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 18: Sparse Leaves

Thundercracker's spark was spinning so fast he was sure it would gutter out before Shockwave even got to him. In fact, he almost jumped out of his plating when there was a knock on the door of his suite. His wings high, Thundercracker stood there for a moment, his vents sputtering, before he looked at the door strangely. Shockwave never struck him as the knocking type. So, he slowly made his way to the door.

It opened to reveal a strange, miserable looking purple mech. His paint looked chaffed and gritty like he had painted it white and then washed it off or something. Personally, TC didn't know if he should be thankful or not that the wrong purple mech was at his door. Yes, he knew Shockwave had other mechs under him (MTOs usually), but it was still surprising that other mechs were just walking around and not strapped down to slabs screaming as the crazed scientist rearranged their innards.

Okay, now he was just being morbid. Shockwave did things for logical reasons. Logic, logic, logic. He had to remember that, but first …

"What's wrong with your paint job?"

Whoops, wrong question. He meant to say, 'What's your designation,' but since Skywarp wasn't here to say the paint question, he automatically did.

The miserable looking mech sighed, the glyphs on his form showing he was medical support. Though, honestly, his delicate hands gave him away as he lifted a datapad and groused, "I think you were looking for what my name is, and its Ambulon. I'm here to take you in for some preliminary tests. I also deal with after recovery of … patients."

Thundercracker winced and couldn't help but notice that Ambulon's hands tightened on his datapad as well, the glass whining like it was about to shatter. Apparently, the medic knew the recovery portion personally with how twitchy he was acting.

"I-I see," said the seeker, his wings lowering, part of him glad the large jet twins weren't around to watch his wings shiver slightly in fear. A grounder wouldn't notice at least. "L-lets get this over with."

Nodding, the mech stepped aside so TC could walk beside him, his voice soft, "Its good you are being complacent. Complacency is rewarded around here."

TC's hands became fists and despite himself, he growled, "How so? You only get tortured once a day instead of two?"

Ambulon didn't look at him after that and neither did he reply. Instead, he lead them in to a lab room filled with stasis tanks on the wall and other unpleasant looking equipment. Thundercracker didn't really get to look around before he was instructed to sit on a berth. Despite his frantic spark, he did as he was told, only twitching under Ambulon's touch when the other Con started hooking him into the berth.

The medic's voice seeming to echo over the room, pulling TC back from his pending panic attack. "I'm just going to do some basic tests. Check you systems health and durability to make sure it can even handle the strain of being reformatted. Then, I'm going to do a spark casing check as well as check the density of your spark. Most of the test will be on your spark."

The seeker's wings twitched again, already cringing at the idea of another mech feeling around his spark chamber. Beside himself, he had to ask, "Why is he so focused on my spark?"

The medic, already plugging him into a spark monitor, the machine buzzing to life and showing how fast his spark was spinning, frowned at the readings for a klick before he stated, "You need to calm down. As for your question, its because the spark is what defines most host decks or, more specifically, the density of their spark. Its how they can support half sparks and also create new ones off of their own spark."

Sitting there, confused, the seeker swallowed thickly before stating, "So … he's going to change the density of my spark? How can that even be done? I didn't think density could be changed."

"It generally can't be," said the purple mech quietly as he checked joints and plating, completely ignoring how TC's wings were not openly shaking. Yet, when his fingers brushed against the blue mech's canopy in order to open his chassis, the blue mech nearly jumped off the berth.

Surprising, instead of being angry or irritated, Ambulon's tone was soft, "You need to calm down. Shockwave thinks fear is illogical. Remember, complacency. It's okay. I'm just doing that casing check. Let's just get you laid down. I'll give you a mild sedative to calm your spark down as well."

Swallowing, hands now trembling, he allowed the purple healer to help him lay down, his hands surprisingly patient for a Decepticon medic. Hook was usually rough and didn't believe in something like sedatives. Then again, a terrified spark would probably mess with the readings. So, even though his mind was screaming for him to never lay down on a slab anywhere in the cyclops' lair, Thundercracker slowly did. He didn't even twitch when the medic gave him a liquid sedative, his spark floundering for a moment as it was forced to take a slower pace.

After that, everything was kind of hazy. Thundercracker couldn't quite grasp time properly, because he rather doubted Ambulon was teleporting around the room. He also doubted that the piles of machinery quickly surrounding his medical berth were just magically appearing. There was even this wall of pretty lights that opened up, his head slowly turning as he tried to see what they were. He didn't even get to focus when Ambulon was suddenly in front of his line of sight, gently releasing the clasps over his canopy and spark, dark blue light reflecting off of the medic's form.

He didn't know Ambulon was even doing a spark case check until those fingers were tweaked the cabling around his spark casing, checking for loose connection and casing cracks. TC, normally, would have come off the berth if someone had touched his spark in such a way, but the most he could do was twitch, an intelligible bark escaping him.

There was no way this was a mild sedative. No, no, way. He was down for the count and probably nearly unconscious. He barely could tell that the exam was done until the medic started … strapping him to the berth. B-but why?

"I'm sorry," mumbled Ambulon softy before he stepped away, Shockwave suddenly taking up the seeker's line of sight.

Automatically, the blue mech jolted on his berth, fear encasing his spark as the cyclops' gun arm transformed into delicate sensors and reached into his chassis, feeling around with cold and clinical fingers.

"Hmm, a trine bond. It will likely shatter in the experiment when the spark becomes unrecognizable by the other two. The spark casing might have to be enlarged or replaced as well if his spark can gain density. The chassis cavity will need to be enlarged and donators will have to identified for compatibility," said Shockwave, all business as he removed the delicate looking sensor-hand. "We have two groons to finish the first infusion. We shall start now. Prepare the specimens."

Thundercracker, disoriented, wanted to offline his optics as even more machines started to be plugged into his systems, overwhelming him. Frag, he just wanted to scream as a stupid mask was placed over his mouth plates, feeding him gasses to keep his system calm and his glossa semi-still. There was even a denta guard in the mask so he wouldn't bite through his glossa. Glossas were prone to rust infections once injured and Shockwave obviously didn't want to take the chances with his newest subject.

Tugging his restraints again, horrified he watched the scientist grab a laser scalpel, Thundercracker's screams were barely muffled whines as his spark casing was literally cut into. He was in so much pain after the first session that he swore he saw flickers of spark-light in his optics … and he wondered if the sparks of those he had wronged in the war had come to greet him in the Well. He doubted it though … the Well wasn't supposed to hurt like this.

No mech was supposed to hurt like this.

This was the pit and he was obviously being punished.

"What?! Are you sure? Should … I separate Rumble from the others?" said Blaster as he leaned forward in Ratchet's office chair, hand over his chassis where Rumble still recharged. He had felt the young mech stir about a groon ago, but the youngling merely went back into recharge. The rack didn't know if his newest charge was merely exhausted or ignoring the outside world.

Sitting behind his desk in his private office, Ratchet waved his hand, "No, no, for Primus sake don't separate Rumble from the others. It would likely do more harm than anything. It might even damage the cassette bond."

Blaster winced, placing a hand on Ratchet's desk and then on his chassis again. It was something Ratchet couldn't help but notice as a new and protective habit. He didn't want to even imagine how Blaster would act if his spark split again and they had a newspark on their hands.

"Sorry, I overreacted, Hatchet," said Blaster, still in shock about the news. "It's just my little party-goers weren't to thrilled about the extra siblin' to begin with, Eject was downright terrified and overreacted, but something like this … I don't know how they will respond."

"What's there to respond to? Its already happening if the exam I did yesterday was anything to go by. Rumble's spark is coping with the new connections it has and, probably to increase his chances of survival, the cassette bond enabled him to replace more than his cassette bond. It's replacing his twin bond," said Ratchet calmly, his next words soft. "Which, as I am sure you can discern, means that Frenzy is likely offline or so close to it that their sparks can no longer reach out to each other. I, personally, am leaning towards the latter. Rumble was in such bad condition when we got him, I doubt Frenzy was any better if he even survived Soundwave's death."

Blaster frowned, part of him a little saddened by the news. It just seemed wrong to break up a set like that, even if it would have been the pit to wrangle in a pair of twins, but Fate had a mean streak and she wasn't afraid to show it.

"So, is there anything I should be doing to …ugh … ease the situation?" said Blaster, his mind now scrambling for how to best deal with the newest development. He had never heard of adopted twin bonds, but the spark could be a curious creature when it wanted to be.

Ratchet intertwined his fingers on his desk and stared at his prized hands for a moment before simply stating, "Well, the best thing to do is to identify which of your cassettes he is attaching himself to with the twin bond. Obviously, they should be spending as much time as possible in the rack or with Rumble until the process is done. Given Rumble's age and form, it is probably a good guess it will either be Eject or Rewind."

Blaster almost face palmed the desk … please, please don't be Eject. He wasn't emotionally ready for that. Rewind might not play the same tune as Rumble, but his mature mindset would be good for Rumble.

Placing a hand over his optics, feeling a helm ache coming on, Blaster sighed, "I'll bring them all in for a spark casing check tomorrow, Ratchet. Any other bad news you have for me today?"

The medic only smirked as he placed a cube of medical grade energon on his desk, sliding it over to the communication's officer.

"Ah, come on, Hatchet. Why are you such a party killer?" the red mech whined.

Ratchet merely laughed, "Ha, party killer. They used to call me the party ambulance I'll have you know."

Eject rubbed his chassis again, a strange tingle rippling in his spark as he walked down the hall with Rewind. The two of them had just been released from the rack while Blaster spoke with Ratchet. He figured it was just the new cassette bond forming with Rumble that was causing the strange sensation. It wasn't painful or unpleasant, but he still didn't like it and at least Rumble hadn't stirred yet today.

Though, only Eject seemed to be relieved by this. Mostly because he didn't know how to act around their newest sibling. He was going to be strong for Rumble, like Blaster asked, especially after he saw how terrified Rumble was.

Frag … to have a defrag like that. He had only caught snippets of it and was disgusted.

Nonetheless, the new feelings in the bond were disconcerting and, despite himself, Eject rubbed his chassis again and turned to his brother. "Is it me or does Rumble's bond feel odd to you as well? It's like he's clinging to my half of the spark."

"Clinging?" said the elder bipedal cassette, stalling to frown at the entrance of the Ark as the light seemed to shimmer in the distance. "Do you mean like a connection is forming? Like the cassette bond? Just because he is adopted into the rack doesn't mean it will feel any different from the rest of ours. Did you expect it to? Sometimes I forget you are the youngest."

"What, no," defended Eject, trying not to pull his plating close in embarrassment, knowing all too well that Rewind was poking fun at his youth. "I just wanted to make sure it was forming right with you."

His visor dimming for a moment, the elder cassette's tone was somewhat worried, "It is strengthening as it should even with Rumble in constant recharge. Why? Does it feel wrong to you? Is this clinging feeling loose like he's searching for you but can't get a grasp on you? Or is it more like you can't feel him right?'

It was more like the exact opposite. It was like it was too strong. He even felt himself become terrified or depressed for no reason, and Eject didn't like it. Frag, had he fucked up the cassette bond by waiting too long?

"Eject?" asked Rewind carefully, noticing that his sibling was now rubbing at his chassis roughly.

He was about to come forward and stall his sibling's hands when the shimmer appeared just outside the Ark. A nano-klick later both cassettes turned their heads as a white and blue racecar exploded into existence, Mirage transforming at the entrance and shocking Cliffjumper who was guarding the entrance.

Mirage didn't even note Cliffjumper's curses as he walked inside. Rewind and Eject, on the other hand, immediately stiffened. So … Mirage was finally back with news. Shortly after Rumble had been found and Blaster explained half sparks, the spy had been sent off to infiltrate the Nemesis and see if there were any other survivors in the wake of Soundwave's death. If there were any survivors, he was instructed to get a message to them that they would be given the same options as Rumble … if they defected.

Given his lax gait as he entered into the Ark, Rewind had a feeling that Rumble was going to be alone for this new step in his life. Nonetheless, the older cassette stepped forward and asked caustiously, "Do you bring news, Mirage … from the Nemisis?"

Stalling, the tower-mech nodded carefully, professionally stating, "I do. I am currently on my way to debrief Jazz on the matter. Now, if you excuse me, Eject, Rewind, I must be going."

And that was all he said, leaving the two cassettes feeling small and ill-informed at the Ark's entrance.

"Well … at least he came back," said Eject as he tried to fill the silence, "But … wasn't he supposed to see if any of Rumble's siblings were still online? He didn't seem rushed or worried. Does that mean -"

"It means he came back empty handed, Eject. Sometimes what isn't said speaks more volumes than what is," said his elder cassette simply, the two half-sparks now standing in the cool air before the Ark's entrance, the wind flittering in like a cool whisper.

Staring at his feet, Eject's hands became fists as he watched a few sparse leaves blow into the entrance, settling around their feet and in upswept corners. He could have sworn that summer had just started and that it was going to last forever, but already the leaves were falling from the trees. It was a sign of the season's change. If it would be bad or good change … he couldn't say.

All he knew was that his spark was conflicted and it ached something horrible.

XXX

Paw07: Angst, as promised. TC's going to have so much trauma when I am done with him. And I don't know why, but the TF universes always kill off the side characters I like, or maybe it's more that the underdogs are expendable (Dreadwing, Breakdown, Ambulon). Thus, why they always get roles in my fics.

Also, poor Eject. It's a win-lose kind of situation, isn't it? ^.~