AUTHORS NOTE: This is the first story of my new series, 'Tales of Mojo', stories set after my fanfic 'Mojo Mayhem'. These are, like the title says, tales of Mojo's interaction with the Autobots. Not a lot happens in this first bit, but the next chapter should be, ahem, explosive. Judy Witwicky is a hard woman...Chapter One
Optimus Prime couldn't help but take cautious sideways glances at his CMO, Ratchet. While Captain Lennox was taking up most of Prime's attention with the discussion of where to begin construction of the new Autobot Base, the Autobot Commander had plenty of processing power left over to contemplate the behaviour of his friend.
"We need to establish how many underground levels to put in here, and exact dimensions would no doubt help, since SecDef prodding me for details is a heck of a poke in the back to deal with..." Lennox's voice became background static.
The scrubby vacant plains over an hours drive from the town of Tranquillity were remote enough for the Autobots to do as they wished (with discretion), it was a good place to begin for the Autobots proper new residence. No more hastily converted aircraft hanger. This was to be a fully operational military base – sanctioned and supported by the US Government (not to forget they were also footing the Transformer-sized bill). Optimus found himself splitting his attention three ways – one, with Lennox; two, casting an appreciative optic over the chosen location for his new home; and three, contemplating how to delicately tell Ratchet to leave and visit Mojo.
For the past few Earth weeks, Ratchet had been alternately polite and morose. Optimus and Ironhide had no doubt that Mojo returning to Sam and his family was the cause. A happy Ratchet was one who threw tools, made sarcastic remarks and threatened to offline anyone he felt like. A contented Ratchet hid the painkiller fluid ampoules and sweetly informed his more annoying patients that, oh dear, he'd 'forgotten' where he'd put them.
None of which had happened for a while.
Desperate, Ironhide had dismantled the smaller of his two arm cannons and left it in bits all over one of the medbay benches, saying a far-too-happy "Opps! Help, Ratch, I'm over my head here!" when the medic had entered the medbay early one morning. Morning was always a seriously bad time for the medic, he could easily go nuclear on your aft with little prompting. Ratchet had stopped short and blinked his recharge bleary optics rapidly at 'Hide sprawled in a seat next to the bench covered in his cannon pieces.
The astonished Weapons Specialist had been left with a permanent glitch in his processor when Ratchet nodded, gracefully picked up a few tools and got to work with putting the cannon back together. His only comment being, "This should take no time at all, Ironhide. Just relax." No tantrum, no screaming, no death threats, no deadly objects thrown at Ironhide's stupid armored head.
Optimus had been waiting down the hall with his rifle in one hand, certain Ironhide was making a fatal error provoking the medic in such an obnoxious way. Instead, his rifle had been dropped to the floor with a harsh thud by Optimus' numb fingers, such was his shock at Ratchet's idle response to Ironhide's deliberate set-up.
Even Bumblebee had tried to help when he visited the base. He'd given Ratchet a bear hug, leaning his head against Ratchet's chest and squeezing sympathetically. Instead of the yellow scout being forcibly dismantled in under an Earth minute, Ratchet had merely patted Bumblebee on the shoulder, thanked him for his concern and returned to work! Bee had aimed a playful kick at Ratchet's aft in frustration when the medic turned away from him, but Ironhide used his quick reflexes to grab the smaller bot and swing him away from connecting with Ratchet's body, Bumblebee's agile foot whistling through the air inches away from it's intended target. Ironhide 'bopped' the yellow bot on the head with one fist and pushed him away, shaking his head with a quiet growl.
"Maybe we should get a dog of our own, Ratchet obviously needs a pet of some sort," Optimus had brooded late one evening once Ratchet had gone to his room. The medic often retired to recharge early now, instead of staying up most of the night pottering about in his much-loved medbay.
From the other side of the table, Ironhide leaned back in his chair and stared at his Commander with outright disdain, "I swear I did not just hear you say that. I thought you ordered us not to use live organic targets on the shooting range. Only synth holoforms, you said."
Optimus bestowed a withering 'ha-ha, so-not-funny' glare on his friend and let a discontented rumble fill his chest. "Yes, perhaps a dog would be a bad idea. We are a military unit, after all."
Ironhide grunted, running one hand lovingly over his left cannon. His optics became serious, looking across the table at Optimus, "We need to do something. This is just tragic, honestly."
It didn't surprise Optimus to hear Ironhide express concern over Ratchet. The pair were close friends, despite how much they argued and fought.
"Agreed. Yet, you know how badly he reacted when I ordered him to visit the dog. My words slid off him like expensive frictionless lubricant. He's refusing to discuss the subject at all. Nor does he take time-off." Prime's optics dimmed, thinking.
"Why not ask Sam to call Ratch and ask for a few med scans? The boy could say Mojo has been feeling unwell, ejecting food, legs falling off, whatever sounds good," Ironhide suggested plainly.
Optimus Prime's optic ridges arched up in surprise. Oh. "Ironhide, that's brilliant!" However much some of the other Autobots think Ironhide is lacking a few processing intelligence chips, there's one heck of a logic chip in there somewhere, Optimus thought, why didn't I think of that?!
So when Captain Lennox's musing and questioning of the Autobot Leader over the new base was interrupted by a phone call from Sarah, his wife, Optimus seized the opportunity to signal Sam via remote relay. The boy was currently at school, yet his mobile phone was rigged to receive signals and calls from Optimus himself, and Sam had been informed of Ratchet's depressive behaviour. He was more than willing to help out with the devious plan.
Fortunately, Sam was immediately able to react to Optimus' prompting (lunchtime, perhaps?), and Prime saw Ratchet stiffen as his internal communications system answered Sam's worried fake call. It only took a few seconds more for Ratchet to turn to Optimus, requesting leave to examine a 'very sick Mojo'.
"Please go Ratchet, we need to ensure Mojo is not malfunctioning. Sam would be distraught if anything were to happen to him," Optimus spoke solemnly. His words were hardly finished before the medic had transformed and was speeding back to Tranquillity without delay. Gotcha, Optimus thought uncharacteristically with glee, you will feel better after this, my friend.
"What's wrong with Ratchet?" Lennox asked, staring after the racing Autobot curiously. He suddenly stiffened, "Decepticons?"
Optimus looked down at the concerned man with wicked optics, linking his hands behind his back calmly, "Oh, far worse, Captain. Dog problems."
"Dog...? Wha...?" Lennox let his shoulders drop from their tense position, "I swear, you guys are worse than Epps with his Budgerigars."