The drive back to the squishy being’s home had been strange. First Starlit Meadow had learned that Zett’s species were known as ‘humans’. Adjusting to driving on the pavement road wasn’t all that different from Cybertron, which in itself was a release, but after being forced to stay in her newly scanned alternative mode in what Zett called a ‘garage’ was beginning to get on her nervous system.
The first couple of nano cycles had been fine, but after awakening out of what she could only assume had originally been stasis lock, hunger had begun to gnaw at her. She didn’t know how long it had been since she had consumed energon and sitting in this human’s ‘garage’ was working her up more than she liked.
When she had first tried transforming back to her bipedal mode, he’d asked, no, begged, her not to, claiming that he didn’t want to risk her being found out. The thought of that was annoying enough, but she chose to take his word for that. She had to stay out from underneath the Autobots’ radar, at least until she could figure out what to do next.
Zett had a point in her staying in this ‘car’ mode that he’d called her current form. She didn’t have a reflective surface to overlook her said car mode, but from the Earth vehicle she had scanned, she could assume that her frame had followed its usual protocol to turn her into an exact copy of her scan, save for the colouring. No matter which form she took, her colour scheme always stayed the proud black and green she had known since the moment she’d first learned the name of her two colours.
Every morning Zett came into the garage, bid her farewell to attend the Earth version of an academy, then he’d return at night after attending to work on the site he’d found her at. She wasn’t sure if Zett was keeping her a secret from the Autobots like he had promised to do but considering that she still remained incognito in the small, cramped wooden room, she could only assume that he did. Even if the Autobots had won the war against the Decepticons, there was no chance that they would simply leave a stray Decepticon out in the open. They would have dealt with her, one way or another.
Each day that passed, the only indication of time passing being Zett’s visits, seemed to take longer and longer. At first she had planned to wait, to lay low to try and come up with a plan, but her tanks were churning, demanding to be filled. When she had requested Zett bring her some energon, he only looked at her like she had lost her processor. She hated that look. It was the same one Astrotrain had given her once when she had snapped at him to keep his servos to himself when he thought she’d give him what he wanted because she was the only Decepticon femme at base. He had backed off, only after she had to show what her arm blades were capable of.
She should have checked them, ensured that they were still locked firmly into her arm plating, but that would require transforming, something she didn’t have the energy for. Whilst waiting on Zett to return, babbling on and on about how his day was, she took stasis naps in an attempt to conserve what little energon she still had within her. she contemplated forcing herself back into stasis lock to try and conserve more but thought it to be useless. If she did that, she’d be nothing more than an average car, as Zett put it.
She didn’t tell Zett about her thoughts on conserving what she had, but when he told her that not everything moving on the road was an Autobot or Decepticon, questions had popped up one right after the other. She must have spent a good amount of time asking him about his planet, which Zett had decided to sum up for her through video files he called documentaries and homework.
Earth was strange. There was no doubt in her processor about that, but the way Zett spoke about it, Starlit Meadow couldn’t help but find it interesting. She missed Cybertron, just like any other Cybertronian that had possibly gone off planet at some point in their functional life, but there was no use in longing for a planet she had no hopes of returning to. If she ran out of energon, then she definitely didn’t have any hope.
Letting her processor wander, Starlit Meadow felt ashamed of herself for not noticing that Zett had returned, rolling up the metallic garage door as he did. Usually the wide door made enough noise for her to at least be aware of his presence, no longer detectable by the systems she had forced herself to shut down in an attempt to conserve what she had.
“Hey Star. How are you holding up?” Zett asked as he rolled the door back down behind him, a rusted maroon coloured barrel beside him. From the sound of it, there was something inside, possibly a fluid of some sort. It stunk.
Shifting her sideview mirror, she caught sight of the human. If it weren’t for the concerned look on his face, she would have laughed, if she could manage more than a dry chuckle. He must have noticed her eyeing the barrel with her mirror when she didn’t respond because the next moment he was pushing it over towards her, leaving behind a steel-curling screeching noise as he did. She would have scolded him for it, but only watched instead, her curiosity getting the better of her, especially after what he said next.
“I brought you a little something. A little pick-me-up if you will,” Zett said once he had the barrel right beside her. “I know its not exactly that energon stuff you need, but I figured that since you’re, well, a car-”
“Transformer,” she felt herself correcting before her CPU registered her words as they played through her radio. An interesting device, one that she had thought about using to try and contact her old teammates but absolved from in case the Autobots were monitoring radio frequencies.
“Right, sorry. Anyway, since you won’t let me ask someone for help, and said that your kind needs this ‘energon’ stuff to survive, I might have had an idea. You see, when the Autobots set up base here, the government let them have stuff like oil and that kind of thing, so maybe it’s the same thing? I don’t know exactly, but this is the best I could think of,” Zett rambled on, barely able to keep her attention as he scratched the back of his helm, no, head, he had told her when she had asked about the strange covering he called ‘hair’.
“Get to the point,” she said, groaning inwardly upon realisation that she might have used the energy she needed to talk where she could have been conserving it.
“Hn? O-Oh, of course. I, uh… do you remember when I found you almost a week ago?” he asked, taking her silence as confirmation. “Well, I found this old oil barrel and thought that maybe you could… you know, drink it?”
“Oil?” She would have arched an optic ridge at the strange word if she had been in her other form.
“Yeah. I know you said you’re not a car, but it is still something cars use to get around. I thought that maybe it could help, at least until we figure out a way to get you some energon.”
She went quiet once more, this time for longer as her thoughts ran through her processing unit. Finally when she spoke, her voice was a bit more strained than she would have liked.
“Why are you doing this?”
This time it was Zett’s turn to go quiet. At first she thought that she might have fallen into stasis lock and was merely imagining his presence before his hand touched her side window. Her mirror readjusted itself so that she could see his face a little clearer. Due to her lack of fuelling, her vision had resorted to its basic function, making her see everything in a dark red hue, and not the once bright colours everything had originally been when she first onlined on this planet.
“Because… you’re my friend,” Zett said, a small smile spreading across his lips as his hand moved over her red-tined window, brushing away a spec of dust that she’d previously ignored. “That and you looked like you needed help. Something tells me you’re the stubborn sort that even if I went to the Autobots and told them were you were, you’d be out of here before we make it around the corner and the only way I’d see you again is when you come to kick my ass for it.”
She didn’t bother confirming or denying his assumption, leaning more towards the former guess herself.
“Anyway, I know its not the energon you need, but maybe it could help. From the looks of it, no one’s going to claim it anymore either. It’s probably been abandoned for more than a year already.”
Letting a sigh reverberate through her systems, Starlit Meadow put the last of her reserve tanks into forcing herself to transform into her bipedal mode. Usually when a protoform went through their very first transformation, it tended to hurt, only because their joints and mechanisms weren’t used to the process. After at least a stellar cycle of practice, the pain faded, never to be felt again, except apparently on a near empty fuel tank.
When her doors had shifted into her arms and her back end of her car form returned to a pair of legs, Starlit Meadow hunched over in the garage, the wooden building feeling even smaller than before as her hunched back touched the ceiling. How humans could stand living in such small spaces, she didn’t care to know, even if it was big compared to them.
Looking over to the barrel, she wasn’t all that keen on tasting this thing Zett called oil, but considering her situation, it was either go to the Autobots and hope to be helped or swallow her pride with the oil and hope for the best. This time she chose the latter option.
As much as it pained her, Starlit Meadow was relieved to see that at the very least, she still had the blades on her arms, something she had ever since Megatron first found her. The relief she felt was comforting as she used the one on her right to slice the top off the barrel.
The liquid inside was thick, and black, not at all the bright pink she was used to seeing in cube form whenever rations were divided up amongst her former team. She tried ignoring the smell as best as she could, wishing she’d chosen to disable her ol factory sensors as well.
From the corner of her optics she knew Zett was watching her, anxiously awaiting her reaction. She hesitated then tossed back the thick liquid in a big gulp, nearly gagging at the taste. She nearly snapped at the human that he was trying to clog her fuel lines when her tanks grumbled with the need to consume more. Before she knew it, she had swallowed half of the barrel’s contents. It wasn’t energon, that much was certain, but it was still comforting, filling.
“How is it?” Zett asked, taking a step towards her, although judging by the smile on his face, he seemed to be pretty well informed that his decision might have just helped her after all.
“Horrible,” Starlit Meadow admitted, finding a smile on her own lips as she looked down at the human, watching his facial expression fade at the realisation. Before she knew what was happening, she found her servo reaching over towards him, taking a gentle hold of the shoulder that she could crush so easily with a simple flick of a digit. “But… edible, as you humans say.”
Zett’s smile returned to his lips, the moment a pair of words she thought she’d never ever say again crossed her lips.
Published by Fang Wolfsbane