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 17: A Heavy Spark

Thundercracker tried to drag his peds, he really had, but before he knew it he was being introduced to his quarters. Though quarters was a hyperbole. It felt more like an observation room. The walls were stark steel and the room was spartan in all ways. It only had a simple desk in the corner and what was obviously a fully equipped medical berth instead of a normal recharge berth to plug into. Said berth was likely loaded with monitors of all kind and it immediately unnerved Thundercracker.

For a klick the seeker dwelled on just running for it but the heavy ped steps behind him were a painful reminder of his current circumstances. Even if he could outrun the two larger jets, Dreadwing and Skyquake, what then? The DJD? He knew the Decepticon Justice Division was more a legend than fact but traitors just disappeared sometimes. Many merely said that it was probably starvation, but the seeker felt there was more to it than that.

After all, Shockwave always needed new subjects.

Swallowing, his hands shaking, the two jets must have taken pity on him and head to the door. Dreadwing's voice somehow cut through the growing panic in the seeker's helm. "Get settled in. We will be back shortly. Shockwave wants to do an examination before he starts any tests."

Still unable to speak, he merely nodded, still staring at his new berth with a type of growing dismay. It felt like an eternity before the door actually slid shut, leaving him alone. Well, almost alone.

Throwing a scan out to make sure the monitors in the room weren't on yet, Thundercracker opened his cockpit and gingerly placed Ravage on the berth. He stared at her for a moment, the two sharing a moment of silence.

"I suppose this is it," said the Seeker. "We go our separate ways... Hopefully one of us can get revenge on Megatron."

= If we live that long = said the femme over the comms. = Shockwave will rip you apart and then put you back together. It will not be pleasant and there is a high probability you will deactivate. Are you sure you don't want to try to try running? =

TC shook his head. "I wouldn't get far. Even if those hulking twins didn't catch me, I'd be trapped on the planet and it would either be starvation or the Autobots that would get me."

The cassette was silent for a moment, before she agreed, = I suppose you are right. =

The two were silent once more, knowing the futility of their situation. They may not survive the orn or even long enough to get any kind of revenge on Megatron for harming their families, for driving their world and people to madness. Optimus Prime wasn't perfect, but he was no Sentinel Prime either. After most of the Senate and towers had fallen, Megatron should have sat down with the Prime. He should have spoken with him like the miner turned poet he was.

But she didn't think there was anything left of that poet. His mind and beliefs had bled away onto pages never to be read again. Not even by himself apparently.

= Listen, Thundercracker. Shockwave … Shockwave had once been a good mech. A mech that wanted to better the world for all its people … And then they took his face and his hands, = Ravage said softly, recalling how the scientist had claws before he got replacement hands and how they used to click like a clock counting down. I had been unnerving. = That wasn't the worst part though. They didn't stop there. Then ripped his emotions from him, from his very spark. All he was left with was his logic. It would have been a kindness to kill him. =

Thundercracker looked away, his hands becoming fists. He knew the tale of empurata all too well. How many cold constructs were mauled for merely wanting a voice? Despite himself, TC was forced to look at his own hands in sympathy, moving all his fingers just to make sure they were there.

= You misunderstand, Thundercracker. Don't pity him for he will not pity you. Not because he doesn't want to. I think a part of Shockwave would do anything just to feel some kind of emotion, = she added, recalling one of the greatest secrets of her cassette rack. = Regardless, if you are dead set on destroying Megatron from the inside by selling secrets to the Autobots, know that Shockwave houses many of Megatron's downfalls. He is driven by logic. It is only logical that he keeps himself functioning … and the only figure he considers powerful enough to challenge that survival is Megatron. In some strange way, he is obedient and yet the greatest traitor at the same time. If you can get your hands on even a few of those secrets, Megatron will crumble. =

Swallowing, the seeker nodded, "I understand, but … how do I know he won't keep me in a lab the whole time, strapped to a berth and screaming my vocals out?"

The cat-former cocked her head as if it was a stupid question. = See this room. He didn't have to give you one. He understands that normal mechs feel happiness and contentment. He knows a docile patient is easier to deal with then a prisoner. Don't beg. If you want something, give a logical reason for it. If you want outside, claim sky madness. If you want in the labs, claim it's to be more educated and effective in the experiment. If you need painkillers, explain your worry about overloading your systems and damaging sensitive wiring; thus, it would be more detrimental than allowing you painkillers. You need to give a logical reason for the things you need or want. Do you understand? =

Swallowing, his wings twitching and his vocals feeling weak … all TC could do was nod.

= Good, now will you open that vent for me. I will rest here a few mega-cycles so that my self-repair can kick in. If you can stand after the first experiment, please bring me energon and supplies … though I do not expect it. Once I have my strength back I shall meet some of Soundwave's old contacts and blackmail those I must, = she said simply, limping off the berth and towards the vent as TC followed to opened it. = Now, stay alive. Remember our promise to each other for revenge. We will likely need each other in the end. =

Nodding, his vocals still too weak to even murmur, he closed said vent after pushing a few spare cubes in. He then sat on the berth staring at his hands, telling himself he could suffer through this pain. He had suffered so much already … what exactly could Shockwave do to him that this war hadn't already done to him in one way or the other?

He could do this … He had to if Megatron was to fall. And if Optimus Prime couldn't do it, Thundercracker would find someone else to make the final blow. He wished he could say he'd do it, that he would strike the titan down, but he didn't know what condition he would be in by then … or if he would still be online at all.

"I've got good news and bad news," said Ratchet as he immediately handed Blaster a cube of heavy medical grade, pet-flesh and metal mix swirling around in the bottom. Blaster, still sitting in a chair next to Rumble's half-sedated form, curled up his lip while looking offended. "I've just gotten the first set of tests from the medical berth and I can already tell you that Rumble doesn't weigh as much as he should for his model. He should have more heavy metals in his armor which explains its dull sheen. He likely hasn't been getting proper energon for a while regardless. So, until his armor's density thickens, that means he will be getting medical energon until I say otherwise … and so will you since that is where he will be recharging."

Looking aghast as he held the cube away from his body, Blaster swallowed thickly unable to ask anything except, "And what's the good news?"

Ratchet, shrugging his shoulders as he stood there patiently waiting for him to swallow it, smiled almost deviously, "By the end of this your armor will have a nice healthy sheen. Sunstreaker or Tracks might even consider you competition for most conceited."

Engine whining, for everyone hated medical energon even Optimus Prime, Blaster wondered if he could still worm out of this, "But won't the kid's personal intake be acceptable? I mean, come on Hatchet, it's medical grade energon. It's a party killer. It goopy and sticky and tries to choke you every time on the way down."

Giving the cassette rack an unimpressed look, Ratchet added, "You took the words right out of my intake, Blaster. It would be cruel to make Rumble drink nothing but medical energon. So, he gets a cube in the morning and then he can have a normal cube. Thus, in turn, you can have a normal cube in the morning and then have a medical cube before recharge. Now, bottoms up as the humans say."

Blaster, wilting like a youngling, gave Ratchet one more sour look before he threw the oh-so-gross-gross-gross-all-the-way-down medical energon back. He swore Ratchet took pleasure in watching mechs choke it down. The sadist. Whatever happened to his vow to do no harm?

Making little gaggy noises in the end, the ugh-it-feels-like-its-alive-and-is-trying-to-crawl-up-your-intakes feeling as everyone liked to call it, Blaster managed to get it down. Though he sat very still for a few klicks. Every mech knew medical energon was notorious for wanting to be tasted twice.

"Are you done?" said Ratchet unimpressed as he crossed his arms over his chassis. "Pah, surrounded by sparklings. Now, you can get back up on the berth. I got the solo readings we needed and I can already tell his mild sedative is wearing off if his keening is anything to go by. Hopefully, he will calm down once he gets back into close proximity to your host spark. Then, I'd like to have a look at his spark if you don't mind. I've tried to study up on hosts and half sparks while you were out, but there has been so much information lost with the war …"

The silence that followed afterward was all encompassing. It was like time had stalled and stolen all sound from the world. They had lost so much in this war … when were they ever supposed to gain anything? Only when Rumble keened loud enough to be considered a cry did Blaster react, pulled away from his inner musing. He could already tell that if he didn't get a hold of Rumble now while the sedative still had all his limbs and mind lethargic, it was going to be a game of chase.

Crawling onto the berth while gingerly picking up the young spark, Blaster half cradled his newest charge as Ratchet came forward with a collection of tools and scanners. Ratchet then proceeded to check joints and worn platting. Rumble, unsurprisingly, twitching away every time Ratchet physically touched him or threw a scan over his form. It was like he was expecting to be hit. He stilled though whenever Blaster would rub a finger down his back and helm, telling him to be still for Ratchet.

It seemed to take forever, the young cassette's EM field growing more and more stressed. It was like he was suddenly starting to realize where he was and who he was surrounded by … as well as what he had done. It hadn't been a dream … He was now one of Blaster's cassettes.

"Okay, we can finish some of these other tests another cycle," said Ratchet, not ready for a full-blown panic attack if Rumble's EM field was anything to go by, "But I need to look at that partial spark. It'll be quick and then you can take him back to your habitation suite for more rest."

Rumble, his dazed mind half frenzied, part of him still in shock that he had said yes to Blaster of all mechs, nearly came off the berth as Ratchet reached for his chest piece and the hidden latches. The only reason he probably could find it at all was because of Eject and Rewind's builds.

"N-no, s-stop. O-only S-soundwave is allll-allowed in there," slurred Rumble, barely able to move his glossa as he tried to push away Ratchet's fingers.

Blaster and Ratchet both exchanged a pained look before Blaster reacted by pulsing his field in a warming way and petting the youth's helm. "Shoo, none of that. Come now Rumble, be still for the Hatchet. Just a quick scan and it will be over."

"And a casing check," added the medic with a frown, hating the aghast look Blaster gave him. "Sorry, Blaster. Every mech has one done when they enter the ranks or care of the Autobots. It doesn't have to be me, but I need it for his medical files in case there is a disfigurement or weakness in the casing or spark."

Blaster cringed and looked down at Rumble. No bot liked a casing exam. A medic was basically holding your life force in their hands, something most mechs only would offer their creators or Conjunx Endura, but it was also the quickest and safest way to reveal any spark diseases or disfigurements. It wasn't like they could ask Hook or some other Con for the records … If there were any official documents, given Soundwave's paranoia.

Petting Rumble's helm, part of him hating himself for allowing this but seeing now way around it, the red mech tried to sooth his newest charge. "And a casing check, Rumble. Ratchet's really fast and professional. It won't hurt."

Holding Rumble a little more securely now that the ex-Con was trying to squirm away, he assisted Ratchet in opening the youth's chassis. Rumble immediately blubbered and asked for Soundwave again as red light bled over Ratchet and Blaster's chassis. Personally, the rack was surprised it was red and not blue. It was not uncommon for a mech's color nanites to reflect their spark color. He honestly wondered if Frenzy was the same way, housing a blue spark instead of a red one.

And, speaking about a can of worms, Mirage still hadn't reported anything on the rest of Rumble's siblings. If they were alive and in need of a cassette rack, how exactly was Blaster to offer himself if he didn't even know where they were? And would the rest even accept or would they all rather offline? Honestly, he didn't really want to dwell on it. Right now, he had Rumble and that was all that mattered at this moment.

"Shh, Ratchet's not going to hurt you. Just stay still for him, little party goer," said Blaster again, placing a hand over Rumble's visor while turning his helm inward so that the young spark couldn't see Ratchet poking at his internals.

Rumble sniffled, but finally went limp as if accepting his death. Ratchet, true to his word, was always very fast. Who knew how many of these exams he did at the beginning of the war. Regardless, he did a quick overview scan, followed by carefully placing his fingers into that small chassis. Rumble stiffened as if expected his spark to be hurt or crushed, but Ratchet merely felt around the casing, throwing scan from his delicate medic hands. He frowned a few times and that honestly put Blaster on end, but when Ratchet removed his hands he didn't immediately call for a spark support system, Blaster figured it wasn't immediately life threatening.

"Well?" Blaster said, feeling Rumble go limp in his hands in relief. "Everything okay in there?"

Shaking his helm as if saying he'd speak to him later about it, Ratchet picked up a rag to wipe off is hands with some cleanser while addressing his patient.

"Now, there we go Rumble. See, nothing bad happened. In fact, everything is in acceptable parameters," finally said Ratchet as he wiped off the spark casing with some disinfectant quickly before closing the little chest plate, his spark constricting as he stared at the weeping little cassette, tears having sprung into existence. Beside himself, his mind was painfully reminded how young-sparks were basically non-existent this far into the war, and he kindly ran a warm knuckle over Rumble's cheek plating.

"Okay, how about some energon for keeping still for me? Something with sweet metals perhaps?" added Ratchet kindly, unable to look at the weeping young-spark without at least trying to sooth him. He knew he was no Rung, but he wasn't going to just stand there and do nothing. He honestly would rather give Rumble his first dose of medical-grade, but that seemed a bit cruel and unnecessary given Rumble would likely be siphoning extra metals out of Blaster's systems tonight anyway.

Rumble, as if realizing that everyone could see his tears, merely whined and buried his helm into Blaster's chassis, shaking his helm. He didn't want it even though it had been fraggen forever since he had had any type of treat-energon or metals. All he wanted to do was go back into recharge. He just wanted to spend the rest of his days in defrag, pulling up old memories so that he could dwell in them. He just wanted to be lost in the memories of better cycles where all his siblings were alive and Soundwave's calm spark could chase away any worries.

He just wanted to sleep … and so he started plucking at the seams of Blaster's chassis, right where the cassette rack was. He knew he was supposed to ask, but he didn't trust his vocals to release a full out sob. He just wanted to recharge. Please. Please. Please! Just let him sleep!

Blaster, catching on to what the little transformer wanted, looked up and offered a sad smile. "I think the party is done for this cycle, Ratchet. Kid wants to go back into recharge, but I can give it to him later if you want."

Ratchet frowned but decided not to argue. Blaster's systems would offer energon anyway. "That should be fine. I will give you his first morning medical ration just in case he wakes up hungry though."

Taking the sealed cube a nano-klick later, Blaster sighed, "Okay. I'll take it, but honestly, I don't think he's going to come out tomorrow morning … but you're sure there's nothing immediately wrong with his spark. You … stalled."

Gaze falling over the other cassettes that were still littered around his medbay like cats waiting to be tripped on, Ratchet replied softly, "We'll discuss it tomorrow if you want. There's … nothing we can do about it now."

Baster couldn't help but notice the way Ratchet glanced at Eject and Rewind specifically for a moment. It especially lingered on Eject as the small mech rubbed his chassis idly. Nonetheless, he could tell that it was a matter of privacy and so Blaster nodded and said in an exhausted manner, "Well, thanks for throwing this shindig, Hatchet. But me and my knee-high groupies are beat. Time to shut this party down and curl under the covers."

Ratchet merely nodded, "Yeah, yeah. Out of my medbay already. Get some recharge before I trip over a cassette."

Beside himself, Blaster laughed, glad for the medic cheeky disposition. Nonetheless, despite everything being in acceptable parameters, Blaster kept a close eye on his two bi-pedal cassettes and made a mental note to dwell on the defrag that had awoken them all. It … was just so detailed and disturbing. It didn't feel like a bad line of code. It felt like something far more foreboding and threatening to all that they knew.

Despite himself, Blaster murmured the only words he remembered from the violent defrag out loud, "See his blood in me … the old gods come."

XXX

Paw07: Yep, angst … and the next chapter will be a healthy overdose of more angst. Thundercracker flavor angst. Mmmm, tastes blue.