Required Character(s): All
Other Featured Character(s): Ratchet, Prowl, Ironhide
Rating: PG/K+, since, generally speaking, Ratchet = Cursing. ;)
Warnings: As I said, Ratchet = Cursing. Mild cursing, in this case. But mostly, I must warn for tooth-rotting cuteness. Break out your toothbrush and a gallon of Listerine now, while you have the chance.
Genre: Serious Fuzzies™…and a bit of "comedy," because a pissy Ratchet, like a pissy Slag, is always funny. ;)
Word Count (Not including this intro): 1,616 (With the intro, it's 3,066. HAH!)
Notes: The irony of this one is that the Dinobots themselves don't talk in it. Well, except for Swoop, very briefly. Because if one of them is going to talk, it'll generally be Swoop. He is the group's Chatty Cathy, after all. (And if you know what a Chatty Cathy is, then congratulations on being an old fart American, like me. Ain't it grand?)
Beyond that…For those who haven't read the notes attached to a certain story of mine, I should note here, because it's actually somewhat relevant to this little story and will probably be relevant to future ones in the series, how I physically see the Dinobots in general. For those of you who don't want to read a large amount of geekery, the gist of it is this: Rather than seeing them as all equally gigantic, as they're generally drawn on the cartoon and in the comic books, I tend to see them as scaled to the actual dinosaur/pterosaur that each Dinobot is based on. So, for me, from smallest to largest, the Dinobots are arranged thusly: Swoop, Snarl/Grimlock/Slag, and then Sludge. In my mind, there is a significant size gap between Swoop and Snarl/Slag/Grimlock (meaning that Swoop is smaller than a "standard" car Autobot but bigger than a minibot), and then another significant size gap between Snarl/Slag/Grimlock and Sludge. Sludge should be (and is, in my mind) significantly larger than Optimus Prime, who is roughly equal in size to Snarl/Slag/Grimlock. Now, if you're not at all interested in substantial geekery as justification for all of this, then you need read no further. Just nod your head sagely and skip on down to the story. But if you are interested in geekery…
I have a rather high Dinosaur Nerdness Index, and have had so since I was 6 and my family took a vacation trip to New York City, during which we visited the American Museum of Natural History, which houses and displays some of the earliest dinosaur skeletons collected in the U.S of some of the most famous species. Like, you know, T. rex. An obsession was born that day that still exists to this day, almost 40 years later. This, of course, is part of the reason behind my utter adoration of the Dinobots.
And it just never sat well with me that a Dinobot based on a Pteranodon was the same size as one based on a Brontosaurus. (Or, more accurately, an Apatosaurus, but of course that particular classification error was not commonly known except in scientific circles in the 80s.) I "got it" that the Dinobots were all supposed to be huge, intimidating brutes, etc. etc. Yeah, yeah, so, so, that's all well and good. But it went and bugged the living hell out of me anyway. Hence, I had to fix it for my own purposes and this, of course, sometimes affects the stories that I write about the Dinobots.
It should be noted that, except in one case, the dinosaur/pterosaur on which a given Dinobot is based is only identified to genus level, not species level. The exception, of course, is Grimlock who is named as, specifically, a Tyrannosaurus rex. Many people seem to be under the impression that when you say "Triceratops," there's only one creature that you could possibly be talking about. But that's not true. To put it in a more modern perspective, that would be like saying "Panthera" and talking only about lions, when there are actually lions, tigers, leopards, and jaguars included that genus, which have a range of sizes, appearances, behaviors, etc. It's true that, given the extinct nature of dinosaurs and the fact that we can only know what is no doubt a very small percentage of them via a very spotty fossil record, there is in some cases only one known, valid species of a given dinosaur genus, at least for the moment…but that's certainly not always the case. For instance, there are actually, now, ten known species of genus Triceratops, although some of them are considered doubtful identifications, possibly juveniles or perhaps simply the other gender of one of the other species. And, if you might be wondering, there are now generally thought to be three valid species of genus Tyrannosaurus: T. torosus, T. rex and T. bataar…although the latter may be a different genus entirely, namely Tarbosaurus. Debate exists. There is always debate about pretty much anything involving the dinosaurs, even whether or not they are, indeed, entirely extinct as a superorder. (Some believe that the superorder Dinosauria, currently residing in Class Reptilia, and modern birds, Class Aves, should be united into one class, thus removing the dinosaurs from Class Reptilia entirely.)
All that being said, there is one particular species of a genus that's known as the "type" species. Usually, it's the first species discovered, the one that originally defines the classification parameters of the genus in question against which possible future members of the genus are compared. So, for my purposes, I base the size of a given Dinobot (mostly) on the type species of the genus he represents. So, Swoop is a Pteranodon longiceps. Snarl is a Stegosaurus stenops. Slag is a Triceratops horridus. (And no, that doesn't mean "horrid." It means "rough.") Sludge is an Apatosaurus excelsus. (Which is actually not the type species of the genus but is the species that O.C. Marsh originally named "Brontosaurus.") And Grimlock, of course, is a Tyrannosaurus rex. In some cases, it doesn't matter which species I pick when it comes to determining relative Dinobot sizes. All of the species of Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus, and Apatosaurus were more or less the same size. However, it matters a bit for Swoop and quite a lot for Snarl.
There are two known species of Pteranodon, P. longiceps and P. sternbergi. The latter was quite a bit larger than the former, but I go with P. longiceps for Swoop because P. longiceps is the type species…and because the other species had a bizarre-looking sort of inverted-triangle head crest that doesn't look at all like Swoop's. Now, P. longiceps had a 20-25 foot wingspan, indeed, but like modern birds, pterosaurs in general had small bodies in comparison to their wingspans. The body of P. longiceps was only about 6 feet long from stem to stern, and about half of that was its head/jaws. Given that Swoop in robot form is the "unfolded" body (not the wingspan) of the pterosaur, you can perhaps begin to understand why I see him as quite small.
And as for Snarl…Well, Stegosaurus came in various flavors with a somewhat wide range of overall sizes and with varying numbers of tail spikes. Fortunately for Snarl, S. stenops is one of the largest of them, at about 25-30 feet long, and so wasn't much smaller in length than the 30-35-foot-long T. horridus on which Slag is based. And T. rex and T. horridus were fairly well-matched in length. The rex was longer, perhaps up to 45 feet long, but the trike as a large and sturdy-rather-than-especially-fast herbivore (Think cape or "African" buffalo, which has few predators due to its pugnacious nature and which are known to often kill lions when lions try to kill them) was perhaps twice as heavy as the lean, mean rex. And then there's the Apatosaurus, at about 70-75 feet long, roughly twice as long as your standard T. rex and much, MUCH bulkier, heavier, and a great deal taller than a T. rex. Which, of course, is why I see Sludge as the largest Dinobot by far. And, in my mind, he's the gentlest as well because I very much like the idea of a "gentle giant." Sauropods in general have earned themselves a rather cuddly image…although I frankly doubt that the real creatures were at all cuddly. Still, the image works well for my purposes.
So there you have it. And now the notes for this story are almost as long as the story itself. Apologies! But, like I said, this will also probably apply to other stories in this series, so at least I won't have to say it all again sometime; I can just reference this.
But now…We can finally get to the story. ;)
Prowl had become, over the years, an early riser. Mostly, this was because Autobot Headquarters seemed to be at its most serene early – very early – in the morning. Given that it was otherwise often a place of barely-controlled chaos in many different ways, Prowl had come to greatly appreciate the serenity that the wee-er hours of the morning afforded. He had subsequently arranged his personal schedule in order to take the best advantage of it.
So, as was his wont, Prowl strolled into the Control Room at a few minutes before 4AM…and then he stopped dead in his tracks.
Ironhide was there. That was entirely to be expected since he currently had command of the night watch. What wasn't at all expected, however, was that there was also a Dinobot there. He was, as far as Prowl could tell, asleep, curled up on the floor in the middle of the Control Room. He was in his dinosaur mode, and he had managed to arrange himself in a position that was vaguely cat-like, even down to the fact that the tip of his tail was laid almost delicately over his snout. And he was snoring softly.
Ironhide, for his part, didn't seem to notice the Dinobot's snoozing presence, or perhaps he just didn't really care about it. Prowl strongly suspected the latter, given Ironhide's general tendency to take even the strangest of things in stride. Nothing seemed to surprise Ironhide, and even when something did manage to do so, he generally tended to regard whatever it was with a good deal of quiet amusement. Age had its advantages that way. Prowl, on the other hand…
Prowl blinked rapidly a few times, just in case his optical sensors were deceiving him, but when he finished blinking the Dinobot was still there. Still curled up like a cat. Still asleep. Still snoring. In response, Prowl did the only thing that he could think of to do, under the circumstances.
He called Ratchet. At four in the morning. It took several attempts on Prowl's part before Ratchet finally answered the call.
"What, dammit?" the medic growled over the comm, all aggressively groggy.
"This is Prowl," Prowl announced calmly.
"Well, of course it is!" Ratchet responded. "Who the hell else would be calling me at this hour?"
Completely unruffled, Prowl continued, "I need you in the Control Room."
Ratchet harrumphed at that and declared, "Someone had better be dying."
Ironhide snorted, then coughed to cover up a laugh, all of which Prowl tried to ignore as he answered, "No, not…dying."
"Prowl," he said with impressive calm. "Do you have any idea what time it is? And be very careful how you answer because your life depends on it."
Prowl blinked and answered quite calmly and accurately, "It's 3:59AM."
Ratchet grunted and said, "Yep, that's what I thought. I'll be there in a minute, Prowl. And then I'm going to kill you," he promised.
Ironhide started laughing even before Ratchet abruptly cut the connection.
Ratchet stormed into the Control Room like a thundercloud, all tall, dark, and rumbling threateningly. This, however, did not faze Prowl in the slightest.
"Ratchet," he said in his most displeased voice, the one that was guaranteed to make even a Dinobot take a step backward in consternation…but a Dinobot had nothing in terms of general crankiness on a sleep-deprived Ratchet. "Would you mind telling me why Snarl is sleeping in the middle of the Control Room?" Prowl asked.
Ratchet blinked blankly at Prowl, and then he blinked at Snarl, and then he blinked at Prowl again. And then he growled, "You summoned me here at four in the damned morning to ask me this?"
"Yes, I did," Prowl answered neutrally, thoroughly unimpressed with the greatly irritated tone of Ratchet's voice. "I thought that there might be something wrong with him," he explained. In his own estimation, that was a perfectly good reason to call a medic, particularly the medic who had created the Dinobot in question in the first place.
Ratchet snorted at Prowl, muttered something under his breath about something definitely being wrong with Prowl, and then he regarded Snarl speculatively for a moment, his head tilted thoughtfully to the side. He paced once around the Dinobot's big, curled-up form, pausing occasionally to peer at various parts of him more closely, occasionally going so far as to poke and prod at him. This made Snarl twitch a little in response, once even to grumble and shift his position slightly, but it didn't come close to waking him. When he'd finished his circuit, Ratchet regarded Prowl very gravely.
"In my professional opinion," Ratchet solemnly, too solemnly, intoned, "he was most likely tired."
Ironhide burst out laughing again. Prowl half turned toward him to give him a look, a very severe look…which Ironhide almost completely ignored. His only response to it was to modulate his outright laughter to a slightly quieter snicker.
"He does have quarters, you know," Prowl irritatedly pointed out to Ratchet as he turned back to him, doing his best to ignore the guffawing Ironhide.
"He does, yes," Ratchet agreed thoughtfully. After a few moments' thought he added, "Well then, apparently he was really tired."
Prowl could only gape at the medic. And then he gaped, too, at Swoop, who just at that moment stepped into the Control Room.
"Hi!" Swoop said cheerfully to the gathered Autobots. Too cheerfully, in Ratchet's opinion. He made a mental note to have a long discussion with the lad about the level of cheer that he customarily displayed at god-awful hours of the morning because he was far too much like Wheeljack in that regard.
Swoop, meanwhile, marched up to Ratchet and reported, "Hound and Trailbreaker were out in that gorge overnight again." Ratchet groaned as Swoop continued, "Trailbreaker had to tow Hound in this time. Nothing serious. I did what I could in the half-hour I had left, but… Well, have fun," he said with an impudent grin.
Ratchet suppressed the urge to launch into a stream of very vile curses. It was an effort to do so, and the effort clearly showed on his face. Swoop smirked at him, knowing that particular expression of Ratchet's all too well, and then he turned toward Snarl.
Completely unfazed by Snarl's very odd choice of sleeping locale, Swoop unceremoniously grabbed one of Snarl's tail spikes and yanked on it in order to move a length of Snarl's tail out of the way. Snarl mumbled and grumbled a bit, but seemed otherwise oblivious. Swoop stepped into the little space that he'd created between Snarl's tail and the rest of his body, lay down in the space, wiggled around a bit in an attempt to make himself comfortable, and then yanked Snarl's tail closer again, creating a nest of sorts around himself. Seconds later, he was out like a light.
Ironhide started snickering again as Ratchet and Prowl exchanged a look. Prowl's expression clearly demanded an answer from the medic, but Ratchet only shrugged and made a faint, ambiguous gesture at the two Dinobots in response, as if to say, "What can you do?"
Moments later, a prodigiously yawning Sludge practically staggered into the Control Room. He didn't seem to notice the non-Dinobot occupants of the room; his attention immediately latched onto the comfortably-snuggled Snarl and Swoop, and he made his way unsteadily toward them. He flopped down behind Snarl, curling around him, and he was dead to the world almost before he finished the curling part.
"I'm…sensing a very disturbing pattern here," Prowl murmured weakly as the biggest of the Dinobots powered down.
And, sure enough, a few minutes later, Grimlock and Slag arrived in the Control Room, having just come in from patrol. Grimlock didn't so much as acknowledge anyone in the room before he joined the pile of slumbering Dinobots. This left Slag the job of giving Ratchet, Prowl, and Ironhide a steely, displeased, and very defiant glare as he found himself a spot, ending up leaning half-upright against Snarl's withers. He sighed almost contentedly as he, too, powered down.
Once the final two Dinobots had settled, and once a long and somewhat stunned silence had passed, Ironhide lazily drawled, "Well. Just when I think I've finally seen everything…"
"Ratchet?" Prowl managed to utter a few moments later, his tone of voice now completely dazed.
"Yes, Prowl?" Ratchet answered calmly.
"Would you mind telling me why there are now five Dinobots sleeping in the middle of the Control Room?"
Ratchet gave the issue at hand a bit of thought. A bit was all that he needed, though, for the answer to Prowl's question was quite clear, at least to him.
"Well, now that's a much easier question to answer," Ratchet declared with a nod at no one in particular.
"It is?" Prowl responded, surprised.
"It is," Ratchet confirmed, nodding again, but he didn't seem at all inclined to say anything further on the subject.
"And…" Prowl eventually, slowly prompted, "would you perhaps care to enlighten me?"
Ratchet shrugged and answered mildly, "Solidarity." After a pause, during which Prowl blinked in confusion at him, he added, "Now, if you're done asking me very stupid questions, I apparently have a complete idiot to repair."
And then Ratchet stalked out of the Control Room, growling under his breath about ungodly hours of the morning, crazy scouts, and annoying morning people. Prowl watched him leave, still blinking in confusion, and then he dazedly regarded the pile of sleeping Dinobots that, now, was taking up half the Control Room…and then he sighed.
It was very clear to him now that it was going to be one of those days.