“Wait here,” Said Steeljaw as they approached a large walled concrete structure. “I’ll check inside.”
Thunderhoof nodded and remained in the cover of the trees, still holding the unconscious Ashwind who remained in her Dinobot form since their skirmish with the Autobots. She didn’t seem too badly hurt, her new form must have worn her out. That didn’t stop him from worrying however.
“Since when are you a Dinobot, Ashwind?” He quietly wondered.
He was sure that High Tower would have said something about his only daughter being a Dinobot when the arrangement had been made. Then again, he could not remember ever seeing Ashwind transform before the past.
He looked back at Ashwind’s new form, taking everything in; from her sleek whip like tail down to the razor sharp claws on her hands and feet, the dewclaws looked just as deadly.
Those could certainly due quite a bit of damage. He thought then looked at her muzzle.
He didn’t need to check if she had just as sharp teeth as she did claws, he made a mental note to listen to her next time she told him to stop trying to touch her.
Movement made him look up and scan the area, had Steeljaw come back. Had the Autobots followed them? He saw the movement this time but it had been Ashwind’s tail sweeping across the tall grass.
“Ash? Can you hear me?”
This time one of her claws twitched along with an eye lip flutter.
“Are you hurt anywhere?”
“Just my pride.” She wheezed as her eyes opened, they had returned to their original deep green.
Thunderhoof gently set her down on the grass; he ignored the warning glare she gave him when he put a hand on her elbow to help steady her.
Ashwind ignored the urge to snap at his hand and grudgingly accepted his help to steady her.
“Steeljaw is checking out a new place for us to hide out.” He stated once she was steady on her feet.
I wonder how long that will last. She thought dryly.
“So…” Thunderhoof started. “Exactly how long have you been a Dinobot?”
She shrugged. “Since… now, I guess.”
“Haven’t you ever used your alt mode before?”
“No, I’ve always used transports. Because ... of my T-cog.”
Thunderhoof curiously narrowed his eyes. “What’s wrong with your T-cog?”
“No one really knows, it’s just never worked before.”
“Well, it certainly worked today.”
Ashwind didn’t reply, she walked over to the rivers edge and peered at her reflection, completely aware that Thunderhoof was watching her. She honestly didn’t know what to make of her new visage it was strange.
“You gonna be alright?” Thunderhoof asked.
“I don’t know.” She admitted as she walked back over to him.
“Think you can change back?”
She hesitated for a moment. “I’ll give it a try.”
He stepped back to give her some room as she took a deep breath and closed her eyes to focus.
Her eyes opened and she looked at Thunderhoof in confusion.
“It didn’t work?”
She gave him an agitated scowl. “Do I look any different? Obviously it didn’t work!”
“That could be a problem.”
“Again, thank you for pointing out the obvious!”
“Eyoo! Well, don’t take it out on me! It’s not my fault!” Thunderhoof retorted irritably.
“I know! But if you point out the obvious again, I will do my father’s job for him and rip out your spark myself!”
Thunderhoof blinked at her words. “Wait, what? What do you mean?”
Ashwind realized too late, what she had just said, but there was no going back now. “High Tower doesn’t like to share. He would have killed you or sent an anonymous tip so he could rule the merged empires once you were out of the way.”
Thunderhoof was silent for a full minute before he replied. “So the whole arranged marriage was a sham?”
“If only I was that lucky,” Ashwind replied with a growl. “It wasn’t a sham.”
“Hold on, if one partner in the bond dies, there’s a risk that the other will die as well,” He said as he looked at her. “You’re his only daughter…”
Ashwind sighed. “Yeah, he’s not gonna win any ‘daddy of the year’ awards anytime soon. According to him, it would have been worth the risk and there would have been a medic on hand just in case.”
Thunderhoof’s optics darkened dangerously. “Planning to betray me is one thing, but putting your life at risk is unforgivable. He’s a dead mech the next time I see him.”
Ashwind blinked and looked at him in genuine surprise.
He raised an eyebrow. “What’s with the look? Did you really think I wanted to bond with you just because of the money?”
“That did cross my mind, yes.”
He snorted in amusement. “Hey, you’re smart, beautiful, and don’t take scrap from anyone,” He gave her a roguish grin. “Just my type.”
Ashwind snorted and closed the distance between them and gave his stomach a little bump with her muzzle.
“Keep dreaming.” There was a teasing note in her voice as she spoke.
Thunderhoof grinned, seeing it as progress.
“It would appear that this structure is fully automated,” Steeljaw stated as he returned, before raising an eyebrow upon seeing that Ashwind was still in her other form.
“She’s having trouble changing back.” Thunderhoof stated.
“Any reason why?”
Ashwind gave a soft growl as she turned away, it was hard enough for her to admit her shortcomings to Thunderhoof, and she wasn’t going to tell Steeljaw about it.
Thunderhoof just shrugged.
“I see, you’ll need to work on that then.” Steeljaw told her.
“I’ll get right on it.” She said dryly.
“Let’s get inside before we’re spotted.” Thunderhoof suggested.
Without saying another work, Ashwind went inside first, already becoming annoyed by the clicking noise her clawed feet made as she walked on the hard floor. She looked over her shoulder to see Thunderhoof’s antlers snag on the doorframe, she bit back a snort of laughter at the annoyed look on his face.
“I don’t know about you guys, but I’m beat.” Thunder announced shortly after Steeljaw came in.
Ashwind rolled her eyes, but did not voice her own weariness as she lay down in a far corner, away from Thunderhoof as he sat down and leaned against a far wall and put his hands behind his head and used them like a pillow.
“I’ll take first watch.” Steeljaw commented, noticing that Ashwind was looking at Thunderhoof in a rather curious manner, though he chose not to comment.
Thunder soon noticed this and tilted his head. “What?”
“Huh? Oh, nothing.” She said rather quickly before curling in a ball, to hide her blush.
Thunderhoof raised an eyebrow, shrugged before closing his eyes to rest, and within a few minutes was fast asleep. Ashwind wasn’t far behind him, she gave a soft sigh before closing her eyes to rest.
X X X
Ashwind had no idea what her father wanted, hopefully it wasn’t another pointless lecture on their operations crime or otherwise. She could careless about either, her brothers on the other hand just ate it up.
She couldn’t wait until her acceptance letters got back from the medical schools she applied to in Iacon. The sooner she could get out of Kaon the better.
She paused for a moment when she heard the all too familiar voices of her three elder brothers. The last thing she needed was yet another scrap with Ricochet, Raider, and Glock. It sounded like they were arguing about something; she wondered what it was this time.
“I still can’t believe the old man set this up, I mean Raider and I like this guy,” Ricochet complained. “I mean who wouldn’t want to come to bed with twins every night?”
“Yeah, not to mention, that she won’t agree to it. That’s for sure.” Glock stated.
What were they talking about? Ashwind wondered then hid in a closet just as her brothers walked past.
They didn’t even notice that the closet was partly opened and Ashwind saw that all three looked annoyed. What in the name of Primus, had their father said to them?
“I don’t think he’s giving her much of a choice in the matter,” Raider putted out. “He was pretty adamant about the whole thing.”
“Lay off the books, Raid.” Ricochet added.
Ashwind waited until their angry voices faded before she got moving again. Within a couple minutes, she had reached her father’s office door. She knocked then opened it upon hearing the growling voice of her father telling her to come in.
“Ah, there you are, Ashwind.”
Ashwind’s father was a large burly green and yellow mech with a no nonsense visage and piercing orange eyes and she knew that tone of voice all to well and it never boded well, especially to those who were foolish enough cross him.
She did not even glance at Talon, High Tower’s second bond mate
Her mother had died when she had been a youngling; her father had privately mourned her death before sometime later taken the black and orange triple changer as his new mate.
“I’m sure you’re wondering why I asked you to come.” High Tower continued.
“That thought had crossed my mind, yes,” She shrugged then glanced at Talon who had shifted his position so he was sitting on the counter, one leg crossed over the other. “However, whenever it comes to your organization, I tend to tone you out.”
High Tower raised an eyebrow; he wasn’t amused in the slightest. “The reason I called you here is because it’s high time you bonded.”
Ashwind blinked in confused as she stared at her father. “I’m sorry, what?”
“It’s time you were bonded,” He repeated coolly. “I’ve been going over who would be a worthy candidate for you.”
That must be a short list. Ashwind dryly thought and resisted voicing it.
“And, I’ve finally picked on for you.”
She couldn’t believe her audios, her own father was all but selling her to some mech like chattel! What she overheard her brothers complaining about now made sense! She flinched when the door opened and once of her father’s minions came in.
“Here’s here, sir. Shall I bring him up?”
“Perfect timing. Bring him up,” High Tower said then turned his attention back to Ashwind. “You will soon be meeting the mech that you will soon be bound too.”
Ashwind’s jaw clinched as she did her hands.
“This is for the best,” High Tower continued, putting the tips of his fingers together. “You never did have a head for business like your brothers, however, you do know how to manage a household. And your intended has agreed to merge his business with my own.”
Ashwind’s eyes blazed with fury. “YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!”
“We all have duties to uphold, Ashwind.” Talon coolly replied.
Ashwind glared at him, she could hear the smirk in his voice.
“And I suppose this whole thing your idea, Talon.” She snapped.
“The idea was mine,” High Tower cut in. “It’s something I’ve been planning for some time.”
Ashwind refused to act childish and shout that this wasn’t fair, she could see the smirk in Talon’s sapphire eyes. The slagger was enjoying this! No surprise really, as he shared the same views as her father on certain things, this one in particular.
She briefly thought about launching herself at the triple changer and choking the life out of him, but she knew that she wouldn’t be able to get close. Her father was freakishly fast despite his size, he’d be on her before she could reach him.
“And what about Glock and the twins? Have you chosen mate’s for them as well?” She said scathingly.
“I’ll choose mates for them in due time, but right now is about you.” Her father replied.
Ashwind highly doubted he would choose mates for his sons, he let them do what they wanted. She couldn’t help what she said next, her voice dripping with udder distain and loathing.
“I do hope the business you’re referring too is your Hospital and Pharmaceutical façade. Other wise my so called betrothed might run off should he find you’re a Crime Lord and SHITTY FATHER!”
High Tower’s optics flashed with restrained anger, he was about to reprimand her when the door opened and a tall blue, gray, and black mech entered the room. He had to duck slightly to avoid hitting his antlers.
Ashwind saw the smirk on Talon’s face and she wanted to punch him, she remained where she was though, as she became acutely aware of the mech standing just behind her. Just to spite her father, she flat out refused look and acknowledge his presence.
“Thank you for coming,” High Tower stated with a small nod of his head, then turned his attention back to his daughter. “This is my daughter Ashwind. Ashwind, this is your fiancée… Thunderhoof.”