September 2012: When formatting this story to post on LiveJournal, I spotted mistakes that I could not leave so I have reposted chapters 1 – 3 with minor tweaks.
A/N: After writing my first FanFic 'All That You Are' I had already decided I would write a spin off centred around Ratchet and the events that led up to the first story, but I let myself become side-tracked by a few other fics. Anyway, I finally decided to do it before I became swamped with other ideas.
Warnings: Nothing for this particular chapter but later chapters will have mech pairings (nothing heavy). As for how far the relationship between the twins actually goes, that is for you to decide, depending on your preference.
Disclaimer: This is a piece of fiction. No harm was intended in the creation of this work. All rights belong to the original creators.
As a veil of dust settled it revealed two frames, the first, golden paint marred with scorch marks and pitted with fragments of metal. Optics flickering irregularly accompanied with a groan that escaped the vocaliser. The second frame was twisted and torn, with optics devoid of life, staring ahead.
The surrounding mechs could not process the scene and not a word was vocalised for a nano-klik or two. The first of them to react had been Ratchet and he was knelt down over a lifeless Sideswipe, his spark faltering as he looked over the damage, it was carnage.
He barely moved as his processor struggled to take in what he was seeing. The red chest armour was no more, as though vaporised and what armour was left on arms and legs, was either torn or charred. An optic was cracked and a dent in the helm continued above it. Cables and wires that usually lay protected under the chest plates were melted with broken energon lines leaking all over them, and as horrific as all this was, the worst was yet to come.
The part that protected the very essence of the mech on the ground, the spark chamber, was shattered and the usually luminous glow from within, was now barely visible.
Feeling as though he had knelt there for joors, Ratchet felt a servo on his shoulder.
"Ratchet, are you okay?" The vocaliser of Optimus Prime was deep and full of concern.
He turned his helm to face the Prime, his face unable to conceal the pain he felt but as the worried optics of his leader looked back at him, the medic in him suddenly snapped into action and he shouted instructions over his shoulder. "Wheeljack, check Sunstreaker over now! Jazz comm. First Aid and tell him to prepare the med bay! Skyfire, I need to get them back to the Ark stat! And Prowl, how about some cover in case 'Cons are still lurking!?"
Looking around at stunned mechs he snapped, "Well,what the pit are you all waiting for!?"
Optimus waited until the orders stopped and asked, "Is there anything I can do?"
"Start praying to Primus" was all he received in response.
Back in the med bay…
The monitors attached to the two fallen front liners were struggling to pick up the single beat which gave two lives but there wasn't any time to wait for the machines to detect the life signals, so the medics got to work.
First Aid set about repairing the small amount of damage to Sunstreaker's cables and wires, none were life threatening but left unrepaired, would hinder his recovery and right now, they needed Sunstreaker's strength to filter through the bond.
At another berth, Ratchet deftly worked on Sideswipe. He needed to stabilise him quickly if he was going to even attempt to work on the damaged spark and save his life, to save both their lives. The medic was fully aware that if he lost Sideswipe, Sunstreaker would soon follow and he was not prepared to let that happen. For now he would have to carry out patch repairs, just enough to stop the further loss of energon.
Finally enough work had been carried out and various lights on the monitor stopped blinking, indicating that the mech was out of one danger, but now the hard work started in order to eliminate the other danger lurking over them.
Pulling out instruments that he always kept hidden away, in hope that he would never have to use them, Ratchet carefully laid them on the tray next to him. What he was about to do required absolute concentration and a steady servo so the last thing he needed, was to be fumbling around for tools. All other mechs with the exception of First Aid, who still worked on Sunstreaker, and Wheeljack, who would help monitor Sideswipe's vital signs, were ordered to stay away from the med bay. Any unexpected interruptions could jeopardise the fragile life below him and rubbing a servo over his face to clear he processer, he picked up an instrument and bent over the damaged frame.
He could not allow the sight of the faltering spark to affect him, there was already an ache in his own spark but he ignored it as right now, he was a medic and nothing more. Moving his servo towards the open chamber he slowly pulled out the first shard of metal from within, feeling the tiniest vibration given out by the spark which was only detectable by the finally tuned sensors in his servos. Dropping the shard into a tray, he turned to tackle the next piece but he was startled by a crash and a shout from behind him.
Sunstreaker had come back on-line and although he did not have the energy to get up from the berth, he gave a feeble attempt at fighting off a startled First Aid. As he had been unconscious, they had decided not to put him into stasis in order to keep the bond as strong as possible between the twins but they had not expected him to come back around so soon. Wheeljack, who had seen him come back on-line before First Aid had, rushed to the second medic's side to help calm the larger mech down.
"For the love of Primus, is it too much to ask for some peace and quiet whilst I work!?" and grumbling obscenities that no other mech would dare use, Ratchet pushed his way between First Aid and Wheeljack.
Looking at Sunstreaker he could see that the mech was in pain, agony even, and he knew the cause of this. Looking over at the monitor attached to Sideswipe he saw what little signal there was dip and as it did, a pained cry left Sunstreaker.
This was not good as Sideswipe was clearly taking a turn for the worse and time was running out, for both of them, but Ratchet could not leave Sunstreaker like this. If he put him into stasis, he risked closing off the bond between the two and that could be fatal but he needed to calm Sunstreaker down.
Quickly moving to a cabinet, he filled a syringe with fluid and returning, he injected the mild sedative into a line running through the younger twin's neck. The reaction was instant and Sunstreaker stopped fighting, frame laying still but optics still alight, pleading at him. The CMO rested a servo of reassurance on a shoulder and watched as Sunstreaker cried out again, before he fell back into unconsciousness while an alarm went off on the monitor across the room.
Ratchet and Wheeljack rushed back to Sideswipe's side and Wheeljack spotted a pool of energon under his frame. "Ratchet, there must still be a broken energon line somewhere!"
"How the frag did I miss that!" he shouted at the Engineer. "Help me turn him on his side, it must be from his back."
As they turned him they saw a thin trail of energon trickle from a broken line. There was no time to wonder how this had been missed as if this was not remedied now, then no amount of work on the spark was going to help the injured front liner. Leaving Wheeljack to patch up the damage, Ratchet pulled another machine over to the berth and opening a small port in the arm hidden by the twisted armour, he attached a tube leading from the machine. Switching it on a slight whirring was heard followed by the pink hue of energon coursing through the empty tube into the prone frame.
Opening the flow to the fastest speed possible, it took a few nano-kliks before energon was dispersed through all the vital areas but eventually the alarm stopped. Slowing the flow, Ratchet turned to face Wheeljack and the engineer could see something behind the optics of his friend, he knew the secret that was hidden and touching a white shoulder as he passed, he returned to the monitor and started to read the stats out.
"Energon levels at twenty five percent and rising…processor signals, faint responses…spark beat…" and pausing to dispel some air from his vents "still unreadable."
There was no response from the medic.
The white frame remained motionless.
"Ratchet, you need to act now!" Wheeljack urged. "This is our last chance, his energon levels may be rising but if the rest of his stats drop any further then there will be nothing more you can do."
The medic slowly looked at his friend and quietly asked, "What if it's already too late?"
By now First Aid's attention was also on the CMO, he had never come across a defeated attitude from his superior and he was not sure how to handle this. Luckily for him, Wheeljack and Ratchet went back millennia and although this behaviour was extremely rare, Wheeljack knew the best course of action.
Moving around the berth Wheeljack gripped Ratchet and roughly shook him. "Do not glitch out on us now Ratchet!" he demanded. 'Do you really want to be responsible for the Decepticons claiming the lives of two of our mechs?"
Ratchets optics darkened in response but still he said nothing.
Wheeljack continued. "You know there isn't anyone else even remotely capable of saving that spark and there are two lives depending on you!"
Finally Ratchet snapped back. "I cannot do this, there is far too much damage. I made a simple mistake by missing that severed energon line and now I've made things worse!"
"You are the best in your field Ratchet but that doesn't mean that you're not susceptible to mistakes!" The Engineer was now shouting.
"But I don't have the luxury of making them!" the medic stated.
"Everyone makes a mistake at some point, and you Ratchet are not fallible!" Then in a gentler tone he asked, "So are you going to allow something like this to deactivate the two mechs I know you more than care about? I know how much this is hurting you as you could never hide anything from me but think about how much more this will hurt if we lose them."
This comment earned a surprised look from First Aid and the CEO glanced past Ratchet at the mech listening, he knew he would get a wrench to the helm later but this had needed to be said.
"Ratchet, the twins have been let down enough in their lives and for all your venting at them, you are the only one whose attention they crave and you've always been there for them." There was a slight twitch from the frame in front of him and bracing himself in case that wrench made an appearance, he carried on. "Yes they were their usual hot headed selves out there but they were protecting the minibots so do you think they deserve to be let down by you now!"
This seemed to be what Ratchet needed to hear as he finally came around and turning to his assistant behind him he ordered, "keep Sunstreaker calm if he comes around again." Then realising that First Aid had been party to what Wheeljack had said, he added "and not a word of what you heard leaves this room!"
First Aid nodded his helm silently and returned to his work on Sunstreaker. Ratchet was now back at Sideswipe's side, preparing to work on his spark again but not before he added, "And later Wheeljack, you and I need to have a little conversation!"
Wheeljack allowed himself a smile which was hidden behind his face mask, the Ratchet he knew was back.
In the central control room of the Ark, Optimus Prime, Prowl and Jazz were watching the security cameras and the silent events that had unfolded within the med bay from where they had been banished. They did not know what was being said but they knew something was wrong and all let out a collective vent of relief when Ratchet returned to Sideswipe.
Optimus knew that all mechs would have a crisis of confidence at some point, this pit of a war had broken some of the best mechs he had known but if Ratchet lost it not only would he lose his bravest, if sometimes stupid warriors, he would lose the most prolific expert on his team and probably his oldest friend. He had seen enough breakdowns to know that personalities were drastically altered and sometimes, the effect was irreversible.
Luckily for the Prime, the one mech that was capable of getting through to his medic was in that room and he thanked Primus that he had succeeded.
None of the mechs watching the monitors spoke as they continued to watch Ratchet start work again.
Several joors had now passed and Ratchet was still bent over Sideswipe, he had not stopped pulling shard after shard from the weak spark and the surrounding area. His optics ached but he could not risk even a spec of metal being left behind.
First Aid had finished working on Sunstreaker and although the mech continually drifted in and out of consciousness, there was nothing more he could do for him. The assistant medic was now stood opposite Ratchet working on replacing wires in Sideswipes abdomen, mindful not to get in the way of his superior.
Wheeljack read out the stats from the monitor. "Energon levels, ninety percent…processor activity, still faint but no deterioration…spark beat, now registering but slow."
The Engineer watched the servos of the two Medics working away and then he noticed a pause in First Aids.
"Sir." The assistant ventured, "Do you not think you should take a break now that a few stats have improved?"
First Aid held his air in his vents, waiting for the profanities that would usually be thrown at anyone suggesting the CMO was in need of a break, however, all he received was a grunt in response.
The younger Medic looked at Wheeljack, silently asking him to encourage the older to rest.
"First Aid is right." Wheeljack encouraged. "It will not do either you, or Sides, any good if you are too drained of energy!"
"I will rest when his spark is safe!" And picking up a small scanner, Ratchet checked over the area to see if any further shards could be detected.
The lack of a warning alarm from the scanner indicated that all debris had been extracted and Wheeljack spoke again "There you go, you've successfully removed the shards now will you please take a break?"
Ratchet, relieved that the scanner had remained silent, peered back inside of the chamber and he could see that there was a slight increase in the glow of the spark. However he knew that there was still a long way to go and looking up from Sideswipe for the first time since he recommenced his work, he checked his energon levels and answered, "I will take some energon, but I will not stop until the chamber is repaired."
The Engineer decided that this was better than nothing so made his way to the energon dispenser in the corner of the med bay and filled three cubes. They all needed a little boost as this had been a long solar-cycle and as of yet, there was no end in sight. When he returned to where they worked Ratchet was nowhere to be seen but Wheeljack soon heard him in the store room at the back.
"Materials needed to rebuild the spark chamber." First Aid informed him as Ratchet returned with various items in his servos.
The instruments that had been used to work on the spark with were now packed back away and First Aid laid out a new set while Ratchet laid the materials he needed on another tray. When he finished he wordlessly accepted the energon being offered to him, took a mouthful and set it down on the tray beside him.
Wheeljack rolled his optics. "As if that is going to help." he muttered.
First Aid went back to working on the wires and cables, able to work higher up the frame now that Ratchet was busy cutting and bending material into the required forms. The CEO admired how well these two seemed to work together. He knew Ratchet always preferred to work alone but when the occasion arose that two pairs of servos were better than one, the two medics seemed to be so in tune with each other.
Finishing what he was doing, Ratchet finally spoke. "'Aid, I have to get alongside the spark so I need to you to hold back as many components as you can." His vocaliser was subdued and flat and Wheeljack knew his friend would not be able to hold out much longer without re-energising.
"Ratch…" he pleaded "please at least finish your energon before you continue."
This gained a glare from the medic. "Wheeljack, I suggest that if you wish to remain in my med bay you leave me to work!"
Wheeljack was slightly taken aback by the response from his friend but was relieved to see that despite the aggression, Ratchet picked up the cube and finished the energon.
Another joor passed and the welding being carried out by the CMO stopped. Straightening himself up he shuttered his optics for a nano-klik to try and stop the aching there. The ache in his optics was not the only thing plaguing him and he raised a servo to his chest, rubbing in the vicinity of his own spark.
All that was left to do, aside from a few minor repairs, was to wait. Although the beat still extremely slow, now that the spark chamber was sealed, Sideswipe was stable. Looking over at Sunstreaker's monitor, Ratchet asked Wheeljack to give a final reading from Sideswipe's monitor and as the stats were relayed to him, he could see that the two monitors were in perfect unison.
"Now you rest!"
All three mechs turned to the direction of the vocaliser; none of them had heard Optimus enter the med bay.
"But…" The CMO tried to retaliate but was interrupted by his Commanding Officer.
"I will have no argument from you Ratchet. I have watched every nano-klik of the work going on in here and if I feel the need to recharge, then I hedge my bets that you need to too!" Looking over at Sideswipe and Sunstreaker in turn, he told the medic "Wheeljack and First Aid can fill me in on the current situation, now rest…and this is an order!"
Ratchet realised that he did not have the energy to argue with the Prime so he nodded his helm and made his way to his private quarters which led off the med bay. Lying down on his berth, he stared at the ceiling whilst many thoughts buzzed around his processor. Images of the explosion and the twins sprawled unconscious on the ground. Sideswipe's exposed spark, almost extinguished and the agonising cries of pain that had come from Sunstreaker.
Checking his internal clock, he noted that it was the early hours of a new Earth day and he was surprised how long he had worked for. Tiredness now quickly took over him and he succumbed to recharge but it was disturbed as the images continuously replayed themselves.
Waking from recharge, Ratchet checked his internal clock again and he saw that only a couple of joors has passed. He remained where he was as his processors came back on-line fully and he recalled the previous solar-cycle. He felt every nano-klik of the time he had worked bent over Sideswipe and his frame ached with stiffness. Stretching his joints he pulled himself onto the edge of his berth and up onto his pedes, and he made his way into the med bay.
The room was in darkness with the exception of the light given off by the monitors. He walked up to Sideswipe, checked the readings and then moved onto Sunstreaker. Neither of them had improved much, but neither had they deteriorated which was a good sign.
Knowing that now they were stable there really was nothing else to do but also knowing that he would not be able to recharge anymore, he decided to go outside to get some fresh air and clear his processor. The sun was only just beginning to rise over this part of the Earth and the coolness of the morning was welcomed as it hit his aching frame, but would it help his aching spark?
"Damn those wretched twins!" he growled to himself as he walked outside. "Will they never learn!?"
Moving away from the Ark, he allowed his processor to recall the events from the previous solar-cycle.
The Autobots held their positions a short way from the perimeter fence and waited for Bumblebee and his team to report back with their findings. He had spied the twins from the corner of his optic and he could see that they were getting restless with all this waiting and a restless pair of twins, was never a good thing.
Carefully sidling his way over to them so to not attract attention from any possible nearby Decepticons, he hissed at them. "Keep still you fraggers, unless you want to get slagged!"
"Aww Hatchet, we didn't know you cared!" Sideswipe answered in mock surprise at him.
Sunstreaker grumbled. "At least if the Decepticons attacked us it would give us something to do!"
"It wasn't the Decepticons slagging you that I was referring to!" The medic growled at the front liner and giving them one of his 'just try me!' looks, he made his way back to where he came from.
As he got back into position, the yellow scout and his crew exited a gap they had cut in the wire fence and made their way back towards where the medic hid with their Prime and his seconds, to report their findings. All the time he kept an optic on the twins and could see them continue to fidget, until something that caught Sideswipes attention, caused the red mech to still.
He assumed that Sideswipe must have communicated to Sunstreaker through their bond as he saw the golden twin's optics follow to where Sideswipe's gaze led and there ahead of them, Soundwave was stood aiming a blaster at the group of retreating minibots. Before Ratchet had time to react, the front liners had looked at one another and without a word, they launched themselves from where they had hidden and quickly made their way towards the enemy.
Finally coming to his senses Ratchet startled the other Autobots as he bellowed across to them. "SUNSTREAKER! SIDESWIPE! STOP!"
The twins were now at their destination but Soundwave, being alerted by Ratchet's cry, had already left and what happened next would shatter the older mech to the core.
As the rest of the Autobots ran to catch up with the twins, they were halted by an explosion that came from the direction that they headed and stopping in their tracks, they saw the two front liners thrown backwards and to the ground. Both started to get back up and as Sideswipe, now minus his chest armour, shakily got onto his pedes, a second explosion went off hitting him square in his chest. The mech never stood a chance and his systems were off-line before his frame hit the ground.
Sunstreaker never made it onto his pedes for as soon as his twin was hit the second time, with a strangled cry of pain, the golden mech crumpled to the floor.
All around him not a 'bot moved but Ratchet found himself now knelt beside Sideswipe and what he saw, he could not process.
End Of Flash Back
"Fragging, slagging, glitches!" He growled again as his tried to clench the tension out of his servos. "Well they've got their death wish now!"
He could never keep up with these two, they definitely had a thirst for battle and as the true front liners that they were, they were always the first to pitch in and the first in his med bay. Sitting on some rocks, the medic vented as he thought of all the times he had had to repair them and how many times he promised them that each time would be the last because the next time, they could slagging rust in Unicron! But he knew deep inside, he would never abandon them.
As much as the twins were a pain in his aft, his spark ached for them and he could not comprehend how he had even considered giving up on saving them several joors earlier. He would never have forgiven himself if he had let them deactivate and he was thankful that Wheeljack had been there to help him see sense.
Wheeljack was the only mech who knew of the medics feelings, and he had planned on keeping it that way, but the last solar-cycle had changed things so maybe it was time for him to be honest and he prayed to that they would come back on-line soon.
Ratchet allowed himself a small smile as he thought of the constant stream of pranks that they had played on him over the stellar-cycles, the red twin being the ring leader and the golden one, never being one to let his twin down, would help set up the more elaborate pranks. Ratchet had learnt over time that it was all in the name of attention that these pranks were carried out.
The medic also thought about how different the two were, Sideswipe was full of boundless energy and considering what he had been through in his life, he always had a positive outlook, yet Sunstreaker, the quieter of the two had a temper that you should never provoke. There was a lighter side to him that only his twin could bring out but that dark streak could make him dangerous.
No one could deny that the marriage of the two personalities was formidable, both on and off the battlefield, and Ratchet had been thankful on more than one occasion for the front liners lack of fear, but why on Primus could they not wait for the scout's intelligence on this occasion!?
Having sat watching the sun rise higher in the sky, Ratchet decided it was time to check on his patients. When he arrived at the med bay doors he detected something that made him pause and he found himself peering through the window. What he saw caused his spark to flicker wildly.
Sunstreaker was now up and had moved to Sideswipe's berth. The golden mech was sat with his twins' helm cradled in his arms with the once red frame stretched out in front of him, one of his servo's stroking at the newly repaired spark chamber.
The Medic knew from experience that something was going on over their bond and as he continued to watch them, his optics picked up in the tiny change of signal from the spark monitor. This was quickly followed by the faintest flicker of blue from the lifeless optics, a flicker so faint that lesser experienced optics could have missed it.
Afraid that he would miss anything further, Ratchet did not dare move. Then there was a second flicker. Only nano-kliks longer than the first but all the same, it had happened. Ratchet finally dispelled the air that he had been holding and although he still felt the ache in his spark, another familiar feeling settled in and he raised a servo to his chest.
How he wanted to be in that room with them, to hold them and tell them that they would be okay, that he would take care of them, but as overwhelming as that desire was, he knew that he would be intruding and that he would have to wait. There was so much emotion emanating from the med bay that there was no room for anyone, so shuttering his optics for a nano-klik, he cleared his processor. Taking one last look at them, Ratchet made his way up the corridor.
As he walked away he could not help the smirk that formed on his lips, how he was going to enjoy telling Prime and his fellow 'bots that the terror of the twins would haunt the Ark once more.