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and things went downhill from there
(a desperate plea for fish)
August 17th, 2019 
Burning Fur Mood
If you know Transformers, then it will become obvious that I am not being particularly fussy about which continuity I am drawing from in this story. The characters in the next bit are based on their iterations in Transformers Prime. That's not really important to the story, I just felt like prefacing this part with a factoid.

"...it you took," said Ratchet with a shake of his head. "You've got terrible luck, kid. I've never met a bot who seems to have drawn as many short straws as you. We brought you to the moon because we thought you'd be safer here. First day outside and you managed to take a rogue meteor to the brisket."

"How long do I have to stay strapped to this slab, Doc?" asked Cliffjumper. He tugged gently at one of the battery of leads attached to his arms and torso. "I feel fine now, and I think I'm ready to get back to work. That spacebridge - or whatever it is I'm working on - isn't going to build itself."

"You will stay on that slab until I tell you that you're fit to get up," said the medic gruffly. He turned to the wall of diagnostic screens and tapped a couple of the random oscilloscope patterns bouncing on them. "You were effectively dead, kid. If I hadn't managed to scavenge the parts I needed from Bumblebee, you'd have been a goner."

"Bleep bloop?" said the little yellow bot who had been trying to peek around the large medic. There was a clear timbre of concern to his bloop. While not trying to peer around Ratchet, he had been standing nearby, randomly picking up utensils from the work table and sniffing them curiously before returning them to the pile. His optics fixed on the medic and narrowed. "Braaap."

"Don't worry little guy," said Ratchet without looking up from his array of screens. "I didn't remove anything you were using." He paused for a moment, then turned and picked up a small cylinder that had been sitting on the shelf by his monitors. He tossed it toward Bumblebee, who caught it deftly. "If your energon waste starts coming out a funny colour in the next few cycles, take a few sips of the stuff in that cylinder and call me in the morning." He waved a hand dismissively toward the door. "Now please go find something useful to do while I finish testing Lazarus here."

"Who's Lazarus?" asked Cliffjumper. He tried to sit up, but Ratchet pushed him back down with a not-entirely-gentle hand to the chest.

"It's just some human story I heard Jazz talking about," said the medic. He picked up a large rotary saw from his working table, oblivious to the look of alarm that crossed the face of his prone patient. He put it back down and picked up a smaller hand-held probe in its place and turned back to Cliffjumper. As he was turning, his eyes panned over the diagnostic displays. "Odd," he muttered. "Your vitals just spiked a moment ago. We'll have to keep an eye on that."

"Lazarus?" prompted Cliffjumper.

"Oh, right. He was some human who apparently kept rolling big rocks up a hill and then falling off the cliff, dying and coming back to life. That part about the cliff made me think of you, that and the dying part."

The medic tapped the other bot with the probe, frowning and muttering to himself with each reading. At one point he scowled, shook his head, slapped the probe and then twisted up his mouth in disapproval again. Finally he put it back down on the bench and began unhooking the leads from the other bot.

"I'm going to approve you for light duties," he said gruffly. "No heavy lifting, no speeding around, and no jumping off of cliffs."

"Hey," protested the other bot. "That's just my name, you know. I don't actually do that. It's just..."

"I am also assigning you some required reading as part of your recovery program," said Ratchet, interrupting the younger bot. "Before we leave the base today you are to look up the reference dictionary at the first terminal you find and read all of the definitions for the word joke."

"Aw, man," said Cliffjumper. He sat up and flexed his limbs once the last of the cords were released. "Wait, you said we. Does that mean you're going to follow me around everywhere with that little probe of yours?"

"Yes," said Ratchet. "Bumblebee and I will be accompanying you for the first few cycles so that we can keep a full set of optics watching for meteors."

Cliffjumper tapped at the fresh welds on his abdomen before the medic slapped his hand away again with a terse admonishment. The minibot shrugged and turned his mind to other things. "Doc," he said, "before I go back out there to keep working on whatever we're building, I just wondered if you could clarify exactly what it is we're building."

"Well," said Ratchet, "if I was being perfectly honest I'd have to tell you that I'm not entirely sure what we're building. It's something Jazz dreamed up that he thinks will help Prime with whatever mission he's on at the moment ..." The scene wavered slightly and the two bots experienced a flashback.

"Ratchet, my man," said Jazz, coming up quickly behind the crotchety medic and clapping him on the shoulder. "I've got an important mission for you - something that came to me in a dream. I'm going to need you, and probably Bumblebee and Cliffjumper if you can get him put back together."

"I'm kind of busy," protested Ratchet. He held up one of Cliffjumper's detached arms and motioned to the cluster of tubes and cables hanging out of its shoulder. "Cliffjumper isn't the only bot in need of repair around here, though he's the most grievous case. Look at this thing," he said, giving the arm a shake. "Look at all the free movement in the elbow and wrist actuators. It would really help if your boys out in the mud could come back with some useful parts for a change."

"I'll double their rotation," said Jazz with a quick hand-wave of dismissal. "I need you to get our little bro put back together and get yourselves to the moon."

"To the moon," repeated Ratchet with a flat tone in his vocalization.

"The moon," said Jazz, nodding emphatically, "can you dig it?"

Ratchet appeared taken slightly aback, but he shrugged. "I suppose I can, if you give me enough time and some earth movers."

"No, no, no. I mean to the moon." Jazz held up his hands as if he was reliving an epiphany. "It came to me in a waking dream this morning. I had Frank Sinatra's Fly Me To The Moon playing in my head - you know the one, with Count Basie." The bot began snapping his metallic fingers and his visor dimmed slightly as he bobbed his head in time and sang, "...In other words, hold my hand. In other words, baby, kiss me..."

"Jazz," said the medic. "JAZZ!" He repeated it more loudly and rapped his knuckles solidly on his work surface to get the acting commander's attention. Jazz stopped in the middle of "Fill my heart with song" and seemed to suddenly become aware of his surroundings again.

“I went to Teletraan I and said 'bro, we need the moon to help Optimus Prime.'” Jazz said. “He said he would do what he could. His status lights blinked up a veritable storm, and then he gave me this." Jazz held up a tablet with a complicated blueprint displayed on its screen. Ratchet took the tablet from him and peered at the display intently. He swiped through several more pages of complicated diagrams and formulae.

"Alright, I give," he said, "what is it?"

"What do you mean 'he didn't know'?" demanded Cliffjumper as the scene snapped back to present. Ratchet held up both of his hands, palms up, and shrugged.

"I asked him exactly the same thing. He just said if Teletraan I gave it to him then it must be important."

Cliffjumper frowned. "That doesn't exactly fill me with confidence," he said. He started to touch the weld again and quickly pulled his hand back when he saw the medic glowering at him. "I hate to say things like this about our acting commander, but I sometimes get the feeling he has no clue what he is doing."

"Kid," said Ratchet with a heavy exvent, "I think that's plain for anyone to..."
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