I know Ironhide's dead in the movieverse, and I hate it.

Ratchet, over the last few days, had lost much of his sensory input.

No one needed to tell him what that was all about. He had been a medic long enough to know.

Still, he also knew whose large shadow fell across him. "Prime," he said, softly; he didn't have the carburation to be loud any more.

"Ratchet." Optimus, himself late in his span of vorn, sat beside his berth, took the frail spotted servo into his own. He had traveled far and fast to make this meeting.

"Good to … see you … old friend."

This was a lie. Optics had shut down an hour or so ago; Ratchet's failing spark could no longer power them.

He felt the wrench pressed into his palm, and managed a snort. "Think you … need it?"

The smile in Optimus' voice was his reward. "No, but I thought you might."

Ratchet put the wrench into his other servo, and held out the first one for Optimus'.

They sat that way for a long, long time. When the last juddering exhalation had left Ratchet's vents, the supervising medic (great-grand spark of First Aid, as the humans had reckoned things) said softly, "Time of death is three oh seven point nine eight four."

Optimus rose, dry-eyed, and left. He had no regrets left between himself and Ratchet, but Primus, how he was going to miss that mech.

Ratchet found himself in a large - area. It didn't have walls, but seemed to be composed of mist. Mist which might solidify in the distance, if you walked far enough.

That was a good plan, with only one drawback. There was absolutely nothing in sight to serve as landmark.

On the plus side, he didn't have any more pain. The old neural system had finally gotten with the program. Thank Primus.

On that thought, a voice rang out. "This way, Ratchet."

"Which way? I can't tell where you are! And who are you?"

"All in good time." The swirling alabaster became a pearly white, then somewhat translucent; then it seemed to pull back, creating a pathway, or a hall. Ratchet followed it, discovering that he still had in one servo the wrench Optimus had given him.

Fine. He'd fought to the death with less, in his time.

The demystified swathe led him into another area of no definition, but at the far end there was a dark splotch. Ratchet slowed as he approached it; it resolved into a dark desk, behind which was seated a mech Ratchet somehow Knew was Primus; before the desk was a chair that looked indecently comfortable.

Primus reminded him of Optimus, in Optimus' own prime of life. He sat relaxed and Ratchet could feel the power that radiated from Him.

For all that, Primus had a smile of welcome for him. "Ratchet, My own," he said. "Come, sit; We need to talk."

That phrase had never, in Ratchet's entire life, boded well. He sat, and braced himself.

"Ratchet, My Ratchet," Primus said, "you have twice taken into your own servos powers which rightly should reside only in Me."

Ratchet blinked. Of all the things he'd done in a long and misspent life, resurrecting Jazz and Ironhide was the last he thought he'd be called on the carpet for.

With that thought, a carpet materialized under his feet.

Ratchet's mind was racing to fast too notice it. He'd killed his fair share of 'cons, for instance, and he knew of at least one medical blunder on his record that had cost a patient's life.

"But," he said, "it wasn't I who brought them back to life. It was You."

"He looks peaceful," Prowl said.

"'Bot was never 'peaceful' a day in his life," Ratchet snorted.

Jazz lay between them, repaired.

Not alive; that, Ratchet knew, was beyond his powers. But he could and he had put back together the links and the lines and the plating, and what was on the berth looked like a very good sculptural portrait of Jazz.

Although Jazz perfectly still was not Jazz at all. Jazz had had rhythm, or perhaps it was more apt to say that rhythm had had Jazz.

Working together, he and Prowl laid the too-still body in a wooden packing crate which had "No Salvageable Parts" stenciled on it. Until Jazz was entirely out of memory, which would not happen until they were both offline, no one would come looking for this or that from him.

Had he known, somehow? Ratchet wondered at the time. He didn't think so, not now. He simply, and selfishly, didn't want to say goodbye.

How Prowl had managed, without so much as a tranquilizer, he didn't know.

Then Ironhide had died in the worst way Ratchet, personally, could imagine, and he could imagine a lot of them.

Pulling up the weapons specialist's specs in the first few days after the battle, he'd realized that it wouldn't be all that hard to put him back together. Ratchet, keeping his project secret even from First Aid, had sterilized the head, found and repaired the spark chamber, sterilized it … another "No Salvageable Parts" sticker on another coffin. What was probably worse was that he'd let the company mourn and bury a coffin filled with make-weight.

Optimus had been shocked to the core of his being when Ratchet told him what he'd done, and why.

He hadn't refused, though. He and Samuel Prime had done it.

Sam Witwicky. Dead now for how many vorn? About three, by Ratchet's estimation. The boy had twenty-four hundred and seventy-eight descendants, living and dead, the last time Ratchet checked.

Well, boy. Sam had died filled with honors, old for a human: about one and a quarter vorn. Still, it was not the old man's face, nor even the adult's, that Ratchet's memory banks threw up; it was the teenager's, rawboned, inexperienced, scared to death, in the middle of a war he did not understand between two races of beings each of which could easily (and one of which would deliberately) step on and kill him, and still possessed of more guts than good sense.

Passed his part of the Matrix on to Hot Rod on his deathbed. Dang kid.

The two of them, the tall mechanoid Prime and the small human one, stood on each side of Jazz' body. The air in med bay was still and silent, Ratchet himself off to one side, out of the way, nothing to do with the experiment: more the technician who had built the monster waiting for the lightning strike.

It struck, and Jazz' optics shuttered open on a roar of pain for a sensation no longer tearing him apart.

It struck, and Ironhide screamed loud and long before he realized he was no longer being eaten alive.

Primus said gently, "But I struck, and they lived, because you had done what you did."

Ratchet did not bow his head to his Creator. He sat upright and tall, and said, "Yes, I did. And I would do it again. Life is ephemeral, a condition to be cherished. Where it can be re-established, I will always do so."

"I see," Primus said thoughtfully. Ratchet remained silent. If he had been wrong in his estimation, he would take the blame. It had never been his way to run from responsibility.

"Very well," said Primus, after an eternity or six. "It is My judgment, Ratchet, that in worshiping life, you have done as you should."

Ratchet blinked. "What?"

Primus repeated patiently, "You have done as you should. Life is precious. You could not save them all, but you saved all you could." The Being smiled. "Go thou, Ratchet, and be well. When the time is right, I will give you body again."

He vanished.

Ratchet was alone again, but not in an anonymous misty room. All those he had loved crowded around him, Jazz and Ironhide and Sideswipe among them, and he was, for the moment, home.