Chapter 1: prelude
He’s gone to an organic planet.
Starscream tells him first. The fragger offed and ditched Cybertron on a golden ‘Ark’ – as the shrieking coward calls it – taking the majority of his fleets and spreading them between the cosmos. “Beyond our immediate reach,” Starscream chuckles beneath his increasing rage, wings jittering. “And past your favourable DJD’s grasp. The message,” and there’s a comm link, trapped beneath encryptions, familiar and brash and so much like Prime’s style, “Says to join him, uh, here, my liege. It’s for his troops.”
“Can you track it?” He growls, and Starscream cowers.
In the end they can. And they do, and it comes to this; the blasted glitch went to a fraggin’ organic planet, calling all troops to his position to rally for the Allspark.
Megatron swears and, shoving aside a rambling Starscream, bellows for Soundwave.
He needs Nemesis.
"I am Optimus Prime, and I leave this message to my Autobots; I have found the Allspark. Join me.”
Chapter 2: introduction
“YOU KNOW, FOR A BUNCH OF KIDS YOU’RE AWFULLY NOSY, HUH?
IT’S TREASURE, ALRIGHT? NOT JUNK.
THIS’LL MAKE ME A LUCKY GUY ONE DAY.”
- CADE YEAGER (SCIENCE TEACHER/SELF-PROCLAIMED INVENTOR) ON HIS
The sleepover went to shit three minutes after he walked through the door.
Which was probably two minutes longer than average, Sam noted with a snarl as he thrust himself around and jeered at his older brother lurking in the arch that separated the kitchen and the main hall. His beloved sibling had the trademark smirk slapped straight on his pouty lips, hair gelled back on one side like he had a fight with a toilet and lost. His arms looked pale compared to his yellow pit-stained polo shirt.
“Why’s the freak here.” The asshole didn’t even have the dignity to frame it as a question this time, popping words between his teeth. “He ain’t welcome here.”
Jack looked positively puzzled. He stared at Sam’s elder sibling, brows furrowed as if wondering how someone so scrawny-looking still lingered the Earth. He kept quiet though, and Sam could praise him for how he scrunched his nose in mocking silence.
“Ignore him, Jack.” He said.
His brother didn’t get the memo though. He kept right on chatting, even as his mother and father stilled in the kitchen behind him. “I said; what you doing here, freak?”
“Well, that’s a fine hello,” was what Jack said, low and quiet but with resentment. His friend looked straight into his brother’s eyes, and scrunched that nose up higher. “I ain’t a freak.”
“Sure you are.”
Jack kept on talking. “I ain’t a freak. What’s a freak to you?”
“Quite a lot of things.” Spike Witwicky took the challenge. “Missing some things – you know, maybe an eye, a few marbles, a sense of style , the basics. Maybe they just can’t do things others can. Or, maybe,” and his eyes fell down to Jack’s legs. “They’d be crippled.”
He gripped the sides of Jack’s wheelchair hard. “Spike, I’ll knock you flat on your ass.”
Spike threw his head back and laughed.
“We’re just here for the social assignment, alright?” Jack said finally, staring at his legs wrapped by a blanket. His eyes burned with fury. “That one Mr. Yeager always scoffs about when we bring it up in his science class. The show-and-tell. Then we’ll leave.”
“We’re talking about the Witwiccan history, asshole.” He snapped at Spike just to get a word in. “If you can’t understand that; glasses. Your favourite subject.”
That’s what their social teacher wanted them to present, at least. The Witwiccans would be a great presentation to hear about , Mr. Fowler had told them. I bet you two would beat Spike’s presentation last year.
Did he try to sell the artifacts again? Sam had asked. Mr. Fowler had only smiled.
Sure glad you didn’t decide to present on the Darby’s. Jack had told him afterwards when Fowler had escorted them out. Don’t know my dad’s history, anyway. Hey, is that Mikaela?
“Gonna present on the Witwiccan family, huh?” Spike sneered, but his voice was a little less harsh now. More curious. It was probably the mention of glasses that perked his attention. “Say, Sam, you dragged the nerd here just for some of our family history?”
“Piss off.” He let go of Jack’s wheelchair, noticing how white his knuckles had gotten and shoved past Spike into the kitchen. His brother let him with a quiet chuckle, brushing the place where he shoved him with two pale fingers. He thought of ways to shut Spike up as his brother kept speaking to Jack, but old ways rang unsatisfying in his mind. He had entertained those thoughts too long, he mused, and now they had grown as dull as listening to his sibling prattle.
The glasses were on top of the fridge. His mom watched him almost emptily as he nudged her to get at the picture frame where his ancestor’s deeds hung on old paper in 12 font text. She didn’t move as he brushed her again to grab a candy bar, as stunned as his dad poised over his coffee. Both were wincing as if that would drive away their son’s voice.
Just ignore it like always, he muttered internally. Ignore it because Spike’s so perfect, your little son in military all grown up.
Spike was still ranting away as they made their way out. “Wanna hear something, Jack? It's my birthday. I’m getting a new car today. Slick, straight off the line. My old man’s taking me out to look at some cruisers. Sexy ones.” Sam got Jack wedged out of the door with minimum difficulty. “Maybe a motorcycle too. You’ve always wanted a bike between those withered legs of yours, huh Jacky? Maybe I’ll try a few for you –”
And he slammed his front door, and all they could hear was the muffled laughter of Spike.
“Jackass.” Sam said, watching Jack’s shoulders slump. “Let’s go. Your house?”
“Sure,” mumbled Jack. His friend turned to face his block. “My house.”
And Sam pretended not to notice the tear trailing down his friends face when they stepped up the stairs.
Figuring out how to present the project at Jack’s proved easier with no jackasses around.
Jack’s mom wasn’t home yet, so they rolled up to Jack’s room and stayed there, eyeing the posters of motorcycles on the walls. Sam rolled out the newspaper on Jack’s bed, and flung a few other items of Witwiccan history on the sheets. Jack stopped his chair across from the window.
The paper didn’t quite fold all the way out. Sam swore. “I hate this thing.”
“Captain Archibald Witwicky placed in asylum,” read Jack from across the room, and his friend coughed back a snort. “We’re presenting on a nutso, huh?”
“Family history.” He waved a hand and sprawled on Jack’s bed. A quip of his dad’s came to mind, but from where he could not recall. “ If it’s not boobs, battiness or bankruptcy, you’re not a Witwicky.”
Jack gave a scoff at that, and he sat up to see his friend scanning the article, eyebrows raised. His eyes went over the last paragraph a couple more times too, something Sam noticed everyone did when reading the paper. “He was blind and still wrote perfectly?”
“No, he went nuts after being blinded and only wrote in those nonsense scribbles for the rest of his days.” Sam corrected. “Old goat was probably high off his meds, anyways – any of those scribbles look familiar to you?”
Jack squinted. “No.”
“See? Crackcase.” He sat up though, and fetched out the sextant and maps. “Though he did do some interestingly boring expeditions. Went exploring through the Arctic. According to the crew,” and he raised his voice to a shrieking falsetto, “Captain Archibald Witwicky fell into an iceberg on the third day of contact with the Arctic Circle, and nearly was lost at sea. When we extracted him from the berg, he was rambling something about giant monsters frozen in ice, and cold, cold needles nibbling at his brain. ‘The Spark,’ he kept crying. ‘They’re coming for the Spark!’ Apparently there was something down there though, because the government came and collected the berg for future inspection. Story will be updated as it progresses.” He lowered his voice. “They never did update it.”
“Government would be like that.” Jack tossed the article back at him, and he wrapped it up. “We’re reading the paper and those maps first.”
“Alright.” Sam put the newspaper down, and left the sextant and maps beside it. He snatched up the pen. “Archibald’s insanity pen. Never put it down until they forced him to.”
“You’re explaining that to the class.” Jack rolled closer to the bed and eyed the gold and brown pen. “Expensive looking pen for an asylum.”
“Spike says they never actually did know where the pen came from.” Sam admitted with a nod. “It’s British looking for sure.”
“And then...” He opened the glasses case. “These.”
The glasses were always the highlight of Spike’s presentation when he went through it, saved up until Spike plucked them from his bag with a dazzling smile and said, “ Now these are the bad boys .” They were small, rounded spectacles; metal so twisted in its frame they felt coarse to touch. He had put them on once; he found they were much too powerful for his eyes, and those cracks and dents etched in the lens were horrible for vision. Spike said they were plenty unique too; scratches perfectly parallel to one another on the glass, small dents spaced precariously around each other. “They can’t have been broken from when great-great-grandfather fell,” his brother had argued once. “The cracks are deliberate. He must’ve made them himself, the barking mad fool.”
“Spike liked these last,” he finally said. “Apparently they’re real expensive. Prada expensive.”
“Shit.” Jack reached out and gently caught them between his fingers. “And rumour has it he’s tried to sell ‘em?”
Rumours did travel fast. “Yeah. Twice on Ebay on my old account.” He shone a grin over to Jack, whose corner of his mouth twitched. “Famous Historical Artifact for Sell! Come to LadiesMan217’s house for closer inspection! Priceless. I don’t think he got one hit.”
“You’re as bad as him sometimes.” Jack scoffed, but he was beaming.
The front door to Jack’s house slammed open, and they both jumped. June Darby’s voice warbled through the floor. “Jack? You home?”
“Yeah mom. Sam’s here.”
“The Witwicky boy?” And there was a loud thud as groceries hit the table downstairs. “Lucky him. I bought ice-cream.”
“Chocolate?” He practically shouted, and Jack groaned loudly. He took it back quickly when Mrs. Darby made an amused hum. “Uh, well. Is it chocolate? That’d be great if it was chocolate. Ma’am. If it’s chocolate.”
“Yes, it is chocolate, Sam.” June said through the floor, and he was off screaming down the hall. Jack shouted something behind him, (something that sounded a lot like a groan of ‘ Moooom’) but he had already slid into the kitchen as June Darby peeled off the lid of the ice-cream container.
“Please.” He pleaded before she had a chance to say anything. “Mrs. Darby. One bowl. Please.”
“I don’t know.” June dragged out her words. “I don’t just give ice-cream out to highschool kids. ‘Specially those a year away from graduating.” A spoon came out, and she took her time making a bowl. One of her eyebrows went up. “But you did say please...”
“Please. Please, please, please, good lady.” Sam rushed through his words. It looked so good.
“Alright,” said June, and she slid him a bowl of ice-cream.
“You’re too nice, Mom,” Jack complained with a smile as he rolled into the kitchen, watching him scarf ice-cream as if he hadn’t eaten in years. Mrs. Darby was hiding her laughter behind a hand as she prepared a bowl for Jack. “Sam’s gonna kill himself in a chocolate ice-cream fever if you keep letting him eat it here.”
“No,” he protested through a mouth freezing, though it sounded more like ‘ Nuueeoo’ with the ice-cream. “Let Sam eat ice-cream. Lots and lots of ice-cream. Good for growing kids. Science fact.”
“I can’t believe you sometimes.” Jack snorted, and his mom slid him a bowl of ice-cream. “You too, Mom.”
“I’m just being a good host,” Mrs. Darby said a little too sweetly, and Jack groaned even louder.
And then the doorbell rang.
He froze up, and so did the two Darbys, eyeing the unwanted intrusion on their chocolate ice-cream union. Almost as a second sign his phone went off in his back pocket, and he fetched it out to see Spike’s hastily typed, “ get out here asshol” pinged right on screen. Jack leaned over his shoulder, read and recoiled.
“My bro’s here to pick me up.” He admitted slowly to Mrs. Darby, as if it was some sin to leave without dismissal from her. “I, uh – need to go. Where you want –” and he gestured at the mostly eaten ice-cream.
Mrs. Darby snapped out of her doorbell trance. “Oh! Just leave it there. I’ll put it away later.” She plopped another chocolate ice-cream scoop in her own bowl and smiled, though it didn’t shine as it had been a minute earlier. “Thank you for coming over.”
“Yeah,” Jack agreed, but he didn’t smile as he looked at the hallway where the door was. “You want me to keep –”
“Yeah.” That was abrupt and awkward, cutting Jack straight off. A mistake too, and guilt wriggled through his gut. He got up, and stood there for a few moments. “See you tomorrow. Jack.”
“See ya.” Jack said, and managed a smile. “Chocolate freak.”
Mrs. Darby waved, and he marched to the door and yanked it open. Spike stood there, eyes dull, sneering. “Took you long enough,” he said, but it lacked the usual venom. “Thanks for taking care of him, Mrs. Darby.”
He would’ve heard Mrs. Darby’s response if he hadn’t stared past Spike.
Out of everyone in the Witwicky family he considered himself the nicest. The friendliest. His dad had a large reputation for being the neighbour that wouldn’t hesitate to shoot a cat up if it was shitting in his yard. His mom was known for having all the gossip, strangling rumours and starting them all behind the TV set. Spike was just an asshole, brought up to piss on everyone he believed was unworthy of his presence. Out of all of them, he could manage his manners and not speak BS every time he opened his mouth, and had fairly good knowledge on politeness. Maybe he did speak his mind once or twice, but it wasn’t to hurt someone for the rest of their life.
But there were times. Occasions where his mind would halt, his lungs pause, and his soul would sing its evil heart out. Events where he’d just forget a bit of politeness to blurt out the first thing in his mind, places where he’d stop and firmly tell whatever the hell was on his mind. They weren’t often, but they happened.
And his mind did stop when he stared behind his brother’s back, and his lungs froze colder than the chocolate ice-cream. And he stared, and kept staring, and finally his mouth opened.
“Is that – is that your car?” He heard himself say with so much disbelief that it might’ve sounded as if he was trying to mock his brother. He rubbed his eyes again, and blinked a couple more times. “Is that your sexy beast? ”
“Not. A. Word.” Spike swore, and marched down the sidewalk to the battered old yellow Camaro.
now we're getting somewhere
The car blazed down the deserted pavement, streetlights whizzing by as the sound of sirens chased its squealing tires through the town. A paper ripped under its wheels as it circled the local KO Drive-In, and with brakes shrieking it was off to downtown, stirring up lights in rudely-awakened houses. The police car on its tail grew impatient and braked hard; backed up violently, took a jerk to the left and followed suit. Long black lines from both vehicles tracked their race all the way from the outside of town.
Jasper, Nevada had always had some troublemakers roaming through the streets. Usually misbehaviour rose during the dead of night, and mostly those acts ended when the said troublemakers took it out of town. Races were common too; highschool kids with hormones bursting would sometimes get out of hand, and the main drag was famous for the occasional race amongst wannabe-speedsters. The locals couldn’t complain that much; car accidents and crashes were uncommon in the small town, and as long as it wasn’t murderers with chainsaws roaming the streets, the noise was fine. The police force had never experienced anything too nasty – the worst had been when a kid high off his ass parked his car through the wall of a nearby deli, but that had been before the shop even opened and no one had been around to get injured.
Still, it was annoying being woken in the middle of night to squealing rubber, or the sound of a car hitting trashcans, or sirens wailing their lamenting song. But what could the citizens do? It was dark out, and the culprits would be gone before daylight. That’s how it always worked. That’s how the car knew how it worked.
But today the sun still shone bright in the dawn of morning, and the yellow Camaro found himself still being tracked by that irritating police-car.
He wasn’t supposed to be out of base today. Technically. The doctor had put great emphasis on staying away from organic contact, particularly with the local law enforcers in the area. “Autobot rule number one, Bumblebee. You don’t need to be out there making a show,” Ratchet had scoffed. “Arcee will be back from her salvaging mission soon, and you’ll have plenty of time to run your wheels for later. You stay here. Now, shoo. I have work to be done.”
But the base was full of crankcases and hardwired afts. Sure, Bulkhead was nice but the Wrecker was out doing recon with Jackie and Smokey, and Ironhide was sticking around Ratchet to make sure the doc didn’t crack someone over the helm with a wrench. Those were his four preferable mechs gone doing work, and that meant he was alone in the base stuck with himself.
So maybe he snuck out of base when no one was looking. It wasn’t like it was going to hurt anyone if he was gone, and Smokey had snuck off before without a second glance. Optimus didn’t need him for anything – or hadn’t said he needed him for anything – and Ratchet had made it pretty clear he was unwanted in the medbay, which left him no other choice than to A) Hang out with Crosshairs and Drift, which was practically suicide, or B) Hang out with Jazz and Prowl, which meant doing reports for the rest of the day. Both were horrible concepts, and so maybe the exit to the base was open and no one was watching and maybe he had snuck out and took off.
And then maybe he had gotten a speck of an Energon reading right off his dash when he entered the town, and perhaps he had taken a detour just to check out said Energon reading, and perhaps that’s why he was being chased by a Decepticon through the town of Jasper in broad daylight with citizens’ looking onwards.
Okay, maybe ditching wasn’t such a good idea, he figured as he veered left again and spiralled through two lanes, narrowly avoiding a curb. His Decepticon stalker skidded and kept racing behind him, and he watched the police-car gain speed. Was not a good idea.
Ratchet was going to kill him.
He took another right and spun out into the opposite lane. Getting the Decepticon off his trail was going to be hard, especially with organics roaming close to the streets. He had to bring the chase out of Jasper, but the slaggin’ police-car kept cutting him off every time he got close to an exit, and he couldn’t transform with eyes everywhere. Their cover would suffer if they did, and he’d rather not get a biting earful from Hound and a disappointed speech from Optimus to shove up his tailpipe later.
The police-car came out of nowhere and slammed into his side, and he skidded back into the normal lane with a hiss. Scrap. His speed faltered, and the car got closer, but he spotted an alley and at the last second slid into it, and Barricade went roaring by with an audible curse.
There were some humans on this corner as he pulled out of the alley slowly, and the girl was chattering so fast in that primitive language that he couldn’t understand her. The other two were an older couple, and they looked petrified, holding each other as he inched his way out of the alley and peeked out at the main drag. Sirens screeched in the distance, and he gave it about ten more kliks before he had to hightail it.
And then, at that moment, out the corner of his rear-view mirror he spotted a glimpse of green and black heading down the main drag, and Primus, this cycle was turning out worse and worse by the klik.
“Hey, Bumblebee,” drawled the comms in the mocking grin of Crosshair’s voice. “Look who’s outta base. Say, didn’t Doc tell ya something along the lines of ‘Stay inside’?”
“Oh, frag off,” he shot back through the same comms and started his engine with a roar. The humans next to him shrieked (though he supposed one shriek sounded a bit happier than the others) and scattered as he reared by them. “Barricade’s got a track on me and I can’t shake him.”
“Well ain’t that a pity.” Now Crosshairs was toying with him, and he caught a glimpse of the green sports car lazily catching up behind him. “Guess that’s what happens to those who don’t listen to ta rules, hmm?”
“Crosshairs I will beat the slag out of you if you don’t help.” He cursed, and Barricade shot from the side of the road from nowhere, and the chase was back on, yay. Crosshairs swerved from lane to lane and let Barricade overtake him, and the fragger was just going to watch him be attacked by a Decepticon, the overcharged aft-head.
His dents were slowing him down. Barricade had noticed, and now the slagging Decepticon was quickening his engine until his tailgate was being scraped by the rim of the police-car. Yellow flecks sprayed over asphalt, and he cursed, widely drifting through the lanes.
“I have you now,” Barricade hissed.
“Crosshairs.” He spammed the comms again. “Crosshairs.”
“I don’t know, Bee,” and Crosshairs sounded outright gleeful, “The Autobot Code frowns upon helpin’ those who break the rules. Ultra Magnus wouldn’t stir a servo if he was in my place.”
“Ultra Magnus my aft, I’ll weld your afterburner to Hound’s chassis if you don’t help me, Crosshairs,” he spat, buzzing angrily.
“Such language.” Crosshairs was still dragging it out.
Barricade bucked forward but the police-car didn’t make it to ramming him because Crosshairs shot forward and slammed into the ‘Con’s side. Metal scraped against metal, and Barricade went skidding away into the curb. His fellow Autobot made a noise that sounded like laughter, and slammed into the Decepticon again, and the ‘Con went over the curb and skidded clear of both of them, brakes grinding and squealing to get grip against the pavement.
And then there was a pole, and crash went the Decepticon.
“You – dirty, lil’ Autobots –” stuttered Barricade. Organics were screaming.
“Ah, piss off.” Crosshairs rammed him once more. The police-car grunted, and there was a crunch as his windshield cracked. The Paratrooper backed up to admire his handiwork. “Aft.”
Then real police sirens started wailing, and he almost wanted to throttle the mech.
“Time to go.” He said in the comms.
“That’d be a good idea.” Crosshairs agreed, and they booked it from the main drag before it was swarmed.
They stopped right outside of town when it became apparent that he could not drive any farther with the blunted wounds at his sides, and pulled into a rusting junkyard abandoned to the nature of the Great Basin desert. He barely made it through the gate before the burning in his doorwings finally overtook him, and he transformed to stumble forward.
Crosshairs caught him, though reluctantly. “Easy,” warned the Paratrooper, eyeing his doorwings. “Those – those ain’t looking fine, I’d admit.”
“I’m fine.” He brushed off Crosshair’s servos. They both retreated farther into the junkyard – as well as it may be abandoned, the high risk of being seen still threatened them both. “They’ll heal.”
“Not before Ratchet sees ‘em and cracks ya aft in half.” Crosshairs wandered off to lounge on a half-rusted piece of scrap. “The frag you doing out here being chased by that Decepticreep, anyway?”
He had to lie. “Scouting mission.”
“That’s fraggin’ slag and you know it.” Crosshairs snorted.
He couldn’t lie. “...Got bored.”
“And decided to take on a Decepticon, one on one. Mmm. Good plan.” Crosshairs said, and took out a bit of metal to chew on. The long stick stuck out between his glossa more than a gleaming ‘bot amongst a swarm of Scraplets. “I suppose that’s one way to kick boredom to deactivation.”
“Look, I figured since Smokey and Bulkhead were out – and you know, Optimus is busy and Ratchet’s occupied like always – I’d get out of their way, and well, be productive.” He stuttered through beeps, and Crosshairs rolled his optics until they nearly went all the way back into his helm. The mech had picked that up from the organics – 'From those movies Jazz assigned us to watch, you know?' Crosshairs said when he first demonstrated it to everyone, even as they all recoiled or shuddered. Hound had thought the mech was trying to crack both his optics from strain, and the Wrecker still rattled in his plating at the motion. Crosshairs had abused the gesture ever since. “And, uh –”
“You didn’t want to hang out with us glitch-heads, yadda yadda ya. I get it.” Crosshairs cracked a gear in his faceplate and shifted. A slag-eating grin formed over his face, and Bumblebee instantly regretted everything he had ever done since leaving base. “You owe me a new paintjob.”
“I prefer black and green, deluxe, buffing included. Add some wax and I won’t tell Ratchet.” Crosshairs wiggled the stick of metal between his glossa. “I’ll just tell Doc you were out with the real ‘bots, playing with the big boys. He’ll suck that up, lemme tell ya, especially with ‘Jackie and the ‘Hide around.” The Paratrooper fiddled with his gun compartments on the sides of his thighs. “Besides, Doc sent me out anyway.”
He forgave the mech’s words in curiousity. “Recon?”
“Scouting, actually. Needed someone better than ya.” Crosshairs glanced up at his face and gave a dry chuckle. “Nah, messin’ with ya. Big O got a lead on the Allspark.”
“Keep your chest-plates on, I’m getting to it.” Crosshairs waved him off, and in the gesture he realized he had rushed forward to nearly seize the other mech in a rising excitement. However, his enthusiasm was not alone; the Paratrooper wore a grin that usually he saved for combat, clean and joyful unlike the mocking smirk. “Our leader tracked it down on the ‘World Wide Web’, or so he calls it, I wouldn’t know – and ‘apparently coordinates via one of those fancy data-slabs or containers crashed on this chunk o’ rock a few vorns ago. Give or take. I’d say around three. Anyway, the coordinates are in these glasses, if the fleshies aren’t spouting slag, and this family of the Witwicky’s has ‘em.”
“Witwicky?” It was a bit harder to buzz that name; Crosshairs only smiled wider and gnawed at his stick a bit more. “And they’re here?”
“Of all places, yeah.” Crosshairs summed up. “I was supposed to check out the family, claim the glasses. That was the plan, until someone decided to get fragged on by a Decepticon and blew my cover.” Despite the amount of heavy bitterness it was spoken quite cheerfully.
Witwicky. Witwicky. He heard that name when he was with Smokey out racing on the deserted highways to the east of Nevada. It was on the radio. Something about a boy being accepted into a ‘military’, whatever that meant. He shouldn’t know. It was Optimus’ job to deal with the organics, no matter how endearing their society worked. Plus, Prowl was still a crankcase about the fleshies.
“You defective? I said yes, protoform.” Crosshairs repeated, but Bumblebee ignored him. Witwicky. Witwicky. He was driving through the neighbourhood earlier before Barricade found him, before he got the ping of a reading. The radio had been talking about Witwicky again. ‘Say, that boy has been accepted into two universities and the military,’ the organic had said with a shiver in his voice, ‘And boy, oh boy the only thing he tells me is that he wants a new car, baby – new car, straight off the manufacturing line. I know I’m not supposed to talk about family on here, but hell – it’s the town’s son we’re talking about here, and I know he’s not listening right now so I’m letting you all into a lil’ secret: he ain’t getting that new car. Not today at least. No, sir-ee, every man should start with a trash car. No sacrifice, no victory, that’s the ol’ Witwicky motto for you, and I think everybody should follow that ‘til the end of their days.’
“He’s buying a car.” He said abruptly.
“He’s buying a car.” He repeated again, more to himself than the confused Crosshairs at his faceplates. The faintest blotch of a plan had manifested together in his processor, clustered but still workable. “The Witwicky boy. Today, on the radio. The organic said he’s out buying a car, and that he won’t be getting a new one.”
“What?” Crosshairs said again, a little louder this time.
“The Witwicky boy. He’s buying a car.” He looked Crosshairs through the optics and pushed by him. He had a plan. “I’m going.”
“What – slow the frag down, Bumblebee, and cut the slag.” Crosshairs caught him by the arm and yanked him back. Fiery blue optics squinted down at him. “What? Where in the Pits you going?”
He did not flinch at the mech’s touch. “Scouting.”
Crosshairs stared down at him, not letting go of his arm. They met optics, and the Paratrooper must’ve read something in his because the mech sighed and released his grip. “Ratchet’s gonna glue both our afts back together,” the mech admitted bitterly, and fell back onto the half-rusted car with a searing crash still furiously chewing at that stick in his glossa. “You better have somethin’ good, Bee.”
He shrugged, and made to leave the yard.
“You got a plan in sneaking into town all dented like that?” Crosshairs called out from behind him before he got ten steps away, and yeah, he supposed he should correct that before he went and got himself purchased for the Witwicky family.
He walked a bit more forward, then stopped. Turned. There laid a rusting bucket of bolts, peeling and scraped at the sides. It was the ugliest thing he had ever seen, but it was tainted yellow and black racing stripes ran down its front.
And Bumblebee paused.
That would have to do.
The adult and his father entered the shop with the air of conviction. Or, at least the son did; his mouth was a squirming line, as if someone had put something sour in front of him. His dad wore a flashing grin right under his moustache, even as the stink of the shop’s rusting cars and smells of sticky sweat contained for far too long overcame them. The shop itself was pitiful; cars half-rusted off their frames were aligned everywhere, and the dust between them spoke volumes about the quality of the products in here.
“Why, hello there,” said the car-dealer when the door clicked shut, smiling so broadly his back gums were visible. No one noticed the yellow Camaro inching in through the back door, stirring up dust clouds. “What brings you to my humble shop?”
“My son here is looking to buy his first car.” The father put his arm around his son’s shoulder, who smiled uncomfortably. His hands fidgeted at his sides. “Used.”
“Is that so?” The car-dealer looked pleased, then switched for a more reassuring smile. “Ah. You’ve come to the right place then. I have all the newest models of the older brands, and for cheap too. You’ll find your satisfaction in almost every car.”
“Sure.” The son forced a smile. “Sounds great.”
The car-dealer ignored the son’s sarcasm. “Of course it does!” The man in the checkered suit clapped his hands. “Now, follow me. And remember – the car chooses the owner.”
They took their time getting to the Camaro. Up and down the aisles each went, the car-dealer yakking away about every individual car, each ‘work of art’. By the time they reached the Camaro the floor had been blown clean by its humming vents, and the radio was full-blast, rocking out to old 80’s music. One of the slightly scratched doors was ajar, and it gleamed compared to the dusty wrecks around it.
The car-dealer did not recognize it. It was evident as soon as the man saw it; his hands froze, and then forced themselves to calm down, placing them in his pockets as his mouth slightly twitched when his customers immediately took interest. The son took a hand and ran it down the side of the vehicle, not noticing how the gesture coaxed static from the radio.
“This one has racing stripes,” said Spike Witwicky reluctantly, with an overlaying tone of satisfaction.
“Mmm,” said Mr. Witwicky the radio-show host, moustache curling upwards in his private opinion. “How much?”
The car-dealer still looked confused, but did an excellent job at trying to cover it up. “Five thousand.” The man said.
“Too much.” Mr. Witwicky said. “Four thousand.”
“I cannot do four thousand,” smiled the car-dealer through his teeth, and the Camaro resisted the urge to start his engine and gear through all the scrapheaps in the room. “Five thousand.”
“Too much.” Mr. Witwicky repeated. “Another car, then.”
And that simply wouldn’t do. The Camaro decided to risk it then by slightly shifting into the palm of the son; his wheels barely moved but there was a scuff of sound just muffled by the radio and Spike removed his hand as if the vehicle had burned him.
“Oh, yes, another car,” said the thankful car-dealer, turning away. “Now, this here is a beauty –”
Spike didn’t look away from the Camaro. “You said five thousand?” The son called out, interrupting the dealer and startling his dad. The son slipped between his doors and settled into the seat.
“Yes?” The car-dealer said nervously.
“Four thousand, and I’ll buy a spare tire.” Spike said, ignoring his dad’s narrowed eyes. “Sir.”
The car-dealer eyed his hands, eyed the Camaro and bit his lip. The Camaro wondered if cursing through the radio would change anything, but settled for switching the station from rock, blaring ‘Do It For the Money.’ It did the trick.
“Four thousand.” The dealer agreed, finally. “And a spare tire.”
“You have a deal,” said the surprised father, and they shook.
Yes, thought Bumblebee in his own personal victory. Yes.
'yes', thought the writer, 'finally some robots.'