A/N: After much lurking around the Trans-fandom, I finally worked up the nerve to write this. Hope I've got everyone mostly in character.
Disclaimer: Own nowt but a few DVDs, comics, action figures and a plushie Optimus Prime. Transformers are the property of Takara and Hasbro. I borrow the 'Cons to play with, mistreat slightly, and then return looking a tad battered.
Key: Italics denote telepathy.
On reflection, he'd been in far worse situations.
Or at least more physically uncomfortable ones.
At this precise moment in time however, Ravage was finding it somewhat difficult to name a specific occasion.
Especially when Soundwave was looming over him, armed with an oversized wire brush and a pair of tongs.
The array of materials next to him was equally fear-inducing.
Several cans of WD-40 were set out next to a tub of industrial-strength Brasso, a pile of waxing rags, three bottles of mechanical lubricant, two inflatable rubber rings, six bottles of turbo-flea treatment, and for reasons best known only to Swindle, a small bright yellow rubber ducky.
The mechanoid feline shuffled uncomfortably as he felt one of the Pit-spawned insects take another metallic bite out of one of his audio receivers, and instinctively raised a hind leg up to his head to scratch.
Soundwave lowered the tongs and snapped them open. Ravage quickly lowered his leg, backed away and summoned up his most ominous snarl in the vague hope that his creator would give up and let him itch in peace.
'Your aversion to the disinfection process is illogical. You will obey orders and get into the bath.'
Scarlet optics met equally scarlet optics and glared in deepest distrust.
'You are in physical discomfort. The treatment will remove the infestation.'
And my dignity. I'm a feline, Soundwave. Fe-line. I don't do water.
The Communications officer gestured towards the bath with an air of supremacy.
'The others do not put up this paltry show of rebellion.'
Laserbeak and Buzzsaw floated elegantly on the surface of the water and screeched in unison. A small fountain of bubbles and a chirrup of glee erupted from somewhere in the middle of the tub as Ratbat temporarily surfaced.
The red condor flicked a wing, sending a small wave over the edge of the bath and soaking the feline's feet with a mixture of hot water and Swarfega.
It's more pleasant than you think, Ravage. Do what Soundwave says. When has he ever been wrong when our wellbeing is concerned?
Ravage glared at his fellow Cassette. Suck-up.
The blue Cassette looked up from his current task of trying to attach his waterwings. 'Boss, seriously, I'm with him on this one. Why do we have to suffer?'
'You will maintain silence, Rumble.'
His brother adjusted his own waterwings and pouted. 'But whyyyyyyy?'
'As will you, Frenzy. Lord Megatron has decreed this operation necessary, and you will all follow his orders.'
Rumble shot a filthy look at Ravage. Revenge would happen later.
Once the feline was in the tub with them, at least.
What part of 'no' did you not understand?
'Into the bath now.'
The feline glared. Or what?
30 seconds later…
Only the top of Ravage's head could be seen through a mass of bubbles as he trod water and glared up at Soundwave, now standing in the bath with the water lapping around his knees.
This is cruelty to Cassettes.
The rubber ducky clocked him on the head with an annoyingly chipper squeak, quickly followed by a snigger as Frenzy ducked underwater.
Soundwave studiously ignored the red Cassette and managed to grab Ravage by the scruff of the neck before he could begin any form of retribution.
'You will remain still until the treatment is complete.'
The mechanoid feline froze, and then yowled in distress as a bottle of turbo-flea treatment was upended over him with absolutely no aplomb.
The wire brush wasn't helping matters, either.
He should have guessed something was wrong when that mangy Autobot moggie had pinned him in the last battle. Steeljaw was hardly the best kept feline in Prime's army, but he had been looking somewhat more diseased than normal.
He hadn't thought anything unusual about it until a week later, when the itching started.
At first, it was tolerable. A slight allergy, probably to saltwater, nothing to concern him.
Then it became more frequent.
Then continuously irritating.
Then unfailingly, relentlessly, CPU-shatteringly, frustratingly…itchy.
Then his skin started peeling, at which point Soundwave had dragged him and the rest of the Cassettes into Medical and left them to Hook's tender mercies.
Starscream turned up ten minutes later at his bitchy best, took a few pot-shots at the Cassettes with his null-rays, and then started screaming about infestations and irritated wings and how Soundwave had no control of his bestial creations bringing turbo-fleas of all things into the base and how if he was in command all the little buggers would be out the nearest airlock without so much as a farewell…
The tirade probably would have lasted considerably longer had Megatron not simply blasted his second-in-command in the back, dumped the thankfully unconscious Seeker onto one of the repair berths, and then ordered for the base to be decontaminated immediately, for Soundwave to begin disinfection treatment on all of the cassettes and to request any necessary supplies from Swindle and Hook.
Hence the bath.
Ravage growled and sneezed as a mountain of bubbles entered his nasal passages.
Once he was out of this tub, he was going to murder someone, and he wasn't particularly fussed as to whom.
Rumble giggled silently to himself as he doggy-paddled underwater to where Soundwave and the protesting Ravage were sitting, the feline growling from his prison in the Communication officer's lap. Giant steel fingers scraped against the feline's body as they worked the turbo-flea treatment into his joints and pistons.
Time to have a little fun with the big bad kittykat.
Transforming his arms, he managed to stand on the floor of the tub and began to force his pile drivers into the metal underfoot.
The blue Cassette sniggered as he felt the pull of the water against his body. If he'd planned it right, the waves should start hitting Ravage right about…
'…CEASE AND DESIST THIS ACTION IMMEDIATELY! THE WATER WILL NOT HARM YOU, HOWEVER I WILL UNLESS YOU RETRACT YOUR TEETH FROM MY ARM!...'
Frenzy dived down to where his twin lay face down at the foot of the tub, almost crying with laughter and snorting water up his nasal intakes.
So do you want flowers at your funeral or do you want the jets to give you a twenty-one null-ray salute?
Rumble managed to look up long enough to acknowledge his brother.
One up on the moggie-bot versus being a cyber scratching post for a month? I'll take a chance at the first any day.
The red Cassette managed to hold his look of derision for about two seconds before he dissolved into sniggers beside his twin.
Both of them immediately felt their fuel pumps sink when two massive hands neatly plucked them out of the bath by their waterwings, and Soundwave dumped them unceremoniously in his lap.
'I believe that you have both volunteered to be the next in line for decontamination.'
Free from his creator's grip and now clinging onto a brightly coloured float, the twins' identical expressions of impending doom brought a wonderful sense of satisfaction to Ravage's warped spark.
A fleeting brush of metal wings against his hind legs dragged his attention back to the water and its occupants. The little stream of bubbles next to him indicated where Ratbat was hovering, while the twin condors had drifted off to float beside Soundwave, occasionally dipping their heads underwater to watch the mechanoid rodent's progress.
Ravage pulled himself more fully onto the float and settled in to watch the youngest Cassette explore his surroundings. The latter quickly surfaced and performed a wobbly version of a backstroke over to where his feline sibling floated.
Aren't you coming in?
The black Cassette pulled a disgusted face. I have no desire to spend longer than absolutely necessary in this appalling place.
The little bat chirruped and floated on his back, red optics wide with confusion.
But it's so nice and warm, and you should hear how well my sonar travels in the water!
Ravage managed to keep the reluctant look of fondness off his features. Sometimes it amazed him as to how much of a sparkling Ratbat still was.
I'll take your word for it. For the moment I intend to stay here and nurse what's left of my dignity.
Ratbat giggled. Rumble and Frenzy?
Among other things.
Okay. Have fun!
The feline summoned up a brief purr of contentment as he watched the bat-bot back-flip under the bubbles, and turned round just in time to see the twins' wails of protest die under a fountain of disinfectant and flea-treatment.
He swiped the rubber ducky onto his float with a paw and began to chew on its head.
'Do not be ridiculous, Frenzy. This is not damaging you in any way.'
Frenzy squirmed as Soundwave set the wire brush on the edge of the bath and proceeded to dig his fingers into his back and scalp, working the treatment fluid into areas that the red Cassette would have completely ignored otherwise.
'How do humans do this so often? I'm losin' chunks of skin from places I didn't even know existed.'
Rumble turned from his perch on Soundwave's left knee, his own casing still smarting from when the Communications officer had hauled him out of the water aft-first after two escape attempts, and then proceeded to introduce him to his new friends, WD-40 and Steel Wool.
'The fleshies shed their skin daily. We don't. Suck it up.'
'Thought that was snakes?'
'Snakes, humans, whatever. They all go squish if you step on 'em.'
'If you step on 'em, maybe. We all know I got the grace when we were sparked.'
'Yeah, sure you did. If you think a cyber-hippo's got grace.'
Soundwave sighed inwardly, carefully lifted Frenzy up, turned the red Cassette around to face him and started wiping the remains of the treatment fluid away from his face.
'Yeah yeah yeah. Bitch all you want bro', I can't help being this amazin'. It's a curse.'
Rumble rolled his optics and flicked a shrivelled turbo-flea in his twin's direction. 'So what's it like havin' your head that far up your own aft?'
'Literally or figuratively?'
'Believe me Frenz', I could arrange 'literally'. Really not a problem.'
'Cease your bickering and exchange places with Laserbeak and Buzzsaw.'
Rumble looked like a mech freed from the claws of the Great Unmaker as he slid off Soundwave's knee and Frenzy plopped back into the water, both intent on finding the now somewhat elusive rubber ducky.
Three down, three to go.
Soundwave was relieved that the other half of his charges would offer considerably less resistance to the decontamination process than the twins and the mechanical feline. Laserbeak and Buzzsaw were always eager to obey orders, and Ratbat was still young enough to think all of this was some form of game, but had enough sense to follow his creator's instructions.
Laserbeak was the first to perch on one of his knees and gaze up at him with an expectant caw. Buzzsaw settled onto the other knee and contented himself with staring up at Ratbat, who was now hanging upside down from Soundwave's shoulder cannon and happily hiccoughing bubbles.
Spreading the treatment fluid over Laserbeak's wings, the Communications officer kept his optics fixed on the task at hand, while he let his mind focus on the three little hellions floating somewhere in the bath…
'Heeeere ducky ducky ducky. Heeeere ducky, where's the ducky?'
'What the frag are you doin', Rumble?'
'Humans call for pets like this. Thought it might help.'
'The duck ain't a pet, genius.'
Rumble sighed and silently wondered how much he'd managed to annoy Primus in his previous existence to get sparked with the red Cassette floating beside him, his inflatable ring hauled up around his chestplate like some form of bizarre rubber tutu.
He then felt slightly scandalised at the realisation that he knew what a tutu was.
Is this what you're looking for?
A bubble-encrusted feline head emerged from the water, a small yellow plastic figure trapped between massive steel teeth that were bared in a more than slightly ominous grin.
Ravage sniggered at the identical looks on the twins' faces. He'd seen Jaws. That shark was currently his idol.
Frenzy launched himself at the feline with all the grace, poise and élan of an overcharged Blitzwing. 'Duckyyyyy!! Gimme back gimme back gimme baaaack!!'
'C'mon Ravage, you don't even like the ducky, fork 'im over!'
Rumble glanced at his brother and grinned. 'Dogpile on the cat-con?'
Frenzy returned the grin in stereo. 'Oh, after you, bro.'
Soundwave rolled his optics at the war cries and subsequent yowls that wafted over from the other end of the bath. Presumably neither side had yet spotted the little yellow object of the argument sailing on its merry way towards him, and the thankfully better behaved trio perched about his being weren't about to say anything even if they could.
He wasn't particularly bothered by the twins' antics. As long as nothing was broken and energon wasn't gushing afterwards, he wasn't about to interfere.
Buzzsaw cawed and removed himself from the bath, wings flexing as he perched on his creator's shoulder. Laserbeak settled next to him and glanced at the youngest member of the Cassettes, now squeaking in mild protest as he was carefully removed from his resting spot.
Soundwave opted to keep the little bat in his palm for the operation. Too young and too small to be mech-handled as the others were, Ratbat chirruped as he felt one giant finger gently massage the top of his head and then his back, his creator trying to get as much disinfectant into his skin before the yellow and purple Cassette decided he wasn't enjoying this particular game anymore.
One hand scooped up a palmful of water and let it splash over the mechanoid rodent's body as he blew a small fountain of bubbles from his air vents and giggled.
The Communications officer managed to keep his expression neutral as Ratbat fluttered out of his hand and settled once again on his shoulder cannon.
Done. Finished. Mission complete, etcetera.
He sighed and grabbed the tongs and a trawler's net before he waded further into the bath towards the growing mountain of bubbles, shrieks and quite creatively abusive litany.
The night-shift on board the Nemesis began at 23.00 hours precisely, once the Constructicons took the main power generator off-line for maintenance and the back-up generator was activated. The background noise lowered to barely discernable levels as most of the crew retreated back to their quarters for energon and recharge.
The bass-line of 'Tonight, Tonight' echoing gently in the small room, Soundwave looked up from his datapad and glanced about at his assorted charges as they wound down for the night.
Rumble and Frenzy were busy playing Sonic 3 on the main monitor. Buzzsaw was perched on the shelf above the recharge berth, Laserbeak leaning against him as their systems ran a defragmentation cycle, Ratbat was hanging upside down from the window frame and staring out into the ocean depths, and Ravage had gone AWOL.
Admittedly the feline had been in a foul mood after having to be physically dragged out of the bath when he had been just seconds away from literally tearing Frenzy a new secondary intake valve, so it was probably for the best.
Two more seconds.
Two more seconds, and Frenzy would have died a nicely agonizing death at his claws.
Primus clearly wasn't in a gracious mood tonight.
Ravage sulked as he prowled down the thankfully deserted corridors towards Soundwave's quarters.
The mockery tomorrow would be spectacular, provided the rest of the Decepticon forces didn't try to skin him in recharge for necessitating the decontamination of the entire ship. Then again…
After Soundwave had released him from a hefty pile of waxing and buffing rags, he had hacked into the duty rosters, permitted one of the more unattractive aspects of his feline nature to take over outside Starscream's quarters, and then stalked off for a sulk.
It would serve as a decent warning to the others.
He felt so much better knowing that he could actually think of these things.
Ratbat chittered a greeting at a passing fish outside the window, then shuttered his optics as he yawned, wrapping his wings more tightly around his body.
Acknowledging the gesture, Soundwave subspaced his datapad and stood, changing the music to something a little more soothing and lowering the volume.
'Recharge preparations commencing.'
Rumble and Frenzy glanced up at their creator, then over their shoulders at the little bat on the windowsill, and nodded, Rumble hitting the 'off' switch on the Sega. Buzzsaw and Laserbeak floated down to the side of the recharge berth as Soundwave delicately removed Ratbat from the windowsill and carried him over to the small recess. The softer tones of 'Farewell and Goodnight' echoed through the room as he sat down on the edge of the bunk.
Downtime for Soundwave and the Cassettes had changed relatively little over the nine million years of their lives. Proceeding at the first sign of tiredness in the youngest Cassette, the group would retreat as one to the recharge berth and sort out who would be resting where. Rumble and Frenzy generally chose to rest in their alt-modes along with Ratbat. Laserbeak and Buzzsaw tended to alternate, depending on their watch patterns, and Ravage recharged according to his mood.
The twins transformed to their alt-modes and slid to rest within Soundwave's tape deck, Ratbat joining them a few seconds later with a goodnight chirrup. Buzzsaw circled the room once before transforming and coming to rest with the others.
Laserbeak took up sentry duty next to the recess as Soundwave swung his legs onto the bunk, reclined and waited patiently for the last of his Cassettes to return.
The mechanical feline padded quietly trough the door, audio-receivers pricked as he registered the music.
Hmmm, the Smashing Pumpkins. Rather mellow this evening. Not that he minded.
'You are feeling somewhat less rancorous, I trust?'
Ah. So Soundwave was still up.
Ravage leapt up to sit at the foot of the berth, ran his glossa over a paw and rubbed it against his ear.
Towards the others, yes. Towards you, debateable.
Soundwave tilted his head and looked suitably deadpan. 'Even you cannot remain in such a petulant mood for an extended time period.'
The feline growled and looked away. I can try.
Underneath his facemask, Soundwave smirked.
He patted his torso with one hand, just under his tape-deck, and kept his gaze constant.
Ravage looked up at the sound, took in the gesture and growled again.
Soundwave didn't move.
The black Cassette glared as he clambered over his creator's feet, crawled up his legs, and curled himself into a black and grey ball on Soundwave's torso.
This doesn't mean I forgive you.
'Reproach noted and understood.'
A snigger erupted from the tape-deck as Frenzy shifted within the confines of Soundwave's chest. Ravage sharply tapped a paw against the side of the deck.
Yeah yeah. Bite me, kittykat.
Once you're out of there, gladly.
Soundwave sighed as he offlined his optics and rested a hand against Ravage's back, his fingers gently stroking the now-gleaming metal. Within his chest, the twins nestled closer to Ratbat and Buzzsaw, and in turn as close to their creator's spark as they could manage.
Unseen by the others, the mechanical feline silently removed the now thoroughly chewed rubber ducky from his subspace, settled it between his front paws, and began to purr as he entered recharge-mode.
He gave it about another seven hours before Starscream found the little present of regurgitated energon, plastic, WD-40 and dead turbo-fleas outside his quarters.