Shoots and Ladders

Discussion in 'Transformers Fan Fiction' started by Hakudoushi, Jan 6, 2010.

  1. Hakudoushi

    Hakudoushi Well-Known Member

    Aug 24, 2004
    Trophy Points:
    Shoots and Ladders.

    By Lindsay Smith


    G1. Sometimes first impressions aren’t always the right ones, but around the Ark, one truth remains firm and everlasting: When in doubt, duck. Spike centric series of related one-shots.


    Chapter One: Traffic Tickets and Color Wheels

    The day had begun much like the day before and the one prior to that. For the most part, it was very pleasant. Strange, alien, and mind boggling, but pleasant.

    Everything around him was big, very big. Just looking up at the ceiling too long made him dizzy, which was kind of fun for a while until he started feeling nauseous. After taking a moment to secure his equilibrium, Spike returned to his current pass-time: Robot Watching. Well, they actually referred to themselves as Mechs and even seemed to have taken offense when Spike used the ‘R’ word. He was careful not to do that again. When he could help it.

    It had barely been a week since the world had woken up to having Giant Alien Ro—er, Mechs wandering around their backyard. Spike was still riding a giddy high that’d been with him since he and his father had been rescued from the waters of the Pacific ocean. The oil rig they had been on was attacked…by other giant alien Mechs. Evil giant alien Mechs. Who called themselves Decepticons. Spike made a mental note to ask one of the Autobots how they came up with those names! Perhaps the name had more of a terrifying connotation in their native language, but something seemed to have been lost in translation.

    It was fascinating to watch the Autobots as they went about their duties to get their ship – turned impromptu base- up and running; repairing bits of corridor, replacing broken panels and consoles, testing out everything. They appeared so alien, yet so human, the young boy could not help but be fascinated. The Ark was a complex, highly advance piece of technology that boggled Spike’s mind whenever he attempted to wrap his around the sheer improbability of it all. Everything seemed so intricate, so delicate; circuitry and the like ran through almost everything, the floors, the walls, everything. Had Spike not been seeing Mechs who most certainly weighed a good couple tons, walk on the flooring, he was certain he would be scared to do anything but tip-toe across the metal plating, all too aware of the delicate, and likely expensive as hell, circuitry underneath. Yet everything was guarded, reinforced, and covered to a degree virtually unknown and certainly unheard of to mankind. Even if he had a diamond crowbar, Spike didn’t think he could do the ship any real damage; maybe a dent in the wall if he swung hard enough. But that was a big maybe.

    Sitting on the ledge of one of the consoles, Spike allowed the scene before him unfold like some never-ending television show. For the most part, what was once the bridge of the ship had become the main control room, the official room of business. It was here that Spike had the best vantage to observe Humanity’s newest allies, and, really, it was one of only a few places where he could be out of way of large, clambering feet. The Autobots were always careful whenever he was around, but, it was in everyone’s best interest that Spike always took the initiative to find elevated seats to keep from getting caught underfoot. For the most part, the day had been routine and uneventful, and Mechs wandered through the control room, practically deaf and blind to all except their work. He hadn’t met all of the Autobots yet, or spoken to most, but they didn’t seem to mind the young human watching them as they worked. Though Spike did notice one of them kept glancing at him as if to see if he was still there. After a while it began to nag at the boy, wondering if maybe the Autobot was silently trying to tell him to scram, that he was annoying them. The last thing he needed was a pissed off robot. He was about to scoot off the edge and find some other room to observe when the door to the far right of the room opened and a Mech walked in, malice seeming to rise off his red armor plating like heat. When the Mech glanced towards Spike and then tromped forward with deliberate steps, Spike froze. In his mind, he wondered what he had done to anger anyone. He couldn’t think of anything, perhaps he wasn’t looking at Spike. Maybe it was one of the Mechs next to him or…

    “You!” the Autobot said, pointing towards Spike and any hope of avoiding a confrontation was deflated. What had he done? As the Autobot approached, Spike shrank back, glancing pleadingly to the two Mechs who were working on the large computer only a little ways off, but they seemed just as confused as he and even a little curious. Spike belatedly realized that the Mech was a lot shorter than most of the Autobots, and he had a similar shape to Bumblebee, but, despite the similarity, the Mech’s red armor and little horns made him look more like a (comparatively) little devil. The small Autobot towered over Spike, blue eyes aglow with fury. His hand shot forward and Spike clenched his eyes shut instinctually. When nothing happened, he opened his eyes warily and was greeted with a small slip of paper pinched between the Mech’s large fingers.

    Bemused, Spike glanced up at the angry ‘Bot quizzically. When no explanation was forthcoming, Spike attentively reached out and took the little piece of paper, giving the Mech one more uncertain glance. Looking over the words on the paper, Spike clamped down on the sudden urge to giggle inappropriately. He bit his lip and looked up, noting the Autobot seemed to expect something from him.

    “OK?” Spike asked, unable to completely mask his amusement.

    “Explain this!” boomed the Autobot. If the situation had not gotten the attention of the room before, it certainly did now. The perpetual sense of diminutiveness suddenly multiplied as the Autobot practically loomed over him. It was quite a disconcerting feeling, especially considering this was supposedly an ally.

    “You’re human, you should know!”

    “I do know; It’s a ticket,” said Spike simply. What was there to explain?

    “What is it for?!”

    He blinked, confused. “..Says here you ran a red light…”

    Logic told him that should have satisfied the red Autobot, however it only seemed to create more ire. “So?” the ‘Bot demanded.

    Spike struggled to answer the question with any sort of dignity. “Well…..That’s against the law.”

    “Says who?”

    Spike regarded the Mech with an incredulous stare. Was he being serious? “Uh…The Law? The President, Congress…our entire judicial system? Everyone.”

    “Well how do you expect us to know that?”

    Spike blinked, unsure how to answer him. “Well…Everyone knows…it’s just common knowledge.”

    “Everyone knows what?”

    Spike allowed himself a small smile as he explained a concept he knew since he was in kindergarten. “…that red means stop.” It was curious to see the Mech’s face change from intensely furious to utterly confused in the span of a second. “That makes absolutely no sense. Red is a color, it doesn’t mean anything.”

    It was Spike turn to look confused and even a little offended. “Of course it does. All colors have a meaning. Well, most do. It’s psychological.”

    “How stupid!”

    Spike was vaguely aware that there was now a small audience gathering around them, some of them looking rather amused. A tall green Mech walked up beside the smaller red one and placed a placating hand on his shoulder. “What’s wrong, Cliffjumper?”

    The red mini-bot turned to the taller one. “I got pulled over by the human police today and the stupid fleshy gave me this thing!” he waved the itty-bitty slip of paper around like a piece if confetti. “A ticket! How stupid is that?”

    “You ran a red light,” Spike reminded him. “That’s a big traffic no-no.” Despite the probable imprudence of such an action, Spike wagged a finger at the Autobot as if gently scolding a toddler.

    “What does it mean when you get a ticket?” The green Mech asked Spike before Cliffjumper could respond.

    “Well…usually it means a fine. This is your first one so that’s pretty much all it means, but if you’re a repeat offender you could loose your license or get sent to jail. But if that ever happened to one of you guys I don’t think they’d send you to jail….the impound lot maybe…”

    “For not obeying a stupid light?” Cliffjumper demanded, furious again. “What’s the point? Are they some religious relic or something? Is it some taboo to not respect the shiny lights? Have I offended your primitive culture?”

    Spike rolled his eyes, trying real hard not to feel offended. “No. They’re traffic lights. It helps regulate the flow of traffic at intersections to keep people from crashing into each other when they cross the road. When you ran a red light you broke the law. You could’ve caused a wreck and hurt someone.”

    Cliffjumper shook his head in exasperation and grumbled. “What a useless system. Using colors as traffic signals…”

    “Works for us,” remarked the human with equal grouchiness. As enthralling and as fascinating as these Autobots were, he had limits on how many insults on his people and culture he could take. “Red means stop, yellow means caution, green means go.”

    “Why? Why not blue means stop and red mean go? Or black means stop. That makes more sense then red.”

    “We wouldn’t be able to see a black light very well. And…red is kind of…well, people see it as kind of an ominous color. It grabs people’s attention.”

    “Cliffjumper being the exception, apparently,” a dark blue and yellow Mech smirked from the group of spectators, a red chevron on his forehead. Spike had noticed several of the Autobots with a similar design. It made it kind of hard to remember their names.

    “Ominous?” Cliffjumper asked dubiously. “How? Red is an Autobot color!” He pounded his fist against his chest with bravado. “The color of bravery and strength! It’s a heroic color. What’s so slagging ominous about the color red?”

    Spike was silent for a moment as he analyzed his own perceptions of the color in question and why it always caught his attention. “…red’s the color of human blood.”

    The group went silent as they absorbed the statement, understanding and confusion playing their minds at once.

    “Usually when we see red the first thing we think of—well, I think of— is blood. And then other related images pop up. Like anger, death, murder, pain, torture, war…and so on,” added Spike. “But it also has the same connotations like you said. There are some colors that have multiple meanings depending on the context.”

    “How so?” The green Mech—Hound, wasn’t it?— asked. He, like several of the other Autobots, looked intrigued, and Spike felt a bubble of amusement rise from the pit of his stomach. So far, his time around the Autobots was spent being virtually ignored by all save a few he’d made friends with, and his insides filled with the warm-fuzzies at the notion they were actually paying attention to him and even asking him things. His inner child squealed with joy.

    “Well, let’s take your color for instance- green. Usually we associate green with nature, for obvious reasons; it’s the most abundant color in nature. From that association we get things like life, peace, freedom, and tranquility.” The green Mech smiled at that. “But then green can also mean jealousy. There’s a saying that describes someone as being ‘green with envy’.”

    “How about yellow?” Asked Bumblebee, one of the few Mechs so far he had gotten to know fairly well. Spike had not seen him come in. Beside him stood a Mech he had been introduced to as Prowl and beside him was Optimus Prime. With such a prestigious audience hanging on his words, Spike began to feel a bit self conscious.

    “Yellow? Oh, us, well in a traffic light it means caution and you’re supposed to slow down… so when the light turns red you can stop.” He paused and add, rather embarrassed, ”But then again, most people speed up so they can dodge the red light, so I guess that one’s a bit of a catch-22. But yellow can also mean happy, peaceful, and fun. It’s considered a happy color.”

    Bumblebee smiled at that, but Spike was confused when around him, the Mechs began chuckling and murmur to each other. Spike caught a muttered ‘oh the irony’ and ‘Someone go tell Sideswipe’. Spike hadn’t met anyone named Sideswipe, or at least he didn’t think he had. He turned to look at Bumblebee, tilting his head quizzically. The yellow minibot merely shook his head and waved the silent inquiry away, chuckling.

    “I’ll tell you later.” He said.

    “What about blue?” Someone asked to Spike’s left, but he didn’t see who.

    “Blue? Ah, that’s kind of a hard one. See, a light blue, like the sky, is considered a happy color. But a deep blue is more mellow and sad. We don’t call certain styles of Jazz ‘The Blues’ for nothing. Blue can either mean really happy or really sad. One extreme to another depending on the shade or hue. But there’s an old idiom that says someone who talks really fast without stopping is “Talk up a Blue streak” but I’m not sure how that relates to the actual color.”

    The room erupted in another bout of laughter and several Mech were shouting ‘Ain’t that true!’ Spike made a mental note to ask Bumblebee about that as well.
  2. Hakudoushi

    Hakudoushi Well-Known Member

    Aug 24, 2004
    Trophy Points:
    The Hypo-critic Oath Part I

    “But if the coolant lines are supposed to go to this limb, wouldn’t it have to feed through here?”

    Spike looked up from homework towards where his Dad and Wheeljack were discussing Cybertronian anatomy. Despite his diligence in completing his assignments, it was difficult to keep his attention from wandering off. He was somewhat knowledgeable with cars and machinery and once in a while he would pick up familiar words and quite a few foreign ones.

    What was a hydraulic flux dampener?

    School had started a mere two weeks ago and already he was being virtually crushed beneath the amount of homework his teachers were giving him and his peers. So much work was drastically cutting into Spike’s regular ‘Hanging out with and/or watching giant robots’ time. Luckily he only had one more page of chemistry equations to work through and he would be free to spend the afternoon as he saw fit.

    Mole conversions, you have met your match! As the teen tackled the last few problems, Wheeljack and his father continued on with their lesson.

    “No, no, no,” said Wheeljack. “If we did that and he bent his arm, it would end up cutting right through the line, see? Which would be bad.”

    Pointing to something deep inside the armor plating of the injured Mech, the Autobot engineer dictated to the smaller humanoid life form perched upon the chest of the patient on the proper techniques and procedures of repairing such a deep wound. Their debatably lucky subject was a burly minibot named Brawn who lay motionless upon the examination table. While his body remained still, his face was contorted into a look of perpetual annoyance at his current occupation. His arm lay sprawled out away from the rest of his form, the top plating below the shoulder sporting a good sized hole where a Decepticon laser had caught him, severing a coolant and motor lines and making said appendage all but useless. Ratchet’s Medbay was full of those worse off then Brawn so he had been sent to Wheeljack’s lab for a quick repair. When Wheeljack saw the injury, he was struck with a brilliant idea that would potentially lead to shortening the quick repair to a simple quick fix! However, the quick fix was running much longer then intended as Brawn suddenly found himself an impromptu teaching aide. After all, Wheeljack had to make sure his new pupil knew what he was doing before he went spelunking into the body of a Mech.

    Wheeljack bent over patient and helper while explaining how to go about feeding the new coolant line properly into the arm for adequate temperature control. Sparkplug looked down into the open wound and nodded, seeming to be enthralled at the opportunity to help repair an injured Mech.

    “Alright, so then where does it go?”

    “Right through there. That hole in the structural support way down there. Can you see it?”

    “Oh, yeah I see it.”

    “That’s the coolant line lead.”

    Sparkplug chuckled, glancing up at the large automation looming over him. “Now I get why you asked for my help. How do you guys get any repairs done if you can’t reach everything?”

    “Usually we have to remove the armor or sometimes disassemble the entire limb if we can’t reach the site ourselves or we don’t have the appropriate tools. Which, as you know, we do not; hence why I asked if you could lend me a hand.”

    “Well, it doesn’t look too complicated,” said Sparkplug as he rolled up his sleeves and (figuratively) dived in. From where he was seated, Spike saw Brawn’s face contort into an expression that could only be described as controlled disgust. Not that he entirely blamed the ‘Bot. Had he been in the Autobot’s place, Spike was sure he would not have been any more comfortable with someone digging into him either. Still, he could not help but feel a little uncomfortable. A lot of Autobots still didn’t seem to care much for humans, seeing them as weak squishy inferior creatures, and Brawn was one of them. Most Autobots were courteous, but there always seemed to be a perpetual sense of ‘Go away pest’ that Spike had noticed. Bumblebee thought he was being paranoid and for a while, Spike dropped the issue. But it always lurked in the back of his mind…

    “Damn,” was the muted curse from Sparkplug before he pulled back out of the injured site.

    “What’s wrong?” Wheeljack asked looming back over the table to peer down into the hole in Brawn’s armor.

    “I can’t pull the line all the way through the support; my arm’s not long enough,” said the human, wiping his grease covered hands together. “I’d go in deeper, but…” he patted his middle and chuckled, “I ain’t the same waist size I use to be. Don’t wanna get stuck in there and cause an even bigger conundrum.”

    Brawn snorted, clearly none too enthusiastic about such an ordeal and quickly loosing patience with the current one. Wheeljack ignored his patient and straightened up to his full height. Tapping his face guard, Wheeljack hummed thoughtfully as he gazed down at Brawn in contemplation.

    Sparkplug glanced over to his son and called out to him as an idea struck him. “Why don’t you give it a try, Son?”

    Startled from his observing stupor, Spike looked over to his father, “Huh?”

    “See if you can pull this line through and connect it,” Sparkplug waved him over as if there was a bridge between their respective tables and the boy could simply stroll across. In his mind, Spike could not help but think ‘What? But he doesn’t like me, he’ll squish me!’ Wheeljack turned to the teenager, seeming to have latched onto Sparkplug’s idea. Stepping over to the table, the engineer offered him a hand up. Spike blinked up at the Mech before getting to his feet and climbing somewhat awkwardly onto Wheeljack’s hand.

    Cupping the boy in his hands, Wheeljack carefully transferred Spike over to the examination table and allowed him to slip off his palm and onto Brawn’s chest next to his father. Perhaps it was his imagination, but Spike thought he felt a slight vibration, like a muted growl, run along Brawn’s chassis. Spike glanced over his shoulder to look into the Mech’s face with an expression that he hoped conveyed he was no less comfortable about digging around in his inner working either and that he was profusely sorry…and to please not kill him.

    He turned back to hid Dad. He couldn’t quite mask all the nervousness in his voice, “So what is it I’m doing?”

    “Down there,” Sparkplug replied, gesturing down into the gaping hole in Brawn’s armor. “There’s a coolant line that needs to be connected to that port, see it?”

    Reluctantly, Spike bent down next to his Dad to have a look inside, ever aware that he was looking into and standing on a living being. There was little light to show where anything was, but Spike peered through the dimness and spotted the coolant line that lay partially pulled through a round hole in a support strut (something like the Cybertronian equivalent to bones) and up further was a round port like the end of a garden hose. Spike nodded. “Yeah, I see it.”

    “So do you think you can reach it?” Wheeljack asked.

    “Uh…maybe,” Spike replied, not being able to keep from peeking nervously at Brawn’s face which seemed to become more irritated by the minute. Wheeljack caught the boy’s nervous glance and laughed.

    “Don’t worry about Brawn,” said the Mech, patting Brawn on the opposite shoulder. “He has no say in this.”

    “Hey!” The minibot growled, rising up a little and causing both humans to cry out and scramble for purchase on the shifting metal. “The frag I don’t! It’s my chassis you’re scrambling around on and digging into my wires! Which by the way ain’t the most pleasant of experiences!”

    Wheeljack pushed Brawn back onto the table. “Stop moving. They’re just trying to help. Would you rather have me disassemble your armor just to connect a single coolant line?”

    “If you had, we’d be done by now. Instead of wasting my time with this slag. I ain’t some toy you can tinker with!”

    “Teaching the humans how to help repair us could save us time and resources in the future. As much of a challenge as it must be, please attempt a little patience, Brawn,” Wheeljack replied. “Besides, they don’t possess automatic memory storage circuits to accumulate all of this data. They have to learn it slowly so it’s converted to long term memory and properly absorbed. If I told them everything straight off they wouldn’t retain any of it and you’d be stuck here even longer.”

    Brawn clearly had more to say, but bit his tongue, or lack thereof, and settled down. If Spike was not uncomfortable before, he was now. He was willing to lend a hand if the Autobots needed it, but he was not too keen on making any enemies of giant robots…even mini giant robots. He did not like being places where he wasn’t wanted and Brawn was practically fuming indignation.

    “Go on son,” his father prompted him, giving him a little nudge. “Give it a try.”

    Rallying himself, Spike got down on his knees and slowly lowered his upper body down into the wound. As he did so, he could hear Brawn’s inner workings rev, the sound being much clearer without the thick armor to muffle it. It sounded much more aggressive from inside. The space inside Brawn’s arm was heavily scented with metal, oil, and other fluids he wasn’t familiar with and truly was not up to knowing. He could easily differentiate one particular smell he was beginning to become more and more familiar with the longer he spent time around the Autobots; Energon. It had a sharp bite to it that made his sinuses sting and it was very potent, especially when it was fresh. He tried to breathe evenly between his mouth and nose to keep from being too effected by it. It made his head hurt after a while.

    Ignoring the offending smells for a moment, Spike reached down and grabbed the coolant line and maneuvered himself deeper to align the end with the port. The cramp quarters made it difficult and with a burst of will, fueled mostly by the desire to get it done and over with, Spike pushed the line into the port till he heard a clean snap indicating the two ends had connected. “Got it,” He said.

    Glad to be done with it, Spike was about to pull himself out of Brawns arm when an angry voice unexpectedly rattled the air. “What the frag do you think you’re doing!?”

    Startled by the sudden noise, Spike jerked up and smashed his head against the top of the armor. “Ah!”

    Spike bit his lip to keep several choice phrases behind his teeth. What little light he had to see by abruptly cut off and before he knew it, he was being pulled from hole and into the well lit space of Wheeljack’s lab. When he looked over his shoulder to face whoever had grabbed a hold of him, he felt his stomach bottom out. The resident medic was glaring at him, his normally happy blue optics now pale and ablaze with fury at the scene he had come across. If his expression alone was anything to go by…

    …Ratchet was pissed.

    The medic’s fury concentrated only briefly at Spike before rearing up at Wheeljack who took a tentative step back. “They were just helping me,” the Autobot offered in meager defense.

    “Have your logic circuits overheated and melted your common sense relays?” Ratchet demanded hotly, “Do you have any idea how many hazards there are in the Cybertronian body that could kill them?”

    Ratchet sat Spike down atop the table with surprising care, a stark contrast his blatant rage that was currently focused on Wheeljack. Once free, Spike scampered over to his Dad in fear of any wayward ire being directed at him.

    Wheeljack knew of the dangers certainly, but apparently he felt well equipped to deal with any accidents should they occur. Ratchet obviously did not share in his confidence.

    “I made sure they knew what they were doing and what not to…” Wheeljack was cut off by a wayward tool making contact with his head with a loud clang! “—Ah!”

    “Not only that, but they aren’t even wearing any protective clothing! Do you know what unprocessed Energon does to organic matter?” Spike and his Father were both frozen upon the table, too stunned to move. They had seen grumpy Ratchet before and even heard him yelling from across the Ark and they certainly had been told the stories…but never had they witness a Ratchet tirade in person. It was far more thunderous then Spike would have guessed. Even Brawn looked nervous and was discretely inching away from Ratchet’s side of the table. And Ratchet, being one of the shorter Mechs, taller then a minibot but shorter then the standard model, carried himself in such a way that made his height severely inconsequential.

    Ratchet turned his ire back towards the human pair and fixed them with a glare. “Next time he or anyone tries to convince either of you to crawl into a Mech, don’t. And if I find out you did anyway, I’ll…I’ll…” Ratchet fumbled on an appropriate ending, appeared unprepared with human compatible threats. “…do something really not nice. Got it?”

    Spike nodded vigorously, but his father looked less convinced. He nodded anyway, “Whatever you say Ratchet.”

    That seemed to appease the medic somewhat. “Good.”

    And that should have been the end of it. But as Spike learned later on with more dealings with the Cybertronian race, it was rarely the end of it. A few days later, Spike came upon his father in a rather curious situation.


    “Yes, son?”

    “…I thought we weren’t supposed to help with repairs anymore…”

    “The Good Doctor only said no more repairing Autobots; he didn’t say anything about equipment,” Sparkplug pulled himself out from under the large computer, wiping away sweat and dirt from his face with a dingy rag. The room was a small communications alcove that branched off from the hall near the main control room. The room was comparatively small to the Autobots, like a closet or a phone booth, but was a sizeable space for the two humans who were the only ones currently within. Sparkplug looked up at his son from where he lay on the floor, a faint smile on his face. “Wheeljack needed some help setting up the new control monitoring modules in all the computers. What Ratchet don’t know can’t hurt him. Or us. Besides, he’s up to his optics in repairs right now and any potential squealers are limbless or knocked out cold in the Medbay.”

    “Dad, that’s kind of…sick.”

    “Doesn’t make it any less true. Ratchet won’t find out. At least for a while.”

    Spike looked around him as if the mere mentioning of the irreverent medic’s name would summon him and subsequently bring all unholy fury raining down upon them. All those horror stories Sideswipe would tell about Ratchet…maybe it was starting to get to him. He would rather not validate their authenticity. “Yeah, but…”

    “You aren’t gonna tattle on me are you, boy?” His father smirked as his son stumbled awkwardly over his reply.

    “Wha-? No! No….no I’m not, I wouldn’t do that! But you shouldn’t be…you know, doing that after what he said. Ratchet’s not the kind of guy to forgive and forget. Sideswipe was saying he holds a grudge like no one else!” said Spike. “And these guys live for a really long time. And a bunch of these guys already think I’m a nuisance and I’d really not care for having a crazy medic pissed at me too.”

    “Stop listening to that red lunatic. He’s just messing with you,” Sparkplug chuckled at him. “You’re too gullible.”

    “Maybe, but…”

    “You worry too much,” said his father as he slipped back under the computer to finish up whatever it was he was doing. “Besides, you’re not doing anything wrong. If he gets fritz, it’ll be at me. Go and find Bumblebee if you’re so worried about it. I need to finish this connection before the monitoring system can go live and Red Alert can stop crying wolf whenever a fly gets in without his notice. I dunno about you son, but I intend to be at least somewhat useful around here.”

    When most individuals have an epiphany or sudden realization, there was usually a profound silence, but Spike simply stood there blinking stupidly. It took a moment for it to sink in. Sparkplug looked over when something slid under the consol beside him and he was pleased to see Spike. “Alright,” the boy said with a nervous smile. “What do I need to do?”

    His father smiled and handed him a wrench. “That’s my boy.”

    It was a very natural thing to become engrossed in one’s work and Spike found himself actually enjoying the task once the thought of repercussions left his cognitive thoughts. In fact, there was something fundamentally invigorating about tinkering with alien technology as well a sense of blatant impishness about doing it all behind the resident Medic’s back. As advanced and technical as the Autobot technology was, it was not too far a leap in common sense to be able to repair simple connections and wires. Had either of them needed to reprogram something or perhaps replace a motherboard that would have been a tad bit different of a situation. However, for two grease monkeys, their task was surprisingly simple and took little to no time at all for them to finish and move on to the next one which Wheeljack, pleased at their speed and skill, readily gave them. It did not take long at all before all the modules were set up and the new monitor program went live.

    Ratchet finished his repairs and no one was any wiser save for a cheeky engineer and a pair of humans, all three of which were smart enough to keep their mouths and vocalizers shut.

    “What are you doing Spike?”

    The unexpected intrusion of the voice broke Spike violently from the isolated trance one often experienced when engrossed in a book. With the start, the boy tore his eyes from the pages and looked up to see Bumblebee smiling down at him. The warm afternoon sun beat down upon the Oregon desert, shimmering off the golden sand and Spike squinted a little against the rays of light that bounced off the yellow minibot’s armor.

    “Oh. Hi, Bumblebee. What’s up?”

    The minibot carefully negotiated himself down into a seated position next to Spike, allowing his feet to dangle off the edge of the rock outcropping where the young human had sought refuge. Transformers in general were not designed to sit in the same fashion as humans, at least not comfortably so, and such physical limitations forced many an Autobot to find alternatives sitting positions to those of the human sort and especially when there were no accommodations to suit them. While Spike could cross his legs Indian style or sit on his knees (which many Autobots figured must be rather painful), Bumblebee had to find a more adequate position to accommodate his frame. It was a lucky happenstance that Spike had chosen a spot with a edge for his to sit upon.

    Once comfortable, Bumblebee turned back to his smaller companion with a smile. “What are you doing out here? I figured you’d be inside driving folks nuts with more questions.”

    Spike felt a bit of uneasiness in the pit of his stomach and he dropped his gaze. “I don’t mean to be a pest to anyone…”

    Bumblebee just laughed and patted the boy on the back good naturedly. “You can’t expect them to really be all that welcoming just yet. Most of them are still kind of working through everything.”

    Spike looked at Bumblebee with confusion. “What do you mean?”

    “Well,” said Bumblebee began hesitantly as if he was not all too certain he should burden the boy with their troubles. “It’s just that lots of us are feeling a bit…home sick, I guess you would call it. We don’t even know if Cybertron still exists. The war could be over. We might be all that’s left of our kind for all we know. Lots of the guys are just trying to keep their transistors cool so a lot of them might be a little short with you.”

    Spike nodded slowly, feeling a like a jerk for not even realizing. “That makes sense.”

    The yellow Autobot echoed the nod. “Yep, so give them a little time to adjust and they’ll be drinking high grade and breaking things before you know it. At least the Decepticon’s keep us busy for a while. All things considered, I’d say we’ve actually behaved fairly well.” He the spotted the book in the young human’s lap and gestured to it vaguely. “So what about you? What’re you reading?”

    Spike froze and he slowly closed the book, hoping his friend wouldn’t be too curious as to what it pertained. “Oh, uh…you know. Stuff.”

    Bumblebee gave Spike an odd look at the defensive response. “Like what?”

    “Just…stuff. Human stuff…nothing important,” Spike slid the book off his lap and tucked it under his thigh, out of sight. “Nothing you’d be interested in.”

    Curiosity piqued, Bumblebee tilted his head at the boy, amused but unconvinced. Spike was very bad at lying. “Really now?”


    Bumblebee leaned forward, a mischievous glint in his optic that made Spike nervous. “Nothing interesting?”


    “Nothing important?”

    Spike leaned away from the yellow minibot. He shook his head, the faux smile on his face wavering. “Nuh-uh.”

    “Well then…” Abruptly, Bumblebee reached out and grabbed the boy around the waist. “…where’s the harm in me seeing it?” The Autobot hoisted the boy up in the air and retrieved the book with his free hand.

    “Hey-! Bumblebee, no!” Spike grabbed onto Bumblebee’s wrist as if afraid he would fall from his grip. Bumblebee sat Spike on his lap, holding him with one arm while he looked at the book.

    “Advanced mechanics?” Bumblebee asked, surprised and more then a little dubious. Spike wiggled in his friend’s arm, trying to reach for the book and hide it as if it were some taboo object not decent for public view.

    “Bumblebee, give it back!” Spike ineffectively tried to reach for it again, but Bumblebee just chuckled and rearranged the boy into the crook of his elbow, well out of range to retrieve the book.

    “What’re you learning mechanics for?” Bumblebee asked, fingering through a few pages. What the book labeled as ‘advanced’ Bumblebee, and most of Cybertronian society, considered basic and common knowledge. He had to restrain himself from snickering inappropriately less he offend his human companion. He was just a boy after all.

    “It’s nothing, now give it back,” grunted the human, still trying to free himself. “And let me go!”

    Bumblebee released his grip and Spike scrambled to his feet, straightening his shirt.

    “So what’s this for?” Bumblebee asked as he handed the book over which Spike took readily and stuffed it under his arm.

    “Nothing. Just curiosity,” Spike replied, his face flushed. “My Dad’s a mechanic remember? I’m just doing some research.”

    “Oh.” Bumblebee nodded. “But why?”

    Looking positively shame faced, Spike kicked a few rocks around, debating his words and just how much to tell, if any, of his secrets to his friend.

    “C’mon Spike,” Bumblebee rested a gentle hand on the boy’s shoulder, which due to its comparative size covered most of his upper arm as well. “I’m your friend. You can tell me.”

    Spike bit his lip and took a refueling breath. “Wheeljack’s teaching me and Dad how to help with repairs on you guys even though Ratchet said not to under threat of extreme pain and torture. So it’s all a big secret and no one’s supposed to know.” Spike pulled the book from under his arm and held it up. “He told me to read this to get familiar with the basics.”

    “So,” Asked Bumblebee, leaning on one arm and smirking. “Why so glum about it? Don’t you want to?”

    “Well, yeah!” Spike replied as if it should have been obvious. “It’s just…”

    Spike sighed in frustration holding the book out in front of him and glaring at it. “No matter how many times I read this, it’s like nothing’s sticking! I’m not a learn-from-a-book kinda guy. It’s easier for me to learn by example. But Wheeljack doesn’t want to get into actual demonstrations yet. He’s still trying to figure out how to do it without attracting any attention.” There was a momentary pause and Spike looked up into Bumblebee’s face. “And I’m freaked out that Ratchet will kill us all if he finds out.”

    The sheer frankness of Spike words caused Bumblebee to laugh. Spike frowned; taking his friend’s amusement as a sign of belittlement in regards to his situation which he found far from humorous. “Bumblebee…”

    The Autobot placed his hand on his abdomen as he got his chortles under control. “I’m sorry, buddy. I guess to a newbie Ratchet can seem pretty intimidating.”


    “You haven’t known him long enough, that’s all,” said Bumblebee. “He acts that way, but only because he’s looking out for you the best way he knows how.”

    “Yelling and physically threatening people?”


    Spike was silent as he tried to absorb that. “…sorry if my puny human mind does not comprehend your superior alien robotic logic.”

    Bumblebee gave the boy a look. “Now don’t go saying stuff like that. You’re just not thinking about it in the right terms,” he said, tapping a metal finger onto the boy’s scalp. “Ratchet’s been patching our afts up for millennia now. Probably longer then the Earth’s existed, in fact. And the more you get to know these guys you’ll see why Ratchet’s temper’s a few meters short of a mile.”

    Spike pondered that for a moment, rubbing the top of his head. “So…he’s just tired of fixing you guys all the time?”

    “In a sense. He’s has this idea that if you’ve been injured in anyway it must have been a result of your own stupidity and shortcomings and therefore you’re deliberately wasting his time and resources.”

    “…but you’re not.”

    “Not always, no.”

    “Wait—not always? What do you mean ‘not always’? You mean sometimes you are?”

    “Well, take Sideswipe for instance: He like pushing people’s buttons. Especially Ratchet’s. So he’s intentionally reckless in the field just so he can annoy the good doctor.”

    “That’s insane.”

    “That’s Sideswipe,” replied Bumblebee frankly. “You’ll learn in time.”

    “So then…he’s just in a perpetual state of annoyance?”

    “Pretty much.”

    “…so he wouldn’t really kill me?”

    “No, of course not.”

    Spike felt a swell of relief…

    “He might lock you in a storage closet or make you clean the floors with a pipe cleaner or something like that, though.”

    …and then it was gone. “What?”

    “Well, you’re human. So he’d have to be pretty careful so he didn’t maim you or something. He never does anything permanent. He can ding us up all he wants, we’re easily fixed. But you? Not so much.” Bumblebee couldn’t help but smile at the look of abject horror upon the young man’s face. “But Ratchet’s always been pretty creative when it comes to alternative punishments. He made Bluestreak replace every light fixture on base once when he got his arm shot off in the field.”

    “…somehow that doesn’t put me at ease.”

    Bumblebee smiled at the young man and reached for the book again, plucking it from his hands. Spike didn’t protest this time as Bumblebee carefully ruffled through the pages. “It doesn’t look all that hard. What do you need help with?”

    “Well…it’s hard for me to learn from pictures alone, that’s all.”

    “Well then, why not let me show you?” With that, Bumblebee reached over and opened a panel on his forearm. Spike’s eyes widened at the sight of the circuitry and various lines and mechanics and hydraulics within the limp. “I could show you. Be your example.”

    Spike was speechless for a moment.

    “You’d let me tinker around with your parts?” Spike asked, dubious and with a fair amount of anxiety. “Aren’t you afraid I’ll mess you up or something?”

    The yellow Autobot burst out into laughter. “I doubt you could do much harm without a blowtorch or something like that. Seekers have tried and failed to bring me down,” Bumblebee replied with a smirk. “And, no offense buddy, but you ain’t no Seeker.”

    “None taken,” Spike replied with a smile and a shrug.

    “Alright, so let’s start with the basics,” Bumblebee began as he handed Spike the book and began to recite the fundamental rules and laws of mechanics.

    As Spike had said, he worked and learned much faster when he had something he could touch and look at, something tangible. The awkwardness of the situation was brief and soon Spike became enthralled once more in the activity. But all too soon the sun began to set and the two were forced to return indoors. Neither spoke a word about the lesson and Spike returned to Wheeljack much more mechanically savvy then before, much to the engineer’s delight. He assigned him another book. And when he found himself stuck on something, he went and sought Bumblebee’s presence. It wasn’t long at all before Wheeljack announced it was time to start the hands on process and gave then an old hydraulic flux dampener to restore.

    And that should have been the end of it. But as Spike was beginning to learn along with his many dealings with the Cybertronian race, it was rarely the end of it.

    To be Continued...
  3. Hakudoushi

    Hakudoushi Well-Known Member

    Aug 24, 2004
    Trophy Points:
    The Hypo-critic Oath Part II

    It was a few weeks later that Bumblebee came back from patrol, dinged and dented from helm to bumper with more than a fair share of scratches from where the pavement had given him a few lovely kisses. Spike had been in the hall, making his way to the control room in hopes of finding his Dad so they could work on the flux dampener together, but stopped frozen in that hall when the yellow bug came limping down his way. Ironhide was next to him, helping the scout along with a guiding hand on one dented shoulder.

    For a few moments Spike simply stood there, his stomach having bottomed out at the sight. He had seen worse injuries on some of the Autobots, certainly, but never had it been an Autobot Spike had been anywhere close to. Not like Bumblebee. The sight conjured up memories he would rather not recall. With a shake of his head to clear his mind, Spike ran forward to meet them.

    “Bee!” he said, pausing in front of them. “Are you alright? What happened?”

    “Don’t get all excited, kid,” Ironhide said with a frown.

    “I’m fine,” said Bumblebee. “Skywarp and I just had… a nice chat.”

    Spike blinked. “Oh. But you’re alright?”

    “Me? Sure. This is nothing,” Bumblebee said, waving the comment off. “A couple dents to bang out and a new paint job. Nothing to worry about. I’ve had much much worse.” Bumblebee then leaned down towards the human and smirked. “I told you; Seekers have tried and failed to bring me down.”

    Spike was about to reply when a familiar scent struck his nose; a strong pungent smell that made his sinuses cringe. Energon, fresh Energon. As he was about to mention it, the two carried onwards towards the Medbay and Spike scrambled to get out of their way. He watched them march down the hallway and after a moment’s pause, he ran after them. If they noticed him following, neither Mech made any motion to stop him or to tell him to bugger off.

    As they neared their destination, the Medbay doors opened up and Ratchet stepped out to meet them, not looking too pleased at all. The medic regarded both Bumblebee and Ironhide with an annoyed glare and pitched his head to the side, directing them into the room. “Third table to the right,” he scowled, mouth pinched into a frown. “And don’t move a servo or I’ll redirect your vocalizer through your exhaust port.”

    “Whatever you say Ratchet.” The pair walked past him and just as Ratchet was about to follow them in, he happened to looked down and spotted Spike standing there. The medic’s frown deepened.

    “What do you want, scraplet?” He growled. The young man looked anxiously between Ratchet and Bumblebee as if silently pleading for permission to enter as well. After a moment, Ratchet growled to himself and pitched his head. “Go on,” he grumbled and Spike rushed inside with Ratchet behind him. “Just stay out of the way or you’ll get stepped on.”

    “Yes sir,” Spike replied and made his way over to a vacant table and stood beneath it.

    Bumblebee laid himself down on an examination table with Ironhide’s help, one of many that lined both walls of the main bay. Further back were a series of doors that lead into private rooms for patients whose repairs took longer than usual and required temporary housing until they were released from Ratchet’s tender loving care. Then there was a supply closet and another door which Spike was ignorant of its use. In the far right corner was a cubical like office with a single wide window looking out into the bay like a guard shack; Ratchet’s office.

    As Bumblebee settled down, Ratchet walked up beside the berth, pulling along a trolley laden with his tools of preference. Ironhide, having delivered his ward safely, took his leave.

    “I’ll be expecting a full report when your finished,” the red Autobot told Bumblebee as he neared the door. “And Prime wants a debriefing as well. Prowl’s probably gonna call a meeting.”

    “Will do,” Bumblebee replied sounding far more chipper than one would expect from a person in such shape. Ratchet seemed to have had the same thought for his scowl deepened at the merriness in his patient’s voice.

    As instructed, Spike remained out of the way. Beneath the concern for his friend, Spike felt a growing sense of anxiousness. He had a growing desire to see what Ratchet was doing, to see a trained medic in the process of repair. He had witness it before, several times in fact, but now that he actually had some knowledge of Cybertronian anatomy and system functions, he found himself aching to see.

    Seven minutes into the procedure and Ratchet turned to Spike and glowered, “Child, if you don’t stop that infernal tapping, I’ll throw you out!”

    The sudden outburst surprised Spike and he planted the soles of his feet firmly on the ground, having not cognitively realized he had been tapping them against the floor in his angst. “Sorry,” he muttered and shrunk back further under the table. A low rumble emanated from inside Ratchet’s chest and he strode over to the table where Spike had taken refuge. Without a word, the medic reached out and grabbed Spike around the middle hoisting him up and then walking back over towards his work station. Setting the boy down on the table beside the one Bumblebee was currently occupying, Ratchet glared at him. “Frag it to the pit if I’ll have you scampering around where I can’t see you. Just sit still and don’t make a sound. Got it?”

    Spike nodded fervently. “Yes sir.”


    Pleased, but no less annoyed, Ratchet returned to his work. The reproof had been a blessing in disguise as now Spike had the perfect vantage point in which to observe the repairs. He felt a leap of pride when he realized not only did he recognize what Ratchet was doing as he removed armor panels to inspect and repair anything underneath, but he could guess what would be repaired next. The procedure in its entirety took little over an hour and once Bumblebee’s armor had been reset, he was free to go.

    He and Spike started down the hall.

    “I have to go fill out my report,” Bumblebee said. “But I was thinking we could go for another lesson if you’re up for it.”

    Spike beamed. “Sure.”

    “Could you follow anything Ratchet did?”

    “From what I saw at the end, yeah. Most of it anyway. I don’t think I could replicate it though.”

    Bumblebee shrugged. “You will in time.”

    “If Ratchet doesn’t find out.”

    “He’ll warm up to the idea eventually. When he’s up to his optics in wounded Mechs, he might change his mind. That’s why he taught Wheeljack. He didn’t want to at first because Wheeljack has a tendency to cause catastrophic failures.”

    “…What kind of catastrophic failures?”

    Bumblebee raised his hands and spread his fingers, “Boom.”

    Spike snickered. “Oh.”

    He followed Bumblebee to his quarters, a relatively small space with a single berth for recharging and a small computer terminal. Bumblebee marched inside and sat at the terminal and began to write up his report. Spike clambered onto the berth and walked back and forth along the edge.

    “Wheeljack gave Dad and me a project,” Spike said in an attempt to fill the empty air with casual conversation. “An old flux dampener he wants us to restore.”

    Bumblebee paused in his typing to send a confused look his way. “…that’s a bit… extreme of a project. Wouldn’t you need some sort of protection? Like a lead wall?”

    Spike smiled. “It’s hydraulic.”

    “Ok. That’s better,” Bumblebee replied and returned to his task. He chuckled. “I was gonna say; Wheeljack must’ve finally lost it if he gave you two an atomic flux dampener to start with.”

    “Why? What’s wrong with it?”

    “Well, it’s my understanding that certain amounts of exposure to particular wave lengths of light can cause cell mutation in organics,” Bumblebee replied. “Which would be very bad.”

    Spike just blinked. “What? Like a sun burn?”

    “Radiation. Cancer.”

    Spike’s eyes widened. “Oh… shit.”

    “Exactly,” said the Autobot. “So maybe we’ll wait for that kind of repair until you have a radiation proof suit or something along those lines.”

    “Or we could just leave that stuff up to you guys.”

    “That would work too.” Just then, Bumblebee placed a hand his helm and his body swayed every so slightly before righting itself. Spike looked at his friend.

    “You OK?” asked the boy.

    Bumblebee shook his head as if to clear his mind and tuned to address Spike. “Yeah, I’m fine. Just…my energy levels just dropped all a sudden.”

    “Well, when was the last time you refueled?” Spike asked.

    “Before I went out on patrol, but I don’t…” Bumblebee never finished the sentence as his optics went dark and his form went limp before falling back out of his chair to crash on the ground.

    “Bumblebee!” Spike leapt from the berth and onto the floor before scrambling over to his fallen friend. Climbing up onto the yellow metal, Spike called out to him again. “Bumblebee! Bumblebee, what’s wrong? Wake up! Bumblebee!”

    There was no answer. Spike turned to leap off and run for help, but paused as a sickening smell filled his sinuses and he automatically went to cover his nose. The smell of Energon was very strong. Armed with nothing but a hunch and adrenaline, Spike crawled down to Bumblebee’s midsection and grabbed onto the edge of his chest metal and pulled. At first it refused to give and the metal edged dug into his palms painfully. Another fervent tug and the metal door popped open to reveal the inner working of the Autobot. Nothing immediately seemed amiss until a wave of Energon wafted over him. He could already feel a headache coming on, but he ignored it. Ever so carefully, Spike crawled over the exposed chest, oil and grim staining his pants and hands, all the while carefully sniffing and looking for where the scent was strongest. As he climbed further up the scent grew more saturated until he paused over an orb like structure from where several major cables sprouted; his spark chamber. Looking around at all the connections, feeds, and lines, Spike could figure out where the smell was coming from. He bent low near the chamber and began looking around its edges, down past it and further into the Autobot’s body. The smell was overwhelming now, he knew he was close. He reached down into the dark crevasse and cried out when he felt burning hot liquid engulf his hand and drip down his arm, it felt like fire. He pulled his hand out to see pink liquid drip off his finger tips which were already red and blistering as well as a line down his forearm in the same manner. He flicked his hand in an attempt to clear off the burning fluid and bit back tears.

    Well… at least he had found it.

    Without another word, Spike hoped off Bumblebee’s chest and made a mad dash for the door which opened politely for him. He rushed down the hall ways as fast as he could, nearly tripping in his haste. When he approached the corner, his sneakers lost traction and slipped on the metal, sending him spiraling across the floor and into the opposite wall. Spike took a moment to nurse his shin, sucking air across his teeth. The radiating pain from his hand was increasing.


    He looked up, startled, to see Optimus Prime standing there.

    “ Prime!” Spike called, scrambling to his feet and ran over to the Autobot commander. The larger being dropped down onto one knee as the boy came up to meet him.

    “What’s wrong?” He asked, voice filled with concerned for the odd condition which the boy appeared to be.

    “Bumblebee needs help,” Spike told him breathlessly. “He just collapsed and he’s not answering me!”

    Despite his lack of facial features, Optimus’ expression turned positively grim and he rose to his feet, striding over Spike and towards Bumblebee’s quarters. “Inform Ratchet of the situation and tell him to meet me there,” he called as he turned the corner.

    “Yes sir!” Needing no more persuasions, Spike hurried on down the hall towards the Medbay. He was breathing hard when he reached the large set of double doors which opened for his after a moment of his banging on them. He ran inside, but did not see Ratchet at first.

    “Ratchet!” Spike yelled.

    “What do you want?” Grouched the familiar voice, but from behind him. Spike whirled around faster than his tired legs could move and he fell back onto his behind. He looked up to see Ratchet in the corner, rummaging through a box of something on the shelve lining the wall there.

    “Bumblebee collapsed and he isn’t answering me when I call him,” Spike explained with little control, picking himself up. “Something’s wrong with his Spark chamber I think. It’s leaking Energon or something!”

    Ratchet’s face shifted from annoyed to furious in the span of a second. Without a word he was running for the door, leaving Spike, tired and sore, to totter along behind at his own inadequate pace. When Spike finally arrived at Bumblebee’s room, both Optimus and Ratchet were leaning over the still form. Ratchet’s hands were flying furiously across the open chest, digging into spaces and checking things. Spike hovered near the doorway to be out of the way.

    Ratchet was muttering and cursing. “I don’t understand it…he’s in forced stasis but his systems aren’t responding to my override codes… there’s some sort of interference…”

    “What does that mean?” Spiked asked worriedly from the doorway.

    Ratchet glanced briefly his way before returning his full attention to his patient. “It means for whatever reason, his Spark isn’t communicating with his body. I think his motherboard might have crashed…”

    “Is that bad?”

    “Yes it’s bad! Very bad, not stop asking questions and let me do my job!” The ferocity of the remark surprised Spike and he had the definite feeling he wasn’t welcome in the area at that moment. Ratchet continued to mutter hotly to himself. “Fragging, worthless piece of scrap…why won’t you respond?”

    Spike looked down at his burned hand. “What about an Energon leak?”

    “Didn’t I just tell you to stop asking me erroneous questions?” Ratchet barked, not even granting him a glance. “ Prime, help me get this slagger to the Medbay. I can’t do anything in here.”

    Optimus nodded once and daftly went to pick the smaller, docile form into his large arms.

    “It’s not erroneous!” Spike protested, but he was ignored. Both Mechs then rushed out the door and into the hall towards the Medbay. Spike, despite his growing collection of bruises and fatigue, ran after them. When he finally caught up with them, he was out of breath. They had laid Bumblebee upon a table and Optimus stood by as Ratchet whirled around in a fervor gathering tools and jumping into his work with reckless abandon.

    “It’s not erroneous!” Spike repeated himself as it was obvious he had not been heard, or paid attention to, the first time. “I think his…”

    “Spike! If I hear your voice one more time I’m going to weld your mandible orifice shut!”

    Perhaps it was because a dear friend’s life was in danger or because Spike finally grew a backbone, but at that moment he realized something extraordinary; he was not afraid of Ratchet. With a gust of bravado, Spike ran over to the table and stood a little ways from the medic’s feet. He looked up and squared his shoulders. “No!”

    Ratchet paused in his work to look down at the boy, optics narrowed to thin slits and ire rising off his shoulders like waves of heat. “No?” He asked slowly as if warning boy he was trudging into dangerous territory. Spike stared back, unafraid and unintimidated. Ratchet’s scowl deepened. “ Prime… request permission to permanently weld this boy’s mouth shut!”

    “Denied,” Optimus sighed and rounded the table. He bent down next to Spike, reaching a hand out and placing it placating against the boy’s back. “Spike, perhaps it is best if you go find your father and wait. We will come get you when…”

    “No!” Spike repeated, stepping away from Prime. “Bumblebee’s Spark chamber’s flooded with Energon. He had a leak somewhere in the main cavity, the auxiliary line I think. The one that lines the left side of the cortex. If his system’s not responding to override codes that means his Processor must not be accessible somehow. His Spark isn’t sending information to his body! Like he’s in a coma!”

    Optimus was speechless and Ratchet’s face seemed to spasm, filtering several emotions at once as Spike’s words settled. “…if there was a leak that massive my scans would have detected it.”

    Spike raised his hand, showing off the somewhat impressive burns. “So what’s this?” Ratchet visibly twitched upon seeing them, but didn’t reply. Spike went on, “There’s Energon in his Spark chamber.”

    Half expecting to be bombarded with accusations on how he would know any of that and how he got the burns, Ratchet returned to his work and did not speak to either Optimus nor Spike for several long minutes. Then abruptly, he forced the two of them out of the room with a snarl. “I’ll call when I’m done! Now get out of my sight!”

    Optimus kindly dropped Spike off at the Rec room before heading onward to seek out Prowl. Spike entered the room, Bumblebee’s condition weighing heavily on his mind more so than the pain of burned hand. Upon the doors opening, Spike was bombarded with the loud clamorous sounds of a rambunctious crowd of Autobots. The various tables were occupied with laughing Mechs, Energon cubes in hand. A good many of them looked drunk, if that was even a physical probability. Wheeljack had mentioned they experienced something called n overcharge, but Spike assumed that was more like getting high rather than drunk. Perhaps he was simply thinking to literally. Or perhaps just thinking too much…

    Regardless, his entrance seemed widely unnoticed save by a few who waved or motioned to him cheerfully. Sparkplug and Hound were seated at a table along with Jazz and Wheeljack. When he saw his son, Sparkplug waved to him. “Spike! Where’ve you been boy?”

    “Yeah,” added Jazz. “You’re missing all the fun, kiddo.”

    Spike made his way to the table, careful of anyone who might not be paying attention and not realize he was there. Hound gave the boy a hand up on the table. “Spike?” The Mech asked as allowed him to slide of his hand and onto the table top.


    “What happened to your hand?” Spike looked down at the burns, realizing belatedly that they were actually quite painful. Sparkplug saw them and like any parent, began to overreact.

    “Jesus, son!” Sparkplug took his son’s arm in his hand and began to examine the burns. Spike didn’t protest. “What did you do? Stick your hand in boiling water?”

    Spike found the grace to look guilty. “Not exactly…”

    His father looked at him. “What then?”

    The boy hesitated. “Energon…” he said.

    “What?” demanded the other is disbelief that his son could have done something so stupid.

    “It wasn’t on purpose,” Spike was quick to elaborate and then explained the incident in Bumblebee’s room and then how Ratchet had thrown both he and Optimus out of the Medbay to work in peace. Spike turned to Wheeljack. “So, uh… Ratchet might know what we’ve been doing. Or have a good idea.”

    Seeming to tire from the mere thought of the hell-storm that was sure to come, Wheeljack sighed. “Well, can’t say I expected it to be a secret forever. Especially if you two were ever gonna actually help with repairs.”

    Jazz looked up from his cube. “What’s this about repairs?” he asked, leaning onto the table with a glint of curiosity in his optic.

    Wheeljack shrugged, “I’ve been teaching ‘em basic Cybertronian anatomy and mechanics so they could help us with repairs. We’re short of hands as far as able medics go. Ratchet’s the only Mech onboard with actual medical programming,” said Wheeljack. “I thought if we trained these two a bit we could save time and resources. Their small stature enables them to reach places that for a Mech would take an inch from complete disassembly to reach.”

    “Bumblebee’s been helping, too.” Spike added.

    “And I take it Ratchet didn’t approve of these lessons?” Hound asked, taking a sip of Energon from the cube in his hand.

    The engineer crossed his arms and sat back in his chair, looking disappointed. “No, he wasn’t too thrilled with the prospect. I think he’s just being a bit too overprotective, is all. We tend to underestimate Humans,” he said. “They’re more resilient than we give them credit for.”

    “Damn Skippy,” Sparkplug piped in, still inspecting Spike’s arms where the skin had blistered. Wheeljack’s optics glowed warmly, squinting slightly in amusement.

    Jazz chuckled. “Well, it’s not like Ratchet doesn’t have a point, though. You little guys may be tougher than ya look, but you’re still pretty fragile.”

    Sparkplug’s frowned, not paying attention to what was being said to either him nor Spike.

    “You might have to go to the Hospital, son,” Sparkplug told him.

    Spike balked, sudden anxiety stirring in his gut. “What? Why?”

    “This is pretty bad,” The elder Witwicky pinned his son with a stern look. “Few of the blisters are broken and you’re starting to swell. Doesn’t it hurt?”

    “Only a little…” Spike lied. Without comment, Sparkplug probed the blistered flesh with a finger and watched as his son sucked air across his teeth and recoiled, pulling his injured hand away and muttering a few choice phrases.

    Unamused by the boy’s misplaced courage, Sparkplug grabbed Spike’s shoulder and looked squarely in his eyes. “You’re going to a doctor.”

    Spike wilted. “Yes sir.”

    A trip to the local free clinic and several hours later, Spike was ushered into an examination room where a doctor jovially announced that the boy was the proud owner of second degree burns. The process for dressing such burns turned out to be a very unpleasant experience; more disturbing than painful. After thoroughly irrigating the burns to wash away any residual chemical, Spike was injected with some painkiller with a wordy name to numb the pain. Then the doctor proceeded to scrape the dead skin from Spike’s hand and forearm with a horribly stiff brush and an odd green goop with tiny white shards of something that looks conspicuously like glass. There was no pain, but the sound of skin being scrapped away was enough to make the boy cringe and he was very much aware that he would likely be in serious discomfort the next day. Once all that was done, the doctor wrapped the boy’s hand and arm with gauze and sent him home with a prescription for a mild sedative for the pain which was to be taken once a day with food.

    Hound drove them back to the Ark while Spike told him what had happened in the clinic.

    “And he gave me drugs,” spike said with a cheeky grin. Beside him, his father rolled his eyes.

    “What for?” Asked the green jeep.

    “For the pain,” Spike replied, using his good hand to read the label on the orange bottle.

    “Are you in pain now?” Hound asked.

    “Nah, he gave me a shot of something. It doesn’t hurt now,” said the boy. “But I’ll probably be feeling it tomorrow when the painkillers ware off.”

    Nearing the Ark’s entrance, Hound allowed his two passengers to dismount before transforming. Spike was picking at the gauze wrapping his hand and some of his forearm.

    “Stop picking at it,” His father chastised as they walked into the familiar orange halls. “You’ll make it come undone.” Spike held the dressed appendage close to his body and allowed the other undamaged one to swing at his side as he walked. The painkiller his had been given made him feel a little loopy. He could feel it in his walk, his feet felt lighter.

    Up ahead, Jazz and Smokescreen turned into the corridor. Spotting them, Jazz waved. “Hey kiddo! What’s the diagnosis?”

    Spike grinned and held up his bandaged hand. “Second degree burns, man!”

    Jazz laughed. “Wicked.” Smokescreen placed his hand on Jazz’s shoulder and tilted his head, saying something. Jazz nodded and turned back. “I’ll catch you guys later. Monitor duty calls.”

    As the two disappeared down another corridor, Spike turned to his Dad. “I’m gonna go see if Bumblebee’s awake,” he announced, leaving Hound and his Father to their own devices. Heading down an adjacent hallway towards the Medbay, Spike was filled with an odd feeling of excitement at showing Bumblebee his arm. It seemed like a very human concept to show off one’s wounds, but then again Spike had most certainly seen Ironhide bragging about his own battle scars. In comparison, Spike’s burns were nothing but a scratch. But Bumblebee always humored him. The Medbay door seemed to be open and as he neared it, Spike could hear two voices bickering within. He paused to listen.

    Ratchet’s voice was easily the loudest and most discernable amid the din. “…you were thinking?” The medic was saying. He didn’t sound happy.

    “I don’t see why you’re so adamantly against the idea Ratchet, it has merit—” The second voice sounded like Wheeljack. Spike’s eyes widened in realization. Uh-oh…

    Curiously, instead of heading the other direction, away from the brooding melee, Spike inched closer, standing just beyond the door and carefully peeking his head around to peer inside. Wheeljack stood across from Ratchet in the middle of the room. On a table beside them was Bumblebee, awake and alert and seemingly no worse for wear. He appeared to be playing the part of spectator.

    “Merit?” Ratchet demanded. “Frag it Wheeljack, they’re not medics! They don’t need to be messing around with anyone’s insides!”

    “You’re not even listening,” Wheeljack countered.

    “Of course I am,” he said. “And I think it’s too dangerous.”

    “Ratchet, maybe you should give them a chance,” Bumblebee interjected. “I’ve been helping Spike a bit. He’s got some real potential. And Sparkplug is just as good.”

    Before the medic could reply, Wheeljack crossed his arms and asked, “Have you seen the work they did on that flux dampener?”

    Ratchet glared at the engineer. “What?”

    “I gave them a flux dampener to restore. Don’t worry; it’s an old hydraulic one I got from the scrap heap. Have you seen it?”

    “I don’t need to for me to see that—”

    “Oh I think you should take a look,” Wheeljack insisted before heading over to the back door that led to his lab. Reappearing a few moments later, he placed the flux dampener Spike and his father had been working on atop the table next to Bumblebee. It was about the size of a car engine and was similar in shape; a conglomerate of pipes and wires, like a giant metal knot. Ratchet stared at it for a few moments before returning his stare to the engineer but said nothing.

    “That’s pretty impressive,” Wheeljack insisted. “Half the Mechs on this ship can’t do half as decent a job in twice the time and they haven’t even finished restoring it yet!”

    Ratchet said nothing, but just continued to stare at the dampener with an unreadable expression.

    “And those control modules we installed? That was them too.”

    Ratchet shifted his optics to send a particularly rancid glare in Wheeljack’s direction. “What?”

    “Yep, that was them.” Wheeljack stood firmly before his colleague. “And Spike was right about that leak in Bee’s spark chamber.”

    “Yeah and look what that got him,” Ratchet scowled.

    “But he saved my life,” Bumblebee reminded him.

    “Technically speaking,” said Ratchet. “I saved your life.”

    “True. But if Spike hadn’t been there with me when I dropped, I could’ve off-lined right there and no one would’ve known.”

    “It doesn’t take medical training to run for help when a 'bot just drops out of his chair like that.” Ratchet abruptly seem to loose interest in the conversation and glanced around the room as if looking for something. “Speaking of which, where is that little scraplet anyway? I need to talk to him about sticking his tiny hands where they don’t belong…”

    Spike pulled back a little away from the door way in case the medic should glance that was and spot him.

    “Hound drove him and Sparkplug to a clinic in town to have it taken care of,” assured Wheeljack. “But don’t get off subject. You’re being too stubborn about this.”

    “And I’m done talking about this.”

    “Well we’re not,” Wheeljack replied, uncharacteristically firm.

    Bumblebee fixed Ratchet with a firm stare. “I think you should give them a chance, doc.”

    “Have you even spoken to Prime?” Ratchet demanded. “What does he think about all of this?”

    “Well no, we haven’t told him, but…”

    “Then there is nothing more to discuss,” said the medic. It was more disappointing to hear Ratchet blatantly refuse their training than Spike would have thought. So engrossed in watching the conversation taking in place inside the Medbay, he was not aware that a being had snuck up behind him. The red Mech quietly squatted down behind the boy and waited several long moments before speaking, “So what are we looking at?” he whispered.

    Spike jumped and cried out at the intrusion of the unanticipated voice. Startled, he whirled around and fell onto his backside. Looking up, he saw Sideswipe crouched there, blue eyes glowing with amusement.

    “Oops! Sorry,” the Mech said, grinning like the Cheshire Cat. “Did I scare you?”

    Spike opened his mouth to berate the Mech when he realized he had been exposed. He slowly glanced to his left to see the occupants of the Medbay staring at him.

    “Spike,” Bumblebee said in surprise. “When’d you get back?”

    “Are you OK?” Wheeljack asked. “What did the human doctors say?”

    Spike opened his mouth to reply but stopped when he caught sight of Ratchet. The Medic stood tall with his arms crossed, his head dipped with a sever scowl fixed onto his mouth, and optics that peered out from under his helm and straight at him. Spike stared back with his mouth agape, his mind struggling to come to a solution to his new found predicament or at least a very good excuse. For several moments no one moved or spoke. Finally, Spike broke the four-way staring contest and turned to Sideswipe and glared, “You’re an ass…”

    Without another word, the boy scrambled to his feet and ran down the hall as fast as his legs could move. He was half way down the corridor when he heard the sound of pounding feet behind him. He glanced over his shoulder and cursed.

    “Spike!” Ratchet barked, chasing after him. “Get you’re scrawny aft back here!”

    Spike ran faster. He didn’t slow to make the turn up ahead, but luckily for him the halls were wide enough for him to make the turn with ease. Ratchet however, with his considerable more bulk, was forced to slow. Spike stopped and turned into a door way, pressing his back against the wall. A few moments later a wall of white and red ran past his hidey hole, thoroughly unaware of Spike’s presence. Using the moment of opportunity to his advantage, Spike headed back the other way. He did a quick mental survey of where he was and realized he was heading towards the communications room. Maybe he could ask Jazz to shield him from Ratchet’s rage or at the very least hide him for a while.

    Reaching the end of the hall, Spike stopped to catch his breath. Leaning against the corner with his shoulder, he hung his head, breathing hard. His hand throbbed under the gauze, but there was no pain. He was feeling a little light headed. “Ah man…”

    “…you okay kid?”

    Spike looked up in surprise to see Brawn standing there in front of him, a box in his arms and a dubious expression on his face. Next to him stood a Mech Spike had never seen. He was tall and slim. His armor was a spotless blue and white and his helm reminded Spike vaguely of King Tut’s death mask. He peered down at the little human as if not sure what to make of him.

    “Oh… yeah, sure,” Spike said breathlessly. “Just… you know… running for my life.”

    Brawn squinted an optic in confusion while his companion looked on in silence.

    “Ratchet,” Spike added. The minibot donned a look of understanding and then smirked. The other said nothing.

    “So you got on the Hatchet’s bad side did ya, boy?”

    “Not on purpose…” Spike replied, pushing off from the wall.

    Brawn chuckled. “That’s how it works, kid. Welcome to the club.”

    Somehow, Spike didn’t feel so honored to be in such a club. “I don’t get it thought. I helped Bumblebee; don’t I get bonus points or something?”

    Brawn’s face abruptly turned grim. Even the other Mech seemed more alert. “What’s wrong with ‘Bee?” Brawn asked.

    “Hm? Oh, his auxiliary line was leaking Energon into his Spark chamber,” Spike replied, tapping his chest. “He passed out in his room. I tried to figure out what was wrong with him and ended up sticking my hand into a pool unprocessed Energon,” he held his bandaged arm. “Second degree burns.”

    “Will he be alright?” asked the unknown Mech asked. His voice was rather mellow and soft, as if he was not one to waste words.

    “Yeah, he was awake and talking when I stopped by the Bay,” Spike sighed and wobbled a bit on his feet he felt a wave of dizziness pass over him. “Why can’t Ratchet wait until I’m not loopy on painkillers to do this?”

    “Why wait till you’re at peak performance when it’s so much easier to catch wounded prey?” Both Spike and Brawn were taken by surprise as the white form of Ratchet stepped up beside them. The other Mech’s face was unreadable.

    Spike looked around him in incredulous bewilderment.

    Where the hell did he come from!? Spike wondered before bolting back down the hall. Ratchet revved his engines in irritation before taking pursuit once more, pushing past the pair of Autobots. The Medic was amazed at just how fast the little human was capable of running considering the boy’s stride was a mere 1/8th of his own. Perhaps he was in need of a tune up.

    The fork in the hall loomed up ahead and Spike wracked his brain to make a decision; left or right? The sound of large feet behind him was increasing at an alarming rate and every step seemed to be just behind him. Feeling as though he were playing a twisted game of chicken with the large orange metal wall, Spike turned sharply left just as another wave of dizziness hit him. His feet stumbled over themselves and he fell to the ground. His built up momentum sent his scrawny body sliding across the metal floor and into the wall with a crash. He lay there, marveling at the lack of pain, though his limps throbbed as blood pumped through him. He was defiantly going to be sore tomorrow…

    The second such fall that day, Spike wondered if he should buy sneakers with better traction. Just as the thought crossed his mind, an all-encompassing shadow fell across him. He looked up to meet the two beady blue optics of one very unhappy medic.

    Ratchet loomed over the fallen human for a moment before squatting down, displeased expression firmly set. Spike jumped at the sudden movement and tried to scurry away, but one red hand swept up behind him and grabbed a hold of his shirt. A wave of vertigo washed over him as he was unexpectedly lifted off the floor and up several feet into the air. Ratchet’s other hand came around his middle to better support him and then without a word, began making his way back to the Medbay.

    “Go easy on ‘im Doc!” Brawn called, though sounding far too amused for Spike’s liking. He found himself sinking into the medic’s hand and making himself as small as possible. Somehow, Chopin’s Funeral March seemed an appropriate theme for the moment and played in an endless loop within his head. They passed few others, but the Mechs they happen to cross Ratchet did not slow his step or even acknowledged them as he passed. Spike sent silently pleading glances to those few but remained silent. Most of them were those he barely new or not at all. It seemed all his allies were somewhere else.

    All the horror stories Sideswipe had told him came flooding back in the worst way. He recalled the advice that both his father and Bumblebee had given him, but it did little to help. Upon entering the Medbay, Spike was disheartened to see both Wheeljack and Bumblebee were gone. Striding across the main Bay, Ratchet deposited Spike on top of a table none too ceremoniously before turning and around and exiting the room without explanation. Spike sat there for a few minutes, completely bewildered at what had just happened. Across the way from him was the flux dampener, sitting harmlessly atop the table. Somehow, it made Spike feel incriminated.

    It wasn’t too long afterwards that Ratchet returned, with his father in hand. Sparkplug Witwicky did not look too amused either.

    “God damnit Ratchet, put me down!” As the medic obediently placed the older human next to his son, Sparkplug smoothed out his shirt and glared up at the Mech. “Now what hell was that all about? Didn’t your manufacturer ever install a courtesy chip or manners software? Geez.”

    “No, my creator didn’t think it was necessary.” Ratchet spat back. Spike was unable to tell whether or not he was joking.

    “Now what’s this all about that you had to drag me and Spike down here?” Spike looked at his father with slight worry. He was not sure such a tone was best suited at that moment.

    Ratchet didn’t answer him, instead he turned around and snatched the flux dampener from the other table and slapped it down in front of the two humans. While Spike felt like curling in on himself in the face of such implicating evidence, Sparkplug stood tall in defiance.

    “You two did this?” Ratchet asked flatly.

    “Yes,” Sparkplug replied without a moment’s hesitation. “Is there something wrong with it?”

    Spike closed his eyes and took a slow breath. Dad, you’re so playing fire right now…

    “I’ll say! You idiots installed the primary release valve backwards. Had this piece of junk been installed into anything it would have build up pressure in the main shaft and eventually cause a catastrophic failure. What the frag have those two empty headed fraggers been teaching you?”

    Spike opened his eyes. What?

    Sparkplug seemed to have had a similar reaction. “Well… we weren’t sure which way the pipe led out of… so we just hooked it on and thought we’d get back to it.”

    Ratchet bent down more to their level of eyes sight and held up a single red, reprimanding finger. “Never ‘get back to’ anything. If something that vital is damaged, concentrate on that! It’s spectacularly easy to forget where you are or what you’re doing, especially in the thick of repairs after a battle and you have 15 or so freshly wounded that need to be stabilized. And you don’t even have instant memorization abilities! If you don’t know, ask! Or let someone who does take over.”

    Spike and Sparkplug exchanged glances. They were certainly not expecting that…

    “So… what does this mean?” Spike asked hesitantly.

    “It means,” Ratchet growled. “That if you two are going to be any help at all, you’re gonna need proper training. And seeing as I’m the only one on this slagging planet that has medical programming and knows what the slag they’re doing, I guess I’ll have to. We’ll start from the beginning.”

    “Wait,” Sparkplug said. “You’re gonna… teach us?”

    Ratchet squared his shoulders. “That a problem?”

    “No,” replied the human. “Just… I thought you didn’t want us to know this stuff. I thought it was too dangerous.”

    Ratchet glared. “It is! But if you insist on learning it regardless of my opinion and continue doing it behind my back, I might as well make sure you two know what the frag you’re doing so you don’t kill someone and give me more work to do. That okay with you?”

    Sparkplug glanced at his son and the two smiled. “No,” Sparkplug replied. “That’s… great. When do we start?”

    “Now,” the medic replied. He fixed his optics on Spike. “Lesson one: Don’t stick your hands in unprocessed Energon.”
  4. Thunderchild

    Thunderchild Well-Known Member

    Jul 16, 2009
    Trophy Points:
    Me like-y, more please
  5. Hakudoushi

    Hakudoushi Well-Known Member

    Aug 24, 2004
    Trophy Points:
    Truth and Responsibility

    Spike listened blissfully to the music streaming from his ear-phones, running a clean rag over the top of the red metal. Thin cables ran from each phone down to a single cord that then fed into the jack port of a dark grey cassette player that was clipped onto his back pocket. The tape inside ran smoothly and the voice of John Lennon sang ‘…was younger, so much younger then toda~ay, I didn’t need anybody’s help in any way…’

    What had been mere spare parts naught but two week ago was now a near complete mechanical arm, assembled from arbitrary parts from the storage shed. Naked wires jetted out from the shoulder, waited to be connected. The hand was the only major part left to assemble and so far Spike had been laboring diligently on it for almost two hours. Spike grabbed another bolt from the box and took out the wrench from his tool belt.

    ‘…but now those days are gone and I’m not so self assured…’

    Placing the bolt in the appropriate socket, he began to twist it in place.

    ‘…now I find I've changed my mind, I've opened up the doors

    Help me if you can I'm feeling down

    And I do appreciate you being 'round

    Help me get my feet back on the ground

    Won't you please, please help me?’

    Once securely fastened as much as he could, his father would be by later in the day to use an electric wrench to tighten the bolts securely, Spike reached for another bolt from the box just to his left, but found there were none. Surprised at not immediately being able to grab one from the box, which he assumed would have held plenty; he looked over and pulled off his headphones to peer inside. Sure enough, the bolts were all used up.

    He sighed. Rule # 3 of Ratchet’s Safety and Repair Regulations; always make double sure you are properly equipped to complete the initial repairs. Counting his lucky stars that Ratchet was not currently around to note Spike’s blunder, the boy got to his feet and began searching the table top for extra bolts. He replaced his headphones over his ears and allowed Paul McCartney to dreamily lull away his melancholy ballad, somehow seeming very appropriate, ‘…Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as thought they're here to stay. Oh I believe in yesterday…’

    A quick search revealed not a sing bolt was to be had in his immediate area and Spike glared at his surrounds in frustration. Just as he was really getting into his work rhythm, something had to come along and mess it all up. He suddenly found himself sympathizing with Ratchet. Spike blinked and shook the thought away, nearly dislodging his ear-phones. Righting them, he picked up the empty box and walked to the edge of the table.

    The most prominent obstacle for both Spike and his father were their size compared to that of their surroundings. Wheeljack, being the dynamic mad scientist he was, obligingly constructed a series of ladders which he placed in rooms where the two humans most often frequented and thus allow the pair a bit more independence while also sparing them the continual embarrassment of having to ask for a ‘hands up’ so they might be somewhat eye level with everyone else. Using one such ladder, Spike climbed down the work table and onto the Medbay floor.

    Wheeljack’s lab was adjacent to the ‘bay, but the door leading to the engineer’s territory was locked from that entry point. Both Spike and Sparkplug were forbidden from entering the lab unless in the company of a responsible Autobot. Spike left the Medbay and took the long way around to the front of the lab, hoping Wheeljack would be there and hopefully be able to supply the young man with the desired bolts that he sought…while keeping quite about it all. Upon reaching the lab, Spike found the room to be void of the resident engineer and his spirits drooped. Disheartened, but no less determined, Spike looked down each hall for any passerbyers before making his way into the room. He knew exactly where Wheeljack kept the spare bits and pieces, which was quite a miracle considering the perpetual state of ‘natural disaster’ the lab was in at any given point in time. Or perhaps a more apt label would be ‘unnatural’. It wouldn’t take long to gather a few of the desired bolts and be on his way before anyone was any wiser. No harm no foul, right?

    Wheeljack’s lab was only a quarter the size of the Medbay, but held five times as many parts and machines and doodads and whatever cluttered up the walls and every available space. A large monitor dominated the far right wall with another table that also acted as an impromptu examination berth sitting squarely in the middle. A long counter followed the length of three of the walls, covered in Wheeljack’s experiments in varying stages of completion. He found the ladder easy enough, leaning against the far right side, clear across the room from where he wanted to be. Scaling the ladder, Spike hopped onto the table, careful of the various bits of mechanical paraphernalia littering it. Navigating his way across the table, Spike rounded the room until he encountered what looked like a desk drawer that had been removed from said desk. Inside were hundreds of comparatively small bolts and whatnot. Spike filled his box as much as the weak cardboard could hold and how much he could carry before making his way back across the table. Scaling around the chunks of mechanic doo-dads while The Beatles has just ended their melodic assertion that all one needs is love, Spike didn’t notice when his foot tripped the switch of some nameless device as he scrambled over it, more engaged in not spilling his treasure then tripping unknown switches. Nor did he notice the small screen upon which that flashed a series of red numbers that read out: 00:00:60. And then the numbers began a count down, all the while Spike was blissfully unaware.

    He scaled back down the ladder, careful of his cargo and exited the room. As he walked down the hallway back to the Medbay, a new song began playing and he hummed and sang along with the familiar music as it whispered through his headphones.

    “…you say goodbye and I say…”


    Paul McCartney was instantly drowned out by the colossal explosion that sent a wave of heated air down the hall ways, knocking Spike clear over his feet. The box flew from his arms, sending bolts scattering across the floor. For several moments, the world was still and silent save for the sound of smoldering substances; charred metal and other indistinguishable materials. A profound sense of foreshadowed doom washed over the boy and silence, deathly nauseating silence permeated his thoughts. Slowly and with extreme reluctance, Spike pushed himself onto his knees and glanced over his shoulder. The door to Wheeljack’s lab had been blown clear off and its charred and blackened remnants was plastered to the opposite wall before teetering slowly back, accompanied by a long high pitched creaking noise, before finally toppling over completely with a resounding crash. Smoldering pieces of…something littered the hall while tiny flakes of ash rained down like confetti, and an acrid smoke hung in the air.

    Spike stared at the sight in dumbstruck horror, his mouth agape and eyes wide.

    “Ah…shit,” he muttered, turning over and sitting on his rear as he surveyed the damage. ‘I am so slagged…’

    “What the frag was that?!” Someone yelled somewhere further down the halls and then running foot steps could be heard, heading towards Wheeljack’s lab. Spike’s heart tried to escape out his throat and a wave of dread, worse then the initial wave, passed over him. Without another word, he ran back to the safety of the Medbay, leaving behind his scattered bolts.

    It wasn’t long before a commotion began brewing outside the doors and, pretending to be just another curious onlooker, Spike peeked out side the Medbay. Down the hall he could see Inferno spraying white foam into the room to douse any possible embers. Behind him stood Prowl, Ironhide, and Red Alert, all of whom were staring with displeasure at an obviously dumbfounded Wheeljack. The engineer was staring at the charred mess of his lab, rubbing the back of his head, clearly puzzled. Spike felt his gut tighten with guilt. However, not enough that he felt compelled to confess to the deed.

    He still had some self preservation instincts.

    It was hard to tell what they were saying with any clarity, but it was obvious they were blaming Wheeljack for the explosion and the resulting mess. A minute or so later, Ratchet arrived. Spike could hear Ratchet clearly.

    “Was anyone hurt?” The medic demanded instantly, for a moment seeming like the concerned medic he supposedly was. There was some shakings of heads and replies of negative. Wasting no time, Ratchet turned to face Wheeljack and then promptly smacked him upside the head with a melodic twang! “You maniac! What’d you do this time?”

    “Nothing!” Wheeljack protested, proclaiming his innocence. “I wasn’t even here when it happened!”

    “Then what happened?”

    “I…I don’t know! It’s the darndest thing Ratch…I just-”

    “’Darndest thing’ my aft! You set explosives off by simply walking by them!”

    After a few minutes and a few more verbal bashings, the crowd finally dispersed and everyone returned to their previous activities. Prowl escorted Wheeljack to his office, likely for questioning, while Red Alert continued surveying the damage. Spike watched as Ratchet walked up the hall towards the Medbay, looking very much like a warring thunderhead ready to unleash his fury.

    “Get inside,” the medic barked at him as he entered. “Who knows what slag is in this smoke. Primus knows I ain’t gonna be hauling your scrawny little chassis down to the hospital if you drop dead from smoke inhalation. I have too much work to do without you adding to it.”

    Spike obliged wordlessly, stepping back inside and Ratchet closed the doors after him.

    “What happened?” Spike asked, playing innocent bystander.

    “Who knows. Wheeljack has so much junk in there it’s impossible to know what set whatever off,” grouched the Mech, approaching the table where Spike’s project lay. It was a testament to just how common an occurrence Wheeljack’s lab blowing really was that Ratchet pushed away his lingering ire and put on his teaching cap. “Let’s see what you’ve got here…”

    Spike climbed the ladder up to the top of the table and was silent as his work was scrutinized by the medic.

    “You haven’t finished the hand,” the medic stated disapprovingly, picking the arm up and inspecting it. “I’d have thought you’d have it nearly done by now.” Ratchet pinned him with an accusatory optic. “You been slacking?”

    “No,” Spike said, but his mind still lingering on Wheeljack’s lab. “Will Wheeljack be in trouble?”

    “Yes.” Ratchet slowly bent the arm at the elbow and then frowned.

    “…what’ll happen to him?” Spike continued, barely paying attention to Ratchet’s ministrations.

    “Punishment detail, most likely. Prowl is the type of Mech who likes to reward bad behavior and broken protocol with manual labor and night shift monitor duty.”

    “...but ‘Jack didn’t do anything!”

    Ratchet looked down at him suspiciously. “He’s been warned often enough about keeping unstable compounds and equipment in his lab. He’s a repeat offender. Why are you so concerned? He’s a big bot, he can handle his own screw ups. He doesn’t need an immature organic to defend him.”

    Spike maintained his composure, albeit barely, and shrugged. “I just…think it’s unfair to punish him if he really didn’t DO anything wrong.”

    “Yes, well here’s something else that’s not fair,” Ratchet replied, pointing to the elbow of the mechanical arm. “You need to replace this ball bearing.”

    Spike forgot about Wheeljack in an instant and gaped at the medic with indignation. “What? Why?”

    Ratchet held the arm out and bent it at the elbow quickly as if intending to break it in half. Instead of snapping like a twig, it screeched with the sound of resisting metal on scrapping forcefully against metal. Spike was forced to cover his ears for the sake of preserving his hearing.

    “It’s a bad bearing,” Ratchet replied lowly and slapped the arm down onto the table before retreating to his office. The arm sat there pitifully and unwanted. “I told you not to use the parts in the blue box. I put them in there for a reason.”

    Spike stared at the arm as if it had greatly offended him. With a curse, he grabbed his tools and went to work. Ratchet’s exercise in knowledge and authority had effectively jolted the bearing from its potion and all the bolts that had been holding various things in place were bent or stripped completely. After he removed them all, he reached behind him for his box of bolts, but when he found there were none and he recalled that day’s events, he cursed even louder and threw the wrench in his hand across the room.

    “Frag it!”

    Feeling more exhausted in both mind and body than he had in a long while, Spike hefted his backpack over his shoulder and began his daily trek outside where his Hound was waiting to take both him and his father home for the night. It took another hour, but Spike had replaced the ball bearing with a new one and Ratchet had demonstrated the proper way to test one to tell if it’s good or not. Looking forward to a hot shower and a long nights sleep, Spike walked along in silence, already half dozing and blind to most everything. So he did not notice Sideswipe leaning against the wall even as he passed him.

    The red Mech waited until Spike had walked ahead of him a bit before speaking. “So, you blew up ‘Jack’s lab did ya?”

    Spike froze, feeling very much awake. He turned slightly, looking over his shoulder and trying not to let his shock show through his wary face. “W-what?”

    Sideswipe grinned and pushed off from the wall. “Oh, nothing,” he said nonchalantly and strolled up to the boy, circling him like a shark that smelt blood in the water. “I just happened to be walking by the labs a little while ago and saw you stroll on out of ‘Jack’s lab right before it went all super nova like that. Lucky thing too, that blast could’ve barbequed you nice and black.”

    Spike swallowed. “I didn’t do anything. I was in the Medbay…”

    “What did you do to make it that loud?” Sideswipe asked, pretending not to hear. “It was really bright too! My optics had to recalibrate!”

    “I did nothing!” Spike insisted, getting annoyed.

    “Must’ve been something real special. I didn’t know you were a pyrotechnic enthusiast.” Sideswipe had the audacity to look thoughtful. “I wonder what ol’ Wheeljack did to make you wanna blow him up..?”

    “Nothing!” Spike snapped. “It was an accident! I didn’t want to blow anyone…”

    Spike paled when he realized what he had let slip and clamped his hands over his mouth. Sideswipe’s grin widened and he leaned his shoulders against the wall once more, looking down at Spike like a cat that had cornered a doomed mouse.

    “Really? How unfortunate that Jack’s been given midnight monitor duty all this week when he didn’t even do anything. You must feel horribly guilty.”

    Spike looked up at Sideswipe with venom in his eyes. “What do you want from me?”

    Sideswipe suddenly looked very cheerful. “Not much,” he replied jovially. “I’m here to make you a deal.”

    “Deal?” Spike asked dubiously.

    “Right, a deal. You humans do that sort of thing right? Well, here’s the jist: I’ll take the fall for blowing ‘Jack’s lab and in return, you’ll owe me a favor or two.”

    Spike blinked. “...that’s all?”

    That didn’t sound so bad…

    Sideswipe nodded. “That’s all.”


    “What?” Sideswipe replied, drawing back with indignation. “Autobots are renowned for their compassion and desire to help all living beings! Can’t I simply offer my help to ease the guilt you must be feeling? It’s a heavy burden to bear for one so small and fragile and....squishy and stuff.”

    “…maybe, but honestly you don’t give the impression of compassionate aide giver,” Spike replied, smelling a rat. “More like a used car salesman trying to make his quota.”

    “You cut me deep, Spike,” Sideswipe replied, sounding hurt. “Real deep. I didn’t want to do this, but it seems you give me little choice.”

    Sideswipe reached down and opened a panel on his forearm and pulled out a disk. Compared to Spike it was the size of a large serving tray, but pinched between two black metal fingers it appeared quite small. Somehow, Spike felt a twinge of disquiet.

    “You know what this is?” Sideswipe asked wistfully.

    Spike shook his head. Sideswipe’s grin took on a devious note. “It’s the security feed data disk for the lab corridor. It shows everything; you walking in, you walking out, and then…Boom! Some incriminating stuff here laddy.”

    The human felt the world started to close in around him slowly like the coils of a giant boa constrictor. “H-how’d you get that?”

    “I have my ways,” he replied and put the disk back into his forearm panel. “Here’s the deal Tiny Tim; I’ll get to Prowl and spill my guts, as it were, to confess my guilt and clear good ol’ Wheeljack’s name. When I get out of the brig in, oh about two days, you be ready to do exactly what I say. Got that?”

    “And if I don’t?”

    “If you don’t this little disk is going find its way onto Red Alert’s desk. Or Ratchet’s. I haven’t decided which is worse. Same goes if you spill the beans to anyone; especially Prime. Don’t go thinking you can bypass the suits into higher authority.”

    Feeling a little ill, Spike sighed. “Do I have a choice?”

    “Not at all,” Sideswipe replied sweetly. “Oh don’t look so glum, little buddy! I ain’t gonna make you do anything you’ll regret!”

    And like a naïve child, Spike believed him.

    The next day, Spike heard about Sideswipe being found out to be the real Mech responsible for igniting Wheeljack’s lab like a large roman candle. Apparently, he had been bragging about it to Sunstreaker and Prowl just happened to overhear. The red Mech’s explanation was that it has been a prank gone wrong, which everyone seemed to readily accept. He got a week in the brig. It would have been only three days, but when Red alert found out Sideswipe had taken part of the security feed to mask his crime, he lobbied for his punishment to be extended. Prowl did not hesitate to comply with the security director.

    Despite his primary apprehensions, Spike actually felt better. Wheeljack was forgiven, although he was given strict warnings on what exactly was to be kept in his lab and what was not, and released from midnight monitoring duty. The task of repairing his lab kept Wheeljack and the rest of the engineering and construction team busy while the apparent perpetrator stewed in the brig. Spike and his father continued with their assignments and life was peaceful for the rest of the week.

    Sideswipe was released from the brig on Friday night, just as Spike and his father were setting off to return home. Before he could leave, Sideswipe called Spike over.

    “Yeah?” He asked, fearing the worst.

    “Bring a bag of flour tomorrow,” Sideswipe told him.

    Spike looked on in confusion, his anxiety easing into skepticism. “What?”

    “Flour. That white powdery stuff you guys use.”

    “No! I know what you mean I just-! …w-why?”

    “Just do it,” Sideswipe said before walking off.

    The next day, they arrived at the Ark bright and early. Spike had remembered to bring the flour and hid it in his backpack so as not to arouse suspicion. It would be hard and quite awkward to explain just why he was bringing a sack of all purpose white flour to a base of giant alien robots. At first he had no idea where to find Sideswipe and he even humored the idea of just letting it go and head up to the Medbay. But the moment he found himself alone in the halls, the red Mech materialized with a wide grin on his face-plate.

    “Did you bring it?” He asked eagerly, optics practically sparkling. Without a word, Spike produced the requested flour sac and Sideswipe plucked it up. He held it to his face, examining it as if it were a gem he had just spontaneously stumbled upon.

    “Can I go?” Spike asked impatiently. He was starting to suspect Sideswipe was not going to be baking with that flour…

    “Oh no,” Sideswipe replied jovially. “I still need you for something.”

    Spike groaned.

    “Uh-uh, none of that,” Sideswipe said, waving a finger at Spike. “Remember, I know you’re little secret…”

    With extreme reluctance, Spike complied. It was barely a few minutes later when he thoroughly regretted ever going into Wheeljack’s lab in the first place. There was no way in God’s Green Earth, that a few spare bolts were worth any of this.

    Sideswipe had led the boy down the halls to a seemingly arbitrary spot. Without speaking, Sideswipe pulled a strange little device that resembled a spider somewhat, with thin metal ‘legs’ sprouting out from a round disk, and attached it to the flour sac with amazing dexterity. Turning to the wall, he addressed the target; a ventilation grate. The Mech carefully removed the grate opening and then without warning, he plucked Spike from the ground. The boy cried out, startled. Sideswipe sat him inside the vent before handing him the flour sac.

    Now Spike had a very bad feeling about this…

    “Alright,” Sideswipe said. “Just crawl down a few yards and take the third left. When you reach the end, there will be another grate. Just set that on top and crawl back out this way. Got that?”

    “I don’t think I should be doing this…”

    “That’s fine. I wouldn’t want to force you to do anything you didn’t want to do. I guess I’ll just have to go to Prowl and…”

    “Okay! Okay, jeez. Fine, I’ll do it.” Hefting the sac of flour, Spike headed into the Ark’s ventilation system. The shaft itself was surprisingly large but not quite tall enough for him to stand comfortably in. So crouching slightly, Spike made his way down and then took the third left as instructed. A short ways ahead was the aforementioned grate. As he approached and looked through the thin metal slates, Spike realized he was looking down into someone’s room. Autobots, Cybertronians in general he assumed, were not materialistic beings so from what little was in the room it was impossible to wager a guess as to whom it belonged. But it was now that Spike was forming a vague idea of exactly why Sideswipe had wanted the flour and why he quickly hurried out once the flour was planted. As soon as Spike reappeared from the ventilation, Sideswipe grabbed a hold of him, none too gently either, and quickly replaced the grate before running for the nearest vantage point, Spike tucked neatly in the crook of his arm. From there…they waited.

    It wasn’t long before the apparent owner of the booby-trapped room appeared. Gears was a hard Mech to miss despite his small size. A blaring paint job of red and blue made sure of that and what was more, his sour demeanor was nearly as palpable as his constant mutterings were audible. The Autobot entered his room, blissfully ignorant. Well…not ‘blissfully’, but assuredly ignorant.

    Spike began to say something but was quickly shushed and then finally placed back on the ground. Despite being technically free, Spike remained to see the ending to this odd venture. A few moments later there was a muted pop from within the room and Sideswipe snickered. Not a second after that, Gears ran out of the room, billows of white fog whooshing out with him, coated from cranium to tipy tip toe…in all purpose white flour. White as any ghost, Gear’s optics sizzled with rage as he scanned the area for the culprit. It was at that very moment that Spike realized that Sideswipe had vanished and left him behind. And it was right after that thought that Spike realized Gear was coming his way. With haste, Spike skedaddled for the nearest place to cower behind. As he was hiding from the irate Minibot, Spike pondered to himself the exact severity of the situation he had somehow unwittingly gotten himself into.

    He received an answer two days later.
  6. Hakudoushi

    Hakudoushi Well-Known Member

    Aug 24, 2004
    Trophy Points:
    Truth and Responsibility part II

    The High School was a-buzz with life as young men and women spent their lunch break in their normal fashion.

    Engrossed in his math text as he performed a quick last moment cram session, Spike was disconnected from his surroundings. He had sought refuge for a quiet place to study far into the field near the student parking lot. Cramming the last bit of his sandwich into his mouth as he recited formulas in his head, the sounds of the school were distant and unimportant. The only sound he was listening out for was the bell, signaling everyone to move on to their next class.

    But instead of hearing the high pitch ring-a-ding-ding, his ears were assaulted by the loud boorish howl of a car horn. Startled from his thoughts, Spike glanced with annoyance towards the parking lot to visually identify the culprit. His heart plummeted when his eyes fell upon a familiar a red Lamborghini upon which was an even more familiar red sigil. One spot over was an unfamiliar yellow Lamborghini, same sigil. Despite its unfamiliarity, it was not too difficult to discern who it was. Belatedly, Spike realized both vehicles were covered in dirt and caked mud. Had the visit been conducted under any other circumstances, he would have found the picture hilarious, but knowing his position Spike felt a wave of dread sweep over him.

    Slowly closing his book, Spike continued to stare at the two disguised Autobots wearily. In the back of his mind, he pondered the likelihood and practicality of making a run for it. Whatever Sideswipe wanted, it did not bode well for him. Another impatient honk brought him out of it and he gathered his things and stood. Approaching with reluctance, Spike was now aware of that Sideswipe’s yellow counterpart seemed to be ‘growling’; the sound of an impatiently engine revving faintly as if gearing to make a break for it. Spike gave it a wide berth and then stood near Sideswipe’s front bumper.

    Before he could ask the obvious, the red Autobot spoke first, driving right to the point. “Hey there kiddo. How’s about you accompany my bro and me to the car wash, hm?”

    Spike bit back a snarky reply and instead just gazed at the Autobot’s windshield incredulously. “…and why should I?”

    “Lots of reasons!” Sideswipe chirped jovially. “One reason being that we’re both dirty as the pits, and Sunny hates to be dirty…”

    “Don’t call me Sunny…” the yellow one snarled, but his brother continued on as if he had not heard.

    “…and also because if we just showed up by our lonesome selves, all the humans would freak and that’s against protocol.” A pause. “Plus they don’t accept Cybertronian credits. We need human currency. You have currency right?”

    Sideswipe’s font tires turned and twisted in an eager manner. Spike knitted his brow, a tight knot in his stomach. “Yeah, but…”

    “Great! So hop in and let’s get going!” Sideswipe’s passenger door swung open in invitation accompanied by a short, almost playful rev of his engine. Spike suddenly decided the world was spinning a bit too fast for his mind to keep up and pressed his hands up in protest.

    “Wait, wait wait. Wait just a moment. Let me get this straight…you want me to buy you both a car wash? Like…now?”

    A beat.

    “You process that all on your own?” the yellow Lamborghini murmured with a definite hint of animosity underneath. Spike didn’t dignify the Autobot with a response.

    He turned to glare at Sideswipe. “Even if I had enough of my allowance left, I can’t do it.”

    Sideswipe stopped twisting his wheels. “And why is that?”

    With a sign, Spike gestured grandly to the school behind him. “You see those buildings over there? That’s a school. And I go to that school. By law I am required to go to that school from 8:00 am to 2:35 PM, Monday through Friday. If I left, I’d get in trouble. BIG trouble. Like ‘cosmic fury would rain unholy wrath upon my head’ trouble.”

    “Pfshaw! No one’s gonna know.”

    “Yes they will.”

    “No they won’t.”

    “They take roll call. So no I am not go…”

    The yellow Lamborghini suddenly roared to life and lurched forward, bumper aimed at Spike’s shins, and forcing Sideswipe to back up or else have an unsightly meeting of bumper to bumper. Lunging back into the chained link fence, Spike found himself staring at the steaming front end of a pissed of Lamborghini. Pinned between the fence and the irate motor vehicle, Spike could do nothing but stare up at the Autobot’s windshield. It might have been his imagination, but he could have sworn the glass was glowering at him.

    “Listen closely you bipedal amoeba! I am filthy. There is dust in my vents, under my axel, and everywhere else. There is mud in places Ratchet’s never been and I swear to Primus if you value your mobility, you better get us to that car wash or so help me you’ll be nothing but a smear on the road!”

    Spike felt sick. Leaning on the sink in the restroom of Bert’s Handy-Dandy Car Wash, he splashed blessedly cool water over his face, wracking his brain for a solution to his growing-no, festering problem.

    Sideswipe was a problem. A big problem. He had made a grave error the day he agreed to a ‘deal’ with him. One he dearly hoped he would live to regret, not that he hadn’t already began to do so.

    Just outside, the two Lamborghinis were getting their final detailing after taking a ride through the automated wash. Sunstreaker, seeming to find something about Humanity that he liked, demanded to go through again. Having been tickled silly at the idea of a pair of such high end cars being at his wash, the owner did not charge Spike for the extra go, a fact for which the boy was grateful. For all his troubles that day and the weeks prior, it was a small miracle Spike had just enough money to cover the bill. However, he would be fasting during lunch for the remainder of the week. He could always pawn a carton of chocolate milk from Andrew Herbert, who was lactose intolerant. And Mathew Caraway was usually quite generous with his potato chips.

    Spike’s moment of solitude was interrupted by a wave of air as the door opened and a man, the attendant, poked his head in, looking decidedly nervous. Spike decided right then that whatever the man said, it was not likely to bode well for him. The ever present knot in his stomach tightened.

    “Excuse me, but did you come in with two sports cars? One red and one yellow?”

    Spike braced himself. “Yeah, is something wrong?”

    The man stepped all the way into the room and rubbed the back of his neck. “No…uh, that is, I don’t think there is. It’s just that…well…there’s a cop outside who wants to talk to you.”

    At first, Spike felt a wave of dread. First impression was that the cop probably thought Spike had stolen the cars and wanted proof of ownership. There weren’t many high end vehicles in this county. But then again…they were Autobots and did not belong to anyone. How would he explain to a policeman that the two cars were in fact alien robot who only looked like cars? And then a beat afterwards he thought of something else. Something much, much worse…

    “Shit…” was all Spike could muster as he pushed passed the attendant and into the lobby. Through the front window Spike was indeed greeted by the visage of a very familiar Datsun police car with an equally familiar sigil printed upon its hood, looking distinctly stern as only Prowl could. Behind him were two Lamborghinis, polished and shinned and happy. Acting as a counterpoint to all that joyfulness, Spike decided it better to face the music and made his way out of the lobby and into the front. The trek over to the three vehicles seemed to take forever and every step reverberated throughout his limbs, his heart racing with the thought of soon to be repercussion of that day’s actions. Somehow, ‘Sideswipe made me do it’ did not seem an adequate excuse and in all likelihood would only hurt him in the long run.

    Approaching the Datsun, Spike skipped all pretenses and bit the bullet. Addressing the Autobot Officer with a calm, tired resignation, Spike said “Can we skip the lecture this time and just head back to the Ark?”

    A pause and then the Autobot’s voice, clip and straight forward, replied “Very well.” His back seat door popped open and Spike accepted it without question, sliding into the back and sinking into the seats and feeling like a petty criminal.

    “Does my Dad know?” Spike asked.

    “He was informed of your absence by one of your instructors when you failed to report to your scheduled lessons at the education center. He sent me to locate and retrieve you.”

    There was no real answer Spike would think of so he simply sat there, shame faced and trying to look pitiful in an attempt to glean some sort of sympathy. Shame and very real guilt swelled inside him as they pulled out of the car wash.

    His Dad was going to kill him…

    “I’ve never been this disappointed in you boy!”

    His father words stung like a whip as the phrase was repeatedly swung around between ire filled anecdotes. Sparkplug Witwicky had very nearly dragged his son out of Prowl’s back seat upon their arrival and found a quiet, private place to give his son a good stern lecture. However, the chosen place was no longer private for as the older man laid into his son about responsibility and character, an audience began to grow. Several Autobots who were mostly just passing through, stopped to watch and listen while trying to make it look like they were doing something. Only Spike seemed aware of them and it made taking his Father’s lecture all the more difficult. He just wanted to melt into the wall and disappear.

    “What would your Mother think? God rest her soul…”

    That one hurt.

    “You’re throwing your future away and for what? To go joy riding with those two knuckle heads? How could you be so stupid? I thought I raised you better then this!”

    Spike did nothing, said nothing, and only stood there immobile as he accepted the verbal abuse. His son’s lack of response only seemed to fuel Spakplug’s anger and he continued on for a several more minutes before handing down his final punishment. “You’re grounded for two weeks. No television, no radio, no Autobots. When you get home from school tomorrow you’ll head home and stay there. You’ll ram your nose into those books and study till you go to bed. Do I make myself clear boy?”

    Thoroughly reprimanded, Spike nodded pitifully and in a low, broken voice replied “Yes sir.”

    “Now you sit here till we leave. Got it?”

    He nodded.

    Sparkplug left the room, stomping away back to the Medbay. Spike sank to the floor and sat there, staring at the ground. Around him, the Autobots hovered a moment before dispersing to continue on with their work. It was a little while later that Bumblebee stopped by to see how Spike was doing, but barely had they gotten into a conversation when Ironhide strode into the room and barked at them, “Bumblebee! Leave the kid alone. His Dad’s trying to teach him a lesson, now get on with your work before I teach you a lesson.”

    Bumblebee hurried on his way, but not before giving his smaller friend a rueful, sympathetic smile. Ironhide followed close behind, but not before sending a distinctly ‘don’t you try anything’ sort of look Spike’s way. Great, now the Autobots thought he was a punk too.

    Spike shrunk in on himself and gazed across the large empty room.

    “Stupid Sideswipe…”

    Life became very boring the two weeks of Spike restriction. It was not until he was not allowed to go to the Ark that he realized how much excitement the Autobots brought to his otherwise mundane existence. School was ever the same, except now several of his teachers looked at him with a sort of disappointment and always seemed to call his name a little louder at roll call. None of his peers seemed any the wiser save for a few other boys who were notorious for skipping classes. One boy, Richard Paterson, had asked him rather covertly in the locker room before gym if he would like to go ‘ditch this load of crap and go to the arcade’. Spike quickly refused, dressed, and headed out to the field. He was smart enough not to open that can of worms again. He had learned his lesson even if it was a lesson Spike did not feel he really needed to learn in the first place.

    However, despite all his woes there was one small grace his punishment granted him and that was two weeks free of Sideswipe. Which meant two weeks free of trouble. With a bound determination, Spike did exactly as he had been told. After school he took the bus home and studied for several hours before Hound arrived to drop his father off for the night. It was the only moments during his restriction Spike would see any of the Autobots and he watched through his bedroom window. As he pulled out of the drive way, Hound would flash his lights in a friendly, if not convert, greeting to the jailed youth inside.

    It was a small gesture, but one Spike greatly appreciated.

    Towards the end of his sentence, those around him seemed less suspicious of him as it became apparent that Spike had learned his lesson. His Father returned to speaking to him in his normal fashion instead of using the ‘disappointed father’ voice and even invited Spike into the living room one night to watch a movie with him. His teachers lost the distrust in their eyes, especially as his grades improved and things were settling back into place.

    The last day of his restriction was a Saturday and the day started off wonderfully. His father slept in as he always did on Saturdays and Spike got up early to do a bit of cleaning; a sort of ‘I’m sorry for skipping school I’ll never do it again I’m a good boy I swear please forgive me’ sort of gesture. As he finished drying the last dish in the sink, a flash of red caught his eye. Looking up and out of the small kitchen window, he spotted a red Lamborghini driving along the street before easing into their driveway and honking.

    And the day had started so peacefully…

    Closing his eyes and taking a deep breath, Spike calmed his racing heart. He had been granted a two week Sideswipe free card and during those two weeks he had a lot of time to think about his problem. The solution was clear as day, but not at all palatable. It did not take long for him to conclude that being under Sideswipe’s constant beck and call was far worse a punishment and far worse for his health then admitting to the others that he’d been the one who had blown up Wheeljack’s lab. It’d been so long ago now that he began to think, nay hope, that any ill feelings would be stale and nonexistent by now.

    Another impatient honk brought Spike out of his thoughts and he headed out the door to see what the red devil wanted. Standing out in the chill morning air, Spike beheld the red Autobot with barely concealed distain.

    “What do you want?” the boy demanded.

    “You should have a pretty good idea by now.”

    “Whatever it is I want no part in it.”

    “Ah, c’mon. You’re not still beat up over the car wash thing are you?” Spike answered by starring daggers into the car’s windshield. A sigh hissed from somewhere inside his engine. “You are still mad,” Sideswipe affirmed. “Well I got something that might cheer you up!”

    “You’re gonna leave me alone?”

    “Ha ha, funny. But no. Not quite. See there’s this monster truck show downtown tomorrow night and I…”


    “But you haven’t even heard me out!”

    “I don’t care. I’m not doing it.”

    “You don’t even know what it is!”

    “Still not caring. See this? This is my ‘I don’t give a darn’ face.”

    Sideswipe sank on his tires and idled there a moment. “Oh well,” he said in mock resignation. “I guess I’ll just have to give Red Alert that disk and…”

    “Go ahead, I don’t care. Do your worst,” Spike spat back. That caught the Autobot off guard and for several seconds there was no response of any kind. The silence was beginning to become deafening and Spike felt a ball of fear swell inside his belly and he was feeling the beginnings of regret when Sideswipe seemed to come back online. And in a huff.

    The car’s engine revved in clear annoyance, high beams flashing, and Sideswipe backed out of the driveway with reckless negligence. “Fine, you got it sparky. But remember, it’s your funeral.”

    And with that, Sideswipe was gone.

    Spike would have thought that finally being free from the red devil’s gripe would have invited a wave of elation and peace over his mind. Instead, the knot in his stomach tightened worse then ever and he felt distinctly ill.

    The moment of no return was there and Spike felt himself unprepared to face what was to come.

    The first sign that indicated to Spike that something was not right was when they arrived at the Ark the next day and he did not instantly burst into flames upon setting foot inside. There were no angry officers standing there to confront and punish him, no cheeky Sideswipe to taunt him…nothing. The halls were empty save for the sound of their footsteps.

    Hound waved goodbye as he went off to continue on with his duties. Although Sparkplug had insisted to the green tracker that there was naught a need for him to be their continuous chaperone to and from the base, Hound merely waved the comment away, saying he enjoyed it.

    “Gives me a better perspective,” He had said. “And we could all use a bit of that.”

    The two humans walked onward and Spike’s mind drifted from his current worries to pondering his current reality.

    He was in a space ship, embedded within a mountain, and he and his father were simply strolling through as if they belonged there, unabated or accompanied as they had the first week. He could not say for his father, but Spike had not come to the point of feeling as though he ‘belonged’ anywhere, least of all inside the Autobot base. Several months of interacting with the aliens and the perpetual sense of being in the way had not left. The only time the feeling diminished any was when he was with Bumblebee. The smaller Yellow Autobot had a way of assuring him and making him feel wanted. It was odd, but in Spike’s mind, he did not see Bumblebee as an alien foremost, but a friend. It was with that thought that Spike knew then what to do.

    He was then aware that his father was speaking to him.

    “…and we also need to clean out those cylinders today,” Sparkplug was saying. “Ratchet mentioned something about wanting to get Teletran’s left console operational again too and I thought…”

    Sparkplug trailed off and glanced at his son with a slight concerned look. “Son? You alright?”

    “Huh?” Spike asked, looking up at his father. “Oh yeah I’m fine.”

    “You look a bit distracted.”

    “Nah, I fine. Just tired, I guess.”

    Sparkplug’s concern melted away and he laughed. “Well snap out of it,” he said, giving his son a friendly slap on the back. “I doubt the Doc would take too kindly to you snoozing on duty.”

    Spike smiled at his father. “Hey Dad? I’m gonna go find Bumblebee real quick, OK?”

    With a nod, Sparkplug gestured that he was free to go. “Sure, just don’t be too long. I’m gonna need help cleaning those cylinders.”

    The halls of the Ark were fantastically large, wide enough to allow three Mechs to stand side by side comfortably and tall enough to accommodate the tallest of Autobots with plenty of head room. That very architectural aspect had lead Spike into the habit of standing near to the wall in case there happened to be any inattentive Autobot wandering around. It was a common occurrence for the young man to seek out Bumblebee and most often he was to be found in one of two places: his quarters or the rec room. When Spike reached Bumblebee’s quarters, he found it void of the yellow Autobot, so he headed down to the rec room.

    The doorway to the aforementioned room was in sight when unexpectedly, a wall of red stepped into his vision. Startled by the intrusion, Spike fell back onto behind with all the lackluster grace of a newborn fawn. Staring upwards into the face of Sideswipe, he was meant with a large, knowing grin.

    “Heya Sparky,” Sideswipe said jovially. “Look, about the other day: I understand you were mad. Slag, I’d be right pissed too, but you know it’s all in the past now. You know, a bridge on the water…or however that idiom’s supposed to go. I won’t tell anyone you’re little secret and we can get back to having some fun. That sound Prime to you, Sparky?”

    There an underlining cockiness to his voice that Spike did not like in the least and hearing it only fueled the boy’s determination to end Sideswipe’s blackmail. He collected his thoughts, calmed his mind, and without a word, rose back to his feet. Trying to project an air of someone not in the least bit rattled or without a care, Spike pretended to brush off nonexistent dirt from his shirt.

    Looking up into the red Mech’s face with an unimpressed expression, Spike turned and walked away. “Go ahead. I don’t give a crap what you do.”

    As the phrase left his lips, the thought that it might not have been the wisest of things to have said crossed his mind. Walking onwards, he was surprised when instead of hearing angered sputtering as he had expected, he heard Sideswipe chuckle.

    Spike paused at the sound and slowly turned. “What’s so funny?” demanded Spike.

    Sideswipe was leaning against the wall, arms crossed, looking amused. “Oh deary dear, my poor Spike,” Sideswipe cooed as he pulled the incriminating disk from his arm compartment. “You really don’t know what’s in store for you, do you?”

    Spike didn’t respond, but a seed of apprehension began to grown inside his stomach.

    When he didn’t reply, the Autobot nodded. “Not a clue,” he continued, fingering the disk tauntingly. “Ah well, I suppose it is to be expected.”

    Sideswipe spotted the nervousness in the boy’s eyes and grinned. Tucking the disk back inside his arm, Sideswipe shrugged and turned. “You are just a Human, after all. And a youngling at that. We can’t be expecting any miracles out of that organic mush of processor now can we?”

    Sideswipe pushed off from the wall and turned. Just as he disappeared behind the corner, his voice rang out in one last cryptic warning. “Oh well. You’ll learn soon enough.”

    Any shred of determination Spike had was gone in a moment’s flash and he hurried to find a place in which to hide.

    The firing range was a large area separated off from the Rec room and sparing areas. It was in use when he hastily entered.

    Ironhide only gave the boy the merest of glances and a curt nod as a greeting before returning to his current occupation. Pistol held firming in hand, the officer fired rapid sessions of bullets towards the target far at the end of the room. Ironhide was one of the less enigmatic Autobot officers. He seemed more down to earth and ‘one of the boys’ then either Prowl or Red Alert. Although his temper was short and his rampant suspicion gave the Security Director a run for his money, Ironhide was somewhere in the middle of the Autobot spectrum. Not as friendly or sociable as Bumblebee or Jazz, but no where near as ornery as Gears or Sunstreaker.

    Climbing atop a storage unit, Spike made himself comfortable and waited. For what exactly he dreaded to think about. In all the world all he was ever trying to do was help and somehow it could never be that simple. What was is about being a teenager that made life so difficult? He sighed and watched the large red Mech fire round upon round across the room.

    It wasn’t long before Spike’s ears were ringing like Notre Dame.

    As Ironhide reloaded his pistol, the doors opened up to admit a new face. Smokescreen was what the Humans of Earth would call a player. It was not hard to see why he and Jazz always hung around each other so often. They were both charismatic, confident, and highly social. However, while Jazz’s talents lay in his ability to unite and lead, Smokescreen’s lay more in the area of deceit and illusion. Bumblebee once told him that Smokescreen was one of their saboteurs, but did not explain to him what that entailed. Nevertheless, Spike felt he got a fairly decent impression of the kind of Mech he was after once spotting him enticing his fellow Autobots into playing a human card game and walking away with their credits naught an hour later.

    Spike liked Smokescreen.

    Normally, whenever Spike was in a room he was the last one to be noticed, but not where Smokescreen was concerned, he noticed everything. The yellow and blue Autobot spotted him immediately and grinned over at the boy.

    “Well, well, so this is where you’ve been hiding, then,” He said as he moved to stand beside Spike. “Ratchet’s looking for ya, y’know.”

    The boy couldn’t help look shame faced as he tried to come up with a reason as to why he was in there of all places and not in the Medbay, as perusal. The Autobot noticed the hesitation, the uncomfortable body language, but made no move to indicate he had or to question it. It was his job to detect and recognize things, not point them out.

    Instead, he leaned against the unit, propping his frame up with his elbows and called over to Ironhide and he raised his pistol to bear. “Hey, ‘Hide, you hear about Blue’s patrol last night?”

    Ironhide paused long enough to give his reply, “Prowl mentioned something about a goat during this morning debriefing.” He started firing again, sending Spike ears a-ringing.

    Smokescreen laughed, the sound muffled by the din, sending a faint tremble through the metal Spike sat upon. “It was more then one! Poor slagger. Kid’s a great shot, but he’s no expert at thinking on his feet.”

    Ironhide paused again to reply, “Blue’s smart. He’s just not as quick-minded as you.”

    The saboteur grinned and shrugged his shoulders, “No I suppose not.”

    Ironhide began firing once more and no one spoke until he lowered it to reload.

    “So,” Smokescreen said nonchalantly, glancing up at the ceiling as if there was something interesting up there. “Sideswipe’s been givin’ you a hard time, has he?”

    Something between a snort, a cough, and a gasp emitted from the boy and he gazed up at the Autobot with a guarded expression and posture. “W-why do you say that?”

    “Casual observations,” replied Smokescreen, far too amused for Spike’s liking. “So…how’d he con you into owing him?”

    Spike considered. If he told them what happened, they would tell the others and the truth would get out. But Sideswipe already said he was going to tell…maybe if he confessed of his own volition they would have pity on him. That was if Sideswipe had not already spilled the preverbal beans. If he could beat the red Autobot to it then maybe…

    “He’s uh…kind of…blackmailing me,” Spike replied. It came out a lot easier then he had expected.

    Smokescreen’s face did not change. “Oh?”


    “And how’s that?”

    “Uh…well. You know how a few weeks ago he-er, I mean Sideswipe, said he was the one who…y’know... blew up Wheeljack’s lab?” Smokescreen’s face betrayed nothing but the smallest hint of curiosity. “Well…he didn’t...actually…blow it up…”

    Spike was suddenly aware of how quite the room was and looked up to see Ironhide standing there with his arms crossed, waiting for the boy to elaborate. From the expression on the Mech’s face he already knew the answer and was merely waiting for confimation.

    “Then who?” prompted Smokescreen.

    Spike squirmed under the accusatory gazes and instinctively curled in on himself as he glanced between the two Mech nervously.


    Smokescreen’s optic ridges rose in slight surprise and a smirk tugged at the edges of his mouth, while Ironhide did not appear so amused.

    “How?” Smokescreen demanded with a laugh.

    “It doesn’t matter how,” Ironhide said as he strode forward, not giving Spike a chance to answer for himself before he was scooped up into metal hands and carried out of the room like a sack of flour. Smokescreen did not follow.

    The Mechs they passed in the halls sent them odd curious looks, but Ironhide ignored them and carried onward. Spike had a good idea of where he was being taken, but it did nothing to help ease his frazzled nerves. This wasn’t going to end well, he was certain of it. He could hear the ‘disappointed’ lectures that were to come. And then there was Wheeljack. The inventor might even be angry with him. And of course there was Ratchet…

    Maybe being Sideswipe’s slave wasn’t as bad as he previously thought…too late to back out, however.

    Ironhide approached a very unassuming door and pressed the call button beside the frame. After a moment, the familiar voice of Optimus Prime spoke through the small speaker, “Enter.”

    Spike felt distinctly ill as the doors opened and Ironhide stepped through the threshold. Optimus Prime’s office. He’d never been inside the commander’s office, it was a place for officers and strategizing; not a place for teenagers. It made him feel all the more nervous.

    Optimus sat behind a large desk, holographic projects rising from it’s surface in a colorful display that thoroughly incomprehensible to Spike’s young mind. Behind him stood Prowl, data pad in hand. It looked as though they were in the middle of something important when Ironhide pressed the call button, far more important then Spike’s petty crime surely.

    Optimus glanced curiously at Spike before addressing his old friend.

    “Ironhide?” The Prime prompted tinted with the barest hint of concern.

    “The kid has something he needs to tell ya, Prime.” The Mech said before plopping Spike upon the desk top and right onto the holographic projections, strewing shadows across the ceiling. The boy shielded his eyes from the glare of the lights before Optimus kindly turned them off. Looking up, Spike met the expectant gazes of the Autobot commander and his second. Under it all, he had the inane thought that this was just like being sent to the Principal’s office at school…only the Principal and Vice Principal were giant robots.

    When he glanced over his shoulder at Ironhide, the surly Mech pitched his head forward. “Go on,” he said. “Tell ‘em.”

    Turning back to the other two, Spike swallowed hard. He found it far more difficult to speak then before. His mouth opened and closed uselessly in false starts.

    “What is this about, Spike?” Optimus asked, arm resting upon the desk.

    Spike bit his lip. “It’s just…I,” he began unsteadily. “Sideswipe…he…that is…uh…” It was odd how frightening three pairs of blue optics could seem. “Sideswipe lied,” was what finally able to blurt.

    There was a slight pause and then, “Elaborate.”

    “It wasn’t him who blew up the lab,” said the boy, guilt plastered across his face. “It was me…”

    “You set off the explosion in Wheeljack’s lab the other week?”

    “…yeah,” Spike said and all of a sudden it was as if a dam had been broken and everything spilled out at once. “But it was an accident, I swear! I didn’t mean to do it; I mean I don’t even know what I actually did to make it blow up like that. I just went in there to get some bolts to finish the arm Dad and I’ve been working on and I know I’m not supposed to go in there without an Autobot with me and stuff, but I didn’t think it would be that big a deal and when I left the room the whole deal when super nova on me and I freaked! Sideswipe saw the whole thing and stole the security feed disk from the surveillance room and said if I didn’t do everything he wanted he would give the disk to Red Alert. But I don’t care anymore because that lunatic is driving me up the wall with ridiculous demands and getting me into more trouble that I was trying to avoid in the first place,” Spike took a refueling breath. “I’ve never skipped school in my whole life!”

    His defense rested, Spike waited in silence for a response but was baffled when Optimus began to chuckle. Prowl stood back, a small hint of a smile at the edge of his mouth. Spike looked over his shoulder and saw Ironhide was grinning.

    …had he missed something?

    Wheeljack entered the Medbay and spotted the very organic he had been searching for sitting on a work table and surrounded by filthy hydraulic calendars and coolant converters. A rag in one hand and scrubbing away fervently at the smudges and grease marring the part’s pristine finishes, the young human had barley even made a dent in his work load. When the engineer stepped into the room, Spike glanced upwards, smiling nervously.

    “Hey ‘Jack…” Spike said, pausing in his polishing.

    Wheeljack paused before the burdened table and picked up a converter. “So this is what Ratchet’s having you do, huh?”

    The human wilted a little. “Yeah. But it’s OK. Could’ve been a lot worse…”

    Laughing, Wheeljack sat the device back down. “That’s very true. I think he probably thought you’d learned your lesson somewhat already. Can’t imagine being under Side’s beck and call was at all a pleasant experience.”

    “No,” Spike replied flatly. “It certainly wasn’t.”

    A pause.

    “Hey Wheeljack?”


    “I’m sorry I blew your lab to smithereens.”

    Again, Wheeljack laughed. “While I hardly think you blew it anywhere near to smithereens, the notion is appreciated. I’m just happy you didn’t get hurt.”

    “Did you know?”

    “Know what?”

    “That I did it and not Sideswipe.”

    “Nah,” Wheeljack replied with a dismissive wave. “Only the officers knew. Except Ratchet and Red of course.”

    “Thank God for small favors…” Spike replied. “One thing I haven’t figured out yet is how…”

    “Prowl said he figured it out not too long after the incident. He said he found bolts scattered across the hall and a cardboard box, which only you or Sparkplug use. And Sparkplug was on the other side of the Ark at the time so…”

    “Guess I’m a messy criminal, then huh?”

    The Autobot chuckled with a slight nod. “I guess it does.”

    “Why didn’t they bring it up sooner if they all knew?”

    “I suppose they wanted to have you come to them of your own volition,” said Wheeljack.

    “It just kind of reminds me of an after school special. It’s kind of weird,” Spike stood up and stretched his back. “This is gonna take forever…say Wheeljack?”


    “You wouldn’t be interested in helping any would you?”

    “Sorry Spike, you’re on your own there. Taking responsibility for your mistakes and learning from them is part of growing up. Something both you and Sideswipe could stand to learn.”

    And with that, Wheeljack left Spike to his task.

Share This Page