“Congratulations young cadet. You’ve made it as an official medic for the Autobot alliance. Only a few have ever made it to your position, so be proud of yourself and work hard.”
Those had been the words from Highdrive’s commanding officer the moment he stepped out of the Autobot Academy for Medics – A.A.M. for short. The moment he graduated, Highdrive had been certain that he was going to land a position within the Elite Guard, training amongst the best of the best to serve his home planet, Cybertron.
As third in his class, he had nothing but a promising future ahead of him, until an incident within the academy dorms had cost him a far grater demotion than he had thought necessary. He had been clearing out his dorm room for the next occupant when some of his fellow students had suggested that they play one last prank on their teacher as a farewell gift. Highdrive had been reluctant at first, but not wanting to be the odd one out, he’d gone with them. The idea had been to liquify the classroom hallway from one end to the other. A harmless prank, right? He had never been so wrong.
Not only had they used energon – the very life fuel they all needed to survive – but the teacher had indeed slipped on the wet floor, tumbled out of a carelessly left open window, broke not only their entire right leg apart, but had hit their helm hard enough to cause a crack within their CPU. A security guard had heard the commotion, and before Highdrive could even think of turning to ask his so-called fellow classmates what they would do about the situation, he was the only one left behind in the entire building.
It took some heavy convincing from one of his other teachers to get him a lighter punishment than he knew he deserved, but at this point he supposed it was the best he could hope to. When he was told he was to be the assistant medic on a space bridge repair ship, he tried to convince himself that it was a learning experience. He would have preferred the stockade.
With a personal escort, probably to ensure that he didn’t try and make a break for it, Highdrive had walked into the hanger where the repair ship was waiting. It was big, there was no denying that, and old… very old. How the bots in control of the ship expected it to be able to fly was a question all on its own.
Transforming alongside his escort, Highdrive was handed off to the commanding medic he’d be serving under. An old rust bucket whose white and red paint job certainly looked like it had seen far better stellar cycles. Highdrive visibly flinched to himself, not wanting to think of what his mother would have said if she’d heard him think so ill of a bot he was supposed to learn from. It was only because of his status as a medical student that he’d been kept from getting a permanent smack on his name.
Walking up to the bot, Highdrive tried to hide a visible flinch as he held his servo out towards the older mech. In reality, their colours weren’t that different. Highdrive himself sported orange in place of the other mech’s red. In all the stellarcycles he’d spent at the academy, he’s noticed a similar scheme to all of them. He supposed that when it came to saving lives, something bright coming to the rescue was a sign of reassurance to the one awaiting assistance.
Right, that was what he had been supposed to do when he joined the academy. Save lives, not ruin them…
“Uh, it’s nice to meet you sir. My name is-”
“This the kid?” the mech before him grunted, ignoring the outstretched servo, focusing his attention solely on the bot beside him. Highdrive blinked, reigning in the urge to curl his servo into a fist as he lowered his arm back to his side. There was no doubt that the mech had heard all about Highdrive’s reason for joining – if you could call it that.
His escort nodded, and with a muttered ‘good luck’ in the old bot’s direction, turned on his ped and casually strode off, only seeming to glad that Highdrive wasn’t his problem to deal with anymore. Unlike his fist, his distain at the thought couldn’t be hidden from displaying itself on his faceplate.
“Better learn to grind your dentals here kid, or you aren’t going to last long,” were the mech’s first words to him as he turned and went back over to what Highdrive assumed to be an exterior control panel. Assumed being the key word. He could name each and every single component of a bot – even a Decepticon’s because of the few specimens from the war they’d been allowed to study – and give a list of their functions and possible malfunctions, but to take care of a ship? Surely the medic didn’t expect him to learn to do that too, did he?
Shaking his thoughts free from his CPU, Highdrive found himself jogging after the mech. “Y-Yes sir!”
“Sir, huh?” the other bot mused, stopping momentarily as a pair of pinchers revealed themselves from his forearm. It took all Highdrive’s self-control not to ask how long the other had his medical upgrade. Highdrive had been scheduled to receive his within the next week, or he would have, if the whole ordeal with his teacher hadn’t happened. Goodbye upgrade. “Haven’t heard that in a long time.”
“Is… is it a problem, sir?” Highdrive asked, shifting on his peds a little unsurely. “I could-”
“No. No… it’s fine. It shows you at least have some form of respect left in you,” the mech said, getting to work on the panel. Highdrive knew he failed at keeping the smile off his lips, taking the other’s words as a compliment, whether they were meant to come across that way or not.
“My name is Highdrive, sir. I’ll be looking forward to learning from you.”
“Ratchet,” the old bot introduced himself, frowning as he concentrated on his current task.
“That’s a pretty cool name,” Highdrive said, his smile growing until Ratchet’s blue optics focused on him, a clear, silent warning within them. He found himself taking a step back, yelping when he lost his footing and fell back onto his aft over an open toolbox carelessly left on the floor. As careless as freshly spilled energon in a dark hallway.
“Hey, watch it!” Ratchet scolded. Highdrive flinched, assuming the glare to be fixated on him until the floor began trembling as another bot, nearly three or four times his own size came bouncing over like a spry scraplet.
“Sorry Ratchet,” the bot said, one of his peds narrowly avoiding stepping on Highdrive’s digits. Yanking them away just in time almost had his spark stop. Breathing through his vents, Highdrive tilted his helm back far enough to study the army-green mech. From his build, he had probably enlisted in the military, though his supposed clumsiness left much to thought.
“Saying sorry won’t fix this ship if you break another welding wrench – again,” Ratchet hissed through gritted dentals. The bigger bot lowered his helm in shame before his own traditional Autobot blue optics whirred as they zoomed in on Highdrive’s faceplate.
“Oh, hey there! You must be the new bot,” the bulky bot said, now fully focused on, well, ‘the new bot’ as he put it. “Here, let me help you up,” and before Highdrive could even think to protest, he was yanked onto his peds by a lightly throbbing arm. He made a mental note to check his arm over for any possible dents later. “Sorry if I scared ya. I’m Bulkhead.”
“H-Highdrive,” Highdrive said, managing a nervous smile as his servo subconsciously rubbed over the previously grabbed area. Yup, there were definitely a couple of dents he’d need to buff out when he got the chance. “And no worries.”
That seemed to be enough to satisfy Bulkhead, if his smiling jawline was anything to go by. A nano sec later, he was blinking, all giddy again like a sparkling overdosed on sweetened energon. “Oh, you haven’t met Bee yet! Come on, I’ll introduce you!”
Before Highdrive could blink, he was swept up by the large Autobot and taken inside the old ship like some guest of honour. The tight squeeze holding him in place against Bulkhead’s frame was enough to warn him not to get on the other’s bad side.
“Hey Bumblebee! The new bot’s here!” Bulkhead excitedly announced as he took them into what seemed like the command room. In the commander’s chair was a slim, yellow, and grey mech, taking a stasis nap. He couldn’t be the commander, could he? Not wanting to risk upsetting his new superior on his first day, Highdrive took the plunge.
“Uh, it’s g-good to meet you, sir,” Highdrive managed to wheeze out.
“Sir?’ both Bulkhead and the smaller bot – Bumblebee – repeated, blinking at him in surprise as if he had just told them he himself was their commanding officer. Highdrive flinched, instantly regretting his assumption.
“Are you not the commander?”
“Pft, no,” Bumblebee sneered, casually flipping his peds up on the dashboard. All too comfortable with occupying the commanding seat, despite his lack in both title and possibly qualifications.
“Then why are you…?” Highdrive trailed off after noticing the way Bumblebee’s optics seemed to darken. A sore spot. A wound better left untouched. “Noted…”
“So, what frag-up got you here?” Bumblebee asked, getting to his peds, and resting his servos on his hip plating once Bulkhead deemed it safe to release his hold on Highdrive.
“I’d… rather not talk about it, if you don’t mind,” Highdrive admitted, pretending to find an interest in dust that decided the corner was a good place spot to begin its invasion.
Bumblebee casually shrugged his shoulders, pulling over a mop and bucket from who knows where, and shoved them right into Highdrive’s servos. “You’re on clean up duty. Doc bot says we gotta get this old dump clean before the new Prime gets here.”
Highdrive blinked. “Prime?”
“Uh, yeah,” Bumblebee frowned, arching an optic ridge in question, “do you not know what a Prime is?”
“Of course I know what a Prime is,” Highdrive found himself hissing back, earning a surprised blink from the shorter mech. All Cybertronians knew what Primes were. He’d have had to online on some far away organic planet to not know about something so simple about their planet’s culture. Slag, even the Decepticons knew what a Prime was, even if they themselves haven’t been around for eons after the war ended with the Autobots coming out on top. Breathing air out through his vents, Highdrive straightened himself out. “Why is a Prime coming here though? Is there some inspection or something?”
“Nope. Doc bot said he got demoted or something. That he’s lucky to still keep his title after whatever he did,” Bumblebee hummed, casting a glance up at Bulkhead, “though I guess we all are.”
Highdrive didn’t dare ask as he looked to the two objects in his servos. He had no idea Bumblebee could be so right.
Published by Fang Wolfsbane