...As A Boy.
You must have read chapter one of When In Doubt to understand what's going on.
Disclaimer: I don't own Transformers in any way, shape, or form. I only own my OC's and ideas. :D
Nightshade as a boy is so deliciously awkward. I feel guilty. :)
"I am so fragged," Nightshade muttered quietly, peeking around a corner. He had been escorted to the base just yesterday and he was already lost. What a great first impression! He had training with Ironhide due to begin in exactly eighteen Earth minutes and he was no closer to the shooting range than he was an hour ago. He had gotten up at the crack of dawn to impress Ironhide, but instead, he had managed to get lost in the process. Nightshade didn't even know why he was wanted in the shooting range! He was a spy. He wasn't built for heavy weaponry – he could barely handle his small plasma rifle!
There was nothing at the end of the hallway, except for a few doors marked as storage. The other way looked promising. There was a door marked as a staircase, the little red sign beckoning welcomingly to him. He bit his lower lip.
I guess I should give it a shot. It's not like I can get any more lost, he thought wryly, before scampering toward the doors.
As he descended the stairs, Nightshade began musing on his life on the base. It was going to be very interesting. The mechs on base were the cream of the crop, the best that Cybertron had to offer. Every single mech was a solid individual, nothing like the frightened little rookies from the Academy – most greenhorns were too afraid to say or do anything that deviated from the norm. Here Nightshade snorted. The mechs were very…different.
First there was Sunstreaker, the antisocial artist, who had lovingly been nicknamed Sunny by his brother. Sideswipe was an overgrown youngling, Nightshade decided, for the mech loved nothing more than playing videogames until the wee hours of the morning. Red Alert was a hoot – he was juggling two jobs right now. Not only was he in charge of their security outposts, he regularly worked in the medical bay when things got nasty. And speaking of medical bay… Nightshade winced at the memory of meeting Ratchet. He had almost whacked Nightshade, but thankfully, he had managed to duck and run like the wind. Bluestreak was a twitchy little glitchmouse, Hound had a filthy CPU, and Ironhide was the worst of them all – Ironhide bragged about his conquests regularly in the commons room. Nightshade shook his cranial unit. Where was he? There were stairs and a long dark hallway.
Four flights of stairs downwards later, and he was no closer to the shooting range. He was at least on the ground level, though, he mused, and pushed open the door. There was nothing except the command center and the medical bay and communications center. Nightshade groaned quietly, rubbing his optics gently. The shooting range was all the way on the other side of the base, but he could still make it on time if he was on foot. The bell signaling first shift rang softly, awakening the early rising mechs.
Nightshade then immediately began sprinting toward the shooting range.
With thirty nine seconds to spare, he arrived only to find that the shooting range was empty. There was no one there. Had he gotten the time wrong? He rechecked his schedule. He was due to start his training at…frag. He now had to wait an hour before Ironhide showed up. He had, indeed, misread the schedule.
Nightshade groaned and collapsed onto the ground, waiting. At least he could brush up on his arms manual. He turned on the slightly dusty, very old manual and began reading diligently.
Ironhide peered down at the floor. There, curled up on a bench was a recharging mech, drooling slightly on a worn manual. Ironhide poked him gently, ignoring his sleepy grunt. Mirage, Bluestreak, and two other sharpshooters peeked out from behind him. He finally lost it and whacked the rookie. The mech let out a rather feminine shriek and leapt to his feet, awkwardly saluting him as he tried to regain his balance and not drop his holocube. Mirage winced and clapped his hand to his face. Nightshade was a hopeless case.
"Sir! I'm so sorry! I got lost and I couldn't find my way here but I woke up too early and I ended up getting the wrong schedule so I've already been here for an hour-"
"Calm yer processes, kid. Yer givin' Bluestreak a run for his money," the warrior growled, tossing him a rather large and old rifle. Nightshade barely caught it and he grunted under its weight. The other three mechs in the room shot him amused looks as he staggered over to the counter, all but dropping it onto the surface. Nightshade turned, rubbing his cranial unit gently as an awkward silence descended into the room.
"What d'ya know about high powered, arm mounted rifles," he shot in Nightshade's direction.
"Not much, sir," he squeaked out, cringing under the ominous glare he received.
"I asked ya what you knew, not how much," he growled. Nightshade's optics widened slightly.
"Th-they shoot out energy bullets?" Apparently, this was the wrong thing to say to the weapons master. He froze in his tracks. The other four mechs in the room shot Nightshade sympathetic looks, as if though these were his last few moments alive. Mirage rolled his optics subtly. Nightshade's first day on a permanent outpost and Ironhide was about to kill her. Great.
"If that's all ya got ta say, why are ya in here?"
"I-I was t-told to report to you, sir," Nightshade said softly, hanging his head in shame. What an impression to make on the weapons specialist – prove that rookies such as himself did not know anything at all. Ironhide sighed heavily, shuttering his optics, and counting slowly.
"Bluestreak, you're with him. Teach him the basics," Ironhide growled, turning to the gunner. Ironhide did not want to have to kill one of the rookies this early in the morning.
"But, sir, I already know how to use a small rifle," Nightshade began protesting.
"But, sir, I'm not qualified for this, you should probably have Mirage help her, he's the better teacher-"
"Mirage is teaching Frostwheel more advanced techniques," Ironhide growled, "And if you don't know how to use a large weapon, I can only assume that you don't know anything else. Now shut up and don't try my patience."
Nightshade hung his head in shame.
"Alright, sir. Come on, let's get started. I'm Bluestreak, what's your name?"
"My name is Nightshade," he said quietly, not looking him in the optic. Great – his first day in the shooting range and he was already back to basics.
"So what do you know?"
"I already told him – I know how to use small weapons only. I've never used anything bigger than my rifle," Nightshade said sadly, staring down at the counter.
"Let's get started then. Arm mounted guns are easy to use. They integrate directly into your neural network. All you have to do to is aim and shoot. You don't need to use a sight if you know what you are aiming at. You'll be using a training one today. Now, give me your arm," Bluestreak said, picking up the weapon easily with one hand. Nightshade held his arm out and watched as Bluestreak held the weapon to the offered arm, tinkering with the wires. With a click and a whirr, the weapon booted up and began glowing. Bluestreak then began running tests, all the while holding onto the barrel of the gun.
Then he let go of the weapon. Nightshade was quite unprepared for this action. As a result, his entire upper body jerked downwards under the weight of the cannon. He let out a soft curse, struggling to pick up the weapon. After some ingenious balancing tricks, Nightshade could finally stand under his own power.
Bluestreak shot him an amused look before continuing with his lecture.
"Now shoot it toward that target. If you use your firewalls and interface properly, you won't have to do much aiming with your arm. It's a self guided system. It will compensate for quite a lot. It's difficult to miss the target," Bluestreak said kindly, demonstrating for Nightshade. He nodded as Bluestreak let off a round. The bullet tore straight through the center of the bull's eye and Bluestreak nodded approvingly.
"Now, you try," Bluestreak said, watching as Nightshade struggled to lift the weapon. Nightshade screwed up his face plates, as though thinking too hard, and tried to shoot at the bull's eye. Nightshade honestly tried to hit the target, he honestly did.
However, the laws of physics (more specifically: the conservation of momentum) applied in this scenario. Nightshade was thrown back onto his aft by the blast. The bullet went rogue and bounced down the lane, tearing into ceiling tiles. Ironhide and the other mechs in the room dropped to the floor. As soon as the energy flare dissipated into the air, Nightshade sheepishly lifted his head from the floor. Ironhide shot him a scathing glare.
"What the frag was that, Nightshade," Ironhide snapped. Mirage had tried to help him stand but Ironhide shook his arm from the gunner's grip. Nightshade's optics widened slightly as he tried to stammer out an answer.
"I-I told you I can only use a sm-small weapon," he said pathetically, wincing as Bluestreak immediately dismantled the weapon on his arm. The weapon clattered to the floor and Nightshade hissed softly at the sudden lightness of his arm.
"Don't worry about it, Nightshade. I'm sure if Ironhide had listened to you this wouldn't have happened," Mirage said kindly, helping Nightshade to his feet. Nightshade nodded and yelped, clutching at his shoulder. The recoil action of the rifle had actually broken something in his shoulder cuff. Great.
"I'll take her-him to the medical bay," Mirage said hurriedly, putting a gentle hand between Nightshade's shoulders and pushing. Ironhide, Bluestreak, and Frostwheel watched after them, curious and pained expressions on their face plates.
Maybe this wasn't the best place for him.
"Nightshade, you need to be more careful," Mirage said quietly from the corner of his mouth.
"You don't think I'm trying? I told him that I couldn't use that weapon, it was too big!"
"Nightshade, just calm down. We'll figure something out. You know you can't afford…to. You know," Mirage said gently, gripping Nightshade's shoulder. Nightshade sighed and nodded. Mirage pushed the doors to the medical bay open. Ratchet was dozing off in a corner, pretending to read a holocube. Nightshade smiled softly, clutching at his arm. Ratchet jerked out of his stupor, wiping at his optics. He frowned.
"You were in here just yesterday, Nightshade," he grumbled quietly, motioning Nightshade over.
"I'll see you later," Mirage said, beating a hasty retreat. Nightshade immediately began to protest, but Mirage had already disappeared. Ratchet approached and examined Nightshade's shoulder.
"How did you do this to yourself," Ratchet asked, and then stated, "Go take a seat on that table."
"Ironhide wouldn't listen to me," Nightshade said, "I told him that I wasn't compatible with an arm mounted cannon, but did he listen to me?"
"Ironhide's computing center doesn't generate much wattage," Ratchet groused, peeling back the armor on Nightshade's shoulder. Nightshade blinked. Was Ratchet trying to crack a joke? It wasn't at all like how they had described him! Sunstreaker had mentioned something about blood during a short debriefing session with Optimus, but Nightshade hadn't had the time to look it up, so he didn't know what it referred to. Ratchet began tinkering around in the space, watching Nightshade from the corner of his optic.
The mech looked so awkward and out of place, no matter the situation. Ratchet felt sudden pity for him. His optics brightened upon finding the gear and he tugged it out, ignoring Nightshade's yelp of pain. The gear had been completely stripped. Ratchet sighed and almost dumped it into the waste parts bin. Then he took a second glance at it.
The gear was too small to be a regular mech's. It was also thinner. What the slag? Ratchet shook his cranial unit and began digging through the bins on the counters, trying to find a suitable replacement. After five breems, he could not find a single one. They were either too big or too thick. Ratchet felt his patience start to drain away.
"Yes, sir," Nightshade asked quietly, hoping to Primus that the mad medic did not suggest a physical exam. If he opened his chest plates, Ratchet would know that he was a femme immediately. Femme sparks were much darker than their mech counterparts. They were also much denser and emitted dark blue light, sometimes indigo, instead of the standard mech electric blue. If Ratchet were somehow colorblind, he wouldn't be able to miss her carrying hold or extra energy stores. And if, somehow, Ratchet managed to miss everything else, her frame would be a complete giveaway – as a dancer, her frame was very flexible and delicate. Even though Nightshade had been on the base less than a day, he had already heard the other mechs talking about what they'd do to a femme if they got one alone. Nightshade shuddered slightly, praying diligently.
"Are these parts custom made," Ratchet asked, noting the intricacy of the spokes on the gear. Nightshade nodded hesitantly. It couldn't hurt to admit that, right? There were plenty of reasons a mech could have custom made parts.
"All of my parts are custom made…that's why I'm so small," Nightshade admitted, rubbing the back of his head ruefully. It wasn't a complete lie. He was small because he was actually a she. All of 'his' parts were custom made because 'he' was a rare femme and an even rarer dancer. Ratchet nodded, pleased with Nightshade's answer.
"You'll have to wait until I have one made for you. Until then, you'll be on your own," Ratchet said, gauging the mech's reactions.
"But, what am I going to do? I just can't sit around," Nightshade said, flailing his one good arm slightly. Ratchet rolled his optics once more, this time not so subtly. He turned to his counter once more, muttering under his breath slightly. He fished out a few yards of mesh. Ratchet held it up to Nightshade's frame, squinting slightly. Then he managed to fashion a rather awkward sling for Nightshade's arm.
"When will it be done – "
"You'll just have to wait. The part will be ready in a few hours. Until then, you can stay in here. And keep it quiet. I've got other patients," Ratchet said, turning and making his way to his office. Nightshade peered around.
"What other patients," he groused out, glaring at the back of Ratchet's head. Ratchet ignored his comment and slammed his door shut. Nightshade sighed and picked at the mesh wrapped around his body. What was he going to do now? Without an arm, he was pretty much useless.
The only thing he could do was read…and there was a library a few meters away. He shot a look toward Ratchet's office. The mech's upper body was already sprawled across his desk. Was he recharging? Nightshade slid to the floor and immediately landed on his aft. He winced. Normally his programming could compensate for having his balance thrown off by a bit, but with his entire arm out of commission, it was next to impossible to balance properly.
Nightshade hauled himself onto his feet and snuck quietly toward Ratchet's medical library. He was in luck! Ratchet had left the door open! There was a pedestal of some kind in the anteroom of the library. He approached and saw a rather large holocube sitting on the polished wooden surface. Then he curiously turned it on. It fizzled to life and a massive list scrolled past his optics. It was the listing of the entire contents of the library! Nightshade began scrolling through the list eagerly.
He finally settled on one holocube and scurried into the massive room. It was packed with shelves and holocubes, all of which were dusty and hardly ever used. Nightshade then began searching for the cube, reading past the many titles. They were organized by subject. Atrophy…Advanced Diseases…Organic and Inorganic Babies…Space Barnacles…Basics!
Nightshade peered up at the basic medicine holocube. He reached for the cube and came up short. Why was he created so short and vertically challenged? This was a serious disadvantage! He pouted unhappily. Then he jumped, scrabbling for it, to no avail. He landed heavily on his feet, staggering a few feet before regaining his balance. This was just dandy – too short to reach the top shelf and disfigured and lopsided. Then he huffed, turning and looking around for a ladder of some kind. Nightshade spotted a rusty looking fold out ladder and dragged it close by the shelf. He fumbled for a moment, trying to open the ladder and force it to cooperate. Finally, with a shriek of protest, the rusted metal finally unfolded and Nightshade could climb onto the ladder.
Even on the topmost step, he could not reach the cube. He strained and strained, his fingertips barely brushing up against the polymer casing. Nightshade gave a dejected whimper and jumped slightly, trying to grab a hold of the casing.
"You're going to fall if you keep that up," came a voice from the doorway. Nightshade yelped and tried to steady himself, but it was in vain. The ladder slipped and he grabbed at the shelf, desperately trying to keep from falling and earning himself a week long stay in the medical bay. He teetered precariously and he shuttered her optics. This was it, he was going to die here! After a long moment, Nightshade realized that he was not falling.
A pair of hands around his waist steadied him.
"Easy there, kid. Let me get it for you," the voice said kindly. Nightshade nodded, grabbing the arm and stepping to the floor. Red Alert shook his head slightly as the tiny mech leaned against a wall, clutching at his chest plates. Then Red Alert stepped onto the stair, grabbed the holocube, and handed it to Nightshade.
"Thank you, Red Alert," Nightshade said, trying to steady his voice. Red Alert gave a curt nod, quirking an optical ridge in Nightshade's direction. What was Nightshade doing in the library? Did Ratchet actually grant him permission? It couldn't be!
"Did Ratchet say you could come in here," he asked nonchalantly. Nightshade froze.
"Just don't let him catch you in here. He won't be happy," Red Alert said, waving the mech toward the doorway. Nightshade nodded, clutching the holocube to his chest. Red Alert had to bite back his laughter as the small mech zigzagged across the room back to the recharge berth. Then he couldn't hold it back when the mech discovered the he could not get on the berth. Ratchet still hadn't gotten the smaller berths out of storage. Nightshade shot Red Alert a malicious glare when he burst into laughter.
"Not another word," Nightshade growled quietly, watching as Red Alert dug out a small crate for him to step onto. Why was his height – or lack there of – so amusing? If only Red Alert was his height. Red Alert would never tease him about it again.
"I didn't say a word," Red Alert said, mildly offended. Nightshade nodded and accepted the crate, stepping onto it before hoisting himself onto the berth. Nightshade plopped onto his aft and turned the holocube on eagerly.
"Are you interested in medicine," Red Alert asked from where he stood at a sink. Nightshade nodded shyly. Red Alert made a thoughtful humming noise before walking over to him.
"You know, Nightshade. If you study enough between now and before I leave for my away mission, you could apply to be an assistant," Red Alert offered gently. It wasn't that he and Ratchet couldn't handle the medical bay on their own, it was that with the incoming shuttles, they would need help.
"But how would I be able to do that," Nightshade asked, his spark leaping in excitement. Red Alert thought for a breem. Normally, a potential applicant had to go through school, but these were special circumstances. And he could test the rookie's mettle while he was at it, too.
"You'd have to sneak in here after closing time and study then," Red Alert said giving Nightshade a serious look. Now was when most mechs backed down – no one dared sneak into the medical bay lest they face the wrath of Ratchet.
"And study what? Is there a specific list of what I need to do?"
Red Alert blinked. Did Nightshade really think that through? He continued.
"Yes, I can go and get it for you right now," Red Alert said, hiding the glee in his voice easily. Either this mech had some serious ball bearings, or he was actually interested in working in the medical bay. Nightshade smiled happily – maybe he would be able to prove that rookies weren't so dumb, after all! Nightshade was so caught up in his excitement that he did not notice that Red Alert went into Ratchet's office, not his own.
"Ratchet, where's that study list that you give to rookies," Red Alert asked, leaning against the door to Ratchet's office. Ratchet was too distracted by his work to actually process what Red Alert had asked.
"Uhm…third shelf, second holocube – wait. What," Ratchet asked.
"I think I've found us a student," Red Alert said, a smirk threatening to break out on his face plates. Intrigued, Ratchet set his work down. Someone actually wanted to work with them? Maybe he should give their computing center a thorough examination. That wasn't normal.
"That kid you've got out in the medical bay. I caught him in the library," Red Alert said, a soft snicker escaping his vocal processors. Ratchet raised one optical ridge. Nightshade seemed to be too nice and innocent to try something so stupid.
"Did you tell him what happened to rookies in my library?"
"No, I didn't have the spark to," Red Alert said, shrugging slightly, "Besides. He's reading your basic medicine holocube. I asked him if he was interested. Primus help the kid – he's got nowhere else to work."
"How predictable. Bringing home the strays and begging if you can keep them," Ratchet said, shaking his head. Ratchet picked up his digipad and continued working. Red Alert sighed – really, a student would be good. They would both get their 'continued education' hours and their required lecture hours at the same time. They would even get someone to clean up after them.
"Come on, Ratchet. I think the kid's got potential. I told him that he'd have to sneak in to study and he agreed without thinking about it," Red Alert said, planting his hands across Ratchet's desk. Ratchet looked up from his work and sighed.
"Fine, Red Alert. You can have your student if he even manages to pass the aide exams. He has four orns to study. Then his skid plates are mine," Ratchet said, waving Red Alert from the room. Red Alert grinned happily.
"Thanks, Ratchet. This is going to be great," Red Alert said, grabbing the study list and leaving the office. Nightshade was patiently waiting outside, swinging his legs over the edge of the berth. Red Alert stopped by the counter, sizing up the tiny mech. Nightshade was rather quiet, didn't ask much, and did as he was told. All three qualities were a necessity to survive training with Ratchet. Red Alert smirked – just like when he was a rookie, too.
"Finished with the cube already?"
"Yes, it wasn't anything that I didn't already know," Nightshade said, shrugging slightly. One optic ridge on Red Alert's face rose slowly. At his questioning look, Nightshade elaborated slightly.
"I taught myself basic first aid after one of my friends was nearly killed," Nightshade said, shrugging, "Moon Racer let me watch some of her procedures, too."
"Alright, smart aft. How many doses of accelerant are you allowed to administer in a case of radiation fall out," Red Alert tossed out, hoping to startle the rookie. Nightshade blinked at him.
"I'm not allowed to administer anything. If you must know, you don't administer accelerant in those cases. It would only increase the rate of radiation escaping," Nightshade said, shrugging once more. Red Alert nodded. It seems that the rookie did know more than he let on.
"What are the contraindications for using an antishock clamp?"
"Let's see…carrying, pump failure, oil pressure over five hundred millimeters of mercury, exposed wires or lines, clogs in the filter, and computing center damage," Nightshade rattled off, counting off the contraindications. It was Red Alert's turn to blink in surprise.
"Good. Here's the list, along with required and suggested readings. You have four orns," Red Alert said. Nightshade goggled at the list. There were so many topics…and so little time. There was no way he could finish this! Nightshade swallowed down his fear and dismay, and nodded.
"I'll do my best."
"I wouldn't expect anything less. Don't let Ratchet catch you in the library. I'll leave the door open at night so that you may get in. Take as many holocubes as you need, but be sure to have them back before Ratchet gets here in the morning," Red Alert said, narrowing his optics slightly as he gauged Nightshade's reaction. The mech simply nodded.
Ratchet watched from his office and listened over the open comm. line. He winced when Red Alert assigned the topics. Normally students would have at least ten orns to study. There was no way that Nightshade would be able to accomplish all of that, unless he put some serious overtime in. Ratchet drew back from the window. If the kid finished half of the list, he would be very surprised.
And that's it for this chapter. I'm going more in depth with how their relationship blossomed. I hope y'all enjoyed this, because my muse for WID has disappeared. :(