Author's Note: Alrighty, so this bit of fiction is my crack at cross-continuity writing, though it's mostly Bayverse. It's set some time after the first film (2007), but it's G1 in its mention of the Ark and its crew. I, personally, was refreshed by pretending (if only for a couple hours) that the second and third films did not exist. No spoilers for Dark of the Moon in this.

Rain pinged off layers of alarmingly bright armor in a tin-roof chorus, creating a sound akin to that of a hundred snapping fingers. The owner of said armor waited, straight and stoic, staring through the pelting water at another figure standing another fifteen feet away. It was early morning still, not quite five o'clock, and the blanket of darkness that covered the field in which the two figures stood was interrupted only by the periodic strike of lightning.

The storm was not quite overhead yet, Ratchet deduced. The thunder still tailed the bright flashes of lightning by several seconds, giving him time to turn down his audio sensors before the noisy reverberation of the thunderclap had a chance to assault his sensitive hearing. Despite the suddenness and somewhat alarming intensity of the thunder, the lightning didn't bother him. He knew he'd more than likely be able to withstand a lightning strike. After all… The CMO's own voice flitted through his processor.

Wow, that was tingly! Try that.

Perhaps the voltage of the lightning would be just as interesting as that of the power lines behind the Witwicky residence. He might have to run some tests one day to compare…

The absurdity of his own thoughts caught Ratchet off guard and he struggled to keep his face schooled into a neutral expression. He had better things to be thinking about than electrocuting himself at the moment.

"Ratchet," the larger figure said suddenly, turning glowing blue optics that had previously been gazing up through the rain at the dark sky on the medic. "Do you think the Ark is still out there?"

"I don't know, Ironhide," the CMO said, somewhat irritably, shaking off what water he could in a quick shivering of limbs and armor. "It's probable."

"Last we heard they were being pursued," the Weapons Specialist said, his rough voice cutting through the pitter-patter of rain.

"Yes, but we don't know whether they were shot down," Ratchet pointed out impatiently. He really didn't feel like having this conversation right now, out on watch, standing in the pouring rain in the ungodly hours of the morning. "They could be anywhere."

Ironhide grunted noncommittally, tilting his helm back to continue staring at the sky, which was beginning to turn from black to a deep blue with the approaching dawn. Ratchet shifted uncomfortably as the rain continued to work its way through the cracks and crevasses in his armor, making the underlying protoform's dermal layer crawl in irritation.

Their current 'base', which could hardly be called such in Ratchet's opinion, was nothing but a deserted warehouse on the outskirts of Tranquility. The dilapidated building and the weed-strewn blacktop that surrounded it had been (oh, so kindly) allotted to them by the government until a proper base was constructed. The problem with this? No security could be set up other than traditional personnel watch shifts assigned to stand vigilantly in the overgrown field at the forefront of the blacktop.

Ratchet let a discontented grumble slip as he shook himself off again, unwittingly resembling a flustered, half-drowned bird. This blasted planet and its blasted water requirement. What the frag. Why had he volunteered to do early morning watches? Oh, right. Because there were only five of them and to Pit if anyone else was frelling responsible enough to drag their lazy afts out of recharge so early, other than Optimus, who needed his recharge even more than Ratchet did. They had taken their shifts two at a time, and Primus only knew why Ironhide had chosen to take a shift with the CMO, but so it was; Ratchet and Ironhide, Jazz and Bumblebee, and Optimus, being the strong and stable leader (Ratchet snorted), had taken up solitary watch duty.

Slag. Slag, slag, slag.

"I suppose Prowl knows what he's doin'," Ironhide said suddenly, shifting his weight and startling the medic from his silent, internal tirade.

Ratchet nodded silently, his thoughts drifting to their Second in Command. Quiet and focused, Prowl had always been a somewhat stoic mech, but most of the officers, including Ratchet, had often been favored with glimpses the real mech behind the calm, in-control exterior. Prowl was compassionate and caring beyond what most would even consider he could be, but he was somewhat like an awkward adolescent, at times; shy and easily embarrassed around those who knew him best, and that often made him the unfortunate favorite subject of pranks… Which brought Ratchet's thoughts to the twin hellions, Sunstreaker and Sideswipe.

Those Lamborghinis had been a thorn in his side since the very first day they had been hauled, half deactivated, into his medbay. They had been the most stubborn, disrespectful slaggers that he had ever laid optics on and they knew fragging well exactly what buttons to push to send him off on one of his legendary tirades or tantrums. Sunstreaker and Sideswipe had been perfect targets on which to hone his wrench-throwing abilities, between all the times he (and his immaculate medbay) had been the victim of their pranks and the times that they had slagged themselves in battle badly enough to (privately) insight fear in his spark.

'Jet Judo indeed,' Ratchet thought with a derisive snort.

The very thought of the slaggers made his optic twitch in exasperation! He missed them. He hoped, silently, that they were getting the medical attention they needed, wherever they were. That thought brought him to First Aid. The young protectobot showed so much promise as a medic and Ratchet knew he could rest easy knowing that First Aid would be doing a fine job of taking care of the Ark's crew. He could only hope that First Aid's early days as a medic were easier on him than his own were. In the days before the separation, Ratchet had been amused by the fact that the young medic had so obviously been picking up on his personality traits and bedside manner (despite First Aid's own, natural gentleness). The CMO idly wondered if he'd thrown his first wrench yet. He hoped not… that was something that he'd prefer to bear witness to. Either way, he was sure that the kid was being taken care of, if Wheeljack had anything to say about it.

He allowed a small smile to work its way onto his faceplates at the thought of his oldest friend. There were times when Ratchet was sure that the engineer would blow up the entire academy, back on Cybertron. He'd come close quite a few times, and had an extra stockpile of replacement limbs to prove it. The CMO remembered, with a smirk, attempting to explain to new recruits in the medbay just why the crazed inventor needed so many parts on hand. He vividly recalled the horrified looks on their faceplates when he had elaborated on Wheeljack's… prowess as a pyrotechnic and explosive enthusiast. Ratchet had beat the engineer senseless (even more so than he was naturally) more times with his wrench than he cared to count, but Wheeljack had always just laughed about it, and teased Ratchet for his temper. The inventor had been one of the few that had remained, over the centuries, undeterred by Ratchet's temperamental outbursts. Not only had Wheeljack stuck around, but he had monitored Ratchet so closely and known him so well that the engineer often knew exactly when to step in and force Ratchet to refuel and recharge before he collapsed from being under energized. He owed much to Wheeljack, and missed him perhaps the most of the entire missing crew.

Ratchet frowned. He refused to admit it to Ironhide, but the fear that the Ark had gone down and all of its crew had been lost to The Well hung heavily in his spark, too. Such an event embodied tragedy itself for the Autobot force left on Earth. If those upon the ship were indeed lost, would it not spell the loss of the war for the entirety of the Autobot faction? Ratchet shook his helm vehemently. If he were to brood too far into those thoughts, he risked falling into despair, and that was not something he could be allowed the luxury of in times like these. No, Ratchet had no doubt that the lost Autobot ship was still out there somewhere, wandering amongst galaxies and looking for them.

"Ratchet?" Ironhide asked, once again derailing Ratchet's train of thought.

"What is it, Ironhide?"

"What're you thinkin'?"

"About how nice it would be if this slagging rain ceased and if your vocalizer suddenly shorted itself out, Ironhide," Ratchet sighed. There was a blissful moment of silence before Ironhide spoke again.


"What, Ironhide?"

"You're getting grumpier in your old age," the Weapons Specialist answered gruffly, though Ratchet could almost hear the smile behind the words.

"Back at you, old mech."

The storm quieted to a soft rain, punctuated only by the erratic, distant rumble of thunder.