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Chapter Text

Beside me Hoist is practically vibrating with anticipation as Prime finally opens the door and lets us in. The form that was a uniform grey when we layed it out is now taking on colour, patches of red and white forming as the spark settles into its new housing. Hoist wastes no time in linking up and ensuring that there has been no coding issues and all the systems are running as they should be.

"Well?" I ask as he disconnects, but he makes no answer, merely nodding down at the youngling and I realise he must have initiated the boot sequence while he was connected.

Small blue optics flicker as he stares up at us.

::Isn't that just the cutest thing:: Hoist practically cooes over the comm. line as an equally small welding visor and surgical mask slide into place and he shuffles backwards on the berth. But his armour is showing none of the instinctive clamping down to protect vital componants that fear evokes, so I can only conclude that he is either shy or still apprehensive.

Which I suppose isn't too unbelievable since he's onlined to find two strange and large mechs leaning over his berth. Crouching down so that I am on his level I extend a hand in his direction. "Hello, I'm Ratchet. This is Hoist. Are you going to tell us who you are?"

His helm shifts between the two of us several times before he ducks it down as he mutters "First Aid." And I can barely contain my glee at the clearly medically inclined designation.

Curiousity quickly takes over his nervousness as he slowly reaches out a hand, although he jerks it back as soon as his fingers brush my palm so that he can hold it infront of his face as if it holds all the answers.

"What's wrong?" I ask as he wriggles his fingers and then pokes at the berth before running his hand across the surface.

"Strong." He says, as he crawls over to where I am crouched and pokes at me.

::Strong?:: I ask Hoist as the youngling gently tugs at my chevron.

::I have no idea.:: He tells me before crouching down on the other side of the berth. "What's strong First Aid?"

"Hands." He says as he holds one up to show Hoist, the other still resting on my helm.

"Your hands are strong?" Hoist sounds as confused as I am as First Aid shakes his helm, obviously searching his vocabulary for the correct glyphs to express himself.

"Feel things." The small fingers brush over my face again and he frowns. "They are telling me things I don't understand."

I can see the comprehension on Hoists face at the same time I understand what he is talking about. Of course, strong is a good word to describe the sensations from medical sensors, they are meant to be powerful so that they can detect the smallest of fractures in framework. To a newly sparked mech the information he is getting from them must be overwhelming.

"Do you want me to stop some of the data? I can turn it down a little so it isn't so strong." In time he'll learn to dial down the sensitivity on his own, but for now I doubt he needs to know the temperature, composition of materials, whether they are in any way damaged and what pressure he is exerting.

He nods, watching me with a vaguely confused expression as I unspool a data cable and open a port on his arm to connect us.

Can I do that? curiousity laces his mental voice as he focusses on the coding I am changing. I highlight the next section of code and wait a moment for him to see what I am doing before I change the parameters. Could I turn it off? I don't really need to know the surface temperature of things to that degree of accuracy.

If you turn it off what would happen if you touched something hot enough to melt your internal wiring?

The abashed Oh echoes through his mind as he lets me finish resetting the rest of his sensors.

Done. I unlinked my datacable, letting him prod at the uplink port I had just taken it out of for a moment. "Feel any better?"

My chevron recieves another moment of abuse as he runs his hand over it again. "Yes. I can't feel everything now."

Problem sorted he quickly moves on to the next issue and I have to suppress my laughter as Hoist is used as an impromptu stabilising device.

::Not funny:: He mutters over our commlink as he tries to untangle little fingers from where they are clutching at a handful of wires in his hip. :: I am so glad that Prime agreed to bringing them all online separately. I don't think I could deal with all of them at once.:: Fingers finally freed from his internals he kept a hand out while the youngling sorted out his stabilisers and centred his gyroscope.

Another thought occurred to me as First Aid let go of the hand and wobbled off, exploring the small room. ::Just think, not only would we have been dealing with all five of them getting used to new frames, with all of them together the gestalt link would have kicked in::

Hoist's optics dulled for a moment as he thought about the chaos that could have been. ::True:: We watched First Aid open cabinets and riffle through the contents for a moment before Hoist speaks up again. ::We're going to have to put him into stasis aren't we?::

I nodded. Much as I'd love to let him continue exploring, we still had all four of his brothers to go see to.

Chapter Text

Something isn't right. I still my systems, my coding flickering through boot sequences designed for war time; weapons, communications, sensor arrays, all the important things that have kept me alive powering up first.

Light footsteps, tentative, are in my outer room, whoever is out there is trying to be quiet, but with no skill. Unlikely to be an assassin then. Besides, Red would have spotted them before now.

A prankster perhaps? Primus forbid if it's Sideswipe again. Prime promised me I could reformat him into a pink moped if he was caught hacking into rooms again to place pranks.

The footsteps approach the door and I tense, every cable tense, ready to move as a hand curls around the doorframe.

"Ratchet?"

The release of all that tension nearly has me sagging back onto my berth as the small red and white form steps into the room and scuffs one foot nervously at the entrance. "Come on in, I'm not going to bite."

"Sorry." He says as he scrambles up onto the berth and into my arms. It had been a good idea, since we didn't have the resources to create five fully adult framed mechs all at once and we had done that with the aerialbots and the emotional protocols hadn't settled very well into adult frames. So the attempt to create them as younglings, and create the adult frames when we were able to gather enough resources had been a good plan.

Just not one that had been tried before, sparks from the well always being placed into sparkling or adult frames. And I suppose it has been a success of a sort, they are already much more stable than the aerialbots, but it didn't deal with all the problems as we hoped it would.

"What's wrong Aid?" I ask as I wrap an arm around one shoulder, letting him snuggle against my chest where he can feel my spark pulse.

"Had a nightmare." I can feel fingers slipping into gaps in my armour as he clings to me. "Can I stay here?"

I wrap an arm around him as I settle back down, making sure that I take my battle protocols offline so that I don't online thinking he's a Decepticon. "Of course you can Aid." A happy chirr is the only response as I can feel him slipping back into recharge, his frame tucked against mine.

Chapter Text

Now that the shock was wearing off, I suppose that I could see the funny side of the situation.

It hadn't been so funny when I had walked in the door after Ratchet had commed me for assistance to find him leaning over First Aid and Groove his hands covered in energon. The two younglings themselves were coated in the stuff and my weaponry had started to power up in response. Hardcoded reactions to protect the younglings overwriting my logic core for a moment before my automatic scans came back.

Blank.

I had to run another just to make sure, but it too confirmed that neither of the younglings was injured in any way, in fact, both were operating at optimal condition.

"Hoist!" First Aids exuberant exclamation was followed by both of them dashing across the room to slide into me, sticky energon coated plating spreading the stuff across my frame. "Look!" Sticky fingers twined with mine as I was dragged across the room towards a workbench and now that my mind had settled down I could appreciate that we were in the energon processing plant, which would explain why there was so much of the stuff around.

And the reason for the younglings being covered in it was also apparent as I stared down at the bench they had dragged me to, both of them climbing up onto chairs so that they could see what they were doing.

"Ratchet showed us how to make them."

"They're very nice." I said diplomatically as I opened my comm. ::What are they?::

Ratchet's snicker echoed back across the line. ::I think they are meant to be mechs.::

Ah. Right. I think I could see that now, at least, sort of, the gummy energon body with an extra blob for a helm and strangely shaped limbs.

Groove grinned up at me. "Ratchet said you like copper ones so we made you with copper." I took the red coloured treat with a thank you as I tried not to laugh. They were just so serious about it all.

"Well?" First Aid prodded as they both watched me.

::Are they safe?:: I asked Ratchet, a first attempt to make energon treats could go wrong in so many ways.

In answer Ratchet merely held up another half eaten deformed mech, this one a silvery blue. ::Well, I taste quite nice.::

Chapter Text

“And so it was with a heavy spark that the two mechs set out across the wastes of Cybertron. They did not know if they would ever return, but they knew that they had to try and find what they had lost.

They encountered many things on the way, turbo-rats which tried to nibble their wires while they recharged and turbofoxes which followed them, squabbling over their discareded energon cubes. Once they even came across a pack of cyberwolves which follow them for a while, no doubt assessing if they were edible.

They walked across jagged spires of metal, drove across dusty plains and skirted the edges of a lethal lake of mercury. They had only the stars to guide them on their way as there were no other mechs out here.

And so they continued, until finally, in the distance they saw a precious sight, a small cluster of buildings and movement within. They entered the town unnoticed, heading for the only lodgings, the board outside advertising the open rooms. It wasn’t much, just a hard berth, but it was better than sleeping on the floor for the two weary mechs and they soon slipped into recharge. They refilled their energon cubes before continuing on their way.

The shimmer and dance of light reflecting off a crystalline tower was soon visible, and they knew they were getting close. All they needed to do now was find a way in to the tower.

And I’ll continue tomorrow.”

“I think you’d send half the mechs here into stasis if they knew that you read sparkling stories.”

Prowl just gave Ratchet a hum of agreement as he tucked the blanket around the Protectobots who were all fast in recharge as they cuddled. “One day I might even get to the end of the quest before they all drop offline.”

“I hope you do.” Ratchet said as he turned the lights out as they left the room. “I’ve never heard that one before and I still have no idea what they've lost.”

Chapter Text

CRUNCH

Beside me I am aware of movement, Prowl's wings flickering with mirth, and further away Jazz has no such restraint and is snickering softly, even as both myself and Hoist reflexively scan the mech for damage.

"Oooops" The tone has a distinct element of First Aid's abashed tone in it before the helm twists to look at me. "I really am sorry." And that is much more Hot Spot, all earnest apology.

"I wouldn't worry about it. The roof took more damage than you did." Jazz says as he composes himself, only to lose it again as the large mech contorts to view the imprint of his helm and back in the distorted roof.

"We did not expect you to transform this soon otherwise we would have been outside." Prowl added as he looked over the gestalt which was crouched in the centre of the room, and even then the top of his helm was still scraping the roof. No, we hadn't expected them to combine until they were in their adult frames and then there would have been no way they could fit inside so outside would have been the only option, this was quite a surprise.

"Oh." The gestalt seems confused, a range of expressions flashing across its features and I can only assume from what the Aerialbots have said about being connected that they are talking to each other. "But this is natural."

Natural indeed. And here we were working off the Aerials example and they had taken several weeks to fully combine without breaking apart to argue within a few breems.

"So, you got a designation?" Jazz asked, taking the revelation that they seemed perfectly happy combined in stride.

Once again there was the strange silence as they debated, or whatever it was that they were doing, none of the aerials had been able to explain it very well. Just that they were both Superion and at the same time they were still themselves.

"Defensor. We, I am Defensor."

The faint hint of a smile appeared on Prowl's face as he jotted that down on his ever present pad. "Can you break apart now? I think Ratchet and Hoist might want to check you haven't damaged yourselves."

The whirring of transformation collapsed Defensor back down into his componant mechs before there was silence broken by Jazz bursting out into laughter again and a variety of curses that the younglings really shouldn't know emanating from the tangle of parts. Now that was a problem the Aerials had never had, they had always broken apart in a sort of explosion of mechs, with each one ready and raring to go, usually at each other.

Stepping forward to help untangle them I can't help but give in and chuckle despite the snarl Blades gives me as I try and untangle his rotars, they really are far too cute, especially when they are transformed. Once they are all in adult frames Defensor is going to be quite the threat, but until then they will probably have mechs cooing over them, even if they are already bigger than Prime.

Chapter Text

"Ratchet? Ratchet! My apologies for bothering you." Prowl's unmistakable voice cut through the air and I slowed to allow him to catch up. "Streetwise is not."

"Feeling too well?" I finished for him as I nodded down at my own trembling ball of metal, small hands clutching at my plating as he rattled, heat from his armour seeping all the way to my core.

"Indeed." The sensory panels which had been hiked up settled a little at my unruffled tone as we turned into medbay.

"I don' feel too good." The muttered words were, as with all sparklings and younglings, followed by fuel tanks emptying as the processor attempted to track down what was wrong. Energon poisoning could deactivate a mech so the processor took no chances and made sure all energon was purged, just in case.

Unfortunately for Prowl, he obviously didn't know this and was now staring anxiously at Streetwise as he curled back up into a ball and whimpered. "What is wrong with them?"

"Probably just a virus."

"Here." I hadn't really noticed Hoist as I entered, despite knowing that he was on shift and he had already got a couple of energon drips set up. Moving First Aid and Streetwise over to the berths I inserted the feeds into their arms as Hoist connected up to their processors and disabled the emergency coding that was causing them to purge.

"Will they be okay?" If the situation had been different I would have laughed, I had never seen Prowl acting like a worried caretaker before as he hovered over his charge.

"They'll be fine, although we should probably get the rest of them down here before we have a horde of worried mechs barging in." That said I sent out a comm request to the mechs in question as I settled myself on the edge of First Aids berth as Hoist linked up so that he could sift through Aids coding and find whatever malicious program was causing the problem.

::Hound here Ratch. What's up?::

::Where's Groove?::

::Recharging.:: The tracker said before the link dimmed, no doubt as he went to check and his focus shifted. ::He's running a bit hot. Want me to bring him down?::

::Please.:: I said, ending the conversation as another link opened.

::Ratchet? Prime here. Who's done what this time?::

I had to suppress my amusement at his long suffering tone before I replied. ::Some of the Protectobots seem to be down with a virus. I was wondering if you could bring Hot Spot down here in case he has it too.::

::Will do, although he seems fine at the moment.::

He closed the comm. and and I was about to ping Trailbreaker a second time when he hurtled into the medbay, a very bedraggled miniature helicopter in his arms. "Found him in the washracks with the solution set on cold, said he felt too hot." I waved his apology off, Blades had a habit of getting into places he shouldn't and there was only so much a forcefield could do.

Settling him into his own berth I jumped as Hoist made a sound of garbled static and abruptly disconnected from First Aid and then promptly crumpled to the ground with a clatter of armour.

"What the?" Trailbreaker said as he and Prowl rushed over. I would have joined them, but Hoist could take care of himself, the younglings couldn't.

"Is he still online?" I asked as I finished hooking Blades up to his own energon supply and suppressing his purging routine.

"His optics are lit but there's nobody home." Breaker said as he waved a hand in front of the downed medic.

"That's fine then. It means he found the virus and it tried to infect him."

"That is not a good thing." Prowl stated, sensor panels creeping back upwards in concern.

Huh? Oh. "For you, no. But medics have partitions to deal with things like this. He'll be isolating the componant parts and writing out an antiviral program."

"You can do that?" Trailbreaker sounded surprised, but my sarcastic response that of course we could do that, who do you think wrote the antivirals against hackers and code corruptions back on Cybertron, was cut off as Hoist abruptly sat up.

His "Got it!" Causing the faint hum of powering weaponry for a moment before everybody settled back down again. Hauling himself back to his feet with a hand from Prowl he perched himself on the edge of a berth. "Nasty little slagger." He shook his helm, "and we thought we were doing so well, giving them all the Cybertronian antivirals we could remember and it's a tiny bitty human virus called WIN32 which takes them down."

Chapter Text

I wince as something creaks and First Aid steps back to eye up his current target. "Why are you not working?" I don't think the question is aimed at me as the Protectobot peers at a tangle of wires.

It is a good thing he is totally engrossed in his project as I'm having to try my hardest not to laugh at him. He looks so, so cute. A little tool holder magnetised to one thigh and a spanner clenched between his dente as he pokes and prods at things.

"Now, I wonder what would happen if I did this?" This time the creak is more of a rending tear and Aid holds up a chunk of metal to optic level before throwing it over one shoulder.

I watch as it bounces of the wall and under another berth before turning back to the youngling who has finally found the answer to his problem.

"Aha!" His triumphant exclamation is somewhat muted by the spanner still in his mouth but he is too happy winding duct tape around the wires that he has just spliced to care.

"Very good Aid." I say as he finally turns back to me to await my reaction. "But don't you think he might have needed the cooling pump?"

He looks confused for a brief moment before turning to try and spot the bit of metal that he launched earlier. "Oooops?"

I pat him on the helm as I dissolve the holographic medbay. His spark is in the right place, even if he is still a little too enthusiastic, hopefully he'll grow out of it as he gets older. "Maybe you should leave it inside him next time."

He nods solemnly before tilting his helm at me. "Why?"

Chapter Text

“Ratch, I think we have a problem.” I glanced up as Hoist leant against the doorframe, his armour flared in agitation while an exasperated expression was firmly affixed to his face plates.

“What's up?” His answer was a jerk of his thumb into the main medbay. Visions of pranked bots, painted, glued, you name it, filled my processor before I deleted the thoughts. No matter what I could imagine, the reality was always worse.

Stepping out through the door I was assaulted by a whine of sirens and I couldn't do anything but stare as a miniature ambulance zoomed around my legs. ::That shouldn't be possible.:: I said on a tight range private comm to Hoist and in my peripheral vision I saw him nod.

Younglings shouldn't be able to transform, they were hard enough to keep up with when they only have their base form. However First Aid had managed it, the end result was an ability to cause even more trouble.

::I can go out with you now? Right?:: The comm was full of anticipation as the emergency vehicle skidded to a stop and bounced gleefully on its shocks.

“I think you need to wait until you are bigger. A miniature ambulance doesn't really blend in.” The ambulance sagged, sinking in place as if its suspension had just been removed. But I couldn't take him, besides the fact that it was too dangerous for them to be out of the Ark yet, he wouldn't be able to fit anything but sparklings inside.

::But you can teach me how to do stuff?::

“Stuff?” I asked the dejected vehicle.

::Yeah, how to flip and drive on two wheels and go fast round corners without rolling over.:: I shared a quick conversation with Hoist, glad that alt modes were limited to seeing using wavelengths that couldn't read exact facial expressions as we went through a full conversation ranging from 'Pit no', all the way to 'if you don't he'll just try it anyway'.

“If you are good and do well in your lessons, then I'll teach you.” The spring was back as First Aid revved his engine, his happiness visible even without his electromagnetic field curling into mine before he reversed to go do a victory lap around the room, weaving his way around the berths and equipment trays.

Hoist shook his helm as he turned back to his abandoned indexing, ::you're a soft sparked glitch. You just can't say no to him can you?::

I reached down to pat the ambulance on the roof as Aid performed a credible handbrake turn and emergency stop in front of me, I wasn't going to bother defending myself from Hoists accusation, even I could see the futility in that.

Chapter Text

"First Aid? What are you doing?" The youngling is nowhere in sight, although his tracking beacon is still pulsing away in the main section of medbay.

"Painting." The reply is solemn as he appears around the edge of a berth, an airbrush in hand.

"Okay." I turn back to updating my reports as he disappears again. At least he is doing something constructive that will help him later on. Although painting isn't exactly a medical field, it usually falls to us to do any touch ups after we have finished putting mechs back together.

Now if only the rest of his gestalt would be so easy to deal with.

Last time I saw Prime he had looked ready to tear his own audial recievers off, even his infinite patience having given out, the limpet usually found attached to one of his shoulders quite firmly in the 'why?' stage.

Groove had been wearing even Hound's tracking abilities down until the tracker had brought the small nature lover into the medbay and demanded I put a tracking device onto him so that he could find him rather than having to go hunt. That hadn't sounded like a bad plan and I'd added a small beacon to all of the gestalt members just in case.

Streetwise on the other hand was doing his best. He had even helpfully rearranged Prowl's datapads. Into shape, size and colour. The tactician was still trying to find things several weeks on.

And Blades has discovered the joys of flight and quite a lot of the crew are becoming adept at a modified form of jetjudo involving the small rotary being plucked out of the air as he buzzes around the corridors.

No. Compared to his brothers First Aid is no trouble at all. He doesn't try and escape his lessons, he doesn't try and rearrange the medbay tools, and any questions he has are well thought out and relative to whatever we are dicussing. He is also calm, not prone to running around and shouting, and most importantly, he can amuse himself while myself and Hoist are busy with reports.

"Ratchet?"

"Hey Blaster. Steeljaw's good to go, it was just a couple of worn out gears that needed replacing." Blaster nodded, his optics bright with amusement.

"Have you been in here since the surgery?"

I nodded as I reflexively glanced at the berth's readout on my secondary monitor, that held the feline shaped symbiote. Nothing had changed and all was well within acceptable operating parameters. "Why?"

Blaster just shook his helm, his armour vibrating ever so slightly with suppressed laughter and I had a sudden sense of foreboding wash through my circuitry. I had forgotten to ask one very important question earlier.

Getting up I edged around the now chortling symbiote master and peered out into my medbay.

I reset my optics. Then did it a second time for good measure.

Steeljaw just gave me shrug, resignation clear in the set of his very neon pink and lime green shoulders as the bright yellow and blue banded tail flicked back and forth behind the multicoloured armour.

Next time, I have to remember to ask First Aid what he is painting.

Chapter Text

I felt my cannons whirr in agitation as Blades ends up sprawled across the training room floor. At this rate none of them are going to learn how to defend themselves.

Not with Blades and Hot Spot charging at me without any plan, Streetwise being so cautious he might as well not bother and Groove being so tentative that the few strikes he did get through didn't register as anything other than a light tap.

And now I have my last student for the day. "Come on, I know you don't want to fight Aid, but you're going to have to learn."

The youngling didn't look happy, slowly backing away as I closed in. He yelped as I threw a light punch, slow enough that it let him dodge away from the incoming blow. I have to give him credit, he's good at avoiding getting hit.

Faster and smaller than me, he's able to avoid most things I'm throwing at him, or block them when he has too, but he hasn't made a single attack of his own, which is what I want him to do. At least until he's been upgraded to his adult frame with all it's extra plating he's a walking target.

"What the?" I reset my optics, waiting for them to focus on the three mechs leaning over me, two amused and one sheepish.

"I think you can say that First Aid passed?" Ratchet asks as he disconnects his datacable from the port in my helm as Hoist snickers.

"What happened?" I ask as they help me back to my feet. One moment I'd been trying to get him to attack me, the next I was waking up with my battle protocols suppressed and Ratchet's amusement rattling around in my helm.

All three seem to share a moment of silent communication, including First Aid who hasn't even been training with them for that long, before Ratchet just smirks. "Not a chance. How will he take you down next time if you know how he does it."

Chapter Text

“Well, it seems you’ve killed Optimus Prime.”

Several snickers echoed around the rec room at the pronouncement given in Ratchet’s dry tone.

“YOU’VE WHAT?” Several bots flinched, resetting their audio receivers as Red Alert stood in the doorway, sparks dancing round his helm.

“Killed Optimus Prime.” Jazz helpfully repeated from amongst the crowd clustered around the unmoving body, which only had the effect of causing the security director to look even more stricken as the crowd obligingly parted for him to see for himself.

“Aid here slit one of his major energon lines while repairing a few loose wires.”

First Aid shrugged slightly as he glanced up at the panicking mech. “Minor detail.”

“Minor detail? MINOR DETAIL?”

Ratchet rolled his optics as Red Alert started to hyperventilate, his vents struggling to keep up with his processors request for cool air.

“Calm down Red, it’s not that bad.” So saying he poked the dead frame of their leader.

A supposedly dead chassis which twitched.

Red Alert frowned.

Ratchet poked the body again.

“Owww, Ratchet! Have you finished your test? Can I move yet?” Red Alert froze as one glowing blue optic flashed on for a moment to peer up at the medbot who was crouched over him.

“I suppose. It’s not like you can get any more dead than you are.”

Red Alerts last view of the rec room was Prime sitting up, no trace of any injury as he patted First Aid consolingly on a shoulder, the young apprentice looking extremely sheepish despite the presence of a full face mask, before the world turned into a haze of white static.

Chapter Text

"Hello Prime." Optimus rebooted his optics as he stared down at the youngling who had planted himself in the centre of the medbay. If he didn't know better he would assume that Ratchet had been returned to youngling frame. The small hands were resting on his hips as he smiled, the sort of smile that promised pain for recalcitrant patients. "You. Are late."

"My apologies." Prime rumbled as the youngling tilted his helm, obviously weighing up the truth of the statement.

::Ratchet, why exactly is First Aid here alone? Are you not meant to be doing my routine maintenance check?:: Prime used the younglings inattention to send out a quick comm.

::What did I tell you when you missed your first appointment?::

::That you'd let, oh!::

::Exactly, and he was ever so excited when you didn't appear for the rescheduled check-up.:: The comm was accompanied by several glyphs rendering it thick with amusement. ::Be a good mech for my apprentice and next time turn when you are meant to.::

"Right." First Aid didn't seem to have noticed the rapid-fire exchange of comm traffic as he flicked through a datapad. "Get up on a berth."

"Any one in particular?" Prime asked when the youngling didn't look up from his pad.

"Nope." He said as he trotted over to the storage cupboards and pulled out a machine, hefting it in his arms and returning to Prime's side. "I have to do a coolant filter, the pad says you're overdue."

The filter machine was lifted up onto the table beside the berth with only a little wobbling before First Aid scrambled up onto the berth. Small fingers deftly found and opened hidden catches in the armour before connecting the filter tubes to Prime's coolant lines. "There, I think that's right." The pad was pulled out and consulted before the filter was switched on.

Prime relaxed when he didn't go up in flames or receive any other error messages.

"While that's running I need to check your optics." He didn't get a chance to protest as First Aid plonked himself down on his lap , device in hand. "Okay, ultraviolet." The device was held up right in front of his optics, forcing him to lean backwards, glad that he hadn't sat back against the wall or he'd be glitching his optics trying to focus on it.

"Glyph for sanctuary." He said when he was able to actually view it.

The answer was dutifully marked down and the next one presented as Aid slowly worked his way along the spectrum.

"Uhhhhm, energon next." He said as he scrambled down and went to fetch the energon siphoning kit. Prime presented his arm with only a small amount of trepidation as First Aid was wielding a needle as long as his own hand. "This shouldn't hurt too much."

Optimus wasn't sure whether that was more or less reassuring than Ratchet's usual 'this will hurt like the Pit, try not to move and mess it up'. Thus he was pleasantly surprised when the youngling pushed the needle into a seam between two armour plates, tapping a line on his first try and the only error message was the expected notification about a minor puncture and loss of pressure.

Three small capsules were quickly filled and the needle withdrawn as First Aid set the vials to one side, ready to be analysed later.

Several beeps interrupted the youngling and he scrambled up to turn off the filter and unhook the tubes.

::Ratchet, is all of this truly necessary?:: Prime asked once First Aid was occupied.

::Probably not. But Aid's never done a maintenance check before and he wanted to try it all.::

::You are a sadistic glitch.::

::Why thank you Lord Prime.:: The formal tone, coloured with several glyphs denoting amusement rendered the entire comment into one big sarcastic mess and Optimus wisely didn't respond, who knows what other tests Ratchet could find for First Aid to try.

"Right, oil change now." First Aid said as he settled himself to one side and tapped at an access hatch in Prime's side. He let it click open without protest, the list of checks on the pad currently lying near his feet was depressingly long.

This round definitely goes to Ratchet.

Chapter Text

Footsteps approaching medbay made First Aid glance up from the datapad he was reading, the glare of flickering blue and green lights giving away who had entered. "Hey uncle Jack."

"Morning Aid." There was nothing unusual about the greeting, but some sixth sense was telling First Aid that all was not right. He saved his place in the medical text he was reading and looked up.

"Uh oh. Ratchet's gonna be mad at you."

Wheeljack's vocal indicators flashed in a mix of amusement and chagrin. "Probably, but he's harmless really."

"Nuh uh, you're the one that's armless." Aid snickered as he stored the pad away into subspace and jumped down off the berth.

Wheeljack shook his helm at the younglings quick comeback as he handed over his detached limb when Aid held his hands out expectantly.

"What did you do?"

"Blew my workbench up, there are bits of it embedded everywhere in my lab."

First Aid gusted a vent full of atmosphere in a very good imitation of a humans exasperated sigh. "That explains the clean cut."

"Think you can fix it?" First Aid looked surprised, and then pleased before determination took up residence on his features as he slid his visor and surgical mask into place with a click. The visor cycled through several colours as the youngling scanned the injury and then the slowly greying limb he had tucked under his arm.

He waved Wheeljack to a berth and placed the arm down beside him. "Just need to weld the upper arm strut, errr, the brachial strut, together again and add a few braces to be sure the weld holds. Then the wiring has to be spliced and all the energon and coolant lines need reopening and reconnecting and stimulating into flowing beyond the seal your healing nanites have created. Then it's just the inner proto armour and sensor net which needs reweaving, and lastly the outer armour will have to be welded together."

Wheeljack just nodded as First Aid happily scampered off to find a strut welder.

"There. Done."

"Looks good." Wheeljack said as he lifted his arm and flexed his fingers, only a dull ache remaining where his sensor net had been woven back together and filaments hadn't quite joined together yet. Aid had even reactivated his chromonanites so that he wouldn't be wandering around with a grey arm for a few days till his own nanites got around to it.

"What looks good?" Both engineer and mini medic froze as Ratchet spoke up from right behind them, his optics flitting over the pile of welders, pliers and various other tools before his own visor flipped into place for a brief moment as he sent a high powered scan in Wheeljacks direction. "I see." He said as First Aid shuffled nervously. "I'll assume that he wasn't in any danger of keeling over and deactivating since you didn't call me."

The small helm shook in a negative as one foot scuffed against the floor. "It was all stuff that you've taught me and uncle Jack had already disabled the sensor feed so he couldn't feel it and the energon flow had already stopped."

Ratchet nodded as he scanned the arm in question a second time. "Looks fine to me." Two sets of armour relaxed slightly and Aid looked up from the floor. "Except..." Armour pulled back in towards protoform as Ratchet handed First Aid a well worn tool. "You forgot to use this."

Wheeljack looked between the two medics, one showing devilish amusement and the other a dawning understanding, and dove off the berth and bolted for the door as First Aid hefted the wrench he had just been handed.

Chapter Text

I'm not sure about this, it's very public. The entire Ark has turned out to watch and I'm sure they can all see my armour flickering with my nerves. But Ratchet and Hoist insisted, said it was tradition, and besides, Ratchet had added, he had to do it so I should as well, he didn't want me feeling left out.

Well, I certainly don't feel left out now. I feel like I'm on display. Which I am, to be completely truthful. Just me, Prime and a little podium so that I can't even hide when I kneel down.

"Relax. The quicker you get through this the quicker you can go kick Ratchet's aft." Prime murmurs as we make our way to the front of the gathering and I don't want to know how he has worked out what is running through my processor. He turns to face the crowd of mechs as I kneel in front of him, wobbling a little and he places a hand on my shoulder to steady me.

"First Aid. Do you swear by Primus himself to uphold your oath and to always do your best, no matter the circumstances?" I nod before damping down on my nerves, blocking out the other mechs and just focusing on Prime as he waits for my answer.

"I swear by Primus as my witness, that I will fulfill according to my ability and judgment this oath and this covenant:

I will respect the knowledge of those in whose steps I walk, and will gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon's blade or the physicians coding. Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of those in ill repair, remaining free of all intentional injustice and of all mischief.

I will not attempt more than I am able, but will withdraw in favor of such mechs as are.

I will prescribe treatment for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone, even if this means to do nothing, rather than cause more harm at a later stage.

I will neither give coding patches or stims to anybody if asked for them, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Nor will I help any pass to the Well if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give anything to cause a reabsorption of a new-spark.

I will in the exercise of my profession keep all that may come to my knowledge which ought not to be spread abroad, secret and will never reveal. Nor will I give out any information tied to the profession, that which is used to bypass firewalls and coding blocks to any mech unless they be also learning the art.

In purity and holiness and in the name of Primus, I will guard my life and my art. If I hold to this oath may a long life be granted to me; if I swear falsely or break my oath, may Primus have mercy on my spark."

"You've done us all proud Aid." Prime whispers to me before looking out across my helm at the gathered mechs. "May I present First Aid, general practitioner and circuitry surgeon."

A cheer greets his announcement and I barely have time to get up as my processor whirls with one string of information in a loop, reinforced by the same thought from four other minds before I am borne to the ground by my brothers, their happiness and joy burning through me.

I am a Medic now.

Chapter Text

I tilt my helm when Ratchet peers around the door to his office and then motions me in. “What's up?”

“Lessons.”

“But I graduated!” I protest, it isn't like Ratchet to forget important events.

“I know.” He pads into the small backroom beyond our office and I follow, curious at what lesson he could want to teach me.

Hoist nods at me from the berth where he is stretched out and I let my gaze shift between the two of them. They are up to something. I had learnt to tell that early on in my apprenticeship.

“What we need to teach you isn't something that is taught until a medic has given their oaths to Primus and fully integrated the medical coding into the base code on a spark deep level.” Ratchet says as he kneels down beside the berth. “Come here Aid.”

I can feel my plating tremble slightly as I kneel beside Ratchet, he sounds far more serious than I would like.

“You'll need to link up so you can see what I'm doing.” He opens a port in his arm, and I plug in, my systems syncing to his within a sparkbeat, long familiarity letting me follow the threads of his thoughts until I am seeing what he is seeing.

I can feel him plug into Hoist's medical access port and then the strange shift in perspective as he begins rifling through Hoist's processor, lowering the deepest firewalls that are not under a mechs conscious control, the ones that I had always been taught never to touch.

Here. Ratchet says as the last layer drops and Hoist goes limp.

What? I ask but the wave of calm from Ratchet convinces me all is well.

It's an automated reaction, the processor sends a mech into stasis as soon as these firewalls drop, the data in here is protected unless a mech consciously chooses to overwrite it.

Oh. But... How can they choose to change it if they are in stasis?

I can feel his pride at my question. Exactly the point. He skims over the coding and I recognise emotional response and trigger codes, but far more basic than I am used to seeing.

At this level most mechs are the same. Aerials and Seekers have instinctual flight systems and airflow recognition, but apart from that, nothing much changes. He finally focusses on a small section of code. An innocuous snatch of data that appears to have no clear reason for existing. Can you tell what it is?

I stare at the code string, running it through a comparison with all the other coding that I have learnt. Nothing matches. Looking at it on its own I slowly work it backwards to find that it had only two options, either on or off. But I have no idea what it controls. I don't know. I finally admit.

I want you to turn it off. Ratchet doesn't give an explanation, but then he often doesn't, preferring instead that I work through a puzzle on my own.

Are you sure? I ask just to double check, I would prefer to know what I'm changing before I do it.

I feel the confirmation that I am to go ahead, but no answer to the 'what' is forthcoming and I resign myself to finding out the hard way as I reach out to edit the code, a simple binary switch of a One and a Zero.

“Easy Aid.” I groan. Everything is aching. A strut deep ache that is only equalled by the pounding in my helm.

“What was that?” I ask as both Ratchet and Hoist lean over me and I realise I am now occupying the berth that Hoist was on moments ago.

“That was your medical codes and oath kicking in.” That was the medical coding? That meant I had tried to do something that directly contravened the oath that I took, the oath that runs to my very spark.

“What did I try and change to get such a reaction?”

“You tried to deactivate me.” Hoist says that far too cheerfully and I can only gape at him, glad of my surgical mask being in place.

That single line of code is responsible for a mechs entire functioning? I can feel my tanks churn as I realise that I had edited it to be a Zero, if it had worked...

There is a bucket under my helm before my mask has fully withdrawn.

“Why?” I manage once my tanks settle and I am able to sit back up.

Ratchet perches on the edge of the berth. “You needed to witness what would happen first hand if you tried to change it when it wasn't in a patients best interests, and you needed to know what that code is.” He vents, atmosphere gusting out of him in a rush. “There may come a time when you do have to edit that code.” I shake my helm but he holds up a hand before I can say a word. “Our oath is to end all suffering. I hope you never have to do it, but if you do, that is the quickest and most painless way for a mech to go.”

I don't answer as I turn my helm into his windshield, seeking the soft pulse of his spark in a way I haven't needed since I was still a youngling. He wraps his arms around my frame, and I can feel Hoist settling on my other side, his field projecting the same calm and reassurance as Ratchets as they simply let me absorb the abrupt shift in my world.