The Nevada desert seemed endless, the high temperatures and inhospitable soil held nothing for most people so the few roads that crossed it were deserted. Going further into the hostile environment one could only find rock formations of many sizes and sand for miles… at least for those who did not look closely enough or weren’t looking for a certain something.
Out in the middle of nowhere the terrain was sunken in, the gigantic crater filled with large blue alien crystals that jutted out towards the sky in all directions, a sight looking very out of place in a desert biome. They casted shadows that were gradually enlarging due to the disappearing sun below the rim of the crater and, between those small slivers of shade, a small figure darted between them with metal steps.
A small Cybertronian looked around the energon deposit, an equally small datapad on his servos as he walked between the crystals with a smile. The sun was harsh against his orange and yellow color scheme but he paid no mind to it, his visits to his Carrier at her forge back on their home planet had since long numbed him to higher temperatures. He’d always enjoyed watching as she used her bare servos to handle materials that would melt though any other bot’s frame, singing random and sometimes too explicit songs in various dialects, some of which were supposed to be extinct since eons ago. It had been a joyful time, the sparklinghood of his back on their home planet, before everything went awry and the whole faction took off before the war could blow up. Sometimes he wondered what would have happened if the war had never taken place, if his faction would have remained in their limbo-like state
“You were right, this place is deserted.” He commed his ‘partner in crime’ in a warm tone. “They still think I’m working on my console? Yes? Good, I just need to get some samples then I’ll comm you for a groundbridge.” Pausing to hear what his friend had to say his faceplates took on a pout the more he heard from the other end of the line. “No. No. Yes, I’ll be fine. Yes, I’m sure. Yes. I just need to show I can be helpful outside the base. If someone told you you’re only good for smashing stuff you’d try to prove them wrong too… Besides, it was your idea in the first place I do this.” With that the comm link was closed.
After severing the call with an exasperated sigh he looked around once more. He’d always be the little one, the first safety priority above all else, because of his size. Looking towards the clear sky above him the sparkling wondered how long before he could finally do what should have been natural to him and fly upwards at immeasurable speeds with armament of his own that could take down anyone who tried to hurt his family.
Clearing his wandering processor the small mech focused once more on his task and ran up to what he’d deemed the best crystal just at one of the edges of the crater. Opening his subspace he took out an odd tool, akin to what a futuristic glass cutter merged with a gun could look like, pressed the end against the energon crystal and pulled the trigger. He removed the cutter and reached out to catch the disc-shaped blue shard that was just bigger than his servo and with a smile stored both. This new source of energon seemed to be of high quality and there was plenty of it, all they’d need to do was get to it first but, just as the small mech was about to comm his friend for a way back to their base he heard the rumble of an engine. A cybertronian engine.
“Scrap!” A squeal slipped out as he hid behind the crystal he’d been examining just in time so the heavily modified red 1970 Dodge Challenger that had just came into view at the top missed his small frame. He never thanked so much for his stature in his lifetime. Well, there had been that time in the vents but his wings had still gotten their paint scratched at the ends.
The, when it seemed like he’d just have to make a stealthy escapade from an Autobot, the worst happened. The Nemesis came into view, soaring too close for comfort to the ground and close to his hiding spot. Pressing himself against the energon crystal, almost as if to melt away into it, the sparkling slid to the ground and shrunk into a ball.
“Mayhem!” He yelled in a hushed tone into his comm. “I’m in trouble!”
“Rad, what’s going on!” On the other side of the call a femme with a grey and pink coloring scheme tried her best not to panic. “Why am I seeing the Nemesis signal right on top of you?!”
“What do you think?! Add an Autobot to the mix just for ‘fun’ and do the math. I need to get out of here now!”
“Alright, I’m opening a groundbridge next to your coordinates.”
Just as Mayhem let out her final words the giant vessel shot at the Autobot, making the ground shake, and the force of the impact launched him into a crystal. The small bot pressed his servos against his faceplate to swallow a scream and when he heard thumps not far from them and he knew Vehicons had just landed.
“Stop! The red Autobot and a couple of Deceptions are right behind me.” His tone bordered on soundless. “I’ll hide out here and when it’s over you can bridge me.” Why, oh why had he thought he could just pop into a large energon deposit and not run into trouble?
“But Rad-!” He cut her off before the end of her sentence. She knew to stick to the plan as usual and he trusted her to do so, even if thing were going from bad to worse.
"Arcee, about that backup…” The red Autobot called into what the sparkling assumed was his comm link.
Radical tried not to groan and focused on remaining completely still. Autobot reinforcements could mean a shorter battle but also a higher chance of getting spotted. When he kept hearing landing sounds of even more Vehicons he started praying to the higher power he personally knew. Doomsday. Solus would not be so kind as to help him so far away from Cybertron if she hadn’t done it for his faction in all the eons they’d suffered after she was offlined.
“Fair warning boys, I’ll put a few dings in ya.” The Autobot said before transforming and accelerating towards the purple mechs, letting out a loud revving sound as if to assert his point.
The fight went on for what seemed joors, sounds of battle filling the small bot’s audio receptors. He heard Vehicon fall after Vehicon, a good sign, but the red mech also took his fair share of blows by the sound of his pained grunts. Radical heard something about horns and the sound of blasters filled the air. His spark suddenly filled with dread, were they insane to the point of ignoring a basic rule when around combustible materials?! Firepower near energon never ended well for either side of the fight and he’d likely get caught in the mix, but that time he couldn’t run away like the first time so long ago.
Gathering up all his courage he tried to convince himself nothing would go wrong and that he’d live to see his family once more, thinking he’d even give up his wings just to get out of there online.
Then there was an explosion.
Blue flames engulfed the rich energon deposit in nanokliks, throwing the small bot over the edge. He couldn’t hold in his screams at the force of the impact, his wings taking the blunt of the damage from the explosion, the sensitive appendages burning hot and sending pained signals all over his frame. He cried harder at the thought of his wings becoming too damaged to ever lift him into the sky, regretting his previous thoughts of giving them up, although he knew he’d never be able to experience the feeling of freedom seekers liked to boast about. He landed painfully on top of the rocky ground and maybe bounced once or twice before he became aware of where he was.
"M-May-Mayhem…” Radical wasn’t sure if he’d even activated his comm link but when he heard the sound of a groundbridge opening he let out a pained laugh along with a few relived tear. He was about to get lectured on the dangers of going out by himself by a certain white and green femme but he’d deal with it later. He heard voices but in his state couldn’t differentiate them from one another and when neither Mayhem nor anyone else came up to him he got impatient. “I know I’m small but frag me flying if you can’t spot the only orange thing in this mess!” Swearing, a rather nasty habit he’d picked up from his Carrier when his armor barely covered his protoform, but at that time he didn’t care. It hurt to yell but the talking stopped and footsteps came in his direction. Finally! But when he felt himself being picked up and turned over what he saw froze his spark. Those were not the optics of anyone he knew.
“Optimus, tell me I’m seeing things from being grief-stricken.” Five pairs of blue optics stared at the damaged sparkling in Arcee’s arms, its small helm shifting from one side to another rapidly in clear distress. “Is this a…”
“Sparkling.” The larger red and blue mech finished before gently kneeling down.
The others took the same action before Radical started contorting to let himself free, his actions appearing as those of a frightened lost sparkling as opposed to those of someone very well aware of their situation.
"Step back!” The white and red Autobot extended an arm in front of his comrades presenting them from leaning over their teammate. “They’re clearly afraid and we have no idea where they came from. From all we know they could have escaped the Nemesis.”
“You really think so doc?” It was the turn of the large green one to talk. “I know Decepticons are the worst but keeping a sparkling prisoner?”
A few beeps came from the yellow mech as he looked between Radical and where the Nemesis had appeared up in the sky.
“Bumblebee’s right, with Startscream commanding the Decepticon army everything’s possible.” Ratchet nodded at the young scout and looked at Optimus. “Seekers are protective of their young but he’s always been one for backstabbing, even his own kind.”
Small digits pressed against the sparkling’s faceplates in a comforting attempt from the femme’s part but only served to increase his fidgeting. “Don’t worry, you’re safe now.”
Fans going into overdrive Radical threw out the window any remaining logic he might have held. Kicking back the one holding him had the intended effect and the two-wheeler dropped him in shock at the sudden action.
“MAYHEM!” He yelled out without even activating his comm link. In a last ditch effort to put distance between him and the Autobots he crawled back on his aft, a childish maneuver but at the moment his processor couldn’t come up with a better strategy.
While Arcee cradled her bruised faceplates the others could only stare at the orange sparkling attempting to escape, although his panic seemed to prevent him from reasoning cohesively.
“Is that your Carrier, little one?” Optimus leaned forward but being mindful of Ratchet’s advice didn’t attempt to reach for them. “Was she with you on that ship?”
“You wish, monkey wrench!” A new voice was heard along with the sound of an opening groundbridge.
An orange and black femme with blue accents came rushing out of the portal and firing shots in their direction with a very clear intent of getting them away from the sparkling. Most didn’t hit their mark but she bought enough time to take out a whip and lasso the sparkling into her arms.
Radical’s first reaction was to crawl up his Carrier’s frame and hide behind her back among the long and numerous luminescent blue and grey ‘dreads’ that came from underneath her helm. “I slagged up, I’m so sorry! I just wanted to help and there was so much energon…!” He couldn’t be more glad Mayhem had tattled on their plan, even if that meant she’d get an audio-full of her own Carrier’s angry discourse.
“I know, Mayhem talked fast but we understood most of it.” The femme didn’t spare a glance at her son, keeping her optics focused on the five Autobots who had their weapons trained on her. “I’m not mad, you’re old enough but you just made a bad decision. Happens to everyone.”
Radical didn’t say anything else, opting to cling to her frame and letting out a few sobs as the pain was beginning to register in full.
“Come on, let’s get you home.” She slowly backed up towards the groundbridge, her blasters ready to shoot the first bot stupid enough to follow her in or even shoot her. Autobots may have liked to appear as if justice was their end goal but she’d dealt with enough of them in the past to know factions were merely pretty labels to some individuals. “This is your only and final warning. Stay back before I tear those empty buckets you call helms from your frames.” She yelled out in an attempt to avoid getting into the brewing fight. Her little sweetspark looked worse for the wear and he needed Flare to patch up whatever he’d damaged.
“Please, we don’t mean you nor your sparkling any harm.” Optimus put away his blasters and help up his servos in a motion to show his words carried truth. “Are you Mayhem? He called out that designation.”
“Erm, boss, look at her faction.” Bulkhead nodded towards the femme’s chestplates. Instead of an engraved red or purple insignia a black stylized hammer was brandished on a red diamond shape in her orange armor’s chestplates.
“Solus.” Ratchet let out a whisper. Quickly coming to a realization he turned to the bigger mech. “Optimus, she’s a-”
“I know.” Even if the Autobot leaded had limited contact with them in his youth he’d recognize that insignia anywhere. “They supposedly left Cybertron just before the war began and were never seen again. Many consider them a myth at this point.”
“Well they’re clearly very real, considering the sparking I just held.” Arcee kept her blasters aimed at her enemy’s helm but didn’t dare to shoot in fear of harming the small mech.
“Oh, you recognize this?” A dangerous grin formed on the femme’s faceplates, more of an act than anything but her enemies didn’t need to know that. “Then you know what I’m capable of.” With renewed confidence she backed up further to the entrance of her way home. “This never happened, gentlebots. Forget what you’ve seen before I send sparkeaters to devour you.” With those final words both she went into the groundbridge and disappeared along with the sparking within it.
Silence reined on the desert once more, none of the Autobots sure what to do next. They’d seen something supposedly extinct during the war and it promised to haunt them with another Cybertronian legend.
Their leader was the first to turn away. “Ratchet, open us a groundbridge back to base.”
“You’re not serious, are you? What we saw just now needs to be investigated before the Decepticons try and take advantage of them.” If the femme’s appearance was even anything to go by she wasn’t just one of the normal types, she could be just as rare as red energon.
“What we saw takes second place to our mission.” Looking at Arcee the large mech shook his helm. “Today we lost one of our own and we need to prepare for our next attack. The sparkling should be with his own kind now, so we have no need to hurry.”
Bumblebee offered his take on the subject, gesturing to where the sparkling and who they assumed was his Carrier had disappeared. He wanted to try and find the little one again. He knew what being small and scared was like and didn’t wish it on anyone else, especially someone that looked to be innocent, to bear witness the war’s evils.
“Bee’s right, we need to track those two down, sparkeaters or not.” The wrecker banged his wrecking ball against his servo with determination. “I’d fight hordes of those things to save an innocent bot. ‘Cee, you’re with us on this, right?”
Looking up at her leader the femme sighed and lowered her gaze. Cliffjumper was… She’d forgotten about him in the heat of finding the sparking but the emotions were settling in. “He’s our leader, it’s our job to obey.” She clutched the only thing left of her partner, his horn, and started walking towards Optimus. “We’ll find them later.”
Resigning to his superior’s orders the medbot called for a groundbridge. As they left to their base he couldn’t help but think about the sparkling’s injuries but soon remembered who’d taken them away.
“Who knew we’d find Makers hiding away all the way on Earth.”