Practicum Cybertronium 4
A Transformers Prime Fanfiction
"They have no protective shell," the medic whispered the obvious fact to the Prime fighting back his exasperation and growing resignation. "If they get underfoot they will go…" he searched the language banks of their cursedly confusing language for an appropriate word to describe the collections of water and organic material compressing, "squish!"
To emphasize his point he lightly brought the rear stabilizers of his ped down on the concrete. Immediately he mentally kicked himself for his carelessness as the three immature humans flinched back; obvious fear on their fleshy faces. Medic protocols flared up and burned across his processor nipping at his spark with guilt; recognizing the organics for the sparklings they were and forcing him to grant them all the protection and care that entailed, further souring his mood.
"Watch our step indeed," Ratchet muttered to himself as those same ancient protocols proceeded to drag up the memory files and replay them again and again as he reached over and absently and set the tool he was using beside a few others on the walkway.
Inside the silo the same lighting reflected off of his red and white armor that had from the moment the human authorities had granted them this base. Outside the dark cycle had descended on the arid environment. No moon shone down and the darkest hours of the night had claimed the area. While he was not at the mercy of the planet's rotational cycle thanks to the primitive lighting of the base, the healers' codes dedicated to problem solving seemed to always choose the deeper quiet of the small hours to activate.
It was an old and very practical set of codes that all medics had. The intended purpose was to regulate problem solving and diagnosis activates so a mech could focus on more than one issue at a time without it overwhelming his processing capacity. When the Autobot had been in charge of the health and wellbeing of legions of fighting mechs it had been a Primus sent blessing that kept him from going mad. Now that he had a mere handful for warriors and their allies to worry about those same codes became over active; choosing some error in judgment he had made, some insolvable problem the circumstances left him in and wringing it through his processor over and over again. Frightening the children that first day was a new favorite for them and right now they were battering the medic with what his impulsive error in judgment had caused.
He had not meant to frighten or threaten the little organics. The Cybertronian had merely miscalculated, underestimated, the abilities of their senses. They had clearly heard his whispered protest and had gleaned the meaning of the gentle, to him, tap he had given the cold concrete. The fear he had seen in their eyes had been an immediate reproach to him despite logic that whispered that they should be afraid. This was far too dangerous a situation for them. Even then, moments after meeting them, he could feel the healer's coding whispering to his processor; the medic programming working to carve out a place in his spark for the new charges. He had fought it, had not wanted to accept this burden, but now…
Ratchet gave a soft groan of annoyance as his low sweep sensors flared up. Miko's high laughter floated up to his audio receptors slightly soothing the irritation with a warm glow of approval at the sign of good health and high spirits. He shot the female an annoyed glance and snapped out the usual warning. As expected she acknowledged the reprimand flippantly and darted off. Slightly heavier footsteps came around the corner and the medic gave a soft vent of relief as Jack carefully circled around him, clearing the sensors' range. The new programming had integrated well thankfully, with no side effects.
The medic returned to the diagnosis he was running on the computer systems and called out to Rafael. The boy answered in the affirmative and Ratchet adjusted the program accordingly. There was a human he didn't mind having around; much. He knew his place and kept to it, staying to the raised areas where there was no danger getting underfoot of the larger Cybertronians. Jack was always courteous, respecting the safety zone around their peds, but he had a warriors pride and insisted on walking everywhere; refusing any offers to be carried. A service eagerly granted by the war worn and lonely Cybertronians. Worse, the oldest of their charges felt the need to be constantly useful. With the raven haired youth's set of skills that involved moving around on the concrete floor and getting into annoying places. He could not always avoid triggering the safeties but he always tried. Miko; Ratchet shook his helm, when she remembered she would sometimes try to avoid the live area. Rafael called out another adjustment and the medic responded.
"Miko put that down!"
Jack's voice was laced with resignation not terror so Ratchet kept his optics firmly fixed on the screen.
"Make me Biker Boy!"
Ratchet resolutely tuned out the voices and gritted his dentia as he prepared for the girl to dart by his legs again but the sound of footsteps went the other way as Jack herded her away from the busy mech. Red and white shoulder guards slumped in relief. The mech began tracking a misaligned data stream when Raf called out another correction to the system. Ratchet reached over for the necessary tool but the tracking program he was using threw off his spatial recognition and he staggered as his servos swiped empty air then knocked a rolling chair flying. With a silent curse his other hand snapped out to catch the object throwing him further off balance, internal balance sensors already slightly off causing him to spin around clumsily bringing one ped high as a counterweight.
He heard Rafael's scream of terror at the same time the warning sensors on the sole of his ped began to burn like plasma fire. Part of his processor demanded to know how Miko had gotten back underfoot so quickly and why she was not moving from underneath him. Another section prayed frantically that the new programming was simply malfunctioning. The fresh protocols were working perfectly; tightening cables, stretching pistons, straining his systems to the breaking point to counter the downward movement of his errant ped but he knew it would not be enough and unspeakable dread filled his spark. Miko; Bulkhead's precious charge, was going to die under his ped due to his own carelessness. The flaming sensors in his base plate flickered slightly just before he made contact and as he had feared from the beginning the horrific sensation of human flesh under Cybertronian metal went squish.
All this took micro-klicks to pass through his processor. Then time seemed to freeze and he was unable to look down as Jack's cry of agony filled the silo from below. Old habits and ancient training forced the medic to lower his gaze only to have his processor seize up in confusion and then relief at the sight of the slim Asian on her aft on the concrete staring in mixed shock and annoyance at his peds. Ratchet regained his sense of glanced sharply at his screaming ped and gave a cry that was half relief and half fear the last minute flickering explained. He lifted up his leg with exquisite care and immediately knelt to examine Miko's damaged leg.
"Jack call Nurse Darby!" he ordered harshly relief flooding through him as the results of the scans hit his processor. "I am going to move her to the medical bay."
The medic forced an immediate shut down of all his subsystems that were devoted to analyzing the malfunctioning computer systems and diverted that processor capability to the injured girl. Rafael he could trust to shut the programs down safely. Ratchet scooped up the pink haired youth with utmost care and strode for the medbay. The rest of his mental ability was analyzing his sensor readings of what had happened. Miko had frozen under his ped for a fraction of a second before leaping to the side. The movement had protected her head and vital organs but left one delicate limb in the path of the falling ped. Already she had lost precious fluids from the injured flesh. The leaks would need to be mended but that was beyond his ability. For now he could only apply pressure to prevent the seeping from getting out of hand.
Ratchet laid his patient on the hospital bed and began administering what remedies he felt he could until Nurse Darby arrived. Mostly that involved pain killers and treating the internal and external bleeding to the best of his ability. By the time he had finished the woman had arrived. After a cursory examination she stated that she need treatment at a human hospital. Ratchet transformed and they quickly loaded the now unconscious girl into his carrying compartment. The groundbridge to the hospital was tense. With June watching over her patient and Ratchet afraid to say anything to the woman to earn her well deserved wrath. He dropped them off and more slowly retreated to base.
The sensation of his ped coming down on the human filled his awareness as he drove the dusty road back to Omega One. He needed time to process this alone without the presence of Bulkhead adding any more to his guilt. The silent desert soothed him somewhat and by the time he reached the base he had composed himself enough to prepare his report for Optimus. He dreaded facing the Prime when he returned from patrol.
I warned him! A small voice screamed inside his processor. I warned him this would happen. If he had just listened to me in the first place none of this would had happened. The medic buried the selfish recriminations and rolled through the silo doors. He braced himself for what his sensors and experience told him to expect and gave a resigned sigh as both were proven right.
"Where is Miko?" a roaring wall of green mech rushed up to meet him.
Ratchet transformed only to be pinned roughly to the wall. The force of the blow was almost enough to distract him from the dull burning flickering up his ped and leg.
"What the pit did you do to my girl?" the enraged wrecker shouted his voice filling the cavern.
"Miko is stable," the older Autobot tried to interject.
"Stable?" Bulkhead's pitch rose to an insanely high pitch. "Stable means scrap! I was stable flat on my back and nearly offlined from that pit fragging inscecticon! You. Hurt. My. Miko!"
The last burst of words was outrage and agony, pain and fire, accusation and plea. Ratchet's spark twisted painfully in his chassis as the fierce blue optics burned into him.
"Yes. I did," he meant it to be a confession but the words came out harsh and clipped and he regretted them the moment they passed his dentia.
Rage flared anew in the wrecker's optics and the thick servos tightened around the medic's shoulder armor.
"You pit slagging piece of scrapplet waste! You knew this would happen! You are glad she's gone! You never liked my Miko. Always complaining about her mussing and getting under ped. You wanted this to happen!-"
The ex-wrecker roared on and Ratchet was dimly aware that Jack had run up and tried to get their attention, had said something to soothe the green warrior but Bulkhead was far past listening to the raven haired youth and the human soon darted away. The soldier didn't cease his tirade as the groundbridge opened and a red and blue semi drove through and transformed.
"Bulkhead stand down," the words were spoken softly but there was a tone of command in the deep voice that stopped the green warrior mid word.
The ex-wrecker stood there staring between the Prime and the medic for several moments venting heavily to cool his overheated systems. Optimus tilted his helm to the side and narrowed his optics. Bulkhead took the hint and released the pinned Ratchet with a snarl stepping back and glaring at the floor.
"I think it would be best if you were to wait at the medical facility for news of Miko's condition," Optimus stated. "Nurse Darby has informed me that she is resting comfortably in a room with a window that looks out on the parking lot of the facility."
The Prime supplemented the half-order half-suggestion with a set of coordinates and Bulkhead eagerly roared out of the silo in a cloud of smoke and burning rubber. Ratchet slumped in release for a moment but forced himself to face his oldest friend.
"He was not wrong Optimus," the medic stated dully, "he was not wrong."
The leader of the Autobots inclined his helm towards the medical bay and led the emotionally exhausted healer out of the main silo.
"Report Ratchet," the Prime ordered firmly.
The red and white Autobot stiffened and gritted his dentia. I warned you! screamed in his processor. A cooler more logical segment of his inner voice recognized the accusation for what it was; a desperate attempt to distract from his own burning guilt and remorse. Forcing both aside he gave a detailed summary of what had occurred. The larger Cybertronian listened patiently but his optics seemed drawn down to the ped that was still burning with the feel of Miko's leg. That attention distracted the medic; eventually causing him to stutter to a stop. He stood there waiting for his commander's response; for the reprimand he had justly earned and the look of disappointment in those cerulean optics he dreaded. To the medic's shock however the red and blue Autobot only knelt and gently tapped at his burning ped; a request.
Ratchet leaned back against the medical berth and allowed the Prime to lift the extremity. Optimus gently ran his servos over the heated mesh, teaking the excited electromagnetic field with an expertise that almost rivaled the healer's. He carefully articulated the joints and then released the ped.
"How are you holding up old friend?" the Prime asked resting a hand on the broad shoulder guard.
"What? Ah, ah, ah," Ratchet gasped in bewilderment at the gentle gaze then threw off the arm and surged back to his peds. "I am not the one in need of medical attention Oprimus! Miko is lying in a hospital at the mercy of the humans' primitive medical science because of me!"
The Prime's optics hardened and he firmly forced the medic back into a sitting position.
"Indeed," his deep voice filled the base, seeming to resonate off the walls. "She is in a hospital because of you."
Ratchet shuddered and dropped his helm into his servos. He knew the accusation was true but it somehow made it worse to hear it from his Prime and oldest friend. It was several klicks before he realized that Optimus had continued speaking.
"It is because of the sensors you added to our peds and servos that we are able to detect the presence of our human allies so readily. It is because of the fine tuning you preformed on all of our motor functions that gives us the strength to act on those readings. It is because of the programs you wrote and implemented in our coding that we are able to use that strength in response to the readings."
The Prime paused and pressed a glyph for attention against the medic. Ratchet slowly lifted his helm and looked at Optimus with dull optics.
"I have seen your scans of her injury old friend. The main frame struts were cracked not shattered, none of the articulating fibers were torn, and the soft tissue damage will heal even before the bone. I knew from the first that this manner of accident was a possibility and chose to keep the children here under our protection. It was the precautions you set in place that have been successful in keeping them safe despite the size difference. The sub-routines shifted the main force of your weight away from Miko and slowed your decent enough to give her time to react." The leader of the Autobots paused and flared his field commandingly, drawing the healer's full attention to him.
"It is because of you; what you did, the precautions that you took, that Miko is recuperating in the hospital and not damaged beyond repair."
Ratchet dropped his helm once more and Optimus barely heard his whispered response.
"But I could have done better."
Optimus gave a sad exvent and let his field fall back to normal energy levels.
"Your protocols worked old friend but at some damage to yourself. Your cables and internal servos are stressed and there is sensory overload in mesh that contacted with Miko. You are to stay off your peds until your nanobots are able to repair the stress micro-fractures."
"Very well Optimus," the medic replied dully as he lay back on the berth staring up at the rock ceiling.
A week later the base was suddenly filled with the sound of children's' laughter and transformation. Ratchet shifted nervously from ped to ped where he waited for the initial commotion to die down. True to her word June had Jack push the wheelchair bound Miko straight to the med bay for scans despite her loud protests. Bulkhead hovered over her not wanting to let the girl out of his sight. The ex-wrecker had cooled down rapidly and one talk with the Prime had had the green mech apologizing profusely to the medic. Jack and June went out to set up the girl's welcome home party, taking Bulkhead along for assistance and leaving the medic alone with the girl. A short battery of tests later the girl was demanding to be released to the human's area for a videogame marathon. The medic was about to relent when something caught his optic.
"What is this?" he asked with a frown examining a cluster of markings on the silicon fiber that held her healing limb immobile.
"That's where Jack and Raf signed my cast."
"And this is some human tradition?"
"Yup, all your friends sign your cast to let you know you are important to them," the girl hesitated. "At least that's what Jack tells me," she said a bit softer.
Ratchet winced recalling her less than traditional upbringing, but she shook the mood off and continued eagerly.
"And Bulk is going to do it too now that we're back at base, and Bee and Arcee too! It is going to be so cool to have real alien writing on my leg. Everyone will be mega jealous! Hey, you can sign my leg too."
"I hardly think that's wise," the medic mused as he stared thought fully down the injured limb old memories suddenly surfacing from before the war. "Any markings on the exterior of your cast will be visible to a stray camera shot and if our name sigils were to appear online-"
"It would compromise our safety," Miko groaned. "Party pooper!"
"But perhaps there is something else I could do instead."
Miko blinked up at the medic more than a little bewildered. His helm was tilted to one side and a spark of mischief flickered in his blue optics. He leaned a bit closer a conspiratorial grin pulling at his faceplates.
"I have an idea but it might be best if you did not tell June or Optimus."
"I'm listening," the slim Asian said intrigued and more than a bit shocked.
Ratchet pulled out a long thin probe.
"This will produce a high energy sonic wave and transfer the vibrations to the surface of your bone. Given the tendency of human osteocytes to respond to such stimuli-"
For once the girl listened attentively to every word.
"Come on Doc Bot! Let me see! Let me see!"
"Patience Miko, it takes time to calibrate the scanners," the medic scolded her but the effect was ruined by the smile that kept creping over his faceplates.
The girl squirmed once more but forced herself to lie still as Ratchet preformed the scan. Once he signaled it was done she leapt to the display screen. Nine weeks had left her with no discernible limp and only minor muscle atrophy in her young body. Bright honey colored eyes watched eagerly as the image resolved. A precise three dimensional representation of her fractured tibia and fibula glowed a faint green. Spider-webbing across them was the network of lines where the damaged had healed even stronger than before. Wrapped around the larger tibia a compact ring of Cybertronian glyphs stood out in an extra dense layer of healed bone cells.
"So that's your name right?"
"Correct; my designation, ranks, and level of medical training."
"This is so scrapping cool! Way better than a tat!" the girl squealed.
"I am glad you appreciate it," the medic stated smugly. "Actually, before the war, tagging their work was quite common among the skilled classes of Cybertronian healers-"
"Great! Thanks Doc Bot!" the girl called out as she darted out to the main silo pink phone in hand, a picture of the image stored on the memory card.
"Now remember Miko!" Ratchet called out with a conspiratorial smirk.
She paused at the door and winked back at him.
"Our little secret!"
He chuckled as he watched her bound out of the room almost no trace left of the injury. The old medic returned to organizing his space as Optimus came in.
"How did the final exam go?" he asked.
"Exactly according to expectations. She is healing well."
"And she was appreciative of your addition to the healing process?"
"Ah, ah, ah," the medic spun on the Prime and shook a servo at him. "Now remember Optimus. You don't know about that and neither does June."
"Indeed," a rare smile threatened to spill out of his cerulean optics.
"But yes she was," Ratchet continued with a wide grin. "I doubt she will be able to maintain the secret from the others for long so do remember to be properly surprised and irritated with me when she lets it slip."
"As you wish, my friend," the Prime said with a smile. "As you wish."