Disclaimer: See part 1
Beta: none (I need a new one. I seem to have lost my beta yet again. I just can't seem to keep a hold of them for this story. Unfortunately, that means this part is not as polished as I would have liked.)
Pairings: Prowl’s family (http://jadeaislin.deviantart.com/#/d3rfvm4); Ratchet’s family (http://jadeaislin.deviantart.com/#/d3rfvdv); Thundercracker x Skywarp x Starscream; Perceptor x Brawn
Note: Because some of the families keep getting bigger, I have created a couple family trees. If you are interested, follow the links.
AN: It has been a year since I last posted a chapter. Unfortunately, real life has been hitting me hard. I lost my brother. Then when I started to feel up to working on this, my mother went through some serious medical issues. Then to top it off, I lost my health insurance. Consequently, I have only been able to get little bits written at a time.
The next part is about a third of the way finished. After that, I need to figure out what scenes I need for different aspects of the story, so there may be a long wait for more after the next part. I really need someone to bounce ideas off though, as well as suggestions for fluff scenes, so I'm really going to need to find a new beta before I can continue.Time Terms
Mega-cycle – 93 hours
Vorn - 83 years
Will Lennox was dealing with one of his least favorite persons when it happened. The doors to the inner base burst open. He and his companion turned to see a seven foot robot rushing in. His door wings drooping as his eye darted around frantically for someone familiar. Spotting Lennox, he headed toward him with a frantic clicking sound.
Lennox held perfectly still as the sparkling grabbed him and hugged him. He had heard from Ironhide that bots with door wings had their own language, depending on how the wings were arranged. He didn't know the exact meaning, but he doubted that drooping door wings meant that the sparkling was very happy. In fact, the clicking sounds the kid was producing sounding like crying.
"What is that?!?" Lennox's companion cried out.
Lennox turned his head to stare at Simmons. Even SoundBlaster turned to look curiously at the other human, his clicking slowing down to a trickle. "He's an Autobot sparkling, a toddler."
"Toddler!" Simmons screeched. "They're procreating!?!"
Lennox glared. "Do you have a problem with that?"
Simmons stared. Finally, realizing that it wouldn't be the smartest move to insult those who were protecting him from his unknown assailant, he offered a meek, "No."
Lennox turned back to the distraught sparkling. "What's wrong SoundBlaster?"
SoundBlaster sniffed and clung to the major, who wasn't that short as humans went, but the sparkling still stood at least a foot taller. The sparkling wrapped his arms around the human, taking what comfort he could. Lennox was beginning to feel like a giant teddy bear as SoundBlaster choked out with a staticky voice, “Wants me gone!"
Lennox patted the sparkling's back awkwardly. "Who wants you gone?"
SoundBlaster let out a static filled warble before whispering an answer which Simmons couldn't catch. Lennox could barely hear him and he was inches from the sparkling's face.
Lennox frowned. "I'm sure he didn't mean it. He doesn't want you gone."
SoundBlaster cleared his vocal processor and hiccupped. "Uh huh. He says I's a little glitch an' I's annoying an’ says everyone be happy if I's was lost!"
Lennox frowned. "Now that’s just plain silly. You're daddies love you. And has Sideswipe ever said he didn't want you around?"
SoundBlaster shook his head. Despite the many times that he had wandered away from the twins, they always agreed to watch him. And Uncle Sunny never smiled at anybot, but he would smile for him. Maybe they did want him here. He gave the two humans a small smile, which Lennox returned gently while the other human, Simmons, gave a weak wavering smile.
"Now, why don't we go find one the bots and they can tell you themselves," Lennox encouraged.
SoundBlaster nodded weakly, still clicking sadly as Lennox maneuvered the distraught sparkling toward where he last remembered seeing Ironhide with Simmons trailing behind them.
The nearer the group came to the shooting range, the more nervous Simmons became. He had no wish to be near one of those 'giants', especially when they were shooting their weapons. But he was supposed to stay with Lennox.
Before they could enter the shooting range, the weapons fire stopped. All that could be heard was SoundBlaster’s quite clicking as he clung to Lennox as though he were a teddy human. Moments later, both Ironhide and Sideswipe exited the range.
Sideswipe knelt in front of the clicking sparkling. He rubbed SoundBlaster's head to give comfort, ignoring the human still within the sparkling's grasp.
Ironhide, also crouched low, looked at the sparkling in concern. "What's wrong with the sparkling?"
Lennox shifted and SoundBlaster whimpered. He patted the sparkling's arms reassuringly before explaining, "He said some bot told him to get lost. Called him a glitch."
Ironhide's arm transformed to his pulse cannon instinctively and it started powering up. Sideswipe withdrew from his petting, his hands clenched into fists as he growled, "He said WHAT?"
SoundBlaster stopped clicking, unsure how to respond to the mech's obvious anger. He could tell it wasn't at him, but who were they mad at?
In a low angry voice, that Lennox hoped to never hear from Ironhide again, he asked, "Who was this walking trash can?"
Realizing that the bot in question must have said something extremely bad, he hesitantly answered, "Uh. . . Brawn."
A loud clang erupted from the nearby building, followed by a roughly trembling ground as if something quite heavy had just been dropped. Lennox found himself thankful that SoundBlaster was still holding him; otherwise he would be on the ground like Simmons after the shaking the ground took. All eyes turned toward the building, two pairs burning hot with anger.
Simmons' eyes widened as a large bot came barreling out of the main hanger. Although, he seemed huge to Simmons’ eyes, the bot was actually smaller than most of the other bots he had met. However, the way the bronze colored armor hung on his body, Simmons felt that the compact bot could probably take a few solid hits. He scrambled back as the bot made a beeline for the nearby bots.
"Ironhide! Help! Sunstreaker's gone craz-- eep!" Brawn let out a surprised squawk as he found the weapon specialist's massive gun whirling rapidly and pointed straight at him. Looking down the red hot barrel, Brawn could see the narrow optics of the enraged mech.
"And why," Ironhide growled, "should I help a bot who calls a sparkling a . . . 'glitch'?"
Lennox looked at Ironhide in shock. He had never heard Ironhide use as much venom in his tone as when he uttered the word 'glitch'. Not even when he was talking about the cons would he use that tone.
Brawn’s optics shuttered off and on in surprise and he muttered to himself, "I didn't think I said that out loud. . ."
Sideswipe glared. "Well, SoundBlaster heard you say it! Are you calling him a liar?"
Brawn took a step back. "What? No . . . I . . . No . . . It’s just . . . There hasn't been any con sightings since we got here. I was hoping for a good battle. I'm just frustrated."
"That's no excuse!" Brawn jumped, whirling around to find the yellow frontliner standing over him. Sunstreaker's servos were clenched tightly and Brawn wasn’t sure that he wasn't preparing to hit him again.
"Mechs," a deep calm voice interrupted, "I believe that he will be more careful of what he says from now on."
Everyone turned to look at the three bots who had just arrived. Prowl silently reached down and picked up his distraught sparkling, who had finally released Lennox when he realized his Prowl Daddy was there. Humming softly, he held the baby bot close to his spark as he walked away. He’d let the others handle the situation . . . for now. He had more important things to take care of. Like reassure a little sparkling that he was wanted.
Ratchet went to stand by his mate and laid a servo on his arm. Ironhide's gun powered down in response to his mate's touch. He turned to leave, gesturing for the twins to follow. With one last glare from the duo, they began to follow their creators.
"Ratchet! Wait!" Brawn complained. "Sunstreaker cracked my armor. I need medical--"
A loud clang resounded, interrupting Brawn, as a flying wrench hit him in the middle of his forehead.
"Your self-repair can handle it. It will give you time to think about your words." With that Ratchet turned around and left with his family.
Brawn turned to look at the remaining bot. Optimus shook his head in disappointment. He quickly gathered Lennox and a reluctant Simmons and left. Brawn stared at the retreating figures, still trying to determine how the sparkling had heard a thought his memory banks said hadn't been spoken out loud. Maybe he had muttered his thoughts out loud without realizing it.
It had been a slow afternoon. Sam had come with Bumblebee to visit the base. They had both had a checkup with Ratchet and Bumblebee was still with the surly medic. Sam had chosen to spend time in the rec area and was currently watching SoundBlaster play some sort of game with Sunstreaker, Sideswipe, and Red Alert. He had been surprised to see that Bluestreak was not joining in as he had heard that Bluestreak was the sparkling's brother. Sam wondered if Bluestreak's twitching door wings meant that he was nervous. He noticed that Sunstreaker would look up at Bluestreak, every so often, to glare at him, causing his wings to flinch back and droop low before they slowly returned to their twitching.
This was the scene that Will Lennox saw when he entered the rec area. He made his way over to Sam and the few bots that were relaxing at a bot sized table. Making his way up the human sized stairs, he glanced at Sam, before stopping in front of First Aid, who had been sipping his energon slowly next to Bluestreak. "You heard about what happened earlier?"
First Aid and Bluestreak nodded. They had both heard about what Brawn had said. Bluestreak glanced at his best friends and his sparkling brother, his wings lowering.
"Why did they react like that? Is glitch a bad term?" Will asked.
First Aid vented air softly. "Sort of. Glitch is used to refer to medical problems that cannot be fixed in a normal manner. I could give you the more technical aspects. But even most bots wouldn't understand them. There are three types. A soft spark glitch usually has something to do with the spark to body connection, but with a little training the bot can easily adapt around the glitch. A hardware glitch occurs when an upgrade does not integrate with a bot's system properly."
"Like Prowl's battle computer," Bluestreak piped up.
"Exactly," First Aid agreed.
Sam frowned. "What do you mean?"
"Well when Prowl had his battle computer installed," First Aid explained, "his processor did not completely accept it. However, by the time anyone had realized the problem; the battle computer had already mostly integrated with his systems and could not be removed."
"So what's that mean?" Sam asked, not understanding.
Bluestreak looked at the human silently for a moment. "Uh. . . well. . . . when Prowl comes across anything he perceives as too illogical . . . he uh . . . has a tendency to crash."
“Faint,” First Aid said simply.
After a few quiet seconds, Will asked, "What about the third type?"
First Aid hesitated, as if he was unwilling to answer the question. Finally he started to speak softly. "The third type is a hard spark glitch. It only occurs when the spark cannot connect to the processor correctly due to spark trauma."
"It's also the most severe of the three and often has visible results in the bot's behavior which is often abnormal in some aspect,” Bluestreak added, as soft as First Aid's voice had been. “Like obsessing over one thing or needing things a certain way (1)."
Bluestreak had grown up with the twins and Red Alert. Between Prowl and Red Alert, he had first-hand knowledge of the different types of glitches. In fact, when he had first started living with Prowl and Jazz, there had been some worry that he had a hard spark glitch. Being the only survivor of a massacre would be troubling to any bot, let alone the small youngling he had been at the time.
Will looked thoughtful. "Like OCD?"
Both Bluestreak and First Aid stilled as they looked up the term on the web.
Bluestreak nodded. "Yes. It's also similar to other human mental disabilities."
“Has the same connotation too," First Aid murmured.
"What do you mean, it has the same connotation?" Will asked.
First Aid blinked. "Well the human term ‘mental retardation’ carries the idea that the individuals are slow or less smart than their peers. It's not true, but that is what the general populace seems to believe."
"Hard spark glitches carry the same ideas and beliefs behind them even though there is no evidence of it." Bluestreak agreed.
"When a bot uses the term 'glitch' as a curse word, they are usually referring to the hard spark glitch," First Aid said.
Bluestreak explained further, "That's why the twins and Ironhide react so strongly because Red Alert is a spark born twin."
Sam blinked; he didn't understand why they had suddenly gone from talking about glitches to talking about twins. "What does being a twin have to do with the word 'glitch'?"
Will ignored Sam's comment and focused on the set of twins currently occupied on the floor. "Spark born twin? Like Sunstreaker and Sideswipe?"
"No," First Aid began to explain. His gaze also fell on the two frontliners. "Sunstreaker and Sideswipe are split spark twins, not spark born twins. Their spark split in the moment they were being born or infused into their frames. Spark born twins are individual sparks in the carrier, unfortunately."
"So spark born twins are like fraternal twins?" Will asked, thinking he understood.
Distractedly, First Aid responded, "Hmm. . . Oh I suppose that is somewhat of a good analogy. Although, there are some unique differences."
"So Red's got a twin somewhere,” Sam mused. “He must miss him."
First Aid shook his head. "Sadly, no. Only one spark born twin ever survives to birth. Even then the poor sparkling is riddled with weaknesses and infirmity. If he even survives to maturity there is always at least one severe glitch that cannot be cured."
They all turned their heads to watch Red Alert silently. Red Alert glanced up and stared at the group suspiciously. It wasn't until SoundBlaster dragged his attention back that the group breathed in relief.
Turning back to First Aid, Will started to ask, "So . . . Red Alert's . . ."
"Paranoia is a glitch he struggles with daily," Bluestreak confirmed.
Sam, who had been wondering about something the bots had mentioned, couldn’t help remember when he had heard it before. Ratchet had mentioned it in a previous conversation, but he had never had the chance to ask about it. Now he did. "Birth? I thought the Allspark was your source of life. How can-"
An explosion rocked the base. Will grabbed Sam, making sure he didn't fall over as the two bots beside them had taken hold of the side of the table. Not only did that offer the bots some stability, but it also ensured that the humans could not fall from the table as the bots arms surrounded them. SoundBlaster, who had been standing precariously in front of Sideswipe, was now sitting, looking up in confusion at the red colored mech.
For a minute, no one moved. Then Red Alert let out a short screech and bolted from his sitting position, heading for the door. Sam wasn't sure, but it looked like the security chief's horns might be letting out blue sparks. Sunstreaker ran after his brother and they were both gone before Sam could blink. Meanwhile, Sideswipe did his best to distract the sparkling, who seemed to want to follow his caretakers toward the sound.
First Aid sighed. "Wheeljack. I suppose we should see if he lost any limbs this time."
Not bothering to knock, Starscream strode into Soundwave's quarters as if they were his own. "Where are they?"
Soundwave and his casseticons stared.
Starscream waited impatiently for an answer. He knew that Soundwave was in charge of scheduling. The mech also tended to know the whereabouts of all con soldiers, regardless of whether they were on duty or not. "Well?"
The casseticons shifted nervously. The two bird cassettes, who were on the floor for some strange reason, shuffled closer together. Soundwave's shades blinked off and on momentarily. "Assumption: Inquiring on absent trine?"
"Yes, Yes. Where are Thundercracker and Skywarp?" Starscream asked again.
"What? Can't keep track of yer own mates?" Frenzy spat out.
Soundwave turned to gaze at his youngling. He had not been pleased to arrive to Earth to find one of his youngest not only seriously injured, but riddled with viruses he had picked up from Earth's primitive machines, viruses that affected his usual speech patterns. He placed blame solely on his guardian for the mission, Barricade. The mech had already paid for his negligence. Truthfully, he had taken the beaten stoically as if he knew he deserved it. Indeed, the mech had refused to go to Hook for repair, letting his self-repair do all the work. But there were still others that had harmed his offspring unnecessarily, in his optics, and they still needed to pay the price. Soundwave was patient though and they would pay eventually.
Starscream turned to the youngling in surprise. He looked at him in confusion, as if he had never seen Frenzy before. Frenzy barely stopped himself from flinching back as the seeker reached out a servo . . . and patted him on the head?
Frenzy's optics widened in shock. Starscream was as apt to strike you as screech at you for some imagined slight. Although, being a youngling afforded Frenzy with some protection. Starscream rarely raised a servo to him or his brother. Not that he didn't get his share of vicious words.
"Not when they're blocking the bond," he said forlornly. Frenzy was surprised at the worry he could here in Starscream's voice. "I just . . . I need to know they are alright."
Soundwave studied the seeker for a moment. He had seen the two seekers discussing a patrol that they were scheduled for and he told Starscream this. Of course they had left well before their scheduled patrol. In fact, they had left even before the latest Autobots had landed.
Starscream released a puff of air in relief. "A routine recon mission. Good. Good. They've been gone for a few mega-cycles. They should be back soon."
Giving Frenzy one last pat, Starscream mumbled absently about waiting in their quarters.
No one in the room moved after the seeker had gone down the hall. That had been too close. The cassettes shared glances as Soundwave stared at the door contemplatively.
"Can I come out now?" A young voice asked plaintively.
Laserbeak and Buzzsaw glanced behind them, before flying toward a different perch in the room. Behind them, a small bat-like sparkling popped his head out from underneath a pile of datapads that the two bird cassettes had hastily dropped on top of one of their youngest brothers.
Ratbat was the best kept secret of the Decepticon army. Only none of them knew it. He had been created shortly before the war picked up and thus was only a little older than the Autobot Bumblebee, at least chronologically. However, being a cassetticon meant a slower growth rate and he was still considered to be a sparkling. To humans, he would have been around six years old.
It was a little known fact that there was one model that had the ability to create new sparks without any assistance. Fewer knew that it took intense emotions in the carrier to create that new spark. At the time of Ratbat's birth, there had only been one incident that could have provoked Soundwave's emotions to the point of having another sparking. Back then it would not have mattered if others had found out. But as the vorns passed, any sympathy towards the Autobots began to be met with harsh reactions. Because of this, he had kept his youngest isolated. Only the other cassetticons knew about him and they all protected the sparkling fiercely.
After watching their carrier gaze at the door in thought, Frenzy couldn't take it anymore. "Anyone else think ol' Screamer's finally lost it?"
Soundwave turned, his visor blinking at the younger twin. "Commander's behavior: atypical."
Frenzy let out a barking laugh. "Yer kidding, right Carrier? Atypical? Screamer ain't never been nice to me and Rumble. And he just ignored Ravage. Didn't even give one insult. That's more than being atypical."
Laserbeak shifted on his perch on a high shelf. Thinking about the visit, he commented, "He was worried too. I can't remember the last time he worried about any bot but himself."
"Not since before the war really started up," a quiet voice interrupted. Ravage stated calmly back as his brothers turned to stare at him. His tail flicked idly before he continued, "You may not remember him before the war, but he wasn't always so. . ."
"Crazy?" Frenzy supplied helpfully.
Buzzsaw agreed with Ravage. Most of his memories of the time were vague, he had barely been a youngling, but he still had some memory files. "I remember he used to obsess about his sciences, but he still made time for us younglings, even when he was petitioning the council to search for his lost partner. It wasn't until he was refused that he started visiting less. At least he didn't seem to have time for us. Wanted to talk to Carrier though."
The younger cassettes turned to Soundwave who gazed back passively.
Ravage growled lowly. "Starscream became even more obsessed. First with finding Skyfire, then with changing the government. Megatron promised him changes for the better. Promised Carrier too."
Soundwave closed his optics as he felt the stare of all of his offspring who were in the room. Of his cassetticons, only Ravage had been old enough to understand the choices Soundwave had made. Megatron had made many promises to his troops, Soundwave included. It was for these reasons that he had given his oath and loyalty to Megatron.
"And then the Praxis Massacre happened and he just . . . snapped." Soundwave's visor blinked on to glance at Laserbeak as he explained Starscream’s usual behavior.
Ratbat blinked in confusion. "Snapped?"
Ravage grimaced. "His obsession reached new heights. This time with becoming the Decepticon leader. He showed little care for what happened to anybot, including his trine members and he stopped visiting completely."
"Wait, wasn't Starscream in charge of the assault on Praxis?" Buzzsaw asked.
Ravage answered him, "The first wave, yes. When he left the youth center unscathed, Megatron ordered his 'new' troops to decimate the city. He sent the worst bots in the decepticon army."
"The ones that Carrier keeps away from us?" Frenzy asked.
"Affirmative." Soundwave had been recruited fairly early. Most of the smartest decepticons had been. It hadn't been until after Megatron's brief sabbatical that things changed. Megatron had come back a changed mech. He had started recruiting the worst mechs he could find. Ones who didn't care about the cause, they just wanted to fight. Or they enjoyed hurting others. They were the ones that gave the Decepticons such a bad reputation. Soundwave made sure that his offspring were never left alone with those cons. Every con knew not to touch what was his.
"So what's different about Starscream now?" Ratbat asked, "Why was he so friendly with Frenzy?"
Soundwave gave the only answer he could think of, "Sparkling protocol."
Ratbat blinked his optics. "What's that?"
Laserbeak tilted his head. "Isn't that the protocol where seekers are supposed to protect all sparklings and younglings?"
Frenzy snorted. "Not that he's ever been protective of Rumble and me."
Soundwave placed a servo gently on Frenzy's helm. "Explanation: Protocol deactivated after Praxis Massacre."
Frenzy frowned. "And now?"
"Assessment: Protocol re-activated."
Ratbat looked at his carrier curiously. "But why now?"
Soundwave turned to stare at the closed door once more. "Reason: unknown."
1. Hardware glitches do not cause any type of physical damage to the bot. However, hard spark glitches always result in some form of damage to the afflicted bot (constant stuttering, short term memory loss, struggle to learn new things, heating wires to unacceptable levels.)
End note: I am not the first author to have Seekers be protective of sparklings. Although I am not certain, some sources have credited the author Sanjuno with this idea.