Trickster 22


A Transformers Prime Fanfiction

Ratchet reacted immediately; snatching up a slim device and pressing it against the base of Optimus's helm.

"Nurse Darby you must sedate Jack now! Optimus, old friend, I am sorry but I must do this."

The probe hummed and the Prime's cerulean optics dimmed as he slumped down on the berth. June darted over to where Jack had lunged out of the bed and fallen to his knees clutching his chest. He looked up at her frantically.

"Mom," the youth gasped, "something is eating it."

"It's going to be okay Jack," she stated in her nurse voice, both soothing and allowing no argument. "Now I need you to lie back down."

He didn't struggle as she guided him back onto the bed and slid the needle into his arm but the blue-grey eyes were locked onto Optimus even as they flickered closed. The mother shot a look at Ratchet. The medic was hunched over the readouts and had begun to release a steady stream of words in Cybertronian June could not understand but there was a near palpable rage beneath the trilling and grating tones. It sounded for all the world like a fight had broken out between a grand piano and a forklift.

"Doctor?" she demanded, if he had time to curse he had time to explain. "What is wrong with the bond?"


"Nothing? Then there is something wrong with Optimus's spark?"


"Then what?" the mother was near screaming in frustration now.

"The Senate," he spat the words as if they were a curse.

"Doctor! Could you be a touch more cryptic? I almost understood that."

"There is little time Nurse and I will soon require all of my attention to prevent a double tragedy. Suffice it to say that there is a mass of aggressive coding within Optimus at this point that is attempting to dissolve the guardian bond. As this is impossible it will soon resort to attacking the systems in his processor that sustain it; essentially consuming his processor one program at a time." His tone shifted and he gestured towards a bank of computer screens. "Watch those readouts. I trust you know enough about Cybertronian mental functions to be able to alert me if it deviates from the norm by more than seventeen percent."

The nurse moved to cover the screens while the medic seemed to fiddle with a mesh separator. Carefully he teased open the plates that protected the Primes spark. A soft cry escaped the mother as her eyes were drawn to the beautiful glow. There was something in the blue light that seemed to resonate within her. A harsh grunt from Ratchet reminded her of her duties and she forced herself to look away and focused on the monitors.

A thin cable snaked out from the medic's wrist and took some time attaching itself to the hidden port under the surface of Optimus's chestplating. June kept her eyes fixed on the readouts for both Optimus and the unconscious Jack. Her son at least was fine, the lack of awareness protecting him from the backlash of whatever was plaguing Optimus. The Prime however was clearly suffering. The readouts were far too complex for her to comprehend the details but she knew what 'good' waves were and what 'bad' waves were and right now the bad was steadily overwhelming the good. Ratchet had braced himself against the berth, shuttered his optics tightly, and all non-essential movement in his frame had ceased. The only indication that he was actively doing anything was the soft humming of his cooling fans as they circulated air over his straining processor systems and the flickering of his optics. However when she called out a warning that the discrepancies on one screen were growing too great they were swiftly and ruthlessly corrected. The woman rocked back on her heels and prepared to wait.



Fire burned across Ratchet's awareness. He summoned long unused artificial intelligences from the banks of sub-programs he had acquired over the eons. Every mech with medical training had at least a few of the semi-aware packets of data that enhanced multitasking ability. They were especially helpful in warding off another Cybertronian's defenses if their processors had not been shut down properly for programming alterations or repairs. Ratchet had distained them before the war. In the golden age of Cybertron only the highest castes of processor specialists had truly needed them on a day to day basis. His exponentially expanding duties had required he not only acquire so many his memory banks had had to be artificially expanded to hold them all but the two he dispatched in this instance would have been considered at best a capital legal offense. More likely he would have been tried for blasphemy and conspiracy had they been detected in his possession.

For the processor of a Prime was sacred, inviolate. Every youngling understood that once blessed by Primus there could be no wrong found in the thought patterns and actions of their anointed leader. He was holiness incarnate; therefore there could be nothing that would require medical attention, therefore the only reason to have such programs would be an attack. So the Prime's data port was difficult to access physically and alterations to his processor forbidden. Ratchet's association with Orion and then Optimus had cured him of any lingering belief in the propaganda and almost before the matrix had even fully settled in the red and blue mech's frame he had acquired the necessary training and programs to assist his friend. Now those programs were being assaulted in ways they had never experienced before and the frantic reports they were sending his CPU were only serving to distract him. When the Senate had named Orion Pax Prime he had willingly submitted to the ancient rituals that accompanied the title. For the first time Ratchet understood the full consequences of those and his spark raged.

What had been added to the Prime so long ago defied categorization. It was far too complex to be called a mere program or sub-routine. It was completely intertwined with and subordinate to Optimus's personality coding so it was not an alternate awareness. Before when the suspicious medic had analyzed the great bulk of data and instructions he had determined that it was mostly superfluous; a bloated mass, most of which was vestigial and useless, much like the senate that had insisted on it he had cynically assumed. It was proving now that few if any of the data were truly vestigial. It would have to be removed. The task would be practically impossible it was so deeply embedded in the Prime by now but large portions of it that had only just activated could be severed and excised. Ratchet summoned more of the AI programs from his reserves and sent them to backup the failing two. He unleashed nearly all of the rest to begin dismantling the lesser points of linkage. The medic focused on the core of the data, chose one great lumbering root command and began to hack.



Cybertronians experienced time differently than humans. June had listened with moderate interest as Ratchet had explained this over a cup of tea. The mechanoids could accelerate their processor function or decelerate it, effectively controlling their perception of time. This allowed them to interact with vastly differing species in their travels and perform complex calculations in micro-klicks. The woman could guess that Ratchet had accelerated his processor to its maximum extent and was running it hard. Still the odd procedure dragged out for hours. Miko and Bulkhead returned and the nurse ordered them to the monitors. Finally the red and white Autobot gave a sound that might have been a groan but was overlaid with a symphony of soft, exhausted noises; Cybertronian expression unfiltered by imitation protocols. June felt a small spark of wonder as she watched the medic slump to a sitting position on the floor.



Ratchet's optics shuttered open and searched the medical bay for his assistant, his plates shifting in agitation when he failed to spot the femme. The entire set up felt wrong, alien. A small fraction of his processor took the energy to be disturbed by the primitive equipment that surrounded him. As small, slow moving creature; a soft fleshy organic of some sort approached him and he flinched away, raising a hand to bat it away, but before he could complete the gesture one data thread in his processor met another and a warning screamed through his awareness.

*Star's Warmth,* he muttered as he recognized his assistant.

The scattered sub-routines began to reassert themselves and the mech felt reality rearrange around him as his perceptions reset, reclaiming recent memory files that the vicious sleeper programming had torn away, and his processor slowed down to a more sustainable speed.

"June," he corrected remembering to speak in English this time using her given human name. "Optimus is stable and neither he nor Jack is in further danger. All that is required is time for him to defragment his coding. I suggest we leave them and replenish our reserves."

The woman agreed and called out for Bulkhead to bring energon. He arrived with a cube and Mrs. Darby expertly wielded the syringe to inject the still heavily venting medic. After a few moments his body had processed the vital liquid and he stood, still a bit shaky. The silo filled with the sound of engines as Bumblebee and Arcee arrived.

"What's happened?" the cycle-bot demanded frantically when she saw the tense situation.

"Jack is resting comfortably," the medic interjected curtly. "His condition flared up and June needed to sedate him. As for Optimus he is defraging some dormant coding."

The blue warrior nodded in acceptance but darted in to check on her partner anyway. June glanced curiously at the medic but supposed that he wanted to give Optimus the chance to announce the news himself. Bumblebee gave her a cheerful smile as he went over to wait for his turn to hover over the sleeping human. Ratchet scooped up June and deposited her next to the tea makings. She brewed herself a pot while he leaned against the cracked concrete.

"So," she asked softly when they were alone. "What was that all about?"

Conflicting emotions flitted across his faceplates for a moment then settled into a fierce scowl. The smaller plating along his body flared in aggression, something she had never seen him do so obviously. The Cybertronians were so very skilled at assimilating the mannerisms of the cultures they encountered it was easy to forget that they possessed culture and reactions of their own. It was so very rare to catch a glimpse of that. Had she been slightly less exhausted she would had been enthralled. As it was she managed a mild burst of interest as the agitated gesture spread to his larger plates causing a hissing and chittering sound.

"There are certain things that everymech knows about the Prime," he began growling ominously. "Some I was taught was simple legend but some was fact. One of the main points was that the Prime could never imprint a sparkling."

June blinked in surprise and gave a small noise of curiosity.

"It was explained to me by the Senate members that all of Cybertron was under the guardianship of the Prime. He could not be distracted from his care of Cybertron by the responsibilities inherent in a sparkling bond. Remember that in times of peace they would remain with their Guardians for centuries, millennia even. They outright stated that this was the will of Primus. That any who carried the Matrix was forever severed from the Well of Allsparks in this one way."

His rage was nearly a palpable wave emanating off of the mech now.

"The coding you were fighting," June deducted with a growing anger of her own. "That didn't come from the Matrix."

"No! It was old to be sure but there is no doubt in my processor that it was pressed upon Optimus in stealth by the Senate or their minions."

"They made sure there would be no distractions for the Prime," the human summarized.

"It was designed to prevent imprinting," Ratchet snarled. "But it failed because it never occurred to the short sighted fools that it could happen with another species. Jack slipped through the blocks."

"And the physical signs that are supposed to accompany the bond? Why hasn't Optimus's armor softened?"

"It might not have been able to recognize Jack but the programming knew the signs of imprinting and has been actively countering them. That is why Optimus was unaware of it for so long. The programming has been deadening the sectors of his processor responsible for reacting to the bond."

"So why was Optimus suddenly able to react to it?"

"A guardian bond is very weak in the beginning but grows stronger over time. I can only assume that it has grown too strong to be contained."

"That is a part of the reason old friend," Optimus's deep voice spoke up behind them calm and steady.

"You should not be up yet!" Ratchet insisted spinning on the Prime.

"You did good work and the defragmentation process is complete," he replied evenly, "and there is much I must tell you."

The Leader of the Autobots laid out the story Jack had shared with him carefully editing out the Franklin's contribution. Somewhat to his surprise Ratchet was nodding in agreement before the tale was finished.

"Given what I have been reading on the scanners that makes sense," the medic concluded. "It also explains why you were able to sense the bond in the other timeline, the sleeper coding would not have been able to react fast enough to a mature bond to hide it. If it was even still active considering the state you must have been in."

"Time travel," June muttered shaking her head in frustration. "Jack spent nearly two weeks with Silas?" she demanded, mingled pride, fear, and resignation in her voice. She stretched and gave a groan. "Well at least I get a Godfather for Jack out of this. Now if you will excuse me I have a shift tomorrow and I need some sleep." It occurred to the woman that she should probably be more concerned about all of this but with everyone she cared about safe and in no immediate danger she just couldn't work up the energy.

"There is one more thing June," Ratchet said softly. "There is one bit of information I hesitate to tell Jack and I would appreciate your input on the matter."

"Yes?" she asked with a frown.

"The coding that prevents the bond from forming is nearly identical to that used on the sparklings."

The mother froze as she considered the implications of that.

"Starscream wrote this?"

"No, it is far too old and there was something about it when I first analyzed their data that suggested another author even then. Starscream got the core programs from the Senate. This was not something that was widely known even in their ranks. He would have never guessed at its existence, would not have looked for it on his own."

"The research he was doing on the sparklings," June gasped in shock. "It was-"

"Most likely requested by the Cybertronian Senate," Optimus concluded grimly. "In all probability before the war began when Starscream was still a member of the Academy of Science."

"He will want to know but don't tell him until he is back at full strength," the mother decided after a moment's thought. "Optimus?"

"I am in agreement," he bowed slightly to her with a surge of gratitude and surprise at being so readily included.

"Then good night mechs," she said with a tired sigh. "I will see you in the morning."

"Goodnight Sister."

She blinked up at the Prime a moment confused.

"It is the closest approximation in English of the Cybertronian symbol for our relationship," he explained. "I am afraid I cannot translate the glyphs any better they are," he hesitated, "ancient and sacred, not in use."

June smiled tiredly and nodded in acceptance. They watched her go and Ratchet rested a hand on his leaders shoulder guard. He pulsed his field comfortingly but Optimus caught a note of concern underlying the usual confidence.

*What is it Ratchet?* he asked on their private frequency.

*Megatron cannot know.*

The statement was simple but it was accompanied by so many glyphs for urgency and determination that the Prime nearly staggered under the emotional weight of it.

*I had no intention of informing him,* he replied, disorientated by the sudden onslaught.

Ratchet sensed his discomfort and backed away pulling his field close.

*You must understand old friend, I am one of the few who saw the relationship develop between you and your brother," the last word was spoken with resigned bitterness. "Before your paths diverged he would be fiercely jealous of any division of your attention. After the war began he proved time and time again that he did not just use the ones closest to you as a tactical advantage. Harming one you cared about was a form of revenge for what he saw as your betrayal, especially if he considered that one unworthy. Here you have taken one nearly as close to your very spark as it is possible to achieve, and you have granted that honor to an organic at that.*

*I granted nothing.* Optimus sent with glyphs stale with ancient anger. *Such a bond is a gift from Primus, not a choice.*

*Do you really think Megatron will see it that way? He despises the humans when he thinks of them at all.*

*And Jack has already caught his optic,* the Optimus responded reluctantly coming to the same conclusion as the medic, *has already made himself a target for revenge.*

*Optimus, my friend,* Ratchet armor was clamped tight to his frame in submission now and placating glyphs danced around his words. *I can see the joy this brings you and I share it for your sake and for Star's Warmth's but I fear that it places Jack in grave danger.*

The Prime withheld the glyphs for amusement at the medic's slip at the same time as he felt a growing apprehension that his friend was correct. He had suspected for some time that the healer had given the human woman a Cybertronian designation. A mark of affection and confidence he would no doubt rather peel his own plating off than admit willingly. In the privacy of their comm. lines Optimus simply agreed with him.

*Should we tell the others then?* Ratchet slumped a little, relieved that the Prime had accepted his point.

*I do not think it can be hidden for long in such a close environment as this.*

*You are right Optimus. We must simply be all the more watchful.*

The two mechs' optics were drawn back to the medbay where the human in question slept.

"I will inform the others once Jack wakes," the Prime stated.

He exchanged relieved nods with the two scouts as they left the medical bay and resumed their duties. The red and blue mech knelt beside the bed and almost reverently stroked a servo across the raven hair. Glyphs that had been quietly burning in the back of his processor for months suddenly burst into his awareness; a name that had felt as if it had been on the edge of his memory for months, teasing forgotten protocols, something the sleeper code had not been able to completely suppress.

"My sparkling," Optimus said softly. "My son; my Daybreaker."