Some of the following characters are from the TF universe (thanks Hasbro and Teletran-1!), the rest are mine.

A continuation of the question I asked myself, "I wonder if anyone wonders just HOW Spindle managed to stay alive in the nastiest places on Cybertron for so long...especially if she was only a college professor before the war." At least that was what the plot-bunny said I thought.

Reason

Jazz squirmed in his seat. Never…NEVER had he felt so unnerved, so overwhelmed.

This femme, who stood before him, was small, fragile-looking but the strength and authority that emanated from her petite frame was palpable and intense. He sensed that every servo, every neural relay, every part of her form was endowed with fortitude, courage, intelligence and…

Wiadaminit…

…was that a smile he saw lifting one side of her mouth plates as she crossed her arms over her chest plates? Did she actually lift her optic ridge at the same time?

…and whimsy!

And she was looking straight into his optics, through his processor and out the other side, he thought.

His optics…OH YEAH! His optics!

Jazz quickly sent the command to raise his visor back into his helm and smiled sheepishly.

"Sorry Memm…I forgot."

She laughed quietly, a large grin now making its way across her face.

"So young Jazz…I repeat; what can I do for you?"

Drawing deeply through his filters, he lay his hands on his knee joints and spoke clearly and succinctly

"Memm, I'd like to join your next dig. I know I'm not enrolled in the sciences department, but I would truly like to learn the ins and outs of excavating, the minutia of cataloging, the patience needed to sift through tons of detritus to find one grain of information. Why, I could use my new sensor net to assist in…

Spindle held her slim hand up to stop the mech.

"Jazz", she began, "this is a university sponsored excavation. Every member of the team has spent countless vorns preparing for this excursion. They were all vetted by the proper authorities. They have studied together, trained together for two vorns after they were chosen. It has been at least ten vorns altogether and you want to be included just like that?"

Jazz's spark skipped a pulse. He had been so sure of himself. So positive that all he had to do was smile that winning grin of his and the Scholar would melt on the spot and he'd be off to some adventure or another immediately. He decided to try a different tack; impress her with his abilities.

"That is most certainly true Scholar, but you will be operating on an organic world. There is definitely a need for someone to intervene with the native organics and coordinate the types of approach needed to…"

Spindle held her hand up again.

"Jazz, we have several in the group who are quite expert in relationships with organics and any other species we may encounter. I have Hound and Airazor for first contact…"

"Security, Memm…you need…"

"Brawn", she stated matter-of-factly.

"But he's no student."

"I know, but Iacon employs him and I trust him."

"I can run errands", the famous Jazz grin once again appeared. He was sure this would clinch his bid.

"Young Ikard, sibling to Scuba; I believe you know him?"

"Fuel?"

"Ahhhh…" Spindle replied, nodding her head. Jazz felt very hopeful.

"Crystal Star will tend to our refueling needs. Her carrier runs a café in the Underside. She's very good at finding quality grade fuel at scum-grade prices." And Spindle flashed a grin as wide and glittering as the one that had once graced Jazz's' visage.

Jazz felt his vents deflate along with his pride. He truly wanted to join this voyage across the stars and onto unknown ground.

Then somewhere in the depths of his processor a memory floated up…

"The truth usually works sweet spark", he heard his carriers say. "The truth does not have to be invented, remembered, or changed. It always is."

"Alright", he thought. "I'll do it." He stood tall and straight, with no show of conceit or egotism.

"Scholar Spindle, I am sorry Memm. I", he vented deeply. "I want to join your expedition so that I can, so that I might…Oh slagitall. I've been training in Special Ops and I want to perfect my skills on another planet, with an entirely different species. I've scouted Cybertron and its moons for as long as I've been in training and if I don't go with you, I'll have to wait almost the whole vorns before the official off-world mission begins. And there are only so many spots allotted for Special Ops trainees. I need to test myself under difficult conditions, prove that I can be the best and I need to learn to work with others, who are not in my skill group but who will still rely on me so much that I can't let them down."

He let out a long sigh and settled in for disappointment.

Spindle looked him up and down, and then returned to the other side of her desk. She sat in her chair and picked up a discarded data pad, seemingly ignoring Jazz for a moment and read what had been entered into it. Standing once again, she gave Jazz a gracious smile.

"Thank-you Jazz, I am glad to know your real reasons for wanting to join us. You know these positions are not fully-paid positions. The members receive a miniscule stipend and have also contributed a great deal of their own funds to attend and there is not much left over for hangers-on."

"Yes Memm, I know. I understand."

"Good. So now that we understand one another, here is the list of equipment that I expect you to bring with you" she tossed a data pad to him.

"This pad has your permission statement and medical release", she tossed a second data pad to him which he caught deftly while still reading the first.

"And this is Ultra Magnus recommendation, mission statement and report log, which he expects to be filled out…completely…before your return."

The mechs optics were wide with suspicion; surly there would be a price and he wasn't sure what it would be.

"Why memm; why all this", he spread his servos in curiosity.

"Magnus spoke for you. He knew what you needed and knew I could provide you with this head start. I wanted to be sure that I had a serious mech accompanying us, not some unreliable glitch-head who'd be off at the first sign of hard work."

"Thank-you…thank-youthankyouthankyouthankyou", Jazz stood there on the verge of blathering. "I will scrape every asset I have and…"

"Oh no; no need. You will pay your way by teaching me everything you have learned as a Special Ops trainee. We will have off-time and I expect you to guide me through every aspect, every trick, disguise, defense."

He took a small uncertain step backwards, unsure if there would be more than just training. He must have looked terribly confused as Spindle laughed and continued her explanation.

"Jazz, every good instructor has more than just their specialty to occupy their time. Archeology is and always will be my first love, but I want to learn how to sneak around, I want to learn how to blend in, how to survive on my own. You can teach me that and along the way, you will learn what you want as well."

She stuck her right servo out towards him and he grasped her wrist as she took hold of his.

"Deal?"

"Deal!"

{}{}{}{}{}

Jazz laughed at that memory. He chuckled again at the memories of the next several vorns spent in the company of Scholar Spindle's hardy band of archeologists. He remembered their friendship, their joy, the triumphs and defeats they experienced. How they taught him to appreciate cultures of other worlds; opened his optics they did! They all became very close, very dear to one another. Siblings in spirit if not in metal and bound together in unbreakable friendship forged in the fires of discovery.

And he remembered his very apt pupil, who learned all he had to teach. Learned it well enough that she was able to survive in the Underside of Cybertron several a thousand vorns after the war started. After the crèche was destroyed, after her sparkling became one in an unending line of casualties

All but Hound, Airazor and Spindle were gone now. The first two had left the Ark to follow a possible All-Spark sighting and rally Cybertronian colonies were there any in their path.

Only Spindle remained now; holed up in her tiny cubicle of a room since take-off some millennia ago. He was determined to do for her what she accomplished with him. He would open up this world here for her, little by little. He would bring her back into the world outside her door. He would make her a part Cybertronian life, even if she never took the oath as an Autobot, he'd make sure that she was a part of the crew and life on board the massive ship. He owed it to her. Had she not taken him on that excursion, he'd never the spy-bot he was now. He'd never be Primes' second-in-command, never love and revere the cultures of other worlds…

Her door was before him. Slowly venting he raised his servo to knock; or should he use the chimes?

The door slid open before he had a chance to make the choice and a voice from within called to him.

"May I help you young Mech?"

Almost the End…