Written By The Black Dragon Queen
Chapter One Hundred Ninety Eight: Individual Increase
There was a long stunned silence before Wheeljack glanced down at his chest and tentatively laid a hand on it. "I'm pregnant?" he asked almost in a hushed voice.
"According to this, you are," Groundhog nodded, tapping on the scanner rapidly.
Wheeljack just looked shocked before turning to Ratchet questioningly. Ratchet just gave him a small nod in confirmation. "It seems so."
"But how is that possible?" Optimus glanced between the two surprised.
Barricade just let out a small snort. "That must have been some honeymoon."
"Wait, how could both of you be pregnant?" Jazz asked amazed before looking to Prowl appraisingly.
"I'm sure if I was also carrying, the medical exam Ratchet has just given me would have shown so," Prowl drawled.
"Is Wheeljack's sparkling growing at the same rate as Ratchet's?" Skyfire looked to Groundhog interested.
"You mean were they conceived at the same time?" Groundhog frowned as he moved the scanner over towards Ratchet who instantly slapped the machine away.
"Knock it off."
"No way to tell," the Decepticon medic concluded.
"So wait a minuet, anyone who's in an Alignment can get pregnant? Even if their husband already is?" Inferno asked anxiously.
"Feeling any cravings for pickled ice cream you're not telling anyone about?" Barricade snickered. Bumblebee was quick to smack the Decepticon upside the head but Barricade just shrugged unrepeated.
"I honestly can't tell you," Ratchet answered with a frown.
"Well it makes sense though," Mikaela stated and everyone turned to look at her curiously. "I mean that either or both can get pregnant." She was still receiving blank looks and she let out a small noise of exasperation. "You're the ones who've been telling us repeatedly that you don't have 'genders' like we do. So why wouldn't Primus allow just a few of you to spontaneously have the ability to get pregnant and not others?"
"And we're back to the Jurassic Park references…" Bumblebee shook his head in wonderment.
He glanced over at the mech next to him but Barricade's gaze was directed on the one human who had stepped back away from all the excitement, observing silently. Bumblebee felt his own anxiety increase, as it seemed as if Knight was hanging onto every word everyone was saying, as if cataloguing it for later reference. Luckily Rumble and Frenzy with Megatron were flanking Sam and the condors were perched just above.
"It does make the most sense however," Epps chuckled, bringing 'Bee's attention back to the conversation. "Especially if Primus is trying to keep your species from going extinct."
There were some uncomfortable shuffles from all the mechs. Rumble glanced over at Frenzy for a moment before looking back down at his feet while Frenzy himself, or more than likely Megatron, just looked contemplative.
"Then why am I the only one pregnant?" Jazz asked annoyed, much to Prowl's horrification. "Same with Sunstreaker. Especially since they did have two! Why didn't one go to Sideswipe instead of both to Sunny?"
"I have no idea why some sparklings went to one and not to others," Ratchet growled. "It's just what Primus decided to do."
Sam looked down at the ground at that, something niggled at the back of his brain. Frowning, he tried to bring it more to the forefront, ignoring the small argument going on between some of the mechs. What was it that Primus had said when he and Jazz confronted him right after learning about the sparklings to begin with…?
'God, if only I can remember,' he thought desperately. 'It's important and on the tip of my tongue…' They had been speaking about having sparklings and the Primus said something about fate choosing. Sam really hadn't been paying attention because he had been watching the fireflies play around with -
Everyone startled at Sam's sudden jubilate cry and he felt himself flush under the stares he suddenly found himself under.
Mikaela sent him a small disapproving frown. "Sam… I know sometimes you're brain wanders but-"
He quickly shook his head in denial. "No, I'm not talking about that, or rather, I am talking about dart boards but it's not why you think."
"We don't know what to think at this point," Rumble sneered.
"Sam?" Bumblebee asked worriedly, ignoring the smaller put out mech.
"No," Sam quickly waved his hands before he looked over at Jazz. "Remember the sparks with the dartboards?"
Puzzled, Jazz nodded, unsure of where it was that Sam was going with his statement. Barricade seemed to however as he let out a roar of laughter even as Bumblebee gained his own look of comprehension. "You mean the sparklings themselves are the ones picking out which parent gets to be the 'mommy'?" the youngest Autobot asked incredulously. "With a dartboard?"
"Oh of course!" Jazz groaned, as he finally recalled the correct memory file and realized that those dartboards only had two rings. "It makes sense! 'Fate' my aft!"
"It would be much more practical for it to be the sparklings to choose whom they would like as their 'mother'," Soundwave agreed.
"But then why don't they remember anything about it when they're born? Jetstorm and Jetfire certainly don't act like they do," Epps gestured towards the open door.
"Man, do you remember everything since your momma brought you into the world?" Fig snickered. Epps just gave him a slight, playful shove.
"So that's why it could be anyone in a fully connected relationship?" Groundhog asked amused.
"It seems so," Ratchet confirmed. "That's why both Wheeljack and I are carrying."
"So is Wheeljack in labor then?" Red Alert suddenly asked from where Inferno had tugged him out of the way. "Is that why he's in pain?"
There was a moment as everyone was jolted from their musings and Ratchet yanked the scanner away from Groundhog shaking his head at his forgetfulness. Running it over his husband, he looked over the readout. "I don't think so," he finally announced. "I think the anxiety going is just distressing for his sparkling. How do you feel?"
Wheeljack ducked his head. "Actually fine now that I've calmed down. It throbs a bit but nothing like before."
"So false labor pains," Ratchet nodded. "But what triggered them?"
"It might have been prompted because he was holding onto Astralplane's shoulders. Seeker frames have more input/output sensors," Skyfire offered.
"So Wheeljack is fine?" Jazz asked.
"Other than the fact that he's pregnant and experiencing false labor pains, yeah," Groundhog nodded.
"Great. Wonderful. He's carrying a sparkling and not in labor. Good for him." Everyone turned surprised to see Skywarp just glaring at the room in general. "Have you all forgotten about the fact that I'm also carrying a sparkling and I AM IN LABOR?"
Ratchet jerked alarm before he moved to assist in the snarling flyer when both Groundhog and Prowl suddenly snagged his arm and hauled him back. "What are you doing?" he cried out alarmed.
"Stopping you from going into false labor as well," Prowl stated calmly as he pushed Ratchet towards Jazz while Groundhog moved to help Skywarp lay back down.
Ratchet's mouth snapped shut from where he was going to give a harsh reply before he nodded solemnly and took a step back. "Of course…"
"But why didn't Ratchet go into false labor sooner?" Skyfire asked inquiringly. "He was touching Astralplane far more than Wheeljack was."
"I was the only one touching him though when his sparkling went into distress though," Wheeljack reminded him.
"In other words, it was just timing?" Soundwave asked.
"And proximity," Ratchet confirmed. "Which means you two," he pointed to Jazz and Red Alert before he pointed at the main door, "out!"
"What about yourself?" Optimus asked tentatively as Inferno practically lifted Red Alert off his feet and carried him out the door, much to the security mech's protests that he could walk just fine.
"As long as I keep my distance, I should be able to direct Groundhog into what he needs to do."
"Should I-?" Wheeljack began and he pointed towards the door.
Ratchet's shoulders slumped slightly. "As much as I want you here for observation, it probably would be best."
"Come on 'Jack! You can hang out with us," Jazz grinned as he wrapped an arm around the other mech's shoulders and started tugging him for the door. Barricade quickly stepped in front of him, once again blocking his exit and Jazz sheepishly removed the All Spark shard and handed it over.
Prowl meanwhile looked unwilling to leave without any explanation as to what happened with Thirteen but Optimus gently pushed him in the direction the others had gone. "I'll be right behind you," Optimus told him. "I have a feeling I'm about to get kicked out just like everyone else," he told him.
"Hello! In pain here!" Skywarp bellowed from the bed.
"Slag, we have to crack his plating to give the sparkling some room," Ratchet snarled. "Optimus-"
"Leaving!" Optimus held up his hands as he started towards the door with Wheeljack and Jazz.
Prowl was prodding Soundwave into following but he hesitated at Bumblebee and Barricade. "Barricade is staying," Bumblebee told him as Barricade passed the shard to the boy. "If Sam has to stay…" he trailed off with a shrug.
"'Bee?" Sam looked up tentatively, not wanting the other mech to leave him alone with Barricade just yet.
"I doubt Skywarp would like me to stay," Bumblebee explained gently.
"I don't want anyone to stay!" Skywarp called out, proving he was very much listening to the conversation. "But if the kid is staying I thought you were his guardian or something?"
"Or something," Barricade admitted giving Bumblebee a pointed sidelong look.
"But I'd feel a lot better if 'Cade and Wave did stay," Skywarp turned to Skyfire and admitted haltingly. He glanced at Groundhog. "Decepticon or no, I don't know you." Groundhog just nodded understandingly.
"It would be best if some stay as it is," Ratchet agreed. "With Skyfire and Groundhog attending the baby, they can keep an eye on Sam and assist with getting the shell ready."
The sudden roar of an engine punctuated this statement as Ron's Austin-Healy screeched past Optimus and the others and into the hanger. Ron jumped out just as Miles, Steve, Judy and Maggie followed in the car's wake. Ravage slowly made his way back to Sam's side, seemingly unfazed by the panic going on around him.
"Is the baby okay?" Judy asked apprehensively. "Miles told us you needed Ron's car."
"You're just in time," Fig told the woman happily. "But we're being booted out of the birthing room." Judy seemed anxious but nodded in agreement.
Sam just looked at his dad who had turned to him, shocked. "Dad? Are you sure about this? Your car-"
"Is just a car," Ron reminded him gently. "Not an actually life. I'm glad that I can help in anyway that I can."
Sam tugged on his father's sleeve, a grateful smile on his face. "Thank you."
"Of course," Ron smiled at him.
"Though you have to admit, we should have thought of this sooner considering Jazz, Ratchet and apparently Wheeljack are expecting their own bundles of joy," Epps snickered.
"Another sparkling?" Judy asked excitedly. Fig quickly filled her, Maggie and Steve in, before Ron and Miles began explaining all that had happened when Sunstreaker had gone into labor in an excited tone as they left.
Prowl turned back towards Ratchet. "We shall be outside if you need us."
"It would be best if you used your time to get in touch with Keller," Barricade reminded him. "He will have to be appraised of the situation with Thirteen and the other Decepticons."
Sam saw Knight stiffen slightly as he followed Epps and the others out the door and glanced over at the few mechs he was standing beside. He wasn't surprised to see Rumble watching the man suspiciously. Frenzy, and Sam could tell it was him due to the lighter optics, placed a hand on Sam's shoulder encouragingly before he started herding his own spouse towards the door followed by the condors, passing the two larger mechs still staring at one another.
Prowl frowned at the other patrol car mimic. "And how do we do that considering the computer is in here?"
"It's called a phone Prowl," Ratchet called out to him. "Have Epps call him!"
"I'm sure Blaster is more than capable in establishing a line of communication with him as he is," Soundwave insisted.
Prowl did not look convinced but Bumblebee quickly darted in between the group. "Optimus knows how to get in touch with Keller," he assured the Autobot commander. His expression became a bit exasperated as Prowl gave him a searching gaze. "After all, we had to get in touch with him before we built the computer you know."
"Get OUT!" Skywarp bellowed.
"Prowl!" Ratchet snapped.
Nodding, the other mech left and the few remaining turned their attention back towards the groaning seeker. Bumblebee moved away to the far side of the room while Soundwave moved to stand beside Ratchet as Barricade went to collect Sam and Mikaela who had also remained behind. Ravage moved to stand beside his team leader, making it clear that not only was he staying, but also he could really care less of the things going on as he flopped down and practically went right to sleep.
"What do I do?" Groundhog asked, looking to Skyfire for guidance.
"First thing, we have to open his chest cavity," Skyfire instructed and Skywarp held out a hand that he clasped encouragingly.
"Don't forget the tongs!" Ratchet called out from a distance. "The spark may try to leave before it's ready."
"Sam, we better get the car ready for the sparkling," Barricade said as he dropped Mikaela off by the other boxcar table where she could watch everything but not be in the way.
"But I still don't know what to do," Sam admitted. "The last time it just happened."
"Hopefully that means the shard knows what it needs to do," Bumblebee said.
There was a bright light behind them and Sam glanced back to see Groundhog and Skyfire had gotten Skywarp's chest plating open, baring his spark and that of his sparkling to the world. Skywarp seemed relieved that there was no more pressure against his internal systems and leaned back against the table, suddenly exhausted.
"Astral, stay awake!" Skyfire suddenly shouted and Sam looked back again to see Groundhog trying to catch a small blue orb zipping this way and that around Skywarp's spark chamber and Skyfire gently tapping Skywarp's cheek.
"Tired," came the wane voice from the other flyer.
"Soundwave, help Bumblebee bring the car closer to the table," Ratchet instructed.
There was a scramble as the two snagged the car and hauled it towards the table. "Do we need to take it apart like we did the jets?" Skyfire asked anxiously.
Ratchet was practically on his toes, trying to see everything without getting too close. "I don't think so. That sparkling wants freedom."
"Sam?" Barricade called for his attention. "Do you think we need to take the car apart?"
Looking at the tiny sparkly, Sam swallowed thickly before he looked down at the shard that was still dark. "Hopefully not."
"Let's see what happens," Barricade nodded as he set Sam down on Skywarp's sternum like he had been with Sunstreaker.
"See what happens?" Groundhog muttered under his breath where he was trying to keep the small spark orb from literally propelling out of Skywarp's chest. "That's encouraging."
"Just wait," Bumblebee hissed at him. Groundhog wasn't impressed but he did wilt slightly under Barricade's glare.
Sam ignored them all, instead focused on the tiny sparkling circling the larger spark in his fathers, mothers?, chest. With a deep breath Sam sat up straighter and held out the All Spark shard. It stayed dark.
Groundhog let out a small huff. "Well that was a waste of-"
The same bright, blue light suddenly engulfed both Sam and the mech he was seated upon before the arc of light shot to the convertible parked next to them. The smaller spark quickly found the light bridge and hitched a ride. With another flash of light and the sound of metal grating on metal everyone held their breath as they waited for the light died down.
When it did, a miniature version of Ron's hunter green Austin-Healy 3000 was now in place of where the car had been.
"Astral!" Skyfire yelped and Barricade glanced over to see that the mech was defiantly out for the count.
Now that the sparkling had been transferred safely, Ratchet dashed towards the table and grabbed the scanner, going over the exhausted Decepticon as Groundhog got his chest plating closed in order to protect his spark from the elements. "Skywarp is just exhausted," Ratchet announced. "His systems are recalibrating and he'll need some energon when he wakes up."
"And the sparkling?" Bumblebee asked anxiously.
Turning towards sparkling, Ratchet raised the scanner-
-and the car took off!
"Groundhog, stay with Skywarp!" Ratchet's voice burst out of the open doorway and the mechs outside, who in truth had been basically eavesdropping on everything, scattered as an undersize Austin-Healy suddenly peeled out of the hanger.
No one knew who was more surprised. The mechs outside or the obvious newborn sparkling upon seeing each other as the small car suddenly veered left and gunned it. Skyfire suddenly appeared out of the hanger and took off after the small car in a panic as Rollerforce and Hound jumped out of his way.
"Slag it! Catch him!" Ratchet bellowed from the hanger door as he darted into the courtyard after Skyfire and the sparkling.
"You know, I think it says something about the Autobots that all the sparklings tend to run away from them the moment they're born," Barricade snickered as he slowly followed in Ratchet's wake.
Bumblebee looked as if he wanted to go help the other Autobots catch the runaway sparkling but was reluctant to do so. Barricade couldn't blame him. With the moat and the fact that unlike Jetfire and Jetstorm, the new sparkling couldn't fly; he doubted they really needed his help. He really didn't want to get into that sort of chaos anyhow.
The Austin-Healy was darting in and out between mechs who were trying to snag him. Or at least corral him into a corner in order to calm him down. Not a good plan however with the gremlins in play.
Dispensor was darting after the car excitedly, causing it to go even faster, while dodging any mechs that was trying to pull him out of the fray as Gravelgrinder randomly tackled Rollerforce with a mechanical laugh. Motorhead and Bluestreak tried to help pull the mech off him while Hound got in the small alleyway between the mess and the barracks to keep the sparkling from darting between them.
Optimus reached out to try and at least block the sparkling as it switched into reverse but a quick spin on the wheel and the sparkling was headed right for the fence line. Perceptor and Blaster were quick to duck in front of him but it seemed as if the sparkling was determined to go in that direction and it scuttled around the two mechs as they moved to grab him.
"What are you doing? Just slow him down! Don't grab him!" Ratchet bellowed.
"You're scaring him!" Skyfire insisted.
"We're not doing anything!" Inferno bellowed back.
Suddenly there was a roar of jet turbines as Jetfire and Jetstorm flew, literally, into the fray and quickly added to the chaos as they started dive-bombing everyone once again. Sunstreaker was very grateful that Red Alert had confiscated the dew cannon. Sunstorm quickly followed close behind the two sparklings but he stayed back and in jet mode incase he had to dart off after the two flyers again.
It was like watching an odd rodeo as the two younger jets quickly darted in opposite directions.
Jetstorm suddenly circled around and dove towards the runaway sparkling and many of the older mechs caught their breath in their air intake, expecting to see a sudden land-air collision. Instead, Jetstorm suddenly transformed in mid-air just a few feet above the ground before he landed directly in front of the Austin-Healy.
Screeching tires scattered gravel this way and that as the sparkling braked but Jetfire had already transformed and landed directly behind him. Both young jets quickly dog piled onto the younger sparkling who let out a loud squeal of protest.
Everyone froze as they waited to see what would happen. Sideswipe and Sunstreaker quickly ran towards their sparklings as Sunstorm finally landed behind them and Scorponok came up to him, excited to see his master back on the ground. The two parents were hesitant to pull their sparklings off without hurting either them or the newborn sparkling they were on top of.
Ratchet hovered and Optimus looked at him for guidance but the medic seemed just as lost as everyone else.
There were a few seconds before the two flyers suddenly sat up, though they still had their hands on the small car and began chirping in that thrice-be-damned sparkling language that none of the others could follow. Blaster looked completely flummoxed by the chirps and whirs and Hound dropped a hand on his shoulder in sympathy.
With a lot of encouraging chirps, everyone watched amazed as the little car suddenly let out a small shudder. After another long pause and some more encouragement from the younger pair of twins, the sound of gears echoed in the courtyard and in place of the little green car, was a small mech curled up into himself.
Taking a step forward, Ratchet was pulled back by Red Alert. "Just wait," the red mech advised him gently. Ratchet did not look pleased but even Optimus placed a hand on his other shoulder and the medic finally settled down to watch.
It took another few moments of seekerling encouragement before the small sparkling came out of his protective curl. With a grin, the two flyers quickly dove for the small mech and engulfed him in a large hug before they stood up with the small mech smushed in between them.
"Папа! Папа!" Jetstorm cried out excitedly. "Look! Look! We found our third!"
Everyone stared at the two grinning seekerlings utterly mystified. "Third what?" Sideswipe asked confused as Sunstorm came up behind him.
"Third?" he cried out before as he looked at the two younger mechs clinging to the newly born mech in amazement. "Already? You lucky devils!"
"Wait, what? What are you talking about?" Sunstreaker demanded. "What about three?"
"They're a trine?" Skyfire asked amazed as he finally caught up. "Are they sure?"
"Flyers, yeah they're sure!" Sunstorm chortled.
"A trine? With Skywarp's sparkling? Oh no!" Sunstreaker shouted. "Pick someone else!"
"It's not like they can pick and choose who they want to be bonded to," Sunstorm drawled.
"Bonded?" Sideswipe yelped.
Sunstreaker and Sideswipe stared aghast at their two sparklings, clutching the tiny mech between them. "What?" Sunstreaker bellowed.
"You know…" Bumblebee murmured as he looked at back at the hanger where Skywarp was still unconscious before glancing at where Ratchet and Wheeljack were standing next to each other watching the jet twins argue with their parents. He frowned again.
"Yes Bumblebee?" Soundwave turned towards the Autobot curiously. "Have you thought of something?"
"Huh? Oh no. Just a thought really but…"
"'Bee?" Sam asked from the human doorway where he and Mikaela were trying to stay clear out of the way, curiosity starting to gnaw at him. "What is it?"
Bumblebee just shook his head again when Barricade suddenly jabbed him in his side. "What is it, bug?"
"Dartboards," Bumblebee blurted out. The Decepticons and two teenagers stared at him baffled.
"What is it about dartboards?" Mikaela asked exasperated.
"The ones the sparks used to pick out who their parents are going to be. Try and keep up," Ravage drawled next to them.
"Yeah, those," Bumblebee cut in quickly. "I was just thinking. If both Ratchet and Wheeljack are pregnant… well, who's to say Thundercracker isn't too?"
The 'Cons all stared at him shocked before Barricade groaned and dropped his head into his palm. "We're so screwed."
-To Be Continued