A/N: 'Ark Alacrity', or basically, the Ark's overzealousness to give our warring robots new forms without really considering what they are.
Disclaimer: I don't own 'Transformers' or any of the affiliated companies.
"Aw, Wheeljack – I'm sorry!"
"Yeah yer sorry – sorry now yer a few arms and legs short of a full workin' body!"
"I didn't know it was going to explode like that!"
"It was one o' my inventions! Of course it was gonna explode 'like that'!" And so the conversation continued, an apologetic and babbling Bluestreak versus the irate wrath of the mad scientist. Both were laid full length on examination tables and neither of them had a single complete appendage. For Bluestreak, this was a lucky thing; as, if Wheeljack had been in possession of two working hands (or just the one for that matter) he would have crawled off of his table, over the floor, pulled himself onto Bluestreak's temporary resting place and throttled the young lad. Ratchet said nothing as he worked on his impaired companion – instead he let his own temper fester. What a shame that, despite being right in the heat of the blast radius, their vocalisers were not damaged in the slightest. He double-checked the damaged parts on both of them, then picked up a data-pad and scrolled through its inventory. One of them was not going to like the news.
"Well," the CMO muttered at last, "I'll have no problems repairing you completely Wheeljack. Bluestreak on the other hand… I'm afraid I don't have all the parts you require for your Datsun alt-form." Bluestreak went stiffer than an oil-painting
"What?" He croaked.
"I could re-build you into something else if you like," Ratchet commented off-handedly as he fiddled with Wheeljack's delicate internals.
"Yeah – how about ya teach 'im a lesson an' rebuild him inta a rubbish truck or a road sweepa or somethin'!" Ratchet stopped in the middle of his proficient poking and stared into mid-distance. The involuntary shudder he shed echoed around the room, absorbing any happiness, before settling back in the pit of his processor. "Uh… Ratch? You okay?"
"Fine!" The ambulance said all too quickly, resuming work.
Though Wheeljack had not realised it, he had struck at a dormant horror deep within his friend. Everyone unquestioningly believed that Ratchet had always been an ambulance. Only Optimus Prime knew otherwise. The ark had chosen alternate forms for them, yes – but without guidance, it had not known which were the more appealing. Ratchet's original Earth form had not been the pretty ambulance that just so happened to match his job description. It had been something quite different…
Ratchet came back online slowly. Faint lighting made it difficult to see but he noticed that layers of recently disturbed dust and ash had settled onto the Ark floor. Much time had passed since they had crash-landed on this strange planet – he would have to study the stars to get an exact date.
Picking himself up, he heard the footsteps of Optimus Prime at the other end of the room. He reached an arm out and was about to say something when he paused: his hand felt bulky. His hand looked bulky. The colour of his paintjob was no longer white but charcoal grey. His body felt ungainly. With waxing anxiety (and against his better judgement), he transformed.
Optimus reacted instantly, dropping Jazz's inactive form and pulling out his weapons as a scream of such fraught dejection ripped across the room. Optimus had believed that the Decepticons had returned – ready to scrap the sedate forms of the Autobots once and for all. It came as quite a surprise, and an uneasy relief, to find that the cause of the noise had been a…vehicle at the other end of the room wearing an Autobot symbol.
"Look at this form! I can't have this! I'll never be respected again!"
"Ratchet?" Optimus asked unsurely at the CMO's voice.
"What am I anyway? I'm… I'm…I'm a passageway sanitizer!" Optimus took in the form of the road sweeper and stifled a chuckle – thank goodness he had a battle mask because if Ratchet had seen his smile he would have leapt at the larger mech's faceplate.
"You'll have to live with it – at least until we have the time to choose you another alt-form." Optimus went back to taking Jazz over to Teletran-1's repair beam.
"No! If anyone else sees me like this, they'll never let me forget it – no matter how many vorns pass! My reputation as a sulky slagger will be ruined! Where do I put my patients? Why is my maximum speed slower than my walking pace? You won't have me in med-bay again – I'll be on cleaning duty non-stop!" Optimus considered Ratchet's words and his present mood. If others mocked Ratchet when it could have been prevented, Ratchet would hold a grudge. That grudge would be held against him, and Ratchet could hold a grudge for an exceedingly long period of time. The Autobot leader finally conceded defeat; it was best not to have a healer with a vendetta against you, especially if that healer was going to have your life in his hands on a frequent basis.
"Then quickly choose yourself another alt-form from Teletran's database while I get the rest of the Autobots prepared for reactivation."
Optimus had never seen Ratchet move so quickly in all his life. It was impressive as well considering the bulk of the form. Ratchet was pawing through Teletran's database of the planet's 'natural' forms in astro-seconds. Teletran had everything from Television sets to Sports cars to emergency and rescue vehicles in its database, but nothing he wanted. Optimus had already lined-up Jazz, Prowl and Ironhide for repairs.
"Hurry up Ratchet – it doesn't need to be perfect, as long as you don't feel it's as embarrassing." Then one design caught his interest.
"Found it!" It was a white vehicle with red crosses. The back compartment was large enough to store a patient and have equipment. It was fast, it was not too bulky, and it had noise-makers that could be used to grab attention and to annoy. To Ratchet, it was perfect.
Before long, Ratchet was standing in front of his leader in a new, slimmer alt-form. The medic looked very smug. Teletran-1 moved on to the repair of Jazz.
"Are you happy now?" The larger mech asked.
"Very. You won't ever tell anyone about this incident."
"Of course not Ratchet, you don't have to ask."
"It wasn't a question."
"Ah." Ratchet's gaze turned from Prime to Teletran's monitor.
"Yes? What is it?"
"Do we really want our Special Operations Officer rebuilt as an alarmed timepiece?"
Megatron pondered his second-in-command's alt-form. Starscream was more fortunate than the young mech realized: the Autobots' computer had chosen a very different form for him. Sometimes, when Starscream went on one of his little rants about leadership, with subtle hints and not so subtle remarks about what he thought of Megatron (just like he was doing now), the Decepticon leader wished that he had left the Second-in-Command with the Ark's original alt-form choice for him. Sometimes, he wished that he had not checked the Ark's selection of alt-forms when Skywarp had been busy. But then, the buggy used to get around the military facility where the other jet forms had been was hardly going to be the terror-striking machine that would aid his conquest of the universe now, was it?
A/N: I have no clue whether this idea has been done before – I haven't come across it yet in TF fandom anyway.
Currently (18/10/06), there is a 'reader's-request fic' in production in my profile. Stop by and have a look if you're interested in having your ideas made into a story.