Ah. Didn't come out quite as I wanted but oh well. This was written for several reasons: to get rid of a plot bunny, to make some G1/IDW references (slightly changed to fit my own desires and/or TFA-verse), to hopefully explain some things that happen in the series, and most importantly get me out of writer's block. All of these were fulfilled, but the writer's block thing sure took its toll on the plot XD Its still decent though, especially with the dialouge. The title is Latin for: And So it Follows.
Takes place between Where is Thy Sting? and 5 Servos of Doom
Jazz tried to hide his amusement at Sentinel's obvious displeasure. He knew that his commander would not appreciate any fun poked at him. Especially not now. He was was already in a foul mood because of Wasp's escape. Being forced to 'hang out' at Optimus's headquarters so that the twins could play video games with Bumblebee just made it even worse. Jazz wondered how much more humiliation the poor `bot could take. He was trying to mask it at the moment, to no avail. Servos crossed, leaning against the exit of the building, and a scowl on his faceplate made it clear how he was feeling.
But this was good for the twins. They had been so excited when Bumblebee had asked them to come over. He didn't think they had ever been invited to do anything before. In fact, he wasn't sure if they ever even had friends before. Their files from before the accident had been incomplete, and he knew that they hadn't had the time to make friends with Sentinel around. Jazz considered himself to be their friend, but he wasn't sure if that counted. They didn't have a choice to be with him. Still, he made sure to treat them as equals, unlike Sentinel did, so he hoped at least they felt comfortable around him.
Seeing them laughing and carrying on with somebot their own age for the first time since the accident was worth any amount of humiliation Sentinel was going through.
Jazz watched as they played, curious at how the game was done. If they had time he might want to try it once. It sort of reminded him of the simulations the Elite Guard sometimes had them do, just less realistic. Though Prowl had distinctively warned him before leaving on a patrol about the mental dangers of prolonged exposure to such games, he was sure they were harmless in small amounts. Optimus had even admitted to playing them once when Sari and Bumblebee had been out, and said that they were pretty entertaining.
"How much longer?" Sentinel asked in what sounded like a suppressed whine, "I can't stand being around low-lives like this…"
"Cool it, SP. Not too long." Jazz informed, "Give it another megacycle or so. Let them have a chance to chill."
"They've been chilling. It's getting dark out."
He sighed, shaking his head. "You can go wait in the ship if it you want. Nobot's makin' you stay here.
"I have to. To…supervise."
"What trouble will they get into here?"
"I'm more concerned about the `bots that they're with."
"BB and Bulky?"
"Yeah. They dropped a building on me, remember?"
"Oh that's right…" Jazz gave a small smile, "Funny how you guys met up again, huh?"
Sentinel rolled his viz scanners. "Hilarious."
Any continuation of their conversation (which, with Sentinel's present attitude probably wouldn't be much) was cut off by the sudden beeping coming from Teletraan-1. Optimus, who had been reading a datapad in the other room, came rushing in, taking his appropriate spot in the communications seat. Jazz leaned a bit to the right so that he could see what was going on. This may not be his team, but if anything was wrong he wanted to be able to help. They had done enough for him in the past to deserve it.
"Prowl to the Plant. I'm at the corner of Sorenson and Forster, and I've just spotted Dirt Boss." The ninjabot's voice informed from the computer, "I'll need some backup…considering what happened the last time we fought him…"
Jazz noticed Bulkhead, sitting on the metal couch near the television, grow uneasy at this reference. The others had paused their game, intrigued by the exchange.
"Dirt Boss? But shouldn't he be offline?" Optimus asked.
"Well…yes. But the same could be said for the Constructicons after the space bridge incident. They must be more durable than normal, or else the Allspark fragment that created them makes it easier to sustain injuries without death."
"Whatever it is, we can't risk letting him run around. We'll be there in…"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait a nanoclick, Optimus." Sentinel interrupted, walking over to him, "Don't you think that something like this should be handled by `bots that can actually get the job done?"
"And by that you mean…?" He replied, annoyed.
Jazz backed up a bit, not liking where this was heading. Although he could usually ignore Sentinel whenever he was being a glitch to him, it became really embarrassing watching him do it to others. Especially when it came to Optimus. No matter how hard Optimus tried it seemed that the two of them could never get along. There was a rumor at Cybertron Command about an accident in the past that destroyed the friendship between them. Maybe back then Sentinel was actually nice.
"I mean that me and my team should go out and take care of this…'Dirt Boss' `con. Jetfire and Jetstorm haven't been able to get any work done with all this playing and screwing around, so they'll need the exercise if we are going to catch Wasp." He shifted his gaze to Bumblebee and said in a low voice, "And you can see what happens when you let a `bot play around too much."
Optimus frowned in contemplation. "…all right. But first you need to know that-"
"Optimus, we can take care of ourselves, no matter what kind of `con we're up against. We're the Elite Guard, for spark's sake." He insisted pompously, "Now, just tell Prowlie-ninjabot to stay at the place where he saw the `con, and we'll check out the area around it. Dirt Boss has to have moved by now."
"…Prowlie-ninjabot?" Prowl repeated, the commlink conference not yet terminated.
"Okay then, its settled. Jetfire, Jetstorm!" He barked, "C'mon! It's time to go!"
The twins glanced at the games longingly, and almost looked like they were going to protest. That would be a first. Sure, sometimes they questioned Sentinel's commands, but he always had some answer that, even as crazy as some of them were, they believed and left it at that. But in the end Jetstorm helped Jetfire up from the couch and they walked solemnly over to their commander.
"We'll do this again soon, okay?" Bumblebee called.
"Yah!" Jetfire replied enthusiastically.
"Most definitely so!" Jetstorm agreed.
Jazz smiled, inwardly promising to make sure that they would be able to come back and play again, even if Sentinel refused.
While the rest of his team exited the Plant, Jazz hung around Teletraan-1. It didn't feel right to just leave after what happened. He nodded apologetically at Optimus, hoping he knew how sorry he was for Sentinel's rude behavior. Optimus returned the gesture, saying simply and without audible words that he didn't blame him.
"I'll call if he gets in over his head."
There was a frustrated shout of his name from outside and he grinned. "I better split. Later."
By the time he reached them Sentinel was already working the coordinates Prowl had given them into his newly acquired GPS. Jazz remembered the solar cycle he had forced him to purchase it. Although Sentinel wouldn't admit it, the new device was the only way to keep him from getting lost in Detroit, especially since he outright refused to learn any of the street names. His excuse was that they weren't going to be here long enough to know them, anyways. Knowing how fate liked to mess with them, though, he was sure that Sentinel would be proven wrong.
"Slagging thing…takes too long to get in the location…." Sentinel grumbled.
"You only want to do this so that you can get away from OP, don't you?" Jazz asked.
"Hm?" He said distractedly, though his surprise was clear, "What's that supposed to mean?"
Jazz sighed. Same old Sentinel.
Jetfire trudged beside Sentinel as they made their way down the dark street. The road that they (meaning Sentinel) had decided to take didn't have any streetlights. Sentinel wasn't using his headlights so that the `con wouldn't spot them, and making a flame to increase visibility would constitute an 'unnecessary use of fire', something that had been strictly enforced ever since the accident with the simulation. The only reason Jetfire could think of for these rules was a safety precaution for himself. But they knew that he wasn't able to be burned. Either that, or because Sentinel was afraid of his powers. That was crazy, though. Sentinel Prime wasn't scared of anything.
Except spiders, but they had been sworn to secrecy about that the moment they accidentally found out.
Jetfire wished he was with Jetstorm right now. The reason for the group split-up made sense: Sentinel explained that it would be easier to apprehend this 'Dirt Boss' character if they weren't so loud and obvious. His reasoning for bringing Jetfire along with him, however, was less logical. Something about 'making less noise' when they were apart or something of the sort. Whatever. He trusted Sentinel's judgment. After all, he was the second-in-command to Ultra Magnus. They didn't just give that job to anybot.
Jetstorm must be busy. Jetfire had been trying to talk with him ever since they were separated, but so far he was getting no reply. He could sense a sort of concentration and happiness from his brother, though. Perhaps he was either focused on their mission of finding the `con or he and Jazz were in the middle of a humorous discussion. Or both. Anyways, he wasn't answering, and that just made him feel more and more dejected. Hopefully he would have a chance to talk soon.
There was a low sound from below. It sounded like something that was alive. Jetfire bent over to investigate, finding himself above a small green patch of 'grass' (Jazz had taught them that word) in front of a small building. Well, all of the buildings on Earth were small, but this was one of the few that were really small. They seemed to be built in the same area, very close to each other. The bigger ones were all in one area too, and appeared to be less common.
The little brown thing that was making the noise wouldn't stop, almost like it was trying to talk to Jetfire. It was covered with the hair-stuff that most organics had, and running around in circles yelling at him. Too bad he could understand what it was saying. Had he done something to anger the organic? Had he already messed up?
"Please to be quiet, little one. I am to be doing official Elite Guard job, and cannot be distracted." Jetfire whispered. This didn't help at all, the organic only yelling even louder. Great. He had made it worse.
Very carefully he picked up the noisy organic. He was surprised at how soft it felt. He rubbed his fingers against its body, and it seemed to calm down. It stopped yelling, that was for sure, and looked up at him with large, wet viz scanners. He never thought that an organic would be anything like this. There was some kind of warmth inside of it, the complete opposite of the cold chassis of `bots. It reminded him of his own internal flames.
Jetfire nearly jumped when he heard the scream behind him.
"Wh-What are you doing with that…thing!" Sentinel cried, pointing at the organic in disgust. He was on the complete other side of the street, holding himself back at the sight of it.
Maybe he should add organics in general to the list of what Sentinel was afraid of.
"Am quieting him. Seems to be doing better now that I am holding him." Jetfire explained, "Should be feeling! Is like a 'Sari's' helmet, except all over!"
"'Sari'? Do you mean a human?" He asked, though it came out like a squeak.
"'Human'? I thought they vere be called 'Sari'?"
"No. Definitely not."
"Vy then are Bumblebee and Bulkhead calling organic pet 'Sari'?"
"It's her name. Now please…" He whimpered, "Put that thing back!"
Jetfire reluctantly returned the organic to where he found it, waving sadly as they left. It started to yell again, and he imagined that it was telling him to come back and spend more time with him. That he didn't want him to leave. Well, at least someone wanted to be around him. Jetstorm still hadn't responded.
"Mister Sentinel Prime, sir, vat kind of organic vas that being?" He asked as he caught up with his superior. Sentinel was moving so fast, as if trying to get as far away from the organic as possible.
"…uh…I think it's called a dog…" He replied apprehensively.
"Okay. Many thank you's!"
Dog. Dog. He had to memorize that. Maybe sometime later Jazz could take him and he could see another one. Jazz liked organics a lot more than Sentinel. He would appreciate the unique feel of the dog, let him pet it instead of making him let it go. Jetstorm could see it too. He knew that his brother would love it. They generally liked the same things. In fact, he couldn't think of anything they didn't both like or dislike. Except water and other wet substances. Jetstorm seemed fine with that while Jetfire couldn't stand it.
Jetstorm! I just seeing organic called 'dog' and is very small and cute. I know you are being busy, but wanted you to know. Feels so soft and warm and tries to talk.
There. It wasn't the most detailed, but if Jetstorm heard it and finally was able to talk he could elaborate then. Tell him all of the little particulars about the dog. Jetfire thought it was a great conversation point. They hadn't had many interactions with organics except for with Saris…er…'humans'. Those organics were everywhere, the major inhabitants of the planet. They were the ones who created all of the buildings and supposedly lived in some.
"Okay. Let's check over here." Sentinel gestured to an alleyway between two large buildings.
Jetfire shrunk away at the ominous passage ahead of them. He didn't really want to go in there if they didn't have to. Not without his twin. Who knows what kind of evil monsters could be hiding there? He pouted up at Sentinel, who retaliated by pushing him in. Completely unprepared, he let out a small cry, tripping over himself and almost falling over. It took nearly two whole nanoclicks for his viz scanners to adjust, and even then he could barely see. The moon's distant light was blocked by the buildings, creating an almost perfect pitch of pure black.
"C'mon, you malfunction! We don't have all solar cycle!" Sentinel called from behind, "Optimus will think everything I told him was just talk!"
"B-But…vill you be coming vith me?" He asked. Every shadow around him was making him more and more jumpy.
When he looked back Sentinel was no longer standing at the end of the alley. A chill ran down his spine. Where did he go? Why had he left him here alone? All potential horrors began to form in his processor. Was Sentinel hiding in the darkness, waiting to come out and scare him? It didn't sound like something he would do, but at the moment absolutely anything was possible. Was there an organic monster that wanted to eat him, like the ones in the scary stories he used to hear?
Where was Jetstorm's voice when he needed it? He mentally called out to his brother, but again there was nothing. Jetstorm was still too busy to talk.
He slunk over to the wall, hoping maybe if he wasn't seen none of these evils would attack him. Or he could fly off and somehow find his way back to the Plant. Even the flagship at this point! Anything to get as far away from this scary alley as possible. But Sentinel had told him to look around, and if he disobeyed he knew he would be in big trouble. What would be less frightening: staying here or facing Sentinel's wrath?
Jetfire's spark stopped beating. That wasn't Sentinel's voice. And Sentinel didn't pretend to be other `bots. He was too serious for that. No, this voice was rough and grumbly, and sounded like it was up to no good. Faint memories of the `bots who he had worked with at the oil refinery were brought up. Only this was a whole lot worse. More menacing and intimidating than the others. He whirled around, terrified of what he would find, if he even would be able to see it in the darkness.
Before he could identify the speaker something small and sharp slammed into his forehead.
In less than a nanoclick everything dissolved into nothing.
As soon as they stepped into the park Jetstorm could tell something wasn't right.
For one, Jetfire wasn't talking anymore. Even when he wasn't trying to directly communicate he would unconsciously be sending him thoughts and emotions through their bond. Jetstorm felt bad. It wasn't that he didn't want to talk with his brother, but Sentinel had told him specifically that if they became too distracted by each other they would be punished severely. Probably in a way worse than just separating them for a short period of time like they were now. Once they found the `con they could talk all they wanted.
The last thing he had heard was his brother crying out his name combined with feelings of intense fear. And then…nothing. No words, no thoughts, no emotions. Just a distant indicator of Jetfire's presence. It was never like this except for when they were in stasis naps. But why in the pits would he be recharging at a time like this? They were on a mission! Sentinel would have his gearshaft! And they both knew that when Sentinel got upset the whole universe might as well have turned inside out. Neither of them ever did anything to provoke this reaction from their commander on purpose.
Something had to wrong with Jetfire.
These suspicions were increased when the strange sensations started up. There was a dull pounding above his visor. His processor felt warm and fuzzy, like it was melting into some sort of soupy oil. Rational thoughts became harder and harder to form. He raised his servo to his helmet, finding his limbs heavier than usual. Slowly he staggered forward, not sure of where he was going, if he was indeed going anywhere.
"Mister Jazz, sir! Mister Jazz!" He called out aimlessly.
"Hm? Wassup, `storm?" He heard Jazz reply. His voice was distorted and echoed several times before he could finally understand what he had said.
"Brother…please to be checking on brother…" He mumbled, "Is too quiet…and…and am not feeling right…"
His vision swam in front of him, and he pressed harder against his head. The backdrop faded in and out. In and out. In and out. A constant, rhythmic, soothing pattern. Like the dripping of liquid from a faucet. Was that music? Bumblebee had introduced them to that earlier that solar cycle. Or was it yesterday? Grogginess and dizziness was overcoming him, and he thought he saw the blurry image of Jazz standing next to him every now and then. His white armor was smearing into the green from the organic plants around them.
Mission or not, a recharge did sound pretty good right now…
"Okay. I'll get SP on the comm."
Jazz's reply recalled his attention to everything that was happening, not just about himself. Jetstorm shook his head, trying to break free from the thick haze surrounding it. He couldn't take a stasis nap! Wasn't he just thinking about how ridiculous it would be for Jetfire to be doing the same thing? And yet that was all he wanted to do. Every ounce of concentration and drive had been sapped from him, leaving him weary and light-headed. Why was Jazz going to call Sentinel anyways?
Jetfire. They still didn't know about him. If he was okay. He had to stay awake for Jetfire.
He rubbed against his helmet, using his other servo to pinch his torso. Small jolts of pain shot up his chassis, rebirthing his senses. The amount of pressure should keep him alert until they heard back from Sentinel. Maybe by then these weird feelings would stop and he wouldn't be inclined to just give up and lie down.
He turned to where he believed Jazz was, realizing he hadn't said anything back to him yet.
"Thank you, Mister Jazz…"
"Of course something's wrong with Jetfire!" Sentinel screamed back to Jazz, "He's trying to slagging murder me!"
"Whoa, hold up! Drive that by me again?"
Okay. So maybe 'murder' was a bit of an overstatement, but it wasn't that far off. Another blast of fire flew by, and he increased the size of his shield to lower the room for error. If he let his guard down for even a nanoclick he might get hurt. And this was harder said than done, especially with Jetfire the one he was guarding against.
The intensity of the flames were greater than normal, burning completely through many of the metal cans that the reflected shots had collided with, leaving them a charred mess of slag. He didn't want to know what that would do to his armor.
"I just left him alone for a cycle and now he's all…"
All what? How could he describe this horrific change in words? Those glazed over viz scanners. The impassive faceplate. His motions were fluid, yet rigid at the same time in a different way. The fact that he was attacking Sentinel relentlessly only made it more unnerving. Jetfire slowly walked forward, a new fireball materializing in his servo.
Sentinel almost missed the Jetfire who got too close to organics.
"Okay, okay. Just chill." Jazz instructed, "Talk to him and maybe-"
He leapt to the side, barely missing an angled shot that was flung around his barrier. "I already tried ordering him to stop and he didn't listen! It was like he didn't even recognize me!"
"…I don't think I would have answered to that either…"
The consequent fires created from the deflected attacks lit up the way as Sentinel was driven further and further back into the alley. Every step made this more confusing for him. He didn't understand how or why this was happening. He had only left Jetfire for a cycle. Less than a cycle! The end of the cul-de-sac had needed to be checked out, and he had been sure Jetfire could take care of himself for that short amount of time.
Apparently he had been wrong.
"I'm callin' OP."
"No! Wait!" Sentinel protested, "Just give me a moment. I'll have this under control in no time."
"But what if you won't?"
"I can and I wi-"
A clattering from above caused him to look up, giving Jazz only a half of a sentence. Perched up on the fire escape was a smaller figure, holding onto the railing with its stubby servos. Possibly one of the shortest `bots he had ever seen, and he had seen Brawn before. Although he couldn't make out its appearance all the way, the purple Decepticon insignia was clearly distinguishable on its outer armor.
This was the `con they were looking for.
"Dirt Boss!" He whispered, "Stay on the comm channel, Jazz."
"You!" He gestured up at the `con, "Come down here, by order of the Elite Guard!"
"I don't take no orders from nobot." Dirt Boss replied simply. He leaned against the side of the building, amused. He was mocking him.
"Come down here or I'll come up there after you!"
"`n what? Just plow through little mister flamethrower here?"
Sentinel grimaced, reminded of Jetfire and his strange behavior. "He's my `bot. I can handle him."
"See, that's where yah wrong." He jumped down onto Jetfire's shoulder, "He's my `bot now. I'm his boss."
"What…" He paused, the realization still slowly taking its effect on him, "What did you do to him?"
"Made myself the boss. Though I'm a heckuva improvement compared to ya. I actually know how important he is and I won't call `im any names," Dirt Boss lifted Jetfire's chin as if examining him. The twin didn't even react to the touch, his stare as empty as ever, "He's a beauty, ain't `e? Young, fit, and firepower t' boot! I'll have that refinery up `n smokes `n no time!"
Sentinel didn't respond, both because the `con hadn't really answered his question and because of the blatant insult.
Dirt Boss elaborated. "Dandy device called a 'cerebro-shell'. Got it for helpin' a friend get his ship some new clearance in the city. Wanted a new hidin' spot and I know `em the best. They're like my old control shells `cept better. Lock- I mean my 'friend'- updated them to override motor systems and consciousness. Supposedly gets rid of those rare 'overpowerin' by sheer willpower' situations."
A wave of guilt and panic washed over Sentinel. 'Old control shells'. He had said that he had 'old control shells'. Optimus had tried to warn him about something that was unique to Dirt Boss. An ability or weapon or something of the sort. He had been trying to tell him about this.
Had all of this been preventable if he had stayed and listened? If he had made them stay together, like Optimus would've probably advised?
No. These cerebro-shells were something new. Different from when he fought the Earth team before. Optimus wouldn't have known about them if he thought Dirt Boss was offline. There was no way to prepare. Nobot knew about it. Well, nobot except for Lockdown, whose presence on Earth was quite disconcerting to say the least.
Even with this reassuring and confidence boosting, something deep inside of him still blamed himself. This was his fault for wanting to leave the Plant as soon as possible. Ultra Magnus had taught him better than to make mistakes like this. What would his leader say if he heard of it? He was pretty sure he knew: 'You should have listened to Optimus; be more like him'.
"So that means…" He thought aloud.
"Yah little buddy here's sleepin' like a protoform." Dirt Boss sneered, "But while he's out I'm sure he won't mind me usin' `im to decommission ya."
The `con flipped back. Almost instantly after he hit the ground Jetfire rushed towards Sentinel. He had no time to properly react before the young mech rammed into the shield, pushing up against it with all of his weight. Sentinel shoved hard back against him, trying to equal out the forces. This was no easy task, Jetfire being a lot stronger than Sentinel ever thought he was. With Jetfire this close he could now see the small drilled hole in his forehead which he had not noticed earlier.
Out of the corner of his viz scanner he could also see Dirt Boss scampering off out of the alley.
"Where do you think you're going!" He shouted after the `con.
"Not that this hasn't been fun `n all," Dirt Boss called back, "But I've got places to be. Once yer gone he knows to come and find me. Never been a big fan of public executions anyways. Ciao!"
"You come back here you slaggin' coward!"
But it was too late. Dirt Boss was gone.
Sentinel cursed, feeling his stabilizing servos slipping against the pavement. Jetfire continued to push, at one point even using a blast of fire to help propel him into the shield. His viz scanners bore into Sentinel, even though they were completely unseeing. Maybe he wasn't really in stasis like Dirt Boss said and somewhere deep, deep inside he was enjoying this whole thing. It would make sense. Not only was the `con right in that Sentinel never treated him well, but everybot always seemed to have fun at Sentinel's expense. Why should this be any different?
"Jazz! Jazz!" He cried into his commlink, "Okay…okay I can't keep this up anymore! Come and help me!"
There was no response on the other line. Just static.
Jazz had hung up on him.
In that moment the right amount of pressure plus Sentinel's distraction caused him to lose his hold on the shield. It clanked to the ground, the sound of its fall reverberating off of the narrow walls. Both Sentinel and Jetfire stared at it for a nanoclick, one out of surprise and the other merely processing what to do next.
Then Jetfire lunged forward.
Sentinel knew he was about to get slagged.
"We're on our way, Jazz. Should be there in a few cycles."
"Get there a quick as possible! I have no idea how long SP can hold it out." Jazz said.
As soon as he heard Dirt Boss say he was going to 'decommission' Sentinel, he knew he had to call Optimus. Even if Sentinel hadn't wanted him to. It was for his own good, though his ego might take a beating later. The poor thing had to be on spark support already for the damage inflicted on it.
"It's fine. I've got Ratchet with me."
Jazz decided not to comment on the implications of that statement. It was entirely possible that some injuries could happen, even if he didn't want to imagine them.
"Okay. I'll meet you over there in-"
"No. I think its best that you stay where you are." Prowl insisted, tapping in through the conference channel, "And I'll come to back you up shortly."
"Back me up? Are you whack? It's Sentinel who needs the help, not me!"
"I have reasons to believe otherwise. Just…just be careful, okay?"
Jazz ended the conversation, not sure why Prowl was so worried. He was worried himself, but for completely different reasons. Jetfire was attacking Sentinel, under the inescapable influence of a rogue `con. That was more than enough of an excuse to be worried. Either Jetfire could offline their commander, or vice versa due to an over-dose of self defense. Hopefully Optimus and the others would reach the two of them before either of those two options would happen.
He considered contacting Sentinel again, but he would only be angry at him for ending his call and/or for calling Optimus. Better just to leave it where it was. Sentinel would thank him later for all of this, anyways.
If he made it out, that is.
"Mister Jazz, sir…"
Jazz blinked. He had forgotten that Jetstorm was in the park with him. The younger `bot had been so quiet he might as well have not been there. Unnaturally quiet, actually. Both of the twins almost always had some kind of question about something. Whether it be about Earth, how things worked in the Elite Guard, or what the words he was saying meant. Yes, he was used to translating to them a lot.
"Is brother being okay?"
"Uh…" He fidgeted. What to say? What to say? Finally, he settled for the easiest choice: he lied. "Yeah. Jetfire's fine."
"That's good…" Jetstorm said softly. Wistfully. "Mister Jazz, sir…vondering…vat dog feels like?"
He was swaying slightly on his stabilizing servos, fingers tight around the side of his helmet. Jazz stared at him for a moment, suddenly feeling a bit troubled. Jetstorm's words were slurring together, and not because of his rather thick accent. He always made the extra effort to pronounce the syllables as clearly as possible, and now the way he was speaking it was like he was slacking off. He didn't usually slack off. At anything.
"…you okay, `storm?" Jazz asked warily.
"…am okay…" He smiled up at Jazz dreamily. A little too dreamily.
The smile disappeared. Jetstorm lurched over, as if threatening to collapse.
"Jetstorm!" Jazz caught him around the shoulders, shaking him back and forth. He didn't respond, staring blankly ahead at something nobot else could see.
Then he slowly took a hold of Jazz's servo…
…and hurled him to the side.
Jazz rolled for a mechanometer or so on the grass, slamming into a tree. The tree made a strange cracking sound, and several branches fell on top of him. He groaned, ignoring the pain, trying to pick himself up. When he did regain his balance, a burst of wind caught into him, sending him back to the ground.
Suddenly Prowl's warning didn't sound so farfetched. He was going to need back-up, however crazy the circumstance was. Why hadn't he thought of it before? Prowl had figured it out before him. And the other ninjabot didn't even have the experience with the twins and their connected processors like Jazz did.
If Jetfire was under Dirt Boss's control, so was Jetstorm.
Jazz instinctively launched his nunchaku, only to put them back as fast as he retrieved them. He couldn't attack Jetstorm. Not because he wasn't capable; though even then it would be a pretty even fight. He just…couldn't. Causing any injury to the mech, even if it was out of self defense, felt like a failure to everything that he strived to be. Jetstorm might never even remember what would happen, but just that thought that the trust between them could be broken made an attack impossible.
"Should've never taught you circuit-su…" Jazz murmured sarcastically while getting back on his stabilizing servos.
This was going to be a long game of extreme tag.
He held his lance out shakily against Jetfire's neck. The orange mech didn't even flinch or blink.
"Don't make me do this…!" Sentinel begged.
No reply. He wasn't sure if the lack of communication was making this any less sickening. Already he was feeling incredibly nauseous. What would this do to his reputation? Being forced to offline his own soldier? Had that ever even happened before? He had heard strange stories of what `bots had to do during the Great War to survive. Stories everybot had used to tell at the Academy to scare each other. For some reason this was a lot scarier than any of the tales that they had exchanged.
More than that, how would he feel after it was over?
Images of Elita-1 stuck on that organic planet. Dying. Reaching out to him, telling him to save her. Would he be able to go through that again? This time with the energon clearly on his servos, not just the feeling of guilt? There had to be another way to solve this problem. Something other than losing another comrade because of his stupid decisions.
Jetfire used this to his advantage.
Barely a nanoclick later Sentinel toppled backwards, dropping his lance in the process. Jetfire kicked it back toward the front of the alley effortlessly, like he had with the shield. Now if Sentinel wanted to get his weapons back he would have to get past him first. And with the way he had been fighting, that would be impossible. Jetfire was not giving him any opportunity to slip past him. He was using all of the techniques they had taught him in training.
It was an odd time to feel proud about the work he had done, but Sentinel couldn't help it. The self-gloating comforted him a little in the face of all that was happening. At least he still had some of his dignity intact. Going off with a smidge of honor was better than going with none at all. Or at least, that was what he was taught.
He started to rise, shaking the dust off of his shoulders. Conflicting thoughts arose, making him feel more and more indecisive. Sure, it would be the easy thing to just let Jetfire take him out, but he had to consider what would happen afterward. Dirt Boss would still have a highly-trained and capable `bot at his disposal to do his every whim without question. Just the ideas of the damage inflicted on Earth were devastating. What would happen if Dirt Boss would join up with the other Decepticons?
So what was it? Offline Jetfire to prevent him from hurting anybot else, or be offlined to keep himself from doing that very thing?
Jetfire formed another fireball, preparing for the final blow. Sentinel winced but stood his ground. The otherwise quiet city was egging him on. Reminding him of the stress. He had to decide. Now.
Before he could make up his mind, though, a voice rang out, gaining both of their attentions.
A yellow light filled the alleyway, blinding Sentinel.
And then it was over.
Ratchet looked over Jetfire with a frown. He had landed on the ground pretty hard after the EMP blast. The medibot hadn't thought that he had had the setting on that high, but he hadn't had much time to think before he acted. Something had to be done to stop all of this, and he was the only `bot that was willing to do that something.
Sentinel was in shock. Possibly a catatonic state, though more likely stupor than anything. Ratchet could see the symptoms as the mech sat over to the side, staring and mumbling something to the wall. He would need some treating too, but not before tending to Jetfire. Ratchet knew a deal more about cerebro-shells and how fast they needed to be deactivated. Besides, it looked like Optimus was going to talk to him. Part of the recovery of trauma was to have moral support.
He still couldn't believe that a cerebro-shell had found its way here. The last he had heard of it was back in the Great War, when the insecticon Bombshell had used one on the young Academy student named Beachcomber to try and assassinate Ultra Magnus. They had stopped the plot in time, but the device had done its damage. Beachcomber was about as processor-dead as possible without going offline or into a coma. He recovered fairly well, but his processor no longer held the attention span nor memory banks that it used to. The Academy had booted him out as soon as they could.
Bombshell had gone offline during the war by Megatron due to the insecticons' betrayal. Ratchet had assumed that that had marked the end of the cerebro-shell as well.
He had been very, very wrong.
"What do we have to do, docbot?"
He grumbled as he looked up at Bumblebee, who seemed close to poking Jetfire's prone chassis. "You need to get out of my way!" He snapped.
The yellow `bot stiffened and went back over to Bulkhead, already making a crack about how grouchy Ratchet was. Young mechs. They never took anything seriously! Didn't he realize that this was highly important? He wasn't playing doctor: he was the doctor. This wasn't just some game where if he messed up nobot really got hurt. Working with devices like cerebro-shells only made his job more stressful.
He prepared to further examine the shell when another voice called out to him. He sighed, turning towards the entrance of the alley way where it was coming from. Didn't anybot realize that he was busy!
"What is…" He trailed off.
Jazz and Prowl were walking up to him, the limp form of Jetstorm in both of their servos. Everybot in the alley, even Bumblebee of all `bots, grew deadly quiet. They carefully laid him down next to his twin, being extra cautious not to slam his head against the pavement. Ratchet was surprised at the precision and knowledge that the two ninjabots showed. They knew how to treat a `bot in stasis, unlike some other `bots on his team.
"He just kinda fell over…" Jazz said. "EMP, right?"
"Yeah…had no other choice." Ratchet replied.
"What?" He was taken aback by the sudden almost commanding tone that Jazz had. Jazz must've been surprised too, because he immeadiately looked down at his stabilizing servos in embarrassment.
"Sorry about that…" He mumbled, "But please…do what you gotta do."
Ratchet nodded sadly. Unfortunately, he understood what it was like to have a teammate in this kind of situation. Actually, it had happened several times, two of the worst incidents on the same solar cycle not too long ago. Except it affected him differently. He had the ability to save them. So much responsibility. He had done it before with Bumblebee and Sari, most likely he'd be able to do it again. He was a doctor, after all. He could handle it.
Vital signs. He checked them individually, starting with Jetfire. Sparkbeat seemed okay. Oil pressure was normal. Okay. That was exactly what he wanted to find. Of course, he couldn't do a processor scan at the moment, so he didn't know if the worst of the effects had begun.
He moved on to Jetstorm and got the same exact results. Twins. He had never understood them, how things like this could happen to them. How a split protoform could even survive, for that matter! It defied all scientific and medical theories that he knew of. And yet they weren't that rare of an occurrence on Cybertron. There was at least a pair in every major city.
Ratchet straightened up, bringing out his electromagnets. This was where it would get tricky. He would have to locate the shell from the opening in Jetfire's helmet, cautiously remove it, and then deactivate it, all the while hoping that he wasn't doing anything to set off a failsafe program or any other kind of booby trap the shell might be hooked up with. That had been what did in Beachcomber. When they took it out it fried most of his processing units.
He was about to start the procedure when he noticed a trickle of pink dripping down from the hole. Ratchet froze, detracting the electromagnets and peering closer. No. He gently wiped his finger across the leak, lifting it back up to see better. As he did he could hear Jetstorm stir a bit, a quiet moan escaping his vocalizer. It was just as he feared.
Jetfire was hemorrhaging.
"We need to get them back to the Plant, stat!"
Jetstorm shot up, coolant running down the side of his faceplate. His spark felt like it was beating a hundred hics per cycle. His surroundings were slowly forming around him, not nearly as fast as he would like it. Something was wrong. Why was he so freaked out? All of his senses were screaming at him. Telling him to fight. Fight back. Fight what? He didn't know. Just to fight, to win. It was the only way he would make it out online.
"Look who finally decided to get up!" A high voice announced cheerily.
He was on top of a berth in a small room that he recognized as being in the Plant. His anxiety began to calm down. If he was here then he had to be safe. There was no apparent danger anywhere around him. That was a relief. No more fears. No more fighting. And, most importantly, his own twin on the berth next to him.
"Oh! Brother!" Jetfire smiled. "Good to be seeing you awake!"
"Feels like I have been hit vith heavy…thing…" Jetstorm groaned, "…and then dragged on express flight to Cybertron on bullet ship…"
"Is okay. Does not last long."
"Most sure." He assured, "Ratchet vas being vorried because you vere not vaking fast as me. But I vas not ever like that, because I vas knowing it'd be okies."
That was a lie, and a bad one too. Jetstorm could still sense Jetfire's fear. That was probably the reason why his nerves had been so out of whack when he came to. The anxiousness had come from his brother. Maybe a combination of something else as well, but he couldn't quite place it.
He wasn't about to ruin Jetfire's moment of glory though. More than ever now, since there was a small techno-organic at the edge of his berth.
"So…do you remember anything?" Sari asked, leaning forward excitedly and kicking her legs in the air. Her eyes were large and filled with curiosity.
He considered this. "…no. Not really. Few little pictures coming up…but is jumbled…and am not liking it."
"Well…" She put her finger to her mouth, "That's weird. Jetfire knew it all…Oh well. Maybe Ratchet'll know what's up when he comes back."
"Vhere is Mister Ratchet?"
"Out with the others tracking down Dirt Boss. Considering what happened to you two…he'll probably be needed." She explained, "But I'm in charge until he comes back. And I'm gonna take good care of you!"
Dirt Boss. That sparked something in his memory core, but it faded away almost as soon as it came.
"So…vat are we doing?"
"Talking." Sari replied with a shrug.
"Yes. Me and the 'Sari' have been doing much of the talking." Jetfire inputted.
"No, Jetfire. Not 'the' Sari. Just 'Sari'. Remember?"
"Grammar is so confusing…Okay, just Sari. Sari." He sighed, raising his servo to his head. "Next time vill not be so easy to forgetting."
That was when Jetstorm noticed the IV attached to Jetfire's chassis, sending a steady flow of energon into him. And the small bandage on his forehead. And the stains about his armor and the berth. Pink. The unease that he had thought had gone away returned very quickly. He had been right. Something was wrong.
His visor widened. "Are you okay, brother!"
"Hm? Oh yah. Am fine. This?" He lifted the IV a tad, "Apparently vas bleeding on inside in processor. This makes it stop."
"…vat happened to us?" Jetstorm asked quietly. He was frightened of what he might hear, but the empty spaces in his memories would continue to haunt him until he figured out.
Jetfire faceplate blanched. "Vell…is long story…but…"
"No…vait." He replied, suddenly remembering something, "Something else first."
"Vat is it?"
He smiled. "Tell me all about this 'dog'."