Cover MeChapter One Hundred Ninety Seven: Baby On Board
"Starscream?" Sideswipe yelped aghast sending a ripple of shock through the assorted group. "We're talking about Starscream?" He looked to Sunstorm stunned, clutching Jetfire to his chest tightly; much to the sparkling's dismay. "You're Starscream's brother?"
"Never mind that!" Sunstreaker snapped before looking to Skyfire. "You're Starscream's Linked? We have Starscream's husband?"
Skyfire looked at Sunny surprised before back down at Skywarp who just nodded in confirmation. "He took the name 'Starscream' and joined the Decepticons that very day." He looked back at Skyfire resolutely. "And I went with him."
Skyfire, for his part, seemed torn with his emotions for a bit before eventually sighing and nodded tiredly. "Of course you did. He's part of your trine…"
Skywarp actually grinned at that. "And complete too. We found our third."
"You found your third? Another Decepticon?" Skyfire asked, stunned.
"Thundercracker is a accomplished flyer and a worthy third!" Skywarp defended heatedly. He hesitated a moment before continuing on. "And my Star Link!"
"Your Star Linked?" Skyfire stared down at him before his own jaw finally dropped and he looked back to Ratchet before whipping his gaze back to his brother. "You're Aligned? And you have a sparkling coming?" his voice got increasingly louder until he finally shouted, "he got you pregnant?"
"Which is why we need to get him into my med bay," Ratchet finally shook himself out of his stunned state and moved forward to take control of the situation. "Skyfire, if you could help me get your brother into the main hanger…"
"I'll kill him!" Skyfire snarled even as he scooped Skywarp up off the ground and turned to start heading back towards the way he had come.
"You will do no such thing!" Skywarp yipped and smacked Skyfire on the shoulder. "If you even go near Thundercracker with the intent to hurt him-" He broke off with a wince, his hand moving up to press against his own chest.
"Right! Skyfire stop antagonizing Skywarp! If you push him anymore I'll kick you out, family or no!" Ratchet snarled.
Skyfire actually brought Skywarp closer to his chest as if worried Ratchet was going to physically yank the smaller seeker away from him. "He's my brother."
"Trust me, we all know he's your brother," Groundhog drawled. "But he's Ratchet's patient right now."
Skyfire seemed to come back to himself. "Right…med bay… sparkling… Sparkling?" he looked down at his brother in complete surprise. "He's having a sparkling."
"Which is why you shouldn't drop him," Sunstorm snickered.
"I won't!" Skyfire snapped as he headed towards the main hanger again.
"I'm not a sparkling myself you know," Skywarp pouted.
"Just let him fuss," Groundhog snickered where he was walking alongside. "If your Linked was here, I would think the commotion would be much worse."
Skyfire snarled at the mention of Thundercracker. "Your third has much to answer for," he told Skywarp as they entered the hanger.
"Leave Thundercracker alone for Primus' sake!" Skywarp huffed.
"As long as he gives me the right answers."
Strangely enough, it was Perceptor who started chuckling. "Oh I don't know this Thundercracker save from what I've heard, but suddenly I feel very, very sorry him." Rollerforce gave him a puzzled look and he explained. "Nothing is worse than getting the third degree from a scientist." Many looks of understanding dawned on most of the mechs while a few others winced in sympathy.
"That might come back to bite you since he's also 'Flare's third," Sunstorm snickered.
"'Flare will understand," Skyfire insisted.
"'Flare's already done it!" Skywarp snapped and that seem to startle the larger mech. Skywarp looked heavenward. "Honestly, he's a scientist too you know. Even before he became our third let alone before we realized Thunder' and I were Linked, Starscr- Solarflare went over his background and grilled him like there was no tomorrow." He gave a small laugh. "Then went through the whole thing again when we did learn of our Link. Seriously, if he can withstand Starscream's interrogation, yours is nothing."
Skyfire looked abashed at that while Sunstorm laughed again as they made their way to the med corner. "He's got you there!"
"How are you feeling?" Ratchet asked as soon as Skyfire set the purple mech down.
"It throbs every so often," Skywarp reported dutifully.
Ratchet nodded as he pulled over a small table with random items on it. "Most likely this will be a slower labor than Sunstreaker's. He had two impatient sparklings to deal with. You only have the one."
Skywarp stared at Ratchet for a long second before he looked over at Sunstreaker. The yellow Lamborghini just glared down at the flyer, as if daring him to say something. Wincing as another pulse went through him Skywarp just gave the Autobot a small nod of respect. Sunny's optics brightened in astonishment for a moment before his attention was pulled back to the two younger mechs trying to make their way to the med-table.
"What's all the ruckus about?" A voice called from the small door as Epps wandered in, followed by a hobbling Fig and Knight. "You guys have been running out, running in, running out, running in. Something explode or what?"
Barricade shot Knight a small glare but Sam was already surrounded by Rumble and Frenzy slash Megatron. Sam had snagged Mikaela's arm and gave her a small tug back while Ravage got in front of her. Even still, Bumblebee gave the Decepticon a slight nudge towards the small group of humans. They glared at each other and Skywarp watched curiously as Barricade finally nodded and moved towards the stairs for the catwalk the humans were climbing.
'What was that about?' Skywarp wondered.
"Who's this one?" Fig asked taken aback upon spotting Skywarp as he slowly made his way up the steps. "Another mech you met up in Antarctica?"
"Of sorts," Soundwave chuckled. "Skywarp, one of Starscream's trine. Skywarp, the humans."
"You mean those jets that took shots at us?" Epps yelped in shock.
"And Ratchet's new patient since he's in labor," Jazz informed him cheerfully.
"What?" Epps shouted again looking to Sam who nodded.
"But how did he get here?" Knight asked confused looking towards Sam for answers. "I didn't hear an incoming jet."
There was a sudden commotion from the other side of the hanger as Jetfire managed to wiggle away from Sideswipe and bolted to the table before any of the other adults could snag him. "You flyer yes? You go in sky with us?"
With his brother already at the seekers side, Jetstorm doubled his fight with Sunstreaker while Sideswipe hovered behind Jetfire unsure. The red frontliner's instincts said get his sparkling away from the Decepticon threat but at the same time, Ratchet was right there and Skywarp didn't seem as if he was going to do anything to the young mech. It seemed instead that Skywarp just couldn't stop staring at the tiny flyer in shock.
"Gold optics?" he muttered softly before finally seeming to get a hold of himself. Glancing at Sideswipe he turned back to the sparkling asking quietly, "you mean you haven't flown yet?"
"We fly so!" Jetstorm called out. "At cold water ship."
"They went flying once on the way back," Barricade explained at Skywarp's puzzled expression. "But we thought it best if they wait to try again until we got back here."
"You fly with us now, yes?" Jetfire asked again excitedly.
Skywarp glanced at Optimus, almost looking for an answer as to how to deal with the seekerling, before he looked down at Jetfire again. "Uh… I'm not sure if…"
"But you fly well as, no?" Jetstorm asked, as it seemed Sunstreaker finally relented and brought him closer so he wasn't shouting his questions.
"Er… yes, I fly."
Jetfire looked up at Sunstreaker excitedly. "So we fly when he here? We'll be good! No leaving the water circle! Promise!"
"You shouldn't be going near the moat anyhow," Sunny chastised.
"Skywarp won't be able to watch you fly anytime soon," Ratchet came to the rescue as per usual. "Not today at least."
"Awwww…" the two younger ones pouted. Jetstorm seemed determined not to give up however as he turned towards Sunstorm. "You fly with us?"
"You'll go flying later," Sideswipe tried to comfort the two. "Everyone is busy right now."
"Say that every time," Jetfire pouted.
"They do need to fly you know," Skywarp spoke up, surprising the two older twins. "It's not like we have a choice really. The longer we're on the ground the more… uncomfortable we become."
Sideswipe looked as if his resolve was wavering as the two looked up at him pleadingly. Even Sunstreaker looked torn. "But I still feel safer if they were with an older flyer when they go into the air," the yellow mech sated.
"And they should," Skywarp nodded. "I took to the sky naturally but when we're young, a flyer's frames are still fragile and it will take time for their stabilizers to adjust." Looking up, he reared back slightly as he realized he had everyone's attention. Shifting uneasily, he still pressed ahead. "Lots of flying time but in small increments. Just a small time a day, gradually increasing to strengthen the wings and allow the systems to calibrate."
"Like strengthening a bone."
Gazes shifted towards Miles who blushed slightly and tried to hide behind Rumble. The two bird mimics startled when Sam suddenly snapped his fingers. "Oh right! You broke your leg on that skateboard a few summers ago. I remember that. You had to walk just a bit every day to get its strength back up. Same principle, right?"
"Er… right," Skywarp looked back at the smaller seekers. "Short distances lower to the ground so the fall is shorter."
"FALL?" The few mechs closer to the med table winced at the volume of the shout from the two parents.
"You don't think they'll fall a time or two?" Skywarp asked skeptically.
"Oh I remember 'Flare falling all over the place. Drove our caretakers crazy," Sunstorm announced with a cackle.
"I suppose we were very lucky when on the ship." Sideswipe dropped a hand on the top of Jetstorm's head. Sunstreaker nodded.
"So we fly now?"
"No," Sunstreaker said just as Ratchet said, "why not."
Everyone turned to Ratchet who was standing next to his cart glaring at everyone. "You certainly can't stay in here!"
"Oh!" Sideswipe's optics flickered in realization as he glanced down at Skywarp's chest plating. "I suppose we can't. Well we might as well go back outside."
Sunstorm was surprised to feel a shove at his back and glanced down at Skywarp. "You don't want me to stay?"
Skywarp gave him a strange look. "Why would I want you here? He'll have to crack me open to get the sparkling out right?" he stated gesturing towards Ratchet. "I don't want you anywhere near me when he does!"
"You heard him, out of here the lot of you!" Ratchet started shoving Bluestreak towards the door and snagged Motorhead by the arm. "Out!"
"I still need to speak to him," Optimus protested.
"He's right," Prowl stated as he stepped up. "The sooner we get the information the sooner we can start looking for Thirteen."
"He's stable for now but if I say get out you get out," Ratchet glared at his friend and leader.
"No argument from me," Optimus nodded.
"Do you need me to stay?" Perceptor asked hesitantly.
Ratchet shook his head. "Groundhog will have to learn what to do eventually and he's better equipped to help with what he can for now than you are."
"Oh thank Primus," Perceptor sighed and started to turn to leave when Ratchet called him back.
"See what you can do with getting the Energon refiner started. We're going to need it sooner rather than later."
Wheeljack, who hadn't moved from his place by Ratchet's equipment seemed torn at that and indeed, even Skyfire looked hesitant. Skywarp however just grabbed a hold of his brother's hand and Perceptor waved at Wheeljack to stay where he was as he headed out. "I'll see what I can do," he called back over his shoulder.
There was a few others still hesitating on whether to stay or go. Rollerforce left with Perceptor, Motorhead and Bluestreak, followed by Hound and the twin's small family along with Sunstorm. Red Alert however, looked as if he wanted to stay even as Inferno started towards the exit.
Prowl was standing firm at Optimus' side as the other mech was going to be staying for at least a little while longer. "Come on babe. We don't need to stay for this." Jazz tried to tug him towards the door but Prowl stood firm.
"I need to stay for the interview."
"I think I can ask a few questions on my own," Optimus chuckled.
Jazz just grinned tugging on Prowl's arm again as he snagged Red Alert's elbow with his other hand. "See, come on love. Op will give you the low down when Ratchet boots him out."
Suddenly Barricade reached out and snagged onto Jazz's own arm keeping him from leaving as the silver mech started to go past the catwalk stairs. Prowl tensed automatically before he finally gave the 'Con an inquiring look while Red Alert turned to Barricade confused.
Jazz glanced at the hand on his arm in confusion. "What is it? Are we forgetting something?"
"Something all right," Barricade shot him a smirk. "We are going to need the shard eventually," he drawled. "Unless you think we have time to build a body."
Stunned silence from the few remaining Autobots while Groundhog and Skywarp looked about puzzled. Glancing over at Soundwave, Groundhog was amazed to see he looked just as surprised as the Autobots. Even his small team coming down the stairs with the humans looked stunned.
"Slag!" Ratchet yelped even as Optimus whirled around.
"Do we even have anything we can use?" Optimus asked.
"Use? Use for what?" Skywarp sat up anxiously, looking at Optimus and Ratchet in quick succession.
"No! There's nothing here! Unless you want to talk about that charred out truck out there!"
"There has to be something!" Skyfire insisted. "There's really nothing here?"
"It's an abandoned military base! We drive ourselves! Why would we need anything else?" Ratchet shouted.
"Can you get anything out here then?" Skyfire looked to Optimus.
"I can try and get in touch with Keller but it may be a while."
"Can we make another trip to Tranquility?" Bumblebee asked startling Skywarp. He had quite forgotten he was there.
"The trip there and back, depending… maybe. His labor is not progressing as quickly as Sunstreaker's did."
"I can go," Bumblebee offered. "You don't need me here."
"And I'll go!" Sam offered. "You need a human to drive the car back."
"Car?" Skywarp asked baffled.
"We need you to stay here and work the shard," Barricade reminded Sam even as he glanced at Bumblebee. "I don't think we want Jazz working it for this unless we want him to go into labor."
"I can go then," Soundwave spoke up.
"You don't know the town like I do though," Bumblebee countered even as he shot Barricade a small glare.
"I can go with him," Mikaela quickly volunteered. "And I can drive just about anything."
"I think it would be better if I go Princess," Epps chuckled. "Especially if we're running out and buying a car quick with no questions asked. They'll sell to me more than you." Mikaela pouted but didn't argue.
"Do you think they have the time?" Prowl asked turning to Ratchet. "It's a hour there, find a car and then drive back, not to mention avoiding any teams from Sector Thirteen… three point seven hours round trip."
"That might be pushing it," Ratchet frowned. "I only have Sunstreaker's labor to go off of."
"But what else can we do?" Optimus asked.
Skywarp looked back towards the Autobot leader in bewilderment before turning back to Skyfire. "What are you talking about? What are they talking about? Skyfire? What are you all talking about?"
"Something we can use as a frame for the sparkling," Wheeljack explained to him as Skyfire was still shooting questions at Ratchet.
"Frame? It doesn't have a frame?" Skywarp was starting to panic.
"It'll be fine," Wheeljack tried to sooth, setting a hand on the seeker's shoulder in hopes of calming the mech down. "You're just holding the spark of the sparkling. We're going to have to make the body."
"What…? What do you mean we have to make a body?" Skywarp yelped horrified.
"Just what he said," Jazz stated as he wandered over. "It's not like we have Primus' alter anymore."
"You have to build them a body? But… but… it will be a seeker, right?"
Jazz hesitated. "The only reason Jetstorm and Jetfire are flyers is mostly because we were on an aircraft carrier when Sunny went into labor. There were jets to spare."
"So my sparkling is going to be a grounder?" Skywarp shrieked, bringing everyone else's attention back to him. "But… but… it… he… flyer!" he garbled.
"Look at it this way, you can always have him reformatted later on if that's what he wants," Wheeljack offered in hopes of perking Skywarp back up. His optics flared in surprise at the sudden warmth under his hand. "Ratchet! He's hot!"
"What?" Ratchet pushed everyone out of the way and snagged the hair-dryer shaped scanner, Groundhog watching over his shoulder with a frown. "Shit. That sparkling wants out. It's pressing against his plating in a way I don't like."
"But we don't have anything to put the sparkling in!" Bumblebee yelped. "I thought you said there would be more time."
"I thought there would be but he's already been in labor for over a day. We should have expected it to hit suddenly."
"What do we do?" Skyfire asked frantically
"Red, you've been down in the subterranean base more than us, is there anything down there we can use?" Prowl demanded.
"Not a thing," Red Alert reported in dismay. "And anything that is down there is damaged."
"So there's nothing here to use?" Skyfire asked dismally.
"What about Judy's car?" Everyone looked to Fig who was watching the goings on in complete bewilderment. "That green one out by the mess hall. It's just been sitting there since I got here. It's not like we need it with you lot here."
"My mom's car? She doesn't have a car, she has an SUV…" Sam's eyes suddenly went wide as he remembered. "Dad's car they used the night they went out when Thirteen attacked my house! That car you mean? The Austin-Healy? The one that costs over a hundred grand?"
Bumblebee looked down at Sam in surprise. "You don't think he'll let us use it?"
Sam winced. "It's an emergency, of course he'll let us use it… it's just…"
"We will reimburse him if need be," Optimus added.
Sam cringed again. "It's just that my dad loves that car."
"And it will be used to save a life," Epps dropped a hand on Sam's shoulder. "I'm sure he'll understand."
"Yeah, I know."
"I'll go get him!" Miles announced and ran for the smaller door, Ravage right on his heels.
"Well, it's something at least," Ratchet sighed in relief. "All right, all of you who don't need to be here ge-" He didn't get any further than that however as Wheeljack suddenly sank to the floor in an ungraceful heap, nearly pulling Groundhog with him. "Jack!"
"I got him," Groundhog announced even as Ratchet ran around the table Skywarp was laying on. The others quickly moved around them in concern.
"What is it? What's wrong?" Ratchet questioned.
"I'm not sure…"
Groundhog had already snagged the scanner and was running it over Wheeljack before he suddenly reached out and snagged Jazz's arm, pushing him slightly away from the table and the seeker on it. "Don't touch Skywarp. It looks like his distressed sparkling is causing Wheeljack's some sort of sympathy distress."
Ratchet shot Groundhog a baffled look. "Wheeljack's what? What is it?" He glanced at Skyfire. "Is this a seeker thing?"
Skyfire shrugged even as Jazz's jaw dropped. "Sympathy distress? You mean he is too?" Jazz gasped.
Prowl just frowned. "I thought you told me it was Ratchet who was pregnant."
"Prowl!" Ratchet yelped. "I hadn't told anyone yet!"
Wheeljack froze as he just stared up at Ratchet stunned. "You're carrying a sparkling."
Ratchet fidgeted a bit before he gave his spouse a small smile. "Surprise," he said quietly.
"I knew it!" Laserbeak crowed, startling a few around him.
"Of course you did," Buzzsaw drawled. "We all did."
"And now I owe Ironhide a hundred bucks," Optimus sighed.
Jazz looked to him in surprise. "But we knew-"
"Oh we knew all right. 'Hide just bet someone else would blow the whistle before Ratchet got up the nerve to admit it."
The Autobot leader suddenly had to duck to avoid a large bucket tossed his way. "You two are betting on me?" Ratchet bellowed.
Groundhog, meanwhile, just seemed baffled by the image on the scanner as he looked to Wheeljack and Ratchet. "But I thought you were married to each other."
"We are, why?" Ratchet asked curiously, his irritation at his friends dissipated for now. Groundhog just flipped the scanner around so Ratchet could see the screen.
Ratchet stared and then stared some more even as Prowl tugged Jazz out of the blast radius.
"WHEELJACK IS PREGNANT?"
- To Be Continued
Author's Note: I know, I'm a horrible person for taking so long. :( On a side note, I'm insane and started a new Hobbit Time-Travel Fanfic. "Into The Fire" on my AO3 page. Yeah... I'm insane.