Title: Jack O' Lantern
Setting: TF: Prime
Characters: Ratchet, Bulkhead, Arcee, the kids
Warnings: Some discussion of the Devil, God, and the Catholic Church through some lore with Halloween traditions.
Disclaimer: (c) Hasbro for characters
Summary: The 'Bot's get a little lesson in some of the history of Halloween.
A/N: Wow finally did it. I've been trying to overcome this irrational fear of posting a fic in the Transformers verse for a while. So I can't say this is been my best work, but it is my first official fanfic of Transformers ever. So I hope it is worthy =) I was doing some research on Halloween for fun trivia for a pumpkin carving party and thought perhaps relaying the history to the 'Bots would make for a nice ficlet. Let me know what you think!
Originally posted on LJ for tf_prime Halloween challenge.
JACK O' LANTERN
"What in the name of Primus is that?" Ratchet looked absolutely livid as he pointed in the direction of the three teenagers sitting on a pile of newspaper and surrounded by organic goop. Very orange goop with a thick and sweet (almost rotting) smell judging by the sensitive olfactory sensors. Even Bulkhead – usually most oblivious to the offensive smells of Earth could be seen twitching his nasal plates where he stood watch over his charge.
"Pumpkin guts!" Miko said with a disturbing amount of glee. She drove a metal spoon into a hole cut out of the top of a large orange fruit and withdrew more of the goop out. It wiggled threateningly at Ratchet as she reached out for him before it fell (disappointingly) with a wet 'plop' on the newspaper.
"Eugh!" Ratchet recoiled belatedly, which caused Miko to cackle in delight.
"We're carving pumpkins," Raf clarified, adjusting his glasses with a gut covered hand. A pumpkin seed was stuck in his hair. "It's a tradition for Halloween."
"Human holiday, Ratchet," Arcee chimed in, pushing away from the wall she was lounging on to stand beside Bulkhead.
"You celebrate by slicing open a squash and sloughing out the insides to dump on the floor?" Ratchet clarified, still eyeing the activity with a mixture of disgust and incredulity.
"Well that's only part of it," Miko started conversationally, steadily scooping out the pulp and flinging it to the side without care of where it landed. Several seeds flew off the edge and stuck on the top of Arcee's helm. Bulkhead brushed them off discreetly. "We get to carve scary faces in them after we scoop out all the guts."
"Do all humans do this?" Ratchet looked over at the two warriors with arched brows.
"There are lots of these all over the neighborhood," Arcee shrugged. "I never noticed before Miko asked if they could carve the pumpkins here."
"Duh, everyone carves a pumpkin for Halloween!" Miko waved her spoon around in the air, sending pumpkin pulp flying. A large chunk splattered against Bulkhead's windshield before slimily descending towards his chassis.
"Eww," Bulkhead whined, trying to flick it off with one of his fingers, but only managing to smear it around more. "Oh gross."
"It's just pumpkin guts," Miko looked over at her guardian impassively before dropping the spoon and digging her hand into the gourd. She delighted in Ratchet's expression, pulling out a handful of innards and letting it ooze between her fingers. "The best part is eating the seeds!"
"But they're… slimy…" Bulkhead had managed to get a hold of the piece of pumpkin and was trying (unsuccessfully) to wipe it on the nearby newspaper.
"You roast em and salt em," Miko smacked her lips together, dropping her latest handful to the floor before peering into her pumpkin. "All done! Knife!"
Jack handed her an orange handled pumpkin carving knife which she scrutinized before wrapping her legs around her pumpkin and setting to work.
"I suppose there's a reason for the mutilation?" Ratchet queried, having dulled his olfactory sensors when it became clear this event wasn't going to be over any time soon.
"To scare away spirits!" Miko piped in.
"And Stingy Jack," Raf added.
"What?" Jack and Arcee voiced at the same time.
"Not you, Jack," Raf reassured. "Stingy Jack. From the legend."
"I think that's a good nickname for him," Miko paused in her carving to regard Jack. "He's pretty stingy."
"Am not!" Jack squawked.
"Stingy Jack invited the Devil to drink with him," Raf said over the top of the two's bickering, "Living up to his namesake, he decided he didn't want to pay for the drinks. So he tricked the Devil into turning into a coin to pay for his drink. Once the Devil had turned into a coin, Stingy Jack decided to keep the money, so he kept it in his breast pocket beside a silver cross to stop the Devil from transforming back."
"Isn't the Devil a deity in one of your world's religions?" Arcee asked. Surprised stares caused her to blink. "What? Ratchet's not the only one who reads about your human's cultures."
"In Christianity he is the fallen angel who attempted to overthrow their God," Ratchet confirmed after a moment had passed. "There are lots of legends regarding humankind making deals with him."
"So the Devil is a silver coin?" Bulkhead asked, "What does that have to do with massacring pumpkins?"
"I'm getting to that," Raf said, ever patient and methodical as he worked on his own pumpkin. "After ten years, Stingy Jack finally released the Devil on the condition that he would leave him alone for another year and not claim his soul when he died. The Devil agreed. The year passed and when Stingy Jack died – God would not allow such an unsavory person into Heaven. The Devil, upset at the trick he had played on him, would not allow him into Hell. Instead, he sent Stingy Jack off into the night with only a burning coal to light the way. Jack put the coal into a carved out turnip and has been roaming the Earth ever since. Whenever he was sighted he was called 'Jack of the Lantern,' and eventually 'Jack o' Lantern.'"
"Wouldn't Stingy Jack want to get closer to our pumpkins?" Miko had stopped carving to listen to Raf's story, one pulp covered elbow balancing on the top of her pumpkin.
"Well, it's said that Jack would be afraid of the jack o' lanterns since they would remind him of the evil spirits that roam the earth. Which is why other evil spirits avoid them. That's why people place them in front of their homes, to ward away any wandering spirits with ill intent." Raf adjusted his glasses again, flicking away a pumpkin seed stuck to his cheek. "That's the story my Mom always told me, anyway."
"My mom never really told me any stories about Halloween," Jack (the non-stingy one) said. "That's sort of cool to hear, Raf. Thanks."
"I don't want any spookies around my house, thanks, so my face needs to be extra scary!" Miko attacked her pumpkin with renewed vigor.
"Ghosts and spirits aren't real, Miko," Raf chuckled.
"Said the boy sitting in the missile silo that houses living robots!" Miko countered easily.
"I don't think you have anything to worry about, Miko," Bulkhead reassured, "I've been on this planet and seen all sorts of things – but no spirits."
"There's no such thing as ghost bots?" Miko asked.
"Not that I've ever heard. But then, I don't remember many stories being told other than war stories. Arcee?"
"Nope," Arcee frowned before shaking her head. "Yeah, you're right I can't think of anything before the war. We didn't even have holidays."
Ratchet snorted from where he had retreated after Raf had finished the story of the jack o' lantern, turned away from the group. The stillness that followed caught his attention.
"Sometimes I forget how old I am," Ratchet sighed, rolling his optics as he turned back to the gathering. "As you've probably deduced, Cybertronians did have a celebration of similar theme."
"No way," Miko gushed, "Ghost bots? Really?"
"Not exactly," Ratchet said evenly, "Though we did revere the dead. It was a planet wide tradition to show respect to the great mech's who had passed on to Primus in service of Cybertron."
"How is that similar to Halloween?" Miko leaned back to view her work before shooting a glanceo to Ratchet.
"All Saints' Day," Jack interjected on Ratchet's behalf. "Used to honor the martyrs and saints a really long time ago. The whole ghost and dead thing stuff didn't come up until later."
"The Celtic tradition intertwined with that of the church," Ratchet nodded at Jack, pleased that he made the connection. "As did the followers of Primus eventually took on the traditions of the less devout on Cybertron. Crystal formations were used in a similar manner as many of the streets were lined with a colored photoluminescence lights that led to the chapels in the cities. A way to guide lost sparks back to Primus, it was said."
Bulkhead rubbed the back of his helmet and shifted his weight. "Yeah, I think I remember some of that. When I was just a youngling. Barely out of my sparkling reformat."
"Did you go trick or treating, too, Bulk?" Miko twisted around to face him. "Did you guys have candy?"
"Nothing like that," Bulkhead smiled down at his charge. "Though I do remember energon gummies. Still a few of those left in the beginning of the war."
"That sounds… gross," Miko wrinkled her nose at the thought of candied energon. She returned her attention to her pumpkin, tongue peeking out of the corner of her mouth as she carved with furious intent. "Well, I'm done!"
"That was fast," Jack leaned over in attempt to get a look of her pumpkin face. When he did, a short bark of laughter escaped before he could hold it back. "Really, Miko?"
"Well we needed a scary face to ward away evil spirits!" Miko held the pumpkin up over her head, facing out towards the two warriors near the balcony. Both snickered at the sight, shooting a glance over at the medic feigning disinterest. "Nothin' scarier than this!"
"Can I see?" Raf, who sat closest to Ratchet set down his pumpkin and looked to the older girl expectantly.
A wicked grin crept across Miko's face, "Prepare yourself!" she cried, pointing a finger at Raf who leaned back with an uneasy smile. Whipping the pumpkin around and thrusting it towards Raf and Ratchet with a loud, "Ta da!"
"That's - uh…" Raf looked over at the medic with an uncertain grin. Ratchet leaned forward, optics narrowing as he took in the carved image on Miko's pumpkin.
"I do not look like that!"