Chapter 1: IRL
A side little bit of ridiculousness from Dawningverse. This is set maybe a month or two after the original Dawning fic. This is meant to be chat from a certain insanely popular MMORPG, but forgive any errors in formatting or suchlike, as I've never actually played said game. If anyone DOES play (thanks empty_geas, for the offer of Warcrack betaing! :D) and wants to give me pointers on how it could be formatted to look more authentic, by all means.
[Guild] [NotDedYet]: hey, all!
[Guild] [Scooblebrox]: sup.
[Guild] [TorianaHana]: Hey.
[Guild] [DarkmistHive]: Yo.
[Guild] [TammerLin]: DED. DUDE.
[Guild] [NotDedYet]: huh?
[Guild] [TammerLin]: i have very srs question for you. VERY srs. TOTAL srs.
[Guild] [DarkmistHive]: she's been hyper all nigth.
[Guild] [Scooblebrox]: yah careful i think she's been hittin' the bull
[Guild] [TorianaHana]: Raid in 10, guys.
[Guild] [NotDedYet]: o...kay?
[Guild] [TammerLin]: ded. question. v srs question, and I want you to answer it very srsly. >:|
[Guild] [TammerLin]: we can handle the truth. I promise.
[Guild] [NotDedYet]: ...okay?
[Guild] [TammerLin]: Are you or are you not a giant space robot?
[Guild] [NotDedYet]: …
[Guild] [Scooblebrox]: …whut?
[Guild] [TorianaHana]: ...oh ffs, Tam.
[Guild] [TammerLin]: I am for srs!
[Guild] [DarkmistHive]: tam, hon, did you miss a pill or three over the weekend or something?
[SkyNetLegion is now online.]
[Guild] [TorianaHana]: Hi, Legion.
[Guild] [Scooblebrox]: hey, legion, thanks for the save that other night.
[Guild] [TammerLin]: no! I am srs! see, i was listening to this podcaster i listen to. he plays some amazing trance stuff. anyway. dude was having an interview with one of the space aliens, an Autobot.
[Guild] [DarkmistHive]: ...are they the good ones or the bad ones? I can't ever remember.
[Guild] [SkyNetLegion]: You're welcome, Scoob.
[Guild] [Scooblebrox]: oh come on, can't you tell just by the names? i mean, decepticon? just SOUNDS evil.
[Guild] [Scooblebrox]: tho i dunno, anything with 'bot' in it sounds vaguely menacing, too.
[Guild] [DarkmistHive]: that's because you're weird, scoob. embrace the bots.
[Guild] [Scooblebrox]: i think i read a fanfic like that once.
[Guild] [TammerLin]: Good ones! His name was Jazz, and evidently he composes! makes some BITCHIN' electro, and they were talking about making music and stuff.
[Guild] [Scooblebrox]: i definitely read a fanfic like this once.
[Guild] [DarkmistHive]: tam, this sounds like a hoax. seriously.
[Guild] [TammerLin]: LEMME FINISH. BUT I recognized the name, so I youtubed it and came up with this.
[Guild] [DarkmistHive]: wow, that's crappy quality.
[Guild] [TammerLin]: some reporter did it with her iphone
[Guild] [DarkmistHive]: ...okay, so all that that proves is that there IS an actual Autobot named Jazz.
[Guild] [DarkmistHive]: not that your podcaster wasn't havin' you all on.
[Guild] [TammerLin]: FORGET THAT. Just listen to that vid, and here, here's the podcast interview. Check out around 3:30.
[Guild] [TorianaHana]: Raid? Anyone? Bueller?
[Guild] [TammerLin]: LISTEN. DOES THIS OR DOES THIS NOT SOUND LIKE DED?
[Guild] [Scooblebrox]: ...maybe.
[Guild] [DarkmistHive]: ...sounds like about five guys I know, really.
[Guild] [TorianaHana]: Tam, seriously, just because Ded's got a deep voice and the same accent does not mean he's a giant robot alien.
[Guild] [DarkmistHive]: yeah, c'mon tam, why would an autobot hang out here?
[Guild] [Scooblebrox]: i dunno, if i were a giant alien space robot, maybe i'd get bored.
[Guild] [TammerLin]: ladjfl;sadf see YES, jazz said the same thing about music, and he'd even MENTIONED that he'd taken up composing earth music when he'd been hurt and laid up for a long while and kinda...read the whole internet.
[Guild] [Scooblebrox]: ...hey, ded, didn't you mention awhile back that you'd gotten hurt? ;P
[Guild] [TammerLin]: dude, you're right! and he's on all the time! NEVER SLEEPS. LIKE A ROBOT.
[Guild] [TorianaHana]: Tam, cut out the shout.
[Guild] [Scooblebrox]: or a plain old BOT. srsly, ded, you're gonna get yourself banned one of these days.
[Guild] [TammerLin]: SORRY. sorry. i am so for srs. ded come on, fess up, autobot jazz, y/n?
[Guild] [NotDedYet]: you got me, tam, i'm totally a giant alien space robot.
[Guild] [TammerLin]: HAH. I KNEW IT!
[Guild] [TorianaHana]: Ded, don't encourage her. Tam, ffs. Like an Autobot would really be wasting his time hanging around with us when there's important shit to do. They're busy protecting the planet. Also and more importantly: RAID.
[Guild] [Scooblebrox]: i dunno, man, i bet those aliens can multitask like a mofo. i mean...super advanced cybernetics? dude, can you imagine the processing required to even RUN that shit?
[Guild] [DarkmistHive]: geek much? :P
[Guild] [Scooblebrox]: long and hard, baby. but really, who says they couldn't run some instances while saving the planet if they wanted to?
[Guild] [Scooblebrox]: maybe it's all zen for them.
[Guild] [DarkmistHive]: -_- raiding is many things, but 'zen' is not one of them.
[Guild] [TammerLin]: aw...were you really kidding, ded? ._.
[Guild] [Scooblebrox]: why don't we ask legion? you two know each other irl, right?
[Guild] [Scooblebrox]: hey, legion's on all the time, too....
[Guild] [TorianaHana]: Fine. Legion...is Ded a giant alien space robot?
[Guild] [SkyNetLegion]: ...yes. Though he's not currently in space.
[Guild] [SkyNetLegion]: I, however, am. I am currently floating around in orbit, tapped into a communications satellite.
[Guild] [Scooblebrox]: pffffftlolz
[Guild] [DarkmistHive]: ...did legion just make a joke? jfc legion just made a joke!
[Guild] [TammerLin]: ok now you guys're just making fun of me. :(((
[Guild] [NotDedYet]: dol. srsly. dol.
[Guild] [NotDedYet]: :hugs everyone!:
[Guild] [Scooblebrox]: oh! legion, could you resend me that tank spec chart you made? my server went down like a ten dollar whore and i lost it. :((
[Guild] [DarkmistHive]: so how DOES a ten dollar whore go down, scoob?
[Guild] [Scooblebrox]: very badly, mist. veeeery badly.
[Guild] [TammerLin]: ._. ok, ok, maybe it was the three red bulls talking, but srsly, you sound a LOT like him, ded.
[Guild] [NotDedYet]: aw, s'okay. you're right.
[Guild] [TorianaHana]: Guys. Raid. Seriously, i gotta go to work tomorrow.
[Guild] [TorianaHana]: Anyone not in in the next minute, I'm pulling your shit from the vault and giving it to a noob.
[NotDedYet] whispers: You are evil. :D
[SkyNetLegion] whispers: I am a Decepticon.
[SkyNetLegion] whispers: Even our name is evil. >:D
[NotDedYet] whispers: Don't I know it! :P
Chapter 2: TMI
Mikaela just has to ask.
"So where DO Cybertronian babies come from? Other than, apparently, Decepticons?"
This...has utterly no point. Except, behold, Dawningverse!cyberbiology? IDEK.
Many thanks to everyone who has commented and kudosed! The reviews really feed the muses. :D
Set after "IRL", sometime, when there's a good pack of Jazz and Soundwave's sparklings running around whatever base they've taken over/set up.
"So, Ratchet?" Mikaela asked thoughtfully, gloved hands wrists-deep in solvent as she scrubbed god knew what out of a pair of gears as big as her hand. "Stupid human question."
"Mmm?" Ratchet's distracted reply came from behind the scanner he was rewiring. As one of the two full-size scanners they had access to, and the only one on Earth, Ratchet treated it with slightly more care and reverence than his own spark.
"Where DO Cybertronian babies come from?" She grinned over at him. Or rather, at his legs, which was all she could see of him from that angle. "Other than, apparently, Decepticons?"
Ratchet stood up far enough to look at her thoughtfully. His faceplates weren't quite mobile enough to be expressive by human standards, nor did the Cybertronians use facial expression nearly as much as humans did. They tried to mimic it as much as possible around the humans, though, and Mikaela had been around Ratchet long enough to compile a fairly detailed Medic-to-English dictionary. Thus, she could tell that the first half of the look was "wait, I'm looking something up on the internet" and the second half was the more calculated "I need to determine whether telling you something classified is worth you not bugging me constantly about it."
Mikaela scrubbed grit and what she dearly hoped was NOT roadkill out of the part in her hand and waited patiently.
Finally, Ratchet emerged and grabbed the hand scanner. "Here." He set the scanner on the holder in front of the catwalk that allowed her to reach it. "Take a look. Sparklet should be visible by now."
"...huh? Wait what YOU?" She jumped down the remaining stairs and all but ran to the scanner like a kid on Christmas morning. "I didn't know you were pregnant!"
"I am not. I am carrying. And now you do," Ratchet said calmly, settling himself in front of the scanner. The screen blipped, resolved, and showed a rotating 3D image of his frame, systems tagged and layered over one another. The scanner cheerfully blinked its diagnosis in glyphs that Mikaela still couldn't completely read (though one part of one of them was definitely "spark"). She shucked off the protective gloves, dropping them to the catwalk with a rubbery-wet plop before pulling out the pair of metal styluses that let her imitate having Cybertronian fingers. It wasn't perfect (kind of like using a giant iPad with a pair of chopsticks), but it worked.
She zoomed in on the highlighted systems. "...wow." She grinned at the 3D image of Ratchet's spark, which now had a small sparklet tucked under it like a penguin with a chick. "Aaaw. And whoa, you've got...a lot of stuff that wasn't here before." She scrolled around a bit. "And a big hole. This is all for the sparkling?"
Ratchet moved forward to the catwalk. He, lucky bastard, could interact with the scanner wirelessly. He popped a pointer up on the screen. "Yes. These are for constructing and supporting the new spark casing, which will rest here. Eventually it will be transferred to the sparkling frame, which will be constructed in the 'big hole'."
"You construct the frame internally?" Like a human, then, she thought. "Wait, you don't eat, though. Where do you get the materials?"
"We consume resources while we are carrying, to supply the raw materials."
Mikaela furrowed her brow, her mind flashing back to Ratchet's favorite complaint about Earth, a variant of which she'd heard just that morning. "But...what about the duryllium and cybertronium and the other ones I can never pronounce. What, can you just...replace with something we have?"
Ratchet's "annoyed" expression had been the first one Mikaela had learned to recognize. "In some cases, yes. About 20% of the materials are not native to Earth or Earth-replaceable. I'll be able to safely cannibalize half of what is needed from my own frame. For the rest I will have to ask for donations."
"Donations of...errr...." She was pretty sure she saw where this was going but had to ask. "Donations of what? ...Parts?"
"Plating, mostly. Some polymers. Probably some shavings from internal connectors."
That sounded painful. Also creepy. Kind of touching. But creepy. "That's...hardcore."
"It's gruesome is what it is." Ratchet vented in irritation. "On Cybertron it wouldn't be necessary. A carrying mech could find the correct supplements as easily as you going to the grocery store. But here...we do what we must."
Mikaela pursed her lips. "What about using the spare parts--" She grimaced, stopping. The spare parts were all taken from destroyed mechs, Autobot and Decepticon corpses scavenged from the battlefield. "No, wait, that's--all right, all right, I'm sorry, don't look at me like that. I wasn't thinking. Argh...."
Mikaela nearly stabbed herself in the eye with her stylus trying to hide her face in her hands. Years of knowing them, and she could still stick her foot in her mouth over cultural things. "Sorry," she said again, looking back up at Ratchet with what she knew must be a flaming red face.
Ratchet toned down the glare. "You are forgiven. For the record, the use of deactivated frames for carrier supplement could be done, but it would be...a last resort. Sparklings are one area where we do not value that type of recycling. Our culture is such that every Autobot here will donate something of themselves, so that it is not necessary."
She nodded. "I can see why." She could. The more she thought about it, the more it seemed like a sweet community thing. Something occurred to her and a smile flitted across her lips. "Is that what Soundwave did? Asked for the other Decepticons to donate materials for all his sparklings?"
Ratchet moved over to the scrubbing tub she'd been manning, picking out a few of the cleaned parts and inspecting them. "I didn't ask, though I doubt that the Nemesis kept a supply of carrier supplement. He needed a great deal more cybertronium and duryllium than I will, that's for sure."
Mikaela looked back at the screen, still finding the little sparklet the most adorable little thing in the world. "Why is that? I mean, why did he have a whole brood and you're only having one?"
Ratchet shrugged, human-style. "Frametype differences, linked to the type of spark he possesses. Most mechs are like me and will only carry one sparklet at a time. It's all we're built for and all our sparks can throw, no matter how overloaded we get. The only exception is that occasionally you will get a sparklet that splits during or shortly after creation, which is how you get sparktwins like the two pair of glitchmice out there. It's a rare aberration, and one most mechs aren't equipped to deal with. In those cases, either a medic will extract the spark casings and keep them in an incubation tank until the bodies can be built externally, or the carrier's body will construct the spark casings first, and then the frames one at a time, expelling one frame before constructing the next."
"So...you have twins, but they're not born at the same time."
"Neat." Alien, but neat. "And Soundwave?"
Ratchet took several of the cleaned parts over to the workbench. "Soundwave's spark and frame are actually built to spark and produce many sparklings at once. As long as there is sufficient energy to bud the sparklet, his spark will accept it, then incubate the sparklets until he can build the frames. Usually his frametype can build several sparkling frames at once, as well."
Mikaela's eyes went wide. "Did he honestly have thirteen kidlets in him at ONCE?"
Ratchet, turned half away from her at the worktable, waved a hand. "You would have to ask him. I find it unlikely. I'd guess he probably constructed them in two or three batches."
"So why can his frametype do that and not everyone else?"
Another shrug. "His spark just resonates that way, and his frametype is built to support it."
Mikaela tucked her styluses back into her belt, a smile crossing her lips. "So you're saying he's built to have kids."
Ratchet turned to look at her. It wasn't the annoyed look. More the "listen to what you just said, idiot" look. "In the same way you are."
Mikaela ducked her head and blushed at the gentle rebuke. Way to go, 'kaela, spreading sexism to alien species! "Right. Got it." She cleared her throat. "So how long does the whole process take?"
"From budding to separation, roughly six Earth months."
She whistled. "You make an entire Cybertronian from scratch in six months?"
"A small one."
Mikaela backed up to look at the scanner again, then back at Ratchet, then back at the scanner, trying to judge scale. "How small? Smaller than the kiddos?"
"Yes. Normal size for a freshly-separated sparkling is...perhaps half their size when they arrived. About the size of a human toddler."
"Aaaaw." She thought about that for a moment, imagining Ratchet with a toddler-sized sparkling. Or Soundwave, with a baker's dozen of them, crawling all over him "....AAAAW." She was grinning again. "That's really awesome, Ratchet. Congratulations."
"So is it rude to ask who the da--uh...non-gendered coparent is?"
"It is not, though I am certain that your human cultural reference is sufficient to guess correctly, in this case."
She grinned harder at the tiny sparklet on the scanner screen. "You two are like dads to me. I feel like I'm going to have a little brother. Or sister? While we're having all the awkward conversations, how DOES that work? I know you don't really have genders, but then we've also got Arcee."
"Arcee has chosen to be called by female pronouns because her size, preferred vocalizer frequency, and frametype fit with your gender stereotypes. We also agreed that there might be situations where having a 'female' Cybertronian--" she snorted a chuckle as Ratchet did the world's biggest air quotes "--might be advantageous, given the gender politics on your world."
"So it has nothing to do with her. Or with how Cybertronians see her."
"Absolutely nothing. She accepts female pronouns because humans assume them and because it is all the same to her. I believe she finds it amusing, considering that she has quite a few major personality traits that are NOT stereotypically feminine." Ratchet came back over, taking the scanner and idly reading the results before flicking it off and returning it to the berth.
Mikaela stooped to gather up her discarded gloves, still smiling. "You and Ironhide." She thought about the implications of that for a long moment. "That is going to be one kickass kid."
Ratchet made a sound that was distinctly smug.
He was, Mikaela thought, going to make the world's scariest mom. Which was probably good, considering the way the human governments had been lately. Her smile faded. "So...again, sorry, possibly personal question, but...why now? I mean, alien planet and all. Why not wait until you get back to Cybertron?"
Ratchet paused, again in the "internet search in progress" stance. "It is...difficult to find a frame of reference for you. The easiest answer is that my reproductive imperatives became active. Unfortunately, the best Earth analogues for our reproductive imperatives are only seen in lower life forms." He drummed his fingers on the berth with a sound like hammers on a steel drum. "It will not be a short explanation."
Mikaela shrugged as she descended from the catwalk. "I've got time. And a lot of parts to clean."
"Very well. Our reproductive cycles are governed by a complex rubric of factors...."
The explanation took nearly an hour, during which Mikaela became increasingly engrossed, her cleaning brush going still. At some point, Lennox had bustled in, clipboard in hand and questions obviously on his mind. Ratchet had been explaining at the time how a Cybertronian overcharge was different from a human orgasm. Lennox had, after a moment of listening, turned around and hurried right back out without saying a word, much to Mikaela's amusement.
When Ratchet was done explaining, Mikaela's head was spinning, but she had a new respect for the Cybertronian body. "So...you have to feel secure and safe enough for the reproductive protocols to kick on in the first place...enjoy the fragging enough to generate the charge to bud the spark...then have enough stability and materials to build the sparkcase...then have enough materials again to build the frame. And if any of this doesn't happen, then...no sparkling."
"Wow. That's a lot of failsafes. Smart."
"We are, unlike humans, an engineered species--and yes, I know what some of your religious groups say, but if the human reproductive system was deliberately designed in such an inefficient fashion, your god must be exceedingly cruel." He waited to continue until Mikaela had her laughter under control. "It makes no sense to generate sparklings that we cannot support or care for. They are not as time- and resource-intensive as raising human children, but they do require care and mentoring, not to mention the resources to keep them online."
"And all the prerequisites help guarantee that you want the kid and can support him. Heh. Wish humans had a system like that." She tilted her head and smiled wryly, gesturing to herself with a gloved hand dripping solvent. "Though if we did, I guess I wouldn't be here."
Ratchet processed that for a second. "That would be unfortunate."
Mikaela laughed, but before she could reply more laughter sounded from outside the medbay. She turned, watching as a handful of the sparklings (she could pick out Firestorm and Limelight leading the group physically and in volume) passed by the open medbay door, obviously intent on some game or other. Bioline paused, chirping a greeting and waving a hand before disappearing after his siblings.
Mikaela watched through the open door as they took off toward the "playground", another of their number flipping down off one of the roofs to scamper off after them. "So. You need the charge to make the spark bud. And the charge is...yeah. So...." Her eyes went a bit wide. "So Jazz and Soundwave...." She flapped a vague hand at the band of retreating sparklings.
"Had a pit of a good time, yes." Ratchet's expression was a perfect smirk. "Our oh so bright saboteur drained his tanks to the point he needed an energon infusion from 'Jack before they could finish their reconnaisance."
Mikaela snorted a laugh. "He didn't."
"Oh, I hope you guys ribbed him for that."
"Constantly. Though to be honest, given his frametype and Soundwave's? Thirteen buddings would require an impressive and sustained charge, even on a full tank."
Mikaela grinned at a particularly disgusting bit of motor. "He's smug as hell about the kiddos, that's for sure."
"I suppose he has the right," Ratchet said, and then both of them jumped as something large and metal crashed outside, followed by the highpitched protests of sparklings, another crash, and the rushed, earth-shaking whump whump of running Cybertronian adults. Jazz's voice was nearly drowned out in the continuing ruckus.
Ratchet huffed. "He can have his brood. I'll stick with one."
Mikaela winced as the sparklings' wails of protest spiraled up into the earsplitting range. "Probably for the best. I don't think the world would survive another dozen."