Optimus Prime watched the little dog trotting so vigorously beside him. The ground shook in tiny earthquakes wherever one of his oversized feet hit the dirt next to the dog but Mojo wasn’t disturbed by it. He seemed quite calm and happy making his way along the track beside the Autobot’s new base. Optimus wasn’t sure how well the creature could see in the darkness. His own vision had adapted using virtual visual spectrum analysis to reveal every detail in the surroundings like it was daylight. Speaking of which, there was a large obstruction in Mojo’s determined way...

“Mojo, stop, swerve, tree-!”

THUMP

“Ike! Ike! Ike!” Mojo squealed, sitting back on his haunches and shaking his head. One of his front paws came up to rub around his head with quick swipes.

The dog’s nose and forehead had collided with the broad base of a tree as tall as Optimus himself. Afraid of hurting the dog more by pulling on the lead, Optimus had been too worried about the effect of the leash while the dog was in motion to stop him (he also wasn’t sure that if he pulled the leash to the side too hard he’d just pull Mojo’s head off altogether. In which case Sam would arrive back tomorrow to a dog in two pieces, a crying Ratchet, a manically disturbed Autobot Leader and a couldn’t-care-less Ironhide).

“I was telling you about the tree!” Optimus said, and shook his own head mournfully, watching the animal. “Are you okay? Nothing broken or off-line?”

“Urrrf,” Mojo hiccuped. He shook himself, stood up and started forward again.

Brave lifeform, takes a hit and keeps going, Optimus thought to himself as he took a monstrous step over the top of the tree, being careful to keep the leash from getting tangled up. His massive thigh made a distinctive whistling sound through the air as it cleared the tree like a hurdle. Mojo stopped, looking upwards curiously, ears twitching.

“Please listen when I say ‘stop’, alright? You obviously can’t see very well in the dark,” Optimus said down to him. Canine eyes looked up at him earnestly. Then Mojo started viciously scratching at his ear for a flea making ‘ugh, ugh, ugh’ sounds as his body shook.

“You know, that’s the sort of intelligent response I get from some of my troops when I give them serious advice,” he told the dog.

“Bark!”

“Exactly.”

“Urf, urf,” Mojo mumbled and stopped looking up. He glanced sideways, faintly seeing in the darkness a welcoming familiar shape. Oh yes! Just what he needed! He did a sideways hop closer to the much loved object. And lifted a hind leg.

“NO! Get off! Lubricate on the tree, for Primus’ sake, that’s what we’re out here for!”

Inside the hanger, Ironhide and Ratchet were strangling themselves with laughter. Ironhide was bent over, his head resting on the bench and weird squealing sounds of hysteria coming from his vocaliser. One of his fists thumped the bench repeatedly. Ratchet was in a similar condition. He was twisting one of his tools in both hands, trying to keep shrieks of laughter from escaping his body. Prime would definitely hear them. The two were watching and listening intently to what was happening outside using the monitoring system.

“I think we should be WALKING. Move it, c’mon,” Prime said testily. He gave the smallest bare minimum shove he could manage with the toe of his metal foot to the dog’s bottom. Mojo leapt three feet into the air and turned around, snapping and barking like crazy.

Prime winced, watching the dog bark and snap back and forth like a mad thing. The robot’s large gallant head lowered, blue optics focusing intently on the mad dog. “I am not apologising for touching your bottom. Get over it. And WALK, slag it. Sam said you could be silly, and we were not to put up with it.”

“BARKBARKBARKBARKBARK!” Mojo yapped.

“No tantrum! Stop it! That’s an order,” he said firmly.

“BARKBARKBARKBARKBARKBARKBARK!!”

“You need discipline, dog!”

“BARKBARKBARKBARKBARKBARKBARKBARK!!”

“Walk! Deactivate! Shut up!”

“BARKBARKBARKBARKBARKBARKBARKBARKBARKBARK!!”

“Oh, for god’s sake,” Prime growled desperately.

Optimus took two steps forward, leaned over, rested his head on the hanger roof with a sigh and put one hand over each audio receptor. He didn’t notice or see the sudden glare of twin headlights piercing the darkness. He did hear the screech of a car doing an emergency stop. Looking up cautiously, he thought it may have been Ironhide or Ratchet coming outside to help. Or laugh.

Captain Will Lennox had halted his government car and was standing next to the open car door. Speechless. His car’s headlights were illuminating the strangest scene he had ever witnessed in his life (and that DID include meeting the Autobots for the first time).

The giant flame-patterned Autobot Commander was standing with his hands over where Will thought his ears would be, and a tiny dog – a CHIHUAHUA – was yapping frantically around the Transformer’s feet, on a LEASH.

“Wha...? Uh, O-Optimus? What are you... doing? Is that a dog? WHERE did you get a dog – and WHY?” Will stumbled over his words. He had received an urgent call from the Autobot Ironhide needing to discuss ‘a very delicate matter’, and could the Captain kindly come as soon as possible tonight? It had sounded serious.

Prime slowly lowered his hands. The situation couldn’t get any worse, in his opinion. His optics dimmed. He wished he could be suddenly overcome by some kind of fainting sickness that would keep him off-line for the next human year. What utter embarrassment. His optics locked on the dog. It had stopped having a psychotic fit, at least. Mojo was sitting and panting.

Before Optimus could respond to the Captain’s question, Ratchet appeared at the hanger door, dragging Ironhide behind him by one shoulder. The bulky Weapons Specialist was having a convulsive fit. Only glitched snickering sounds were escaping from his vocaliser. Ratchet wasn’t much better off, but at least he could walk. His laughter was long, deep and hard.

“I don’t know what question to ask first,” Lennox muttered, taking in the entire situation, “What is going ON?” he said with more authority. He closed the car door with a thump.

Ratchet let go of Ironhide. The ground shook from the impact. Ironhide’s hands twitched and his air intakes wheezed.

“I am very sorry, Optimus. This was, of course; isn’t it always; Ironhide’s idea of a joke.” Ratchet guffawed. “He invited Captain Lennox over tonight. Just now, incredibly. And guess what he found?”

Optimus Prime covered his face with both hands. Will was sure he heard a sob of pain from the brave warrior.

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