-Two days Earlier-
"RUNT! WHAT HAVE I TOLD YOU ABOUT THE FIRING RANGE? YOUR NOT ALLOWED IN.." Ironhide bellowed furiously. A firing range was no place for a sparkling and she knew it!
Ironhide and Jetfire stared at the little sparkling with wide optics. Starstreaker grinned broadly.
"Do that again runt..."
Her grin widening, Starstreaker transformed her arm into a cannon and fired, putting a small dent in the wall, right beside the first one.
"Hoo-DANG Hide, we got a prodigy here." Jetfire hooted gleefully.
"Hide... It's stuck!" Starstreaker's panicked voice caused the two giant mech's to look down in concern as she shook her arm, terror flooding her face as she tried to transform it back into a hand unsuccessfully.
"Easy there runt, calm down and focus. Transformation's gotta flow.."
Ironhide facepalmed. Jetfire laughed. "Stop. Ya broke yer transformation cog."
Seeing the streaks of blue gushing down Starstreaker's cheeks Ironhide smiled gently, scooping her up "We'll continue this later Jet. I'm gonna get her to Ratchet."
"Sure thing big guy. Catch ya for some high grade after shift?"
Ironhide nodded, cuddling the now quietly sobbing sparkling between his cannon and his chest and heading down the hall.
"Easy runt, you'll be just fine. Ratchet'll have you fixed up in no time."
"No! NO RATCHET!"
Ironhide paused in mid step, looking down at her curiously "How come?"
"He'll yell at me..." She whispered, trembling slightly. Ironhide smiled gently.
"He yells at everyone runt, that's how he shows he cares."
To Ironhide's surprise, she trembled again, trying to hide under his chest plate. He squirmed as she dug her fingers into his wiring, trying to get leverage and looked down at her in confusion. "What are you doing?"
"You won't fit in there."
He grunted as she head butted him with surprising strength and chuckled. "Star..."
In an instant all traces of humor disappeared as Ironhide flipped her behind him, pressing her against the wall as both cannons charged. She blinked in confusion as the air around them filled with smoke.
"It's gonna be ok runt... You wanted to hide right?"
He looked down at her, trying to look calm as he focused on his transformation cogs, pulling armor off his arms and legs to widen his chest plate. "In you get. No matter what happens, don't come out of there until someone you know asks you to. Got me?"
She nodded, climbing in and nuzzling against the warmth of the protoform underneath.
Ironhide closed his armor around the sparkling and took off in a jog down the hall, for the first time ever, heading away from the fighting, processors racing as the base came down around him. He cursed under his breath as he was tackled and knocked to the floor, rolling, he crammed his cannon between the hidden sparkling and his chest, struggling to heave his attacker up enough to get his leg under him and praying Starstreaker was alright as he tuned himself into saving them. Looking up at the Decepticon that was slamming it's fist into his face, his spark filled with dread. It couldn't be, he had killed the spawn of a glitch in Mission City... Bellowing he brought his knee up, hurling Demolisher off him and firing his cannon into the monster's face, trying to get away.
He swore out loud as Demolisher dodged and noticing the lack of armour on his arms, tackled again, digging into his biceps with a vicious grip. Ironhide bellowed as his arm was ripped from the socket, unprotected wiring crushed and shredded under the Decepticon's brutal assault as he gave up on offensive and focused on protecting his chest and the precious sparkling beneath.
He was worried about the lack of movement coming from under his chest plate, as he slammed his good shoulder into Demolisher and fired another shot, this time point blank into his abdomen. Agony ripped through him as with a cracking sound he knew all too well, his bad hip joint gave out and he struggled to stay on his feet. Where the slag were the twins? As if on cue, Demolisher's head came off, rolling on the floor, just as his leg went, sending him crashing to the floor.
"TOOK YOU LONG ENOUGH!" He looked up at Sideswipe, who was covered in energon. The expression on the red twins face explained why he had been delayed. Energon trickled from a gaping hole in his leg and he was covered in dents and dings. The fact that Sunstreaker was nowhere to be seen worried the weapons specialist like nothing else.
"So... Sorry Hide... I came as fast as I could... You look like hell." Sideswipe leaned heavily against the wall, bracing his rifle against his hip.
"You look worse..Where's Sunny?."
"Med Bay... You missed one hell of a fight...Where's Starstreaker?"
"Under my chest plate...We need to get her to med bay." Ironhide grunted, trying to get up, praying she was alright. He didn't feel leaking energon, but why the slag wasn't she moving? Relief filled his spark as her tiny voice echoed from within.
"Hide... Can I come out now?"
"Sure can Stars, you ok?" Sideswipe knelt painfully next to Ironhide, who used his shoulder as leverage to sit up and focused, opening his chest plate so the little sparkling could climb out. To the utter shock of both of them, she was grinning. "THAT WAS SO COOL! Can we do it again?"
Sideswipe burst out laughing as Ironhide fell backwards, sprawling out on the floor with a look of utter defeat. "Primus runt, your gonna be the death of me..."