biggest pumpkin in the entire field. You stole the farmer’s prize giant pumpkin that he was going to enter in the county fair and maybe win a ton of money with. Of course he missed it.”
The Datsun sighed dramatically because he was rather upset that he had been forced to accompany Sideswipe. Though he didn’t complain about it like Sideswipe, Bluestreak wasn’t very happy to be out there.
And because you left giant Autobot footprints all over the field so the farmer knew that an Autobot had taken it,” he continued but stopping short of saying, ‘How stupid can you be,’ because no matter how much Sideswipe liked him, saying that would get his head bashed in.
Sideswipe sighed and answered as if he was repeating a school lesson to a child who just wasn’t catching on, “I had to take the biggest one. These little ones would’ve been way to hard for me to carve.”
Bluestreak didn’t bother to answer and silently pulled to a stop turning his headlights toward the field. “We’re here,” he said with considerable relief.
Sideswipe hit his brakes and sprayed the Datsun with mud when his tires skidded in the mud. Bluestreak took it silently. Mud washed off, a trip to see Ratchet was forever.
Meanwhile, a small figure crouched behind a large pile of hay bales at the edge of the field. He opened his commlink.
“Hey, you were right. Those two Autobums just pulled up. I bet they’re going to get more of these orange things for something really secret and I’m going to figure out what it is…Shaddup, I am too smart enough…” He shut off his comm in disgust. “Jerks.”
Sideswipe opened his door and partially transformed, raising his roof so Bluestreak could get the giant pumpkin out of his driver’s compartment. When it was out, he finished transforming and picked up the squash. He stared at the muddy field littered with tiny orange pumpkins. He growled lowly. Prowl had made it very clear that no pumpkins would die on this mission but Sideswipe couldn’t see how he could get the pumpkin back to it’s place without stomping a few vegetables into mush.
“Just walk in the spaces between the vines,” Bluestreak offered rather unhelpfully.
“Slaggit,” Sideswipe hissed and marched across the field pumpkin in his arms.
He reached the spot where the giant squash had rested all summer and set it down.
The figure watching them snorted loudly and Sideswipe whirled around and unspaced his gun while turning his lights on the hay bales.
“It’s Rumble,” Bluestreak said in surprise and pulled his own gun out.
“What a bunch of morons,” Rumble snickered. “Yer puttin’ that thing back?” he giggled in amazement, apparently unconcerned with his own safety.
Sideswipe frowned. “Who’re you calling a moron, moron?”
“Ooo, witty, Snotswipe,” Rumble replied.
Sideswipe’s face darkened and Bluestreak took a step back. With two steps, the red mech was looming over the small blue cassetticon.
It was at this point that Rumble wondered if he’d said too much but he didn’t have much time to ponder that because Sideswipe reached down and grabbed the small mech by the head and legs, lifting him easily. Stomping back to the large pumpkin, Sideswipe raised Rumble over his head.
Bluestreak realized what Sideswipe intended and shouted, “No, don’t…”
Sideswipe ignored him and harpooned Rumble head first into the pumpkin.
Bluestreak groaned but couldn’t hide his grin. “You are so dead,” he said and ran for the road.
Sideswipe turned to follow but paused and turned back, unspacing black marker. He quickly sketched a smiley face on the pumpkin right beneath Rumble’s shoulders. With one last look at his handiwork, he followed Bluestreak to the road.
“Oh, c’mon, Blue. It’s time to get back.”
“I’m tired,” the red mech whined.
“No, I said.”
Sideswipe’s comm. activated. “Where are you two?” Prowl asked.
“Prowl, we’re exactly where we were two hours ago. Tell Blue to just come on. He won’t move.”
There was a brief pause before Prowl answered. “Why won’t he move?”
“Why don’t you come here and see. I’m about ready to leave him here.”
Five minutes passed with more whining from Sideswipe and more sullen silence from Bluestreak. If Sideswipe hadn’t been so mad at the gunner he might’ve been worried at his silence.
Then Prowl appeared in the alley entrance and took in the sight of Sideswipe in ‘Bot mode leaning over Bluestreak in Alt mode. Sideswipe looked up at the sound of Prowl’s footsteps. His relief was obvious.
“Prowl, please do something. I can’t deal with this anymore.” He stomped off.
Prowl looked at Bluestreak. “What’s the problem?”
“I’m sorry, Prowl. Really I am. I didn’t want to get Sides upset or anything but…well…you see while we were watching for ‘Cons like you told us to do…um, a cat crawled up into my wheel well, and I’m afraid to move and it’s asleep and it’s purring…”
Prowl covered his mouth with his hand as he hid his smile. “Well, I can understand your reluctance to move, but we do have to get back to the Ark.”
Prowl held up his hand to stop the young mech before he could get going again. Without another word the tactician leaned over and pounded on Bluestreak’s hood. A small black cat leaped out from inside Bluestreak’s fender and disappeared into the darkness.
“Now, get back to the Ark.”