Mirage was sufficiently glad to be released from hospital that he did not remark on the nomination of Soundwave's bunker as 'home'. Thundercracker used the glyph, Skywarp made a face but did not object, and they were collectively back under the Host's peds before Hook had stopped sulking. The noble would have laughed at the sight of a petulant crane but it was never wise to incur a medic's ire.
Several of the next cycles Mirage spent in recharge. Tempest savaged one of his pillows when it offended him then had a lovely time making stuffing snow, which got into everyone's vents. Certain cassettes were blamed for teaching him that trick. Even Skywarp made the effort to scold the sparkling. He got a 'bah' for his attempt and a 'shoo' hand wave. Vid of which was sent to Starscream as proof of paternity.
Starscream was not amused. He came over to rant at his trine, was evicted by Soundwave shortly and so took his fellow Seekers flying to continue his diatribe. Mirage savoured the blissful quiet left by their departure by doing some work reading then some leisure reading when his processor began to lag then some staring at the wall when the glyphs ceased to have any meaning.
Deployers brought his energon and cold packs for his helm. Rumble shared a haberdashery catalogue from Earth, where at least one textile mill was enthusiastically prepared to take Decepticon money. Mirage contemplated several purchases now he had a nominal income. They had Cybertronian sized quilts available.
They also had hooded towels with superhero logos, which were apparently the height of bathing luxury. Frenzy had arm-wrestled his way to the coveted Wonder Woman one. The star spangled trim glowed in the dark, making it the best. The runner-up was the faction-loyal purple the Phantom though opinion was divided as Ariel had sparkle filaments in the mermaid tail. Mirage had a nap after that discussion.
He rebooted to a soft conversation; an occurrence so unusual among Decepticons he thought it was a recharge flux. Recalibrating his audials, Mirage turned towards his berthroom door. It was slightly ajar with a pair of blue optics peeking in at him. He gestured permission for entry as he sat up to greet with surprise Skyfire of all mecha.
"I apologise if I disturbed you." The shuttle could fit relatively comfortably in the room as it was sized for warframes. The chair was inadequate but he wasn't so rude as to seat himself without invitation regardless. "I have been paroled to Soundwave's supervision and thought I should apprise you of the development personally. I have been told I was cleared rather expeditiously."
"There are extenuating circumstances, I believe." Mirage removed his covers and stood to bring them into a more equable social register. Skyfire's manners had not suffered from a prolonged war. Looming over someone in their berth was an awkward conversational setting. "Are you well?"
"Yes, quite functional." The scientist smiled gently. "If boggled." He hesitated. At this point either of them should offer the other refreshment but as both of them were guests, and Mirage was technically a guest of a guest, any offer would be presumption.
"Relocate to lounge." Soundwave suggested from the doorway. He didn't sound amused. He wouldn't sound amused even if he were amused. Mirage suspected he found them risible. They relocated however. The chairs would fit at least.
There was tumult from the games room down the hall but with the door shut it was muted to dull crashes and outraged murmuring. Something about health packs and platinum ammo Mirage was content to not learn about. The detail of the closed door was interesting. He and Skyfire were alone. There would be surveillance, inescapably there would be surveillance, however the illusion of privacy was a courtesy he suspected.
"What is the crisis on Earth?" The noble asked after the small-talk. Mirage tried to put the shuttle at his ease and doubted he had succeeded. Something was very wrong indeed.
"There is a malaise." Skyfire explained imprecisely. "Ratchet and the other medics are trying to be more exact but the symptoms vary and there is little consistency in presentation beyond an escalation to serious complications." He frowned, shifting in his chair. It did not creak. "There are theories. Jazz was a significant proponent of an unorthodox one. He defied Prowl to come to Cybertron to gather intel. The rest of the Command officers did not wish to provoke the Decepticons."
"Soundwave has a theory. There's been some research." Not enough at a standard the Autobot scientists would consider rigorous. "Some of it is speculation, much along lines Jazz would credit. He believes in esoterica, as much as he believes in anything." Belief enough to run an unauthorised mission. "Have you spoken to Ratchet since your capture?"
"Not yet." There was speculation in his tone or perhaps abstraction. He was obviously worried. "There has been some mention of spark fluctuations, though existing bonds mask that somewhat. Finding a control group has been difficult. Communication lines are erratic."
"It's the Ark mecha. The ones who were in stasis. The Aerialbots and Dinobots would be unaffected. New arrivals too." Mirage shared what intel he had, aware it would seem scanty to the scientist. "I am sure the Decepticons have a more refined hypothesis. Several, probably. It appears to be proximity induced resonance."
"From your long stasis, yes, possibly." Skyfire mused. Very much not his field. It was a trope. Everyone would like to think there was a spiritual connection between all created beings; a psycho-electrical web linking them all to Primus. Many organic species believed in similar quasi-religious linkage networks. As a scientist, he was dubious. As a romantic, he was wistful.
"The Decepticons who were on Earth have had difficulty sparking." He felt uncomfortably like he was violating a confidence when he shared this intel. It was personal. Mirage did not add any speculation on the political ramifications of 'Con High Command being seen not adapting to peacetime activities. If there were developments from that, everyone would notice.
"That would require study." There was caution in his glyphs. "Conflict trauma, particularly unresolved neuro-trauma, can exacerbate situational complications." Also not his field but Skyfire had bashful recollections of pre-expedition briefings on why sparking off-world was inherently dangerous. The Academy's stance had been pro-abstinence, a position at which Starscream had scoffed. Though he had packed a generous supply of contraceptives.
"But you think it credible?" Mirage nudged.
"I wouldn't discount it." He admitted. Again the shuttle shifted in his seat, pausing to marvel he could lean back without distressing noises. Skyfire was still enjoying not having to duck through doorways. Cybertron was not what it had been and wouldn't be for a long while but it was home. He wanted everyone to be able to return safely. "I would like to view the extant research materials personally."
"Ask Soundwave." The noble asserted at the unspoken suggestion he would need to facilitate the exchange. "My position in the new government of Cybertron is theological not scientific or diplomatic. I am not here to act as a filter. Soundwave paroled you, I am sure, to share the intel they have on this condition."
"And to annoy Starscream." Skyfire added ruefully. It had taken hours for his audials to stop buzzing after his former colleague had expressed his feelings. "His trine have not hidden their dismay at my presence though they have restrained themselves from speaking aloud. Their wingtalk is quite..." He paused to find a tactful accurate adjective, the delay lengthening into awkwardness.
"Thundercracker and Skywarp have been under a great deal of personal stress." Mirage felt obliged to excuse any gaucheness from his conjunx. Polite, the scientist accepted this with smoothing of his field. Not exactly the whole truth but private matters (for each of them) could be kept private. "I am hoping your presence will soothe matters rather than exacerbate them."
"Presuming the novelty of socialising with me will mellow Starscream's reaction to my existence?" The shuttle mused, his highly angled wings dipping. "Perhaps." Skyfire straightened, telling himself not to dwell on lost time. He had promised himself he would not succumb to nostalgia. "I think I would be more useful as a scientific liaison." He hesitated, waiting to receive Mirage's affirmation of his cue he wished to conclude their conversation. When the noble's field withdrew tidily, he stood, made his farewell and departed.
Mirage sat alone in the lounge thinking complicated uncomfortable thoughts. Jazz arguing with Prowl was not novel. Jazz going behind the back of Autobot Command ditto. Ratchet couldn't let anything lie either, not if it needed fixing. His abduction had been done blatantly. How much had Jazz guessed or pieced together from the musings of their comrades? Did he even need to speculate, with Ratchet involved? How urgent was the situation on Earth, where the Autobots suddenly had no contact with Decepticons, potentially worsening their symptoms?
His helm ached. He went back to his berth.