Mir scrambled for their blaster, narrowly avoiding the swipe from the much larger mech at their backstruts. They spun back to try and take a few wild shots at him, only to scream in terror as their attacker quickly attempted to box them into a corner - or far away enough to for one of his probable buddies to pick them off. They backed away in a hurry, as far as they could but still staying close enough to Auriga’s fight with the other mech.
Dead End. To think that the cultural investigation would request for members to include data from a place like this… If they had known…
This is an awful idea. Sterling has to stop as the spacebridge disappears behind her, lifting a hand to rub at her helm. This is just going to be yet another lonely night remembering awful things. Even now all she can remember is how Behemoth died, how his form crumbled and disintegrated beneath her hands. No! She must focus on why she is here.
Behemoth would take his squad to this very bar once a Cybertronian year to celebrate a holiday from his hometown near the Sea of Rust. She hasn’t come to the Rusting Pylon since leaving with Screwloose… Hasn’t dared to even try to bring Behemoth back up in the presence of his murderer. It’s time to correct that and continue the tradition.
“This is Lieutenant Lieutenant of Iacon’s Last Will and Testament, revision number twenty-five.” The avian leans forward, rubbing his optics with exhaustion, “Primes, this has been too many. This, this is my last one though. Hopefully. Unless I some how forgot something, which would be a pleasant surprise.”
TO: Decibel of Harmonex (Iacon, Cybertron)
FROM: Mir of Harmonex (--**** *****--)
((Meant to put this up after Lament back in October but oh well))
My dear, Torque,
It has come to my attention that I really have not shared personal information of myself from the past as you have. The thought of asking you to spare some time to tell you has crossed my mind. However, it is instantaneously followed by a rather crippling anxiety. Quite honestly I am not a vocal mech, as you know, so talking about myself can be intimidating. Not to mention I rather not talk all together. However, ou are my amica, so you have a right to know everything that Fantoccini does.
I hope writing this all will suffice.
In his habsuite, alone, Fritz sat cross-legged on his berth, cradling his colorful sphere, watching the myriad of shifting hues and shades that shine through its surface. His frame was bent forward, almost as if he was shielding the sphere from the rest of the room, though it wasn't necessary; Frisk wasn't there, either off on duty or stealing something. Fritz wasn't stupid, he noticed the new objects that appeared on his roommate's side of the hab every so often. He curled tighter over his treasure, optics squeezing shut for a moment. But he was, wasn't he? He was stupid. The last couple of interactions he'd had with crewmembers...Gyro looming angrily over him, Waspinator allowing him to lean only because he was distracted by the colored sphere, Lieutenant having to pick him up and watch over him because he'd sprained an ankle joint...Fritz held the sphere so hard against his chassis, all four arms wrapped around it, that it almost seemed like he was trying to shove it into his frame.
I will always hold you close, But I will learn to let you go.
I promise I’ll do better.
I will soften every edge, I’ll hold the world to its best, And I’ll do better.
With every heartbeat I have left I will defend your every breath, And I’ll do better.
His optics dimmed to the sunrise pink of a new beginning.
Even after not seeing him face-to-face for over a year, their secret language came as easily to Gyro as the quick, darting movements of chirolinguistics. His good optic flared bright in answer, a stab of crimson defiance and desire. The mortician reached out to touch the expression inviting him in.
Note: This occurs shortly after 2016-11-08 Intervention
After his talk with Skystalker, Quicksight found himself in dire need of some peace and quiet. True peace and quiet, the sort that even his beloved spot on the observation deck could not provide. These days, such a longing would lead him to his room, but today, he couldn't bear to stay there, the air still charged with the tension of their arguments.
“Look at them, Sterling. Disgusting.”
Sterling looks up from her datapad, cygarette gripped between her teeth as she jolts upright at attention. Showdown doesn’t move to acknowledge her, just continues to stare down at the street far below the window.
So this was actually supposed to have been posted during the Zarazee plot but I never got around to it. However, I was still finishing up classes, moving, and getting ready to shift to college classes. So finally, I am getting around to posting this message! <3 It's more for the record than it is actual reading so feel free to dismiss.
The following holovid was posted anonymously to the ship’s datanet.
Sometimes, in the dark of night, Blackstorm talked with ghosts.
After leaving Swerve’s, Starstruck heads back to his habsuite, determined to make good on what he’s told Whirl. He’d believed Whirl when he’d said he hadn’t made the watch, at the time, and yet Getaway’s comments are sticking with him. He may not be the brightest bulb in the box, but...Getaway’s pieces fit quite well into the puzzle.--more-- A handmade watch, long lost. A friend recruited to retrieve it. A personal fight over being found out. Starstruck chews his lip thoughtfully as he enters his habsuite - looks like Perceptor’s not around at the moment. Good. He needs to be alone, right now, to do this, or he’d raise suspicions toward his motives.
As the door slides shut behind him, Star immediately heads to and plops down at his desk, rifling through the drawers for a specific tablet. It’s equipped with a long distance communications array, built to hide transmissions and scramble them all at the same time. Trust the Wrangler/Trailhawk team to come up with something like that. He powers on the device, keying in the proper codes, and waits as it works to connect.
It doesn’t take more than a klik before the loading bar gives way to a video feed, Trailhawk shifting in his chair on the bridge of the Revenge to make himself more centered in the image.
“Starstruck? You’re not due for another report until next week.”
“I know. I got a favor to ask.” Star stands, heading to his berth instead of the hard chair of his desk. He settles in a sprawl at the head of it, leaning against the wall behind him while holding the tablet in front of him so that his face fills his half of the video stream. “It’s kind of a big one.”
Trailhawk tilts his helm, and despite his own visor, Starstruck can tell that that blue gaze has narrowed. “Another favor? If I recall, you owe me plenty already.”
“I know, I know! But this one’s important.” Starstruck gives his most earnest grin. Don’t think about how he’s still in favor debt from that thing at the space station orbiting Hrygal, or the other time when they’d raided the Nemesis. Ignore all that, and help him out now! “Seriously.”
Trailhawk says nothing for a klik, scrutinizing the tour bus, before finally giving a sighed exvent. “Alright. What do you need.”
Starstruck perks up, shifting and straightening so that he’s sitting more upright against the wall. Hawk was so reliable! “A pocket watch, one made before the war. A collector’s item; every one has a unique chime that imitators can’t match.” Star tilts his helm thoughtfully as he recalls the rest of what Whirl had told him. “The original watchmaker’s shop burned down before the war, too, and - “ And. And….He takes a chance that this jigsaw puzzle may have found the right pieces. “ - and the watchmaker may have been subject to the whole empurata thing.”
Trailhawk is quiet for a few kliks, face turned away from the video stream - he’s clearly typing something into one of the bridge terminals nearby. Starstruck waits impatiently, chewing his lower lip with a fang, until the Jeep finally returns.
“I’ll see what I can do.” Trailhawk’s mouth is set in a thin line. “Though I will need something in return. Something you will give me soon.” The statement is pointed. Star is great at spontaneous gifts and the like, but sometimes he was a little slow on returning favors. Only sometimes!
So Starstruck is a bit apprehensive, shoulders hunching as his grin turns sheepish and antennae flick back. “Yeah? What’s that?”
Trailhawk doesn’t respond immediately; one servo comes up to rest against his chin as he thinks. Starstruck fidgets - what will Hawk ask of him? Will it be like the time he wanted a special brand of engex and Trailhawk had him scrubbing the bridge with a tiny brush for two days, because Star didn’t have the funds at the time to pay him back? Or when he borrowed Trailhawk’s collection of Cybertronian epics and accidentally got them all smelted (a long story) and the Jeep had him take over barnacle-scraping duty for the next three months? Not to mention when Trailhawk thought Star had burned up the Jeep’s first edition copy of A Tale Of Two Cities, Starstruck hadn’t even done that but the punishment that came--
He’s mercifully saved by Wrangler throwing himself into the picture and practically shouting, “That time turner you bought! The rare special edition one!” His arms are wrapped around Trailhawk, their frames echoes of each other and yet different in the coloring and the fact that Wrangler doesn’t have a visor. Trailhawk, while automatically snaking an arm around Wrangler’s waist, initially scowls. Yet…
“Actually...yes. That would be a fair trade. A watch for a watch.”
Starstruck’s faceplates drop into despair. “What! But it’s not a watch! And you know how long it took me to get enough human money to buy that??”
Even with Wrangler hanging on him, helm nuzzled into Trailhawk’s neck, Hawk’s lips quirk up in a wry smile. “About the same amount of time as it will take me to find this pocket watch of yours, I expect. Though…” He pauses, even as a servo absently strokes Wrangler’s back. “I can’t say I understand why you want one. Usually your requests are more, well…extravagant than mere watches.”
“Yeah, usually you want really weird stuff,” Wrangler adds, snickering, until Trailhawk gently thwaps him on the helm. Wrangler mewls and goes back to his nuzzling.
“It’s for a friend.” Starstruck turns serious, for once. “These watches are important to him. There’s one on board, but he can’t have it. It belongs to someone else.” He hesitates, wondering again if he should trust Getaway’s statements, and therefore what he says next comes out slowly. “I think he made them, and I need to find one.”
Trailhawk regards him for a klik over their connection before he nods slowly. “Alright. I’ll find one of these watches for you. The deal still stands, however.” The heaviness of his tone is ruined by Wrangler, who lifts his helm again to giggle.
“You always make the weirdest friends, Struckie!”
“Yeah, sure, whatever, I’ll give you the time turner.” Starstruck wrinkles his nasal ridge at Wrangler, bottom lip poking out in a pout. “But I need that watch. ASAP!”
“Give me time to search,” Trailhawk snaps testily. “I have other duties aboard this ship, as you know. Especially considering you are no longer here.” Starstruck can’t help but wince at that. “Next time you call, I hope you have a real report prepared. Ironbull would not appreciate our time being wasted like this.” It’s the argument Trailhawk always throws out whenever Starstruck asks for something, and, as usual, the tour bus ignores it, even as the connection is cut, Wrangler waggling his digits as the screen fades to black.
Starstruck gets up, replacing the datapad in its home in his desk. He pepped himself up with the knowledge that, hey, he was gonna get Whirl one of his watches! Or one of the watches he liked. Star still wasn’t really clear on whether or not Whirl actually made them. Trailhawk would find out, either way. Plopping onto his front on his berth, Starstruck pulled out his handheld gaming device. Time to get back to his journey toward the Elite Four.
This conversation occurs during 2016-06-05 Campfire Songs.
"So why do you want to do this?"
Powerdyne's arms are open, palms up, beseeching, as he follows Oversteer away from the campfire. He never liked this so-called plan that Oversteer came up with, not when he first proposed it, and not now.
Delight is a word for joy that carries
a suffusing glow lit with surprise.
Soft as dawn, warm as sunset, airy
with unspent hope and promising surmise,
it stays with me, lingering while I tarry
in sweet memory of each glance I prize.
A single weak light illuminates the interior of the shack. While Astrotrain and Quicksight did deliver a couple of tanks - whole tanks - of energon to the Cavern, no one bothered to upgrade this structure with better lighting, since it isn't supposed to be pleasant inside.
Lieutenant peeks out of his habsuite. No one seems to be about in the hall, but he can hear there are others in the common lounge. None were Penchant who should be on shift now, which means he shouldn't be interrupting at any time soon. Just in case the minibot does happen to come around unannounced in the next ten minutes or so, the avian locks the door. It’s only for a few minutes, no one will mind.
The Autobot grabs the heavy duty datapad he always leaves on his desk and settles in on his berth. Some months back -just before the Lost Light had left- he had received a message from an old, old friend of his. While he couldn’t respond to it, since personal long distance calls were a no, he loves watching it. The mech does have perfect memory and could easily replay the memorized message in his head, but it didn’t feel as thrilling. It has been ages since he last saw his friend, when the war was still going on... and everyone was there.
Without zoning out again, Lieutenant opens the message.
A bit of static and background chatter precedes the vid message start, the distortion clearing upon a gold visor and red paint, dark lips pulled into a bright smile. Two sets of hands clasp together in frame, the third set out of sight below
Fantoccini. The avian could never keep his facade up for long when it came to his dear friend, he smiles in return.
“DARling how ARE you~? Oh Darling we miss you so so much. I don't know when exactly this will get to you but you MUST send a response IMMEDIATELY do you hear? I demand it. I won't settle for less than your face.” The beautiful mech on the screen wags a finger at the camera, making the autobot shake his head in amusement. That probably means he wants to see him without his makeup on as well.
“Just calling to tell you the news~! Guess what Renny” (Renegade, the undeniable conjux endura of Fanto’s.) “left on my workbench the other day! Go on, guess!”
Lieutenant laughs softly as he watches his friend practically vibrate with glee as he waits out the three seconds he allots for the Autobot to answer, despite not being able to hear him. Time up, he reaches out past the camera and gathers a tiny little bot into his arms, cradling it close against his shoulder.
“This is Bellissimo~ Renny finished programming him and did the frame work all by himself in secret the sneaky sneak! Isn't he gorgeous? You must come visit us to see them as soon as you can!”
The avian sighs fondly at the sight of the new AI. He recalled when he last saw Fantoccini working on his first AI with Renegade, Vigilante. Vigilante must be pleased to have a brother with her now. There's quite a show of snuggles and nuzzling the teeny little nose before Belli is set out of sight, the tiny drone offering a wave goodbye to the camera. How precious.
“In all seriousness, though, Ten... er.. that is, Lieutenant.” Fantoccini sighs, “How have you been? Are you ... alright? I know this is hard for you. I can scarcely believe you took up with another ship so soon but... if it is what you feel is right. If it helps ... But if there's anything I can do to help, Renegade or I, please just.. let us know. Don't you dare hesitate. ...alright?”
Lieutenant’s smile fades as he looks away from the screen. It was a split-second decision to leave. He could have stayed on Cybertron, he could have faced Prowl’s ire, but… here he was. The avian tries to avoid ever asking himself the real reason why he’s on the Lost Light. Deep down, he knows why he’s on board, but he could never admit it it to anyone - not even himself.
“We love you, Ten. You're family. And you'll always have family here with Renny and myself. “I do hope I'm worrying over nothing but... I'll know if you're lying when you respond so don't you dare. I need to know that you're safe. Alright? “Respond soon, T- Lieutenant. Fantoccini, signing off.”
The avian kept silent when the message ended, then turned off the screen. Fantoccini was the only one now who knew Lieutenant better than he knew himself. He always knew what to say, how to handle a situation, and how to add ‘dramatic flare’ to everything. The mech was clever as he was gorgeous. There was no way for the Autobot could lie to him….
Lieutenant took out the cloth from his subspace and scrubbed the cover up paint on his face to reveal his freckles. Then he takes the datapad and transforms it to what looks like a gauntlet. After touching the screen on the contraption, a holographic screen emerges.
He stalls for several moments, gathering his thoughts before recording.
“Fantoccini, my dear friend… how I have missed you. My most sincere apologies for the belated response, I had not the chance to send this until now. To give you a recapitulation of what you had said in your last message, in case you forgot,” - A playful jab at his friend not having perfect memory, he can’t help poking at the neutral for that.- “I had guessed your surprise to be high grade or another one of your terribly wicked ‘contraptions’, but three seconds is not an adequate amount of time to guess. I was elated to see Bellissimo, he looks quite handsome. Renegade took quite a bit of inspiration from you when creating the frame.” Lieutenant’s fins twitch as he smiles, “I do hope he and Vigilante get along well. I shall be ever so disappointed if they do not. The same goes for you and Renegade. Behave, you two. I do not want to show up one day and find you two anything but happy together. You truly deserve to be happy with one another.”
Now onto the more serious portion of the message…. His smile disappears once again and he struggles to even look at the screen.
“You also mentioned in the previous message how you could not believe I would take to another ship… another crew after Colossal…. I suppose many would feel eerie inside a sentient ship, but Fantoccini the silence of this ship terrifies me. I miss walking through the halls and knowing there was someone there -even if Colossal did not have the warmest of personalities. There are so many new faces, and faces I have only seen in reports. Autobots, Decepticons, Neutrals, Camiens (who are our cousin species of which I never heard of until I came aboard) there are so many and it is overwhelming. I feel like I made a mistake in coming, but I cannot return to Cybertron. This is near nothing like Colossal. Everyone is so... different. I suppose that is good. Dear Primus, though I am cursed because my new roommate, Penchant - Oh Primus, he reminds me so much of Disaster. I struggle to keep my hands away from him because whenever I see him… Fantoccini I see him leaving me too.”
Lieutenant paused to calm himself, he was becoming fearful, upset at the thought… the memory.
“Tormentor would have liked Penchant... Although he may not appreciate him constantly picking him up and toting him around as much as Disaster did. He’s not as innocent, also a neutral, and appearance-wise he is a piebald. Personally, I adore his appearance. Hard working, an outlier (but I cannot tell you his ability as he wishes that I do not share about that),” -he has to glance at the door to listen for a minute, just to make sure his roommate isn’t going to be banging at the door. So much for just ten minutes.- “he really is.. cute, and he, despite reminding me of Disaster, does help bring me to some degree of ease. I am glad to have him as my roommate. “I miss your presence… and my commander’s. The crew as well. Sometimes I just wish to lock myself away somewhere and break down, but this is a crew of a hundred and ninety - that is not as easy to be left alone. Someone realizes you are missing or are up to something eventually.”
The avian pinches the bridge of his nose and sighs. “If the Lost Light ever comes across your ship, if you will have me, I may try to remain with you. “I wish you all the best, my dear friend. I hope to see you again, Fantoccini. Ten, signing off.”
Message recorded, he removes the holographic contraption from his arm and transforms it back into the heavy duty datapad. He can’t respond now, but perhaps at one point, maybe on another planet, he can send it. Right now, he needs to cover up his freckles once again and unlock the door before Penchant comes back in.
Yo robotdawgs, I heard you liked fan fiction so much you made a game about it. So I made some fan fiction of your fan fiction, so you can enjoy fan fiction will writing fan fiction. If all goes well, there may be two more parts.
BIG NOTE: This story is my interpretation of what Ratchet has been up to and mine alone. The story is not game canon, and it is not intended to bind, influence, or suggest to any future Ratchet player how the character should be played. None of the events in this story have happened or will happen in the game. This is just for funsies.
I’ll never forget what Slidebolt of Polyhex once told me about hands. He was a racer, seven time runner up in the Ibex Cup. You could hear Slidebolt’s t-cog seize up the moment anyone in the room said ‘Blurr.’
I worked the racing circuits every now and then. A bot can only keep his sanity in Iacon for so long, and there’s no better way for a doctor to rust up than to get stuck treating the most well-maintained mechs on Cybertron. I’m old enough I can admit I got a thrill out of it: a mech crashes at that speed and he needs someone like me to put him back together. It always happened so fast, almost before your optics could refresh. This was before the war, when bots could still be shocked by something quick and nasty like that. Some would probably laugh, now.
In his fifteenth running of the Ibex Cup Slidebolt clipped the bot in front of him and tumbled into the wall. I spent the next few weeks with him, off and on, rebuilding what I could and getting him back into racing shape. The last thing I repaired on him was his t-cog. The reason wasn’t medical but psychological: as soon as I left the room Slidebolt would try and transform, which created medical issues from my perspective.
Slidebolt never felt at ease in what we call our “primary” mode. Might be a case for Rong and not this old doc, but I know enough just from experience that not every mech is wired the same. I came to see Slidebolt one day and he was looking at the fingers I’d recently fabricated, flexing them and turning his hand so he could see them on all sides.
“Something troubling you?” I asked, playing the professional.
“You can’t trust hands, Ratchet.”
I didn’t have a response to that, at least not one I could say and maintain any veneer of a bedside manner.
“I miss my wheels.” Slidebolt dropped his hand and looked at me instead. “Fingers lie to you, doc. They articulate so many ways all they do is just fumble around and get in the way of things. They never do what you want. Wheels are true. All there is in a wheel is power and grip. That’s all you need.”
I remember I laughed at Slidebolt then. I didn’t intend for it to be mean, but I’m sure I hurt his feelings. I couldn’t understand what he meant: fingers that don’t do what you want? Hands that got in the way? Clumsy was something that happened to other people.
Now I know what Slidebolt was getting at. He died, by the way, just before the Clampdown. Someone put a bomb at the finish line, in the first race Slidebolt ever won. He’s laughing at me now, and I hope he laughed in Primus’s face when he arrived in the Allspark. Til all are one, as Rodimus is more than fond of saying. I can’t think of a greater equalizer than laughing in god’s face.
The moment I came back online I knew I’d made a mistake. It wasn’t that I was missing a vital piece of myself, I’d discounted my hands for some time before I decided to do my best impression of Optimus Prime and go offline in a way that was more stupid than noble. I felt ashamed. I was on my back in my own medbay when mechs were dying around me, and I’d deliberately made myself unable to help them. If I’d had fingers I would’ve torn the crest from my forehead and crushed it beneath my heel.
Knock Out made me new hands. I hated them immediately. That’s not to disparage the workmanship, they sufficed for a normal bot. But I wasn’t a normal bot. Even when things were their worst, when I was afraid my fingers might seize up and I’d kill the mech lying on the slab, there was still the memory of competency in my parts. It was there. I just had to will it to be so. I killed that shadow in the most selfish way possible, and now I was left with crude machinery at the end of my arms. All the grace had gone out of it.
I spent some time standing over Ultra Magnus’s body. I had grown attached to this one, and there was nothing I could do for him. I’d stood in that spot more times than I’d like to admit.
I tried to adapt, I really did. Normal procedures, check ups, all the things that I had prayed for when I was huddled alone in a battlefield medical ward. These fingers, though, my spark wouldn’t cleave to them. I fumbled, I was slow. Everyone had a kind word, a pat on the shoulder, a laugh and a reassurance that everything would be back to normal. Rodimus even let me keep the title: Chief Medical Officer. I was lucky things were quiet for a while after Overlord got out, otherwise I would have been exposed. Badly. I was nothing more than a third rate surgeon, a technician at best.
That gap proved unbearable. I could see what I wanted to do in my mind, but my body was a step behind. I was worn down before, now I was old. I sulked in my office, I snapped at Mercy. She didn’t deserve it, none of them did. Nothing changed on the ship. Part of me smoldered, wanting to tell Rodimus every single way his selfishness and cowardice had nearly gotten us all killed. But I had been selfish and a coward as well, and now I was obsolete.
So I left.
I don’t know that I ever believed in the quest, but if I ever did I had lost that feeling now. A medical bot is supposed to wish for peace, the ultimate mending. Peace was nothing but obsolescence for me, a slow walk to the scrap heap. I told only Rodimus and Ultra Magnus that I was going. I took down the plaque by my quarters and tossed it in the oil reservoir. A last bit of petty pride; Knock Out might be the ship’s medical officer but the chief? I took that with me. I left it empty. I wouldn’t let a Decepticon have that. Maybe I wasn’t as ready for peace as I thought.
The shuttle was cramped but it beat light speed and that was all that really mattered. I just needed a one way trip and it could manage that. There was only one place in the universe I wanted to be, one place I thought I might still have some use.
It was a bright day on Delphi when I arrived. I crushed the snow beneath my feet and walked towards the medical facility’s front gate. It was as much a fortress as it was a hospital, situated where it was on Messatine. I was past worrying about the neighbors. I’d long since resigned myself to a Con getting the best of me one day. Might as well be the worst of the worst.
It must have stormed recently, because I had to clear a drift from the main access. I was sure that anyone left in the facility had seen me; I hadn’t tried to conceal my approach. The main landing pad was occupied by a large ship I didn’t recognize because it was covered in snow. So I had to pound on the door with my new hands. Some paint flecked off. Not even that was permanent.
The door, many times wider than I was, shuddered and began to move. Ice crackled around its joints and then fell away silently into the snow. I drew myself up, suddenly not sure of what I’d find inside the medical facility. Warm air rushed out of the gate, melting the snow that had gathered in my joints.
One bot had showed up to greet me. I saw her knees first, then the long legs in red and white that I had not seen for a millenia. “Sanguine.” I offered by way of greeting. I had to look up to see her smile, which it seemed was permanently placed on her features. Not that it was always warm.
“Ratchet! It’s been so long!” The tall femmebot said. It looked for a moment like she might try and sweep me up in her long arms, but she thought better of it. To her, I must still be the Chief Medical Officer, the miracle worker, her boss. The white crest on her brow, same as mine, nearly touched the ceiling. “If I’d known you were coming, I would have gotten everyone together.”
“May I come in?”
“Of course.” She gestured and I stepped over the threshold. She cycled the gate behind me, to seal in the warm air. “I’d heard you were here earlier, before I arrived, but you were with a few others then….Hot Rod?”
That made me smile. “Calls himself Rodimus now. And it’s just me this time.” I looked around the empty entryway. “I knew we’d raided a few of your personnel but I’d expected at least a guard.”
Sanguine’s smile turned apologetic with a shrug of her shoulders. “Called back to Cybertron. We missed you by a few weeks, and in the meantime High Command decided they needed reinforcements.” That smile almost faltered. “Peace, they say.”
I nodded. “Prowl wouldn’t know the meaning of the word if it came up and recalibrated his aft.” I glanced towards the corridor leading deeper into the facility. “Is the director around?”
“Oh, Pharma? He’s around somewhere.” Sanguine replied, before she laughed. “We can do better than catching up in the atrium, Ratchet. Come on, we have plenty of space if you’re here for the long haul,.” She turned and opened the heavy door leading into the hallway, the facility’s second line of defense. The interior lighting was softer than the harsh red lights of the atrium, where bots might be expected to make a stand. We had cocooned a hospital inside a military base.
Sanguine ducked before entering the corridor where she could straighten again. Her feet clacked sharply against the floor, her tailrotors made up her feet. The main ones hung on her back. “To what do we owe the honor, Chief?” She finally asked.
I waived a replacement hand. “Don’t call me that, Sang.” I walked slightly behind her. She was too broad to comfortably fit beside. “I gave it up. Got too old. Besides, I’m a wartime medical officer and the war’s over.”
“So I heard.” Sanguine replied. “More than literally. In my processor.”
“Yeah. Damnedest thing.”
We rounded a corner into the lobby. The ward manager would usually sit at the desk guarding the entrance to the main medical bay, but his chair was empty. “There really is no one around.” I murmured.
“Plenty of patients.” Sanguine replied. “We’ve been getting stragglers from all over, Autobots and Decepticons limping in on their way home. A few from Cybertron, too.” She glanced back at me with those bright blue optics. “You didn’t answer my question, Ratchet.”
She had me on the spot. All I could do was shrug. “I thought it was time to get back to a hospital. That ship’s crazy. You wouldn’t believe who they managed to stick together. Whirl. Rodimus. An ancient war hero. Swerve. Camiens. Autobots. Decepticons.” I shook my head. “I got off just in time. If they don’t all kill each other they’re bound to fly right into a star or something else nonsensical.”
“Camien?” Sanguine asked.
I smiled. “I’ll tell you later.”
She left me to make a call. I didn’t sit, it wasn’t my knees that were the problem. The facility had been cleaned up since last I was here, when it was under attack. Before the maintenance bots left they had cleared anyway anything that might put a patient’s processor ill at ease. I appreciated the serenity the space projected. Unfortunately, I knew too much to be affected by it.
The doors to the medical bay slid open and the bot I had come to see strode into the room. Jets, even Autobot jets, couldn’t help but move with an unmistakable swagger. His smile was genuine, though. “Ratchet!” Pharma almost embraced me, but extended a hand instead.
I took it. “Good to see you, doc. Better to see you without a gun to your head.”
He laughed, but with an edge, the memory unpleasant. “That goes without saying, Chief.” I was about to correct him just as I had Sanguine before Pharma’s brow furrowed. “What happened to your hands?” He dropped the replacement as if it had bit him. You can’t fool a Protihexian trained doctor with a layer of paint.
“Eh.” It was all I could manage on short notice. “I got rid of them. Worn out, advanced form fatigue.”
Sanguine’s smile disappeared, and her optics widened to their full aperture. “Ratchet!” She breathed the name. The way you might speak the name of someone who had recently died.
Pharma just nodded. “I’d noticed it for some time. Sorry to hear it finally got the better of you. But these…” He looked at my hands and struggled for a polite phrase that his ego would let out of his mouth. “...Look serviceable.”
“They are.” I grinned. “Built by a Decepticon, if you’d believe that. So if you wake up while recharging and I’m trying to dissect you, that’s why.”
Sanguine laughed. It felt good to restore her smile.
Pharma shot the tall femme a look but then settled his gaze back on me. “You’re staying, then? We didn’t get any word from the Lost Light.”
I nodded. “I was hoping to. I’m not much of a surgeon these days, but, I’d be happy to help manage the ward. Something to occupy my time.”
Pharma frowned and folded his arms across his chest. “Ward Manager Ratchet. Peace is very strange.” He shook his head. “Of course you’re welcome, and we’ll put you to better use than you think. Your experience alone...well. We can get to that later. We have plenty of work to do. Every Autobot and Decepticon strung out on the far rim is coming home.” He paused. “Why not go back to Cybertron?”
“I was there already. I don’t want any part of it, not with Prowl running the show.”
“They say Bumblebee is in charge.” Sanguine replied.
“They say a lot of things.” I said. “I like Bee, but he’s no match for Prowl. Without Optimus…” I left that thought hanging. We all did.
“I’d show you around myself but I have patients to attend to.” Pharma said, breaking the silence. “Sanguine, show Ratchet some place he can recharge if he needs it? We have plenty of space now that the miners have moved out.”
“Even the miners?” I asked.
Pharma nodded. “War’s over. Not much need for nucleon anymore. Plenty of need for loyal bots.”
“Huh.” I glanced past Pharma to the medical bay. “Not like Prowl to cut back on the stuff that goes boom.”
“Like I said. Peace is strange.” Pharma turned to the medical bay. “We’ll catch up in just a nanoklik, I promise.”
I nodded. “See you then, Pharma.”
Sanguine was waiting for me, an easy smile on her features. “Come on, Pharma’s given us the run of the west ward.”
The hallway sloped downwards as we left the main medical facility. Much of Delphi was like a bunker. It was like Prowl to build a medical facility, establish a footprint, then convert it into a strongpoint. Back when we were jockeying for control of the stars. Not much use controlling our half of the iceball now
“I was surprised anyone was here at all, really.” Sanguine said. I hadn’t done a good job of keeping the conversation going, apparently. “When I heard the call to go home, I thought it would be deserted...of course, if I didn’t go straight home, I should’ve expected that others wouldn’t, either.”
There’s no Cybertronian word for “mother.” We had to go out into the stars to find that one. We have plenty of words for maker. Builder. Smith. Forger. Shaper. Engineer. Some use these terms to describe Primus. After four million years, and living through what we were before that, I have a hard time accepting any divine origin. Even if you think Primus is your maker, there’s no sense of generations, no link between you and the bots came before or after. I wonder if we might have turned out a little better if that was the case, if we took some responsibility for the bots who came online after. Then again, I’ve lived among humans.
But if there is someone on Cybertron you could call a mother, I would nominate Sanguine. She’s a second rate surgeon, but being Protihex trained that makes her a valuable commodity. No, if Sanguine had a talent, it was in fabricating parts and bodies. Sometimes, when I was stationed in Iacon, I could hear her arguing with Prowl, begging him not to shorten the MTO activation protocols. She got attached, I suppose.
“I was there already.” I said. “You wouldn’t believe what happened if I told you…”
“I’ve read the reports.” Sanguine replied, turning towards a door and letting her fingers dance over the control pad. “They say Megatron didn’t make it.”
“They’ve said that before.”
The door slid open and Sanguine ducked her shoulders to fit inside. The large space must have been used to repair mining equipment at one time: the room had a high, curved ceiling and the walls buzzed faintly with the flow of power fed from the facility’s reactor. Where once it might have housed drills and graders, the room was filled with body parts. Arms, legs, inert torsos riddled with bullet holes. They were neatly organized, some hanging from the ceiling where a tall bot could reach them.
“I’m surprised Pharma let you keep your collection.”
Sanguine laughed. “I think he was a little surprised at how much it had grown. We spent a lot of time out on the rim.”
The ‘we’ Sanguine referred to soon came into view. When I try to understand why organics might think of us as robotic killing machines, even the Autobots, Rampart always came to my mind. He was all armor, painted a dull green and beige. The paint job, thick faceplate, and amber visor erased any sense of personality he had.
Almost as soon as Rampart emerged from the racks of parts Sanguine embraced him. “We have a visitor.” She told him, slipping to the heavy mech’s side and looping an arm around his shoulders.
“Been a long time, Rampart. She keeping you in good repair?” I jerked a thumb at Sanguine. Of course she was.
Rampart nodded. “The best.”
Two words out of him. Good talk.
“There was something I wanted to show you.” Sanguine said, patting Rampart’s shoulder before stepping away. “Pharma said you were here during the last attack, so...you’ll appreciate this.” She gestured towards the back of the room.
“I’m surprised Whirl and Fort Max left enough to piece even one back together…” Sanguine had five of the golden monsters, the sparkless drones that we’d come across in our quest, standing up in her workshop. Well, most them. None of them had all of the golden plates they had when they’d tried to storm Delphi a few months ago. I’d be surprised if the had all their pieces under the armor.
“They’re remarkable, really. Sparkless, but still quite functional. And terrifying, from what I’ve heard.” Sanguine sounded excited.
“Just something to keep you occupied?” I looked back to Sanguine.
She shrugged. “There were more. Cybertron keeps asking for parts, so...these things provide. They’re Cybertronian make, just not...properly alive. So, useful. And yes, fun to put together.”
“There are too many Autobots whose hobby is putting together death machines, Sang. Don’t be one of them.”
She laughed, but I detected a hint of nerves to it. Rampart looked at me, but as usual he was impossible to read. I wasn’t certain he understood the concept of humor anyway.
“Come on. I swear I didn’t bring you in here just to show off the drones. Half the base is powered down, so the only working slabs are through here.” Sanguine led me towards a door about halfway down the length of the workshop. Rampart went back to doing whatever it was he was up to before I arrived. “I think command likes having a facility offworld, but where we are...I’m sure they’ll turn the lights off on us soon.”
The space behind the door must have been the common area of a miner’s dorm. There were probably others off of the workshop, but this one was online. “It’ll do.”
Sanguine smiled. “Do you have much to move in? It was an awfully small ship.”
I shook my head. “Didn’t bring much. It was a long trip, Sang. Mind if I take a recharge? You’ve been very hospitable.”
She laughed. “Rest up, Chief.”
“I told you not to-” She closed the door on me. I smirked and shook my head. I wasn’t lying about being tired, I hadn’t recharged well on the Lost Light of late and it was a long trip. I found a door that was unlocked, rekeyed it to my personal signature, and settled into the dark of my new room. A miner’s room, not a doctor’s or a questing bot’s.
It was so quiet under Messatine’s surface that I drifted off after only a few moments.