Disclaimer: I don't own Transformers or any of their human character friends…I only wish to pay tribute to their greatness
"Chapter 27: Impatient to be Home"
By Leah Wood
Three weeks later at the Autobot base…
"All right, Ironhide. Hold up that hand for me." Ratchet commanded.
The black mech raised his hand off the berth.
"Good. Good. Bend it to a forty five degree angle."
Ironhide bent it with a small whine in his servos.
"Now rotate it all the way around."
Unnaturally, the limb spun in a full circle but stopped just short. Ironhide grimaced and seemed to strain, willing it to complete the motion. With a horrible grinding sound it finally finished the motion.
The medic noted the discrepancy, "Ok. Now see if you can transform it."
Ironhide clenched his metal jaw a moment and very slowly his hand folded together, pulling down into his wrist. The limb began to fold more but suddenly seized up, unwilling to move any farther. Defeated by the pain, Ironhide dropped his hand allowing it to relax back into its original form.
Ratchet nodded, "Not bad Ironhide, not bad. Your motion has gotten better by at least 12 since yesterday."
The black weapons specialist grunted sourly, "Still not good enough."
"Well these parts take time to heal. You remember how long it took you to adjust to your new leg when it got blown off?" Ratchet reminded him.
Ironhide nodded staring at his healing arm, "When can I get my cannons back?"
The medic laughed, "Getting ahead of yourself aren't you?"
"No. I just feel…strange without them."
"Don't worry. I've got them stored away in a safe place." Ratchet smirked, giving Ironhide a sarcastic pat on the forehead, "If you're real good, you'll get them back the day I release you."
Ironhide swatted the medic's hand away with a growl.
"All right. Let's see about that leg." Ratchet said, pressing the button to make Ironhide's berth perpendicular to the floor so he could stand.
The weapons specialist's leg was the worst part. Being comprised of so many pieces, it was a far more complicated limb to have broken. Not to mention it bore several tons of metal and eventually had to transform into a truck bed, a tail gate, the back tires, and the back undercarriage.
"Ok. Start out on your good leg and gently put down the other. See if you can bear any weight." Ratchet instructed, taking a few steps back.
Ironhide stared at his legs cautiously and first put down his right leg with no problem. Then the damaged left. His toes splayed out gingerly, trying to test how much pressure the tender struts could withstand. It stung his circuits but he set his jaw and divided the weight between the two legs. He stared over at Ratchet, desperately trying to hide the pain his leg was causing him.
"Take a step."
Ironhide slowly lifted his injured leg and swung it forward. He seemed a bit hopeful, until he tried lifting his right leg, putting all of his weight on the injured leg. There was a terrible shudder in his leg struts accompanied by a plaintive squeal of strained hydraulics. Ironhide roared in pain, falling back against the vertical berth for support, while Ratchet leaned in to help him.
Proudly, Ironhide shoved the medic away with a snarl, "Don't help me! I can do it."
Ratchet backed off, shaking his head, "It's too soon yet Ironhide. You'll blow a hydraulic line, or worse rebreak those struts if you don't take it easy." he warned.
"Well WHEN then? I'm so sick of being helpless and pathetic!" Ironhide groused, steadying himself against the berth.
When Ironhide was in position, Ratchet pressed the berth button, returning it and Ironhide to their flat resting position.
"Being injured doesn't make you pathetic Ironhide. Letting it get to you is pathetic." Ratchet said simply, as he assessed what problems remained in the black mech's leg.
The weapons specialist snorted, knowing deep down his friend was right. Still…this recovery was going to take a lot longer than he wanted.
In the mountains…
Skywarp and Thundercracker stood on the ledge of a steep mountain drop off. Skywarp's wings and prosthetics were still fusing together but the impatient black Seeker had demanded to test them out. Being unable to fly was enough to send any Seeker into stir-crazy madness.
"You sure you want to do this, Warp?" Thundercracker asked peering over the sheer drop. Neither of them feared heights in the least, but crashing was a constant worry.
Shoving his wingman back, Skywarp thrust his chest forward, "Stand aside TC. Watch a repaired miracle in the making."
Thundercracker sighed, "You sure you don't want me out there in case…"
"I'm a Decepticon Seeker TC," he interrupted, pointing skyward. "The sky is mine and I'm going to conquer it right…NOW."
The black Seeker activated the thrusters in his feet and on his back, which oddly weren't badly damaged after the skirmish with Ironhide. Confident, he lifted off the ledge into the air. His wingtips wobbled a bit as he gained a little altitude.
"HA! See! See! My wings are fine!" Skywarp cackled, doing a barrel roll.
Suddenly, his left thruster gave out on his back and his wings started to vibrate against the wind. With a shout of dismay, Skywarp crashed into the trees a few hundred feet below. Luckily, the trees softened his fall but left the poor Seeker dangling upside down on the side of the mountain side.
Thundercracker winced, moaning deep and mechanical, "Oooo."
"THUNDERCRACKER YOU WORTHLESS FRAGGIN' SON OF A GROUND ROLLER!" Skywarp yelled at the top of his vocalizer. "WHY DIDN'T YOU CATCH ME?!"
The blue Seeker shouted down at him, "You told me NOT to dumb aft!"
"What kind of friend are you? PRIMUS! I think I've got a tree in my afterburner!" Skywarp ranted, clawing at the offending vegetation that miraculously held him up.
Thundercracker laughed at his wingman's foolishness, "Serves ya right ya stupid son of a glitch! I told you those wings weren't ready!"
A burst of hot plasma exploded some rocks near Thundercracker's feet, "OH…FRAG OFF AND GET ME OUTTA HERE!"
One month later…
"Slag it Ratchet! I can transform and it doesn't hurt that bad, why can't I return to active duty?" Ironhide growled reverting to his bipedal mode.
Ratchet shook his head wearily, "For the thousandth time, you've still got to take it easy. Push yourself too much like I KNOW you'll do and you could cause irreparable damage and cancel out all the healing you've done." he glanced at his charts, "You should be ready in about a week."
"NO! I am NOT going to spend another astro-second in this hangar wasting my time when I could be continuing my guardianship duties!" the black mech fumed.
"Stop acting like a Sparkling and sit down." Ratchet commanded sternly.
Ironhide threw up his hands, grumbling loudly as he moved toward his berth. Ratchet followed closely to help him should he need it. Suddenly, before the Hummer mech could react, Ironhide grabbed his wrists, swung him around, and pushed him against the vertical berth. With a quick movement of his hands he restrained the medic with the berth clamps and stepped back.
"ARE YOU GLITCHED!?" Ratchet shouted in utter shock.
Ironhide shook his head with a light smirk, "Not at all. I'm just returning to active duty."
He moved toward the hangar door and Ratchet fought the restraints, "OH! You are SO scrapped when I get out of these!"
Ironhide suddenly stopped and turned around, "Ah, which reminds me…"
Gradually he made his way to the far side of the hangar and touched one of the walls. A hydraulic latch hissed and opened to reveal Ironhide's cannons; precisely where his sensors said they'd be. With a broad smile he stroked the two shining weapons tenderly.
"There you are my beauties." he crooned hefting up one.
Placing it to the appropriate node on his wrist activated the clamps and hydraulics that joined him to his weapons. A small transformation and a loud hiss signaled the union. Ironhide attached the other one as well, cocking it back and letting the weapon bulbs spin. His grin grew as he powered them both down, folding them back into their long vacant holsters.
Quite suddenly he heard one of the berth clamps hiss open. Ratchet apparently was hacking the restraints with his many medical tools. Without wasting anymore time Ironhide transformed gingerly and hauled aft out of the hangar.
Half an hour later…
"Ironhide get back here! I never said you could leave the base!" Ratchet shouted as he furiously chased the fleeing Topkick down the stretch of road toward the Lennox's home.
Ratchet had been in hot pursuit the whole way. Though they were pretty much evenly matched on matters of alt speed, Ironhide knew a few shortcuts and hiding places to outmaneuver and lose the medic. This only made Ratchet's Energon boil. He wanted to inform Optimus at first, but decided he could catch Ironhide himself. However, the weapons specialist was proving craftier than he'd originally thought.
"Ratchet to Optimus." he finally relented.
"Ironhide is heading back to the Lennox farm." he announced, trying to hide the aggravation in his voice.
Optimus answered, "Is that a problem?"
"I never gave him permission to leave AND he restrained me to escape! So YEAH…it's a problem!" Ratchet revved his engine.
There was a pregnant pause and then Optimus ordered, "Allow him to proceed, but I want you to continue following him. I will talk to him when he arrives."
"Understood." then under his vocalizer, "Stubborn, bolt-brained, pile of cannon scrap. I'll attach his cannons right up his stupid aft and fire them both off!"
At the Lennox farm in the early evening…
Ironhide hissed in his hydraulics when he saw Optimus's imposing figure waiting for him, arms crossed. He pulled out in the farmyard very slowly and transformed, standing at attention. He knew his aft was about to get slagged.
"What are you doing here, Ironhide?"
Assuming a militaristic tone, Ironhide responded, "Sir. I am requesting permission to relieve you and resume my duties as the Lennox family guardian."
The blue and red mech drummed his fingers against his forearms, "And…did Ratchet release you?"
Ironhide tipped his head back and forth a couple times, "In a manner of speaking."
"Don't lie, Ironhide." Optimus warned his blue optics harsh.
He knew he couldn't get away with it. Ratchet probably told him about the little restraint thing.
Optimus straightened his back, "And didn't I order you to remain on base until Ratchet released you with an optimal bill of functionality?"
"You did, Sir." Ironhide nodded dismally.
"So you disobeyed a direct order?"
"I did, Sir." the black mech straightened his back and muttered when Ratchet pulled up.
The medic had a tool in his hand, ready to knock all the dents back into the mech's armor, "YOU!"
Ironhide turned to face the enraged medic but Optimus's stern bark stopped both of them, "Stand down, both of you!" He directed his gaze at Ratchet, "How long does Ironhide have on the base?"
The medic folded his arms, "After this little stunt I might just extend it another two weeks!"
"But I NEED to be here!" Ironhide insisted.
"Why? You think the Lennoxes can't function without you?" Ratchet asked.
Ironhide lowered his horned head a moment, loath to say what was on his mainframe. "No. It's just…"
"What?" Ratchet inquired.
The weapons specialist lifted his head, squaring his shoulders, "It's not that THEY need me…it's because I...I…" he paused again.
Persistent, Ratchet stared at Ironhide, "It's because what?"
Both Optimus and Ratchet shared a shocked look. It was true Ironhide was infinitely loyal to his duties, but to admit an actual need for the human family was a whole new level for him all together. A couple years ago Ironhide was barely tolerant of humans as a species. Now, he was professing a true connection and devotion to the family he'd been guarding. It was something neither mech had expected. Then again, Optimus had given the weapons specialist the assignment with the hope he'd better understand the humans. It seemed he'd developed more than an understanding.
Optimus gave Ratchet an impressed look and the medic returned it with a smile, "Well…I guess you can spend the rest of your recovery here."
Ironhide's optics lit up with hope.
"BUT…" Ratchet held up a warning finger, "You WILL take it easy and don't you DARE do anything to break yourself or I'll keep you in that hangar for ten stellar cycles!"
The old Autobot gave a brief salutatory nod, "You have my soldier's promise."
With that Optimus shook the black veteran's shoulder, "Then, I reinstate you as guardian of the Lennox family."
"Thank you, Sir."
Ratchet and Optimus transformed and headed back to the base. Ironhide surveyed the Lennox farm a moment, feeling better than he had in several weeks. Gingerly, he transformed and pulled into the brand new driveway, noting the newly rebuilt house had a bigger garage. The black Topkick gave a deep rev in his engine, seeing Annabelle in the two story window. Her little human smile warmed his Spark and for the first time in a long time, he felt at home.
Jim had been fishing the lake all afternoon with no luck. The fish just weren't biting no matter what technique or bait he used. At last the sun disappeared behind the mountains and Jim sighed, reeling in his line. Time to call it a day. After stowing away his reel and tackle, the unlucky fisherman started his small fishing boat motor and began the trek back to shore. Darkness suddenly became thick as the sun disappeared all together, even from behind the mountains. Jim cursed himself for staying out on the lake so long and getting so far out. Now he'd have to rummage around for his spotlights to safely find the shore.
Just as he ducked down under the seat and slowed his boat down, the front of his boat rammed into something with a metallic bang. He banged his head against the wheel and cursed, cutting the engine power as his boat spun slowly away. Jim finally reached under the seat and found his spotlight. He switched on the intense beam, sweeping it across the lake to see what he'd hit.
Then, his light stopped on a panel of brownish-gray metal and as he moved the light upward the form took shape. It looked like a huge jet wing, jutting brazenly out of the water into the air. The color of it looked unmistakably military in nature as did the fancy design. Jim stared at the jet wing for the longest time. What happened? Did the military lose one of their planes? Was there an accident?
Suddenly, a faint red glow flickered beneath the dark surface of the water. Jim backed away. Was that a bomb? Or was the plane going to self-destruct or something? He didn't care to stick around to find out. God only knew what kind of booby traps the military rigged their planes with to keep people from meddling with them. Starting his boat again, Jim sped away leaving the jet wing and the strange red light behind.
A/N: Yeah…I just couldn't kill Starscream. He's a jerk and a super villain sure, but I still like him. It just wouldn't be right for me to kill him. Anyway, that's Tinman. I hope the ride was exciting for all my readers and I hope you enjoyed it. It just makes my day to know there are people out there who enjoy my writing.
So what now? Well, very shortly I've got a funny Oneshot featuring Skywarp and Thundercracker and I'm considering writing a few small follow up stories featuring Ironhide and Annabelle that entail boys suddenly taking an interest in her and Ironhide's reaction/overreaction to it all. I've just got all kinds of obsessive little Transformers stories bouncing in my skull.
Anyhoo, big thanks to all of ya'll!