A/N: the story thus far: after a decisive win against the Decepticons, several Autobots are plagued with a disease which renders them unable to store and process energon. They can only function using their internal solar converters, which are only meant to be supplementary power and will fail with out a constant outside power source. Currently those affected (Sunstreaker, Sideswipe, Tracks, Jazz, and Prowl) are quarantined in a section of the base installed with light panels, and have to stay there in order to function. Sparkplug, Wheeljack (also affected), Perceptor and Ratchet take the lead in trying to figure out what is causing the virus, how it is spreading, and how to cure it. Bumblebee and Spike, in a mission that was mainly just an excuse for Bumblebee to get out of quarantine, happen across a vital clue in the form of a lifeless cyborg, the very cyborg that Sideswipe met, and had what he had taken to be an uncharacteristically quick, no-strings attached quickie relationship with, back in Chapter One. By now all the readers should have realized this is the transformer version of an STD, whose true devastation lies not in the physical manifestations, but the social. The social devastation begins to manifest between Sunstreaker and Sideswipe. Shortly it will spread to Jazz, and finally, dear readers, some of your questions concerning who did what with who will be answered.
But first we shall dive into the mind of Tracks, whose viewpoint so far has not been fairly represented in a story that actually centers on him quite a bit.
Tracks couldn't believe his optics and his optics were the only thing he could rely on, since no one was speaking out loud. There must be something more to this conflict, but he never understood the twins. There was a reason he avoided them at all costs.
Irrationality frightened him. And the twins personified it.
Their unique phenomenon, the crazed way they acted around the base with the pranks, not ever knowing whether Sunstreaker really believed in the cause or was just there for his brother, the energon-lust glow of their eyes after a brutal fighting rampage… it was observing this that Tracks realized he could never be a commanding officer. Even though he possessed a logic circuit to rival Prowls (yes, beauty, brawn and brains, as the humans say), he knew he'd never be able to deal with autobots like that, and had therefore chosen the path of a warrior where he wouldn't have to be responsible for others beyond the battlefield. And the choice was all the more easier by the strong body and fierce weaponry he had been primused with, originally it had meant nothing more than extra glam for a lucrative modeling career, but through the war had been fine tuned to kill Decepticons on sight, funneling his deep hatred of them for destroying their way of life, so many megacycles ago.
He'd thought when he'd first met Sunstreaker alone at a base area, that they might be friends. He'd recognized him as a artist, even after joining the autobots he still followed such things (when there still was a time and place for pure art), and was genuinely surprised to see a famous neutral casting their lot with the Autobots just as the civil war was intensifying. It was actually a moral boost for him; he'd been nervous joining a ragtag assortment of unknown, unskilled transformers and wondering whether they would really be able to end the tyranny Megatron had already implemented in some areas.
But Sunstreaker had no appreciation for fans of his work. There was no response to his warm greeting, and when Tracks had tentatively put out that he hoped to see Sunstreaker return to the art world when all this was over, he elicited only a trademark cold stare.
It was vorns later before they continued that "conversation" as it were. Both were part a particularly horrid battle in which a beautiful city-state Praxus was completely destroyed. Surveying the charred ruins of dismembered comrades and civilians, Sunstreaker pointedly turned to Tracks and asked if he wanted a painting of this.
He'd managed to completely humiliate Tracks, especially as the original statement had been so long ago when both had been far more innocent. And it was completely irrational, to treat a comrade in this way when their very lives depended on each other. Why be an autobot if you were only going to spread bitterness? And why have an autobot army that allowed such behavior? Tracks knew that they couldn't afford to turn away warriors as brilliant as Sunstreaker, plus they would undoubtedly lose Sideswipe as well. He knew, and he knew there were many other personality defects with in the ranks as well, but he still couldn't rationalize it, and so instead kept to himself and refused all offered commanding promotions. The practice worked, over the vorns he'd created a loner persona and been given pretty much free reign to do what ever he wanted as long as it ended with him taking out Decepticons.
But it had its downside, such as now, being forced into small confinement with many others, including those he least favored. And what on Primus he could have done to be put in the same lot was beyond him, the only one he'd had any kind of relationship with off the battlefield was Jazz.
Jazz had a natural calming affect on those near him. It worked on Tracks during his worse times, and he trusted that it would work on Sunstreaker. He knew that any attempt on his behalf to intervene would only intensify things, that's why he stayed out, even when Sunstreaker began attempting to dismantle himself. Jazz was a leader; Jazz could deal with irrationality and turn in into nothing. And he could take nothing and turn it into something wonderful.
"Oh Primus" Jazz sighed, breaking the silence. He gently released Sunstreaker, who stayed on the floor, matching his twin's look of renewed horror.
"Did you learn something?" Perceptor inquired eagerly. Everyone had been on edge, watching, waiting for something to be vocalized.
"Cliffjumper and Bluestreak are next", Jazz replied heavily.
Bumblebee entered, dragging Cliffjumper by one leg. Spike followed sadly.
"Can anyone help carry Bluestreak? He's too big for me, and Ratchets dealing with the femme."
Now everyone stared at Jazz.
"Hound, Blaster, Cosmos…"
"Attention…we've just found Hound, Blaster, and Cosmos deactivated", came Optimus Primes voice over the intercom.
All optics remained on Jazz.
"Windcharger, Trailblazer…" Jazz paused, closing his optics in thought, "Uh, Mirage, Swoop…"
"Attention, Windcharger just deactivated on patrol..." Optimus Primus voice came in again, tinged with worry, "and I see on telatron one that Trailblazer and Mirage, are also deactivated.
During the transmission, a cyber-pump-rending "Primus" was heard from Ironhide in the background.
Everyone waited expectantly for another transmission to confirm Swoops status. When none came, Wheeljack contacted Optimus.
"Are all the Dinobots functioning properly?" he inquired.
After a moment of consulting, Optimus confirmed that they were all functioning happily in their area.
"Of course", Wheeljack muttered, "Swoop is outside"
Aloud, he requested Swoop to be brought inside and observed.
"So is that everyone?" Perceptor asked Jazz, still perplexed on how he so eerily predicted the diseases strike.
"Everyone that I know, I think", Jazz replied, "But, it doesn't explain Prowl."