Well...it's certainly been a while, huh? My apologies, I just can't seem to use my time wisely. Le sigh. If my time here at Fanfiction has taught me anything, it's taught me that I need to learn how to manage my time SO much better.
Thank you again to all of you who reviewed, it was quite the pleasant surprise! It was entirely for you guys that I got ANY of this done at all. A special thanks to i-love-me-some-leggypoo who was kind enough to tell me what ideas I had that sucked and what ideas I had that might have a chance at working and who also played a major role in this chapter coming out at ALL. And just because she's awesome and deserves more thanks, I'm also going to throw out Kesera's name. She's helped keep me sane throughout all of this fanfiction-ness and I don't know where ANY of these stories would be without her.
Once again, thank you to EVERYONE and I hope this second part will live up to your expectations.
The thick outer walls of the Ark sluggishly opened up as the small group approached. This could have been because of the complex gears and mechanisms that were used in the process of pulling open the rather large metallic doors, but Jazz couldn't help but think it had more to do with the resident Security Director's distaste for the situation being vicariously expressed through the large pieces of metal.
"Red is not a happy camper." Hound mumbled to Jazz's left. The saboteur let out a small snicker of agreement. The minute Red Alert had heard they were bringing in four unidentified humans, he had a small nervous breakdown. Once he heard about the hawk, he had blown a gasket.
When he heard about the "andalite," however, he had all about sparked himself into a panicked oblivion.
But really, what were they supposed to do? Leave the Andalite there or something?
Ratchet and the group of mechs sent as backup had arrived just as Jazz had finished fishing out the last of the…blue-centaur-thing's companions—a red tailed hawk of all things. At first Jazz hadn't known what to make of the animal, he had just thought humans kept birds as pets, if anything, but when he had shown up with just the four humans the self-proclaimed Ax had all but demanded that he search for the last of his teammates.
In the nicest way possible, however. Jazz couldn't help but smile slightly at the memory—the Andalite was quite possibly one of the most polite organics he had ever come across and it almost slightly made up for the irritating "thought speak" that the Andalite used to communicate.
The only time throughout the whole ordeal that Jazz could even remember the unflappable Andalite showing something other than complete and utter graciousness, however, was when Jazz had taken out one of the humans from the ship—the Andalite had gone into what Jazz could only guess must be his species version of shock or something. All four of his eyes had swiveled to lock on the diminutive figure in the black and white's arms and Jazz had seen Prowl taken a warning step forward at the sudden intense motion.
"Something…wrong there, friend?" Jazz asked hesitantly, stressing the last word in attempt to let the alien know that there was absolutely no reason for that tail blade to start swinging.
/No…nothing./ The Andalite had said slowly, but Jazz could still make out the undertones of incredulity and absolute elation within the mind-spoken words. Taking a second to glance at the blonde girl in his arms, Jazz couldn't quite grasp what all the fuss was about—the girl wasn't even that banged up considering the shape all the others had been in when he'd pulled them out.
"What's the hold up?! I've got to get these humans in sometime!" Shocked back out of his musings, Jazz stuttered a few steps forward with the help of the gentle prodding of Ratchet's voice, stumbling through the finally opened doors and clearing the way for the troop of Autobots trailing after him to enter the base. Despite the fact that his Battle Computer had yet to come back online, Prowl was still able to calculate that pretending to not notice his usually nimble lover's stumble would be the best course of action, though he couldn't hold back the slight quirk of his upper lip when his optics met the saboteur's visor.
"Laugh it up, Prowler." Jazz said, crossing his arms over his chest and jutting out one hip. Prowl just shrugged and passed the all but pouting mech, his much smaller charge following in his wake. Once Ax had been checked over and his wounds bandaged, he had been assigned to be supervised by Prowl and Jazz until Optimus Prime could completely consider the situation and decide what to do with him.
/Will my friends be alright with that…medic?/ the thought-speak was so sudden that Jazz had failed to prepare himself for the slight intrusion and he couldn't hold back his grimace, though he had enough sense of mind to turn his face away before the Andalite could notice.
"They'll be fine, Ratchet is quite possibly the best Medic for the situation." Prowl said softly, sparing a moment for the agonizing thought that his lack of Battle Computer meant that he couldn't follow that up with any kind of percentages or statistics. Jazz was slightly irked to notice that nothing had showed on Prowl's faceplates at the mind-speak's intrustion, even though he had felt the tactician's strong distaste through their lightly closed bond. A bond that was lightly closed just for that reason—being able to hear each other's thoughts and feel each other's emotions was great, but they had been quick to realize that the constant stream of emotional data from each other had just been to distracting. Prowl wasn't used to Jazz's constant thoughts and overwhelming emotions and Jazz was anything but used to Prowl's carefully organized thoughts and tightly controlled emotions.
"Even though he's used to working on machines, he's had enough human patients to know how to handle 'em. Don't you worry about a thing, Ax-man." Jazz said, stepping away from the doors and fully into the corridor, watching as the tail-end of the search party slipped around a corner, Ironhide's red car-form slowly fading from sight as he took precautions not to jostle his human cargo.
/What?/ Ax asked sharply.
Broken out of the until then peaceful exchange, it was all Jazz could do to attempt to placate the organic, "Ah, sorry about that. I didn't mean to offend." He said, holding up his hands in an attempt to diffuse the sudden tension in the room. Prowl glanced at the organic by his feet, taking stock of his suddenly aware posture and trying to mentally prepare his next step should the situation proceed to get ugly.
All at once, however, the tension drained from the Andalite's body, /No, it's fine. Just…it's been a while since I've heard that nickname./
"No worries there, I'll just…call you Ax, then, if that's okay." Jazz said carefully while lowering his hands.
/Thank you, it's just that—/
"Jazz, Prowl! I heard you found yourselves an alien!" the voice was sudden and intrusive, managing to cut straight through Ax's thought speak as it drew the attention of the two mechs as well as the organic.
"Sideswipe. Sunstreaker." Prowl said curtly as the twins rounded their way towards them.
"Hey, what's up you two?" Jazz said loudly, cautiously edging his way around the squishable alien by his feet to stand closer to the two grinning Lamborghinis.
"Aw, you know us, Jazz! How could we ever be up to anything?" Sideswipe answered back.
"Yes, how could you be indeed." Prowl said dryly.
"Is that the alien?" Sunstreaker asked suddenly, pointing down at the until then silent Ax.
"Yes—this is Ax. He's an Andalite." Prowl said, unnecessarily indicating the Andalite at his feet with a quick wave of his hand.
"Andalite? What's that?" Sideswipe asked while cocking his head to the side in inquisition.
Sunstreaker thumped his brother over the head, "Take a look and you'll find out, slag-head."
"Ow!" Sideswipe wined, socking his brother in the shoulder in retaliation, but nonetheless he did as his brother suggested and focused his attention on the four-legged alien before him.
Suddenly finding himself as the sole occupier of four mech's complete and utter attention, Ax could only lift his eyes in a small smile, shifting his weight from hoof to hoof in nervousness as the mechs continued to do nothing but stare at him.
"Huh." Sideswipe said after a while, "This will certainly prove to be interesting. See ya later, Jazz! Bye, copper! Bye, Ax the Andalite!" he said merrily before skipping down the hallway.
Sighing at the complete and utter lack of propriety that the mech seemed to have (as well as at the planned mischief that Prowl could all but see starting to bubble in Sideswipe's CPU), Prowl could only watch in resignation as the red form flew around a turn in the hallway, his yellow twin following at a more sedate, forwards walking pace. With a small and unenthusiastic backwards wave, Sunstreaker also disappeared from behind the corner.
"I shudder to think that those two might be up to, eh Prowler?" Jazz said from Prowl's right. Prowl had the sudden urge to knock his head against the nearest wall as he could plainly hear the note of poorly disguised humor in his mate's tone.
"Jazz…" Prowl started to warn, flashing the 3IC a warning glare.
"What? I haven't even done anything!" the saboteur exclaimed wildly as he once again threw up his hands in an effort to prove how innocent he was.
Right. Like his innocence still even existed.
"No, but you're thinking about helping them do whatever it is that they've planned on doing." Prowl said—it was a statement of fact. The saboteur just shrugged, completely unapologetic.
"Probably. But come on! It'll be fun!" Jazz said with a huge smile. Prowl was about to berate him more when a voice that could only come from the Andalite next to him sounded through his CPU. With Sideswipe's arrival he had almost completely forgotten that they were still in the process of escorting the alien to the med bay to see his comrades.
When Ratchet, Hound, Ironhide, Inferno, and Bluestreak had arrived at the crash site, Ratchet had instantly gone to the Andalite while the others had gone to inspect the ship and see if any of the humans had needed immediate medical attention. Though he had never before encountered any species quite like the alien before him, Ratchet nonetheless had attempted to bandage and heal what he could. Upon his inspection, the Andalite appeared to be in better condition then he looked, most of the blood covering his body coming from only two major wounds near the sides of his head. Once he had been taken care of, Ratchet declared him fine if only for want of a bit of bed rest (an assumption the medic considered he was perfectly within his rights to make, surely this species slept) and went off to load half of the unconscious humans into his vehicle mode while Ironhide took the other half and hawk.
The alien's intruding almost-com speak, however was enough to bring their journey back to the forefront of his thoughts as it all but crawled through his Central Processing Unit.
/How can he do that?/ the voice questioned.
Pushing down his automatic dislike for the intrusion, Prowl attempted to respond normally to the inquiry. Out of the corner of his optics he could see Jazz attempt to control his own cringe as the words echoed in his CPU as well.
"Do what?" Prowl asked once he had carefully schooled himself, turning to stare down at the smaller being.
/Walk backwards so steadily./ the voice continued. Prowl was pleased to say that he only slightly internally flinched at the mental message and he felt confident that, just like in every other circumstance, he could eventually adapt to this.
"I suppose it comes from practice." The saboteur behind him commented, his natural ability to adapt also buoying him in this time when the skill was so desperately needed.
/But…he only has two legs! I never could understand how humans manage it. With just two legs, how can they at all hope to stay balanced?/ From Jazz's side of their bond, Prowl felt an abnormally strong sense of emotion flare. Incredulity suffused with a bit of shock and hurried self explanations of "center of balance" were momentarily pushed down the bond before Jazz realized he had been projecting and embarrassedly shut it off.
"It's got to do with where their center of balance is placed and all—" Jazz started to explain but Prowl interrupted him.
"I think I might have to agree with you." Prowl said calmly, seeming not to care about the shocked look it earned him from his lover. While Jazz could only see the question as an amazingly bizarre one, Prowl could see the logic behind it. Center of gravity or no center of gravity—mechs or humans or, apparently, aliens with two legs alike had always puzzled his circuits. Jazz with two legs himself had obviously never wondered over the question, just taking it for granted. Prowl, however, had the benefit of doorwings to keep himself balanced and he had often wondered at his teammate's seemingly unnatural ability to stand up straight and actually walk with nothing but two wobbly leg supports to help them do so.
/Ah, yes. Those…wings of yours I can understand. They undoubtedly stabilize you, but what of the others?/ the strange creature before him asked and Prowl noted that he stood steady on the four legs of his own.
"A question that I still don't understand. They even manage to jump, but every time they do—"
/You feel the need to catch them because surely they must fall!/ Ax said below him, eagerly finishing his thought. Prowl's doorwings twitched in excitement at finding such a kindred spirit and he hardly even noticed the intrusion of the alien's mind speak anymore.
"As fun as I find this conversation, kids, perhaps we could continue this on the run? Y'know, walk and talk?" Jazz said dryly from behind Prowl. The tactician absentmindedly nodded and slowly started down the hallway and towards the medbay, keeping up a surprisingly steady conversation with the much smaller alien next to him, the saboteur following behind and shaking his head in disbelief at the sight he followed.
"And then when they get it into their minds to bend down it's a wonder that they don't just tip over…!"
Though Jazz found it adorable that Prowl had found such a bosom-confidante to share his previously stifled feelings concerning the particulars of a mech/human/whatever's ability to manage to balance on only two legs, he couldn't help but shuffle his vents in relief when the med-bay doors came into view. His relief might not have been quite as sparkfelt if it hadn't been for the fact that throughout the entire journey from the front doors to here, Prowl and his new-found organic friend insisted that he be their "test-model" and had forced him to walk around so that they could critique and criticize the movement.
As they crossed the threshold and stepped into the medbay, however, Prowl's comm-unit beeped, interrupting the continued conversation he was still having with the Andalite. Flipping open his communicator, Prowl inquired about the summons.
"Prowl? Is Jazz with you?" The voice of Optimus Prime drifted from Prowl's comm-device and Jazz perked up at the sound.
"Yes Optimus, he's here."
"Good, I need the both of you in my office immediately."
Jazz and Prowl shared a small look of concern, "But Prime, what about the…ah, Andalite?"
"See if Ratchet can watch him, this is a matter of some urgency."
"Understood, we'll be there shortly." Prowl said before closing the communications line and shooting Jazz another look.
"Hey Ratch-man, would you mind watching him for us?" Jazz asked, already halfway out the door. Prowl shot his mate an irritated glare before throwing an apologetic glance at the medic while, with a goodbye twitch of his doorwings to both the medic and the organic he was leaving behind, he followed his mate out the medbay doors and towards Prime's office.
"Not like I have much of a choice, eh?" the medic grumbled before running another test on one of the still unconscious humans before him. She was blonde and, he supposed, rather pretty by human standards. And just like the others, despite being in a comatose state and a few cuts and bruises, nothing major seemed to be wrong with her—certainly nothing enough to suggest the reason for the unconscious behavior.
/Is she okay?/ the voice pierced straight to his processor and Ratchet couldn't stop his shudder at the invasion of privacy.
"She's…fine." He said slowly and attempted to recalibrate himself. He had felt a brief taste of the alien's mode of speech back by the crater, but that small sample was still not enough to prepare him for it when he was caught off-guard.
/That's good. She's…well, she's really supposed to be dead./ Ax was careful to keep his main eyes on anything but Ratchet as he said this, though he did focus one stalk eye on the relatively larger mech.
"Excuse me? Run that by me one more time?" Ratchet was a tad irritated. His scanners showed that the woman was in almost perfect health and his scanners did not lie.
/She had sacrificed herself for our cause long before the final battle. I…did not know she was even on the ship until she was pulled out along with the others./ Ax focused his main eyes onto the girl on the operating table as he said this, walking a few feet to stand on the opposite side of the medic. Ratchet was absolutely positive that, despite the fact his voice wasn't vocal, it had still managed to break with emotion.
"I am sorry." Ratchet said softly. It had been a long while since their team had lost a teammate, but he could still remember the blinding, white-hot pain of loss back before earth and before he was the accomplished medic that he was today.
/Thank you for that. But still, she is here now and, as you say, in perfect health. This makes me…unbearably happy./ Ax reached out a delicate hand and tenderly brushed a stray bang out of the girl's closed eyes.
"Was she…just a teammate?" Ratchet asked after a moment. It might have been too personal, he'd concede that, but after a move like that the curiosity would drive him absolutely crazy if he didn't find out.
/More?/ Ax asked and (Ratchet didn't exactly know how) his face contorted into puzzlement before realization seemed to dawn and all four of his eyes swiveled to focus on the suddenly uncomfortable mech, /No. No we weren't. She had somebody else and they are both to dear to me that I would never even consider the thought of getting between them. Besides, blondes aren't my type./
And it could have been that Ratchet was just imagining things because of his overwhelmingly embarrassed logic circuits, but he could have sworn that the alien's right…eye-thingie had swiveled to briefly glance at the brown haired youth on the next table over. "Right," Ratchet stammered and he felt a brief flare of indignation that someone would dare make him uncomfortable in his medbay, but in the spirit of it being his own slaging fault, he chose to ignore the impulse, "Sorry about that."
/It's fine, don't worry about it./ Ax assured him and Ratchet realized that his CPU had slowly become accustomed to receiving the strange almost com-speak and now barely even noticed the intrusion.
After a few moments and a few more scans, Ratchet moved onto his first avian patient ever. Another few moments passed by and Ratchet just couldn't take the silence anymore. Normally it wasn't a problem, but with the strange creature's eyes swiveling this way and that, Ratchet just couldn't take it a second longer, "Penny for your thoughts?" he asked, the human idiom falling from his lips after a quick web search for appropriate human sayings in cases like these.
/Pardon?/ Ax questioned, swiveling one stalk eye to face the red and white mech along with both his main eyes.
Of course, in hindsight, Ratchet realized that "human" idioms might not be such a good idea when dealing with other aliens, "I'm sorry, it's just a human saying for asking what you were thinking about."
/Ah/ Ax replied, /How strange. In all my years with humans I have never really understood their strange sayings. Like a pot and a kettle can not talk, so why would they be calling each other "black"?/
Taking a moment to consider this, Ratchet found himself agreeing with this strange being. Sure, he could instantaneously look up the definition for any human saying that he might find himself hearing, but that still did not detract from the utter randomness that they seemed to be formed from, "And when you are asked to 'take it with a grain of salt' there's never any actual salt to be had!"
At the medic's addition, Ax nodded his head in enthusiastic agreement, all four of his eyes now focused on the Autobot, /Or when they say "get off your high horse" the people are never actually on a horse to begin with!/
Firing back another response concerning the seeming arbitrary and nonsensical things that human sayings seemed to be based on, Ratchet thought that maybe this alien guy wasn't that bad after all.
When Jake awoke, he thought for sure it would be to either blistering and ear-popping dracon beam fire or the silent and calm white walls of a hospital.
He got the white walls, anyway. Never the mind that they were about twenty times larger than he thought they should be, but at least the white walls were there.
The expected silence, however, seemed to be missing.
"…or 'get off your soap box'! They're not on boxes of soap, and still they ask people to get off them!"
Blinking at the ceiling that seemed way to far away from him to be normal, Jake could only wonder at what was talking. It didn't sound human, so it had to be alien, but it didn't sound like anything he had heard before.
"Aren't they adorable?" A voice to the left of him asked. That was a voice he most assuredly recognized, however. Whipping his head around, he hardly even noticed his neck crying out in pain as he focused on the grinning face of his best friend.
"Marco?" Jake asked, his throat scratchy and dry.
"The one and only." He said back cheekily. The Mexican man seemed to be lying on his front rather than on his back like Jake was and had his head twisted up so that he could see the sight that was happening at the head of their…beds? examination tables? metal desks?
"What happened?" Jake asked as he continued to move his neck back and forth, attempting to ease the ache in the muscles.
"The hell if I know. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about surviving, but by my counts we all should be dead. Especially, if not cynically, her." Marco said, moving his eyes in an indication of the bed to his other side.
Sitting up precariously on an elbow, Jake looked around the reclining form of his friend and gazed at what could only be a dream lying down, peacefully sleeping one table over.
That was all kinds of impossible.
"What?!" Jake questioned breathlessly, his eyes glued on the breathing form before him. It had to be a trick. Somebody had morphed her and…and…and…!
"I know, right? But something's seriously up, dude. I thought for sure it had to be a trick, but then I saw who our resident alien was arguing with and I figured anything's possible now." Marco said nonchalantly. His attitude didn't fool Jake, however. They'd been friends since before they could talk and Jake knew that this was just Marco's way of temporarily dealing with things. Give him another day or two when things started to make sense again and he'd be crying his heart out.
Which broke everyone else's every time he pulled this dumb repressing crap.
"Marco…" Jake started to warn but Marco just rolled his eyes and jerked his thumb at what he had been staring at before Jake had woken up.
"Yeah, yeah, the whole 'deal with your feelings crap.' But before you start in on me, take a look over there, yeah? So far you're the second one to awaken from the deep sleep so you get to be the second one to witness this weirder than weird sight." Marco said with a slight eye roll.
Sighing in exasperation, Jake nonetheless turned towards where Marco had indicated.
And stopped dead.
Eyes once again going impossibly wide, Jake couldn't quite believe the scene before him. There was Ax's more familiar alien Andalite form arguing with a…with a…
Freaking giant robot.
Well. That certainly changed things.
Right, ah, I hope you enjoyed it at least a little bit. Once again, I can't promise when the next installment of this will be up as I need to desperately focus more on Knock on Wood because it has been SO not getting the attention it deserves from me. For the record, the pairings of Animorphs are more or less decided: Marco/Ax, Tobais/Rachel, and...Jake and Cassie are still up in the air. I'm tempted to just throw them together and make it all nice and organized, but I REALLY didn't particularly care for Cassie's character at the end of the last book, so I don't know if I could stomach pairing her up with Jake. Any suggestions concerning those two would be much appreciated.
Thanks again for reading and please fell free to tell me what you thought about it!