Author's Note:

A contest entree, and a side story for my OC Nightstalker. But it revolves more around Knockout. ^^

If you want to read Nightstalker's story after reading this, it's called "Fraternizing" and you can find it on my profile.

Laying the squalling femme on his operating table, Knockout ground his dentures as he whipped out his EMP gun. Setting it on a low level so he wouldn't hurt the tiny seeker, he applied a small burst and conveniently knocked her out.

He couldn't help but release a very relived sigh at the merciful silence.

The girl had a pair of lungs on her; that was for sure. As he inspected her injuries, his brow pinched. Those crumpled wings were what had been bothering her so much. Primus, if he couldn't get those fixed, she would be grounded for life. The back of her helm was dented, and he was thankful it hadn't gone too deep or else it would have damaged her central processor. One of her optics had been fritzing on the way to the medical berths, and her voice had been full of static.

Energon was leaking from her chest. He suspected she had been caught near an explosion, had been blown away from the area of detonation, and landed on her back—that would account for the crumpled wings and dented helm. Judging by the amount of energon leaking from her chest, she might have a spark fracture and internal damage. Other than that, she seemed to be in perfect health of all things. Disgustingly dirty with debris caked all over her, smoke turning what appeared to be a scratchy and faded-to-almost-gray silver paint job black, but in good health considering she had survived Kaon.

Knockout frowned at the tiny femme. She looked barely out of her sparkling ages, hardly a youngling. Against his will, his spark flipped in its chamber. He briefly wondered how many other younglings and sparklings had perished in the conquering of Kaon. Reaching for his tools, he settled himself to the grim fact that war was war and there were casualties that no one could save. Forcing himself not to care was as easy as breathing, but he could still hear that whisper of doubt that there were so many sparklings and younglings living in Kaon and none but this one had lived . . .

Knockout brushed it off his shoulder, focusing on his medical work again, absently keeping meticulous notes to study later as he repaired her. The conquering of Kaon had put him to work repairing the soldiers, but this was something new. It might be his first time actually repairing a sparkling—much less a femme—but that small obstacle was of little concern to the vain medic. Going for her spark casing first, Knockout searched for and found the miniscule latch. Unhooking it, the child's spark chamber opened freely, and he was appalled at the critical damage.

Several of the main energon lines were disconnected, one gushing rather profusely for such a small frame, and, possibly the most alarming, down the center of her spark was a tiny fracture, the waxy surface cracking like the end of the Nile River. Taking the Primary energon vein that was barely hooked, Knockout connected it quickly. If that had come undone, she wouldn't be alive at all.

Pressing his lips together tightly, falling into his medic mode, he found her secondary coraxic artery, the backup for her spark. That was the one causing her to lose so much energon at such an astonishing rate, and a cursory glance of it made Knockout's dentures clench. The connection end was fractured and wouldn't hold. Searching quickly through his medical kit for a part he had never needed before, he removed the broken tip and replaced it with a new one. His nimble fingers moved easily through the femme's tiny spark chamber, hooking her secondary coraxic artery to her spark.

Sharply eying her spark, he spied her primary lymphonetic vein, the green and yellow one that would give energy to her spark and body, with a slice through it, rendering it dysfunctional. He found the source of the cut buried deep in another vein, a sickening piece of shrapnel that could have easily hit her spark. Another lucky miss that could have ended the femme's life prematurely.

Pulling a special casing from beneath his desk, Knockout returned to the femme's side, mind percolating rapidly as he searched through the precious bio mechanical parts he kept under lock and key. He had told Megatron repairing her would be a snap, but now it was turning out to be extensive spark surgery. If she had indeed been caught near a blast, a hypothesis Knockout was almost 100% sure of now, the sparkling's body wouldn't have been able to endure the blast. Not built to withstand the explosion, her innards would have been knocked around and jerked violently. The jolt could have easily disconnected everything inside her spark chamber and left her dead before she knew it.

Scoffing in irritation, he realized none of the parts were small enough for the femme's body. He had the parts to repair a full grown mech, but a sparkling femme? Pulling out a precision cutting tool, Knockout knifed the lymphonetic vein he held and whittled it down to an approximate size, replacing the connection items so that he could fixate it to the femme. Quickly removing hers and installing the new, he tossed the wasted parts away.

He distractedly cracked his aching neck. Knockout could at least relax now that she wasn't going to bleed herself into stasis and eventual offline, but he frowned at the erratic pump of her spark. She was undoubtedly stuck in spark shock, whether from the blast or . . . He peered at the fissure on her wildly pumping spark. It was possible she had lost someone close to her. That would account for her falling into spark shock as well, but why couldn't her spark stabilize now that he had reconnected the two primary energon lines . . . ?

Vast amounts of information passed through Knockout's mind faster than a nanoclick as he debated his options. He didn't trust trying to shock the sparkling's heart into the right beat as he usually did with a mechs—he was afraid it would overload her fragile spark and kill her. Instead, he did something he never would have expected he would do.

Opening his own spark chamber, Knockout took his secondary sloital artery, the smallest green cable, and, after removing hers, plugged it into her spark. It synchronized her spark beats with his, stabilizing her spark forcefully and allowing her energon to flow smoothly through her veins. Scrapping her artery—which also had a piece of shrapnel in it—he took another sloital artery from the medical kit and began to carve it down to size. It was a rather awkward reach for his arms while he was connected to the sparkling, and it craned his neck almost painfully to look up and see what he was doing, but he managed the feat. Making quick time, he reconnected the new wire to her, and her sputtering spark halted and stabilized.

With the tiny seeker finally stabilized, Knockout left her momentarily to collect an energon cube. She was dipping towards critically empty, and he wasn't about to let her offline after using up precious parts on her. Using a small IV, he hooked the energon cube to her since she wasn't conscious to drink it. The bright blue energon began to trickle into her body, reenergizing her failing systems.

Knockout tapped a thoughtful finger. Since she wasn't a mech, her body wasn't going to pull as much energon and power. One energon cube should suffice, especially considering her mini frame. Still, Knockout monitored her energon levels, spark rate, and breathing cycles meticulously.

Setting to the dreary work, Knockout picked up a small clamp and sought out one of the frayed wires. Situating the clamp beneath the broken edges, he snipped the ragged ends off. Finding the sister end of the snapped vein, Knockout repeated the cutting process and proceeded to take both broken ends and pinch them together. Since they were bio mechanics, they would eventually heal, fusing together, but the slow process would be painful for the sparkling if she woke up . . . but, since she was in recharge, the healing cycle should proceed nicely.

He did this for some time, the mundane process almost numbing his mind before he picked up a pair of tweezers. Pulling out any last shrapnel from her spark chamber, Knockout used a special kind of electrical tape to hold any sliced or nicked edges shut. Those would heal too during her recharge, and the tape would slowly dissolve so he didn't have to yank them free.

As Knockout began to carefully push the dent free of the back of the femme's helm, he heard the swish of the medical lab doors open and shut.

"Whoa, a femme . . . Megatron let her live?"

"Surprisingly," Knockout muttered to his medical assistant. His optics flicked up briefly to register Breakdown before he focused back on the femme's head. "Honestly, I thought he was going to make me DISPOSE of her."

Breakdown came up to the opposite side of the table, ducking his taller head a little to see beneath the hanging light. "She's just a tiny little thing," he murmured. He reached out a finger to touch her, but Knockout irritably knocked his hand away. Busy! "Megatron would have deemed her worthless, and we killed any living that refused to join up with the Decepticons. Did she really want to join?"

"Completely unconscious," Knockout replied in a clipped tone. "I . . . guess I took pity on her. All the unnecessary killing of the sparklings and femmes was getting to me, I suppose. Took her before Megatron and tried to prove her worth—since she's so young, she could be formatted into whatever Megatron chose."

Breakdown grumbled at the thought, but didn't capitulate to Knockout's logic. "Megaton would have wanted warriors. She's way too small for that, and I doubt she'll get that big when she grows up."

"She won't," Knockout responded, satisfied that he had got the massive dent out. He turned her on her stomach, taking in great detail her crumpled wings. It was going to be difficult to straighten them and see if they still functioned correctly in their sockets. "She could be used for special fields though, like the medical, which is severely understaffed . . . but Megatron opted to stick her as Airachnid's apprentice."

Breakdown gave a surprised sound. "Seriously? The spider femme?'

Knockout scowled. He hated the idea. "Yeah. Said she should be raised by a femme since she was a femme, and he didn't trust Airachnid. He wanted a torturer he could be sure of her loyalties in the future—thus, her." He gestured to the unconscious seeker. "So I was cheated of having a sexy assistant when she grew up."

Breakdown rolled his optics as Knockout carefully straightened her wings with the clamps. "Horny little fragger."

"Hey, a femme is a femme. Haven't had one in years."

As he focused his efforts on the second wing, Breakdown just shook his head and let his optics draw over the tabletop and its contents. His optics widened. "Frag, you had to pull out all of this? What happened to her?"

"Caught near a grenade, I think," Knockout informed him, painfully bending the wing back into proper place. "Her insides were jarred and almost offlined her." Putting aside the clamps, Knockout meticulously inspected her wings, rotating them and checking them for abnormalities. They checked out well. "Sometimes I wondered if she was more trouble than she was worth." Actually, he hadn't thought that, but he wasn't about to admit he was forming a soft spot for the pathetic little femme. Worst thing he needed was to ruin his ego. Besides, he got some positive vibes from her—if the spider-glitch didn't mess with her.

Knockout put up his medical tools in silence while Breakdown gazed at the seeker femme. She would make smooth recovery; of course, only a doctor of hiscaliber could save her from such critical condition—spark surgery, to flaunt it even more. However, to Knockout's shock, Breakdown reported, "She's waking up."

"Already?" Waltzing back to the berth, it was as Breakdown said. She was squirming, keening slightly with pain until blue optics snapped open.


Knockout put a firm hand on her when she started to move, gasping in pain and panic. "Calm down," he ordered her firmly. "You're recovering from an explosion. I don't need you ruining my good repairs."

She flopped back on the berth so limp it almost alarmed Knockout. Hollow optics stared up at the ceiling.

"He's dead."

Knockout's central processor began to grind. "Who?"

"He's dead," she whispered again, seemingly unable to think farther than that. "Fli-Ni . . . dead . . . the bomb . . . brother . . ."

The last word she said struck a pang of rare compassion through Knockout. Optic lubricant began to seep down her face. So, he had been right—she had been near an explosion, the one that had taken her brother. That accounted for the spark fracture.

Knockout nudged her chin, garnering her attention. "Well, you can't dwell on it or else you're going to get eaten up. Now, Megatron's letting you live, but you'll be trained as a torturer by Airachnid. She's not a nice bot . . . but hopefully she'll find somewhere in her to care for a sparkling."

When the seeker just stared, twitching a little, Knockout gave a slightly irritated sigh. "Look . . . I can tell you're on your own, so listen up. We're your friends now." He gestured to him and Breakdown—who was utterly bewildered. "I'm Knockout, and this is Breakdown. We're your friends since no one cares for anyone when you're a Decepticon. Right?"

She blinked blankly at him before finally giving a nod.

Knockout nodded. "Good. So, what's your name?"

Her little voice rasped. "Nightstalker."

"All right. Once I discharge you, you'll be stuck with Airachnid, but you can come around us whenever you want—after all, I'm the cool one. Okay?" She nodded again. The lack of response troubled Knockout, but he knew it was from the spark fracture. "Before you see Megatron, we'll have to get you a Decepticon insignia and red optics—and maybe a new paint job. You look hideous."

She was already in recharge again. Knockout pinched the bridge of his nose. She was going to be interesting, that was for sure. He walked out saying, "Clean her up."

"Why me?" Breakdown accused.

Knockout arched a disbelieving brow. "I'm not touching that filthy femme until she's clean." Did he really think he would ruin his paintjob that way?

Besides, he had no idea how Nightstalker was going to affect the ship. Or him. He'd have to keep his affections to her to a minimum.

He'd probably gotten too attached as it was.