Title: The Most Unexpected Courting aka I-hate-coming-up-with-titles-might-change-it
Fandom: AU Dragonformers with mainly G1 colorations but with a twist of Bayverse
Pairing/Characters: RatchetxTwins as the main pairing, loads of other G1 characters and some minor pairings
Word Count: 7553, all in all over 30 000
Summary/Warnings: As one of the oldest dragons in his clan, Ratchet has seen almost everything but when he's rescued from an unwanted claiming by a pair of clan-less dragons, he's faced with a whole new problem. Violence, cussing
Disclaimer:Transformers belong to Hasbro/Takara, the idea of dragonformers belong to various other people, the first ones appearing at least in 2007. I can only claim this plot as mine.
AN: I know the idea of Dragonformers has been floating around the TF-fandom for the past 5-6 months but I just couldn't help myself - my muse's one stubborn bastard. Anyway, like I stated in the disclaimer, the oldest fanfictions with Dragonformers I personally found can be found here in under the username Okami-chan, posted between 2007-2008. From LJ there are writers and artists such as zjargon, renegadewriter8, chimeradark, xobit_prime, who can also be found as Xobit from DA along these artists & writers: Jazz-the-tiger, AutobotV and Murr-miay. New authors & artists has come since I wrote this fic but these were the ones who had the main influence on my muse.
Big thank-you goes to fuzipenguin for being my beta.
Units of time used in the story:
nanoklik: (TF: Animated)= ~1 second
breem = 8.3 minutes
groon = ~1 hour
joor = 6 hours
solar cycle = day
dark cycle = night
lunar cycle = little more than a month
stellar cycle = year
vorn = 83 years
PART I: The First Meeting
Ratchet lay among the ancient crystals that towered over him and easily hid his red and white chassis from the technodeers grazing just outside the edge of the forest. Lured from the humming safety by the gleaming tingrass, the herd of mechanimals was blissfully unaware of the large beast resting so close to them. Ratchet's optics followed the herd's movements in silence, the spiked end of his tail moving lazily back and fro as the old dragon waited for the hunters above to make their move.
Craning his long neck, Ratchet caught the sight of four dragons. They flew in lazy circles over the forest, so high that Ratchet could only distinctively make out who was who by an occasional flash of scale plating in the sunlight. Satisfied with how Jazz handled the younglings, the elder dragon continued to keep an optic on the horizon for any enemies.
Their clan, Autobots of Iacon Mountains , had been fighting against the rivaling Decepticons that nested on far side of the silvery plains of tingrass, deep in the gorges of Kaon for a long time. As both the healer and one of the clan elders Ratchet had had his fair share of battles throughout the long vorns of his life, but there had been a fragile peace between the two feuding dragon clans last two nesting seasons or twenty stellar cycles.
Hopefully it will last longer than just that, Ratchet huffed, a small flame flickering to life between the sharp teeth and he carefully spread his great wings to ease the stiffness in the joints. There had been a growing dull ache in his chassis for the past lunar cycle, and Ratchet really hoped for it wasn't what he thought it to be.
While he had one of the largest frames in their clan, Ratchet wasn't the most colorful one; the sharply clawed front paws were deep red whereas the coloration was reversed on the hindquarters, the crimson color dominating his hips before turning white in the strong thighs. The outside of the large wings were also deep red while the under membrane as pearly white as the rest of the old dragon. Two different shades of grey were the last color; the silvery hue of the underbelly plating and the darker shade that colored the long, sharp horns decorating the massive helm as well as the dorsal spikes running along Ratchet's back as well as the two dangerous barbs at end of the long tail.
A loud roar heralded the attack, and Ratchet witnessed from his hiding place how panic filled the simple-minded mechanimals as three dragons swooped down from the skies, claws glinting dangerously in the sunlight.
Red and grey Cliffjumper chased his prey on his own while Bumblebee worked together with the largest of the young hunters, Bluestreak. Jazz followed the three Autobots moments later, bringing down a large technobuck with ease. The lithe silver predator sunk his claws into his prey and rose in the air to fly back to the mountains rising far behind the forest, leaving the rest of the 'youngling-sitting' to Ratchet.
Standing gracefully, Ratchet wandered out of the humming crystal forest to observe the rest of the hunt closer. He might even make a kill of his own, should one of the frightened technodeers make a wrong turn.
Cliffjumper tumbled down in a heap of limbs and wings and hooves as he overpowered a young technodeer, finishing it with a crunch of strong jaws before flying after another. Bluestreak, the silvery winged but otherwise mostly dark grey and red colored dragon, herded a couple of animals towards the waiting Bumblebee, who quickly chose his prey and the larger youngling took down another.
Ratchet watched all this, satisfied with the hunt's success. They needed at least seven adult technodeers so that every member of the clan could have more than one bite, Not to mention with the nesting season drawing near some of them would need extra energy to mate and lay eggs. Primus, did they need to new clutches; it had been too long since their clan had been graced with something as precious as hatchlings.
Bluestreak raised his silvery and red horned helm from the dead animal's throat, the thrill of the hunt brightening his blue optics as they searched for next prey. But instead of another fleeing technodeer, Bluestreak saw three distant forms approaching from on the other side of the plains, flying fast straight at the hunting party, quicker than normal dragons as the large wings beated the air. Their sleek but bigger frames gleamed in brilliant colors of red, blue and violet, immediately identifying them as –
"Windseekers! Decepticons!" Bumblebee shouted the warning, effectively gaining Ratchet's attention just in time to see the large fireballs flying through the air and straight at them, all three of them quickly dodging the attack.
Ratchet cursed loudly when saw one of the dragons go after Cliffjumper, who had ventured much further into the plains than the rest of the hunting party.
"Bumblebee! Bluestreak! Get out of here and alert Jazz!" Ratchet ordered even as he spat flames at Thundercraker as the blue Windseeker tried to take a bite at Ratchet's wings, singeing the bigger dragon's yellow chest plates.
"What about Cliffjumper?" Bluestreak cried in fright, wings flattened tightly against his sides, the five-spiked tail lashing nervously from side to side as Thundercracker turned towards him, "you can't fight them alone! Ratchet!"
Bluestreak was right but Ratchet wasn't going to risk at having any possible carriers or sires to be killed. He, on the other claw…
"Do as I say youngling!" Ratchet snarled, jumping to the air with a ferocious roar, the aggressiveness of his counter-attack throwing the Thundercracker and Skywarp off.
He managed to slash Thundercracker's shoulder with his claws and the Windseeker bellowed in pain, barreling straight into Skywarp in his haste to avoid another swipe. The purple and black dragon cursed loudly as they were sent spiraling down towards the tingrass. Ratchet beat his wings as fast as he could to reach Cliffjumper, the little dragon snarling curses at the most dangerous member of the Windseeker trine.
" – when I get my claws on you, you'll be gutted like a technorabbit, you hear me, you aft-sucking rustbat!"
A hiss of a laugh was Starscream's only answer as he approached the little Autobot, who was nearly two thirds smaller than him. "Oh, I'd like to see that, little one," Starscream smirked, crimson optics glinting evilly.
Cliffjumper snarled, grouched over his kill like the protocols demanded him to do, trying his best to intimidate the larger, older dragon by hiking his spread wings high over him and puffing out the red and grey scales. Starscream, easily bored by this modest show of dominance, raised his foreleg to swat away the youngling like a databug, when a snarling Ratchet violently rammed into Windseeker's side, biting and clawing the bright red and white scales. Starscream shrieked in rage and pain, helm snapping backwards to reach the healer's vulnerable wings but Ratchet quickly jumped off, landing protectively in front of the still growling Cliffjumper.
"You'll pay for that, Autobot!" Starscream hissed, flames curling around his teeth and the crimson optics glared at Ratchet murderously. Behind him Thundercracker and Skywarp had chosen to let the retreating Autobots go, since they were suddenly there, closing in on Ratchet and Cliffjumper.
"In your words, Screamer, I'd like to see that," Ratchet smirked before dropping his jaws open to form a great ball of fire.
A wide swath of the forest was crushed into tiny shards, the relaxing song of the crystals twisting and grating the sensitive audios. The broken crystals hissed and melted from the heat of the scorching fires, reflecting dully the razor sharp talons and flashing teeth of the two beasts battling against one another.
Ratchet also used his impeccable memory and vast vocabulary to spit every single curse he had ever come across – even creating some of his own at the process – at the Windseeker, who, in spite of being evolved for mostly aerial fights, had demonstrated the inborn agility even on the ground. Skywarp also seemed to be quite unaffected by the healer's foul language; the violet and black dragon's optics danced with mirth and he cackled gleefully as he tried to land another slash on the red hips:
"Oooooh, got to remember that one, healer. I doubt even old Shockwave could keep his muzzle straight after hearing something that rude about his creators."
Grunting, the smaller dragon glared heatedly. "Feel free to try if you survive, but don't come whining back, if he doesn't value the truth," Ratchet rumbled, assessing the situation with a heavy spark.
This was bad. He was alone, wounded and tired and the cursed glitchling was not. Tired that is. Ratchet watched with satisfaction the nasty wounds on the other dragon's sides and neck bleed energon all over the purple and black scales.
Jazz had heard the roars of the fight before Bumblebee and Bluestreak had reached him, and the small dragon had most likely alarmed his mate through their bond and hence the rest of the clan about the attack. Thundercracker had howled in pain when the silvery Autobot had seemingly appeared out of nowhere, jaws sinking deep into one of the Windseeker's back legs, the large dragon falling on to the ground. Bumblebee, Bluestreak and Cliffjumper had attacked the surprised Skywarp, while Ratchet and Jazz had both charged at Starscream.
The Decepticons had scattered after that and they had not wasted another nanoklik, rising on to their wings and flying away in a hurry.
But the Autobots had been roughly half-way to the mountain, when the Windseekers had attacked again. Skywarp had bodily brought both of himself and Ratchet down out of the sky and straight into the crystal forest beneath them. The Windseeker had paid though for it, as the white Autobot had twisted their chassis' just in time to make Skywarp take most of the impact. Now, breems later Ratchet could still distantly hear the fight somewhere high above them and could only hope the young ones were alright.
Skywarp leapt without warning, using his larger mass to force Ratchet violently on the ground, his back paws pinning down the wings and placing one of his fore paws underneath the healer's jaw to prevent any escape or fire blown at his snout.
Smirking, the Decepticon leant closer to the healer's snarling faceplates. "You know, healer, I can smell your heat coming," he pointed out, red optics flashing eerily, "and my trine has been seeking for fourth for this nesting season. You may be older than dirt but you are an unmated carrier. Makes me wonder just why, eh, Autobot? Aren't the mechs in your clan strong enough to claim you? I bet mating with you would sire good clutches. And it would be fun, too."
Ratchet's optics widened noticeably when he heard what the other claimed, frame freezing as terror started to seep into his fuel lines as the Decepticon confirmed his earlier fears.
Hiding his panic behind a vicious sneer, Ratchet's optics narrowed into dangerous slits. "As if I'd let a technogoat fragging aft like you mount me! You're more glitched than I thought!"
"Now you're just being nice," Skywarp purred, long glossa coming to lick Ratchet's energon from the white forehelm in a mocking gesture of affection, "you do know the rules, healer, the winner of a domination fight gets all, and if you ask me, I've won."
Outraged by Skywarp's audacity, Ratchet hastily used his tail, driving the spikes deep into the Windseeker's nearest flank. The pain that followed was so unexpected that the smaller dragon managed to throw the Skywarp off, quickly climbing on to his feet.
"Do not claim your victory just yet, pup; there's no way in Pit this is a domination fight or will ever be one," Ratchet hissed acidly, optics almost white from his rage and distaste.
The Autobot's utter disgust angered the Decepticon more than anything else had; Skywarp's lip plates curled into an angry grimace. The huge and magnificent purple-black wings spread wide enough to cover most of the dragon-made clearing, the edges of them smashing down even more of the crystal forest. Ratchet braced himself for another attack, claws digging into the ground and, never one to be completely passive, released a rumbling roar of his own.
It was that moment they both realized the deep sound had far more volume than it should.
Both of the dragons jerked their helms to look behind the Autobot healer, seeing two new dragons standing there with their wings high and tails lashing. Two sets of fiery optics were set on them and –
No, Ratchet corrected himself just as the strangers leaped forward; jaws open and flames heating the air.
They were staring at the Decepticon!
Skywarp noticed this too, especially when one of the new dragons, the yellow one, clawed at Skywarp's already wounded neck while the red one attacked the Windseeker's wings. Bucking and turning sharply, Skywarp bellowed and spewed fire blindly but the unknown pair evaded all of his attacks without an effort. They were not bleeding from breems of battling or low on energy. Even though the dragons were maybe one third smaller than the Windseeker, they compensated it by attacking as a unit, one distracting Skywarp while the other landed a hit.
So Ratchet wasn't all that surprised when Skywarp made a desperate lunge upwards, wings beating frantically and escaping the formidable pair –
– and effectively leaving Ratchet all alone with his unexpected… saviors.
The white dragon tensed when the pair simultaneously turned to stare at Ratchet. He hissed nervously when the red and yellow dragons came closer, circling him just out of Ratchet's striking reach but close enough for his fire attacks.
"Who are you, and what are your intentions?!" Ratchet demanded to know, spinning his helm around as he tried to follow the strangers' every movement, the healer's optic scanning them and finding the information not good if they decided to attack him, too.
They were young but mature mechs with vorns of fighting experience if the indication of how disgustingly easily they had dealt with the Windseeker could be trusted. They were less bulky than Ratchet, but just a bit larger enough to compensate in size what they lacked in mass. The red, black and yellow scales shone healthily in the crystal and sunlight and told a tale of being well energized as well as careful preening.
The bright blue optics inspected Ratchet; one pair filled with curiosity and the other with indifference.
Flaring the gray dorsal spikes when he was met with silence, Ratchet hiked his wings and puffed his scales as his irritation and uncertainty grew. "Answer me, you little glitches!" he snarled, teeth flashing.
The red dragon cocked his helm with an amused grin. "Aren't you one cranky old cyberlizard?" he mused casually, laughter clear in the deep voice even as he continued to circle the older dragon, "shouldn't you thank your rescuers?"
The mostly yellow dragon snorted haughtily, attracting Ratchet's attention and the healer's fiery glare. "I don't need some ancient mech's gratitude," he grumbled, his voice deeper than the red dragon's, "we didn't save your rusty aft just for the fun of it; we had unfinished business with the Windseekers. Otherwise we would have attacked you too."
Bristling, Ratchet's optics narrowed and his wings twitched violently against his sides even as he got ready to fight again. "Don't worry, pup, I feel no need to thank you two," he replied bitingly, "now, why don't you two fly back to Primus knows where you came from, so that we can leave all this behind."
"Aww, don't be like that." The whine came much closer than Ratchet had expected. Ratchet almost dislocated his neck snapping his helm around, finding himself faceplate to faceplate with the red dragon.
This close Ratchet saw the pale grey of the younger dragon's faceplates and underbelly plating while the top of his fore helm and the scales above his optic ridges were black. The black horns matched the dorsal spikes running along the red back. His legs, which Ratchet had noticed earlier, bore different colors in the front and at the back; the forelegs were black at paws before turning red while the hind legs also started as black from the paws but ended at the strong thighs that shone white before once more turning back into black, covering the younger dragon's hips and running along with the red scales on the tail for a short distance. Since red was the primary color on this dragon's chassis, the large and strong wings matched perfectly it being completely red from the outer side and pale pinkish from the underside.
Startled from having the other sneak up so close, Ratchet did the first thing that came to his mind from vorns of dealing with miscreant younglings:
He hit the red dragon in the back of his helm.
The strangers had clearly not expected for that to happen; both of them froze for a nanoklik before the impromptu clearing expanded even more as Ratchet found himself thrown violently away from red dragon by the yellow one. Before Ratchet got to clear his processor, heavy weight pressed him down. The yellow dragon stood atop of the slightly dazed healer, teeth bared in a ground-shaking growl.
"Do not touch my brother unless you want to have your wings ripped out," he growled menacingly, blue optics narrowed into slits. Ratchet didn't doubt that the other wasn't serious but the healer was not the one to go down that easily.
Swiftly gathering his back legs, Ratchet kicked against the yellow dragon's pale grey belly; the other yelped loudly as he was sent flying straight into the crystal forest. Ratchet wasted no time rolling to his stomach; he was about to get to his feet, when a heavy paw pressed against the point where Ratchet's neck met his helm. The claws rested innocently but pointedly against the healer's white plating, the sharp tips adding just enough pressure to make Ratchet still.
"Now you've really done it," the red dragon murmured, sounding both impressed and… amused?
Before Ratchet had the chance to respond, the yellow dragon's roar of fury echoed through the clearing and he stomped back to them, optics boring straight into the prone Ratchet. For a moment Ratchet was certain he was going to get his snout slashed into ribbons, but the angry dragon was stopped by his brother:
"Now now, Sunny, there's no need to throw a temper-tantrum. You yourself hit me all the time, remember?" the red dragon spoke calmly, talons slowly running along the healer's white scales, making Ratchet shiver a little at the gentle scraping on such a sensitive spot.
"He's an outsider," the yellow brother hissed, still glaring at the wary Ratchet with all his might.
This so called 'Sunny' was wasn't as multi-colored as his brother, the bright yellow the primary color with the exception of black scales on both of his front legs like thick bands. The two dragons shared the same shade of pale grey on their underbelly and faceplates and as well as on their horns and spine spikes, but where the red brother had more black on his fore helm, 'Sunny' had a narrower stripe of black running along it.
"Ah, that's easily fixed, right?" the red dragon chirped, and the healer found the yellow dragon's angry faceplates blocked by the far cheerier ones. "Hello, my designation is Sideswipe and the sulking hatchling over there is my brother, Sunny," Sideswipe cheerfully introduced them, ignoring his brother's loud hiss of annoyance that immediately followed the introduction.
"It's Sunstreaker, not Sunny," Sunstreaker growled but did lower his helm closer to the Ratchet's, giving him a haughty once over, "although there's no need for a flock dragon like him to know our designations."
Ratchet continued to scowl at them but inwardly his processor worked feverishly.
These two, Sideswipe and Sunstreaker, were rather confusing, seemingly unable to decide whether to attack Ratchet or not. They were skillful fighters, that was certain and Ratchet warily kept an optic on Sideswipe, instincts warning the healer to look out for the red dragon more than the impulsive Sunstreaker, since his intentions were unclear. To prove Ratchet's worries, the subtle caressing of his neck grew bolder, one of the talons circling the base of the dark grey horns, a place that was very sensitive for any kind of touch.
"Soooo, what's your designation?" Sideswipe asked, coming so close that his hot exhalations ghosted over the healer's faceplates, and Ratchet was assaulted by the scent of a strong, young dragon mech musk, followed by a similar one from Sunstreaker as the yellow dragon stepped closer, too.
Ratchet sneezed as the scents overflowed his olfactory sensors and tried to clear his helm with a weak shake, which received a small chuckle from the red dragon. Frag it, Ratchet didn't have the energy for this kind of slag, not right now. He was tired and wounded and wanted to curl up in to his cave and sleep at least four joors before waking up again.
"Could you at least let me stand?" Ratchet grumbled, optics narrowing slightly.
"Perhaps, you won't try to run away, will you?" Sideswipe asked lightly but there was a hint of steel in his words.
Sunstreaker snorted. "It would be futile; we would catch you."
Too tired to put the smug little glitch in place, Ratchet merely rolled his optics and gave a pointed look to Sideswipe, who just grinned back widely.
"He's right, although I think I'd enjoy chasing after you more than those aft-helmed Windseekers", Sideswipe answered with a little purr, removing his black paw from Ratchet's neck.
Tail curling nervously at the implications in what the other said, the healer quickly rose to his feet and watched Sideswipe walk to stand beside his brother. Sunstreaker snapped jaws at the red dragon with a displeased hiss for no apparent reason.
Seeing them stand side by side, Ratchet could clearly make out the similarities between the two on their faceplates and chassis' but there were subtle differences. The most notably ones on their helms and at ends of their tails: Sideswipe had two rather short and thick horns and four dangerous looking barbs while Sunstreaker's horns were the same but below them were very noticeable ears. The end of the yellow tail had thinner and needle-like spikes with dark yellow webbing same between them as in his finials, reminding the healer of the dragons that lived in the Rust Sea.
"Don't waste sunlight," Sunstreaker muttered impatiently to Ratchet, glaring at his dirty claws with disdain before starting to clean them from the Decepticon energon.
"Then why don't you just leave already," Ratchet grunted back, his aching frame trembling a little. He'd have to ask Wheeljack to look for any wounds that were out of his reach, the healer cursed absentmindedly as Ratchet shifted carefully on his legs, Sideswipe's optics never leaving Ratchet.
"Can't without the glitch-helm here," was the cool reply, the yellow dragon not even bothering look away from his preening.
Of course, should have known, Ratchet thought sarcastically and turned towards at the still grinning red brother.
"Don't mind Sunny, he's just slagged off because somebody managed to get the better of him," Sideswipe placated the older dragon, earning a warning rumble from Sunstreaker. "Anyway, we haven't still heard that designation…," Sideswipe trailed off, the look in his glimmering optics expecting.
Glaring, Ratchet shook his helm before straightened his stance. "My designation is Ratchet and I am the healer of the Autobot clan of the Iacon Mountains."
There was a visible reaction in the brothers' frames – Sideswipe's tail stilled and Sunstreaker paused in his cleaning – the moment they heard his designation and rank. It was clear that Ratchet had gained their attention.
The brothers shared a quick look before Sunstreaker returned back to his preening. "Like I said, a flock dragon," he grumbled with clear dislike, making Ratchet bristle and Sideswipe shake his helm.
"So how did you end up fighting with that Windseeker?" the red dragon asked swiftly to prevent another argument between Ratchet and Sunstreaker.
"Skywarp's trine belongs to the Decepticon clan that has been fighting mine for vorns. They attacked our hunting party, and I got separated because the slagger thought he could take me on the ground."
Talking about his clan startled Ratchet and he quickly craned his helm upwards to listen for any sounds of a still ongoing battle. Hearing nothing but the disrupted resonance of the broken crystals, Ratchet spread his wings to take to the skies. But before Ratchet got even off-ground, he was stopped by a nip on his right wingtip, making him snarl.
"What is the meaning of this!? I answered to your questions! I need to find out if there's any wounded!" Ratchet roared, the volume of his voice causing Sideswipe, who had bitten the wing, to startle.
"Whoa, calm down, uh, Ratchet, right?" Sideswipe hurried to say, blue optics wide in honest surprise, "I just, I mean, we just wanted to know more about you."
"Speak for yourself," Sunstreaker huffed, even though his cold gaze was now firmly set on the Autobot dragon. His optics moved to the wounds on the white chassis. At least they had stopped bleeding. "You said you are a healer? Don't you need to take look at yourself before just flying off?" The yellow dragon's optics clearly said that he thought Ratchet was either too dumb or too senile to take care of himself, which only annoyed the tired healer even further.
"Don't get cocky with me, pup," Ratchet growled, wings beating once, strong enough to raise his upper body in the air before his front legs slammed back down on the ground with a loud thump! that sent bits of crystal shards flying, "I have no time to play some youngling games. So back off or do I have to teach you a lesson? Again?"
Sunstreaker's optics glinted at the challenge and Sideswipe tensed at the healer's words but the red dragon shook it off quickly to step between the two of them, physically blocking them from attacking each other.
"Calm down, there's no need for that," Sideswipe muttered to Sunstreaker before turning to Ratchet.
They stared at each other for a breem, before the younger dragon's expression suddenly took on a playful, mischievous quality.
"Sooo, was that Windseeker right about you being unmated?"
The question caught Ratchet completely off guard, his mouth opening and closing repeatedly as the healer stared at the impishly grinning dragon.
Unfortunately Ratchet had no chance to answer as the sky grew dark from big shadows and for a moment audios were deafened by the choir of roars that signaled the arrival of the Autobots. The ground shook violently as several dragons landed, crowding the small clearing. The colorful frames created a tight barrier around the strangers, most of them coming to stand between Ratchet and the younger dragons.
"Ratchet, are you alright?"
The sonorous voice of Optimus Prime easily carried over the vicious snarling and growling of the Autobots, the ground trembling as the massive leader hit the forest floor. Optimus was by Ratchet's side in an instant, careful not to jostle the smaller dragon as he rubbed his large, grey and blue helm against the white one in a greeting.
"I'm fine, Optimus, just a little tired," Ratchet sighed, appreciating the careful touch of his long-time friend as Optimus bent to lick away some of the spilt energon from Ratchet's wounds.
"Jazz saw you fall with Skywarp," the big red, blue and white dragon spoke gravelly, the deep blue optics apologetic, "we only managed to find you just now. Starscream and Thundercracker were quite persistent this time."
Optimus' wings twitched and his helm snapped up along Ratchet's at Cliffjumper's shriek of surprise, just in time for both of them to see the small dragon suddenly become airborne and not by his own volition.
Sunstreaker, who had spun around to face the enemy behind him, was poised to fight and was clearly the one who had sent Cliffjumper flying judging by his raised front paw. Sideswipe looked calmer but his chassis was tense and the both brothers' wings were shaking with restrain as they tried to keep an optic on all surrounding dragons.
Jazz and his bondmate, Prowl, stood side by side right in front of their leader and healer. Ironhide, the scarred and black clan elder, had taken a place next to Prowl, while Hound, the tracker-hunter, was shoulder to shoulder with Jazz. Suddenly faceplate to faceplate with an aggressive Sunstreaker were a nervous looking Bluestreak and a very calm Mirage, the blue and white dragon's yellow optics coolly boring into Sunstreaker's seething blue ones.
"Who are you, and what is your purpose here?" Prowl asked steadily, the red of his horns and tail spikes the only splashes of color on his otherwise black and white frame and wings. He gave out a calm, almost unemotional air but the calculating look in the icy-blue optics was sharp, not missing anything as they pierced the strangers.
Sunstreaker didn't let the two dragons out of his sight as he bared his teeth in an angry growl. "None of your fragging business, flock dragon," he hissed back rudely, dorsal spikes flaring and the tail slashing air in front of Sideswipe's front legs.
"Good to see ya again, Ratchet. Did these two hatchlings cause ya any trouble?" Jazz asked cheerfully, his relaxed posture betraying the sleek dragon's readiness. Jazz even dared to break optic contact with Sideswipe to glance at Ratachet, the bright blue optics glinting with their usual mischief, although Ratchet could see the minute tension in the silvery advisor's optics.
"Hope not – for their sake," Ironhide rumbled menacingly, measuring the red and yellow brothers with a dark glower. The battle-hardened clan elder most likely saw more than Ratchet had in their stances.
"Whoa, wait wait! We didn't do anything!" Sideswipe yelped, when Ironhide took a threatening step closer. "Tell them, Ratchet; tell them that we helped you with that Windseeker!"
"Ironhide, stand down," Optimus ordered, the deep commanding voice effectively stopping all movement in the clearing on all sides. He turned to address the healer. "Ratchet, is that true?"
Ratchet's frame tensed when he found himself the center of the attention of almost every single pair of optics, dorsal spines flaring defensively. Biting back the few choice of words he wanted to give Optimus – their leader was going to get his audios shouted off when they'd reach the caves, the massive dragon could count on that – the white healer nodded sharply.
"He's speaking the truth; these two younglings… helped me fight off Skywarp."
"More like chased the slagger away before he could force himself on you, healer," Sunstreaker snorted obnoxiously, his glare one of the few that had not wavered from the slender white and blue dragon.
Mirage's faceplates revealed nothing, although the yellow optics, a sign of mixed heritage, narrowed at Sunstreaker's declaration.
Slag it, I'm going to kill him, Ratchet swore inwardly when there were shocked growls from his clan members. Bluestreak actually whined in distress and Cliffjumper started to curse loudly until Ironhide ordered the young dragon to shut up.
The black dragon then turned his attention back to his old friend, the black faceplates absolutely murderous.
"Is it true, Ratchet? Did that Windseeker try to claim you?" Ironhide growled. The vibrations from the growl made the little crystal shards on his feet vibrate, and his optics bled from blue to purple.
"Oh for Primus' sake! Like it would be the first time some young glitch thinks they can dominate an old dragon without getting their aft handed to them," Ratchet snarled right back, his own optics positively glowing. "It's not my fault they are too full of themselves to know nothing but to mate the next thing with a spark!"
"This is serious, Ratchet," Optimus commented, frowning.
"I never said it wasn't!" the healer snapped, not caring if he disrespected his leader right in front of non-clan members. "But could we have this conversation later? I'm tired and unless you plan to carry me back, let's move before I collapse! Yes, these two helped me, they can go or do whatever they want to. I don't slagging care!"
With that, Ratchet beat his wings once, a powerful movement that easily lifted him in to the air. He left the others scrambling to follow after him with the exception of Optimus, Prowl and Jazz. The brothers stared after the irate healer and his followers until an amused chuckle from the smallest of the five dragons caught their attention.
"Yer gonna get it after that, Prime," Jazz hummed cheekily. The massive dragon sighed and covered his faceplates with one blue paw.
"Indeed. I can only hope Ironhide gets the worst of it so that Ratchet won't go after my aft straight away," Optimus grumbled, to which Prowl merely shook his helm. The tri-colored dragon collected himself and turned to give a thoughtful look at the silent pair. "You've helped one of my clan and, most importantly, one of my friends. To repay that debt, may I offer you a cave to rest as well as the right to hunt on our territory for the next solar cycles?" Optimus suggested with a small bow of his helm.
"Why would your clan do that for a couple of strangers?" Sunstreaker asked, slowly turning around to face the remaining three dragons, suspicion clear in his voice and frame.
"Call it a 'thank you' with a hint of an apology," Jazz hummed with a grin, stretching lazily his silvery wings. "The ol' Hatchet ain't the easiest dragon in these parts of Cybertron but he still appreciates yer help – deep down in that little spark of his, mind ya."
"Jazz…," Prowl warned with the smallest amount of hiss in the cool voice, his bi-colored wings flickering in a sign of displease. The silver dragon just grinned back at his larger mate but kept quiet. "We have empty caves near the ones where the clan lives," the red-horned dragon informed, the frosty optics piercing the brothers as if they were trying to see into their sparks.
'In case you want privacy' was left unsaid.
Sideswipe cocked his helm towards the pensive looking Sunstreaker, the yellow brother releasing a huff of hot air. The red dragon frowned, moving quickly to nip one of the ear black and yellow finials, to which the Sunstreaker answered with a hiss and a glare. Sideswipe didn't budge, though clearly expecting some sort of sign from the other. Sunstreaker's tail lashed behind him but the yellow wings shifted minutely.
Prowl frowned slightly at their behavior and the black and white dragon made it to his duty to find the reason behind it. Just for the clan's safety.
"Fine, we'll accept your offer," the red dragon finally agreed. "The designation's Sideswipe and he's Sunstreaker, my brother."
"Very well. I am Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobot clan, and these are my advisors, Prowl and Jazz. Now if you will follow us, we will take you to our mountain."
"Ratchet, are you alright?" Wheeljack cried as the mostly white and grey dragon rushed closer, the worry clear in his voice as Wheeljack checked Ratchet all over as soon as the rescue party reached the mountain.
Wheeljack was smaller than Ratchet with bands of green and red on his back legs and bigger, red markings spreading horizontally over his chest plates and onto shoulders, reaching the withers between the slightly ragged wings. Unlike most of the Autobot clan, Wheeljack had not one pair of horns but three separate ones resting in an angle above the large, webbed finials. But the most peculiar part of Wheeljack was his tail. It was unbarbed but instead had two angular disks that flashed with different kind of colors to match with the dragon's emotions.
Now they were somewhere between orange and yellow, signaling his anxiety.
"I'm fine, Wheeljack," Ratchet grumbled, his mood even worse now that he had spent the whole flight snarling and growling at Ironhide to "stop circling me like an overprotective cyberhen with its first fragging set of hatchlings or else you're going to regret it".
Ratchet understood that the other dragon mech was just concerned for him, but enough was enough!
"You're wounded," Wheeljack said and it was more a comment than question. He leant closer to clean the wounds, grimacing slightly at the taste of processed dragon energon in his mouth.
"I know, I was there when it happened," Ratchet grunted, examining some of the already closing gashes himself. "They are shallow and nothing my nanites and a good long recharge can't heal. There's no need to transform either. Just, just help me clean them, 'Jack."
Wheeljack gave a grim smile. "There's no need to even ask that, my friend."
When Ratchet finally staggered into his cave, it was close to nightfall. Almost every single member of the clan had come to visit their healer, expressing their distress, concern and anger at the Decepticons' arrogance. The appearance of Sideswipe and Sunstreaker had also stirred the curiosity, and the two brothers were reacting very differently to the sudden attention. The red dragon was immediately social with the Autobots, while the yellow one stayed mostly quiet, glowering darkly at anyone who came too close to him. He did huff haughtily when Bumblebee commented on his bright scales, clearly pleased with the little dragon's admiration.
Primus, I hope those two won't get into trouble, Ratchet thought blearily, optics turning dim as he closed them.
Just before recharge claimed Ratchet, he had a flash of a memory: the unexpected caress that the red brother – Sideswipe – had given to Ratchet when he had stood between the healer and his healer. The talons had scraped lightly over Ratchet's scales; the tiniest amount of pressure had warmed his frame in a way that had not happened in ages.
With that thought, Ratchet slipped into the sweet oblivion.
Unbeknownst of the recharging healer the rest of high rank had gathered into their usual meeting spot on the large ledge just outside Optimus' personal cave. They were there to discuss the situation, including the two new dragons that at the moment could be seen retreating into one of the empty caves farthest away from the Autobot inhabited dwellings, clearly putting some distance between them and the clan. Optimus watched Sideswipe step inside without a backwards glance, whereas Sunstreaker paused at the mouth of the cave. The black and yellow helm twisted and Sunstreaker locked his gaze with the massive leader. They stared at each other for a nanoklik or two, until Sunstreaker turned sharply and disappeared inside.
"I don't like this," Red Alert muttered fretfully, the tricolored dragon curled next to a much larger black and red Inferno. He covered his nervous mate with one of his black and white wings in an effort to pacify Red Alert. "They could be Decepticons for all we know, trying to lull us into a false sense of security before killing us and taking over our nests! What if they try the same as Skywarp?!" Red Alert hissed in disgust, tail and wings twitching in agitation.
"Easy, Red, easy," Inferno rumbled soothingly. The larger dragon's optics flashed dangerously, and his side of the bond flared with possessiveness at the thought another dragon mech trying to claim his bondmate, "we'll keep an optic on them, don't ya worry."
"Ah don't think they're Decepticons," Jazz mused from his spot and cleaning his claws thoughtfully. His statement earned an expectant look from Prowl. "Ah think they're just a couple of rogues," the sleek framed dragon explained, "Ah've never seen dragons like them during our fights and no 'Con has carried blue-opticed hatchlings for hundreds of vorns. Besides, not all dragons kind belongs to our clans. Cybertron ain't that small."
Prowl exhaled a puff of hot air at his mate's reasoning, inclined to agree with Jazz but still wary. "It is true that there hasn't been any sighting of dragons matching their looks before this, but we can't be sure," Prowl shared his opinion before he bent down to help Jazz with his preening.
The smaller dragon purred in delight when Prowl reached for the spot on the back of silvery neck where Jazz could not reach on his own.
"What do you say, Prime?" Ironhide asked, still quite shaken at the fact that one of his oldest friends and clan elder companions had almost ended up as an unwilling Windseekers's mate.
In the past, when clan borders had been vaguer and more lone dragons had lived all across Cybertron, it hadn't been that rare for sires to half-kidnap their mates for a domination fight. Whether the mates decided to stay together for another nesting season or not after the clutch had been laid and the hatchling old enough to defend themselves on their own, was up to the creators. In some cases they did and chose to sparkbond, becoming true bondmates and in others not. Ironhide's own carrier and sire had been nestmates for few vorns before deciding to split their ways.
But the long and ever escalating territory wars between Autobots and Decepticons had distorted the old traditions and to use them now in such twisted ways was absolutely disgusting. It was true that despite being one of the oldest dragons in the clan, Ratchet filled the all the qualifications one might look in a mate; he was a good fighter, healthy and easy for the optics. The grumpiness might not be a good feature but the fact he was a healer easily countered that.
Ironhide himself had often wondered what it would be like to mate Ratchet but curiosity wasn't enough for Ironhide to challenge Ratchet into a domination fight. Ratchet had his reasons to stay unmated, reasons that should be honored.
Besides, Chromia would kill Ironhide if he cheated on her.
Hmm, should visit her at the femme clan, it's been a while since our last clutch, Ironhide mused as he waited for his leader to speak.
Optimus, who had never stopped staring at their visitors' cave, sighed deeply. He turned to face the waiting clan members, noting with mild surprise that one of them had stayed quiet.
The white and grey dragon tore his gaze away from the side of the mountain where Ratchet's cave was. The end of Wheeljack's tail swirled with dark hues of blue, indicating his solemn thoughts even as the grey faceplates betrayed nothing.
"Ratchet told me they fought against Skywarp without hesitation," Wheeljack eventually said, sounding troubled. "For that I am grateful to Sideswipe and Sunstreaker. I say we should wait and see what will happen. We should also think of the younglings; it's been vorns since we met dragons others than Decepticons or the femmes. Not since Inferno."
The meaning behind his words was easily caught by the others, and for a moment all seven dragons were looking at the dark mouth of a cave, where the brothers rested.
"Alright, we'll wait and see, if they decide to stay here longer," Optimus decided, his deep voice carrying quite far on the mountain side. "But we will also keep an optic on them," he reassured Red Alert, who seemed relieved by that.
They broke apart, Inferno nudging affectionately Red Alert towards their own cave. Prowl, Jazz and Wheeljack glided down to the lower parts of the mountain where a wide platform had been cleaned and melt right onto the ground for the Autobots to spend time and socialize – Optimus could see Bumblebee and Mirage with Tracks, one of the most distinctive dragons of the clan due to of his dark, rusty red faceplates but otherwise white horned and web-eared helm. The three of them were most likely enjoying what had been saved from the morning's hunt.
Noticing that Ironhide had stayed, Optimus laid down, stretching his wings before folding them again. He knew without confirming it that Ironhide was still keeping an optic of the cave where the red and yellow brothers were.
"What is on your mind, old friend?" Optimus asked, resting his optics on the glowing crystal forest and enjoying the calming hum that just faintly reached his audios.
"They're fighters, Prime, experienced ones. The way they reacted to us – especially the yellow one – tells me that these two have gotten used to hostility from others for most of their younglinghood."
"They're that young?"
Ironhide huffed, grimacing sullenly. "Can't say for sure; older than Bluestreak but younger than Hound or Red Alert. Ratchet might know better."
"I see," Optimus rumbled, lifting his gaze from the glittering crystal forest to the gleaming tingrass.
He couldn't see it, the distance was too great, but Optimus knew that somewhere behind the plains Megatron was staring this way, wondering the same questions as the Autobot leader:
Who were these young dragons, and what effect would their presence would have on the two rivaling clans?
A/N: So...? Did you like it? Or was this just a big bunch of cliches? *grins slightly* Mind you, this was my first Transformers-fic ever and most likely next one will be more "traditional" one, with mechs and no dragonformers. :)