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Gossip Time

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Skyfire took the twins, Jazz, and Bumblebee back to Cybertron not long after Optimus did something he rarely cared to. The preemptive attack at a point that Mirage and Jazz had concurred with Prowl as the likely staging area of the Decepticon's latest plan had been a rousing Autobot success. None of the energy the 'Cons had been after was stolen, property damage was minimal, human loss was non-existent, and the Autobots had actually pressed the victory into a running fight, harassing the slower Decepticons nearly to the water's edge.

It did amazing things for morale among the Autobots, who took up a fierce vigilance, knowing Megatron would chafe at the defeat. It was important the mission to Cybertron remain a secret, though, so they all planned to keep fighting as skillfully as they had in that battle, to disguise the loss of so many key members of the primary crew of the original Autobots to land on Earth. One way they added camouflage was by having Ultra Magnus and his team lead the forefront of the next battle, a prospect that taught them all something some had already been figuring out: Hot Rod was insanely reckless. That more than made up for the lack of the twins, while Kup's strange insights gave a bit more intuition than Jazz would have believed possible from someone not himself. Blurr, in addition, was a scout that would rival Bumblebee with a little more experience.

Through it all, the spark in the development chamber, now dubbed "The Oven" because of Carly's wit, continued to expand, then condense, building power and multiplying the code pieces within its crystalline matrix. Ratchet kept an eye on it, growing very wary when it grew more dense than large at an early point in development. He could only pray to Primus that the team on Cybertron brought back enough of the metals they had been sent for to handle creating two frames, because the medic feared he was looking at a twin-spark in the making.

`~`~`~`~`

Jazz set a cube of energon down in front of the rose-colored femme before taking a seat and getting his own out. "Real sorry we just dropped in on ya, 'Lita, but Ratchet needs some things."

"It worked in our favor. Fewer resources expended to take that promontory," she answered him, settling for a companionable chat with Optimus's companion and Spec Ops leader. "Skyfire is rather intimidating when he feels it necessary to help."

"So he is," Jazz chuckled. "We brought new stores of energon and some entertainment spools for you," he added. "Since we might have to raid your medical supplies for some of the stuff Ratchet wants."

"Have you suffered heavier casualties of late?" she inquired. Her words made the saboteur's fields flare with amusement of all things, and she paid sharper attention as he answered.

"Nah. Just gotta get things together for a frame." Jazz's visor flashed with almost wicked delight.

"I thought Wheeljack was the one supervising construction of new mechs for the Autobots," she began, sensing more was afoot. "And that he had learned which Terran metals to use to work best with the artificial spark process."

"Oh all that's true, 'Lita. But this is a natural spark, chipped right off the old block, as the Terrans say." Jazz watched the shock blossom in her electro-magnetic fields, let her consider that, then added to it. "Prime just couldn't bring himself to absorb this one."

"Optimus?!" Her shock translated to both worry and guarded joy. "He is carrying?"

"No, Ratchet set up a tank, but he was until it was ready," Jazz clarified. "Seems that after he'd been fixed up from a battle… sorry to say it was because he was shielding me… he either forgot about his inner shields being down, or figured it wasn't likely to happen. And you know how irresistible he is when he's all laid up recovering…."

Elita One laughed softly, shaking her helm. "Optimus is irresistible to you no matter what, Jazz."

Jazz took a few moments to laugh at that, before shaking his helm vigorously back at her. "Not my fault, swear it on Vector Sigma itself!"

"Oh?" She sipped at her energon, considering the possibilities. "Not Skyfire, or you would have had to request Sky Lynx's presence, I would think. Ironhide?"

"His name got tossed around quite a bit before anyone knew. And still is, since there's not many who know the truth right now." Jazz and Prowl were both tackling the problem of making certain all the Autobots got out of the habit of even thinking 'Prime's Sparkling' here soon. It would be easier when they announced it was Sideswipe's with Sunstreaker, and made that the official story. No one wanted the 'Cons finding out about Prime's vulnerability, after all. "If I told ya Sideswipe went down in the same fight, does that help?"

Elita One stared at the spy as if he had just transformed into Shockwave or worse. "The twins? Or just one?"

"Takes both, million to one odds against it, and that's what kicked Prime in the aft."

"Of course. He would never be able to end a life that was begun against such odds." That awareness, and the love in Elita's voice, reminded Jazz that the two commanders did not get enough of each other's time despite how thickly bound to one another they were. He'd finesse the situation, if Chromia would agree with him, he decided.

"They came on the mission at Ratchet's urging. We won't be able to hide the new mech long, but we're trying to set it up to look like a special favor Ratchet's doing for them. The 'Cons finally caught on him and Sides are a thing, not that long ago, and they all know Ratchet never pays attention to the odds."

"Thus hiding the fact that it was possibly the Matrix involved, and keeping Optimus clear of it." Elita One nodded. "Given that no one truly believes Sunstreaker capable of the emotions I know him to share with Optimus."

"Yeah," Jazz answered that. He and Sunstreaker kept their distance, most of the time, because each one touched on far different parts of what Optimus needed to stay focused and centered. "Been thinkin' on the way here, Elita. It's going to hit him hard to watch that spark get framed." Jazz met her gaze squarely, a flicker in his energies telling her he knew all about the other hidden creation in the Autobot ranks. "If Chromia's okay with me staying on here, how about you go to Earth for a while?"

The leader of the resistance forces in their home system could not have been more at a loss for words than if Shockwave had sued for peace. She missed her spark-mate, and knew from his communications that he missed her. However…

"No, Jazz. It would not be fair to Chromia, Moonracer, or Firestar," Elita One answered him. "I will just enjoy the company you brought until your team leaves." She tipped her head just enough to acknowledge the secret he guarded, while thinking of the fine mech Ariel's creation had become.

"Guess I'll just have to put together a decent enough team to relieve you all, then, and let Skyfire make another run after this one," Jazz replied stubbornly. "Help me hammer out who?"

Elita One laughed sweetly, and reached to take his hand, squeezing it gently so she would not damage the more fragile mech. "You are too kind, Jazz. Yes, we will decide, for a temporary duty relief."

"That's more like it, 'Lita."