[personal profile] ante_luce
Title: Presents (2/2)
'Verse: TFA
Characters: Ensemble.
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: TF cussing.



“Jazz... escaped?”

Optimus stared at the bots in front of him, torn between morbid curiosity and the sinking feeling that a massive processor ache was about to be inflicted on him.

“... Why would he need to escape?”

A certain pair of giftwrapped limbs came to mind, and Optimus tamped down on that train of thought immediately. He might not be able to look at Jazz in quite the same way as before, but there was nothing connecting one to the other, and there never would be, if he had anything to say about it.

“I’d like to know why they think Jazz of all mechs booked it without a word to anyone. ‘Cos honestly, I’m expecting him to be offline somewhere and zombies or worse to come banging on that door right about now.”

Bumblebee crossed his arms, looking a little on edge, and Optimus supposed he was right. If there had been some threat that Jazz couldn’t handle on his own, it was not like the Guardsmech to simply run away without warning anyone. Unless he couldn’t. The researcher briefing them shook his head.

“Nothing so far-fetched as that. Simply put, Elite Guard Jazz was a test subject for a series of experimental modification units being developed by the Ministry of Science. It appears there have been some adverse effects.”

“Adverse. Effects.”

The way Mainframe flinched at Ratchet’s growl was strangely satisfying, and Optimus couldn’t help but let the medic menace the other bot a little longer before stepping in to ruin Ratchet’s fun move the briefing along.

“Could you explain?”

Mainframe nodded, scrolling through a datapad as he spoke.

“The mod unit was designed to enhance physical reflexes and sensory data processing to the point of instinct. A combat upgrade, if you will. But digital simulations indicated that processing the amount of input required to reach any significant level of ability would overwhelm the test subjects, sending them into processor shock and emergency shutdown.”

“Obviously you found a solution.”

Ratchet’s acidic tone made the mech pause, optics flickering nervously before he continued.

“... Yes, of course. It was serendipitous, actually. One of our research assistants observed that the average mecha-animal managed to cope with their instincts without the kind of debilitating stress we were observing in the simulated test subjects.”

“I said my pet petrorabbit could manage its instincts just fine, and it has a CPU about as complex as silica gel. There was also a lot more swearing involved.”

One of the other bots piped up, then faded back into the little huddle of researchers at Mainframe’s glare. Optimus hid his grin as Mainframe faced him and his teammates once more.

“Unwravelling mecha-animal programming was a complicated affair. Eventually we created a software package, actually, several different packages based on various species, depending on the desired enhancements, that would theoretically allow for the test subject to utilise the mod safely. Guardsmech Jazz’s ability to cope with new and unusual circumstances is well documented, and made him a prime candidate for successful mod integration. While matters of processing and programming are not always predictable, what happened next fell far out of the realms of calculated possibilities.”

That last sentence was said in a rush, with a datapad held defensively in front of Mainframe’s chest, and Optimus wanted very badly to turn and see the look on Ratchet’s faceplates. Instead he spoke in what he felt was an extremely reasonable tone.

“And what does this have to do with Jazz ‘escaping’? I assume he was a willing volunteer.”

The silent ‘Or else’ hung in the air for a long moment, before the petrorabbit owner cracked.

“The mod integrated too well! It’s overtaken his conscious processing and now he thinks he’s a cybercat! I turned away for a moment and he got into the vents. Oh Allspark, how did he get into the vents?!”

As one, Optimus, Ratchet, Bumblebee and Bulkhead slowly tilted their helms upwards to look at the vent in the ceiling, until this moment presumably too small for anyone not a minibot to enter.

“Okay, my processors hurt now.” Bulkhead mused, then shook his head in confusion. “This seems pretty serious, so why are we here instead of Sentinel?”

“Jazz’s abandonment-”

Another growl (this one from Bulkhead) cut Mainframe off again, and the mech paused, eyeing the way the large bot loomed suddenly.

“Ahem. Jazz has demonstrated remarkable loyalty to you and your team. We believe that this would aid in your recovery of the mech. The project team would rather avoid bringing Sentinel Prime’s attention to the matter and distracting him from his duties as acting Magnus.”

Bumblebee smirked.

“Yeah, he’s a pain in our afts too. But seriously, cybercat? No wonder he managed to give you the slip. You made a ninjabot even more ninja. What were you thinking?”

Petrorabbit bot laughed, sounding a little hysterical.

“Considering the other mods being developed used Nosoron and Ursanokor programming, we were thinking that giving him laser trigger aggression and the ability to punch through walls would be a bad idea.”

= = =

The Cyber-Ninja Dojo was an ordinary, nondescript structure, befitting the nature of the training taking place within. Parts of it were still under construction, and after having sat through one too many gripe-fests about the rebuild, Prowl had (perhaps unwisely) offered to assist Dai Atlas with the project. Dai Atlas in return declared it ideal for Master Yoketron’s last student to take up his legacy and handed everything over with undisguised glee (Jazz had made a pithy comment about skid marks).

Optimus felt a little guilty as he reached the building where Prowl was spending most of his cycles. The other mech had his hands full overseeing the reconstruction, but even with Ratchet checking Jazz’s known haunts, and Bulkhead and Bumblebee searching with Sari (Jazz had always had a soft spot for their techno-organic friend), they needed all the help they could get while keeping things discreet.

Finding Jazz when he did not want to be found could get arduous, depending on how fond he was of you that cycle, and that was when the mech was firing on all cylinders. Even with the research team’s tracker (”A tracker? In a highly experimental, one-of-a-kind mod that took too many decacycles and even more credits to develop and build? Of course I put a fragging tracker in it.”), Optimus did not have very high hopes of locating the white and black mech before the cycle was out.

Or, the Prime thought to himself, resigned to a universe that delighted in laughing at him and his plans, he could find their missing Guardsmech lounging around without a care in the world in the next building he walked into.

//Prowl, don’t move.//

//Optimus?//

The other ninja sounded curious, but stayed put, blueprints for the construction currently taking place projected onto the table in front of him. Beside Prowl, Jazz lolled, seemingly fascinated by the hologram in front of them. On his helm, the white audial mods the researchers had installed flicked, for all intents and purposes appearing exactly like cybercat ears.

//How long has Jazz been here?//

//Not long, he drifted in a decabreem ago. Why?//

//He’s not well. Did he say anything about testing mods to you?//

//He’s mentioned it. I’m assuming his new features have something to do with that.//

//Can you restrain him? Those mods he’s got installed did something. He’s not in his right mind right now.//

Prowl looked up at Optimus, startled, then glanced warily at the mech half splayed out on the table. Carefully, he reached for Jazz, slowly letting his hand rest on the other ninja’s back, and even from the doorway Optimus could hear the contented humming coming from the mech. Prowl’s hand moved higher, about to take a better grip on Jazz’s frame, when the Guardsmech rose sharply, cybercat ears pricking, focused on something neither Optimus nor Prowl (considering the confused look on his faceplates) could sense.

Then he darted off, leaping for the unfinished construction, flickering from scaffolding to wall to exposed beam in a flash of white. Optimus vented air slowly, scrubbing at his face with one hand.

“Frag. They weren’t kidding about those enhanced reflexes.”

“Optimus, what is going on?”

“Jazz thinks he’s a cybercat, courtesy of the Ministry of Science. We’ve been tasked with retrieving him, hopefully before he gets into too much trouble.”

The flat look he got from his friend made him sigh again.

“I swear I’m telling the truth. I don’t think I have enough imagination to make something like this up. Come on, at least we know where he is now. All that’s left is to coax him down and back to the labs.”

A sudden shout made them both look in the direction of the construction, optics flaring bright with shock. Part of the scaffolding had given way, right under one of the builders working on the project. Immediately they began to run, knowing that they wouldn’t get there in time. The bot fell with a scream, only for their helplessly grasping arm to be caught by a white hand.

“Jazz.”

Prowl took off upwards, just as the white mech peering curiously at his rescued bot dropped them onto more stable footing. As the worker wobbled their way to safety, babbling gratitude to the ninja watching him with a distant, incognizant gaze, Optimus raised his voice, calling out to the workers who’d stopped to watch in horror.

“Alright, I think work’s done until someone can check the supports. Build bots, you can take the rest of the cycle off, okay?”

The construction team nodded, packing up and hurrying past the Prime, clustering around their colleague reassuringly. Optimus stood at the bottom of the build site, looking up at where Prowl was perched and higher, where Jazz swayed on something that should not have been stable enough to hold him.

“Hey Optimus. We followed the tracking frequency here. Have you seen- ooohhh frag.”

“Yeah.”

Optimus looked over his shoulder at the bots joining him, shrugging helplessly. Above them, Prowl had reached the same height as Jazz, who sat back on his haunches, balanced on his toes, apparently considering the several storey drop that separated him from the black and gold ninja. Bumblebee covered his face with his hands, peeking through his fingers with dread, chanting softly under his breath.

“Don’t jump don’t jump fraggit Jazz you’re still a mech you’re not gonna make that-”

Jazz jumped, and the yellow mech squeaked as all those watching felt their intakes seize.

“Well. He made it.”

“At the expense of a few vorns off my functioning span!”

“Looks like Jazz’s got nine of those now.”

Sari laughed, sounding dizzy with relief, then fired up her jetpack to fly up to the two ninjas.

= = =

Prowl stared at his friend as Jazz sidled closer. That humming started up again, and he recognised it as Jazz’s equivalent of a purr as Sari joined them.

“How are we gonna get him down?”

She whispered, hovering by Prowl’s shoulder as the Guardsmech looked at her, helm tilted curiously. One hand lifted, as if to bat at her, and she hovered preemptively out of reach, not wanting to get swatted out of the air. It wouldn’t hurt, she was high up enough to catch herself before hitting the ground if it did happen, but then everyone would be upset, especially Jazz once he got his mind back.

“I could knock him out and carry him down, but I don’t know if any of the other supports are unstable right now and our combined weight would increase the risk of falling.”

“I could get him to chase me and lead him down that way? Eep!’

While they’d been plotting, Jazz had drawn closer, unnoticed. There was a happy sounding chirp, and the white mech headbutted her gently, nuzzling the little techno-organic girl affectionately as she giggled and squirmed away.

“I don’t think he’s going to chase you, Sari.”

Prowl murmured, sounding amused, then went impossibly still as Jazz pressed his whole frame against him, cat-like, purring even louder. Sari grinned, sly and knowing.

“Well, he might chase you instead. That’s what cats that like each other do, don’t they? I bet he’d chase you alllll the way to the labs.”

“Jazz and I are just friends, nothing more. He’d just as likely get distracted by something shiny along the way and lose interest.”

“Yeah, that’s real ‘just friends’ right there.”

The young femme replied dryly, gesturing at the white mech practically welded to Prowl’s side, purring up a storm. He replied, just as dry.

“He’s also not in his right mind, if you haven’t noticed.”

“So make your move when he is.”

The black and gold ninja gave her an exasperated look, then nearly fell over when Jazz licked his cheek and sauntered away. Sari burst out into laughter again, sinking to the floor, gasping for air.

“Prowl, your face!”

“We need to go after him.”

Prowl responded shortly, striding quickly after the Guardsmech. Still giggling, Sari followed, but even with her flight capabilities and Prowl’s skills, Jazz still managed to slip away, vanishing amongst the buildings like a ghost.

= = =

Sentinel Prime slouched in his chair, venting air slowly. It had been a strangely quiet cycle. Perhaps someone had seen him going to Ultra Magnus’s private medbay and put out the word that he shouldn’t be disturbed. Not that he would have minded. Ultra Magnus wasn’t much of a conversationalist at the moment. But still Sentinel visited, sitting by the Magnus’s berth, sometimes talking to the unconscious mech just to fill the silence.

The door slid open, startling him. Sentinel gave the mech who wandered in a stern, admonishing glare, but Jazz didn’t seem fazed, which was about as much effect as his glares usually had on the cyberninja. Sentinel sighed and leant back in his chair again, waving a hand at Ultra Magnus’s still form.

“No change. The medics say he’s stable, but that’s it.”

Jazz didn’t say a word, but held out a worn looking datapad. Sentinel took it almost automatically, then looked properly at the item.

“This… I recognise this. It belongs to Ultra Magnus. Jazz.”

The blue mech glanced up at his subordinate in askance.

“Do I want to know how you got this?”

He got no reply as the white mech circled the room, then settled on Ultra Magnus’s other side, visor lighting upon the bowl of alloy-apples on the berthside table. There was a pleased sounding hum, and Sentinel stared some more.

“Right, you’re being weird. Business as usual then. Frankly the cycle you act normal will be the one I drag you off to the medics. And what is that on your hel-”

Jazz interrupted him by reaching across the Magnus to bat imperiously at the datapad in Sentinel’s hands.

“This is the Magnus’s private property, I can’t just open it.”

Another bat, this time knocking the pad out of Sentinel’s grip. He fumbled but caught it, turning it on in the process.

“Oh, it’s a bookfile. You could have just told me.”

Sentinel glared at the mech now sprawled over Ultra Magnus’s chest, with the same amount of non-effect as before.

“I should have thought of bringing one. There’s only so much talking to an offline bot you can do and I was going out of my processors sitting here in silence. And you realise that is incredibly inappropriate?”

Jazz only arranged himself more comfortably on top of the Magnus, arms folded under his chin, staring at Sentinel expectantly. The other mech gave up, turning to the bookfile he’d been given.

“I’ll just... start reading then.”

= = =

He’d gotten through about two chapters (who’d’ve thought the Magnus would like sappy romance stories?) when the humming registered. Turning to look at Jazz, about to hiss at the ninja to keep it down, he registered another, more pertinent thing. Ultra Magnus’s optics were slowly flickering online.

“Magnus?”

Sentinel breathed, and Jazz’s humming grew louder. The previously unconscious mech stirred, limbs stiff from disuse, and Sentinel stood, sending a frantic comm. to the medics as he leant over his commanding officer.

“Sir?”

“Sentinel Prime.”

Ultra Magnus’s voice was rough and staticky as the mech tried to sit up, but was stopped by the purring weight draped over his frame. Tilting his helm as much as he could in his position, the Magnus stared at his captor, then dropped his helm back against the berth.

“Why is Jazz on my chestplates?”

Sentinel Prime could only shake his head in helpless confusion.

“I have no idea, sir.”

= = =

As the Magnus’s primary medic, Ratchet had been first on the scene. Taking one look at the tableau of Magnus, Prime and ninja arranged in front of him, he pointed at Sentinel, told him to contact Optimus for an explanation, then proceeded to examine the Magnus as best he could with a certain white and black annoyance in the way. After determining that the mech would keep for a while without further medical treatment, he stepped back and stopped. Ultra Magnus was slowly petting a very contented looking ninja’s helm. Ratchet wasn’t even sure if the Magnus knew he was doing it.

“So. Has Optimus explained what’s going on with Jazz?”

He got two slightly stunned nods, then jerked a thumb at the door.

“I’m going to keep watch for the research team, you two keep your optics on Jazz here. We’ve had to hunt for him all over the city once and I don’t want to have to do it again.”

And with that, Ratchet stepped outside, leaving them to their own devices. As the awkward air in the room grew, Ultra Magnus quietly cleared his vocaliser.

“I always wanted a cybercat.”

“Oh?”

“Yes. But the life of a Magnus, you know.”

“Mm, not much time for pets.”

“No, not much time for anything but being the Magnus.”

The two mechs eyed the white ninja purring away contentedly on Ultra Magnus’s chestplates. The Magnus stopped petting him behind those curious audial mods, experimentally, and a protesting chirr informed him that he had been conscripted into head scritching duty for the foreseeable future. Sentinel coughed slightly.

“But even without that mod controlling him, Jazz was already pretty cybercat like, I guess.”

“I’ve noticed.” The Magnus replied, optics fixed on the ceiling.

“The silent watching from high places.”

“The appearing out of nowhere without anyone hearing.”

“The humming when he’s pleased about something.”

“The presents.”

“Allspark, the presents. It’s definitely a thing, then?”

Ultra Magnus sighed as Jazz purred louder, as if he understood they were talking about him.

“Be glad we only have one of these, and that he likes us.”

(no subject)

Date: 2017-05-09 05:05 pm (UTC)
wicked3659: (Default)
From: [personal profile] wicked3659
This is the cutest thing ever!

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