Time Scale: Nano-click: second ; Cycle: Minute ; Groon: an hour ; Mega-cycle: days ; Orn: 13 days ; Steller Cycle: year ; Vorn: 83 years.

= Comm Link =

:: Bond Speak ::

Chapter 16: But a Dream

Rumble blinked his optics on and off sitting there in the sand, sand sinking between plating as confusion rippled through his frame. Where was he? What was he doing here? What was going on?

Frowning, memories foggy and lethargic, he glanced around. He seemed to be in a dark cavern of some kind, light reflecting from somewhere over the stalactites. It was kind of pretty … in a desolate how-the-frag-did-I-get-here kind of way.

Slightly concerned, the cassette slowly pulled himself to his feet and looked around. Yes, he definitely was in a cave of some kind, little shafts of sunlight reflecting off the stone ceiling and reflecting off the crystals strewn about. He could even hear the lapping of water. Turning his helm toward the sound, Rumble found out where the light was coming from … it was a watery entrance of some kind.

Rubbing his optics, mind fuzzy and confused, he started forward towards the rippling pool, small waves hitting against the cave's stone features. Yes, he must be in a sea cave. His sensors were even picking up the salt in the air. He would exit that way. It seemed to be a water entrance, yet when he stood over the perfect pool of lit up blue water, he did not immediately jump in. He stalled. He found he was afraid of the water. For one, it seemed to glow almost like processed energon. The other reason … he couldn't remember. In fact, he didn't want to remember. What could …

Suddenly, there was a stabbing pain in his helm, images reflecting off the glimmering pool. There was a dock surrounded by mist and in the water below … there was a form, a drifting shadow. It was rusting and rotting and-

He stepped back, turning his helm. He did not want to see. He did not want to recall. He did not want any of this! Placing his helm in his hands, hating himself for being such a coward, the young cassette nearly jumped out of his plating when a new sound echoed over the cave walls.

Skkk, skk, tttt …. skkkkkkkcccchhh.

The young mech released his helm, all thoughts fluttering away like a flock of birds. That sound … what was it? It was foreboding and haunting, yet it was almost drowned out by the dripping sound of the cave walls and the rumble of ocean waves just outside. It sounded like scratching … like metal through earth or digits on stone.

Not wanting to be near those blue waters, not wanting to accept the images that would befall him if he took the plunge, Rumble instead turned his helm in the direction of the sound. It almost sounded like bats or some other skittering beast of the world. What else would be in the dark of this cave?

Deciding that marginally anything was better than the pool of memories, the young mech wandered away from the light of the water. The deeper parts of the cave were covered in shadows, darkness, and dampness. There was very, very little light except for his visor … but he followed the sound nonetheless. It seemed to take forever, going around the bends and puddles of the cave until he came upon something in the corner. Something big and bulky. It … it was a mech, had to be, and they had their back to him.

Part of Rumble immediately wondered if he could get the drop on this jerk-former. Yet, such thoughts were immediately banished as light glinted off the other mech's form, revealing the larger bot's paint job. Blue. He knew that color. How could he forget that particular midnight blue? He had known it all his life.

"Boss? … Is that you?" His voice was meek, barely a whisper. Was this the Well of Sparks? Was he being returned to his creator? Had the pain finally ended?

The scratching noise, or digging he would presume given all the displaced sand around Soundwave, stalled but Soundwave did not turn around. Instead, he invented deep and long, vents rattling like they were clogged. It sounded sick and immediately put the cassette on edge.

Swallowing, unnerved as a dread settled in his spark, Rumble turned the brightness up on his visor so that it illuminated the cave like a waxing moon. He immediately regretted the action when he saw the bubbling of rust and decay on the rack's shoulder plates and sides, the internals of his back revealed like a metallic skeleton. How he wasn't oozing energon everywhere was beyond the young mech. All he knew was that his master needed him.

"Boss! Boss!" cried Rumble as he scrambled forward, slipping in the sand while memories tried to prickle at the back of his mind. "Are you hurt?! Boss!"

"Rummmmble," suddenly came a single word, weak and rough like metal scratching on metal.

"Yes, boss! What? What?" cried Rumble as he ran in front of his creator, ready to ask how he could help. Instead, as he stepped in front of his creator, he stalled, his vents catching as he threw his hands over his mouth to silence his scream.

Slowly, visor half cracked and ruined, a single flickering optic turned to him. The cassette rack's face was half ruined, rusted away. Soundwave's face mask was all but gone and his jaw hung limply by a few loose bolts on the unmarred side of his face. You could even see the tubing leading down into his throat, and yet the blue Con's jaw shook as the obviously dead figure struggled to speak. The key term was tried as purple fluid oozed out of his mouth.

To terrified to look, to see that rotting jaw move, Rumble tried to turn and run away, but a rusted arm lashed out grabbing him by a servo. Soundwave then dragged him back to him, ignoring Rumble's hysterical blubbering and pleads to be let go. His creator merely pulled him closer, purple ooze falling down Rumble's chest and face, threatening to fall into his mouth as Soundwave's throat tubing and damaged vocalizer struggled to move.

"Rummmmble, seeee," he finally said as he moved his other hand over Rumble's face, leaving a purple stain. "See his … blood in … me … the old gods come."

Then, before Rumble could even ask what that meant, his creator suddenly lifted him up, revealing a pool of electric-purple fluid behind him. It was what he had been digging up … and then he pushed Rumble in, a dark laugh that did not belong to his creator immedatly echoing in his head.

Beneath the electric energon or mech blood or whatever it was, Rumble felt a presence. It was so old and dark and oh so hungry. Opening his mouth, he tried to scream … but all that did was allow the darkness in and down his throat. It would consume him, spark and all until he was nothing but rust.

Blaster was pulled from recharge with a short cry, batting out in terror as arms tried to hold him down. He didn't know why he was so terrified, but his spark resonated in fear.

Battle protocols coming online, his whole spark screaming for him to protect his charges, that his cassettes were crying out in his chassis, Blaster wasn't met by the sight of an attacker. No, these optics were blue and stern. In fact, they belonged to none other than Ratchet as the medic stood over him. The medic was moving his mouth, trying to speak to him. Immediately, Blaster invented and told his systems to still as he reached out in his bond to make sure all his chargers were safe.

"Blaster, Blaster. Are you okay? Blaster?"

Systems binging back stressed but acceptable, Blaster nodded his helm, his vents still gasping and unable to form words. Just keeping his mind on inventing, the communication's officer allowed Ratchet to exam him, the medic's scans bouncing over him in almost dizzying proportions. It was then that he also noticed that Ironhide and Jazz were behind the medic, both wearing troubled expressions. Blaster immediately looked away from their gazes, hating that that worry was directed at him. He liked to be the life of the party … not the death of it.

Ratchet, as if noticing Blaster discomfort, quickly distracted his patient. "Blaster, are the cassettes alright? Jazz heard you scream and … overrode your door. He thought it was a bad defrag but he couldn't get you to wake and then you started clawing at your chassis. Ironhide then walked by and helped drag you in. Are they alright? Can you open up and let me have a quickly look?"

Still overcome, his CPU struggling to process what had happened, Blaster looked down at his chassis. His red paint job had been mauled. Luckily, it just looked like superficial damage, nothing extensive and obviously self-inflicted. Instantly, though, he started worrying about the youngest in his chassis. He now knew the origin of the terror in his spark. It was from the bond. Rumble was wailing into the connection, trying to grasp at anything for comfort. He was absolutely terrified. If Blaster opened his chassis right now, Rumble would likely run like a frightened deer.

The bond was forming nicely, but Blaster doubted it was strong enough to allow Rumble to wander more than a few meters from him or one of his new siblings quite yet. If Rumble panicked in his fear and ran away from the Ark? Blaster didn't want to think about the consequences. A shattered bond could be catastrophic for someone Rumble's age.

Placing a hand on his chassis, shaking his helm, Blaster vented a few more times before he was able to choke, "Just a klick, Ratch. Rumble's awake and terrified. I'm trying to calm him down through the bond, but it's still new … I don't know how well he can hear me."

A klick turned into about twenty klicks before Blaster had calmed down enough that he was venting normally, his optics dim as if he was thinking deeply. Then, nodding to Ratchet, he said, "Okay, he wants out. Bad. He keeps kicking back my internal systems when they try to force him into recharge. He's coming out Ratch … Can you, I don't know, lock the med back doors and … be able to catch? He feels like a runner."

Nodding, Ratchet waved First Aid to the doors while Jazz and Ironhide came over to help catch.

It was odd and awkward, Blaster telling the other cassettes to transform as soon as they were out in case Rumble ran, but he unlocked his docking station. Then, opening his chassis, the first cassette out was unsurprisingly Rumble, the kid transforming midway only to be caught by the local harpy and a stumbling Ironhide.

Immediately, the cassette screamed and kicked Ironhide in the face. Ironhide, of course, fell into Jazz leaving Ratchet alone with a screaming, wailing, kicking and crying young bot. The youth's whole form was hot and shaking from his internal struggled. If this was calmed down, Ratchet would have hated to know what the cassette would have been like a few klicks ago. The other cassettes quickly departed their creator and Blaster offered his arms to Ratchet, trying to get ahold of his charge.

Ratchet tried to comply, but Rumble started biting and swearing obscenities while telling the medic to let him go. Ratchet endured though, knowing that if he left Rumble go it would be more detrimental then banging out a few minor dents. Finally, Blaster managed to take the cassette from the medic and the small form went limp immediately, now bawling like a lost sparking, clenser dripping down from behind his visor and onto Blaster's chassis.

"I-I don't w-want to rust. H-he's coming. The old g-gods. I d-don't want to rust. Please, boss. Please."

Rumble's words made Blaster shiver slightly as little snippets of what had happened in recharge were dragged forward. That was some … defrag? No. Defrag didn't seem quite right. Defrags were memories and didn't create scenarios like that. He'd dwell on what he could recall from the bond later. Right now, all that matter was getting Rumble calmed down. Poor thing didn't need this kind of stress right now.

"Here, let me give him a digital sedative," said Ratchet, coming up to the fretting cassette rack. It wasn't until Ratchet was standing over him that he realized he was letting off waves of worry from his EM field. Blaster tried to drag it back in, but it was hard to with Rumble wailing like that.

Taking up an arm, even though Rumble weakly tried to tug it away, Ratchet popped open some plating in the wrist and put a digital sedative into the medical jack. Almost immediately, the young-bot's wailing turned into soft whimpers, his vents now expelling hot air and his EM field calming somewhat. Ratchet, on instinct, petted the side of Rumble's head as the cassette was forced into a semi-haze. Personally, Ratchet preferred digital sedatives over chemical ones for this very reason. It kept the patient awake but calm and also dulled emotional responses.

"There we go, kid. Just vent. Okay, now what happened?" said Ratchet to Blaster, medical scans now falling over the two as he shooed the rest of the cassettes off the berth. He didn't need to trip on them.

"Yeah, what happened?" asked Eject carefully as he resisted the urge to hug himself. Awake now, he realized just how much Rumble had been clinging to his part of the bond. It had felt like a normal defrag at first, but then … it wasn't. He didn't catch much over the forming bond, but it was enough to unsettle the second youngest. He had caught a glimpse of … Soundwave and his hanging jaw, rotting away into rust. It had been terrifying. "Was that a defrag? I mean, it didn't feel like a defrag. It couldn't have been. So, what was it? I mean … Soundwave was talking to him … and he was dead."

Blaster frowned at that, having now recalled that much of the strange defrag. Ratchet, as well, sighed, "Well, given the dead generally don't speak. It probably wasn't a defrag. If it was I think it was, it's a complication."

Blinking, petting the side of Rumble's helm as Rumble pressed his face into Blaster's chest, Blaster wearily asked, "What kind of complication?"

"CPU issues likely. It could be just some bad programming needing to be updated or maybe a virus. At worst, it's the start of a glitch. Either way, he needs a full medical evaluation. I was going to put it until he was a little more settled in, but I feel now is probably the best time, especially if it's a virus or glitch. Now, let's plug him into the medical berth for a scan and I'll check him over externally," said Ratchet, pulling a medical cord from out of the berth while finding the medical port in the back of Rumble's neck. Generally, he'd unspool his own medical cord and do this, but in case Soundwave left any nasty surprises he wasn't going to take any chances. He'd rather lose the medical berth.

Rumble, unsurprisingly, shivered as he was plugged the berth in, the berth pushing firewalls to the side as it set to work. He grasped at Blaster's seams weakly, whining in the back of his throat that he didn't like it. Blaster merely tried to shush him.

"Alright, I know you don't want to put him down, but I need you off the berth Blaster. At least for a few klicks. Some of the sensors won't work properly if there is another body on it. Plus, I need to document his weight and density. His color is concerning," said the medic as Blaster reluctantly got off.

Feeling like he was dealing with a first-time creator, Ratchet added, "I will have First Aid get you a chair though … and I'll have him look at those gorges in your chassis. It's just a few klicks. Everything will be fine."

Thundercracker felt the rush of the spacebridge fall behind him, his wings twitching from the atmospheric change from Earth to Cybertron. He immediately resisted the urge to place a hand on his canopy where Ravage shifted uncomfortably. He also tried not to twitch as he heard a jet overhead. He had been hoping he would at least get to stand and enjoy the sight of his home world, as broken as it was, for a moment before he was forced to face Shockwave, but that didn't seem the case. Three klicks later, a large blue jet followed by a nearly identical green one transformed and landed in the courtyard in front of him. They were both heavy class jets, armor thick and engines large.

It took all of Thundercracker's self-control not to step backwards as the two towering jets stepped up to him, both a head taller than him. He immediately felt cornered and prayed to Primus they both merely thought his cockpit was full of his supplies and not a half-dead cassette.

"Are you Thundercracker?" said the blue one as he wandered a circle around the purple seeker, the green seeker merely standing there with his arms crossed over his cockpit.

Thundercracker, unsure if he trusted his glossa, merely nodded.

"Good. We are the twins. I am Dreadwing and my brother is Skyquake. We serve Shockwave," said Dreadwing in his deep tones, his wings hiking up for a moment. "He asked that we settle you in and then bring you to him."

It was left unsaid that they would shoot him down if he didn't come willingly.

Nodding, his glossa still frozen in his throat, Thundercracker slowly followed after the larger seeker, the green one taking up the rear. He immediately felt trapped, his wings shivering though he tried his damnest to look calm and collected. He made sure to stare up at the sky the entire time before he was led inside … for he didn't know if he would ever see it again.

XXX

Paw07: A short chapter, but an update nonetheless! Next chapter is mostly about TC … Its going to be angsty. Mmmm. Angst. Also, sorry if Rumble seems OoC … he's kind of traumatized right now.