“What do you see?” Barricade wasn’t sure what prompted him to ask the question aloud. Longest night of the year, clear skies, with a not inconsiderable chunk of the universe spread above them. Stars, planets, all the weird things out there. More likely than not he wouldn’t understand the Seeker’s answer. Jetfire was in love with physics again. In love with the stars. First Aid had said that of all of Galvatron’s first clutch, Jetfire and Jazz were enjoying their second hatchling-hood the most, but Jetfire was nearing his last molt and was getting…restless.
Jetfire blew superheated steam from his helm vents. “Just a protoplanetary disk,” he said. “We were to leave those alone, tag ‘em for future reference. But they’re pretty.”
“Hum. Yes, as a matter of fact.”
“That is a particularly nice one.” Barricade huffed a little at Jetfire’s surprise. Just because he’d spent the last several thousand years as a hatchling caretaker didn’t mean he didn’t know anything about other stuff.
“Want to see it up close?”
“…Not at this exact second……..” Barricade felt a chill in his spark. Had Jetfire’s teleportation systems matured already? Jetfire narrowed his optics, and his face took on an abstracted, calculating cast, and there was a rising hum of systems spooling up…
An abrupt, thunderous WHOOSH! and the sharp, warped whine of the universe twisted hard then released – and Jetfire vanished!
Reappearing directly behind Barricade! Even halfway prepared for it, Barricade jumped a little, spinning around as Jetfire gave a jubilant whoop and bounced about, waving his long arms and shouting. (Barricade, Jetfire knew, had no idea how much harder short jumps were than respectably long ones; curving your trajectory tight and precise in the wild, hot turbulence of otherspace, and then pinning your landing. Long jaunts were fairly easy, especially if you weren’t picky about your exit coordinates, aside from not inside something else, which was actually hard-coded and autonomic anyway.)
Oh Primus. Barricade shuttered his optics. “Please be careful.” Was it any use? Jetfire wasn’t Hot Rod, or Air Raid, or Skywarp, so maybe. Skywarp, oh Pit, Skywarp was going to have fits until he got his own systems running, please Primus let Starscream be able to keep him out of disaster…
Jetfire lanced a scan through him; nothing like First Aid’s gentle medical scans, this was a harsh, actinic probe, meant for vast distances or peering into the depths of gas giants, almost knocking Barricade back a step. Jetfire loomed over him.
“I’ve been knocking around the universe since before the stars were born whose deaths created the metals that make up your body,” he said, grinning. This was – probably – an exaggeration.
“Not in that body you haven’t,” Barricade snapped, and Jetfire cackled, capering about. Again the rush of collapsing airspace, and there bang! was Jetfire, 30 meters away, optics alight. Here! There! Near! Far! The echoes overlapping into a staccato roar that shook the trees at the edge of the field. Until finally Jetfire appeared, wobbled, fell over still laughing, kicking his broad feet in the air. Barricade hurried over, calling First Aid.
“All right?” he asked the big jet, laying a hand on an outflung arm. Jetfire’s fingers curled up around Barricade’s wrist.
“Wooooaaaah! That knocks the old rust right out!” Jetfire exulted, fans running high. “Finally! Feel like meself again.”
“Good, but don’t overdo it your first day.” Barricade knew that feeling, though, of a body not right for a long time, and then at last getting back to full function. Not that his two years alone with the surviving Fallen hatchlings was a fair comparison, really. Jetfire had endured seven thousand years of growing up all over again – he was indeed among the hatched rather than Allspark-kindled – with a spark that remembered a universe full of wonders and horrors. Adult minds in children’s bodies, and hadn’t that caused six kinds of merry havoc over the vorns.
“Aww, ye called the doc on me. That’s low.” Jetfire didn’t get up, though, even as First Aid rolled to a stop and transformed, followed closely by two jets landing lightly – and wisely behind him.
“I wish you had waited,” First Aid murmured, scanning thoroughly, but also placing a hand on Jetfire’s chest, above his spark. “I know it’s hard, though. How do you feel?”
“A little solar wind outta my sails,” Jetfire said fondly. “Other than that, I’m all right.” He rolled onto his side, the hand curled around Barricade’s wrist sliding up to clasp his shoulder. “Bear.” He stood, staggered, braced himself willingly enough on Barricade and First Aid’s shoulders (as the two jets fluttered about, both trying to get
in the way in closer to help,) then stood firmly, rolling his shoulder gimbals and stretching out his long hands. “Recovery rate 87.3 percent of nominal! Not bad, not bad…”
Silverbolt wrapped his arms around Jetfire from behind, resting his helm on Jetfire’s shoulder. They were nearly of a height, and would be, once Silverbolt’s growth caught up. They were the same general frametype, though Silverbolt tended to favor bright armor to Jetfire’s dark.
“What are you doing?” Starscream blustered, climbing Jetfire’s front, putting his arms proprietarily around Jetfire’s neck. “You can’t leave yet.”
“Soon, Jetling,” Jetfire said, nuzzling Starscream’s forehelm.
“I’m not a jetling, I’m your commanding officer.” Starscream’s pedes dangled a good two spans off the ground.
“Yes, sir,” Jetfire murmured. “Give me a course, Commander.”
“Not yet, slaggit!” Starscream sunk his claws in, not to be dislodged by anything so trivial as physics.
“Soon, though,” Jetfire said, optics gentle. “Soon.”