WE ARE WHO WE ARE
"Get back here Ironhide! I'm not finished with you yet!"
In his quarters Jazz groaned as he was rudely awoken from a very short sleep cycle by the yelling right outside his door. He rubbed his optics from under his visor, then sat up and looked at the clock hanging on the far wall, which was shaped like an old-fashioned vinyl record. Autobots didn't really need clocks, what with them having chronometers and all, but this had been a Christmas gift from Blaster, so Jazz had decided to use it. The current position of the clock's hands indicated that it was 7AM. He'd only had four Earth hours of sleep.
"An' I'm tellin' you I feel fine", another voice yelled back, this one with a distinctive Southern drawl.
All this yelling was making Jazz's audio receptors ache. He stood up, went to the door and hit the lock. The door slid open and he stepped out into one of the Ark's many passageways. To his right stood Ironhide, one hand on the wall, patched up in about half a dozen places. Jazz winced when he saw him. On his left stood Ratchet, the white Autobot medic, arms crossed in front of his chest and frowning. The two Autobots looked at Jazz and then glared at each other again.
"Jazz, could you please tell Ironhide to get his no-good red aft back in the repair bay", Ratchet growled.
"Jazz, you can tell Ratchet that all my nuts and bolts are in place and I am going on duty", Ironhide retorted before Jazz could say anything.
Jazz was not ready to handle this type of thing at this hour of the morning. He stepped back into his room and slammed the door shut. Ratchet and Ironhide looked at each other and then at the closed door.
"Now what's gotten into him?" Ironhide shrugged.
Before Ratchet could answer, loud rock music blared out. The two Autobots covered their audials in pain.
"I think it means he doesn't want us around here", Ratchet said. "Now lets go".
Before Ironhide could react, Ratchet had snatched the red robot's hand and began dragging him back to the repair bay.
Inside his room, Jazz had turned on his quite impressive sound system to maximum volume and put on the loudest rock music he could find. The racket echoed up and down the hallways. He lay down on his recharge bed again and tried to shut down for a few more hours. The music, while it didn't bother him in the least, would definitely keep the other Autobots away from the hallway – except for Blaster, and if Jazz knew him at all, he'd be busy sleeping off the long hours of dancing at the club himself. He sighed as he shut his optics. That was the last time he was allowing Blaster to convince him to party till three in the morning. And he was never drinking more than 2 pints of high-grade energon in one night ever again. Because right now he was having what humans would call 'a slight hangover'.
He awoke again about three hours later to pounding. Pounding which at first he thought was coming from his cranial chambers, but then realized it was coming from the door. Someone was banging on it hard enough to be heard over the blaring music. Not thinking to lower the volume, Jazz went to the door first and hit the lock again. Outside stood Bluestreak, hands clamped over audio receptors, faceplate contorted in obvious distress. He winced when the door opened and the music hit him full on. It was so loud the tips of his door-wings quivered. Jazz didn't seem bothered in the least.
"Turn that slagging music off Jazz!" he shouted. "And report to the main control room. You're late. Prowl sent me to get you before Optimus Prime gets there. Now hurry!"
With that, Bluestreak turned and ran off the way he came. Jazz managed to crack a small smile, but he did as Bluestreak said. He turned off the music and silence returned to the hallway. Taking one last glance around his room to make sure he wasn't forgetting anything, he headed down the hallway in the direction Bluestreak had gone, trying to hurry despite the dull throbbing in his head.
Passing through the Autobot Lounge, he was greeted with smiles and friendly waves from the Autobots who were not on duty that day and had nowhere else to be.
"Well here's a surprise, responsible Jazz is late for duty", Mirage teased.
"Aw lay off Mirage", Cliffjumper groaned from a corner. "Everyone's entitled to their days off".
"That they are", Jazz said before Mirage could answer. "And today's not one of mine. But before I go, has anyone seen Blaster?"
"The last I saw of him was when the two of you left to go all night clubbing", Mirage said. "I haven't seen him since".
"He's probably still recharging after all the high-grade energon you guys drank last night", Huffer whined. "The way you two came stumbling back in, I'm surprised to see even you up".
Jazz cringed inwardly when all optics in the room turned to him. He raised his hands as if to ward them off.
"Hey man, I was just trying to unwind. Yesterday was not one of my better days", he said.
"It's alright Jazz", said Smokescreen in that understanding voice of his, tossing a glare at Huffer, who shrugged. "You did your best, especially without Optimus Prime there, and you got your group out with minimal injuries".
"Yeah? Well try telling that to Ironhide, Brawn, Trailbreaker, Warpath and Sideswipe", Jazz replied.
"Try telling me what?" Sideswipe asked suddenly from behind Jazz, who jumped and turned to face the red Autobot. He grinned from audial to audial and Jazz knew he'd heard everything.
"Guess I'd better wind down my woofers and get my aft to the control room before old Prowl blows a gasket", he said with a sigh. "See you guys later".
He continued on, leaving the other Autobots in the lounge to stare after him. If Sideswipe had been human he would have raised an eyebrow.
"Was that Jazz?" he asked, nodding towards the retreating white and black figure.
"Apparently yes", said Smokescreen. "But I've never seen him in that kind of mood before".
"Jazz… depressed?" Bluestreak asked. "About what?"
"It better not be about yesterday", Sideswipe said. "I mean, he did his best. And if he's sorry for what happened to Ironhide, he shouldn't be. He knows Ironhide acts first and thinks later".
"He's got something on his mind alright, but I don't think its just yesterday", Smokescreen said.
Jazz reached the control room and thankfully Prime was nowhere around. Prowl sat at his usual position in front of Teletran 1.
"Good morning Jazz", he said without so much as taking his optics off the screen.
"Hey Prowl", Jazz replied. "Sorry I'm late". He looked around. "So what did you need me for?"
Prowl noted the lack of cheer in the Autobot's voice, eventhough Jazz had a smile on his face, and turned to face him.
"Prime will be here soon", he said. "Are you feeling alright?"
"Yeah I'm fine, just partied a little too much last night, that's all", Jazz replied.
Before Prowl could reply, Optimus Prime came into the room with Wheeljack at his side.
"Good morning Prowl, Jazz", he said, and then looked around. "Where's Blaster?"
"He's uh… he's still in recharge Prime", Jazz told him. "We were out late last night".
Prime didn't look happy and Jazz knew Blaster was going to be in deep transistor parts.
"Has SkySpy picked up any sign of Decepticon activity?" Prime asked, turning to Prowl.
"Affirmative Prime", Prowl replied. "Teletran reported 6 Seekers and the 2 triple-changers en route to a rocket fuel manufacturing plant a few miles from here".
"If we hurry we can still stop them", Prime said. "I want three Autobots and two Minibots to do it and Jazz, I want you to lead them".
Under his visor, Jazz's optics widened and glowed in surprise.
"What?!" he exclaimed. "Again?"
"I have to take a shuttle back to Cybertron. Prowl has to remain here and keep monitoring Teletran. Ironhide is still in repair bay", said Prime.
Jazz winced. "But you saw what happened when you put me in charge yesterday. It's because of me Ironhide and the others got hurt. I cant do it Prime, I'm sorry".
"It was not your fault Jazz", Prime assured. "You didn't know and if you hadn't led them away in time, there would be five non-functional Autobots right now. I'm confident you can do this".
"But I'm not… Prime I'm not a leader".
"That's an order Jazz".
Jazz's shoulders slumped and he sighed. Wheeljack put a hand on his shoulder.
"Don't worry", he said. "You'll do fine. And if it makes you feel any better, I'll come with you".
"And I'm coming too", said Sideswipe, coming up.
"Siders no", said Jazz. "You're still hurt".
Sideswipe shrugged. "If I was hurt bad do you think Ratchet would be letting me walk around? He'd have me strapped to the table with titanium-plated steel cables like he usually does". Sideswipe grinned again.
"And we'll take the Dinobots too", said Wheeljack. "They could do with a workout".
At that moment Blaster ran in.
"Hey hey Auto-buddies! What's happenin' dudes? – "
His greeting was cut short when he noticed Optimus Prime looking at him, arms crossed.
"And where have you been Blaster?" he asked.
Prime didn't look angry, but Blaster knew that voice. The big guy wasn't happy.
"I was in shut down till a while ago", he said.
"Care to explain why?" Prime asked.
"I was out clubbing and I didn't get back till about four this morning. And I may have had a bit too much high-grade energon".
"Its not his fault Prime", Jazz spoke up. "I was feeling kinda sad last night and he wanted to cheer me up. So both of us went a little overboard on the energon and – ".
Prime held up a hand and Jazz stopped.
"Jazz, Wheeljack, Sideswipe, get the Dinobots and two Minibots and roll out", he said. "Dismissed".
Casting a helpless glance at Blaster, Jazz followed the others out. This was not going to be a fun day.
A while later, Jazz, Sideswipe, Wheeljack, Cliffjumper and Windcharger sped off from the Ark, the Dinobots flying overhead.
"Where Autobots going?" Grimlock asked over the internal comm. system. "And why Optimus Prime no lead us?"
"Prime had to go back to Cybertron and he placed Jazz in charge", Wheeljack said. "So just do as he says".
"Jazz not strong leader", Slag snarled. "Dinobots follow only strongest leader. Me, Slag, not take orders from Jazz".
"Me, Sludge, like Jazz", said the large Dinobot.
"Me, Slag, say you, Sludge, stupid", Slag snapped back.
"Me, Snarl, say you, Slag, have big mouth", the stegosaurus-bot said. He didn't like Sludge much, but he liked Slag far less.
"Me, Swoop, like Jazz too. Me want to help".
"Me, Grimlock, say all of you shut up", he growled at them. "Him, Jazz, not strong leader, but him not deaf either".
"I wonder if you Dino-bozos realize that it doesn't take only strength to be a leader", said Cliffjumper, clearly offended for Jazz.
"Yeah, it takes intelligence for one thing", Sideswipe quipped as he fishtailed, raising clouds of dust with his tires. "Something that you guys lack".
Jazz had not spoken the entire time.
"Don't take it to heart Jazz", said Wheeljack through the personal comm. line. "You know how they are. Nothing's quite good enough for them".
"They're right 'Jack", Jazz replied softly. "I'm no leader. I shouldn't even be here".
"But you are, and you cant turn back. Just do your best", Wheeljack assured.
"You guys wanna end this little debate? Or shall we just let the Decepticons trash the place?" Windcharger asked. "Cos we're here incase you haven't noticed".
Jazz screeched to a halt, forcing the other Autobots to pull up on either side of him. The Dinobots landed behind them.
"Autobots transform!" he called. "Spread out and stop the Decepticons, but make sure there aren't any humans around. And be careful!"
He led the attack inside, laser rifle firing. The Decepticons, busy recharging on rocket fuel, were caught by surprise.
"Decepticons! Transform and destroy the Autobots!" Starscream shrieked.
The 6 Decepticon Seekers and Astrotrain transformed to their jet modes and took to the air, Blitzwing switched to his tank mode and they began to counter-attack.
"Autobots take cover!" Jazz shouted. His audio sensors suddenly picked up human cries for help coming from a nearby building. "Cliffjumper! Windcharger! There are humans in that building", he shouted through the comm. link. "Get them out of here! The rest of us will handle the Decepti-clowns".
The two Minibots darted out from their positions, transformed and sped to the building. The other three Autobots covered them from Blitzwing's fire. Meanwhile, the Dinobots were having target practise with the airborne Decepticons. In their dinosaur forms they were virtually unaffected by the laser fire which bounced harmlessly off their hulls.
Swoop took out Astrotrain by flying above him and releasing his two wing missiles which blew out a good portion of Astrotrain's wings. Grimlock caught Ramjet in his jaws and clamped down hard, nearly breaking the jet in two before spitting him out. None of the other jets had escaped harm either. All of them were covered in scorch marks courtesy of the fire of the other three Dinobots.
Cliffjumper's voice came through the comm. link.
"Jazz, the building's unstable and there are still some humans inside. We need some help getting them out. Also, it seems there are a couple of humans out in the open, last reported to be in the area around you".
"Wheeljack! Take Sludge and go help them!" Jazz ordered. "The rest of you Dinos drive off those jets. Sideswipe cover me, I'm going to find those two humans!"
"You got it boss!" Wheeljack yelled. "Sludge! Come with me!"
He ran towards the building, the brontosaurus providing him enough cover from the Seekers… Trusting Sideswipe to watch his back, Jazz ran in search of the missing humans. Laser fire singed his back and from the corner of his optic he saw Skywarp coming in for a better shot. It never happened. Risking a glance over his shoulder, he saw the purple and black jet go down in flames from a disgruntled Snarl.
Jazz found the two humans – a man and woman – crouched down in front of a burning fuel tank. The woman screamed when she saw Jazz.
"Take it easy", he said. "I'm an Autobot, I'm here to help you. Are you injured?"
"We're alright", said the man. "We took cover here when those other robots attacked".
"Well we've gotta get you two outta here fast", Jazz said. "This thing could blow any minute".
He picked up the two humans and looked up as a laser bolt from Slag narrowly missed Starscream.
"Skywarp!" he shouted to the downed jet, who had smoke streaming from one of his engines. "Teleport yourself and Astrotrain out of here. Dirge! Thrust! Get Ramjet and head back to headquarters! Thundercracker, Blitzwing and I shall take care of these miserable Autobots".
He took a shot at Sideswipe and nailed the red Autobot in the shoulder. Sideswipe fell with a cry. Starscream was met with a blast of fire from Grimlock.
"Jazz, the humans are safe", Wheeljack said over the comm. link. "Cliffjumper and Windcharger are taking them out of the area".
"Help Sideswipe, he's hurt", Jazz instructed. "I found the two humans and I'm getting them out of here".
The fuel tank exploded, knocking Jazz off his feet and leaving a large gaping wound in his right side. Luckily for the humans still in his hands, Jazz's body shielded them from the blast. He twisted and landed on his injured side so that he avoided crushing them. He released his grip.
"Run towards the building", he told them. "You can escape from there. My friends will cover you".
They ran off without even so much as a 'thank you'. Jazz painfully pushed himself back upto his feet and did a scan of his side – or what was left of it. Circuits crackled and fizzed, wires and cables hung shredded and fluids leaked out of half a dozen different places. Jazz grimaced – at the thought of facing Ratchet.
He shook his head, trying to get his optic and audio sensors clear again. The explosion and hard landing had jarred his senses. His audials cleared first, in time for him to hear Starscream yelling for a retreat, followed by another voice saying,
"After I bag myself an Autobot with a little human on the side".
There was a click followed by loud bangs. Jazz's vision cleared in time for him to see Blitzwing shooting at the two humans he had just saved. One of the blasts landed right behind them and he heard them scream just as a thick shower of earth flew up. Jazz lost his voice as guilt rained down on him, his optics wide with shock under his visor.
"No", his voice came out in a low whisper.
"Now for the Autobot", he heard Blitzwing say.
There was that familiar click again and Jazz found himself staring down the triple-changer's cannon. Three points of violet light glowed from within and Jazz braced himself and shut his optics. Swoop flew in from behind. Jazz felt himself lifted off the ground, just as searing pain assailed his left leg. He opened his optics again and found himself in Swoop's claws, and Blitzwing lying on his side courtesy of Slag's tail. The Decepticon quickly transformed to his jet mode and took off after a retreating Starscream and Thundercracker.
Jazz spotted Wheeljack helping a very shaken and injured Sideswipe to where the other Dinobots had gathered.
"Swoop, thanks for the assist man", he said. "But you gotta put me down. I need to check on the others".
"You, Jazz, injured bad. Me, Swoop, not reach you in time, blast hit your leg. Side hurt bad too. Me fly you back to Ark", the Dinobot said.
"No Swoop, I really need to get down there. Sideswipe need help too".
Reluctantly, Swoop lowered Jazz gently to the ground and transformed. Jazz nearly fell over when he put some of his weight on his left leg. Swoop caught him.
"Me, Swoop, help you walk", he said.
Pain assailed Jazz from every part of his frame as he limped towards the others. He noticed a gaping hole in Sideswipe's shoulder. The two of them stared at him in shock as he approached. Wheeljack's wings drooped.
"By Primus! Jazz!" he exclaimed. "What happened to you? Are you alright? Boy, is Ratchet going to throw a fit when he sees you".
"I'm alright", Jazz said. "It looks worse than it is. How's Sideswipe?"
"You're missing half your body structure and you're asking how I am?" the red Autobot asked. "I'm fine, except for my shoulder, but what about you? Can you transform?"
Jazz cringed. "Don't think so buddy".
"Me, Sludge, help!" the bronto came lumbering up. "Me, Sludge, say Jazz and Sideswipe ride on back. Me take you both home".
The three Autobots looked at each other, a bit surprised, but the accepted the offer. Sludge lowered himself to let Sideswipe and Jazz climb onto his back.
"You're a good Dinobot Sludge m'man", said Jazz. "No matter what anyone else says. Autobots! Let's head for home!"
The journey back was anything but smooth. Sludge tried his best, but he was a Dinobot after all. Every step he took sent jolts of pain up his two passengers. But they didn't complain. At least it was better than having to walk home. Wheeljack drove alongside to keep them company while the remaining four Dinobots flew overhead.
Sideswipe was restless. He wanted to be down on the road racing ahead of everyone else, but he decided not to risk the wrath of Ratchet by aggravating the wound in his shoulder. Plus, he was a bit worried about Jazz. The normally talkative white and black 'Bot was unusually silent, except for the occasional grunt, groan or hiss of pain whenever the Bronto-Bot stepped a little too hard. Sideswipe knew Jazz's wounds were worse than what he was making them out to be and that alone was cause enough for worry, but the silence, the silence was unnerving even for him. Now and then he shot a look back over his shoulder, but Jazz's face remained emotionless, broken sometimes by a grimace of pain; his optics hidden by his visor.
Sideswipe wished he would take it off so that he'd have some idea of what went on behind it. It could be moved, even removed, because he'd seen Jazz fiddle with it sometimes. But he never took it off.
"Hey man, I gotta keep something secret don't I?" he'd said once, when Bluestreak asked him to lose the visor. Sideswipe thought it was fair enough cos Jazz was a pretty open guy. It occurred to him that he'd never seen Jazz's optics and right now he wanted nothing more than to rip that damn visor off. Sometimes by looking a 'Bot in the optics, he could tell what was bothering them, like he could with Bluestreak, Sunstreaker and Prowl, even Wheeljack. He couldn't do that with Jazz and it bothered him because he liked Jazz – a lot.
Jazz was one of the few Autobots who actually liked him and his brother, and was one of the few guys who took their side when there was a disagreement. So if something was upsetting Jazz, Sideswipe wanted to know what it was so he could help his friend. He was snapped out of his thoughts by Wheeljack's voice.
"Hey guys", he said. "Cliffjumper and Windcharger just radioed in. They got the humans to the city hospital and they're on their way back to the Ark. Since they're gonna reach there before us, I told them to let Prowl know our mission was a success".
A barely audible and muffled sob came from behind Sideswipe and the red mech whipped his head around to see Jazz wipe his face with the back of his hand.
"Are you okay Jazz?" he asked.
Jazz nodded. "Yeah", he said. "And thanks 'Jack".
"No problem", Wheeljack replied.
Truth be told, Wheeljack's message about the humans caused fresh waves of guilt to wash over Jazz as he thought about the young couple tragically lost to Blitzwing's cannon. He couldn't help but wonder if they would have lived had he not gone over and stuck his nose there. Maybe they would have survived the fuel-tank explosion and somehow gotten out safely. The Decepticons weren't aware of their presence until Jazz had gone over to help. he felt, in a way, their deaths were his fault and the guilt and shame of it was what kept him from speaking about it to anyone else.
"Well, we're here", Wheeljack announced. "Home sweet home".
The familiar volcano loomed up ahead and below that, the entrance to the Ark. Sludge stopped just outside, as the other Dinobots landed, and Wheeljack transformed and helped Sideswipe and Jazz off his back.
"'Jack, take the Dinobots back to their quarters. Make sure they get a good energon ration. They did well today", Jazz said. "Sideswipe, lets go pay Ratchet a little visit and hear what the good doc has to say".
Both of them headed inside first, Sideswipe ahead, Jazz limping behind. He had refused all offers of help to walk, saying that the ride helped him rest and he could do it by himself. Wheeljack lingered outside to praise the Dinobots on a job well done. Sideswipe reached the repair bay first and strolled inside. Ratchet looked up from his toolkit and glared at him, and at the hole in his shoulder.
"What are you doing here?" he snapped. "I just worked on you yesterday. No, wait, let me guess, you completely ignored my warnings and went charging out to battle didn't you?"
"Pretty much", Sideswipe replied with a grin, as he hopped up on one of the flats and lay down. "And besides", he said with a mock pout. "I missed you".
Ratchet muttered something inaudible and picked up his laser scalpel. "This is your last warning Sideswipe", he said. "If you come in here with something broken or burnt off within the next two weeks, I swear by Primus I will NOT hesitate to strap you to this table with titanium-plated steel cables".
To the medic's immense relief, Sideswipe remained blissfully silent.
Once he saw Sideswipe turn into the repair bay, Jazz detoured and headed back to his quarters, heedless of the energon and other fluids that leaked from his leg and side with every limping step. Ironhide's laughter echoed out from the Autobot lounge and Jazz was glad the red 'Bot was okay again. But at the moment, he didn't want to talk to anyone; he just wanted to be alone and come to terms with the consequences of his actions. He stepped into his room and the door locked behind him.
About an hour later, Ratchet had just about finished patching up Sideswipe's shoulder when Wheeljack walked in, side-panels glowing bright blue.
"Hey Ratchet! How are our two soldier-bots doing under your gentle touch?" he asked.
Ratchet's head snapped up and he frowned at Wheeljack.
"Two?" he asked. "Do you mean there was someone else besides this little red terror?"
"Yeah", Wheeljack said, looking around the repair bay and noticing the absence. "Jazz was hurt real bad, didn't he come in after you?" He looked at Sideswipe.
The red mech turned his head and looked at the engineer.
"I don't know", he said. "Ratchet knocked me offline to fix my shoulder. I didn't come back on till about two minutes ago".
Ratchet pointed at Wheeljack. "Get him in here", he snapped. "I don't care if you have to drag him by the juts on his head, just get that slag heap into my repair bay!"
Ratchet almost shouted the last four words and Wheeljack fled.
Once out in the hallway, Wheeljack bee lined it to the Autobots' private quarters, his instincts proven right when he followed a trail of energon right up to Jazz's door. Beyond it, he could hear soft music playing – the type Jazz called New Age. He banged on the door.
"Jazz!" he called. "Jazz! C'mon out! Ratchet wants you in the repair bay pronto!"
There was no response. With a sigh, Wheeljack had no choice but to override the lock. The door slid open and he stepped inside. The room was dark and there was no sign of Jazz. Wheeljack went over to the sound system and turned the music off. Then he spotted Jazz and his wings drooped all the way down. The normally cheerful Autobot was seated on the floor, back against his recharge-bed, surrounded by little puddles of fluid; knees up, arms folded across them and head bent low. Now and then his body shook gently. His leg and side still crackled and fizzed and tiny wisps of smoke would waft up from another burnt out wire or cable. He had shut down half his systems to save energy.
"He's upset", Wheeljack thought. "But he's not stupid".
However, Wheeljack also knew that the rest of Jazz's systems would soon shut down without his control if he didn't get to Ratchet in time. He crouched down beside the white and black robot and drew Jazz's right arm across his shoulders. Then he slowly stood up, gently pulling Jazz up with him and helped him limp and hobble slowly to the repair bay.
Ratchet was waiting for them, and when they finally appeared in the doorway and the medic saw Jazz's wounds, he was ready to explode in fury at him for not coming into medical right away. But then he saw the 'Bot's face and all scathing comments died on his lip components. Sideswipe too remained silent and slid off the table to help Wheeljack get Jazz on it. It was only when the white and black mech was lying on his back that he finally broke down.
"Ratchet… I… I killed…humans… two humans… I killed them", he said.
He tried to say more, but grief and shame completely overcame him and he lost part of his voice.
"Shh its alright Jazz", the white medic said, his voice unusually soft and gentle. "You didn't kill anyone. Now be a pal and shut down for Ratchet to fix you up".
Jazz knew better than to argue with Ratchet and shut himself down completely. Once Jazz was offline, Ratchet turned to Wheeljack and Sideswipe.
"Both of you – OUT!" he snapped. "I don't know what happened to him out there but I'll find out later. Wheeljack, escort Sideswipe to his quarters and make sure he stays there for the rest of the day. Now scram!"
Casting Jazz a final look, Sideswipe followed Wheeljack out of the room.
"What was Jazz talking about?" Sideswipe asked as they walked down the passage. "Killing humans? Jazz wouldn't hurt a fly, let alone kill a human".
"I don't know Sides", Wheeljack replied. "But something must have happened to him out there. You didn't see the state he was in when I found him in his room. And Jazz is not one to lie either".
"Jazz not kill humans", Swoop said suddenly from behind and both of them jumped.
"Swoop! What are you doing here?" Wheeljack asked.
"Me, Swoop, looking for you, to tell what happened. Me overhear Jazz talking to Ratchet. So me want to tell you me certain Jazz not kill humans".
"And how can you be so certain?" Sideswipe asked.
"Me flying during battle. Me see Jazz save humans from explosion. Jazz hurt, humans run. Blitzwing fire at humans just as Jazz get up. Then Decepticon fire at Jazz. Me, Swoop, fly fast and pull Jazz up, but not fast enough, Jazz hurt leg bad. But me swear, Jazz not kill humans".
"Alright Swoop, thanks", said Wheeljack. "Go back to your quarters now and get some rest".
"Jazz ok?" the Dinobot asked.
"He should be", the engineer answered. Then he turned to Sideswipe. "Can I trust you enough to go back to your room by yourself and stay there for the rest of the day?"
Sideswipe grinned, audio to audio. "C'mon, would I betray you? But where are you going?"
"I'm going back to talk to Ratchet. He may be able to convince Jazz that what happened wasn't his fault".
Ratchet worked on Jazz all night – cleaning out dirt and shrapnel, patching fuel leaks, attaching cables and meticulously reconnecting and repairing each and every shorn and burnt out wire. After he'd chased Wheeljack and Sideswipe out, he'd had to sit down for a good five minutes to calm his circuits before getting up again to run a scan of Jazz's injuries. Then he'd had to wait another five minutes for his hands to stop shaking and he cussed himself for it. Though Jazz's injuries were severe, they were not fatal and Ratchet had seen and repaired worse. Neither was this the first time he'd had to repair Jazz. No, he'd been in here three months ago with a similar, but a lot less serious injury to his right thigh and Ratchet had fixed him fine.
It wasn't even the words he'd spoken just before Ratchet had him shut down.
"Killing humans my boron compressor", he muttered.
He didn't believe it for half an astrosecond and he was justified when Wheeljack had popped back to give him an account of what Swoop had seen.
No, it was the look; the look of pure grief on a normally cheerful face that caused Ratchet to swallow his entire cache of smartass insults before they left his synthesizer. Ratchet had never seen that look on Jazz's face in all the millennia he'd known him – until today. And something told him that grief like that wouldn't be going away anytime soon.
That was why Ratchet's hands shook. He could fix Jazz's physical injuries to perfection, but there was nothing he could do to heal Jazz's mental and emotional state. And that upset Ratchet because they needed Jazz. The Autobots needed Jazz. They needed his cheerfulness, his optimism, his open-minded nature. Jazz was the heart and soul of the Autobot team.
Ratchet sighed, threw down his tool and wiped his hands off. A check on his chronometer told him it was nearing midnight. He looked back at Jazz. The mech was still offline, and while most of the repair work on his internal systems were finished, part of his side would have to be reconstructed from scratch and that, the medic knew, would take at least a day.
"Still at it huh?" Ratchet jumped as Wheeljack spoke from the door.
"Don't DO that!" Ratchet scolded. "You silly fool Wheeljack! What if I had my scalpel near one of his life-wires? I could have killed him!"
"Whoa Ratchet, take it easy, I'm sorry", Wheeljack said as he came inside. He stopped and looked at Jazz's still form. "How is he?"
"He should be fine once I reconstruct his side. Back to normal – I hope". Ratchet replied.
"You hope?" Wheeljack echoed. "Ratchet, what's wrong?"
"You tell me 'Jack. You're the one who found him in his room crying – actually crying. You saw the look on his face".
"But he didn't kill those two humans! Blitzwing did. Jazz's innocent".
"He doesn't know that. He feels he put them in harm's way and that he's responsible. He didn't realize they would have died for sure in that tank explosion had he not been there".
Wheeljack's panels flashed silently for a few minutes and Ratchet knew he was thinking.
"I think he's also feeling guilty for Sideswipe getting hurt two days in a row", he said. "It was bad enough yesterday when Brawn and the others got hurt under his lead, and now today, Sideswipe and the humans – again under his watch".
"What? Under his watch?" Ratchet asked. "Explain".
"Prime put Jazz in charge of our group again today", Wheeljack said. "Jazz wasn't too happy about it, but he had no choice".
Ratchet cussed in an ancient Cybertronian dialect.
"Where's Prowl?" he finally asked.
"Where else?" replied Wheeljack. "Control room".
"What in the unholy and infernal PIT was Prime thinking?!?!" Ratchet yelled as he stormed into the control room, Wheeljack following behind.
Prowl looked up and studied the furious medic for a good two minutes.
"Is this about Jazz?" he asked at length.
"You can bet your shiny door-wings this is about Jazz", Ratchet snapped. "Does Prime need to have an overhaul or has he just plain forgotten that he is the Autobot leader? Not you, not me, not Ironhide and, by Primus, certainly NOT Jazz!"
"Prime was needed on Cybertron", Prowl said, and Wheeljack marveled at how the tactician kept calm in the face of Ratchet's steaming wrath. "He was the only one we could spare".
Ratchet's optics flashed and this time Prowl did flinch.
"Oh. Spare… And where the hell were you?" Ratchet spat. "No, wait, don't tell me, you were busy sitting on your aft watching Teletran. Dammit Prowl! Jazz is not a leader. He doesn't know the first thing about leadership. You cant just put him in charge of a group of Autobots and expect leadership skills to come naturally to him. Prime took a good part of a millennium to get used to it, and if I recall, you took even longer! By putting Jazz in that role, you not only endangered his life, you endangered the lives of the Autobots who followed him".
Ratchet slumped into a chair, silently fuming. Wheeljack remained at the door. There was a moment of uncomfortable silence.
"I'm sorry Ratchet", Prowl said finally. "I'm afraid I didn't realize it at the time".
"Don't tell me Prowl", Ratchet said, his voice softer now, but still dripping with anger. "Tell Jazz…. You know those humans Blitzwing killed? Jazz feels its his fault. He feels responsible".
"You didn't see him Prowl", Wheeljack said quietly. "You didn't see him sitting on the floor of his room with half his systems shut down and crying".
Prowl's door-wings twitched when he heard this and Ratchet noticed.
"Yes Prowl, he was crying", the medic said. "I wouldn't have believed it either if I hadn't seen his face when Wheeljack half-dragged him into the repair bay".
Another pause, this one longer than the last.
"It didn't start over these past two days", Prowl broke the silence again. "He's not been himself for quite some time now. Jazz has something on his mind that he's not sharing and it caught up with him this morning".
"Don't you, for one astrosecond, think of blaming your mistakes on his moods", Ratchet said sharply. "If you knew he was not himself, then why in the universe did you go and heap more responsibility on him?"
"We thought if we gave him something else to do – ".
"What? He would instantly forget all his present problems and be smiley happy Jazz again? Because, ooh yay! He's a leader?" Ratchet laughed bitterly. "Prowl, Jazz will never be a leader. He wasn't created to be that. He was created to be Jazz – just Jazz – nothing more, nothing less. You cant expect him to be something that he's not". Ratchet stood up. "If you want to help him, don't put him in that kind of position again. Ever. you can tell Prime I said that, and if he still has a problem with it, I will tell him myself just what I think of his endangering the life of my patients".
Ratchet stormed out again. Prowl looked at Wheeljack who was still at the door.
"I truly do regret what happened", he said.
"I know", Wheeljack replied. "Give Ratchet some time to cool his systems, he's been working hard all this time. But he's right Prowl… don't make Jazz go through that again". He turned to go, then stopped and turned back again. "You said you've noticed him not being himself for some time now. When did you first notice?"
"About three months ago", Prowl said. "At first I thought he was having a bad day, because he returned to his usual behavior after that. But I couldn't help notice that something wasn't right. I couldn't pinpoint exactly what it was however".
"Well, we'll let him recover first, then I'll ask Blaster or Mirage to talk to him", Wheeljack said and turned to go. "Good night Prowl. Don't stay up too late. Get some rest".
"I shall try Wheeljack. Good night".
Ratchet returned to the repair bay to find Sunstreaker inside, standing beside where Jazz lay.
"Oh for the love of Primus!" Ratchet swore. "You! Out! Get out! Get out of my repair bay NOW!"
"No", Sunstreaker said. "I… I just want – ".
Ratchet stalked inside and glared at the yellow mech. "You want what?" he asked. "You want a detail? You want a new paint job? You want me to wax a scratch off your finish?" He narrowed his optics. "Get out now before I throw you out".
"Wait! I… I just want to know if Jazz is gonna be alright", Sunstreaker said quickly. "Sideswipe told me what happened. And I couldn't shut down right till I knew".
The white medic crossed his arms. "And just why would you care about Jazz's condition?" he asked.
"Hey man, Jazz is my friend. He's one of the few Autobots who actually gives a slag about me. And he listens y'know, really listens, without giving me that preachy, righteous crap like Prowl or Prime".
"He's going to be fine", Ratchet assured him. "Now go back to sleep. I still have a lot of work to do on him".
But Sunstreaker wasn't the last. Over the course of the early morning hours, various Autobots would pop into the repair bay to see how Jazz was, as they went to or from their shifts, until finally Ratchet had to lock the doors to keep them out so that he himself could rest and recharge.
Morning in the Autobot lounge was not as cheerful as it could have, and should have, been. Blaster walked in at around 6am, after watching the sunrise outside.
"Hey guys", he said. "Any news on Jazz? How's he doing?"
"We don't know Blaster", said Powerglide. "I was the last one to see him. Ratchet said he was going to be ok, just before he kicked me out of the repair bay and locked the doors. That was around 4am and no one's been allowed in since".
"Didn't you go see him?" Hoist asked.
"Impossible man! Prowl had me on guard duty all the time. Punishment for the whole nightclub thing the night before. He only just let me off" Blaster said.
But what Blaster didn't say was that he was afraid. He'd had a number of breaks in between his shift where he could have checked on Jazz if he wanted to. But he was too afraid of the condition he'd find Jazz in, and afraid that it would have been more than he could have handled.
"Jazz is doomed I just know it!" Huffer's signature whine came from a corner of the room.
Everyone else in the lounge, including the twins, Tracks, Ironhide, Brawn and Bluestreak, in addition to Blaster, Powerglide and Hoist, turned to glare at the purple and orange Minibot.
"Why else would Ratchet keep us out?" Huffer went on undaunted. "Because Jazz is beyond repair that's why! Ratchet has finally met his match!"
"Stifle it Huffer, before I stuff your tailpipe in your mouth!" Brawn growled at his fellow Minibot.
"Oh yeah? I'd like to see you try", Huffer retorted.
Brawn lept out from where he was standing, but Ironhide managed to grab his shoulder.
"Don't lose your coolant Brawn ol' buddy", the red mech said. "Jazz is gonna be fine".
"Yeah, keep telling yourselves that", said Huffer. "Why don't you just face it? Jazz is as good as dead".
With a yell of rage, Sideswipe crossed the room in a flash, picked up Huffer and slammed him against the wall; his eyes were glowing in anger.
"I think Brawn told you to shut up", Sideswipe said in a dangerous voice. "Now are you going to take his advice or do I have to rip out your synthesizer?"
Sunstreaker came up behind his brother.
"Let him go bro'", he said. "He's not worth it".
Sideswipe let go of Huffer - who dropped to the floor with a clang - tossed him a dirty look over his shoulder, and then stalked out of the lounge, Sunstreaker following.
After hours of repair, and yelling at random Autobots to get the slag out of his bay before he had Prowl throw them in the brig, Ratchet concluded that reconstructing Jazz's side was not going to be as easy as he had thought. Finally, some time after 6am, he relented and asked Wheeljack and Hoist to help assist him with the basic stuff while he took a much-needed recharge. An hour or so later and he rejoined the two mechs, even as half the other Autobots in the Ark rolled out to stop yet another Decepticon world domination conquest. Prowl and Ironhide led the attack and Ratchet could only hope they all came back in one piece.
But before his chronometer had even hit noon, the Autobots returned victorious with only minimal injuries. He sent his two assistants to deal with those. As Hoist told him later: the Autobot counter-attack, fueled by Jazz's injuries and the murder of the two humans, was so strong that the Decepticons were bound to lay low for at least a week before trying anything new. Blitzwing would not see the light of day for at least two weeks. Sideswipe and Sunstreaker had personally seen to that.
"And no, Sideswipe has not broken or burnt off any part of his structure", Hoist added. "Neither internal nor external".
At last, some time after 9pm that night, Ratchet welded the final piece of metal plating onto Jazz's side, threw down his tools and vented his remaining worry and frustration on the walls of the repair bay. Then he stepped back and observed the impressive dents he'd made before sinking into a chair and partially shutting his optics, grateful for the silence and solitude. He'd dismissed Wheeljack and Hoist over an hour ago with thanks, saying that he preferred to do the final stages alone. The two mechs had respected his request and left to tend to any other Autobots who had minor injuries obtained after the skirmish earlier that day.
Ratchet opened his optics again, stood up and went over to Jazz. He had to turn him back on again to check if there was anything he'd missed. At around 9.30pm, Ratchet brought Jazz back online, watched him closely, then stepped back when a soft, blue light glowed from under his visor.
Jazz opened his optics and blinked, grateful for the visor that shielded them from the bright lights of what he recognized as the repair bay. A quick check with his chronometer told him he'd been shut down for almost two days.
"Well now, if I'm Sleeping Beauty", he said aloud. "Then who's my Prince Charming?"
"What on Cybertron's Moons are you babbling about?" came an all-to-familiar exasperated voice.
Jazz turned his head and the chief medic's half-annoyed half-amused face came into his field of vision. He grinned broadly.
"Ah Ratchet!" he said. "My knight in shining white armour, 'Sleeping Beauty' is an old Earth fairy tale, don't tell me you've never heard of it?"
"No, I cant say I have", Ratchet replied.
"It's a Disney cartoon man! One of the best. Though my favorite has to be 'The Little Mermaid', I really dig the singing crab. Sebastian. Yeah, that was his name. Great tunes m'man, great tunes!"
"Yes, I'm sure"
"Anyways, in 'Sleeping Beauty', see, its about this little princess who's born to a king and queen. And on the day of her christening, two of her three fairy godmothers bless her with gifts of beauty and song. But then – ".
"Jazz stop", Ratchet said. "By Primus! I've never heard so much Earth jargon in all my life! Now run me a scan and tell me how you feel".
"I feel like I've just been on an all-night high-grade bender man!" Jazz replied. "Don't tell me Blaster and I went clubbing again, and only this time I bit the dust before we got home?"
At the same time he scanned his body structure and found his right side to be a little stiff. He raised his head and looked at himself, saw two contrasting colors on his side, in addition to some repair work on his left leg.
"What's the last thing you remember?" Ratchet asked.
"Hmm.. I dunno", he replied. "Lets see now…".
The mech fell silent as he tried to recall. He remembered partying with Blaster and waking up late the next day; the Optimus Prime asking him to lead a group of Autobots and Dinobots against the Decepticon jets at a rocket-fuel plant; there'd been an explosion, and after that…. Jazz's smile faded in an instant and was replaced by a look of dismay. He sat up and covered his face with his hands.
"Oh Primus, those two humans", he said softly. "The two that I… I… ".
"The two you didn't kill", Ratchet said. "Swoop saw everything. Blitzwing killed them Jazz, not you. You saved them from the explosion and that's all you could have done".
"If I hadn't gone over to them, the Deceps wouldn't have known".
"If you hadn't helped them, the explosion would have surely killed them. You gave them at least a small shard of hope and a few more minutes of life. Not everyone gets that chance. They did, thanks to you", Ratchet told him firmly.
Jazz looked up into Ratchet's optics.
"Thanks Ratchet", he said. "I really needed to hear that man".
"I know", the medic said. "Now listen, I want you to shut down for the rest of the night and get some rest. Tomorrow you can join the other Autobots and do whatever madness it is that you do with them. BUT! If I have to perform one more single repair on you, I don't care how small, by Primus, I will have that little horned head of yours as a trophy, got that?"
"But uh… Ratchet – ".
"But nothing! No more 'buts' for the rest of the night. Now shut yourself down and go to sleep".
"By the Pit! You are a stubborn little piece of slag aren't you? Well what is it?"
"What about my paint job?"
Had Jazz not been injured, Ratchet would have thrown him out of the med bay. As it was however, Ratchet said, "You have an appointment with Hoist first thing in the morning. Now please! Go to sleep!" He headed to the door.
"Where are you going?" Jazz asked.
"I have to report to Prowl that his Special Operations officer is functioning again", Ratchet replied. "I wont be gone long so you better be asleep when I get back. Good night Jazz".
Jazz lay back again, shut his optics and shut down once more. Ratchet waited till he was sure Jazz was offline, then stepped out through the med bay doors – only to find the twins sitting on the floor in the hallway, about half a meter from the doors.
"What in the slagging infernal Pit are you two doing here?" the medic asked, obviously beyond annoyed. "Don't you have anything better to do than to make my existence a living hell?"
The brothers stood up, looking tired but alert. They'd obviously been sitting there for some time.
"How's Jazz?" Sideswipe asked. "Hoist told us you were going to bring him online. Is he awake? Can we see him?"
"Will he be alright?" Sunstreaker asked.
"Jazz is fine at the moment", Ratchet said with a heavy sigh. "Yes, I brought him back online and I told him all that happened. He's not awake now, I ordered him to get some rest. You are NOT to disturb him or I will have you both thrown in the brig. As for how he will be, that's upto him… and you. Now go and ponder on that and get the slag out of my sight. You'd better not be here when I come back".
He stalked off down the hall. Sideswipe looked at Sunstreaker.
"Well bro", he said. "How about we head down to the control room and see what Ratchet's throwing at old Prowl's head?"
"You'll be happy to know that your Special Operations officer is functioning again", Ratchet said as he entered the control room for the second night in a row. "However, if you would like him to remain functioning, you will take my advice and inform Prime to never put him in any leadership role again".
"Point noted", said Prowl, who had swiveled in his chair to face him. "And how is he otherwise?"
"If you mean 'how is his mental and emotional state', I told him that what happened out there wasn't his fault. I don't know if he believed me or not because he'd only been online for a few minutes. If you want Jazz back in normal working order, and since the Decepticons wont be launching an attack anytime soon from what I hear, I suggest you give your favorite Lamborghini brothers the next two days off".
Prowl blinked in surprise. "Sunstreaker and Sideswipe?", he asked. "But what have they got to do with this?"
"As you know full well Prowl, those two don't usually give a flying tailpipe about anyone or anything. But from what I've seen and heard, they seem to genuinely like Jazz. They actually give a slag about him, probably because he's the only one of us who actually gives a slag about them".
"So you want me to give them two days off so they can get together with Jazz and do Primus knows what chaos around the countryside?"
"Do you need an audio check-up Prowl?" Ratchet asked. "Yes, that is exactly what I want".
Prowl was still a bit skeptical. "But why not maybe Blaster and Bluestreak?"
"Bluestreak has his own issues to deal with, I'd rather not heap Jazz's on him as well. As for Blaster – not now, not yet. No, the twins will do. Plus, I also know that, if by some unhappy chance those Decepticons try something again, those two are more than capable of handling them".
"Alright Ratchet", Prowl gave in. "BUT, if I find them in any sort of non-Decepticon related trouble, I am holding you personally responsible".
If the medic had been human, he would have rolled his eyes. He turned and began heading out. "Fine Prowl, whatever", he said.
The tactician watched him go, then turned around and activated the radio console.
"Sideswipe. Sunstreaker. Please come down to the main control room immediately", he said.
"This immediate enough for you?"
Prowl jumped and turned to see Sunstreaker walking in, followed closely by his brother. Sideswipe was grinning audio to audio, while Sunstreaker's grin, though not as wide, was definitely more smug. Prowl knew they'd been upto something.
"what have you done now?" he asked.
The twins pulled looks of faked innocence.
"Us?" Sunstreaker asked. "What makes you think we did anything?"
"Its written all over your face-plates", Prowl replied. "How long have you two been standing outside and listening?"
"Long enough to know that we got the next two days off" Sideswipe said.
"Then you also know the amount of trust Ratchet's placing in you".
"Yeah, yeah, we know. Tell Ratchet we said thanks, we wont let him down. We'd tell him ourselves, but he told us that if he saw us again tonight he'd throw us in the brig".
Sideswipe turned to go, but Sunstreaker lingered.
"Why'd you do it?" he asked. "Why put Jazz in that position anyway?"
"Primus! Not you too", Prowl sighed. "You're dismissed. Just go. This does not concern you".
"Yes it does. I don't know if you heard Ratchet clearly earlier, but he's right, we do actually give a slag about Jazz, so we would like to know what you were trying to do".
Prowl was tired. So tired in fact that he was thinking of having Mirage take over in the control room while he took a much-needed rest. But he knew the twins were persistent and would not go anywhere until they'd gotten their answers. He motioned for them to sit down on two nearby chairs. They obeyed.
"As I told Ratchet last night, one of the reasons we put Jazz in charge of the missions was to try and help him get his mind off of whatever was bothering him", he said. "However, as you maybe aware, Jazz is also the youngest of the five senior Autobots. Prime and I wanted to make sure, incase something happened to either of us, or even to Ratchet or Ironhide, that there would be someone competent enough to carry on leading the Earth Autobots against the Decepticons. And we were hoping Jazz could be that someone, as he is the most easily adapted to Earth's culture and environment".
"Does Jazz know this?" Sideswipe asked.
"No", Prowl answered. "Only Prime, Ratchet and I talked about it. Ratchet opposed it from the start, said we should bring down someone from Cybertron. Prime said he'd go back there and try to talk to a few of the other senior Autobots to see what could be done, but at the same time, test Jazz here. So we did. I didn't mean for any of this to happen. Jazz adapts easily, so we thought he would take to the leadership role too. We were wrong".
Prowl leaned back in his chair and cast his optics up towards the ceiling and the brothers saw the blue light in them dim for a moment. The Sunstreaker got up and, before Prowl could move to stop him, hit a button on the radio console.
"Hey Mirage!" the yellow mech called over the link. "Get your skidplate down to the control room. Prowl's gonna take a rest and needs someone to monitor Teletran".
They heard Mirage chuckle on the other end.
"I'm on my way", he said. "Mirage out".
Prowl looked at the brothers, trying to put together what had just happened. Sideswipe burst out laughing, stood up, and clapped him on the shoulder.
"Don't look so shocked Prowl", he said. "You may be an Autobot, but you're not the Energizer Bunny. You need to rest too".
Are you comparing my capabilities to that of some primitive, battery-operated Earth mechanism?" Prowl asked.
Both brothers gaped, and then doubled over in laughter.
"Wait a minute, you've actually heard of the Energizer Bunny?" Sunstreaker asked.
Prowl stood up and crossed his arms, but his door-wings twitched as he emitted a low, inaudible chuckle. Sideswipe gasped in a few breaths of air.
"Of course we're not comparing you Prowl", he said. "I mean, that's impossible. The Energizer Bunny is way more advanced than you".
Prowl narrowed his optics at the two giggling brothers.
"Get out of my control room", he said.
"Aw c'mon Prowl, cant you take a joke?" Sideswipe asked.
"OUT! Before I reconsider giving you leave and have you scrub the floors of the lounge instead".
The brothers fled.
Later that night as the brothers lay in their recharge bunks in the private quarters they shared, Sunstreaker kicked the bunk above him, jolting Sideswipe.
"Frag it bro! What the slag did you do that for?" the red mech asked, leaning over the edge of his bunk and frowning at Sunstreaker. "Some of us would like to get some sleep you scrapping jerk!"
"You never told me what happened on that first mission Jazz led you on".
"Cant it wait till morning?"
"Not really. C'mon bro, I need a good bedtime story".
The yellow mech kicked the underneath of the top bunk once more, again jolting Sideswipe.
"Did anyone ever tell you how much of a slagging ass-bot you are Sunshine?"
"Yeah. Tracks, Ironhide, Cliffjumper and Trailbreaker told me that this week – twice".
"I ought to carve you into scrap. Remind me again why I even put up with you?" Sideswipe lay back in his bunk.
"Because you were sparked with me. Which makes you just as much of an ass-bot as I am. Now, story".
Sunstreaker kicked the bunk above him a third time. Sideswipe lowered his arm and extended his middle finger in his brother's face.
"It was supposed to be a simple scouting mission. Teletran reported Decepticon presence in a canyon nearby, so Prime ordered Jazz to take a team of us and go see what they were upto. We found them alright. Megatron, Soundwave, the Cassettes and the three cone-head jets. We thought we were well hidden, but the next minute we came under fire. I think old Laserbeak spotted us coming in, or Soundwave sensed us.
"Before Jazz could do anything, Ironhide and Brawn rushed out from their positions to counter attack. It was a pretty stupid thing to do considering we were slightly out-numbered. They're lucky it was Jazz who was in charge, and they got hurt, or they'd be in the brig right now for running out there without an order. I really don't know why Jazz was upset about the whole thing though, he did great".
Sunstreaker snorted. "I'm surprised you didn't rush out there like a slag-headed idiot too".
"I was gonna, but Jazz held me and Warpath back to cover Trailbreaker while he activated his force-shield and got Ironhide's and Brawn's afts out of the line of fire. Then all of us got the slag outta there. But hey, at least we interrupted whatever Megatron was up to".
"So what do you have in mind for tomorrow?"
Sunstreaker couldn't see Sideswipe's expression, but he knew the red mech had an evil grin on his face-plate.
"… I was thinking we'd go camping".
"What?! As in overnight? In the open? You recycled pile of scrap! Do you know what that kind of environment could do to my exterior?"
"Oh c'mon, its for Jazz. Besides, it'll be good to get away from the Ark for a while".
"I'm gonna beat the paint chips out of you for every dent and scratch my body structure obtains while we're out there".
"I'm glad you're excited about it too. Good night Sunny, sleep well".
"Go jump in a smelter Sideswipe".
Sideswipe grinned and proceeded to shut down.