[personal profile] ante_luce
Title: The Great Cybertronian Cookoff (Chapter 2)
'Verse: TFA
Characters: Ensemble
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: TF cussing. Double entendres.



”Hello viewers! Welcome to the second deca-cycle of our contestants’ Cookoff journey!”

“And this solar, we’re mixing things up with some special challenges.”

“Challenges, as in two.”

“Yes! Two challenges, two episodes in, are we sensing a theme here?”

“Indeed, and to round out that theme, our cooks will be working in pairs for both of these challenges.”

“Who will they be working with? You’ll have to keep watching to find out!”


As bots filed into the cooking arena, Bulkhead frowned at the screen, scratching his helm.

“Is it just me, or are there more of them now? That’s not how it works, is it?”

“Well, they said pairs, right? I think the new bots are their partners for this round.” Bumblebee said as he pointed at the viewer, and Sari popped up to hover closer to the screen as the camera panned over the newcomers.

”This is my brother, Huffer.”

“Beachcomber‘s a good buddy of mine.”

“My best friend, Lightbright!”

“Tapout and I go back vorns.”


“It looks like everyone knows their partner already. Ooh, who’s that with Jazz?”

“That’s Red Alert. She’s a good medic.” Ratchet paused whatever he was doing to look up and answer. “And pretty good friends with Jazz if he can get her to take a break from her team for this.”

”Red’s put me back together more times than I can remember.”

“Good luck to her. I got my servos full with this lot, I can’t imagine what it’s like having to deal with Guardsmechs like him all the time.”

Ratchet grumbled half-sparkedly, then growled as the last pair appeared on screen. While the other contestants either had Autobrands or were obviously civilians, these wore Decepticon purple. So far, the mech had only appeared onscreen in brief glimpses, either due to prudent editing or wariness on the parts of the camera bots, but logically things wouldn't stay that way as the show progressed. A tense air fell on the medbay as Ratchet carefully put his hands down flat on the counter before he broke something.

”General Strika has lead Team Charr ever since I was assigned to it.”

“Can’t believe they let the fragger on a cooking show. What kind of processor glitch thought that was a good idea?”

“The producers pitched it as a rehabilitation measure. A chance to participate on condition of information exchange and good behaviour. Oil Slick met those conditions. As did Strika, I presume.” Ultra Magnus gave a slight shrug. “It seems the appeal of the Cookoff transcends factions.”

When the medic’s scowl only grew darker, the Magnus sighed.

“Standard procedure means any criminal still serving their sentence should have inhibitor chips installed. And the show has other measures in place to handle any issues that arise.”

Bumblebee sat up straighter, intrigued. “Is that why Jazz is in the Cookoff? He’s undercover as himself in plain sight? That is the most ninja thing ever!”

“I have it on good authority that his entry was genuine. And the judges are not swayed by external influences.” Ultra Magnus replied stoically, and Ratchet harrumphed, finally ending his glowering contest with the screen.

“Then on their helms be it if everyone on that show turns to rust.”

= = =

“Ratchet.”

Ratchet snapped out of his half recharge at the low murmur, having drifted off after a long solar cycle (more a deca cycle, maybe two, but after a while a medic just gave up counting) of monitoring the mech still offline in his medbay. He lifted his helm, catching the visor of the Elite Guard mech now seated beside his patient.

Jazz lifted a finger to his lips, smiling faintly, and Ratchet responded by folding his arms and lifting an optic ridge interrogatively. Clearly the ninja was able to ghost in and out of wherever he pleased, whenever he pleased, which meant waking him up was deliberate. The black and white Elite Guard turned to the mech on the berth, then held an open box in front of the unconscious bot, fanning its contents with its lid, wafting an aroma that made Ratchet’s fuel tanks ping him insistently past the mech's olfactory sensor. When nothing happened, the medic huffed.

“Well, whatever you were planning, it didn’t work.”

“Was worth a shot.” Jazz didn’t seem fazed by his grumping. “Guess I need to pull out the big guns.”

Ratchet almost opened his mouth to demand what he meant when he caught sight of the monitors beside his patient. Monitors that showed an increase in processor activity for the first time since the mech’s repairs had been completed.

“What on Cybertron...”

Jazz had given those same monitors a pleased look and was now murmuring quietly into the mech’s audio. Ratchet stared at him as he sat back, giving the in stasis bot a contemplative look. Finally, the cyberninja met his confused gaze and handed him a datapad. Ratchet took it instinctively, still at a loss for words when Jazz rose to leave.

“I’m getting sent out again, so I won’t be able to hand that in. But he’ll know what to do with it.” The visored mech said, then turned to address Ratchet’s patient once more. “Deadline’s in two solar-cycles, mech.”

Jazz left and Ratchet reset his optics, then looked down at the datapad in his hand, scrolling through it before realising what he held and tucking the pad into his subspace.

“You heard him. I’d get a move on if I were you.”

And on the berth, Ultra Magnus’s optics slowly flickered online.

= = =

Back in the present, Ratchet shared a look with the Autobot Commander, the others too preoccupied by the show on screen (clearly some bots were only used to cooking solo, resulting in some rather entertaining antics) to pay attention to the two mechs.

“You realise you have a problem.”

“We all have our indulgences. I would like to point out that there were some very convenient benefits.”

Ratchet glanced very briefly at his other patient, muttering quietly. “Yeah. Convenient.”

= = =

Prowl had been carried in by a frantic Optimus a bare solar cycle after the Magnus woke up, in stasis but alive again somehow. It had taken all of Ratchet’s ability to be a cantankerous crankshaft and the fact that the black and gold mech was now located in the Magnus’s private medbay to chase off the researchers who came swarming after.

Prowl had no damage to repair, no injuries to coax into healing, nothing for a medic to do anything about except keep him fueled and wait for him to come online again. Ratchet had even bowed to superstition, reaching for the box Jazz had left, hoping against hope, and waved it in front of Prowl’s offline faceplates.

And nothing had happened.

= = =

Something of his thought process must have been obvious to Ultra Magnus, because the mech spoke again, quietly.

“Jazz made goodies, not miracles, Ratchet.”

“Just as well. Medical would never let him out of the kitchen otherwise.” Ratchet muttered dryly, and the Magnus only smiled.

“Speaking of which,” and here he raised his voice enough for the others in the room to overhear, “I distinctly remember Jazz dropping off some goodies earlier this deca-cycle, Ratchet.”

Ratchet pinned him with a glare, but Ultra Magnus’s words had already taken effect. Almost immediately, Bumblebee latched on to the medic, optics wide.

“Like the ones he made last episode? Come on Ratchet, don’t hold out on us.”

“Don’t be a sparkling about it, Bumblebee.”

“You want to try them as much as I do, Prowl.” Bumblebee shot back at the ninja, smirking, then tugged at Ratchet’s arm again. “Hey Ratch’, can zombies even eat normal food? Or do I need to keep my processors out of his reach?”

“If I were a ‘zombie’ and were compelled to dine on your cranial components, I would rather starve.”

“Hey!”

Before the sniping could go any further, Ratchet managed to untangle himself from the yellow mech and shove him forward, faceplanting him into Prowl’s berth, retrieving the treats from wherever he’d hidden them from certain conniving Magnuses while Bumblebee sputtered and flailed himself upright again.

= = =

Sari picked at her goodie cautiously. Her introduction to Cybertronian cuisine was progressing slowly under the careful watch of Ratchet. No one quite knew how her techno-organic internals would react to inorganic input, and it wasn’t like they could go ask Blackarachnia about her diet. But Ratchet had given her one, so it was probably okay to eat.

“These are nice and all, but I’m wondering if Gamma Ray didn’t have a point last deca-cycle. Jazz might have gotten lucky with that other mech messing up his dish so badly.”

“You’ve never had them fresh.” They turned to see Ultra Magnus contemplating his goodie, expression nostalgic. “Or-”

Abruptly, he realised he had a rapt audience and fell silent again. Optimus eyed the other mech and the curiosity radiating off his younger team members, then said, tentatively.

“Let me guess, it’s classified?”

“Very, very classified.”

Ultra Magnus replied with as much dignity as he could muster. Everyone else resigned themselves to not getting anything more out of the mech and turned their attention back to the show just in time to catch something being set dramatically on fire.

“Whoa! Did you see that? Pipes and his brother have some fancy tricks in their subspace!”

Bumblebee grinned in the way Ratchet and Optimus had come to associate with impending chaos induced processor aches, and Bulkhead nodded.

“That's pretty good teamwork right there. They must've worked together a long time.”

“Hah, so have we, right Bulkhead? Bet we could give those two a run for their credits.”

“Yeah.” The larger mech grinned at his friend, then glanced back up, nudging at Bumblebee to look at the viewer again. “Speaking of teamwork…”

”Well. I feel like a voyeur.”

Optimus choked, intakes seizing at the flat comment from one of the other contestants. On screen, the same brightly coloured femme who’d catcalled Chase last deca-cycle turned a sardonic look at the camera, smirking, a bowl propped up on her hip as she gestured at the pair behind her with a mixture coated spoon. Unlike Pipes and Huffer, whose method of teamwork involved lots of loud exclamations (Huffer) and quieter responses (Pipes), Jazz and Red Alert didn't seem to need words, communicating with glances and gestures, moving about their shared workspace without a single crash of bumped frames or knocked over pans.

“I’d say that it's an Elite Guard thing, but my big lug’s one of them too and so far? No dice.”

Flareup laughed as her partner turned a dramatically betrayed look on her.

“Wham! Pow! Right through the spark, femme!”

“Let me know when you can do what Jazz does, Warpath. Until then you're staying put right there where I won't trip over you.”


She blew him a kiss, and he sighed, going back to stirring the pot he held. And if no one saw the way Prowl smirked at the screen, well, that was his business and no one else’s.

= = =

Red Alert set an array of freshly washed utensils aside, taking a step back to dry her hands on her apron while her partner continued minding a pan of something on their stove. Windy perked up, sensing an opening, and sidled up to the red and white femme in an exaggerated manner. Red Alert on her part watched the host slink closer, a half smile on her face, picking up a mixing bowl, adding something before swapping it for one that Jazz handed her, the entire exchange taking place in one fluid motion.

“So, based on what our mech here had to say when we introduced you to our viewers, I take it you’ve seen a lot of Jazz?”

“You could.”


Her smile widened (and at the back of the little viewing party in Ratchet’s medbay, a certain visor seemed to narrow proportionately).

“Ooh, any deets you’d like to share?”

She laughed.

“Medic-Patient confidentiality, sorry.”

“Curses, Classified again!”


Snickering came from Sari, Bumblebee and Bulkhead, and suddenly Sari tugged the two other bots into a conspiring huddle, whispering to them. Optimus eyed them warily, keenly remembering another set of Sari whispers and resigning himself to asking anyway.

“What are you planning now?”

“Nothing?” She blinked wide innocent eyes up at him, then grinned. “I just think it would be nice to send Jazz something as a token of support. Let him know we’re rooting for him.”

He considered trying to stop them, but experience with his teammates and Sari told him they’d just find a way to do it without telling him unless something blew up in everyone’s faceplates.

“... Fine. Nothing that would get him disqualified.”

Sari beamed, then pulled out a datapad to scribble out notes and diagrams as her friends provided increasingly excited input. Optimus just sank down in his seat and tried to tune out the sound of their plotting.

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