AUTHOR'S NOTES: This is my story about my TF cassette OC, Playback and how she came to be. I intended this to be a Deviantart (dot) com exclusive story, but decided to share it with everyone. Please enjoy this silly, fluff filled Sparkling story and leave a review if you like it! 2+ sentance reviews would be perferable. Don't get me wrong, the one liners like "that was great, please update" and such are fine for review count, but I like to read what people really think while they read my stories. Often it helps me write better, update faster, and inspires me. So please leave good reviews! Thankies!
Also, go to my profile to find links to my Deviant art page. There you can find pics of my OC Playback.
"Happy accidents? What the frag is so happy about it?"
The mission, while an overall success, had left a Mech severely injured. His chest had caved in from Primus-only-knew-what. Lucky for the patient and his symbiotic partners, all Cassetticons had been released to carry out their own parts of the mission and had escaped the ordeal in the same condition as they had left, though their creator's condition was enough to worry them. Seven times already the group of miniature Autobots had stormed the Medbay, demanding news of Blaster's condition, and seven times Ratchet had to throw them out (literally and figuratively.)
Blaster's mission had been to monitor the Decepticon frequencies and relaying anything the 'Cons sent through to tactical command. His last communication reported the Decepticon's position would cross the awaiting Autobot ambush at a designated time. Half way though the report, Blaster's voice cut short and his line went silent. Scouts were sent to locate the communications officer and they found him laying prone on a ridge overlooking the road way, his chest having been smashed in. His cassettes were commed and told to abandon their assignments and return. None of them were at all happy to see what had happened to Blaster.
When Ratchet first saw the poor slagger, he didn't know what to make of it. When he saw it, his spark lurched with dread. Such an injury would have killed any Mech. But it didn't kill him. Blaster's spark casing had been crushed, but was mostly intact and was salvageable. As soon as the medic saw this injury, he hastily patched it up. All medical readings of the patient were within acceptable ranges, though his fuel pump rate was a little faster then he would have liked.
Nevertheless, after an orn of recovery Blaster was released and out on light duty.
But he was back in the Medbay six joors later.
"What happened?" Ratchet demanded as the figure was carried into the Medbay and hauled up onto a berth.
"He just collapsed," Ironhide said, "Right there at his station."
"Did he show any signs of pain before he passed out?"
"No. Just konk! out like a light."
Ratchet pressed a button on Blaster's shoulder and barked down at his chest. "All right you little cretins up and out, I need to get in there."
The newly repaired panel on Blaster's chest obediently opened and four cassettes flew out, transforming in mid-air to land on the floor at the medic's feet.
Eject, Rewind, Ramhorn, and Steeljaw all looked up grudgingly at the red and white medic.
"What's wrong with him?" Eject demanded.
"I don't know," Ratchet said, "That's why I need you four to get the frag out of here so I can work!"
"Frag you!" Ramhorn barked. "We're not going anywhere!"
"Yeah! Besides, what about—" Rewind was cut off by a furious "Get out!" from Ratchet. To add bite to his bark, Ratchet kicked his leg out towards the cassettes, but purposefully held back so he didn't unintentionally add to the trauma list. The cassettes jumped back in surprise, but did not fully retreat. Ramhorn stood his ground, leering at the larger Mech.
"Get on," Ratchet snapped, "Git!"
Eject and Rewind exchanged nervous and offended glances before making their way cautiously towards the exit. Rewind paused and looked back as if to say something but Ironhide nudged the small 'Bot forward with his foot.
"Go on," The red Autobot said flatly. "Before you end up on a medical berth too."
Begrudgingly, he retreated. Turning around, Ironhide walked up to Ramhorn and tapped him with his foot. "C'mon, you heard 'im."
Ramhorn turned to level a dark glare upon the Mech. Iironhide returned the glare and for a long moment, they had a staring contest. It wasn't until Ratchet chucked a well aimed wrench at the cassette's head that Ramhorn broke away and followed his brothers out the door.
Ironhide fell in behind the cassettes when he noticed that still one was missing. Turning back, he saw Steeljaw sitting on the floor at the edge of Blaster's berth, staring up at the immobile Mech.
Frowning, Ironhide backtracked and scooped the four legged Autobot up, holding him in the crook of one elbow. "C'mon, Jaws. You too."
Steeljaw only gave out a worried whimper as Ironhide carried him out of the Medbay.
"How's ol' Blasty doin' then 'Hide?" Jazz asked the solemn looking Mech as he ambled into the room after two thoroughly disheartened looking cassettes, a very peevish Ramhorn, and Steeljaw resting limply in his arms. When the door slid closed behind him, Ironhide lowered himself and put the golden cassette down next to Rewind and Eject. Ramhorn found a corner to seethe in.
The conference room was not in use and Jazz had been using the quiet space to catch up on some reports and tedious paper work. A view screen adorned the far wall, the Autobot sigil staring out from the surface. A large table stretched down the room with chairs lined around it. Jazz occupied one such chair, leaning back nonchalantly with his feet resting on the table, as he wrote out his reports onto a data-pad.
"Dunno," was the gruff reply from the red armored Mech, "Doc chased us out the moment we got 'im on a' berth."
The blue glow of Jazz's visor dimmed and he nodded his understanding. The Saboteur looked down at the Cassettes who had gathered around the legs of his chair and sat on the floor looking all like the world had just collapsed on them. Jazz spared them a smile as he asked, "How you guys doin' then?"
From his corner, Ramhorn snorted.
Next to Blaster, Jazz was one of the few Mechs the cassettes really felt connected to and regularly socialized with. Jazz and Blaster were similar in their personalities and behaviorisms and it was this fact that lead many to assume that this was the reason.
Eject grunted, his arms crossed, and he glared out at the empty air. "How do you think we feel?"
Steeljaw whimpered his answer, his head resting on his front paws.
Rewind rested his hands in his lap, twiddling his thumbs impatiently. "Something's wrong with Blaster…really wrong…"
Eject made a low scoffing and turned to his brother. "Really? I would have never guessed."
Rewind glanced at him and his optics narrowed, "You know what I mean! Just before he passed out, his Spark energy spiked…like it fluttered…it was weird."
Eject considered his brother's words for a moment and the anger and frustration subsided into thoughtful contemplation. "Was that what it was? I thought he'd just…I dunno…got a little shock from the consol or something. It's happened before."
"But you felt it right?" Rewind asked.
Eject nodded absently. "I wonder what it was…"
Steeljaw rose from his place on the floor and wandered over to Rewind, flopping down beside him and laying his head on his brother's leg. Rewind fondly patted the gold 'Bot on the head, "I know buddy. I know."
When he came back online, everything hurt. Every gear and gyro in his limbs ached, ever servo and cog in his chassis throbbed. He felt as though he'd been run over by a rampaging gestalt. He activated his optics and moaned as a sharp pain shot through his processor. Primus how long had he been offline? The dim lights of the recovery room stared back at him and he sighed. Carefully, he turned his head. He caught sight of a closed door and sighed again.
As he lay in the darkness, he couldn't help but feel a sense of déjà vu about the situation. Before he could further ponder the feeling, however, the door parted with an automatic hiss and the bright lights of the main 'bay flooded the room. A shadowed figure, features silhouetted against the light, stood in the threshold. Bright blue optics peered out at him.
"What's up Doc?" Blaster asked with a mild smirk.
"Not you," Ratchet replied, striding into the room and the doors closed behind him. Ratchet went to a small panel next to the doorway and turned a knob and the lights in the room grew brighter until they matched those of the main bay. Room properly illuminated, the red and white Mech made his way over to the injured Mech's birth. "You had a major relapse."
Blaster blinked. "So what does that mean…?"
"When I repaired your chest, there was still an injury that wasn't repaired," Ratchet explained, his voice sounding oddly gloomy. "It was a major injury that I carelessly overlooked during the initial repairs. It could have very well killed you. Thank Primus it didn't."
Blaster reached up to place a comforting hand on the medic's arm, "C'mon now Doc, don't go getting all fritzed at yerself, OK? It was an honest mistake and you patched me up again, right? Good as new."
Instead of finding comfort in the Mech's assurances, Ratchet only seemed to grow more dejected. "There's more Blaster."
"The injury? It wasn't your shell that was damaged; it was your spark," Ratchet explained. Blaster remained silent and Ratchet took it as a cue to continue, "Your spark chamber had been crushed inwards, that is most likely to be how it happened, but the trauma of your injury caused your spark to fracture."
Blaster simply stared for a moment before muttering, "Well slag, that sucks. I'm not gonna keel over or anythin' am I? You fixed it right?"
Ratchet shifted on his feet and shook his head. "There was nothing I could have done, but no you won't deactivate. You'll be in here for another orn recovering, but you will recover. The fractured piece broke off before I could do anything about it, that's why you collapsed."
Blaster suddenly knew why the situation seemed eerily familiar. This had happened before, four times in fact, but they hadn't been any accidents. His spark hadn't been fractured either, it had been purposefully split. And from those four splits, a Cassetticon was born; Eject, Rewind, Ramhorn, and Steeljaw.
As if on cue, the doors to the room opened and the familiar form of Wheeljack stepped through, a cylindrical glass container in his arms; a spark cradle.
A small, bright little light, like a new born star, blinked cheerfully out from behind the clear glass. It floated peacefully in the stillness of its cradle.
Blaster stared at it, mouth agape in disbelief. "So does that mean…I'm…it's a…uh…"
Ratchet sighed and smiled at Blaster, clasping his hand reassuringly on the stunned Mech's shoulder. "Congratulations, Blaster. You're a father. Again."
"Careful, she bites."
It was unanimously decided that Blaster's 'happy accident' would be kept a secret until he was released from the Medbay, even from the other cassettes. Hopefully by then, Ratchet and Wheeljack would have been able to create a body for the new spark.
As the pair struggled to iron out the details of explaining Blaster's absence (which had been near impossible with Blaster's Cassettes trying to barge into the Medbay every other joor to check up on him), maintaining their regular duties (like patching up Sideswipe's sorry aft after he teased a retreating Decepticon one too many times), and designing and building a new body (a Cassetticon body no less!), Blaster spent his time staring at the little ball of light happily floating in the spark cradle. Still feeling the effects of separation, Blaster had to recharge twice as much as he had before the fracture to regain lost energy. Nevertheless, he looked forward to welcoming his new sparkling to the world.
At first, he had felt somehow doomed at the news that he would have another cassette. He worried what long terms affect this would have on him. When his spark had been split the first time, he'd been warned that splitting a spark was dangerous and potentially lethal with unforeseeable repercussions. At the time, spark splitting was a relatively new procedure and the implications of it were not fully known or understood. Even nowadays, spark splitting was considered reckless and unnecessary. But as time went on, and he began to thin about it, Blaster became excited.
He couldn't keep the smile from his face whenever he looked into the cradle at the little spark. So perfect, so beautiful.
What would he name it?
And then came the dawning realization that this sparkling would be brought into life during the midst of civil war. His other cassettes had been created before the war had escalated to the heights it was not at. And what's more, he was a soldier. He had duties and responsibilities that dictated his life. How was he going to take care of a sparkling while fighting a war at the same time? The question bothered him, but he kept it silent and to himself. He would find a way. He had to.
"Mech or Femme?" Ratchet asked.
Blaster looked up at the medic for a moment. "What?"
"You want it to be a Mech or a Femme?"
Blaster thought about it for a moment and sat up on the berth, taking a glance at the cradle and the spark inside. "I dunno. I'd have to think about it."
Ratchet's systems vented the past orn's frustration in a sigh. "It's one or the other Blaster. Choose."
Blaster reached over to the table beside his berth and gently picked up the cradle. He held it in his lap, peering into the shining light for an answer. Like all his Cassettes, they were apart of him, and he knew things about them without having to be told. He looked for the answer inside the little spark, knowing he would get it with a little searching.
He felt a jump of elation when the Spark pulsed, almost as if in response to his own spark's probing. He smiled.
"Femme," he said at last. "She's a Femme."
Ratchet grunted in assent and exited the small room, leaving Blaster to fawn over the little spark.
Her small silver face was framed by a round helm, a single vent jetting out the top. Square shoulders connected to a midsection which then connected to a pelvis. Silver thighs led into strong and study legs, tiny arms laying prone at her sides. Her armor was a muted grey, having not been painted yet, and there was no light in her tiny optics, her spark not having been installed.
Ratchet couldn't help but smile at the little femme, proud of his part in her construction.
Blaster stood just to the side of the medic while Wheeljack stood on the other. Both medic and engineer glanced at Blaster, who clutched the spark cradle in his arms.
"Ready?" Ratchet asked.
Blaster nodded. "More then."
Ratchet turned to the little shell and carefully opened the chest armor. It pulled away, revealing the empty spark casing. Using a tweezer-like tool at the end of his finger, Ratchet reached in to open the casing so the shell was ready to accept the animating spark. Turning to Blaster, the medic made a motion to take the cradle from him, but Blaster shied away.
Ratchet frowned. "What?"
"Let me do it," Blaster insisted. Ratchet wanted to protest for a moment, wanting to tell him that he had no medical programming and it was unsafe for him to do so, but Ratchet reasoned with himself.
"Alright, you can put her Spark in," Ratchet conceded, but was quick to add, "But I do the rest after that. I'm not gonna have you messing the kid up before she's even online."
"That's all I ask," Blaster replied. Gently placing the cradle on the table before him, Blaster opened the extracted the glowing sphere. The light was cupped in his hands and he stared into its depths for a moment before making his way over to the shell; Ratchet and Wheeljack back away to give the Mech room.
Standing over the little body, Blaster carefully lowered his hands and gently placed the spark into the awaiting casing. As soon as the spark had left Blaster's hands, Ratchet pushed the Mech aside to finish the installation.
Blue optics flickered to life and a faint shiver ran down the length of the small form as energy coursed through her systems for the first time. Three pairs of optics peered down at her and she chirped at them, almost instinctively.
That seemed to make them happy as they all smiled at her. Except for the one without a mouth, but something in his optics told her he was smiling. So she chirped again and their smiled brightened and they laughed.
She rolled over and pushed herself up, looking at the world around her. She made a string of chirps and clicks as she looked around, as if asking 'what is that?'
She squeaked in surprise when she was suddenly picked up. The hands holding her turned her around and she looked up into a silver face, framed by a red helm. Blue optics met and stared. Somehow, she knew that face. She knew him.
"Hey there," Blaster said warmly. She chirped at him happily and reached out a small hand and grabbed his nose. Blaster didn't even so much as flinch at the small touch. His smile widened and he laughed. She imitated the sound, emitting a high pitched giggle and she smiled proudly when the other two Mechs laughed too.
"She's certainly a cheerful little thing isn't she?" the Mech with no mouth chuckled. She looked at the happily blinking lights on the sides of his head, mesmerized. She reached out to them, little hands grasping air as she prattled electronic clicks and chirps that was sparkling-speech.
"I think she likes your vocal indicators Wheeljack," Blaster laughed and obligingly held her up to the Mech. She reached out and touched one of the fins. It wasn't glowing.
So she smacked it.
"Hey!" Wheeljack flinched and his vocal indicators lit up, causing the little sparkling to giggle happily, clicking at the Mech as if to say 'Again! Again!' She continuously smacked her little hand against the panel, trying to get it to light up again until Blaster pulled her away.
"Hey now, stop that." he told her, "That's not nice."
She looked up and clicked at him bemusedly.
"Not nice, you don't hit," He told her sternly. Blaster sent an apologetic look to battered Mech, "Sorry 'bout that 'Jack."
"It's okay," Wheeljack muttered dismissively, nursing his abused panels.
"Let me see her for a breem," the third Mech said, stepping up to Blaster and holding his hands out as if to take her. "I need to run a few tests to make sure her systems and functioning as they should and she's calibrated properly."
Blaster's black hands released her to the white hands of the unknown Mech who sat her atop the table in a sitting position before him. He kept one hand one her as if he were keeping her from toppling over. She sat there and watched him curiously as he pulled out a strange looking tool from thin air. It was small and thin, like a metal stick, and he pressed the small rounded tip to her small forearm.
A small jolt went through her and she jumped, squeaking and clicking in protest. The Mech didn't seem to even register her discomfort as he moved the tool to her other arm… and did it again! She jolted as the small current raced through her systems. She narrowed her optics at him.
"Servos in both arms are aligned correctly," He said aloud. He moved the tool to her leg and she pulled it away before he could shock her. The Mech looked at her and frowned. He moved the tool again towards her leg and she moved it back.
"Stay still," He told her moving the tool towards her other leg. She clicked at him in offense and reached out to slap the shocking stick away.
She began to wiggle against the Mech's hand that held her and his frown deepened into a scowl. He sat the shocking stick down and held her with both hands. "Calm down and stop wiggling…"
She kicked and chirped as she tried to pry the fingers off of her.
"Ratchet, maybe I should—" Blaster began, but was cut off by Ratchet's surprised cry of "Hey!"
"What happened?" Wheeljack asked.
"She bit me!"
"How do you turn it off?"
The carefree sparking sat atop the table's surface, gulping down formulated low-grade as fast as she could take it in; it was her third refueling in the last joor. Nearby, Ratchet finished up Blaster's last check up before he would be cleared for release and closed his chest panel back into place. While the medic did his thing, Blaster kept a cautious optic on the little femme. She was barely out of arms reach, but even then, he still felt wary about her being so far away. Across the room, Wheeljack was writing down something onto a data-pad, and even he occasionally glanced up to make sure the small femme was still in the same place. Lucky for the three present Mechs, the sparkling was much more interested in her low-grade then anything else that might have otherwise caused her to wander and was content to stay where she was. For now.
"That should do it," Ratchet declared finally as flicked his wrist, pulling out a rag from subspace and wiping his hands off. "Spark readings are normal, no visible or detectable cracks, and I've installed a special monitor next to the chamber. If another fracture develops, it'll let me know…" He tapped the side of his helm, indicating to the data uplink that the device ran to his processor. "That way we can fix it before there are anymore…" his optics flickered over to the sparkling and frowned slightly, "…happy accidents."
Blaster nodded his understanding, muttered a quick thank you, and rose from his seat. He walked the few steps to the table and brushed the top of the little femme's head. Low-grade bottle still firmly placed in her mouth, she turned and looked up at Blaster with her large sapphire optics.
Blaster smiled down at her. "You're too cute for your own good, you know that?"
She just stared at him, happily sucking on the low-grade bottle, seemingly unaware of the meaning behind the comment. Ratchet stepped up beside him, still wiping off his hands, and asked, "Have you thought of a name for her yet?"
"Came up with a few," Blaster admitted, "But I dunno. It's seems kinda earlier to be picking a name."
"Might I suggest calling her Nibbler?" Ratchet smirked.
Blaster laughed. "I'll put it in the 'for consideration' pile."
"Well, I guess we can let the others in on the big news," Ratchet said, sounding somewhat resigned. "I don't know how much longer it'll take before Ramhorn finally breaks down the doors."
"I'm kinda surprised he hasn't," Blaster said.
"I asked Jazz to keep 'em busy while you were 'recovering'," Ratchet told him as he subspaced the rag, "I would have let them in on it before hand, but Rewind can't keep a secret worth scrap. No offense."
"None taken," Blaster replied with a smile. "Have you told Prime?"
"I'm readying the report right now," Wheeljack called out from his place across the room. "I'll be giving it to him before I give the revised recovery list to Prowl. I'll bet you five credits Red Alert blows a gasket when he finds out we didn't submit a request for approval before proceeding with the construction."
"If I have to fix that maniac's overheated processor again," Ratchet muttered darkly, "I'm gonna cut a hole in his cranium so he gets better circulation."
A small chirped pulled the Mechs' attention to the table. The sparkling has risen to her feet and was tapping the empty low-grade bottle against Blaster's chest. When she was certain all optics were on her, she chirped again, lifting the bottle up.
"It's empty?" Blaster asked incredulously. "We just filled it!"
Ratchet raised an optic ridge at the communications officer.
"Has it really been that long since you were around a new spark?" Ratchet asked, taking the empty. "They're little black holes when it comes to fuel."
"I don't remember Steeljaw ever drinking this much," Blaster replied. "Rewind and Eject, maybe. But with two of 'em it was kinda hard to keep up with 'em at all."
"Her systems need a lot of fuel before she can operate at full capacity, but her l tank is too small to accommodate the amount of low-grade required to reach that point. She'll keep drinking until her tank backs up," Ratchet said grumpily. "So we can't giver her anymore for another half joor or we'll have half-processed low-grade all over the place."
"Noted." Blaster said, grimacing at the mental image.
"She should fall into recharge any breem now."
The sparkling had not stopped her attempts and was still pleading for the bottle to be refilled. Blaster shook his head at her and she redoubled her efforts. She whined and hopped up and down, hefting the bottle up pleadingly.
"You can have some more, later," Blaster told her as he took the bottle, "Not right now. After you recharge OK?"
She looked up at the Mech despairingly, bottom lip quivering. Blaster shied back, remembering this particular function of a new spark. One he was not entirely happy to experience again.
She tilted her head back…and cried.
(Author's notes) Now think of a Cybertronian like an Automobile. Because Cybertronians, like cars, do not possess tear ducts, they cannot technically cry. However, sparklings are outfitted with a special function, that cars also possess, which acts in the very same way crying does for baby humans; Alarms. So think of Playback's 'crying' as sounding like a car alarm, because it's pretty damn close. (/Author's notes)
The high pitched wailing caused everyone to flinch and rush to cover their audio receptors from the auditory assault. Blaster reached down and put down the bottle before scooping the offended sparkling up.
"C'mon now," He soothed, though he wasn't entirely sure she could hear him over her own screams. "Don't cry. You're alright…"
The screams continued unabated.
He gently bounced her in an attempt to calm her. The crying lowered a few decibels as she looked up at him, her optics flickering. He smiled at her, "See? You're alright."
She whimpered and clicked at him, pointing to the bottle.
Blaster pulled her to his chest and held her there, gently swaying as he continued to coax her from her tantrum. As he continued to murmur comforting nothings to her, her wails grew softer and softer. Small hands reached around Blaster's neck and she nuzzled her small head under his chin. The faint whimpers slowly morphed into a soft purring and then…she was asleep.
For a long moment, no one spoke or even dared to move.
"See?" Ratchet smirked.
"I had forgotten how…fickle sparkling can get," Wheeljack said quietly. "Throwing a maelstrom of a tantrum one breem, then out like a light the next."
"Thank Primus for small favors," Blaster sighed as he tried to pry the sleeping sparkling from his chassis to lay her on the table. But she wouldn't budge. Several small yanks yielded no progress and beside him, Ratchet and Wheeljack quietly chuckled.
"I think you're stuck with her Blaster," Wheeljack said.
Blaster sat back down in the chair, sighing as he accepted his role as impromptu recharging berth.
"In more ways then one," Ratchet added.
Jazz ambled down the hall way at a leisurely pace. In his wake followed four eager looking cassettes.
The saboteur had been volunteered by Ratchet to watch the four miniature Autobots while Blaster recuperated from whatever it was that had caused his condition. It had been a tiring orn, especially with Ramhorn being all out of sorts. But he always was out of sorts. Rewind and Eject did their best to distract themselves from worrying by keeping busy. Most of which consisted of taking up odd and tedious work loads. Ramhorn kept to himself, spending most of the time grumbling in a corner or stalking the Medbay entrance. When Steeljaw wasn't following one of his brothers around, he was at Jazz's side, laying down and sulking mostly.
"Did Ratchet say what was wrong with him?" Rewind asked as he tried to keep pace with the larger transformer.
"Nope," Jazz replied simply. "The Doc just said to escort ya'll to th' 'Bay to see 'im."
"I bet Blaster made us stay away," Ramhorn snorted, "He was probably too embarrassed to admit he fainted."
"He didn't faint," Eject said. "He collapsed."
"No it isn't," Rewind interjected, "Fainting is when—"
"Oh for Primus' sake, I know what it is!"
"Then why did—"
"Why don't we just save all that aggression for the 'Cons?" Jazz asked, glancing down at them. "How 'bout it, fellas?"
Ramhorn just grumbled.
The rest of the walk was in silence.
When they reached the Medbay, they were quite surprised to see that Blaster was no where in sight. Ratchet was wiping down one of the tables when Jazz entered, followed by the Cassetticons.
"Where's Blaster?" Ramhorn demanded.
Ratchet frowned at the small 'Bot, unappreciative of his tone.
"He's in the back room," He said and then smirked as he added, "Getting your surprise ready."
"Our surprise?" Eject asked. "What surprise?"
"Did he get an upgrade or something?" Rewind asked.
Ratchet just leaned against the table with his arms crossed; he shook his head and smiled knowingly. "I'm not saying a word."
Ramhorn growled and charged across the room towards the back room, "Fine!"
Before the grouchy cassette could reach the door, however, it opened with a hiss. Ramhorn braked hard, skidding to a halt before he plowed into Blaster's feet.
"Hey buddy!" Blaster's voice called cheerfully. "What's up?"
Ramhorn looked up to give Blaster the verbal recrimination he'd been practicing for the past orn, but paused before he could vocalize one word of it. Tiny blue optics peered down at him curiously from a small silver face and Ramhorn's mouth fell open as he beheld the small figure in Blaster's arms.
Blaster picked up on the cassette's astonishment and smiled.
Rewind, Eject, and Steeljaw all came trampling up to stand next to their brother, their faces plastered with the same stunned look. The little figure in their creator's arms stared back at them with growing apprehension. It pressed closer to Blaster as if trying to hide from their staring optics.
Blaster lowered himself into a crouch and gently sat the little figure on its feet in front of them.
For a moment, they all just stared at each other. Then the new cassette turned and ran to Blaster, diving behind his leg and peering out at the others from behind his bulk. Blaster laughed and reached back to pull the little one back out in the open, pushing it closer to the others.
"Guys," Blaster announced, "Meet your new sister; Playback."
A moment of silence passed during which no one moved.
Playback stared her brothers. The Cassettes stared at their sister.
Steeljaw took a tentative step forward, olfactory sensors taking in her scent. As the golden cassette approached, Playback whimpered and tried to back away, but misstepped and fell down onto her back side with an 'oof'. Looking up and seeing Steeljaw less then an arms length away, she squeaked in surprise. Steeljaw came up beside her, and rubbed his head against her shoulder as he purred. Playback looked at him, bewildered as he rubbed against her and nuzzled his snout against her head. Playback giggled and shied away playfully before reaching up and wrapping her arms around Steeljaw's neck, returning the gesture. She seemed to have lost all apprehension she may have had about them as she clicked and chirped happily.
"S-sister?" Ramhorn stammered. "This is why you've been MIA for the last orn?"
Blaster laughed. "Yep. It takes time to fabricate a shell, y'know."
Rewind and Eject sat down on either side of their sister and they suddenly found themselves promptly glommed by the gray bundle of giggles.
Blaster reached around and pushed Ramhorn closer. "Go on, say hello."
Ramhorn found himself face to face with his new sister and likewise, Playback came face to face with her fourth and final brother. Before he could so much as greet her, Playback flew forward and hugged him, chirping excitedly as she cuddled up to him.
Ratchet and Jazz, standing a little ways off, were watching the scene with growing amusement. When Playback snuggled against Ramhorn, both Mechs tilted their heads and, in a mocking tone, said, "Awwww…"
Ramhorn snapped his head around to glare at them. "Shut up!"
"That's not very nice," Jazz told him with a disapproving wag of his finger, "You wouldn't wanna give yer little sis a bad impression now would ya?"
Ramhorn was about to reply when Playback leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek.
The resulting roar of laughter could be heard all the way down the hall and beyond.
"Aw, she so cute when she's not wreaking havoc."
Memos were sent out all over the Hub to announce Blaster's newest addition to his Cassettes along with a hefty requisition on appropriate conduct. The majority of the response yielded only a mild reaction of pleasant surprise and a half hearted congratulations while some others couldn't give a scarp. The last party, however, were absolutely ecstatic at the news, wanting to see the new spark for themselves. Of course, Ratchet was very adamant that Playback be introduced to the resident Autobots little by little as her processor was still developing and such abrupt exposure could lead to unpleasant and unforeseeable side effects. Optimus Prime, having also heard Ratchet's warning, politely requested an audience with the young femme at a time to be later designated.
The medic found the Prime's choice of words amusing and sent the commander a memo in response, explaining the commander was free to come down to the Bay and see her whenever his schedule allowed for it; Which did not look to be anytime in the next orn if the amount of enemy activity was any indication.
Blaster was perfectly content to allow Ratchet to handle the business part of Playback's reveal as he was still juggling around the more physical demands she required, namely keeping her refueled and entertained and out of trouble.
Having successfully reached the point of full functioning capacity, Playback became (in Ratchet's brilliant choice of words) a walking unnatural disaster. Once awakening from a full recharge, she would gulp down a bottle of low grade and promptly spend the next joor running around the Medbay floor, exploring every room and every crevasse, crate, shelf, and table within. Then she would take a break and gulped down another bottle, starting the process all over again before falling into an abrupt recharge. Several times, a concerned Blaster and Ratchet found the little bundle of wires quietly snoozing under a table or inside a cabinet. It was all very taxing.
Primus forbid she ever got hold of any of Ratchet's tools. The first time the medic had confiscated his laser scalpel from her, she cried and it took five breems and an Energon goodie to calm her down. The second time, she simply huffed at the medic and when he wagged his finger at her, beginning to explain why she couldn't play with it, she chomped down on the taunting digit.
It was becoming an effective habit of hers in showing her displeasure.
The time for Blaster to return to active duty came and he had to leave the sparkling in Ratchet's tender care until his shift ended. With his own schedule making it near impossible for him to help, Wheeljack left the medic to carryout his first tour of spark-sitting duties solo.
Apparently, it had not gone well.
Upon entering the Medbay after what seemed like the longest shift ever, Blaster found himself face to face with Ratchet. The medic's face was frozen in the most severe scowl he had ever seen, optics pale, and systems revving moodily. He held Playback out at arm's length to the red Mech.
"Never again," He growled, "Will I be left to watch this Primus forsaken spark. Leave one of the other Cassettes behind with her from now on."
And that was all he would say on the matter, but Blaster could have sworn he saw chips in his paint along his arms and ankles that looked eerily like tiny bite marks.
He could not have been more uncomfortable even if he'd been painted bright pink and strung up in the rec room. Ramhorn, as it was well known throughout the Hub, was never in a happy mood. It was simply his nature, like Ironhide or Ratchet, to be generally crusty and moody. He sat on the floor, not moving an increment, as he allowed his new sparkling sister to 'play doctor', with him being the, unwilling, patient.
She clicked and squeaked happily as she examined his armor for nonexistent damage. Once every so often, she would declare with a worried chirp that she had found a 'boo-boo' and pretend to weld it close and then kiss the spot that had been 'mended'. At Ratchet's not so gentle request, Blaster had left one of the Cassettes behind to watch Playback and Ramhorn just happened to be the lucky winner.
But no matter how long she pretended to fix him and cover him in kisses, no matter how many Mechs wandered into the Medbay looking for Ratchet only to find Ramhorn of all Mechs being fawned over by a tiny femme, no matter how degrading it made him feel, no matter how much he wished she would, he never told her to stop. He asked himself why he couldn't just yell the little twerp off and go find a quiet corner to nap in, but he couldn't answer himself and even more, he couldn't bring himself to raise his voice at her. Whenever he turned his head to snap at her, those big blue optics would make him freeze and then promptly melt.
So he endured.
Playback patted him on the head, chirping.
"Uh…yeah…thanks Playback," Ramhorn answered in a low voice. "I feel…uh…better now."
Playback clicked happily before walking over to the small pile of things Ratchet had left for her in vain hope they would somehow occupy her attention more then other more dangerous objects would. She sat down amongst the stray bolts and cogs and picked up the end of a long piece of scrap Energon filament. The strand of condensed energy glowed faintly and it seemed to have become her favorite play thing. She wrapped the piece of glowing thread around her shoulders, chirping as she tried to tie the ends together.
Ramhorn watched his sister with a wary optic as she seemed to try and tie herself up, but as she was obviously content in her pursuits, he let her be. At least he wasn't the object of her humiliating attention anymore.
The Medbay doors opened and the room was instantly filled with the sound of bickering voices muddle with the clangs of shuffling feet.
Playback's attention was diverted to the three Mechs that had marched into the Medbay, seemingly unaware of anyone else's presence, let alone hers. When Ramhorn spotted the red and yellow frames, he cringed and begged Primus for mercy and to smite him then and there.
"—me miss the 'Con!"
"Me? You're the lousy shot!"
"I had him right in my sights, if you're florescent chassis hadn't gotten in my way I would have slagged the—"
"Sideswipe!" Ironhide barked.
"What?" The red Mech asked, twirling around to face the other red Mech that followed behind the pair. Ironhide pointed a swift finger over to where Playback sat on the floor, Energon filament draped around her shoulders, and gnawed on a metal cog. For a moment, Sideswipe merely stared before it seemed to finally settle in. "Oh…"
His yellow counterpart peeked over his shoulder to glance down at the sparkling. Playback's blue optics peered up at them curiously, all the while munching on the gear like it was an Energon goodie.
"Who's that?" The yellow one said, optics narrowing in suspicion.
"Her name is Playback," Ramhorn interjected, revealing his presence in the room. He got up and walked over to Playback, sitting beside her like a watchful guard.
Sideswipe grinned. "Oh! Right, I forgot about Blaster's little accident. Huh. Didn't know it was a femme."
Ramhorn's optics narrowed. He wanted to snap 'she isn't an accident!' but stopped himself. In truth that is what she was, but it seemed…cold to say it aloud; especially with her around. He just sat there fuming as he silently wished the two troublesome twits would leave and take grumbling grouch-head with him.
Sideswipe strode forward and crouched down in front of Playback. She just stared up at him, the size difference between them seeming to have no effect on her. Sideswipe reached out and gently scratched the top of her helm as he smiled at her. She pulled the cog from her mouth and offered it to the Mech with a chirp.
"Uh…no thanks," he said and the little cassette placed it back in her mouth and continued to gnaw on the metal.
"Where's Ratchet?" Ironhide asked Ramhorn as he stepped around Sideswipe.
"He stepped out about a breem ago," Ramhorn answered peevishly.
"Did he say where he was going or when he'd be back?"
Ironhide frowned at the little cassette, but didn't press the issue.
"Fine," He said, tuning to the twins, "Sunstreaker, Sideswipe; you'll just have to wait here for 'im. Don't make any trouble. I ain't bailin' you two out again."
Sideswipe stood up and huffed in mock offense, "Why Ironhide, I am hurt! How could—"
"Save it," Ironhide said to the red warrior. A tapping on his leg pulled his gaze downward. Playback was tapping on his leg armor and running one small hand over the seam in the plating; a lingering scar from a past mission. Playback clicked at him, rubbing the seam.
Ironhide just stared at her. "What is it, shortie?"
She chirped at him.
Ironhide squinted one optic in confusion.
"She wants to know if your leg's alright," Ramhorn rumbled, seeming to be the only Mech present who was capable of deciphering Playback's way of communicating.
Ironhide looked at the red and yellow cassette and then back down to the sparkling. "It's fine, squirt. Just a scar."
She continuously ran her hands along it, still chirping worriedly.
Beside him, Sideswipe snickered, "Aww, ain't dat cute? She's worried about old iron-aft scratches."
Ironhide smacked the cocky Mech upside the head and snarled, "If her first words turn out to be obscenities, it'll be your bumper welded to the ceiling. Not mine."
Sideswipe rubbed his abused cranium, "Right…"
Ironhide turned to leave, but a weight on his leg caused him to pause. He looked down to find Playback perched atop his foot, still fretting over the scarred armor.
"Rides over squirt, get off," He said. Playback pointed to his leg again. "I'm fine."
She shook her head.
"No? What do you mean no?" Ironhide grumbled, shaking his leg slightly, but it failed to dislodge the tiny clinging femme. "I told ya I'm fine. Now off with ya. Now."
She just chirped hugged his leg.
Ironhide stopped, sighed, and turned to Sideswipe, "Get her off."
The red warrior grinned. "What do you say?"
"Now! Before I loose my temper."
"Alright, alright!" Sideswipe bent down and took a hold of Playback and pulled, but she wouldn't budge. She clicked and chirped in offense at the red Mech that was trying to remove her. Beside him, Ramhorn was watching the precession with growing anger and it took all his will power not to charge the prying Mech.
Scowling, Sideswipe pulled harder. Finally Playback came loose with a pop! Sideswipe flew backwards, landing on his behind and toppling back to lay on the floor. Once free of the sparkling, Ironhide strode quickly for the door and disappeared into the hallway before Playback's protests and chirps compelled him to stay.
Sideswipe held the sparkling above him at arms length, studying her gray frame. She turned her bright blue optics down at the red Mech and chirped at him.
"What?" He asked.
She chirped again, wiggling a little and reaching out with her hand. Her little hands grasped at the air. Sideswipe sat up and brought the little femme closer.
"What?" He asked again. Playback reached out and grabbed his nose, giggling.
He narrowed his optics, unamused.
"Ha ha, yeah. Hilarious," Sideswipe said, "Now gimme my nose back."
Sideswipe pulled the little femme away from his face, but her little hands wouldn't let go. His optics narrowed further. "C'mon now," He tugged lightly, "You need to let go. C'mon…"
Playback merely giggled. In the corner, Ramhorn sat and watched the proceedings with vengeful glee.
Despairingly, Sideswipe turned to his brother with pleading optics. "Sunny…"
Sunstreaker was casually leaning against one of the Medbay tables, watching his brother try to wrestle the sparkling off his olfactory sensor. His optics narrowed.
"What do you want me to do?" He asked.
"Get her off!" Sideswipe replied as he shook his head in a vain and feeble attempt to remove Playback. Sunstreaker merely stared, face blank and placid, for a long moment until he sighed and pushed himself away from the table. As he past by a counter, he swiftly picked up one of the low-grade bottles sitting there and continued on striding over to his brother. Crouching down with a lackluster expression, Sunstreaker waved the bottle in front of Playback.
The little femme canted her head back and looked at the teasing container with eager optics that followed the bottle in a back and forth motion. She squeaked and tried to reach for it with her free hand, but fell short. She let go of Sideswipe's nose and tried again with both hands, still falling short. She began to fuss in the Mech's hands and before she could bring her tantrum to full swing, Sunstreaker reached out and took her from his brother, holding her in the crook of one elbow. Wordlessly, the golden warrior stood and walked back over to the table he'd been leaning against with Playback whining and continuously trying to grab the still out of reach bottle in the Mech's other hand.
Sunstreaker leaned back against the table and in one fluid motion he shifted Playback so she lay in the crook of his arm. He gave her the bottle to which she latched onto and tried to pull from his fingers, but the Mech held onto it. After a moment of trying wrestle the bottle away, Playback seemed to give in and started gulping down the deluded fuel.
Sideswipe stared at his brother, flabbergasted.
"Since when did you start being so good with proto-forms?" He asked incredulously.
Sunstreaker didn't look at his twin when he replied, "Since being your brother."