Sunstreaker heard the sound of large turbine engines well before he saw the planes. They were mammoth by human standards, and he tipped his helm to watch as they made a slow pass, then circled around for a landing.
The whole damn Autobot army, what was left of it, must have come.
“Relax, boy. Those are friends,” Sunstreaker said as Bob growled and scuttled around trying to put himself between the planes and the milling, curious hatchlings. Sunstreaker grinned at him. “Bob. Sit.”
Bob snorted, aft landing with an agitated thump in the dirt. He then began nudging any hatchling that came in range in front of him, crouching forward protectively over the chirruping little frames.
Sunstreaker shook his helm, then looked back as the engines began to wind down and the back ramp opened. He sighed in relief as Optimus Prime rolled out and transformed once he was clear of the plane.
“Sunstreaker, welcome.” Prime strode over, optics moving from the tarps, to the barrels, over the hatchlings, and finally… “What the frag?”
Sunstreaker snickered. “I have an explanation.”
“I sincerely hope so.”
Bob growled as Prime stepped closer. “Bob!” Sunstreaker snapped. The bug subsided with a grumble, four optics narrowed, antennas twitching, and swept another hatchling under his bulky frame.
Sunstreaker yelped as he was tackled. Thank fragging Primus, he didn’t land on any of the hatchlings. Bob was growling again, but Sunstreaker was busy being thoroughly kissed by his twin. He finally managed to grab Sideswipe’s head and push him up, and-
“The frag are you silver for?!”
“Gee, I love you too, Sunshine. Where the frag have you been, and why do you have an insecticon on a leash growling at me and collecting hatchlings?”
Sunstreaker pushed Sideswipe off of him, then noticed the little organics staring at them with wide eyes and stunned expressions. “Why’d you guys bring squishies along?”
“Sunstreaker!” Prime warned.
Sunstreaker sighed and rolled his optics. He used Sideswipe to stand, not so inadvertently shoving his twin back down. “You bring Ratch…et? Whoa…”
“Not a word, you glitch.”
“But you’re… chartreuse.” Sunstreaker ducked the swipe at his helm, and went to crouch by Bob who was eying the gathering mechs and humans warily. “Off the hatchlings, Bob. Off.” He tugged at Bob’s collar, and managed to lift one of the hatchings away. Bob seemed to take that as a sign, and finally freed his little captives. “They have sharp claws,” he called out, imagining just how well those little talons would accidentally shred soft human flesh.
“I don’t know what to ask you first,” Sideswipe said, crawling over to sit beside Sunstreaker. Bob growled as Sideswipe reached for a hatchling, but subsided when all the little one did was chirp and trill at the attention he was getting.
“Where’d ya get the bug?” Ironhide asked, plopped himself down, and scooped up a couple hatchlings. He growled right back at Bob, causing the insecticon’s antennas to twitch and his helm cock to the side.
“Where do you think?” Sunstreaker asked, but answered anyway. “Ugly landing on Risal Four. They’ve pretty much taken over that planet from what I saw. Spent a while running and hiding, then just trying to survive long enough for my self-repair to get me fixed enough to get me back out of the atmo. Found Bob by accident. Poor runt was wandering alone.”
“That’s a runt?” one of the humans asked.
Sunstreaker nodded, but it was Ironhide that answered. “Yeah. They’re usually a good twice that size.”
“Bigger on Risal,” Sunstreaker said. “Lots of space, plenty for them to eat. Fraggers are bigger than me. Think they got dumber though.” He reached out to rub Bob’s head. “Runt here’s smart though. He was surviving without the Swarm, but not terribly well. I thought he was just a lost youngling at first but he hasn’t gotten any bigger, and I feed him well.”
“That’s all great and all, and I don’t mean to sideline the reunion here,” the same human said, “but what the hell are we going to do with a bunch of Decepticons?”
“We will take them back of course,” Prime said. “You said twenty-three, Sunstreaker?”
“A number of them are rather sickly,” Ratchet said softly from where he was kneeling and scanning the hatchlings.
“I’ve fed them all three times now. There was a really weak little one- yeah him.” Sunstreaker smiled as the little hatchling chirped. “He’s active now at least.” Ratchet was nodding, but not swearing, and that made Sunstreaker nervous.
“Take them back?”
“Yes, Lennox,” Ironhide said, a slight growl of warning in his tone. “We will take them back because they are innocent hatchlings. We will raise them, and educate them, and love them.”
Sunstreaker shared a glance with Sideswipe, and grinned. Ironhide had five of the little bitlets climbing on him now, and they were both able to clearly remember when it was them scaling all that heavy black armor. They’d been a bit bigger and older the first time they’d run into the old guard, but he’d sat and patiently minded them until their caretaker had come for them. Sunstreaker also remembered how protective Ironhide had been of each orphan foundling the war had created.
“All right.” The human, Lennox, said, obviously familiar enough with Ironhide to know when not to argue. “And the.. uh… Bob? Is he dangerous?”
“Only when I need him to be.” Sunstreaker gave the human a barbed grin. “Might want to avoid him if I’m not around though.”
“These are our allies, Sunstreaker,” Prime said.
“Which is why I’m warning them about Bob being rambunctious sometimes.”
“We aren’t going to accomplish anything here,” Ratchet said, carefully gathering up some of the hatchlings. “Let’s get the hatchlings loaded and back to base.”
“This is going to be an adventure isn’t it?” Lennox asked, stepping closer to Ironhide to look at one of the hatchlings. He deftly stepped sideways out of the way of a clumsy, curious swipe. “Baby robots.” The human suddenly snickered. “Hey, Hide? Where do baby robots come from?”
Sunstreaker snickered, and glanced at his twin, then down. “Look who’s interested in you.”
“Pits! Tell me that’s not Screamer’s spawn,” Sideswipe said, picking the hatchling up. He chirped, tiny wing nubs wobbling happily.
“Think he might be.” Sunstreaker reached down and lifted a second be-wing-nubbed hatchling, and grinned as he grabbed Sunstreaker’s finger and began chewing on it.
“Slag. Ya know that’s gonna make me feel guilty about jet judo.”
Sunstreaker snorted. “Why? Not like you’ll be tackling these seekers out of the sky.”
Sideswipe shrugged. “True. But we don’t tell them. Ever.”
“I’ll tell them,” Ironhide grinned. “I’ll tell ‘em all the stories I know about you two glitches.”
Ratchet huffed. “Can we get back to the base before you idiots start divvying up the hatchlings you’re going to adopt? They all need a full check up, baths, fed, the works. And you two Pitspawn!” He pointed at Sunstreaker and Sideswipe. “A caretaker is supposed to be responsible.”
“Don’t you ‘aw Ratch’ me, you menace. The last thing we need are a bunch of hatchlings learning to act like you.”
“All right,” Prime cut in. “Let’s go home.” He had a half dozen hatchlings cradled in his large hands, optics sad, face set in that determined way that Sunstreaker knew from ages ago when the battle looked grim, but he was going to win it anyway. “The humans have a saying-”
“It takes a village,” Lennox said, smiling, and Prime nodded. He clicked the comm unit on his shoulder. “Get ready for take off, we’re loading up.”
I missed you, Sideswipe said over the bond, holding the little seekerlet hatchling close to his chest.
Sunstreaker smiled at him. Better have. He leaned over, ignoring more of those confused looks from the humans, and kissed Sideswipe again. “Bob. Come.” He stood and gave Bob’s leash a little tug. “You can guard the hatchlings on the plane.” He kept the little seekerlet in his hand held close too, and gave the little weak one Ratchet held a worried look too.
Maybe we can have him too? Sideswipe suggested, and Sunstreaker leaned his shoulder in against his twin. Primus, but he had missed having someone around that really knew him.
Hm. Us, the bug, two Screamer-spawn, and a sickly bitlet runt. Sunstreaker shrugged as they ducked down, then got comfortable next to one another in the plane. We’ve always been a weird family. Why stop now?
“I know what you’re thinking,” Ratchet said, sitting across from them, giving Bob a look as the insecticon plopped his aft next to him and snuffled at the hatchlings in the medic’s lap.
“So you’ll teach us all we need to know so we don’t break them?” Sideswipe asked, cheerful grin in place.
Ratchet rolled his optics, and heaved a dramatic sigh. “Yes. Not like I have a choice, do I?”
Sideswipe shook his head, and trilled at the hatchling he held, tickling his tiny belly. Sunstreaker chuckled, staring at Ratchet.
“Why are you chartreuse?” Sunstreaker lifted his hatchling up to nuzzle it, grinning at Ratchet as the medic growled. He was safe so long as he was holding the hatchling.
“Oh slag!” Sideswipe said suddenly. “We’re gonna have to think up a lot of names!”