Nine orns had passed since Vortica's harrowing escape from the Decepticon base of Fort Scyk. She and Vertices had started anew, each carrying on their separate lives. 'Cee had decided that neutrality was no longer acceptable and had flown off to join the Autobots in their fight. Flyers were few and far between, especially Seeker models and despite being a femme, the Autobots eagerly took her in. Vortica later learned that her twin had joined the ranks of femme commander Elita One, providing air support and protection to her forces on the far side of Cybertron. She was happy for her twin; Vertices had always needed action and purpose in her life; now she had it.
As for her, Vortica remained a Neutral, choosing to become a medic and helping those mechs injured from the front lines. Stretcher was a good instructor and an even better surgeon; Vortica learned much under his tutelage. She enjoyed her work, helping others heal and recover, doing her part while still judiciously objective. In the end every mech's energon ran pink, whether Decepticon or Autobot, and all felt pain equally.
But while she helped others to heal and bandaged their wounds, she was acutely aware that hers were still raw and open. Nine orns and still no word of Thundercracker, not that she expected it anyway. Still each day, her spark felt heavier, the pain more intense. Was this what sparkache felt like? Would it ever dull? Probably not, her processor would answer and the ache would return.
It happened at the wash station. Vortica had been washing a pair of scalpels and energon clamps. She scrubbed the instruments vigorously, knowing that cleanliness was of the highest importance.
"I need those clamps in three clicks, Vortica," Stretcher said, as he passed by, cleaning his hands on a damp cloth.
"Yes, sir," she replied, never deviating from her work. Suddenly, a sharp pain ripped through her very core, causing the young femme to collapse onto the floor. The scalpels clattered across clean-swept floor sliding underneath an unoccupied berth.
"Vortica!" Stretcher was at her side in astroseconds, slowly urging her to lie flat on the floor.
"Ohh! My spark!" she gasped, painfully, her optics flickering wildly. It felt as if her spark were on fire, as if its chamber were too small and it was beating incessantly against its confines. She instinctively knew it wasn't her twin. This pain felt nothing like their twin bond; this was something totally different.
The name seared across her processor like an electric whip. Was he in trouble! Fear and apprehension tore through her for the first time since returning to safe territory. What if someone found out? What if Stretcher somehow discovered a connection between her and the Decepticon lieutenant? Spark bonds were so new to her, what if this was because of one?
Another flash of pain and she curled in on herself, groaning in agony. "I need a berth!" She heard Stretcher yell authoritively. She felt her systems begin to shut down, re-routing her energon back to her spark. The pain was coming in waves, each more intense than the last. She felt herself beginning to enter shutdown, despite every effort to fight it.
No! I can't! They'll know! They'll…condemn…me.
"Hang in there Vortica! I'm here. I'm here, little spark," she heard Stretcher once more, but this time his voice was distant, his form blurry. She felt her body being lifted up and carried; she heard other voices chattering away and then slowly fading into static. Hands passed over her and gently prodded and probed her chest compartment. She heard the tinkling of instruments and even more voices. But then Stretcher's voice cut through once more and his words chilled her to the depths.
"In the name of Primus, I don't believe it!"
She awoke slowly, the darkness fading to give way to the gentle lighting of some sort of room. She blinked allowing her optics to calibrate and adjust. A slight rustling and she turned, startled.
"You're awake, good."
She relaxed marginally; it was only Stretcher. She glanced around the room, taking in her surroundings. It seemed they were alone in a tiny cubicle of the hospital. Her berth, a small wash stand and a single chair the only pieces of furniture in the room—wait check that. On her other side of the room was a medium-sized stand, rectangular in shape and slightly taller than her berth. She turned her attention back to Stretcher.
"Wha- happened?" she asked, voice sizzling with static.
"You gave us quite a scare, young one. We thought we were going to lose you both."
The last word instantly grabbed her attention. "Both?" she squeaked.
Stretcher chuckled dryly. He rose from his seat and made his way to the stand. He reached down from the top and slowly withdrew a tiny bundle wrapped in cleansing cloths. He handed the bundle to her. "You've been out for several breems. Had to give the little one a supplemental feed line until you came around. Ornery little thing too, kept trying to crawl out of the incubator to get to you. He's quite the escape artist."
Vortica sat up slowly and cradled the tiny life form. Drawing the cloths away she gasped softly. There in her arms was a tiny miniature version of Thundercracker. The sparkling's optics glowed a very soft blue, the only defining difference. The soft, blue armor glimmered in the lighting and she vaguely felt two tiny wing nubs through the cloths.
"Wha- How is this possible?" she whispered. Stretcher sat back down and looked at her kindly, but intently.
"I was hoping you could tell me."
And then Vortica knew. The pain; it hadn't been sparkache at all. She had become sparked…by Thundercracker. The increasing restlessness, the increasing pain, the feeling of her spark nearly exploding…it had all been because he had sparked her. She had been carrying his offspring and never realized it!
"I know you don't like to talk about your captivity with the 'Cons, but this sparkling's birth puts your sparking right in that timeframe."
She looked at Stretcher pleading in her optics. Fluid welled in her eyes and spilled down her cheek plates.
"I won't force you to tell me if you don't want to, Vortica," Stretcher laid a comforting hand on her arm, sympathy deep in his gaze. She inhaled deeply, steadying her systems. A panel slid back from her chest. Vortica slowly withdrew a tiny energon feeder line and gave it to her little one. He took it eagerly, suckling the sweet fuel with gusto.
"He was the only one decent to me, Stretcher," she began tiredly. "He's the only reason my sister and I escaped. He gave me hope," she paused and looked down, "and it looks like a lot more." She smiled gently. "I'm sure you can guess who his father-creator is just by looking at him."
Stretcher smirked. "Yeah, it's kinda obvious, little spark." He reached out and gently stroked the sparkling's brow. "When I realized what was happening I rushed everyone out and delivered him myself. Your not realizing what was happening, very nearly killed you both. Your spark was destabilizing and the little one was coming one way or the other. Natural spark-births are tricky affairs, especially for first-timers like yourself, but you pulled through. When I first laid optics on him, I couldn't believe what I was seeing and I especially couldn't get over the resemblance. As far as I'm concerned, this secret doesn't leave this room, unless you want it to."
"Thanks Stretcher. I wish he could see him."
"One day he might. You never know. The bonds between creators and sparklings are unique. So what are you going to name him?"
Vortica was silent as she thought the question over. What would be a good designation? She suddenly smiled as the perfect name came to her. It represented both her mad flight from the Decepticons as well as her little sparkling's ambition. "You said he kept trying to crawl out of the incubator?"
"Yep. Sneaky little rascal, that one," Stretcher confirmed.
"Then I will call him Breakaway."