Chapter 1: Prologue: I Can't Wait
Q-A: (Pokes head from bunker after disappearing for five years) Heeeeeeeeeey, well. This is embarrassing. I am very much aware that I have other stories I need to complete on FF.net and Ao3 respectfully but I need to be honest for a minute. I was suffering from a serious case of writer’s block back in 2015. I was dealing with my junior and later senior year of college and then having to transition back home. I wanted to get back to fanfiction but then I went on this awesome trip through Japan after I graduated in 2016 that same year and then the holidays happened. I then just took a year off to recharge myself while also taking a few online classes to get all my credits. I spent the remainder of 2017 looking for either an internship or a job. I finally landed a job working at a local movie theater in 2018. Because of how flimsy my schedule was and that the theater was pretty new too I had no idea when I’d write. I have had brainstorms of ideas but not enough to motivate me into writing a serious story again. Until (drum-roll)…. BUMBLEBEE! I don’t know what it is about that movie but I just love it so much. I love the story, the characters (‘Bee and Charlie especially), the fact it’s not awful like all the Bayformer films (sans possibly the ’07 one), and it’s directed by one of my new favorites, Travis Knight (if you haven’t seen his other film Kubo and the Two Strings yet, stop reading this super aft-long Author’s Note and go watch the movie. I promise I’ll wait).
….So, I don’t know when I’ll get back to my incomplete works, but I hope to once inspiration for them springs out like it did for this piece. This is kind of a big test for me to see if I can commit to a multi-chapter story and complete it like I did with Seeing Isn’t Believing five million years ago.
If any of you are still reading this and haven’t clicked away or just skipped the AN, without further ado let’s get on with the story.
Disclaimer: I do not own The Transformers. It solely belongs to Hasbro and Paramount. The songs referenced in this chapter belong to their respected producers/singers.
“Yes, I know you
Though we've been out of touch
Yes, I know you
To be continued,”
- "I Can’t Wait" by Stevie Nicks
Location: Loch Lomond Reservoir, CA. Date: May 28, 1988
The abandoned mine looked different the last time the calvary scout was there.
Though Ratchet’s radio transmitter did say it was currently one breem passed 0300 hours on the Pacific Time Zone. There were only three life forms in the area now. Him, the Autobot’s Field Medic, and their demolition expert. Ten Earth-months ago the young scout was alone in the daylight after his escape pod crashed on the planet. Then a dozen human soldiers had cornered him in front of the mine. He was also an Earth vehicle called a Jeep for about a groon until the Decepticon, Blitzwing, showed up. He later became a Volkswagen, and currently a Camaro.
Primus, that felt like an eternity ago. The infamous day the young soldier defeated the red/silver Shifter only to have his memory cells fried and lose his voice synthesizer in the process.
Speaking of which.
“Careful Brawn.” A voice drew the black/yellow scout from his ruminations. It belonged to Ratchet. The taller and older Autobot barked indignantly and used his vocal processor to project his voice. “A fall from that high up means I’ll have to patch you up after I take care of ‘Bee here.”
Near the mountain’s top another metallic being waved off Ratchet’s caution. He climbed the face of the mountain without a care in the world. “Stop worrying, Ratch’. My atl-mode is an off-roader for a reason.”
“I highly doubt rock-climbing is what your vehicle mode’s original creators had in mind,” Ratchet deadpanned.
The smaller Autobot placed a hand over the medic’s shoulder.
“[Ziit]-He-Will-BE-fine-Doc,” Bee spoke, his voice an abundance of voices and songs found on his alt-mode’s radio.
Ratchet vented before he pinched his olfactory sensor. “Why do I always get paired with the youngest ‘bots?”
The Autobot next to him buzzed surly. “Brawn-[ziitt]-is-older-than-you.”
“By half a vorn. Not much of a difference.”
Brawn, meanwhile, pulled himself over the edge of a cliff. He used his headlights to illuminate the ground while the crosshairs over his HUD boosted the sight in his optics. At that moment all Brawn saw was dirt, rocks, grass, and the occasional Earth-based insect. Brawn silently hoped they didn’t have a taste for metal.
Ratchet glanced at the mountain briefly and then sighed. “He’s been up there for over five kliks. If he doesn’t find what we came here for-”
“Celebrate good times, come on!” ‘Bee threw his right arm up and his optics glowed with unbridled joy.
Ratchet had trouble hiding his slight grin and opted to clear his intake valve.
“Great~ Now get your skidplate down here before I blow a fuse from stress.”
Brawn used the struts of his pedes to skid down the mountain before transforming back into his alt-mode once the land curved. He returned to his standard form once he joined the other two ‘bots. In Brawn’s servos was a triangular shaped apparatus made of metal and wires.
‘Bee’s faceplate quivered when he recognized the object.
“THANK-you-very much-Brawn-y,” the scout wrapped his arm over the shorter Autobot’s backplate.
Brawn brushed him off playfully. “No need to get mushy on me.”
“Yes, don’t celebrate so quickly. I still need to examine the vocal synthesizer,” Ratchet informed with a voice that reminded the other two ‘bots why he was a field medic.
‘Bee stood as close as he could to Ratchet. He buzzed, which led the older mech to stare at him before the scout quickly covered his mouth-grill.
After a tense klik Ratchet raised his helm. The scout ‘bot stared anxiously at him. Brawn had his arms crossed and glanced at the two.
Ratchet didn’t conceal his smile that time.
“Aside from a obvious needle puncture wound there isn’t any other serious internal damage I can find.” He gave ‘Bee a raised optical ridge before he continued, “You’re lucky no rust or other outside elements ruined this to re-attach to your vocal circuits. After some old wires are removed and the shell gets a resealing, of course”
Ratchet waited to conclude his prognosis of the semi-mute mech after the later finished dancing.
Brawn had a nonplussed expression on his face as he leaned towards Ratchet. “When did he start to act like this?”
“You just noticed that now?” Ratchet asked. “That ‘bot’s been acting like he has had a glitch ever since we arrived on Earth.”
Brawn raised his servos in defeat. “Alright, alright. Let’s get back to Temp-base. Quit that dancing, B-127.”
The scout stopped his movements before he turned on his speakers to converse with an all too familiar recording.
“My-Name-[ziit]-Is-Bumblebee,” Bumblebee declared while he pointed to his chest plate.
“Not sure how you could’ve forgotten that ‘Bee chose a new designation for himself,” Ratchet queried. He didn’t wait for Brawn’s answer as he shifted into his vehicle disguise. “If you want your voice restored, Bumblebee, I need my tools and supplies. The sooner we’re home, the sooner you don’t have to keep talking through that radio.”
Brawn and Bumblebee soon transformed and the three rolled out of the quarry. Thanks to ‘Bee’s engine he was in the lead while Brawn was behind his tail and Ratchet followed not to far behind.
After the three Autobots drove onto the main road Brawn sped up to drive side-by-side with the Camaro.
::You know somethins’ been bothering my processor for a while:: The Land Rover leaned close to the muscle car. ::Why did you start calling yourself Bumblebee?:: Brawn asked through his commlink.
Earlier, ‘Bee had started fiddling with his radio to pass the time but then suddenly fell silent.
The medical ‘bot noticed the lack of music in the air. ::Everything okay up there?::
“Yeaaaaaaaaah~!” Bumblebee suddenly pulled on the breaks and slowed his pace to drive next to Ratchet. ::Can I-Axe-You-a-simple favor?::
::What is it?:: Ratchet silently hoped it wasn’t an extravagant request.
::There-[ziitt]-is-something that I-need-to do-before-I-get back, get back-my-voice.::
Brawn became curious of the conversation and slowed to a cruising speed. ::What is it you wanna do, ‘Bee?::
The two other ‘bots obviously couldn’t see it but Bumblebee was smiling underneath the car’s hood. A plan formulated inside his cerebral processor.
Location: Brighton Falls, CA. Date: June 4, 1988
“I’m relieved?” Charlie Watson stood inside Hotdog On A Stick’s break room, gaping at her boss.
Said boss, Craig, rolled his eyes and repeated in a dull tone, “Due to the lowering demand of hotdogs on a stick in the last fiscal year the company has concluded-”
“Yeah, I know why I’m losing my job you don’t need to say it again,” Charlie interrupted. “What I want to know is how much longer I can work here and when we’re closing.”
Craig responded in his bored drawl, “The stall is being repurposed into a taco stand tomorrow.”
“That soon? When will the company come here to reclaim their stuff?”
“The food company rented a truck. They expect us to move the store’s supplies in there.”
Well, Charlie thought her day couldn’t suck anymore than it did then.
Over three hours passed, Charlie was sweaty, tired, and covered in grease from the fryer she helped Craig pull into the U-Haul.
“Expect to get your final paycheck in the mail in about two weeks,” Craig said after he closed up the truck’s back doors.
Charlie did her best not to look too agitated.
“Thanks, Craig.” Charlie was about to walk away until she thought of something. “Do you know if any of the stands here are looking for more employees?”
“No.” Craig was helpful as ever.
Charlie went back to the stall to change into her street clothes and went to the least smelliest restroom to clean up as best as she could with the hand soap and water. She walked through the parking lot ready to head back home for a real shower when the mechanic came across the last people she wanted to see. Three girls in neon bright tube tops and acid washed denim shorts.
“Did you just get fired back there?” the snobby voice belonged to no one else but Tina Lark, the tallest blonde in the trio.
Charlie groaned. She had no time for this crap. “I’m not in the mood right now, Tina.”
“Aw, but you now don’t have to wear that ugly uniform anymore.”
“It’s better than the outfit you’re wearing,” Charlie snarked back. “Did you just walk out of a Jem and the Holograms commercial or are you just trying to look like a Barbie knock-off on purpose?”
Nearby a couple of guys chuckled, including Charlie’s old crush Tripp Summers.
Tina fought back a scowl. While the blonde seemed to be trying come up with a good comeback inside her tiny brain Charlie walked over to her bike.
“Yeah, well where’s your Corvette? Or did you sell it for parts like you did with your crappy beetle bug.”
What Tina didn’t see was that Charlie gripped tightly on her handles. The eighteen year old breathed through her nose to calm herself. She turned around and gave the taller girl a sweet innocent smile.
“It must be where your old BMW went.”
Tina’s smirk went away.
Charlie kicked her kickstand up and rode back home.
Charlie felt ridiculous for talking back to Tina. She and her mean girlfriends were not worth it. But the moment Tina insulted her old car Charlie had to say something. Still, Charlie had been aware for a long time that there are worse things out there than just mall brats. She had seen things most people thought only came from movies and science fiction novels her old neighbor liked. Charlie knew that there was life beyond Earth. Charlie knew humans were not alone on the planet. Charlie knew all this because she knew him. The first true friend she made in years. The friend who helped her became herself again. The friend was also her old yellow Volkswagen and a robot. The friend who wasn’t-
Charlie hadn’t realized she was crying until she stopped at a red light. She shook those depressing thoughts away and turned the volume up on her Walkman. Stevie Nicks’ vocals drowned out everything but the traffic.
In all honesty her life had improved a bit after Bumblebee left. Charlie was close to her mom again, even if they still didn’t always see eye to eye. Otis was less of a dweeb since he stopped trying to use big words to sound mature. And Ron was… he was still Ron but Charlie liked him more after seeing his driving moves and when he later asked for mechanic advice for the station wagon. Her friendship with Memo was going all right even after he got a summer internship.
The only relationship in her life that she now had trouble with involved a car. Not a robot disguised as a car, her cherry red corvette c1. For a few months it stalled if she drove it more than thirty minutes and the accelerator got stuck in place. Charlie was not going to give up on her and her late father’s car but had to accept that she needed help from a professional mechanic. Too bad she just lost the only job that gave her any income aside from a small monthly allowance. But like she thought before things could be a lot worse.
(Like every living thing on Earth burning in an apocalypse led by the Decepticons, laying waste to kill off the remaining Autobots.)
Yep, Charlie was certain things could be a lot worse than they are now.
So, why do I need to keep reminding myself that? Charlie wondered as she arrived at her driveway. Nearby she noticed the mailbox’s flag was erect. After Charlie parked her bike in the garage she went back to the mailbox all pulled out the letters. She inattentively skimmed through the junk mail, barely spared a glance until one card caught her eye. The mechanic recognized a crest on an envelope and eagerly cut it open with her finger. She removed the letter and silently read the contents. The hopeful smile that she had slowly vanished after she finished reading.
“Figures, had to jinx myself earlier,” Charlie sighed before she angrily shoved the letter into her back pocket.
Charlie opened the front door and was immediately welcomed by her mom who still wore her scrubs. She must’ve had a shorter shift today.
“Hi, honey you’re home early,” Sally said as she placed dishes into the new dishwasher Sector 7 bought them.
“So are you.” Charlie did not want her mom to ask about work for obvious reasons.
Sally shrugged. “Work was surprisingly slow today. They said I could leave early since we had more than enough nurses.”
“Right ‘cause it’s like we don’t need the money or something,” Charlie muttered while she headed to the new fridge, that Sector 7 also purchased, for a soda.
After Charlie befriended Bumblebee he may have accidently wrecked the living room of her house, including most of the appliances. Sector 7, a branch of the U.S. Government responsible for detaining and secretly torture alien robots on the side, quietly paid the Watsons with hush money to repair the damages done to the house. It was like they were sorry for getting Charlie electrocuted, wrongly accused of theft, and almost killed in that exact order. Or at least Agent Jack Burns was since he came to their house a week after ‘Bee left to personally deliver the check.
“Mom, I’m pretty sure we’re out of Tab again,” Charlie announced after shoving her head into the fridge for more than a minute.
“Well, the sticky notes for my grocery shopping list are on the refrigerator for a reason,” Sally pointed out.
Charlie rolled her eyes.
“Charlie, I can practically hear you rolling your eyes behind my back,” Sally reprimanded.
“We’re home.” The front door opened again, this time Otis came in. Ron followed close behind his stepson.
“Hey, my little man,” Sally chimed after she left the dishes and hugged her son. She then gave Ron a kiss and Otis faked a puking noise. He looked down and noticed an envelope on the floor.
“Hey this is addressed to Charlie.” Charlie’s hand immediately went to her back pocket and found nothing. The letter must’ve slipped out when she bent down in the fridge.
“Wait, Otis don’t-” it was too late. Her brother had read the letter judging from the stunned expression on his face. Sally and Ron read over Otis’ shoulder and both carried equally shocked reactions.
“Guys,” Charlie began, trying to smooth out the tension. “It’s really not that bad I-”
“Oh, sweetie. Why didn’t you tell me you got rejected,” Sally said after she embraced Charlie.
“I only got the letter today and look it’s not that big a deal.”
Sally shook her head. “Of course it’s a big deal. Charlie this was the third school you got rejected from. This is horrible.”
“Seriously, Mom, this isn’t the worst thing that happened to me today-” she cut herself off before she said anything worse but Ron caught it.
“Wait another bad thing happened?” Ron jumped in.
Charlie sighed. This was getting out of hand. “Nothing, Ron. I just,” she trailed off after realizing that she couldn’t lie to her family. Not again. “I lost my job this afternoon, but not because I got fired,” she added to assure her mother. “The food stand is shutting down because not enough people were buying food from us.”
Sally raised a hand over her forehead. “First your job and now this?” ‘This’ being the rejection letter she now held in her hand after taking it from Otis.
“Mom, I’ll try and find another job tomorrow. I could finally convince Uncle Hank to let me work for him.”
“After all the times he said no?”
“If I tell him I got fired maybe he’ll change his mind,” Charlie tried to sound optimistic. Emphasis on tried.
“I just don’t understand why this happened. You’re a smart kid, Charlie. Why can’t any of those colleges see that?”
Charlie smiled slightly at her mom’s praise. “I don’t know Mom. Look can I just-”
“I’m going to go call them,” Sally declared as she headed towards the corded phone.
Ron hurried over and blocked Sally. “Let’s not get hasty here. I’m mad about this too but we don’t want to do anything we might regret later.”
“Those college admission reps have no right to have said no to my daughter.”
“Mom,” Charlie started to say but Sally paid no attention as she tried to reach the phone.
“Technically they do have the right to say so, Sally but I’m sure we can find another place nearby,” Ron said sanguinely.
“The last three universities were the only ones that we could afford to send Charlie to.”
Charlie step forward and raised her voice a tad higher. “Guys.”
“Hey if those rep guys show up I’ll puncture their spleens,” Otis threatened. He then did a series of karate kicks and chops. “Nobody messes with the Watsons.”
Conan began to bark from all the excitement and danced between everyone’s legs.
Charlie felt a headache coming along. She tried to rub her temples but it didn’t help. The brunette took a deep breath and shouted, “GUYS!”
All three of the talkative Watsons, and the dog, stopped their actions and stared at the eighteen-year-old.
“I’ve had a long day, guys.” Charlie rubbed her eyes, she already started to feel uncomfortable with the attention she was getting. “I’m tired, sweaty, and I’m pretty sure I smell worse than Conan after he’s eaten something that’s not dog food. So, I’m gonna go shower and just sleep for the rest of the day in my room. Okay?” Charlie didn’t wait to hear them answer as she walked out of the kitchen.
“What’s eating her?” Otis asked a moment after Charlie slammed the door to the bathroom.
She didn’t stay in her room after cleaning the stench of failure off. Instead the mechanic went to the one place she felt like herself. Charlie lay atop of her Craftsman Creeper as she tried to find whatever faulty car part or other problem beneath her red corvette. Like all the other times before she was unable to locate the source of why her Chevy convertible was misbehaving.
Charlie was unable to calm down; in fact all that work on the sports car just made her feel even more frustrated. She tried to look through her videotapes and found no films to brighten her mood. Her eyes landed on a shelf with a row of familiar records and one with songs performed by Sam Cooke.
Charlie’s eyes began to sting.
The mechanic blinked the newly formed tears away and turned her attention towards the door.
Sally walked in with a glass in hand. “Hey. I brought some lemonade. Since you were hard at work in here and everything.” She paused and asked, “I wasn’t interrupting you was I?”
Charlie shook her head.
“Do you still want the lemonade?”
Charlie shrugged. She accepted the glass but did not take a drink. Her fingers played with the water droplets on cup.
Sally suddenly sat next to Charlie and nudged her shoulder playfully. “Are you actually going to talk to me or just keep giving me the silent treatment?” Sally couldn’t help but snark.
“I miss him.” Charlie revealed after a minute of silence.
“Dad? You miss him? Otis and I miss him too sometimes.” Sally regarded all the memorabilia that belonged to her late husband. “Obviously not as much as you but-”
“No. Not him. I still miss Dad too. I meant my friend.”
Sally quit her reminiscing. She gave Charlie a sympathetic smile.
“Who? You mean Memo? You can always call him-”
“I don’t mean Memo.”
Sally sighed tiredly. They had this conversation before.
“Charlie, you know Sector 7 said we can’t talk-”
“We’re not in public, Mom. It’s not liked they bugged the garage or something and besides we can’t pretend like it never happened.”
Sally nodded, albeit reluctantly. Sally didn’t understand why her daughter was so attached to the yellow Volkswagen but it/him was the reason Charlie started smiling again so she did want try to listen.
“You’re right but we still can’t talk about … your friend out in the open. I’m sorry you had to say goodbye but it was for the best. We couldn’t keep a robot in the garage forever.”
That made Charlie snort. “Only if we gave him enough tapes to watch. Nevermind.” She added after her mom gave her a funny look.
“I know it’s hard having to say bye to a friend or a loved one. Believe me, I’ve been there. What matters is what you do after. You either chose to stay in touch, or you don’t, or promise not to forget them.”
“I did promise ‘Bee I wouldn’t forget about him.” He made it very clear that he didn’t want me to either, Charlie thought to herself. She could still remember Simple Minds’ signature song blaring from ‘Bee’s radio as he drove away.
“Well then that’s your answer,” Sally said. She wrapped an arm over Charlie’s shoulders and stared directly into her daughter’s eyes “Once you’ve met someone they never leave your heart.”
Charlie wraps her arms around her mother’s waist and the two shared a warm embrace. At least they did until the mechanic’s stomach growled. Both Watson women couldn’t stop themselves from laughing.
“Perfect timing,” Charlie said sarcastically. She got off from the bench and followed Sally into the house.
“How about we go out to eat tonight?” Sally suggested. That got everyone’s attention. Otis ceased playing Pong on the t.v., rushed over and started to list off some of his favorite restaurants.
“I think we should go out to that Chinese place Charlie likes,” Sally said after she vetoed Otis’ ideas.
“Dragon Of The Black Pool?” Charlie perked up. She hadn’t been to that place in months.
Otis groaned. “I hate Chinese.”
“Yeah, well we’re all going together. Just like we all went to Chuck E. Cheese’s when you passed your final exam in May,” Sally said. She, Charlie and Ron inwardly shivered as the traumatic memories flooding through them.
Ron picked up his wallet and headed for the hall closet. “Alright so let’s get our jackets kids and head out.”
“It’s summer.” Otis complained.
Sally handed her son a jacket anyway. “The weatherman said there’s cold front coming later and I read that bacteria affect people with lowered body temperatures. You too, Charlie, get your coat.”
Charlie put on a cotton jacket, unlike the green leather one she lost during the fight with the Decepticons. She then tussled her brother’s hair. “Don’t be so glum. Chinese food tastes good and is good to eat for a karate master like you.”
Otis pushed his sister’s hand away and made a face. “Yeah, vegetables. And if we’re eating out I can’t just feed them to Conan while Mom isn’t looking.”
“I heard that.”
Charlie laughed while her brother groaned.
The atmosphere inside Dragon Of The Black Pool was casual. It had the façade of a California surf-shop fused with an Asian seafood store that somehow worked. The Watsons’ (and Ron) sat together in a booth already in the process of eating appetizers.
While Sally monitored Otis to make sure he ate his vegetables Ron turned his attention towards Charlie.
“Hey Charlie,” Ron waved.
“Yeah, Ron,” Charlie said, her tone neutral.
“I know you must still feel bummed out about not getting accepted but I’m sure things will work out.”
Charlie was touched by Ron’s concern even if he made it sound understated.
The mechanic shrugged. “There’s always Trade School.”
“You’re not going there,” Sally said distractedly just as she caught Otis put his carrots on Charlie’s plate.
Charlie winced slightly from Sally’s comment and moved her chopsticks over her spring rolls. Ron noticed Charlie’s sudden mood shift and delicately placed his hand above her own.
Charlie stopped playing with her food and stared at Ron. Ron awkwardly removed his hand. “You remember when I was having trouble getting work ten months ago?”
“Yeah.” Charlie said.
“It was hard. Having to go to interviews only to get rejected. It felt like a punch in the gut every time I heard them say no. I kept thinking like I was a failure as I walked through our house’s front door. It took me a while to figure out that it wasn’t me that was the problem, it was the places I applied. Eventually I found my place at James Roberts’ travel agency. The point I’m trying to make Charlie is that we don’t always find what we’re looking for the first, second, or even third time. It just takes a bit of soul searching before you can find where your true calling is. You’re a smart, talented, funny person, Charlie. There’s bound to be a place for you somewhere. You have all the time in the world to find where you belong.”
The whole table was silent when Ron finished. Sally beamed fondly at her husband and Otis decided to finally eat his carrots and greens.
Charlie smiled and realized that she had stopped playing with her food for sometime because she was engrossed with what Ron said to her.
“I-That was really nice Ron. Thank you,” she said.
Ron grinned. “You’re welcome.”
End of Prologue
Q-A: Well, that’s the beginning… of the end! XD Just kidding. I hope to make this a nice long multi-chapter story and considering that this prologue is almost 5000 words I have to say I’ve got my work cut out for me. But like I said before I want to commit to this story 100% not abandon it. Considering how much TF material I can work with I am optimistic.
James Roberts is the writer of The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye comic from IDW Publishing. It’s a really great comic book series and any fan of TF should check it out.
The restaurant Charlie and her family went is a nod to Big Trouble In Little China though I didn’t come up with that myself since apparently Charlie was supposed to go to a restaurant with the name in the film. According to TFWiki.com
TFWiki was used for most my Cybertronian terminology and time units
Another site I used: http://transformersgalaxyrp.freeforums.net/thread/9/transformers-body-parts
Chapter title: I Can’t Wait by Stevie Nicks
Celebration by Kool and The Gang
Won’t Get Fooled Again by The Who (just a sample of the ‘yeah’ lyric honestly)
Get Back by The Beatles
Keep on Writin’ and Rockin’
Chapter 2: Let's Go!
You'd think after 10 months Bumblebee would know the difference between an Earth pebble and a rock.
Q-A: I am so glad about all those wonderful comments I got from all of you and the kudos were lovely as well.
Disclaimer: I do not own The Transformers. It solely belongs to Hasbro and Paramount. The songs referenced in this chapter belong to their respected producers/singers.
Warnings for this chapter are:
swearing, ‘poorly’ attempted home invasions,
and some slight internalized xenophobia (it’s there if you squint very hard).
"She's driving away with the dim lights on
And she's making a play, she can't go wrong
She never waits too long"
– “Let’s Go”, by The Cars
Location: Brighton Falls City Limits. Date: June 4, 1988
The electrical lights in the coastal town glowed against the twilight sky. Bumblebee could faintly see the stars from his sensors that allowed him to gaze while in vehicle mode. He could also see that Brighton Falls hardly changed since the last time he was there. Hopefully someone else hadn’t changed that much either.
It couldn’t have been that long. ‘Bee thought as he pulled over towards the county line. The rush of sea-salt air blew over him in a comforting manner as though it wanted to encourage his positive neural processing.
Yep, he had a good feeling about tonight.
::Oh, ain’t that a pretty sight:: A black and white Porsche parked by ‘Bee.
::[Ziit]-We see the bright lights of the city. The colors change, they re-arrange themselves in different patterns:: Graham Gouldman sang over ‘Bee’s radio.
::Mmm hmm. You took the words right outta my intake:: The Porsche leaned closer to ‘Bee. ::So is your special lady-friend really down there?::
::J-Seven-2-2-U-Gotta have faith, faith, faith.::
J-722 laughed through his commlink. ::Okay, easy there. I trust you Lil ’Bee. So, which building unit is your friend located?::
‘Bee skimmed through his radio for a moment and said, ::Can-you-wait-out-here?::
::You know Optimus said for me to come with you as back up::
::I just-[ziit]-need to do this alone:: Bumblebee searched for more radio signals. ::I-don’t-want-to-freak out-Charlie Watson-and-her-family::
J-722 thought over what the scout said before he conceded. ::I get’cha. You don’t want to overwhelm the humans. But I’ll be nearby so I can still reach your commlink if something bad goes down::
::Under-stood:: Bumblebee revved up his engine and drove down the road. ::Thank-you::
::Be careful Lil ‘Bee:: J-722 turned towards his right when his EM field picked up something passed the trees. ::Hmmm, I wonder what’s over there::
Bumblebee followed J-722’s warning as he travel through downtown Brighton. He made sure to scan every speed limit sign he saw because as fun as it was he couldn’t afford another car chase with the local human law enforcement. ‘Bee briefly searched through his memory files and found the one that detailed the Watson's address. He then looked for the street signs that would lead him to his final destination. ‘Bee could feel his struts shake with excitement as he pulled into the recognizable cul-de-sac. His giddiness turned to confusion when he noticed the Watson family vehicle wasn’t present. The lights in the house weren’t on as well.
Did they move? Bumblebee had no time to process when he spotted unfamiliar headlights approaching the dead end. ‘Bee transformed into his default form and jumped over a wooden barrier and pressed his frame low to the ground. The scout’s HUD activated after his mask slid in place over his faceplate. His crosshairs zoomed in on the dented blue car that parked on the edge of Charlie’s home. Moments later two young human males walked out and headed to the threshold.
Bumblebee’s optics narrowed. He enhanced his audials to the highest frequency he could manage without damaging himself to hear the duo’s whispering.
“-told you, Evan. These people are loaded. Just look at all the fancy shit in the house. And remember that red corvette that chick drives around town? I bet it’s worth a lot...” ‘Bee was unable to hear the voice of the other human but could read his lips. Evan said he did not think breaking into the house was a good plan because the owners could show up at anytime. The other human shoved Evan’s shoulder. “Relax they’ve been gone for hours.”
The yellow scout’s frame quivered angrily. He was very, very tempted to come out from hiding and scare the living scrap out of those thieves. Bumblebee knew better though. He couldn’t let his selfishness ruin the Autobots’ fragile safety on Earth. There had to be another way to force those humans to leave. An old memory file pinged inside his cerebral processor. The file contained a story that J’ told him that involved Prowl.
‘Bee stealthily snuck above the barrier, made it to the outer entrance of the street, and transformed into his alt-mode. In one Astro-second he found the sound bite he was looking for.
EEE-WOO! EEE-WOO! EEE-WOO! EEE-WOO!
“This is Law Enforcement. Come out with your servos up!”
For an added effect Bumblebee flashed his front lights on and off. In a couple of Earth seconds later his audials picked up the two home invaders cursing and jumping into their battered vehicle and drove way above the neighborhood’s speed limit.
‘Bee buzzed deviously after he turned his front lights off and silenced the radio. He knew keeping a recording of Prowl’s police car siren and audio bite was a good idea. Or it was until the lights in the housing units turned on and he heard human voices. ‘Bee quickly reverted to his bi-pedal mode and found his original hiding spot before he was seen. The Autobot waited for a breem after the humans went back into their homes again to check to see if the coast was clear. He vented out relief when he saw no one but became disappointed when he could not see his friend yet.
’might as well recharge for a bit while I wait for Charlie to return. Bumblebee shifted into his vehicle form and shut his processor down.
Bumblebee snapped out of slumber when he heard a ping that came from his main processor. Somebot was trying to reach him through the commlink.
::Dang, ‘Bee! I’ve been trying to contact you for the last klik and a half::
::Sorry-I-was-re-charging while-waiting-for-my friend::
::Your friend is missing?::
::No-[ziit]-She-just-went-out-somewhere-[ziit]-She-should be:: the yellow/black scout trailed off. He partily transformed so his upper half was out. He lifted his helm over the wooden barrier and saw the green car Charlie’s carrier, spark-sibling, and Ron drove. ::She’s here:: His spark and engine thrummed with happiness but quickly started to wonder how long did he sleep. ‘Bee checked his internal chronometer and learned that the current Earth time was 0026 minutes past 0200 hours.
Bumblebee vented in frustration.
::We’re pressin’ for time, ‘Bee. Optimus didn’t want us to be gone longer than a meta-cycle::
::I’ll take your word for it:: was the last J’ said before he shut off the connection. ‘Bee fully transformed out of his alt-mode and stood up. He was about to leave the green terrain behind the housing unit until his optics landed on a window. ‘Bee moved towards the glass and peaked to examine the interior. Inside on a small berth was Charlie! He recognized her long brown hair and metal-head shirt and shorts she liked to wear. ‘Bee judged that Charlie was recharging on the berth because her brown optics were closed and vented regularly through her olfactory organ. A part of Bumblebee didn’t want to wake her up but he knew J-722 and Optimus were waiting for him. ‘Bee looked around his environment to see if there was anything he could use to his advantage.
The cold front that Sally and Ron worried over came and went an hour after it arrived. The air was sticky with humidity once again. The sudden weather change forced the Watsons, along with their neighbors, to close their windows and pump up their A/Cs.
Inside the Watsons’ home there was a room with walls lined with The Smiths, Bon Jovi, and a few other bands. They all had different sounds but that’s what Charlie liked best. The eighteen (for two more months) year-old slept with her bed-sheets pushed to the edge where her feet laid. Charlie turned to her side but woke up after she felt something hard push against her left ear.
This is what I get for falling asleep with while listening to music, she thought bitterly. She glanced at her alarm clock and saw that it was 2:27.
In the morning. Ugh.
Charlie carefully placed her Walkman and its headphones on the shelf above her bed. Charlie silently decided to never pull an all-nighter again even if Ron politely asked her to check the family's station wagon. She pulled up her thin top-sheet and began to clear her mind to fall back into unconsciousness.
Or so she thought.
The teenaged mechanic groaned as she leaned forward to turn the lamp above her on. Nothing appeared out of the ordinary. None of her model cars or mix-tapes from her shelves had fallen off. Her band posters and picture frames were still hanging from her walls. She listlessly wondered if Memo was throwing rocks at her window again even though her house only had one floor. Her mind suddenly remembered one important detail.
Memo was doing a summer program at Caltech. In Pasadena, which was over 380 miles from San Fran.
Charlie yelped in alarm. The glass in her window broke from a large rock that tumbled into her bedroom. “What the Hell?” She jumped out of bed and grabbed the nearest motor engine she could find to protect herself with. “Okay you asshole. If you think breaking into my house is a good idea I…” the mechanic trailed off the moment she looked outside her window.
Crouched in a sitting position was a bright yellow robot with two black stripes over his chest, which was also the grill and headlights of a 1977 Chevrolet Camaro. On his back were two wheels and doors flatten down with the appearance of wings. His legs and arms were long and covered with yellow platting over silver metal car parts and wires. On his head were two little antennae that currently stood upright and attentive. His helmet matched the primary color except for his face, as it was silver with two electric blue eyes bright and round. Some parts of him were different but Charlie could recognize her friend from anywhere. Bumblebee was here. He came back.
“’Bee?” Charlie almost took a step forward but remembered the broken glass on the floor. She quickly pulled her bed sheet and hastily covered her floor and walked over to the window. Charlie pushed it up and took her hand out. ‘Bee in turn pressed his face against her palm and closed his eyes in content.
Charlie gasped in delight. She felt like crying. “It’s really you.”
‘Bee opened his eyes to her and turned his radio on. “[Ziit]-Now they're waiting in line to go dancing with Charlie. They want to be seen dancing with Charlie.”
Charlie laughed. “Still using the radio I see.”
Bumblebee’s eyes dimmed slightly and his head drooped while he let out a depressed sounding buzz.
Charlie became very guilty. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that-”
“Charlie? What’s that noise?”
“Crap, my mom. ‘Bee you need to get out and-”
“What the Hell is that thing?”
Charlie and ‘Bee turned their attention towards the doorway in Charlie’s room and saw Sally and Ron gaping at them.
Charlie and ‘Bee were momentarily stunned from the intrusion. The eighteen-year-old struggled to find the right words to say. “Mom, Ron-and Otis? Okay you’re here too.” Her little brother had appeared out of the blue, staring along with their mom and stepfather. “Um, remember that friend I told you guys all about? The Volkswagen that Uncle Hank gave to me but it was actually a robot from outer space? Well, I’d like you to meet, Bumblebee.” She glanced over at the yellow ‘bot. “‘Bee this is my family. You can say hi.”
“[Ziit]-You say ‘Goodbye’ and I say ‘Hello, hello, hello’.” Bumblebee waved for good measure.
Ron grinned. “Wow you’re a Beatles fan?”
Sally sighed. “Okay. Let’s move this over to the garage, please. I don’t want the neighbors to see. You too, um Bumblebee. Just don’t step on the fence or something when you come over.” She pointed at Charlie and the aforementioned car/robot hybrid. “You two have some explaining to do.” The Watson matriarch all but dragged Ron and Otis away from the door and headed down the hall.
Charlie and ‘Bee winced at the same time. ‘Bee fiddled with his radio. [Ziit]-“Did-I-get-you-in-trouble?”
Charlie pursed her lips and shook her head once. “No. I don’t think so ‘Bee. We’ll all just talk and figure this out.”
‘Bee was not completely sure what Charlie’s carrier, Mom, meant by ‘don’t step’ on anything since he did need to walk over the ground in order to reach the garage. He thought that she referred to only stand on the flat square stones but his pedes crushed them by mistake. ‘Bee tried to put the pieces back together but all that did was make them smaller. The Calvary scout decided he was wasting time and hopped over the fenceand turned into his vehicle mode in order to enter the garage. Charlie closed the door behind him and he slipped back into his bi-pedal form. His audials heard gasps and he saw Mom, Otis, and Ron stood very closely by the smaller door in the room. ‘Bee settled on a crouched position but he sat far enough from the small red car so he doesn’t break it.
“It’s okay.” Charlie walked to her family. She attempted to coax them forward. “He’s trying not to scare you guys.”
Mom looked like she was having trouble processing. “Why is this-robot-car-being doing here?”
‘Bee was about to answer but Charlie beat him to it. “I don’t know, Mom. All I remember was me going to bed after we went out and I looked after the station wagon and then suddenly ‘Bee shows up at my bedroom window-” she ceased talking and turned her attention towards Bumblebee. “Why did you come back ‘Bee? It’s not the Decepticons is it? Are they back?”
Bumblebee sensed the distress in Charlie’s tone and he quickly shook his helm no. “[Ziit]-I-came-here-for-you.”
“Your mission, Jim, should you choose to accept it-is to-come with me-”
“On an adventure?” Charlie smiled, intrigued.
“You aren’t going anywhere,” Mom stepped between them. She stared at Charlie. “I can’t just let you go out in the middle of the night with a robot that we barely know.”
“I know him,” Charlie said firmly. “He’s my friend and if he needs my help with something I should go. Mom, you always tell Otis and me to help others when they need it.”
“I was talking about human people,” Mom said exasperatedly.
“’Bee’s still a person. If he needs me I gotta help him. He’s helped me a lot too.
“Well, the robot didn’t stick around to help after our house got destroyed,” Mom pointed out.
Bumblebee winced. He was afraid that the humans still remembered what he had done to their home. ‘Bee leaned towards Mom and stared at her. “I’m-sorry-[ziit]-about-that-mom.”
“Mom? Why is he calling me that?” Mom whispered to Charlie.
“I think he doesn’t know your real name because I kept calling you that around him while he was a Beetle Bug.”
“Okay. My. Name. Is. Sal-Lee,” Sal-Lee enunciated slowly to Bumblebee. Behind her Charlie covered her face with her servos for some reason. ‘Bee kept his focus on Sal-Lee but he had to lower his audials because she raised her vocals rather loudly. “And. That. Man. Over. There. Is. Ron. And. Next. To. Him. Is. My. Son. Ohhh-tiz-And. That-”
Charlie intervened. “Mom. He can understand you just fine. ‘Bee can’t speak. He’s not deaf. ‘Bee.” The yellow ‘bot followed Charlie’s digit as it pointed at Sal-Lee first. “That’s my mom. Her actual name is Sally. Yeah, I know it sounds confusing just go with it and the two over there are Ron and Otis.” ‘Bee waved at the humans and made sure to save a memory file that Sal-Lee is pronounced Sally. He’ll ask J’ or Ratchet later if either of them knew the meaning of the term “mom”.
“Okay,” Sally said. “So why should I let you go with a robot? How do I know you’ll be safe, Charlie?”
“I would hate anything to happen to her,” Bumblebee said to Sally but looked directly at Charlie.
“You still listen to The Smiths?”
Bumblebee responded with twisting his right servo to make a ‘so-so’ gesture. J-722 told him that after doing some recon, J’ noticed that young humans are keen on signaling with their servos a lot. They apparently prefer to use fewer words as possible when they communicate with each other. ‘Bee hoped that if he attempted the gesture that it would please Charlie. When he saw the amused grin he had to say mission accomplished.
“Mom,” Charlie took her mother’s hands and held them. “I know this is crazy but if ‘Bee needs me to help him I have to go.”
“[Ziit]-just for one day,” Bumblebee added.
Charlie nodded in understanding. “See, it’ll just be for a day. I’ll be back in one piece. I swear Mom, I trust ‘Bee. He won’t let me get hurt.”
Sally considered what Charlie said but still appeared uncertain. ‘Bee tentatively tapped Sally on her shoulder. She was startled at first but complied. Bumblebee whispered (through various radio/audio clips) to her what he honestly planned to do with Charlie and wanted to keep it a secret from her in order to keep it as a surprise. Sally finally looked less apprehensive and began to smile. At last she complied “You better make sure she gets back home,” Sally warned. “I don’t want a scratch on her.”
Bumblebee nodded his helm earnestly while Charlie let out a whoop and opened the garage door.
“Don’t forget to put on some real clothes before you go,” Sally said to Charlie.
“Okay, mom,” Charlie sighed. She stared at ‘Bee. “Can you wait for a few minutes?”
‘Bee nodded and sat patiently while he waited for Charlie to return from inside. His memory file pinged and reminded him that he was now alone with the remainder of the Watsons.
Sally pushed her hair back, Ron coughed and Otis kept staring at him.
“Can I interest you in some… motor oil while you wait?” Ron asked after a klik passed.
‘Bee blinked while he stared at Ron in confusion and Sally smile awkwardly.
“What did you say to my mom to get her to change her mind?” Charlie asked after she returned. She had quickly raided her room for the cleanest clothes she could find. The mechanic settled on a t-shirt with The Smiths on it, her worker overalls as pants and a pair of black leather boots. Her socks were mismatched but Charlie didn’t care enough to find identical ones. Her hair was brushed but she didn’t bother putting her usual mascara on.
“Secret,” ‘Bee winked. He transformed into his Camero form. He opened the driver’s door. “Let’s go!”
“What?” Otis said, incredulous. “He could turn into a muscle car this whole time? Why didn’t he do that before? Hey Charlie can your robot boyfriend turn into the car from Back To The Future?”
Charlie glared at Otis. “’Bee’s not my boyfriend. He’s a guy robot that turns into a car that just happens to be my friend. And no Bumblebee won’t turn into a DeLorean because that car may look cool it has a lot of problems under the hood.” Charlie slid into the front seat. She leaned her head near the dashboard and whispered, “I think your Camero and Bug forms are much better.”
Bumblebee let out a soft whirl in pleasure.
“Don’t forget to put on your seatbelt,” her mom said before she handed Charlie a bottle of water and a brown paper bag. “And here’s some water and sandwiches: PB&J. Eat and drink plenty while you’re there.”
“Okay,” Charlie said but was paying more attention towards Bumblebee as he put the seatbelt on for her. “‘Bee that’s a little tight,” she complained when she started to lose blood circulation around her waist.
“[Ziit]-Sorry.” The Camaro buzzed. The car engines then started to purr before going into a full out roar.
Charlie grinned behind the wheel. She missed driving with ‘Bee.
“Don’t worry about the broken glass, Mom I’ll clean that up later.”
“Wait, what glass? CHARLIE!”
Charlie laughed as ‘Bee zoomed through the neighborhood and eventually drove down to a coasting speed once they were downtown. Because of how late it still was there were no other cars on the streets. Even Sheriff Lock was not on patrol.
“Okay, so what’s the plan? You’re not going to put me in a dumpster again are you?” she teased.
“Secret,” was ‘Bee’s only answer.
Charlie raised an eyebrow. “Yeah, you said that already. Can’t you give me a hint?”
“Nope,” Bumblebee said. He buzzed an octave, which was very implicit to laughter.
Charlie pouted and crossed her arms. This is gonna be a looooong early morning. And then the other part of her mind said, I hope the ride never ends.
Beginning of The Road Trip Arc
Q-A: I must admit it was both harder and easier to write this chapter because I have a better handle on what the format of it is but writing the parts with Charlie’s family was difficult. I hope Sally didn’t come off as offensive to anyone. She’s not trying to be xenophobic towards ‘Bee but when you are a mother who found out that your daughter almost got killed by giant robots and one shows up at your house it’s natural for you to get a little bit unnerved. And the fact that said robot wants to take your kid away on some vague journey to who knows where isn’t very good either. I promise that the Watsons won’t stay scared of ‘Bee for long (well, Otis wasn’t completely scared since I’m pretty sure every boy wanted to meet a real robot once in their lives).
Can anyone guess who J-722 is? Well I hope I made it obvious enough but I still think his mannerisms should’ve given it away. XD Ha. But seriously with how many human characters there are in the TF franchise to pick from I’d rather use pre-existing ones instead of just making up some O.Cs. That includes the robots too. Also I always wanted to use that one line for Mission: Impossible and I’m happy I did. *Crosses that off bucket list* Anyway, this chapter is the beginning of an arc that’s coming up. I won’t say anything else to not spoil anything. ;)
The ever silent Evan and his unnamed brother (Myles) are from the show Transformers: Rescue Bots.
"Your mission Jim, should you choose to accept it," is from Mission Impossible. The television show from 1966. (Not the films starring Tom Cruise.)
Chapter title: Let’s Go by The Cars
With You I Could Run Forever by Graham Gouldman <- (Anyone else remember that 1980 animated film Animalympics? The soundtrack was my jam as a kid.)
Faith by George Michael
Dancing With Charlie by Chris Rea
Hello Goodbye by The Beatles
Girlfriend In A Coma by The Smiths
Heroes by David Bowie
Keep on Writin’ and Rockin’
Chapter 3: Mr. Roboto
What do Autobots and social media addicts have in common? Dead zones are best/worst things to ever happen to them. You’ll see why. ;)
Q-A: Here we are the official chapter 2 of Riding A Sunset! Oh, man I am so nervicited*! I’m so pumped about Charlie meeting the Autobots but I hope that I’ll be doing their characters justice. Granted Bumblebee is supposed to be set in a universe on its own anyway but I know how fans are a tad touchy on how their favorite characters should act (which as a fangirl I can relate). So, I hope that the interpretations I spin here won’t rub people off and I wish to remind everyone that if a ‘bot or human acts a way they don’t like at the beginning I promise they’ll go through some character development and change. But if you don’t like what I’m doing anyway well you’re free to just leave whenever you want. And I’m not trying to be mean here if it came off that way to some of you I do apologize.
Disclaimer: I do not own The Transformers. It solely belongs to Hasbro and Paramount. The songs referenced in this chapter belong to their respected producers/singers.
Warnings for this chapter are:
swearing, mentions of war, violence, and genocide ahead.
“You're wondering who I am
(Secret, secret, I've got a secret)
Machine or mannequin”
“Mr. Roboto” by Styx
Location: Golden Gate Bridge, CA. Date: June 5, 1988
It was still early morning by the time Bumblebee drove Charlie over the San Francisco Bay. There were more cars out many of which headed towards the city the Camero was driving away from. On their side of the bridge they were alone, all except for one car. A car that Charlie recognized as a black and white IMSA GT Porsche 935 and for whatever reason it had been following them since they left Brighton.
“’Bee,” Charlie looked into the rearview mirror to check if the Porsche was still behind them. Yes it was. “Tell me I’m not crazy but I think that Porsche behind us is tailing us.”
Bumblebee surfed through some stations until he found the words he was looking for. “Don’t worry about a thing. ‘cause every little thing is gonna be alright.”
Charlie breathed out a sigh. “Good. I was hoping a Decepticon wasn’t stalking us. So, I’m guessing that car is like you and is one of your friends?”
‘Bee answered with, “Friends will be friends.”
As the song faded the Porsche drove up and cruised along side them. Once it got close enough Charlie quickly realized that the car had no human passengers and more importantly no driver.
“Hiya! Finally nice to meet ya, Charlie Watson,” the Porsche spoke in a smooth, upbeat voice.
Charlie could not help but yelp in alarm and nearly swerved off the road. She did not see that coming.
“Lil ‘Bee did you not tell your Lady-friend that I. Could. Talk?” The Porsche asked in a hurt tone.
“[Zitt]-I was getting there-eventually.” ‘Bee responded nervously.
“You could’ve at least gave me a warning before I shocked this girl with my sparkling personality and pipes to match.” The Porsche huffed indignantly though to Charlie it sounded like he (she’s assuming it’s a he) was more amused than annoyed.
“Um, excuse me but who are you?” Charlie interrupted.
“Sorry, where are my manners? I’m J-722. Friends call me J’ for short. I guess you could call me the mech that tells this ‘bot,” the Porsche opened his passenger door to gesture to Bumblebee, “here where to go when our boss ain’t around to do it for me.”
Charlie swallowed as she let that sink in. “Okay um, J-722 I guess you already know who I am so I’ll just say it’s nice to meet you?” she finished lamely. God, this was her first time speaking to a presumably robotic car that could actually talk back and she was acting like a complete dork.
J-722 seemed to pick up on Charlie’s unease and chuckled, “Now didn’t I just say that friends can call me J’? If you’re a friend of Bumblebee that makes you a friend of mine! Now ‘Bee’s been telling me all about ya and he said that you’re a music lover, am I right?”
Charlie felt her confidence returning now that they were on a topic she was very familiar with. “Yeah, I am.”
“You got any good recommendations? I have this radio that I would looooove to try out but there’s so many stations to choose from.”
“It’s not always about the stations. It’s about the songs they play,” Charlie answered as the words came naturally to her. “And which song speaks to you. Songs have a way to say how you feel.”
“Right now I’m feelin’ something slow but not like melancholy, ya know?” J’ answered.
Charlie pursed her lips while she was thinking. ‘Bee made a curious buzz noise while he waited with J’. “Try looking for songs by Sam Cooke or Duke Ellington. They sound like they’d be your style.”
J’ went through several stations until he found one with the song In A Sentimental Mood. After the first saxophone riff J’ revved up his engines. “Oooooh, I am lovin’ this sound. What do you call it, Lil’ Lady?”
“Jazz? Jaaazzzzz. Oooh, I like that.” J’ revved his engine once more. “I think it’s growing on me.” He then slowed down until he was behind Bumblebee again. Charlie turned her head around to watch. “Don’t cha worry about a thing. I’ll be keeping you covered until we’re back at the base.” Charlie could still hear the Duke’s sax in the distance.
“He seems nice,” Charlie said after a minute before admitting, “He’s pretty cool actually.”
‘Bee chirped happily in response. His trilling ceased after Charlie’s stomach started to growl.
“Oh,” Charlie smiled sheepishly. “It was still a bit early to have breakfast at home but I guess I should’ve had some anyway.” She leaned over to the passenger’s seat and pulled the brown paper bag lunch her mom made. Inside the bag were two PB&J sandwiches made with smooth peanut butter and grape jelly. Charlie couldn’t help but grimace a bit.
“What’s-wrong?” Charlie turned her head around the car and wondered if Bumblebee had eyes hidden somewhere.
“How are you doing that?”
“I-have-[ziit]-scent-soars-that-give-me-sight beyond sight!”
“Okay, so you can see in the car even without your eyes because of your sensors?”
“Yes,” ‘Bee buzzed. “Soooo-why-were-you-up-set-earlier?”
“Oh, just that I didn’t like the jam my mom put in the sandwiches she made for me. I prefer strawberry jelly with my pb&j instead of grape.”
“Huuuuuuh?” ‘Bee responded.
“Oh, right you don’t know what-okay, a sandwich is two slices of bread with other food like meat, vegetables or peanut butter and jelly in my case. Humans eat sandwiches to restore our energy. But we can eat other things made from meat, veggies, and fruit. And fish. I’m pretty sure I’m the only person in my family that likes to eat sushi.” Charlie said jokingly.
‘Bee buzzed thoughtfully. “Well, I’ll say that reminds me of-Ener-gon.”
Bumblebee went on to explain, as best as he was capable of, to Charlie what Energon was. It turned out Bumblebee and his race didn’t have a large variety of nutrients to choose from. All of their versions of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats came from one food source: Energon. Charlie learned that Energon wasn’t just fuel to them it was also their blood and their planet’s power source. Charlie apologized about offering Bumblebee a Pop Tart one time, unaware that it was impossible for him to consume it.
A half-hour passed and the highway grew smaller and the trees became taller and wider. Charlie noticed signs for the redwood forest and realized they were near the same place she and ‘Bee saw that message from the bigger red robot. Charlie wanted to ask why they were going that direction but was cut off when ‘Bee made a sharp turn into Muir Woods. Instead of driving through the main road to the public entrance ‘Bee and J’ took a left and headed down a makeshift road meant for park ranger use only. The further they went, the songs on the radio were replaced with static. As they drove deeper Charlie was about to voice her concerns again when the two cars stopped inside a clearing.
The clearing was broad and the ground covered with dead pine needles and moss. There was one other opening on the other side that led to another unpaved road. Bumblebee drove into the middle of the clearing while J’ stayed ten feet behind them. ‘Bee then switched his radio’s dials until it let out the same white noise Charlie remembered hearing back when she started the engine in ‘Bee’s car form the first time she found him. The sound turned into a small beeping that Charlie also recalled listening to that same day. The beeps were followed by another set of beeps and Charlie turned around and realized that J’ was emitting them too. A minute passed until Charlie heard a new sound. Distant rumbling. In the other opening a long caravan of cars entered.
A dark blue Freightliner FLC112 with red and white highlights led six other distinct cars. The first car behind it was a bright pink Honda Integra D4, a red Dodge Caravan, a red highlighted white Lancia Stratos Turbo racing car, a yellow/green Land Rover Series III 4x4, and a red/white ambulance. Charlie was glad her years of reading car magazines paid off, although she was positive that she didn’t expect to use the collective information for what she was going through. The six cars drove around ‘Bee until they formed a circle along with J’.
“’Bee,” Charlie held onto the steering wheel. “I know this is a dumb question but I want to be sure that these cars are all your friends just like J' is. Right?”
‘Bee did not use anything from the radio to respond for some reason but instead made a few levelheaded sounding buzzes and chirps. Charlie guessed that meant yes.
One more vehicle drove behind the EMS hospital wagon. It was another Freightliner but it was a FL86 cab over semi truck. Unlike the blue one the primary color on the FL86 was red with blue highlights. It was also the biggest out of the others. The ambulance and Land Rover reversed in order for the FL86 to enter the circle and to be in the center.
Bumblebee opened the driver’s side door open.
“You want me to…” Charlie motioned for outside and ‘Bee chirped in response. Charlie removed her seatbelt and stepped out of the car. ‘Bee closed the door a second later.
The red truck drove forward by a few feet until it was in front of Charlie. She heard a deep masculine voice come out from it asking, “Charlie Watson, I presume?”
Charlie was still not used to hearing cars capable of speech, especially one with a baritone that low. Still the FL86 didn’t sound like he was trying to be threatening. It dawned on to her that she not only recognized the truck but she had heard that voice before. The voice belonged to the giant hologram of the big robot and he must’ve been the same FL86 truck ‘Bee drove next to on the Golden Gate bridge. Except for some reason there was no trailer behind him. “Yeah, th-that’s me,” she finally answered and inwardly cursed from the stutter.
The truck didn’t seem to mind and instead focused his attention towards J’ after he turned his front wheels to angle himself to look at the Porsche more directly. “J-722, are you certain you and Bumblebee weren’t followed?”
“Negative.” J’ answered, “No signs of Decepticons or other hostiles. The whole drive here was as smooth as lubricant.”
“Very well.” The FL86 realigned his wheels. “Charlie Watson,” his voice boomed before becoming gentle. “Don’t be alarmed by what you’re about to witness…
“Oh, my God.” Charlie was used to seeing Bumblebee turn into his robot form but what she was witnessing right now was a whole other level.
All the cars, trucks, and vans pulled and stretched until they started to stand on two legs each. Their painted plates shifted into armor and helmets on most of their heads while their wheels popped onto their backs and feet. Their sides grew arms that reached their waists. They were all various heights taller than ‘Bee’s twelve feet but none was high as the FL86. His front grill and windshield became his chest. On his boxy shoulders were the two exhaust stacks and on the front were white symbols that matched the same weird face on ‘Bee’s car horn. (Charlie would later see that every robot had the symbol on them on some singular spot) All eight rear tires were behind the robot’s blue legs. The only other blue on him were his hands and the helmet on his head, which reminded Charlie of a samurai helmet from those old Japanese movies Otis and Memo liked to watch.
The red truck kneeled until his face with eyelevel with Charlie. She could see more details with him closer such as the fin-like antennae over the helmet, the facemask that seemed to cover his mouth and his electric blue eyes that were triangular in shape contrasting Bumblebee’s round ones.
“Charlie Watson,” his faceplate moved up and down while he talked. “I am Optimus Prime,” he nodded at the other robots and added, “and we are all part of the Autobot Resistance from the planet Cybertron.” Optimus straightened himself up again and pointed at the robot where the blue semi once parked. “My Second-In-Command, Ultra Magnus.”
The smaller Freightliner-turned robot resembled a shorter version of Optimus Prime with the same body design and helmet. The major differences though, aside from the height, was that Ultra Magnus’ coloring reminded Charlie of the American flag and he had the tallest shoulder pads out of all of the robots.
Ultra Magnus stood at attention and saluted at Charlie. “It is an honor to formally make your acquaintance.”
Charlie waved back, not sure how else to reply.
“Layin’ on there a little thick, eh Magnus,” the pure red robot muttered. “It ain’t like the human is royalty.”
The pink robot to his right slapped his shoulder. “Stop it ‘Hide,” her feminine voice harshly whispered, “We promised Bumblebee we’d be nice.”
“This is me bein’ nice.”
Ultra Magnus glared at the red and pink robots. “The two of you are acting out of line-”
“Ahem.” Optimus gazed at the three bickering robots and crossed his arms. Charlie couldn’t see his face but she betted that it was a look of disproval.
“Sorry Optimus Prime,” all three of them said while Ultra Magnus added a “sir” at the end. They all appeared very ashamed of themselves.
Charlie snorted but covered it with a cough as Optimus Prime turned around.
“Since they so kindly volunteered to speak, I shall introduce them next. Our Security Lieutenant in addition Weapons Specialist, Ironhide and Arcee our Communications Expert respectfully.”
Ironhide was nearly red all over save his waist and legs, which were the same metallic silver on the other Autobots. However his square shoulders were a darker shade of gray. His entire chest was the van’s windshield and occasionally the wipers moved to push a leaf off. “Sorry, ‘bout talkin’ earlier,” Ironhide said. “My glossa has a nasty habit of runnin’ off.”
“I believe you should apologize to me as well,” Ultra Magnus pointed out.
Ironhide huffed and crossed his arms. “I never apologize more than once. Not since back during the Battle of Praxus when I-” Arcee stood in front of Ironhide, interrupting him, “How about we get back to introducing ourselves? My name’s Arcee.” She pointed to her pink chest. “My military rank is Captain and I’m in charged with keeping communication between forces in battle.” Then she gestured to her Princess Leia-styled helmet. Right as she said ‘keeping communication’ a small metal antenna rose up.
“Cool,” Charlie said, impressed. A smile formed on Arcee’s metal lips.
Ironhide took a step forward. “You know I have these really cool cannons-” J’ pushed him back. “Yeah, yeah we ain’t got all day. More of us ‘bots have stuff we want to say.”
Optimus nodded towards the Porsche. “You are already familiar with J-722. Sergeant of our Spec Ops.”
J’ was around the same height as Ironhide but that was as far as their similarities went. His chest was the blue and red hood, including headlights and grill. His helmet, shoulders, hands, and shins were black while the rest of his body was white. “Oh, Optimus I have one thing I need you to revise.”
“What’s that, J-277?”
“I decided to change my designation.”
The rest of the Autobots, save for Optimus Prime and Ultra Magnus, groaned.
“What’s up?” J’ frowned. Behind his blue visor Charlie could see him narrow his eyes.
“You’ve been through a dozen new designations,” Ironhide complained. “First it was Meister.”
“Then Shaft,” Arcee added dryly.
“For a while you called yourself Blaster but had to change that too when you found out there’s already a ‘bot with that name. And then you went back to your old mech-made designation,” the small green and orange Autobot finished.
J’ waved them off. “Alright, alright, but this time for sure I found the right name. In honor of arriving on this planet I’ve chosen a name to reflect a genre of music I found here.”
“Is it Jazz?” Charlie asked in amusement.
“What gave me away?” The newly named Jazz inquired with a fascinated brow.
“Because that’s all you listened to while we drove up here,” Charlie replied with a smirk.
A moment passed and the Porsche laughed uproariously. “Mech, Lil ‘Bee you sure know how to pick ‘em.”
Bumblebee made himself small by hunching his shoulders. Charlie felt her cheeks get a little pink.
“Very well. You shall be now known as Jazz,” Optimus Prime declared.
“Let’s hope it sticks this time,” Optimus Prime added, which led to everyone but Ultra Magnus to laugh. Even Jazz chuckled after a second passed. Optimus raised his arm for silence. “We have with us our Field Medic, Ratchet.”
The robotic medical officer was almost pure white except for his lower waist, hands, and the v-shaped crest over his helmet. On both of his shoulders were symbols of the Red Cross, the same ones Charlie has seen on the ambulances and hospital her mom worked at.
Ratchet said nothing for a minute and just stared at Charlie. She was beginning to feel uncomfortable when he asked, “When was the last cycle you consumed, Ms. Watson?”
“I’m sorry what?”
Ratchet inhaled through his nose and exhaled. “My scanners indicate that you haven’t consumed any substance in nine Earth-hours. And for a human that’s a long time to go without provisions.”
“Oh, I’m not hungry.”
Bumblebee buzzed in disproval at Charlie’s obvious lie and rolled his eyes at her. “Fine I’ll eat a sandwich later. Are you happy now?”
“Yes.” The Autobots’ medic answered. ‘Bee went as far as to pull out the brown paper bag and water bottle from God-knows-where and handed them to Charlie. Neither robot stopped staring at her until she started to halfheartedly nibble at the bread.
I can’t believe a Doc-bot and my old car are mothering me, Charlie thought in wonder.
“Next we have our engineer, Wheeljack.” Between Ironhide and the Land Rover was the strangest looking robot Charlie had seen so far. Wheeljack had the Lancia Stratos’ Italian red and green on his hood and feet. The rest of his body was silver, including the two wing-like appendages on his back. His face stood out from the others because it appeared that he had a mouth that was made out of three metal slabs. He also had two fiberglass fins on the sides of his head. Attached to his right shoulder was a missile launcher of some sort.
“Hiya,” Wheeljack greeted. “Nice ta meet somebody else who’s good with a wrench.” Every time he spoke a word the fins glowed and faceplate slid open and closed like a mouth.
“Excuse me?” Ratchet said accusingly.
Wheeljack chuckled sheepishly. “Well, somebody who I hope won’t throw their wrenches at me when they get angry.”
Ratchet grumbled something about showing Wheeljack his wrench collection later but became to indistinguishable for Charlie to hear the rest.
Optimus Prime seemed to just be ignoring all the interruptions by that point and presented the small orange and green robot. “This is Brawn, our demolition expert.”
The Land Rover had dark green shoulders and legs. His chest was bright orange while his arms and head were silver. He crossed his arms and nodded approvingly at Charlie. “Glad to finally meet the human that saved our ‘Bee’s life.”
Charlie almost chocked on her sandwich. She realized that all eyes were on her after what Brawn had said. “Oh, I um…”
“And last but not least, our Private, First Class promoted to Calvary Scout who you’ve affectionately re-designated as Bumblebee.”
‘Bee kneeled down to Charlie’s eye level and held out his hand to her. Charlie put her sandwich away and then grasped one of his fingers and gave it a light squeeze. “It’s very nice to meet you,” Charlie teased while giving his index finger a shake. Bee buzzed once more and shook her hand back.
Charlie and ‘Bee couldn’t keep their straight faces and laughed. Charlie sobered up quickly and whispered to the yellow ‘bot. “’Bee why didn’t you just tell me you were taking me to meet your friends. I could’ve worn something nicer,” she started to look self-consciously at her clothing.
‘Bee said nothing but patted her head while giving her a kind expression. In his eyes Charlie could practically hear him say it did not matter to him how she looked.
Charlie felt herself blush again but tried to play it cool. “Well, if you say so.” She changed the subject when she remembered a question she asked hours ago. “So, why did you bring me here? And you better not say ‘secret’ again.”
“I believe we can answer that,” Optimus Prime responded. Charlie became aware that she wasn’t alone with ‘Bee and flushed with embarrassment this time. Thankfully none of the Autobots seemed to notice. Except for Jazz, he covered his mouth but Charlie could hear his chuckles.
“Over nine million years ago our home planet of Cybertron was divided into a great civil war. My fellow Autobots and I fight against the Decepticons who wish to restore Cybertron into a mighty empire expanding across countless worlds. They desire to take over every planet, cyberform them until they are metallic like our home world.”
“What if they are people already living there?” Charlie spoke with concern.
Optimus Prime looked to the ground, his eyes appeared sad. “They could either enslave the populace or kill them if they resist. We Autobots however wish to coexist with all sentient life and believe everyone is entitled for the right to be free. That is one of the primary reasons we are at war and have stayed at war on our planet. Until two Earth-years ago that is. The numbers of the Decepticons have grown immensely by then and they now outnumber us three to one. I made the call for the Autobots to evacuate from Cybertron and find sanctuary on a hidden planet. I sent Bumblebee ahead of our forces to set base for us on that planet. The planet in question is the one we are on now: Earth.”
Charlie sighed heavily; she tried to wrap her head around all this new information. “So, you guys came here because you needed a place to hide from the Decepticons? And that’s why ‘Bee came here.”
Optimus Prime nodded. “That’s correct. I came to him ten Earth-months right before the rest of the ‘bots you see before you landed on Earth.”
“I remember seeing you,” Charlie revealed. The Autobots stared at her in surprise. “On the Golden Gate Bridge after Bumblebee turned into a Camaro I saw him drive next to you. You had a gray trailer attached to your fifth wheel,” she quickly elaborated.
Optimus Prime’s eyes widened. Charlie didn’t know if he was mad or not since that darn mask covered ninety percent of his face. “You have an excellent memory and an observant optic,” he complimented after a minute passed.
“That’s eye, Optimus,” Ratchet corrected. “Humans visual organs are called eyes.”
“Oh,” Optimus Prime appeared stunned for a moment. “I apologize,” he said after he placed his attention on Charlie. “I’m still not completely familiar with your planet’s terminology.”
Charlie was bewildered at the very tall robot bending his head to her. Cleared her throat and nodded. “It’s okay. Really. You don’t have to bow.”
“I’m obligated to do so,” Optimus Prime insisted, though he did stop kneeling. “You are the same human that showed compassion to my young scout and risked your life to save your planet.”
Ultra Magus smiled broadly and bowed too. “We owe you a great deal of thanks for your bravery and kindness. None of us would be here if you hadn’t aided Bumblebee on his mission.”
Charlie smiled but it didn’t reach her eyes and inside her heart she felt like a total liar. “’Bee did all the fighting. All I did was just pull a battery out from a transmitter the Decepticons modified to call for reinforcements.”
“What you did was very brave,” Arcee affirmed. “Not all acts of courage involve fighting an enemy on the battlefield.” A few Autobots nodded and spoke similar words in agreement.
Every kind declaration the Autobots said punctured a wound in Charlie. She was no hero. She was a coward.
Optimus resumed the story where he left off. “Right after all of us regrouped we became aware of the dependence Bumblebee had on his Earth radio. He gave us a recount of the first groon (“hour in Cybertronian,” Ratchet clarified helpfully) of his arrival to Earth. From his dangerous encounter with the government group known as ‘Sector 7’ to the unfortunate advent of the Triple-changer Blitzwing. The fight ended in Bumblebee’s favor but at a price.
“Not only were Bumblebee’s memory cells burnt but his vocal processor was forcibly extracted by Blitzwing, rendering him mute.”
Charlie covered her mouth. Beyond dismayed from what she heard. The mechanic stared at Bumblebee; her eyes began to tear up. “That’s why you can’t speak. This whole time, I never thought,” she trailed off because she didn’t want to finish the rest of the sentence. ‘Bee placed a hand on her shoulder and squeezed it very gently.
Charlie looked pleadingly at the Autobots. “Is there something that you can do to help him?”
Ratchet cleared his throat and smiled knowingly. “As a matter of fact there is. Ten Earth days ago, Bumblebee led Brawn and me to the location of where the vocal processor was taken out.” The Field Medic opened a rectangular metal crate that appeared the hell out of nowhere and withdrew a small object wrapped in cloth. Ratchet spared Charlie a glance as he unwrapped the small item. “You can quit gawking. What you saw was my medical kit appearing out of my Subspace storage pocket. A small amount of Energon takes it in and out of the material world at will. Anyway, Bumblebee told us where his damaged vocalizer was located. Brawn collected it and I had examined and fixed that damages that Blitzwing had done to it. All that’s left to do is reattach this to ‘Bee’s vocal circuits and his voice should return to normal.”
‘Bee chirped to Charlie with his hands in the air.
Charlie gasped in disbelief. “That was the secret? You brought me here so I can see you get your voice back.”
A thought came to Charlie and she realized, “That’s what you said to my mom. To convince her to let me come with you.”
The scout nodded his head once more. Charlie noticed he was refusing to ‘speak’ like he normally did. “Why aren’t you using your radio right now? Actually now that I think about it you haven’t since we got here.”
“That’s because he can’t,” Wheeljack explained. He motioned to the redwoods. “This forest’s foliage is so dense that we can’t get any distant signals here. Radar included. We’re pretty much walkin’ around here blind as bolt-bats.”
“Then why pick your base here?”
Ironhide answered for Wheeljack. “Because if we can’t see that means no Decepticreeps can either if they do eventually show up. As long as we stay hidden in the trees they can’t find us.”
“Yeah except there’s one problem,” Charlie said. “This forest you guys are in is a public park. That means a lot of humans come here and they can spot you.”
“Indeed,” Optimus Prime admitted. “We know we must determine a proper base devoid of human exposure. It has been our top priority.”
Brawn added, “Even Bumblebee insisted that setting up a base was more important than finding his vocal processor until two Earth-weeks ago.”
Ironhide projected a hologram of the planet. He pointed at the North American continent’s western costline. “So’ right now we’ve been trottin’ around tryin’ ta find a permanent base. Currently our base is over the hill and through the woods we jus’ drove across. But it’s like you and Optimus said, Charlie. We can’t stay here forever. We’ll have ta be on the move again after ‘Bee gets his voice box fixed and night falls over this place.”
Charlie’s heart stopped. “You’re leaving again?”
Bumblebee’s eyes dimmed and he let out a low buzz. He opened his arms and she ran into them. She felt like she embraced ‘Bee harder than the last time they had to say goodbye. The mechanic wiped her tears away and then looked straight to Optimus Prime. “Can I-can I at least stay with you until you have to go?”
“You are more than free to stay with us during the remainder of our duration here if that is what you wish,” Optimus Prime answered. He placed a hand over Bumblebee’s shoulder. The Autobot leader and scout shared a look of understanding.
“Charlie,” Jazz spoke comfortingly. “Lil ‘Bee and I will personally escort you back to your creators by nightfall. You have my word.”
“Bumblebee,” Ratchet approached the yellow scout. ‘Bee and Charlie removed themselves from their hug and he gave the medic his full attention. “Are you ready to get your voice back?”
“Quit squirming. I know this is ticklish but you need to hold still.” Ratchet pressed a servo over Bumblebee’s chassis while his other one held a small laser knife in place. On that same arm a panel was open, which revealed a dataport and diagnostic cables connected to the yellow Camaro’s neck cables. Next to them was Wheeljack assisting the medic by reading aloud Bumblebee’s systems and recent health evaluation.
Bumblebee beeped in response.
“Well, of course my servos are cold.” Ratchet rolled his optics before adding, “I had to wash them in the river nearby before I started the surgery.” When ‘Bee jerked again the medic pressed his servo more firmly. “If you keep moving there’s a chance I might cut something vital and you’ll be in worse condition than before.”
The yellow scout buzzed in understanding and kept his spinal strut erect. While Ratchet and Wheeljack resumed the operation the other six ‘bots and one human stood to the side. After Bumblebee accepted Ratchet’s offer earlier the Autobots and Charlie headed further into the woods where the temp-base was located. The clearing was smaller than the one they were in before with only enough room for the makeshift berths for recharging and a few metallic crates that the others were successful in bringing after the evacuation from Cybertron. Unfortunately the crates made the area feel even more crowded. But they had to keep most if not all of their supplies packed in case they had to relocate again. Which of course happened almost daily now. ‘Bee hoped that Jazz would find a permanent base soon. The scout then pushed that thought away. He shouldn’t even think about that. The last thing he wanted to think was about having to leave his friend for a second time. He could still see the crushed look on Charlie replay through his memory file. Bumblebee mentally shook the dark thoughts away. He needed to focus on the present no matter how bittersweet the future might be. He was about to get his voice fixed after all. And the bots that he viewed as close friends were present to witness the event along with the first friend he made on Earth.
A few feet behind the yellow ‘bot Charlie sat on tree stump nearby Jazz. ‘Bee didn’t need to use his EM field to sense that the human was growing lethargic from boredom. Though he couldn’t use it anyway since humans were an organic species.
“How long do you think the procedure will last?” Charlie whispered to Jazz after she tapped his pede to get his attention.
Jazz pursed his dermas in thought. “Hmm, don’t know.” He shrugged his shoulders, “The serious ones usually take a while.”
“How long has it been since it started?”
“’bout five breems. Oh right, ” he continued after Charlie gave him a blank look. “That’s 41 and a half minutes in Earth time. Sorry, I still need to reset my chronometer.” He patted his right arm and a hologram of a digital clock written in Cybertronian appeared. The Spec Ops tried to fix it then but remembered that the poor reception in the forest made it unable to update.
“Apparently,” Charlie said, letting out her sass at long last. She drank the rest of her water and then winced slightly.
“Hey Jazz, do you know where the nearest outhouse is?”
Jazz gave her a confused look. “But aren’t we already out? Don’t you mean you wanna be in a house?”
“No, no I mean-look I just need to-I just need like ten minutes by myself and I’ll come back.” She got up from the stump and walked away. Jazz followed close behind. “Are ya sure you don’t need me to go with you?”
For some reason beyond the Autobot’s understanding Charlie became defensive. “No,” she said firmly. “Please don’t follow me. I’m just going down the road back to the main entrance and I’m sure there’s like a public restroom there for me to use.”
Well, that made even less sense than before. Why did the human need to go someplace else to rest? Jazz decided however not to press the issue further as he could tell from Charlie’s tone that she was unhappy and the last thing he wanted was to make her angry. ‘Bee would not be happy with that. And an unhappy ‘Bee means that Prime would be unhappy and then everyone would be unhappy. Except Ratchet, he was never happy.
“Alrigh’, just remember to make it back here soon so you can hear Lil ‘Bee’s voice.”
Charlie smiled, grateful. “Thanks Jazz.” With her brown pouch and plastic container in her organic servo the human jogged down the pathway.
Brawn stepped next to Jazz and asked, “You sure that was a good idea to let her go alone?”
Jazz dismissed Brawn’s worry. “I can already tell that girl can handle herself. And besides ya’ll saw how agitated she looked back then. If she needs some space we should respect dat.”
“I concur,” Ultra Magnus interjected. “According to Ratchet’s datapad on human anatomy humans regularly-”
“Hey guys!” Wheeljack exclaimed, which drowned out what the SIC was going to say. The team’s scientist grinned through his metal slabs. “Get over here. The operation is done.” The three ‘bots exchanged looks for a second before first two eagerly headed on over. Ultra Magus followed in a more dignified approach. All of the youngest Autobots encircled the makeshift berth while Ratchet tried to push them back. “Give the mech some air you lugnuts,” the medic commanded. The crowd parted for Prime and he kneeled before the scout. Wheeljack propped Bumblebee up and he was able to sit on his own.
“How are you feeling, Bumblebee?” The leader of the Autobots placed a servo on ‘Bee’s shoulder.
‘Bee glanced around and stared directly behind Prime’s shoulder. He tried to speak but it came out as a wheeze.
Ratchet and Wheeljack both attended to the Calvary scout. “Easy there, don’t force it out. Yer joints are still soldering,” the scientist advised. “Vent okay? C’mon, I know you can ex-vent with me ‘Bee.”
Bumblebee moved his mouth guard and a mixture of static and a strangled voice was heard.
Ratchet placed a servo on Bumblebee’s back plate. “Vent~” he stressed out. “Don’t try to belt out the glyph. Coax it out gently.”
‘Bee ex-vented and placed a servo over his throat cables. “Ch…” he willed his voice processor. “Char-char.”
“He’s trying to say something,” Arcee said excitedly.
“Char…” Bumblebee ex-vented in near defeat but his optic narrowed in determination.
“Char… lie.” He and the rest of the Autobots’ optics widened in amazement. “Charlie. Charlie!”
“It’s back!” Ironhide cheered. “The youngin’ got his pipes back!”
Arcee gave ‘Bee a hug. “I knew you’d get your voice back,” she shouted joyfully.
“Well done, Ratchet.” Prime had removed his servo and placed it on the ‘bot he was speaking to. “You made good today, old friend.”
“Ratchet,” Bumblebee said, his optics glistening from cleanser. “Thank you so much. You too Wheeljack.”
The scientist chuckled. “Ratch’ did all the real work.”
“Too bad we ain’t got any hi-grade to celebrate with,” Jazz vented sadly. Ironhide gave him a withering look. “Do ya have ta remind me?”
“Where’s Charlie?” Bumblebee asked. He glanced around and Jazz realized that was why the young ‘bot was looking around earlier. “I don’t see her.”
“Ah, yeah ‘bout that,” Jazz began to say.
Charlie sighed in relief as she left the public restroom. She felt so much better after… relieving herself. God, she felt awkward trying to explain to Jazz why she needed to leave the camp. She was not looking forward to having to explain to nine robots why humans need to be alone a couple times a day. Ratchet seemed to understand human biology a little bit though. He might be able to help her later.
The mechanic was about to head back to the path when she heard a wolf howl. Charlie had a few seconds to wonder where that sound come from when everything turned black.
To Be Continued
Q-A: Oooooh, you all must hate me now huh? The first cliffhanger of the story, isn’t this exciting? Bumblebee also said his first word and it was Charlie, aww. Too bad she wasn't there to hear it. Aren't I evil? So, any complaints or concerns on how I portrayed Optimus, Ironhide, Arcee, Wheeljack, Ratchet, Brawn, and Ultra Magnus? Like I said at the top AN these characters personalities will change slightly as the story develops if you aren't happy with the way they are acting right now. ‘Bee’s got his voice back too, are you all happy with that or did you wish he kept the radio speech a bit longer? Personally I LOVED his voice in the film and I’m glad to ‘use’ it here in the story at long last. XD So I’m a bit sorry if this chapter came out later than the last two but it’s my longest one yet so that should make up for it. Right? Honestly I think the reason it has the most words is because my OCD mind kept telling me to describe every single Autobot. And now I remembered the large cast list for my story.
Pray for me. Pray.
*That ‘word’ comes from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. You know ten years ago you’d have trouble convincing me that MLP would become insanely popular as TF and just as badass.
Duke Ellington wrote the song In A Sentimental Mood. It’s considered by many to be a staple of Jazz music. I thought about using a song by Scatman Crothers (the original voice of Jazz) but I felt that would be too on the nose. By the way did anyone else know he was also the voice for Scat Cat from The Aristocats? That’s the third time I heard a Transformers VA was involved with Disney. XD
“Sight beyond sight” is directly from Thundercats.
**I swear on TFwiki.com that IS the canonical spelling of the iconic transformation sound. And I personally love that it has an official spelling. :D
Meister is Jazz’s name in Japan.
Do I need to explain who or what Shaft is?
Blaster IS the name of another Autobot.
Chapter title: Mr. Roboto by Styx (Obvious song choice in TF fanfic is obvious.).
Three Little Birds by Bob Marley and the Wailers.
Friends Will Be Friends by Queen.
Keep on Writin’ and Rockin’
Chapter 4: Blue Monday
Alternate title for chapter: Starscream and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
Q-A: Bad news, Charlie is still technically kidnapped. Good news, uhhh, can’t think of any right now. I’ll try to later. So, the Oscars are upon us. (If you read this after it ended well, I hope the films/actors you wanted to win did) So, if there was such a way for a new nomination to be added mine would be “Biggest Surprise” meaning a film that no one thought would be good but was. Guess what my choice is, BumbleBee. I bet a lot of you think Black Panther or Spider-verse would make more sense but c’mon we all knew those films would be good in some sort of way, even if the stories wouldn’t be great (thank goodess they were though). But who seriously thought Bumblebee would work after sitting through four sequels that just made a lot of give up on TF? BumbleBee was a huge surprise for me. Are there any films from 2018 that surprised you?
Disclaimer: I do not own The Transformers. It solely belongs to Hasbro and Paramount. The song referenced in this chapter belongs to its respected producers/singers.
Warnings for this chapter are:
Mentions of war, bombings, death, xenophobia/racism, and physical abuse.
“How does it feel
To treat me like you do?
When you've laid your hands upon me
And told me who you are?”
- “Blue Monday” by New Order
Location: Cybertron, Kaon [Kolkular]. Date: One Stellar Cycle* passed Fall of Cybertron
The meeting was not concluding the way Starscream hoped it would. The Commander of the Decepticon Air fleet desired to have his previous misstep during the Battle of Iacon to have been overlooked, but that was not the case. Shockwave, the little glitch, was the one who brought it up while the two of them and Soundwave congregated at Megatron’s castle. Why their lord thought meeting there was such a good idea was beyond Starscream’s apprehension. Half of it was under construction while the other half was still damaged from the bombing that was inflicted during the aforementioned fight with the Autobot scum. Megatron blamed the terrorist attack for delaying his arrival to Iacon and finally terminate the Autobots’ leader. Starscream complained that the attack prevented his trine from refueling on their way to the fallen capital.
“You claim that to be your excuse for failing at the one job that I gave you and your Seekers to do,” Shockwave accused, his single yellow optic trained on Starscream’s crimson ones.
Starscream ex-vented with irritation. “I blew up the launch pad like you asked, didn’t I?”
“Soundwave observation: Seekers led by Starscream flew below average speed,” the Decepticon’s intelligence officer outputted.
“I told you already that my Tetrajets and I couldn’t fly at full capacity because we had to go all the way from here to northern Cybertron. We were practically running on fumes when we arrived.”
“A poor jusification if I ever heard one,” Shockwave said dismissively.
“You two cannot seriously be accusing me of sabotage when I was there along side you fighting Prime.”
“Autobot leader still escaped,” Soundwave observed monotonously.
Starscream sneered, “Well maybe if you had done something useful instead of just sending your mini-cons to do your grunt work for you we could’ve had the Prime’s helm on a pike now.”
“ENOUGH!” The high volume of Megatron’s vocalizer made the room tremble and silenced the bickering robots. The Deceptions’ leader got off from his repaired throne and stepped down from the dais. “Only one Decepticon has the right to eliminate Optimus Prime, me! The rest of you can do what you want with the remaining Autobots.”
“Lord Megatron,” Starscream groveled-no, beseeched sounded better. The great Decepticon air commander beseeched to his master. “I am loyal to the Decepticon cause without question. I wish for us to claim victory in this war and for all your plans to come into fruition. The only request that I have is for my fellow Seekers to get the recognition that you promised us.”
“Recognition?” Megatron spat. “If you want you and your little tetrajets to have my respect you must earn it first.”
“Haven’t I proven time and time again how loyal my fliers and I are? We go around following your orders, all I want is for them and me to be taken seriously.”
“Ha! The only ‘jet I cannot take seriously is you,” Megatron made known, he grinned mockingly. “Your demeanor these last few vorns have lapsed to that of a self-absorbed youngling. The only reason I haven’t shipped you off to one of Cybertron’s moons is because you are by far the most competent officer of your rank, which isn’t saying much. It would be a waste of your talents to squander them elsewhere.”
That was probably the nicest thing Megatron ever said to Starscream and yet he still had the bearings to insult him! Still, Starscream knew when to hold his glossa.
“Speaking of talents, I have a new assignment for you and the Air fleet,” Megatron pulled out a datapad from his Subspace. “While Shockwave works on his project you shall distribute the orders on this ‘pad to the entire Seeker/Flier regiment.”
Starscream briefly scanned the glyphs upon the screen. He did a double take and gave Megatron a look of disbelief. “Lord Megatron, you can’t possibly be serious about these orders,” he did not finish the rest of his grievances due to Megatron grabbing the Seeker’s neck and lifting him off the ground.
“You asked me why I don’t take you seriously. If you won’t do the same with my orders then I’ll disregard everything I said about you and I’ll make sure that complaint you just made will be your last.” He tightened his servos around Starscream’s throat cables for good measure. The chocking from the Air Commander compelled Megatron to smirk. “Well~?”
“As-[zitt]-you ca-command, Lord Megatron,” Starscream struggled to say figuratively and literally. Megatron approved the Seeker’s compliance and dropped him. Starscream fell in an unappealing heap, his HUD flared with warnings of suffocation. His wings flattened from a mixture of pent up fury and humiliation.
“You are dismissed,” Megatron declared a klik later, his back turned.
“Yes, my lord,” Starscream rasped, his vocalizer laced with static from the prior strangling. Soundwave and Shockwave walked around him, following the Decepticons’ leader in a steady pace out of the chamber. Starscream left the opposite direction towards the main entrance. Outside two Seekers stood by, waiting. Their frames were identical to Starscream's with the exception that the one on the left had purple limbs, wings, and helm while the other on the right was blue with red highlights on his wings and pede kibble. The purple one was busy tapping the blue seeker’s shoulder with his digit. Whenever he turned around the purple jet disappeared in a flash of purpureus and reappeared at the opposite end of where the former looked.
“Skywarp, quit harassing Thundercracker right now or I’ll dump your stash of engex,” Starscream warned.
“That was you? Mech, I thought I had a Scraplet on me,” Thundercracker rubbed the back of his shoulder plates.
Skywrap laughed mischievously. “The look on your faceplate with priceless.”
Starscream ex-vented in frustration as he walked passed his trine. “Primus, no wonder Megatron is now handing me these asinine missions now,” Starscream growled.
“What missions?” Thundercracker asked, trailing behind his commander.
“This,” Starscream chucked the datapad into Thundercracker’s awaiting servos. “I have been ordered by our illustrious leader to mobilize the Seekers and other air-based Decepticons. They are to travel through the rebuilt Primary Spacebridge and retake the lost Cybertronian colonies for resources and new recruits, his words not mine.”
Skywarp read the datapad over Thundercracker’s shoulder and frowned. “Wasn’t the reason the ‘bridge got dismantled was because of that Cosmic Rust Plague during Sentinel’s reign?”
“Drones sent by Shockwave recently confirm that a few colonies survived the onslaught,” Starscream answered, “And besides it’s been eleven million years now. Any threat of the disease spreading is long gone. What really has me ticked off is that Megatron is doing this to thin out my forces. He claims he wants them to go look for the Autobots’ new hiding spot but I know better.”
“Oh, good.” Thundercracker whispered.
“Hmmm?” Starscream leered at his right blue trinemate. Skywrap slapped Thundercracker with his arm. “Is there something you wish to share with us, Thundercracker?”
Thundercracker edged nervously, frowned. “Um, well I’m-”
“Something that makes you glad that Megatron is diminishing my influence over the aerial forces?”
“No!” Thundercracker panicked.
“Then what compelled you to say oh good in relief?”
“I didn’t know if you knew about the likely protest the Seekers are planning to initiate if they are forced to go off-world,” he revealed in one vent.
Starscream stared catatonically at the blue Seeker before he seized him and Skywrap and dragged them over to the nearest alleyway. He ex-vented before shouting, “WHAT!?!”
“The Seekers and other fliers. They said they didn’t want to leave Cybertron after hearing the news that the triple-changers Blitzwing, Dropkick, and Shatter were possibly destroyed to explain why they haven’t reported back.”
“Destroyed,” the red/gray Seeker raised an optical ridge. “By who or what exactly?”
Skywrap scanned the area to check if they were truly alone when he said, “The lower ranks have been hearing rumors of an Autobot that was servo-built to take down Triple-Changers. They are called the Triple-Changer Terminator.”
Starscream’s optics stuttered for a moment as he let the new information sink in. Then he laughed. For two kliks. Until his throat cables’ bruises started acting up and he had to rub them. “An Autobot that specializes in killing triple-changers? Why that’s the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. And I’m taking orders from a Decepticon that turns into a gun. This is literally my life!” His mien became humorless. “They can’t really be thinking of doing a mutiny right now of all times. Megatron does not want his plans to be delayed by any means. He’ll accuse me of starting a revolt. I cannot believe you two chose to withhold this information from me until now.”
“Hey don’t shoot the messengers,” Skywrap raised his servos, defensively, “The rest of the fliers forced us to tell you since they think you’d be less likely to blast us if we told you the news.”
Starscream stared at the two ‘jets, considering. “Well, you’re not wrong,” he acquiesced.
Thundercracker laced his servos and spoke solemly, “All the Seekers want is insurance that they won’t get offlined.”
“Then they picked the wrong careers,” Starscream stated.
Skywrap frowned at the commander. “They didn’t.”
The air around them suddenly felt cold.
Starscream ex-vented and pinched his olfactory sensor. “We are at war there are always going to be casulties. That is something we all have to accept.”
“The problem is that Shatter, Dropkick, and Blitzwing are considered to be the best of their respected ranks,” Skywrap pointed out. “If they got offlined, what chance do Seekers built as cannon fodder have?”
“Is every single Seeker plotting to revolt?” Starscream made sure to glare at both of his trinemates while he asked the question.
“They gave us a petition,” Thundercracker said hastily as he removed a datapad from his Subspace and handed it to Starscream. As he skimmed through the list, his red optics widened at the number of signatures.
I can't help but ponder the frightful headway we'd make if all Seekers put this sort of energy into their jobs.** Starscream thought with worry. “This won’t do,” he said after he gave Thundercracker the ‘pad back. “Delete all the names on here,” he tapped the pad. “And smelt the pad too while you’re at it.”
Skywarp protested, “That won’t change their minds.”
“If any word of this gets out, meaning if Megatron hears about it… well do I even need to elaborate on what happens to ‘bots who defy him?” Thundercracker and Skywarp wince and both nod.
“But still,” Skywarp continued, “they’re too scared to be processing straight. Or rationally. This whole Terminator thing has them all spooked.”
“Then we have to make them un-spooked,” Starscream said.
“How do we do that?” Thundercracker rubbed a digit over the datapad’s screen.
“If the Seekers are too frightened to go Off-World because of some Triple-Changer terminating Autobot we’ll give them one.”
The purple and blue Seekers exchange glances. “How?” they say in unison. “Don’t ever do that again. That’s creepy,” Starscream ordered. “Now the Seekers are scared of leaving Cybertron because they think there’s some big scary Autobot out there, right?” He did not wait for the other two’s answer and continued, “They’ll continue thinking that way unless we give them proof of said Autobot is offlined right before their very optics.”
“Yeah, except we have no idea which planet the Autobot is hiding,” Skywarp said.
“Doesn’t matter,” Starscream waved off the concern. “If somebot just goes off the planet and bring back a corpse of some dead Autobutt, that will convince the Seekers and rest of the fliers that they have nothing to worry about.”
“And just who will this somebot be?” Thundercracker asked; his tone layered with unease. “I personally won’t volunteer myself for this suicide mission, just to be clear,” Skywarp added.
“Don’t fret, we’re going to find a professional.” The Decepticon Air Commander grinned sinisterly.
The flight from Kolkular to Vos was longer than Thundercraker would have liked. It did not certainly help that the trine originally flew to Rodion to find the Decepticon Starscream wanted to hire only to find out he wasn’t there. The assassin was supposed to have returned from a mission recently and go for a tune-up. It was protocol for every ‘con to do so after completing an assignment that lasted more than an orbital cycle for health reasons. For some reason the Decepticon assassin’s medic was absent. A medic by the name of Scalpel was more than willing to tell them where the ‘con they were looking for was. After a generous donation of shanix was made for Deltaran Medical Facility, of course.
“Go to Voz. Ze ‘con you are lookink for iz there gettink hiz repairz done,” the mini-con doctor divulged.
“Aw, c’mon,” Skywarp groaned after they were up in the air again. “Vos is almost back where we started. This better not end up being a wild dynametal duck chase.”
“Patience, Skywarp,” Starscream urged. “All good things come to those who wait.”
“Heh, if that were the case you’d be Leader of the Decepticons now.” Starscream then gave a warning shot right by Skywarp’s horizontal stabilizer. “Hey what gives?!”
::You idiot!:: Starscream scolded through the commlink. ::What if you blurted that while Megatron was around? I would be shot dead if he knew I was genuinely planning to usurp him one day. Only a moron would do what you just did::
::I didn’t say anything:: Thundercracker said proudly
Skywrap’s engines hissed. ::Kiss up::
::Lucky for us, and more importantly my sanity, we’re about to arrive in Vos:: Starscream announced. The trine flew over the once beautiful city-state. Back before the war, Vos had some of the highest amount of energy recourses on Cybertron. Just like many other cities though it was ravaged by relentless attacks from both sides. Starscream once considered Vos a second home when the air command base was still intact. As he and his trine landed on the cracked runway abandoned in all but name he wondered why he ever thought that.
“Primus, what a dump,” Thundercracker said after tripping on a pothole.
“Can’t believe that this place was a hub of transport,” Skywarp added.
Starscream glared at them both. “Show some consideration. A lot of good Seekers lost their lives here fighting for us. And this was where the Survey Corps used to be located. Countless discoveries of new worlds started at this very port.”
“How do you know that?” Skywarp asked skeptically.
Starscream spared him one glance before he answered solemnly, “I was there for all of it.”
“You were part of the Deep Space Planetary Survey?” Thundercracker gasped. He never heard of that before.
“I am a scientist,” Starscream affirmed. “I traveled to several planets, including a few of our lost colonies.”
“What made you stop,” Thundercracker did not mean for the words to slip out when he saw how tensed his Wingleader appeared to be.
Starscream faltered ever so slightly before he resumed his original gait. “… The war. I was reassigned as a fighter,” he added quietly.
The other two exchanged looks.
“Let’s keep moving,” Starscream ordered. “We don’t want to lose him before he leaves.”
The inner urban section of Vos wasn’t as badly damaged as the outer districts. It had to do with the city being in the process of re-building after the Fall of Cybertron occurred. The large skyscrapers that once towered in violet lighting were now dull and the other half of them toppled down. The small buildings were more intact, which is what Starscream cared about the most since there was one unit in particular he was looking for. After traversing through several blocks the trine arrived at a tiny building unit with a medic’s sign in red glyph.
“This is the right place,” Starscream declared after he compared the sign to the directions Scalpel gave him. He turned around and gazed at the blue and purple Seekers. “You both stay out here. Don’t let anybots enter.”
“What if they ask us why we’re standing out here?” Thundercracker asked right as Starscream placed his servo on the door handle.
“I don’t know. Just don’t let anyone in,” he answered distractedly
Skywarp rolled his optics. “Right. That won’t seem suspicious at all.”
Starscream ex-vented and pressed, “Just stand here I’ll be back in a breem or so.”
“Exactly how do you want us to stand?” Thundercracker inquired dumbly.
Starscream was a nano-klik away from throttling the blue Seeker but instead responded exasperatedly, “I don’t know, stand casually. I really have no time for this.” With that said the red Seeker entered the building.
The remaining two of the trine stood stiffly by the door’s archway. Skywarp gave Thundercracker a lazy optic and stared at his back plating.
“If you trick me again I’ll shoot you,” Thundercracker warned, pointing his arm rocket at the purple teleporter.
Skywarp shrugged a moment later. “…. Fair enough.”
Starscream strutted briskly into the hallway. He had just about enough with how his day was going. The Seeker brushed pass the receptionist drone, ignoring its prerecord warning of entering without taking a number and barged into the medic’s work station. Starscream opened his mouth plate but he stopped himself. In front of him a blue heavy-duty mech was standing in front of an occupied slab, holding a rotary buffer. A custom built ‘jet faced the berth, his back turned from Starscream, giving the older Seeker a perfect view of his red wings with a black stripe on the lead edges.
Red and black wings, Starscream thought as his cerebral processor pinged a distant memory file that he refused to open at the last nano-klik. The big blue mech looked scared when he saw Starscream and tapped the red ‘jet’s shoulder until he got his attention. The medical ‘jet turned around and appeared nonchalant.
“If you want to schedule an appointment you have to speak with my desk drone like everyone else. Otherwise leave my medical office,” the red ‘jet directed to the door.
The faux genteel vocalizer snapped Starscream from his reminiscing. He regarded the minuscule room with an overcritical optic. “You call this a medical office?”
The red medic scowled, his handsome features turned ugly. “It’s the best I can afford no thanks to how much my equipment costs. It’s not like this city is crawling with injured soldiers like the capital. I have to make due.” He walked until their EM fields were practically integrated. His projections were tense and flared. “But if you don’t like it I may suggest you finding business elsewhere.”
Starscream was not the least bit threatened and merely pushed the doctor aside. “I’m not here for you.” He pointed a servo at the berth. “He’s who I want.” The blue mech nervously jumped away from where Starscream was pointing towards.
On the medical slab was a tall, slim ground based mech with black plating with dark purple lines over the arms, legs, and chassis. Everything about his frame was built for speed, including the finials on top of his pure white helm. He pushed himself until the speedster sat vertical.
“Commander Starscream,” the assassin said evenly. He held a steady red gaze on the gray/red Seeker.
“Deadlock,” Starscream composed his wings. “I’ve been looking all over for you.”
The assassin raised an optic ridge in mild confusion. “I don’t recall Lord Megatron sending me a message that you were coming for me.”
“No, I came here on my own accord. You have quite the notoriety among the higher ranks as one of Lord Megatron’s most skilled hit-mech. I’m honored to be in your presence and not have to fret of being your next target.”
Unknown to Starscreram behind him, the smaller flier used his right servo to imitate the commander talking and rolled his optics at certain words. The blue mech chuckled at the action. Deadlock and Starscream trained their optics on the ex-Wrecker. The heavy-duty robot pretended he was resetting his vocalizer.
“Sorry. Had something in my intake valve,” he pathetically lied.
“I just realized I need some privacy. That means get out,” Starscream added when the medic and his assistant did not seem to get the point.
“Excuse me? This is my office. If you want privacy I suggest that you leave.”
“I’m the one with the highest rank in the room. And I don’t take suggestions, I give orders, like the one you’re refusing to comply.” A part of him hated paraphrasing what Megatron said to him but Starscream felt it was the best way to make his conviction clear.
The medic appeared to be on the verge of throwing a hissy fit but then his assistant placed a bulky servo over the red custom ‘jet’s back.
“Knock Out, it’s been four groons since you refueled,” the blue mech spoke casually. “I know an oil house nearby we can go to.”
At that, Knock Out’s shoulder pads sagged and he was calm again. “Once again Breakdown you are correct.” He gave Starscream one last half-sparked glare before he left the room with his assistant. “I would’ve off-lined years ago from lack of Energon if you weren’t around to keep me on shedule.”
When the doors closed behind the duo, Starscream placed his attention back on the speedster. “I don’t understand why you came here. My records indicate that your doctor goes by the name of Pharma.”
“Pharma was relocated to Iacon due to a high demand of medics there,” Deadlock answered. The assassin flicked his helm to the door. “He was the one who recommended his old student Knock Out to me. ‘Said the mech was much skilled with a buzz saw as he.”
“And the buffing just now?”
“Knock Out told me he never lets a client leave looking worse then when they come in,” Deadlock explained. His expression turned serious. “Now what is that you really want to talk about, Commander?”
“As I said, you are one of the finest assassins on Cybertron. I could use your expertise in a… mission that I have planned.”
Deadlock deadpanned, “The answer is no.”
“I’m glad you agree that I-eh, what?” Starscream gaped.
Deadlock ex-vented and said, “I won’t be doing your dirty work, Commander Starscream.”
“I haven’t even told you who your target is,” the Seeker exclaimed.
“It’s that Triple-Changer Terminator isn’t it?”
Starscream casted Deadlock a horrified look. “How could you possibly know about that already?”
“News travels fast,” Deadlock smirked. “A lot of ground-based Decepticons thinks it’s hilarious that the Seekers are genuinely terrified of something for once.”
“If you are going to mock me then I shall take me leave and seek out a more agreeable assassin who’s willing to do business,” Starscream bristled his wings for good measure and stalked off. He snidely added, “The other one I’d find should probably be much more useful than a mech who only wields swords for some reason,” he was interrupted once again. Unlike the last few times it was because of a sword jabbed between his faceplate and the door his servo almost touched.
“The sword is as powerful as the mech who wields it,” Deadlock recited. “A saying my former mentor said to me once.”
Starscream narrowed his optics. “Was it during your little vacation from the Decepticons that you met this master of yours?”
Deadlock walked to the door and pulled out the sword with ease and sheathed it. “I can assure you that was all I learned from him. I made an error during my time away from the ‘cons. I now know where my true loyalties lie,” he promised with a cold stare after he placed a servo over the Decepticon crest on his chest plate. “Now about that assassin you need I cannot help you with that, but not because of what you think.
“First, you have no idea where this terminator of exactly yours is hiding, whether or not they exist, or if it’s even a sentient being that took out the Triple-Changers. Second, I am one of Lord Megatron’s most favored assassins, meaning if I did consent to your deal he would be the first to notice my absence and begin asking questions. Questions that I’m sure you don’t want to lead to you. And third, what you need is someone Lord Megatron doesn’t know or care if they leave Cybertron.”
Starscream absorbed Deadlock’s advice, silently adding the data to his memory file. “And you wouldn’t happen to have any suggestions on who to select do you?”
“I might… for the right price,” Deadlock rubbed a servo against his helm.
“Or I could just tell Lord Megatron that his Air Commander is conspiring behind his back-”
“Alright, okay. Fine! How does 20,000 shanix sound to you?”
Deadlock smiled after he accepted the payment. “I know a mech that not only can track down your terminator but I promise that Lord Megatron himself won’t give a damn if he’s Off-world.”
That piqued Starscream’s interest. “Where can I find him?”
“Are you familiar with a city called Valvolux?”
Starscream analyzed his memory files and found few with that name mentioned. “Only that it makes this town look like pre-war Crystal City in comparison,” he answered indifferently.
“You’ll find your mech there.”
“Why would he be living in such squalor?” Starscream reviewed a file in his HUD that showed Valvolux in ruins.
“Because that’s where all of his kind have been living long before the war wasted that place.”
Starscream’s audials caught the two words ‘his kind’ and made the swordmech repeat him self. “What I meant by his kind I meant a descendant of Eukarin immigrants,” Deadlock revealed.
Starscream lived up to his namesake and screeched, “AN ORGANIC IMITATOR! You wish for me to employ some organic imitator? Are you suffering from a virus?!”
“Technically they’re called beast-modes who hail from Euarkis,” Deadlock explained. “Or at least some of them did before they migrated here prior to the Primary ‘bridge getting closed and they were permanently cut off from their home world.”
“I don’t need the history lesson, Deadlock. What I need is a real mech to go on my mission.”
Deadlock gave Starscream a very tired look. “Didn’t you hear me earlier? The mission would be much more of a success if you didn’t send someone who wouldn’t draw attention from Lord Megatron. He hates beast-modes as much as the next ‘con. If there wasn’t a war going on I’d bet my entire sword collection that he’d be happily shooting off every colonist with an organic frame.”
Starscream considered Deadlock’s statement before he nodded reluctantly. “True. On both accounts. But still, I am not comfortable with trusting some beast I don’t know with this kind of mission. How well do you know this beast?”
“I don’t know him personally,” Deadlock confessed honestly. “Some of my old connections from the underground have mentioned how far he has come along. Him and his little pack.”
“Pack, team, gang, unit, call it whatever you want the point is Lord Megatron won’t care if one or a few beast-modes go Off-World. You of all people have nothing to lose if the beast-mode and his crew disappear. You might even find a way to fabricate a grand lie to Lord Megatron, convincing him that you were tricking some beast-modes to leave Cybertron on purpose if this fails.”
Starscream was not amused by Deadlock’s poor attempt at a joke. However he had to settle with what the assassin was doing for him. Megatron truly did not care for any of the organic imitators and their ilk. Pit, there was not a single beast in the Decepticon army. Not even as cannon fodder like the Seekers.
“Can you assure me that this… beast-mode,” Starscream inwardly cringed, “will comply?”
Deadlock smiled, his fanged denta gleaming in the artificial light. “Give a mech what he wants and he’ll willingly walk over a smelting pit for it.”
With that said both Decepticons bid each other a salute and left the medical building.
Thundercracker and Skywarp were still at their posts and thankfully were not at each others throat cables either. Starscream called for their attention through the commlink and gave them the directions to Valvolux.
“Oh one more thing,” Deadlock said after he reached the trine before they left. “I recommend that all three of you meet with the mech you’re looking for. He views other mechs who travel alone as weaklings.”
“You never told me his designation,” Starscream pointed out.
“He calls himself, Steeljaw.”
Some odd groons later, the trine reached Valvolux. There was no runway for them to dock so they had to settle with reverting to their bi-pedal forms and roll to the ground for a soft landing.
“Yep, I’ll be feelin’ that for a deca-cycle,” Skywarp griped while he massaged a landing gear.
“Stop whining and start moving,” Starscream demanded.
To say that Valvolux was habitable was truly an undeserving compliment. Unlike Vos, that did have a few Cybertronians occupying the zone, none whatsoever where in the once thriving Ministry of Energry and Nutrition. Its roadways were scarred from warfare. The factories were now hollowed-out, long ago picked away by greedy scavengers. Around the trine they could hear the howls, growls, and hisses of various beasts. They were not visible to the trine’s optics but they knew they were being watched. Or preyed upon.
“This place is giving me the creeps,” Thundercracker bemoaned. A nearby bark induced the blue Seeker to jump.
Skywarp rolled his optics at the other flier’s antics, “Then why not do us all a favor and go back to Kaon?”
“What is he now, your surrogate?”
“No,” Thundercracker did not pick up Skywarp’s sarcasm, “Starscream is-”
“Starscream will rip both of your vocal synthesizers if you don’t stay quiet,” Starscream warned.
“This site is still creepy,” Thundercracker reaffirmed a klik later.
Starscream ex-vented in irritation. “While it is admirable for a Deception to keep their guard one must remember to never show one ounce of fear-” A blue quadrupedal beast appeared from behind a half-fallen girder. Its yellow optics glowed in the dark.
Starscream bellowed a very un-mech-ly outcry.
A whole klik of silence passed.
“Well, you just lost more esteem from me, Commander,” Skywarp said with genuine disappointment.
“Forgive me,” the beast in the shadows spoke. “I couldn’t help but overhear that you three were Decepticons. I had to get a better look to see with my own optics.”
“Yeah, and we can give you a demonstration,” Skywarp cocked his arm’s laser cannon, threateningly. Thundercracker did the same.
“Wait,” Starscream began only to realize that his voice box shriller than normal and reset it to a few octaves lower than his regular accent. “Wait, I am Starscream, Commander of the Air-”
“We knows who you are,” another voice spoke out. The cadence reminded Starscream of a certain Autobot scientist, only much more malicious. Starscream activated his inferred and saw through the dark. In front of the trine were the two beasts. Both of them stood on two legs and were approximately exact heights. One had a helm with a long rack that resembled the horns from Cervidae mammals. The other one who spoke first had long, wide, finials, clawed digits, and what appeared to be a tail at the end of its chassis.
“What my friend oh so, corrosively articulated is that we are familiar with your insignia,” the first who spoke stepped out into the light, his blue and gray plating on display. He barred his sharp denta into a smile far too forced to be sincere. “We are in actuality admirers of your faction and you could say big fans of your work in particular.”
Starscream rolled his optics, “Enough with the flattery, Steeljaw. I can see through your two-faced act from a colony away. You’d have to try harder; we Decepticons practically wrote the book on lulling the enemy into a false sense of security.”
Thundercracker and Skywarp adjoined remarks of agreement.
Steeljaw’s grin did not falter. “It might be hard to believe for you of all people but we legitimately desire to be assistance to you. The only reason you could be here is because you have heard of I and my pack’s services, am I correct?”
Starscream’s optic remained on the beast. “Possibly, if the rumors are true.”
“All of ‘em are,” the antlered beast asserted. He walked next to his partner and crossed his arms. “If yous want a job done quickly and quietly we’re the beast-modes you want.”
“Thunderhoof speaks the truth,” Steeljaw claimed. “We can track and take down any creature anywhere. Including that Triple-Changer Terminator that’s been troubling your little Seekers.”
“Oh, wonderful.” Starscream’s engines revved as he shoved a servo over his faceplate. “You’ve heard about the terminator-bot.”
“Is it true that he took down thirty Triple-Changers?” Thunderhoof asked with interest.
Starscream ex-vented and glowered at the blue and black beast. “No, it wasn’t that many,” he said eerily calm. “However the Terminator is some-bot not to be taken lightly. We have a common enemy because we have high intel that the Cybertronian in question is none other than an Autobot.”
Steeljaw and Thunderhoof exchanged glances before they snarled furiously.
Starscream held back a smirk. Those were the reactions he was looking for.
::Are they going savage?:: Thundercracker questioned worriedly.
::Before we landed I looked through the data-files on a Steeljaw and learned that he was present during the barrage that destroyed Valvolux. His carrier and sire were wiped out from the attack:: Starscream revealed with darken glee.
::But I thought both sides were responsible for the bombing?:: Thundercracker noted.
::Yes, but these dumb animals don’t know that:: Starscream realized the perfect opportunity that befell on him and approached the two beast-modes with false pretenses. “We both have a common enemy. This criminal is on the loose killing able-body ‘cons with no remorse and no compassion. I am giving you the distinct honor of terminating the Terminator-bot,” Starscream chuckled at his pun, unaware of how weak it was. He resumed, “All I need from you is to say yes.”
“What’s innit for us?” Thunderhoof challenged.
Starscream frowned but remained unperturbed. “How does 50,000 Shanix sound to you?”
Thunderhoof’s optics gleamed greedily but Steeljaw pushed him aside. “What we want is more valuable than money.”
Starscream’s optical ridges narrowed. “What’s more important than shanix to you?”
Steeljaw tapped a clawed digit on Starscream’s left wing. “This.”
“Even if you were a groundkisser I would not stoop so low to interface with you.”
Steeljaw looked equally disgusted. “What-No! That’s not what I want. I was pointing at the Decepticon emblem.”
Starscream ex-vented in relief but then sobered. “Your desire is to become a Decepticon.” The wolf-mech grinned, “Indeed I do.”
An astrosecond passed and then Starscream chuckled spark-lessly. “Megatron does not care for your kind. What makes you think he’d be interested in the likes of you?”
“Wasn’t there a time when bein’ a Decepticon meant you was fighting for yer freedom ‘gainst the system?” Thunderhoof snapped accusingly.
“I’ve been asking myself that same question for millennia now,” Starscream muttered.
“If you won’t get my pack and me badges we won’t help you,” Steeljaw insisted. The four mechs stared down at one another while Starscream contemplated.
“Very well,” Starscream answered finally. “I will discuss with Lord Megatron the possibility of … beast-modes joining our ranks. I can’t guarantee that he will consent to the request, but you never know…” he trailed off, pretending that it implied that there was any hope for Steeljaw’s wide-optic daydream.
Steeljaw bowed gratefully. “That’s all I ask.”
Starscream removed a data-map from his Subspace and handed it to Steeljaw. “The location on this map will lead you to a ship. In six groons a ship will be docked in the south side. If you are interested we will meet you there.”
“How big of a ship are we’s talkin’ about?” Thunderhoof asked after he scanned the document.
“How many ‘bots do you intend to bring?” Starscream queried.
“Just me, Thunderhoof and another friend of ours.” Steeljaw answered evenly.
“A real big friend,” Thunderhoof added with mild amusement.
Starscream felt his right optic lid glitch but kept his faceplate straight. This not how imagined today would go.
“So, the last known location of the three Triple-Changers was the edge of the Solar System galaxy before each of their homing signals became silent. We cannot deny nor confirm if they even ventured into that quadrant but if the Terminator-bot wanted to hide out somewhere it wouldn’t hurt to look there.” Starcream concluded to Steeljaw and his pack.
Just as the Decepticon Ari Commander promised, the three Eurakian descendants were given a standard Dropship, which included a few small modifications. The ship’s outer plating was reinforced and had a warp drive with a large enough fuel tank for two round trips from Cybertron across the Milky Way. For a bonus, with no additional charge, it had the most adequate cloaking device. The best the Decepticons could learn anyway from what remained of the Outlier*** clan’s data.
“Very good, Swindle. Not in bad shape. Not bad at all,” Starscream commented before sparing the smaller ground-based Decepticon a glance.
“Anything for the Decepticons. You are my best costumers after all,” Swindle smirked.
“That better mean we’re you only costumers,” Stasrscream warned threateningly.
“As far as he knows,” Swindle whispered to Steeljaw and his pack before he left.
Starscream approached the beast-modes and gave them a one last look. “Don’t screw up this mission. When you come back with the Triple-Changer Terminator-bot’s helm you will be rewarded. If you fail, don’t bother coming back at all. The Decepticon cause has zero tolerance for failure. Is that clear to you?”
While the other members of the pack looked concerned with the news Steeljaw was not and bowed. “Transparently.”
“I suggest you take your leave sooner rather than later,” Starscream advised. “It’s a long trip even with the warp drive.” He took out a small square-shaped device and gave it to the wolf-mech. “This is an Energon Radiation probe. It’ll help you locate a Cybertronian if all other scanners prove useless.” Starscream offered a demonstration by activating the tester. Its needle pointed to the highest number when the tip was situated in front of the Seeker trine. “It’s a prototype, so I highly recommend that you don’t break it.”
Steeljaw nodded before placing the newly acquired device into his Subspace “Alright pack, let’s move out.”
Location: Earth, Muir Woods, CA. Date: June 5, 1988
“Eyy-yo! Quit shovin’ will ya!”
“Yer the one who keeps shovin’”
“Stop it,” Steeljaw snarled, temporarily silencing the other two. “The scanner is picking up a trace of En-Radiation.”
“Please tell us it’s a fresh one this time. We’ve been out here for days now.”
“Not just fresh, Thunderhoof, it’s a large amount. There’s a Cybertronian nearby in this forest.”
The biggest mech of the three spoke out, his voice was much more guttural than the other two. “’Bout time, all a’ this dirt and lack a’ metal is givin’ me alloy hives…” Then the beast sniffed, his optics narrowed. “Wait, that’s no Cybertronian. It’s one of those tiny organics.”
Indeed. What the three beast-mechs saw was a small organic departing from a building unit that had a pungent stench that reeked of sulfur. Judging from the organics’ physical attributes, it was a female of the planet’s dominant species. Or as dominate as a race of organics could become on such a primitive world.
“Chela,” Thunderhoof cursed. “Jus’ how many of ‘em are there? They’re multiplying.”
“I don’t understand,” Steeljaw complained. “The scanner is only getting one life form.” He continued to glower at the probe until a new file developed in his processer. “Unless… I believe we may have found the Terminator-bot’s pet,” Steeljaw smirked deviously.
The bigger mech grimaced. “Gross. What should we do with it?”
“Underbite, we’re going to do what we do best. Find a weakness and exploit it. I’ll set up a distraction and you two grab the squishy little human. Got it?”
Thunderhoof and Underbite grinned nefariously as they took their positions in the trees. Steeljaw waited until there were no other organics around before he made his move and howled.
End of Chapter 3
Q-A: Alright, I bet a lot of you are bummed out that no Autobots or Charlie and ‘Bee were in this chapter. But there is a reason for it. I wanted to make the differences between the Autobots and Decepticons clear before the real battle begins. Major divergences between the two (aside from living on two different worlds now) is how they act. While the Autobots argue they still apologize and treat one another as friends. The Decepticons, on the other hand, don’t. They clearly get on each other nerves show little remorse if someone gets hurt. Those who do show some empathy will get the most character development. (Off topic, I had a lot easier time writing the dialogue in this chapter because all of the sassy lines from Starscream was just so much fun to write. Knock Out's too XD)
( 1) Optimus Prime is a father to his men through and through and always has their backs. Even if some might protest with a plan of his at first they do accept it once Optimus explains why it needs to be done. The Autobots have a great sense of loyalty to their leader because he shows the same back to them. Megatron openly threatens Starscream with death and shows no compassion to anyone else. The main reason anyone hasn’t shown signs of defecting is because he has a large following of fanatics.
(2) You all must be wondering what Starscream is going to be like in this story. Well, I won’t spoil anything I’ve already written. He doesn’t like Megatron at all in this story (I’m sorry) and is growing tired with how long the war is going. One reason he joined the Decepticons is because he didn’t like how he and his fellow Seekers were being treated in pre-war Cybertron. He is one of the few Seekers to still remember what a pre-war Cybertron is like though. Thundercracker and Skywarp are war-born and had no choice but to fight while it was Starscream’s.
(3) Now for the other big change I made was making Steeljaw from TF: RiD 2015 a beast-mode as well as Thunderhoof and Underbite. I personally chose this because I thought it was strange that so many Decepticons in that show were animal based but their alt-modes were still vehicles. I thought it would’ve been more interesting to see Autbots and beast-modes fight kinda like in the Uprising comics or whatever Beast Machines was trying to do. It also serves a purpose later on in the story, which I won’t spoil because… well, you know.
(4) Just to be clear Pharma isn’t a Decepticon in this but he isn’t an Autobot either. He works for whoever is willing to pay the highest for his services and it just happens to be the Decepticons.
(5) The only reason Scalpel is here is because I couldn’t find enough Decepticon doctors with names. I swear I won’t use any more movie-only Decepticons.
*A Stellar Cycle is 7.5 Earth months according to TFwiki.com. (In case you are all wondering I’m placing Cybertron near the Alpha Centauri system in this canon.)
**Taken almost word for word from TeamFourStar’s Hellsing Ultimate Abridged. (An abridge of an abridged line if you will.)
***That’s the title I’m going for Mirage’s linage. It’s tricky to use a surname in a TF fic since Cybertronians don’t really have them but considering how rich Mirage is I bet he could afford a title of some kind.
Blue Monday by New Order (Picked it because that instrumental just screamed Cybertronian to me and the lyrics fit well with a few of the Deceptions in this chapter, namely Starscream.)
Keep on Writin’ and Rockin’
Chapter 5: Hungry Like The Wolf
Always read the material right after you get it. It’ll make your doctor/teacher a lot happier if you do.
Q-A: Well, after that short field trip to Cybertron we’re all caught up now. Back to the main plot again! I bet you’re all soaked about that. ^-^ I wish I could say more but I don’t wanna spoil anything. So, I’ll just give a big thanks for all the reviews and kudos I’ve been getting and I appreciate how patient a lot of you are. It warms my heart.
Disclaimer: I do not own The Transformers. It solely belongs to Hasbro and Paramount. The song used in this chapter belongs to its respected producer/singers.
Warnings for this chapter are:
swearing, death threats, attempts at torture,
xenophobia towards humans, and slight OCC moments.
“Straddle the line in discord and rhyme
I'm on the hunt down I'm after you
Mouth is alive with juices like wine
And I'm hungry like the wolf”
- “Hungry Like The Wolf” by Duran Duran
Location: Autobot Temp-base, Muir Woods, CA. Date: June 5, 1988
“How could we have lost Charlie?” Bumblebee paced around, way passed into panic mode.
Twenty kliks had passed since the Calvary scout’s vocalizer was restored and instead of it being a time of celebration there was only worry.
Jazz tried to pacify the Camaro. He place an arm over Bumblebee’s shoulder and said, “Easy Lil ‘Bee, Charlie just went off for a bit to rest is all.”
“Rest?” ‘Bee stared at the Spec Ops. “That’s not what it sounded like to me at all.”
“You heard her and me talkin’?” Jazz asked in surprise.
‘Bee shook Jazz off, crossed arms and remarked sharply, “Just because my voice box couldn’t work before doesn’t mean my audials don’t work either.”
“Bumblebee,” Optimus Prime spoke with disproval. “You have no right to reproach your superior with such discretion.”
Bumblebee’s optics widened in realization before they dimmed. “I’m so sorry, Jazz.”
Jazz patted ‘Bee. “It ain’t you’re fault Charlie left.”
“She did not leave to rest anyway,” Ratchet said.
“Then what did she go to do?” Jazz wondered.
Ratchet frowned. “Did you not read the medical reports on human biology I formulated?”
“We were ‘posed to read those?” Ironhide scratched his helm.
Ratchet stared incredulously. “Did none of you read it?”
Ultra Magnus raised a servo. “I read the documents.”
The medic rolled his optics. “Of course you did, but did anyone else?”
Almost immediately everybot (sans Magnus) hesitated to lock optics with Ratchet. Including Optimus.
“Really Optimus?” Ratchet asked with dismay.
Optimus guiltily turned his helm away. “I haven’t found the time to pore over the journal.”
“Oh no,” Brawn stared worriedly at the SIC. “I think Magnus is about to glitch.”
“I guess his cerebral processor is having trouble computing the idea of Optimus not being perfect at everything,” Arcee observed as steam started to waft out of the FLC112’s helm.
Ratchet’s engines revved angrily. “THAT’S IT! Until you all review the medical journal we are not doing anything else!”
“But,” Bumblebee started to protest.
~12 Breems Later~
“There,” Ratchet concluded with a smug look. “Now we’re all a little bit wiser than we were before.” Around the medic everybot, but Ultra Magus, had expressions of shock, confusion, and mild disgust.
“I,” Ironhide’s vocalizer shuttered with static. “I’m now more familiar with humans than I ever wanna be.”
“And I thought being a femm on my planet was difficult,” Arcee’s spark wracked with sympathy. “To have to go through that once a lunar cycle,” she trailed off.
“It still makes no sense why they call it a rest room,” Jazz said with a stunned expression.
“Can we please go look for Charlie now?” Bumblebee pleaded.
Optimus, who had been staring off in the distance for two kliks, quickly ex-vented and declared, “Yes, we shall look for Ms. Watson at once.”
“Are you sure?” Ratchet asked. “Because I have a few articles on human reproduction that we haven’t reviewed.”
“NO!” was the other Autobots’ immediate answer.
Jazz led Bumblebee in their car modes as they drove down the path Charlie walked on. The remaining Autobots retained in their bi-pedal forms as they stealthily moved around the trees. They arrived at the park’s main entrance in a few kliks. With how late it was in the afternoon, there were no humans present. Thank Primus, it would make their investigation all the more easier.
At once, the Autobots used their scanners to gather any traces of Charlie.
“Hmm,” Jazz’s engine hummed. “I’m pickin’ up some unique signatures here. And they ain’t human.”
‘Bee nodded in agreement. “Me too. But for some reason it feels sorta off.”
Jazz pursed his dermas in thought. “Strange…”
“I found some tracks that are partially covered up,” Arcee announced. Optimus was beside her and examined the prints. They were not like any tire tracks they had seen before.
“These are not ordinary Cybertronian pede-prints,” Optimus acknowledged.
“Heya, Optimus,” Wheejack called out, capturing the Prime’s attention. The team’s scientist stood by the public restrooms. He waved the semi-truck to come over. “You might wanna come over ta see what I found.”
“What is that, Wheeljack?” Optimus asked after he arrived. Wheeljack had his servos on a rectangular contraption. “This ‘ere’s a primitive visual recording device. It’s attached to the wall here by the restroom as a security measure ta overlook the park’s entrance.”
“How do you know all that?” ‘Bee asked as the others joined the group.
“Because I have a cable connected to it right now and I’m lookin’ through the security tapes inside. If Charlie came to this place it should have ‘er on it.”
‘Bee was all audials to what Wheeljack just said. “Have you found her yet?”
“Slow your pistons, ‘Bee. I just started lookin’.” Wheeljack stood silent for a few nano-kliks until he exclaimed, “Oh, mech, I have found somethin’!”
“Project your discovery on a hologram so we may all overview your findings,” Optimus ordered, he spared a small glance at ‘Bee’s direction. Bumblebee winced. He guessed that Optimus sensed his worrying EM field.
“Alright, here’s what I uncovered,” On the flat projection screen a series of video clips played simultaneously. When Wheeljack motioned with his servos, the pre-recordings were deleted until one was left. The scientist swirled a digit as he explained, “So here you can all see Charlie exiting this building here. For a klik nothing appears outta the ordinary right?” His digit stopped moving as the film ceased fast-forwarding at the exact moment. “Here’s where things get trippy,” he moved his digit again, this time sliding it for the film to start playing at normal speed. What Bumblebee and the Autobots see is almost indescribable. “One nano-klik she’s standin’ there mindin’ her own business, then this black blur appears outta nowhere and boom, next image shows nothin’.”
“A black blur?” Arcee narrowed her optics in thought.
“Wheeljack is there any chance you can slow down the footage?” Jazz asked.
Bumblebee had his optics stare straight at the screen.
Wheeljack did as the saboteur asked and slowed the film from nano-kliks to astro-seconds. The ‘bots could see the blur was not a blur but instead a limber mech with black/blue platting and the longest helm appendages any of them had ever seen. In slow motion Charlie turned around, staring curiously at some direction before the antlered mech grabbed her from behind.
“What on Cybertron is that?” Ratchet exclaimed.
“It ain’t any Cybertronian I’ve ever seen,” Ironhide noted.
Arcee asked, “Did anyone see if he had an Autbot or Decepticon badge on him?”
“Prime,” the Spec Ops tapped Optimus on the shoulder. “Yes?” Optimus inquired. “What is it, Jazz?”
“I think I know what that is. I ain’t seen one in vorns though.”
Optimus nodded in agreement. “I too have not seen a mech like that in a very long time.”
“So,” Wheeljack pressed. The other Autobots ceased their observations and waited to hear what the Prime and Spec Ops had to say. Bumblebee, however, kept fidgeting.
“It appears the being responsible for abducting Charlie Watson is an Eurakian.”
“Good,” Bumblebee stated before anybot else got a word in edgewise, “now we know who took her.” The scout proceeded to leave but Ironhide blocked his path.
“Alrigh’ kid, what crawled up your tailpipe?” Ironhide demanded. ‘Bee attempted to move around the bigger ‘bot but could not.
“I have to go find her!”
Ironhide slowly nodded. “Yeah, we understand-”
“No you don’t! Charlie’s both my friend and my responsibility. I promised her carrier that I wouldn’t let Charlie get hurt. If anything happens to her, I won’t forgive myself.”
“We know. That’s why we’re helpin’ ya find the gal,” Ironhide answered evenly.
“Yeah, Lil ‘Bee we care ‘bout her too,” Jazz said further. “I shoulda followed her when she left but I didn’t. It’s really my fault she’s missing.”
“And I shouldn’t have done an impromptu lecture on human biology if I had known how the dire situation of Charlie Watson’s disappearance was,” Ratchet added, his ever present frown deeper than normal.
“No, this is my fault,” Bumblebee insisted. “I brought her here. I should never have in the first place.” His optics focused past the trees. “It’s my burden to go save her.”
“As admirable as your determination is there is true value of putting one’s faith in the strength of those around you,” Optimus acknowledge wisely.
Bumblebee stared deeply at his leader and then to the rest of the Autobots.
“We’re your allies Bumblebee. We will help you relocate Charlie Watson,” Ratchet affirmed.
“You don’t have to do this alone anymore ‘Bee,” Arcee reassured.
“Yeah, you’ve got us,” Brawn conjoined. “As sappy as it sounds we’ll all carry the weight together.”
Jazz spoke not a word but his easy smile stimulated encouragement. He just nodded once and that was all he needed to say. Bumblebee felt his spark skip a pulse and warm his internal frame. What the others said was true. He did not have to do everything by himself anymore. And that included rescuing his friend.
“Sorry everyone,” ‘Bee apologized. “I was being a aft, wasn’t I?”
“Yep,” Ironhide answered bluntly. Everyone, Ultra Magnus included, laughed.
“Wisdom cannot be granted, it must be earned.” Optimus offered to the young scout.
“Ack,” Ultra Magnus grimaced as he scraped the bottom of his left pede. “I hope this is mud again.”
“Wait a klik,” Ratchet rushed over to the SIC. “Lift your pede,” the medic instructed.
“What’s the diagnostic, Ratch’?” Brawn asked.
Ratchet frowned. “One, don’t ever call me that again. And two, my scanners are picking up the constituents of substances edible to humans. The primary materials are flour, yeast, water, a paste of peanuts, and preservatives made from smashed grapes.”
“’Paste of peanuts and smashed grapes.’” Bumblebee repeated before his optics widened. “Wait! That’s from Charlie’s sandwich.”
Ironhide became dumbfounded. “Wha…?”
“Charlie’s carrier whipped up nutrients for Charlie to consume. You all remember Ratchet and me telling her to eat earlier, right? The piece of sandwich that Ultra Magnus stepped on by accident must be hers.”
“That’s not all,” Jazz detected with his scanners. He pointed at another piece of the meal by the south edge of the woods. “There’s a trail of the food down that way.”
“It must be a pathway that Charlie Watson made to lead us to her exact location,” Magnus adjudged.
“Let’s follow it!” ‘Bee exclaimed. He almost started to move again before he caught himself. “Uh, should we follow the trace that Charlie left for us, Optimus?” He asked, sheepishly.
Behind the mask guard, Optimus smiled. “I believe that we must follow the trail of breadcrumbs without delay or else small forest creatures will ingest the path we seek.”
Bumblebee ex-vented with relief.
“Ratchet and Brawn,” Optimus communicated to the ‘bots in question. “You two shall stay at the base. Insure that no humans stumble upon it by accident. The rest of you come with Bumblebee and I. We’re going to go retrieve our new friend, Charlie Watson.”
“Yes sir,” all of the members acceded Optimus’ command.
“Autobots, roll out!”
Seven of the nine Cybertronians searched the largely spread out trail. It led them towards the Panoramic Highway and they all drove north.
Charlie you have got to be the smartest human I’ve ever met, Bumblebee thought in amazement.
Location: Mt. Tamalpais, CA. Date: June 5, 1988
This is literally the stupidest plan I’ve ever come up with. Am I seriously taking cues from Hansel and Gretel? Charlie thought in shame.
Daylight had already begun to recede by the time Charlie had run out of sandwiches to use as trail markers. If she found a way to escape her kidnappers or it somehow helped the Autobots find her, that is. She was starting to lean towards the second option since the antlered robot threw her into a makeshift cage.
“So, we’s got it, now what? Jus’ wait ‘til de ‘bot shows up?” The big antlered robot spoke in the most stereotypical mob boss accent Charlie ever heard.
A robot almost as big as Optimus Prime kept nudging the cage with his beak-shaped muzzle. The noises he made reminded Charlie of Conan when he snuffled around looking for food at home. She prayed to God that she wasn’t on the menu.
“The squishy’s got some metal bits on ‘er,” the big machine slobbered. “Can I eat those?”
Charlie instinctively clutched on her necklace’s charms, an old bolt refashioned as a bead from the first car she helped her dad fix and a recent addition; her mother’s first wedding ring.
“No,” the robot that resembled a wolf said. He was the smallest of the three and yet the way he carried him-self made the other two follow without too much hesitation. “That’s not how we treat our guests, Underbite. Clearly those charms have some sentimental value to her, don’t they?” He leered at Charlie.
Charlie swallowed, tried to keep her breathing steady.
“You’re frightened,” the wolf commented.
“You kidnapped me and dragged me out into the middle of the woods, lock me in a cage, why wouldn’t I be scared?” Charlie pointed out. Still a part of her was curious, “What do you want from me?”
“From you personally? Nothing,” the wolf answered. Next to him, Underbite frowned in annoyance, probably sad that he couldn’t eat Charlie’s jewelry. The wolf-bot casted Underbite a dirty look before he resumed speaking, “What we came here for is presumably not organic in the slightest.”
Charlie crossed her arms, schooled her face to remain emotionless.
The antlered robot appeared agitated and shouted at Charlie, “Tell us about de Terminator-bot!”
Charlie winced from the yelling before she did a double take. “The what?”
“Uh, ter-min-ator-bot,” he articulated slowly as though he was speaking to a two-year-old. “Like a thing that, uh,” he struggled momentarily. “Terminates other things. Get da picture?”
The robotic wolf sighed and covered his face with one of his paws.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought you said,” Charlie muttered as she rubbed her sore ears. She shook her head before putting on her brave face again. “Listen I have no idea what you’re talking about. I never seen another giant talking robot until you guys showed up.”
“Is that so?” the wolf asked, unconvinced. “You don’t seem afraid. Scared of what we plan to do you, yes, but not at all surprised to see us. Ergo, you must be familiar with cybernetic beings like my partners and I.”
Charlie mentally cursed herself but kept her calm composure. “If I was familiar with your kind I’d know a robot called the Terminator-bot but too bad for you, I don’t.”
“Yer lyin’ squishy.” Underbite laughed. He shoved his metal nose at right into the cage’s walls. “I can smell your lies all over ya.”
Charlie felt her apathetic attitude break slightly as her heart pulsed rapidly.
“Eyy-yo,” the robotic deer pushed Underbite back. “What did Steeljaw jus’ say, huh? Back off.”
Steeljaw ignored them and focused his attention on Charlie. “How about I go into some details about the Terminator-bot? That should help job your memory perhaps?”
Charlie remained silent. The 18-year-old inwardly smirked when she saw Steeljaw’s smiling façade falter momentarily. “You see we are bounty hunters searching for a wanted criminal who offlined three soldiers from the planet we reside. While they had varying personalities and colorings they did share one thing in common. They were Triple-changers, meaning they were robots that could shape-shift into three forms.”
Charlie felt her blood freeze, as did the rest of her body. They knew. Somehow they knew about Bumblebee.
“Does that sound familiar to you?”
But they don’t know his name. I still have a chance, Charlie thought with some positivity. She had to figure a way to escape before they found out about Bumblebee. The mechanic secretly examined her cage and noticed how crudely made it actually was.
If Charlie had a chance to get out she needed to make it herself.
“How many are there?”
“I heard three different vocalizers, Optimus,” Arcee responded as she listened in her audio receptive coil, which was extended all the way near the exterior of Charlie’s captors’ camp. “I only caught two designations though.”
“What are they?” Ironhide inquired.
“Underbite and Steeljaw.”
“Anything on the criminal database, Magnus?” Optimus asked his Second in Command.
Ultra Magnus examined details of an ‘Underbite’ and ‘Steeljaw’ on his HUD. “’Indeed, I got one on Underbite.” He projected his findings for display. “He’s been charged with damage claims against the city of Nuon.”
Wheeljack glanced at the mugshot and mused aloud, “What did he do to it?”
“He ate it,” Ultra Magnus responded bluntly.
The Autobots shared a nano-klik of silence as they saved the news into their memory files.
Ironhide scowled. “I remember hearin’ ‘bout that. It was the only time the Decepticons were actually bein’ honest about not destroyin’ a town.”
Bumblebee waved a servo towards the Second In Command. “What about Steeljaw? Who’s he?”
Ultra Magnus scanned his optics briefly before he answered, “He’s a small time criminal in the Cybertron underground. He has savagely slaughtered over a dozen Autobots for the highest bidder.”
“And the third ‘bot?” Optimus asked Arcee. The communications expert shook her helm. “I’m not catching a designation from him.”
“Wait,” Bumblebee poked Magnus on the shoulder. “Go to the last picture of Steeljaw, sir.” The red, white, and blue Freightliner did what Bumblebee requested. The previous picture reappeared, clearly an image card from a standard security drone. The Steeljaw in the snapshot was in the process of a pre-pounce with two other mechs behind him. One was the large Underbite while the other was that beast with the large rack of antlers. Bumblebee pointed at the mech. “Do you have a file on him?”
“As a matter of fact,” Magnus trailed off as the aforementioned file popped up. “Here. This delinquent goes by the name of Thunderhoof. A mech who has unsuccessfully attempted to partake in organized crime many times.”
“And ya didn’t think about sharing this info or ‘is designation earlier is because~” Wheeljack purposely trailed off.
“It wasn’t significant at the time,” Magnus responded frankly. Wheeljack rolled his optics.
“Alright, so there’s seven of us and three of ‘em. I like those odds,” Ironhide grinned.
“No,” Magnus shook his helm. “If we wish to apprehend them without any harm befalling Ms. Watson, we mustn’t go at them all at once. The perpetrators may possibly run off or worse if we appeared all together.”
Bumblebee shivered at the words ‘or worse’ but kept his game faceplate on.
“I agree,” Jazz stated in a very uncharacteristically serious manner. “The last thing we want is ta turn this into a hostage sitch’.”
“Ugh, it’s times like these I wish Mirage was still online… Too soon?” Wheeljack added after he saw the dismal looks from his teammates.
“They just brought up another designation,” Arcee announced a klik later. “They’re demanding Charlie to tell them about a bot called the, okay this is going to sound strange, but the designation they’re using is the Triple-Changer Terminator. The claim the Decepticons want him for offlining Blitzwing, Dropkick, and Shatter.”
“They are talking about me?” Bumblebee tapped his servos against the tree he was leaning on with worry.
“That’s a possibility,” Jazz replied for Arcee.
“It really is my fault Charlie was taken,” ‘Bee’s tone was heavy with guilt. He stared at the direction where his human friend was being held.
Optimus placed a servo over the scout’s shoulder for comfort. “Do not blame yourself for protecting the Earth and your friend’s life, Bumblebee. All actions have consequences, both good and bad.”
Optimus glanced over to the Autobots’ Security Lieutenant. “Ironhide, do you still have a memory file on the battle of Junkion that you and Kup were involved in?”
“Yeah, but what’s that gotta do with…” Ironhide trailed off before his optics widened and then he smirked knowingly. “Oh, you mean-”
Optimus nodded, his optics gleaming with levity. “Indeed.”
Ironhide’s frame shook with excitement. “Heh-heh-heh, this is gonna be good.”
“Bumblebee,” the scout turned his attention towards the Autobots’ leader who further said, “You shall go retrieve Charlie Watson. Don’t inflict harm unless all other alternatives have been exhausted. Now go.”
The yellow Camaro bobbed his head. With his HUD activated and mask on, Bumblebee slyly journeyed over the vegetation.
“And always keep your commlink on at all times,” Optimus instructed the Autobots. Steadily they concealed themselves, heading into the dark forest one by one.
::Bumblebee:: Optimus wasted no time communicating, via the commlink. ::How familiar are you with the colony planet of Euakaris?::
‘Bee exerted himself while he avoided to make any loud sounds that could alert Steeljaw and his pack. ::Optimus, I really don’t think we have the time for a history lesson::
::Bumblebee:: Optimus’ vocalizer lowered an octave.
::Right-trying to be a team player-sorry. Aside from the name, and who inhabits it, not much. Why?::
::According to the old archival records I’ve read, one of the 12 Primes, Lio* Prime founded the planet. He left a guardian by the name of Chela to protect that world in his absence. From what I read about the ‘beastformers’ is that they all are proud of their heritage and rely heavily on their alternate modes::
::Should I consider that a strength or weakness on their part?:: Bumblebee moved around a log and lifted his pede so it didn’t break a fallen tree branch nearby.
::It all depends on the opponent::
::Okay, so if there are only three of them here that means they think they’re only dealing with one Autobot instead of seven::
::The probability is high::
::And I’m going after them alone because…?::
::Here’s what you need to do:: Bumblebee listened inaudibly as Optimus explained most of the plan to him.
“For the last time, Underbite, you’re not going to eat anything that the organic possess,” Steeljaw said in a very tired tone.
The antlered robot looked nauseated at the notion. “Blech, why yous wanna eat something offa squishy is beyond me.”
“Aw, no fair, you and Thunderhoof ain’t gotta be so cruel. I’m starvin’ here,” Underbite whimpered as he rubbed his chest.
Steeljaw rolled his eyes. “Didn’t you just devour half a scrap yard on the way here two groons ago?”
“I needed that little snack ta pump my guns up,” the large beastly robot gestured to his arms. “Thundercruncher and Boltsmasher need more juice.”
“Heh, no wonder yer so fat with ‘ow much you keep chewin’” Thunderhoof joked.
Underbite growled. “What didja jus’ say ta me?”
“You ‘eard me, ‘less yer ‘earing is going down too.”
Underbite roared and tried to go at Thunderhoof. Steeljaw forced himself between the two and yell at them to stop. While all that was going on Charlie used her uncut nails to pull at the vines that tied the wooden bars together in her cage. The process would have gone a lot quicker if Charlie had brought her pocketknife with her. But she really had no room to complain since her plan was working. All she did for the last ten minutes was give vague answers to Steeljaw’s questions. She thought of stalling as much time as possible to figure a way to free herself and irritating her jailers was just an added bonus.
Just one more tie and I’m home free, the mechanic thought with growing confidence. And with one more tiny snap of a broken string, Charlie waited until she found her opening.
“Eyy-yo, did we agree ta let de Terminator-bot’s pet go on walks?” Thunderhoof randomly questioned. His query ceased the arguing momentarily.
“What? No. Why suggest such a ridiculous thing?” Steeljaw responded, affrontedly.
“Well, da little fleshy is gone!” Thunderhoof thumbed at the newly empty cage with a servo.
“What!?” Steeljaw shoved Thunderhoof and Underbite away as his optics penetrated the unoccupied enclosure.
“Huh, I guess squishes ain’t weak against wood,” Underbite perceived, oblivious to the swelling rage within Steeljaw.
The wolf-mode howled as he tore apart the cage in frenzy. Both Thunderhoof and Underbite wisely backed away as their leader unleashed his wrath. When he finished the wolf-mech gave them the deadliest glare he could possibly express.
“What are two standing around for? Spread out, NOW!” he continued when they merely stood in front of him. Thunderhoof and Underbite scrambled as they went different directions into the forested mountain. “And don’t come back until you find that little insect.”
Steeljaw growled and used his olfactory sensor to trace the organic’s scent. He made sure to also utilize the En-Radiation detector. His pulse-rate lessened when he saw the needle go up.
The hunt was on.
Charlie held back a laugh as she watched the three robots panic beneath her. After freeing herself, Charlie realized that there was no possible way she could outrun them. Once she found a tree near her with branches close together for her to climb, the rest was history. The robo-wolf named Steeljaw did not leave right away like Underbite and Thunderhoof did, though. For some reason, he picked up a small device and stared at it for a couple of minutes. Charlie waited on bated breath and stood perfectly still until the robotic wolf left the small encampment. She stayed up in the tree for five minutes before she made her descend. Carefully the mechanic landed to the ground in a crouched position and glanced around before she walked out of the glade and collided right into Steeljaw’s midsection! Charlie yelped in alarm and tried to run but the gray and blue wolf grabbed her by the arm.
His animalistic eyes bored into hers. “Did you think my pack and I didn’t smell you up in your little hideaway?” He jerked with his head and moments later Underbite and Thunderhoof appeared from the trees, smirking just as villainously as their leader.
“I was wrong to underestimate your intelligence, organic.” Steeljaw narrowed his eyes and warned, “I won’t be making that mistake again.”
Charlie cried out when she felt his clawed hand tighten around her arm. “Even if you rip my arm out, I’ll never talk.”
“We’s got ways ta get yous ta sqawk,” Thunderhoof promised darkly. He brandished a two-pronged pitchfork of some kind, connected to a foot-long spear.
“Where the Pit did you get that?” Steeljaw demanded.
“’Member dat ‘con, Swindle? He gave me a good deal for this little baby.” Thunderhoof stroked the device with his hand. “‘Said he found it lyin’ around by dat mad Doc Shockwave’s lab.”
“More like he stole it,” Steeljaw retorted.
“Check dis out,” Thunderhoof pointed the spear to a tree. He pressed a button on the side and a large bolt of lighting shot through the trunk. Underbite then tapped the wood softly; it split in half a second later. Charlie’s eyes widened as her mouth opened.
“An ESD blaster,” Steeljaw grinned. “Most impressive. Knocks out mecha and destroys undergrowth too apparently.”
“Betcha like ta know if it effects squishy little organics in any way,” Thunderhoof guessed sadistically. All of their six eyes were on Charlie and that moment she stopped breathing.
“I’m giving you until the count of three for you confess,” Steeljaw threatened. He tightened his grip on Charlie’s arm. She started to stop feeling the blood in their circulating and if he squeezed any harder there was a chance the bones might split. “You only have one chance, little organic.”
She could scream, she could cry, or she could just give in and yield. Charlie was way in over her head and she knew it. Yet, a part of her refused to surrender. The conscience reminded her of ‘Bee, Optimus Prime and the Autobots. They were brave heroes who risked everything to live another day, even if it meant leaving their home planet. They weren’t being cowardly like the Charlie Watson from ten months ago was. If ‘Bee was in her place (which did happen more than once) he would be defiant to the end. Charlie decided that if this was her swan song she was not going down without a fight.
Charlie denied the beastly robots the satisfaction of seeing her in tears. Instead the mechanic glared sharply at the wolf-bot. “My name isn’t squishy or little organic. My name is-”
“CHARLIE!” a voice unfamiliar to the mechanic and her three captors shouted through the trees. Under the light of the waning moon stood a twelve-foot-tall robot with yellow plating with black stripes arrived. His blue eyes were narrowed dangerously thin. Both of his hands were replaced with large glowing laser cannons.
Steeljaw was the first of the three to recover from the astonishing entrance. “Who are you?”
“My name is Bumblebee,” the yellow Camaro proclaimed, his tone was passionately strong. “I am a Calvary Scout for the Autobot Resistance. And you have until the count of three to let the human go or else!”
“Does this organic belong to you?” Steeljaw incredulously asked.
Charlie fought against Steeljaw’s hold. “I don’t belong to anyone!”
“She’s my friend.” ‘Bee’s glare intensified before he repeated, “Let her go now or I’m counting to three!”
“He has the same signature as the fleshie, ‘Jaw,” Thunderhoof said as he pointed that strange device that Charlie still did not recognize on the yellow/black Autobot.
“No way.” Underbite called out in protest. “He ain’t the ‘bot that took down the Triple-Changers. He’s too scrawny.”
“Actually I am,” Bumblebee boasted. “I took all of them out by myself and I can do the same to you… One.”
“Yous have no chance against all three of us,” Thunderhoof swore.
“Two.” ‘Bee pointed cannons directly at Underbite and Thunderhoof.
Steeljaw tightened his grip on Charlie’s arm. She visibly winced from the pain that shot through her. “Destroy us and your little pet loses an arm.”
Bumblebee raised an eyebrow and shrugged. “Fine. I won’t shoot you guys.” He realigned his cannons and took a shot. The three beast-modes instinctively ducked from the blast. Steeljaw’s hold on Charlie slackened momentarily, giving her the chance to escape.
“You missed.” Steeljaw gloated. Seconds later he, Thunderhoof, and Underbite were pushed forcibly down by the fallen debris of tree branches and one log.
“Wasn’t aiming at you!” Bumblebee jumped over the woodchip pile and grabbed Charlie. He leaped over her kidnappers and transformed into his alt-mode with Charlie behind the wheel. Immediately he punched the accelerator and sped down the mountain, albeit bumpily.
“’Bee!” Charlie shouted with joy. “You have no idea how glad I am to see you.”
“I’m pretty sure I do,” Bumblebee chuckled. The radio tuner lit on and off every time he uttered a syllable. Charlie placed a hand over the radio and noticed that it wasn’t turned on. No music or voices from a DJ were heard in the speakers.
Charlie smiled for the first time in hours. “You’re talking to me with your real voice, aren’t you?” she asked rhetorically because she already knew the answer.
“Ratchet patched me up right after you left,” Bumblebee replied.
Charlie pouted. “Crap,” she put her face into her hands. “If I had just stayed none of this would be happening.”
“It could be worse, Charlie.” Right after he said that they both heard a wolf’s howl.
Charlie gave ‘Bee’s dashboard a sour look. “You just had to say that.”
There was more howling again and this time three shapes careered out of the trees. Charlie turned around to see where they were. The first of the three that was nearing Bumblebee’s rear end was a large humped deer with a large rack of antlers.
“A moose?” Charlie asked in bewilderment. “A moose is chasing us?”
“Eyy-yo!” The moose bellowed as he galloped forward.
“I think that’s Thunderhoof,” Bumblebee notified in concern. Charlie then saw that right behind the angry moose was a large gray wolf and a bulldog the size of an elephant next to the smaller canine.
Charlie gaped from shock. “What the Hell are these robots?”
“Cybertronian colonists whose alternate forms are based on Earth animals,” Bumblebee continued, then noted with interest, “I didn’t know there were any left though.”
“You can be surprised later, just find a way to shake them off!” Charlie panicked when Thunderhoof the moose almost rammed his horns against ‘Bee’s bumper. Bumblebee swerved slightly to avoid the collision.
“Charlie,” ‘Bee called out, grabbing Charlie’s attention. “I have an idea. Do you remember the car chase with that law enforcer you, Memo, and me had?”
Charlie racked her brain over how that was comparable to the situation they were currently in but she commented, “Yeah.”
“I’m going to try something to get this moose off our tail. I need you to unbuckle your seatbelt and move to the armrest and hold onto the upholstery, got it?”
Charlie nodded. She did exactly what Bumblebee instructed and clutched to the leather seats because her life literally depended on it. “What are you planning to do?” she asked.
The Camaro revved his engines. “I’m gonna try another little trick I did a while back.” As he said that the car parts shifted until his legs appeared. He twisted his limbs and flipped until he was sideways, his body slipping between two trees with ease. Thunderhoof had no time to react as both of his antlers sunk into the two trunks. He attempted to transform back into his bi-pedal form but was unable to.
Charlie laughed after ‘Bee returned into his car mode. “I thought that only worked in cartoons.” Her smile faded when she saw Underbite break down the trees that got in his way and showed no signs of lagging either.
“Alright, we’re now on a road near Mount Tamalpias.” Bumblebee reported. “Up ahead the pavement should split in two.”
Charlie looked forward and could barely see anything passed ‘Bee’s headlights. In the rearview mirror she saw Underbite steadily catching up with them. Charlie looked around in the car for anything that gave the impression of being a weapon. “Don’t you have any guns or some bomb to blow him up?”
‘Bee sighed in frustration. “No, with his thick plating that’ll just piss him off.”
Right as Charlie straightened herself she saw Underbite running right next to driver’s side. He snarled wildly at them as he elbowed the door.
Charlie screamed. “He’s trying to push us off the road. ‘Bee you have to try and shoot him!”
“We’re going too fast!” the scout exclaimed. “If I try to transform at this speed my equilibrium sensors won’t respond quick enough and I’ll skid and you’ll get hurt.”
“Ain’t thatta shame,” Underbite overheard them and opened his jaws. Charlie became terrified. She threw the only object she could find and flung her plastic water bottle at Underbite. He accidently ate it and suddenly his face screwed up in pain and he decelerated.
“What did you do to him?” ‘Bee asked in amazement.
Charlie was just as baffled. “All I did was throw my water bottle at ‘im.”
Underbite moaned as he tried in vain to rub away the discomfort from his fuel tank.
“You mean to tell me that the container you ate was made from plastic?” Steeljaw growled as he paced on both fours.
“I thought it was glass,” Underbite whimpered atop the asphalt.
“How waz I ‘posed ta know chasin’ ‘dem through da trees waz a bad idea?” Thunderhoof grumbled as he continued to pick tree bark off his antlers.
Steeljaw’s optics twitched before he exploded. “I’M LOSING MY PATIENCE! Frag Starscream’s promise, we’re hunting those little oil stains and kill them!”
“You were still carrying that around?” Bumblebee asked in disbelief as he drove him and Charlie further down the road.
Charlie became defensive. “I flattened it and put it in my pocket earlier, okay?”
“Alright, calm down.” ‘Bee vocalizer spoke soothingly. “Let’s try to stay focused. We took down two of Steeljaw’s pack,” he recapped as he turned his wheels against a curve.
“Which leaves-” Charlie began to say but was interrupted when the wolf-mech in questioned landed on ‘Bee’s hood.
“Did you think you could out run me?!” Steeljaw roared.
Charlie tried to turn the wheel to skew in order to force Steeljaw off but Bumblebee’s tires were stuck somehow and he jerked to the right. The Camaro drove over a gravel pathway and crashed through a gate covered with chain-linked wiring. Above ‘Bee and Charlie, Steeljaw brandished the two-pronged weapon and shoved it into the roof. Both ‘Bee and Charlie cried out in pain and the scout forcibly reverted out of his alt-mode. Bumblebee wrapped his arms protectively around Charlie as they rolled into a junkyard. Towering above the two were stacks of old, rusted cars and other unspecified trash. ‘Bee was sprawled with his faceplate facing the sky. His back plating felt sore from the dent Steeljaw made and he could barely move his digits. On his chest Charlie groaned before she rushed over to where his helm was and examined to see if he was damaged externally. ‘Bee attempted to give her a thumb’s up but his servo helplessly flopped back to the dirt.
Steeljaw ex-vented as he lounged on an old rusted red truck, watching the pathetic display. “And here I thought a fight with an Autobot would’ve been more exciting. I’m honestly disappointed.” Steeljaw frowned and shook his helm in dissatisfaction. At the other two ends of the environment Underbite and Thunderhoof appeared.
“’Bee,” Charlie cried out as she tried in vain to press him back up.
“Do what you want with me,” the yellow Camaro could barely move but still pleaded with Steeljaw, “But please, leave the girl alone.”
Steeljaw scoffed at the appeal. “I don’t think you’re in a position to make demands,” he laughed callously at his accidental pun. “Word of advice, a lone wolf should never confront a pack.”
Bumblebee struggled as he lifted his helm up. Rather than appearing scared, Bumblebee’s optics gleamed boldly. “Good thing I’m not alone then.”
Steeljaw fell ungraciously from the eighteen-wheeler as it and five other seemingly dilapidated automobiles transformed into Jazz, Arcee, Ironhide, Ultra Magnus, Wheeljack, and …
“Optimus,” Thunderhoof whispered, his optics widening in fear. Steeljaw’s jaw dropped. “Prime,” he managed to choke out.
Underbite remained speechless due to fright. He started to flee but Optimus and Magnus grabbed him effortlessly by the bulldog’s neck guard. While still holding the big beastformer, the Autobots’ leader locked optics with Steeljaw. “Taking the child was a bad move,”** he expounded in a dangerously low tone.
Steeljaw reseted his vocalizer and tried to put on a cold front. “We are very important members of the Decepticon army," he blatantly lied. "If you do anything to us, they’ll know.”
Optimus chuckled humorlessly, “That’s amusing because I don’t think you’re in a position to make demands.”
The other Autobots laughed in equal mirth.
“Ironhide, Jazz,” the Autobots’ leader ordered, “Relive them of there weapons and detain the other two Eukarians.”
“Gimme that,” Jazz ordered Thunderhoof as he pulled a small rectangular device from the moose-mech. Wheeljack took the pronged ESD weapon from Steeljaw and Arcee placed Stasis cuffs onto the wolf. Jazz and Wheeljack arrested the remaining pack members as well.
“’Bee,” Charlie gave her friend a calculating look. “Did you know this ambush was going to happen?”
Bumblebee shrugged before he admitted sheepishly, “Yes.”
Charlie frowned. “Then why did you keep that tiny little bit of information from me?”
Bumblebee grunted as he pushed himself slowly up. “There wasn’t enough time. And I only knew half of what the plan was while I was rescuing you. Optimus sent me the last part right as Steeljaw jumped on my hood.”
“That explains why you drove us into a junk yard,” Charlie sighed.
Optimus approached Steeljaw after Magnus, Ironhide, and Jazz placed Stasis cuffs on Underbite and Thunderhoof respectfully. “You shall explain to us every detail as to why you are on this planet,” Optimus stated adamantly. “And do tell us why would Decepticons send civilians to do their own job as you clearly aren’t Decepticons.”
All Steeljaw could do was sit there rigidly as everything he planned fell apart right before his very optics.
Bumblebee noticed Charlie was nodding off. He strenuously turned back into his alternate-mode around the mechanic and allowed her to recharge on the interior padding.
“It’s okay, Charlie. I won’t let Steeljaw near you ever again,” Bumblebee swore softly. I’ll not let anything bad happen to you as long as my Spark pulses.
End of Chapter 4
Q-A: Okay, ending the chapter with a Charliebee moment should pacify all the angry readers who are probably still mad that ‘Bee didn’t roast Steeljaw and his gang alive. (Hopefully I won’t get any death threats for implying that Mirage is dead in this fanfic either.)
Look, I know that ‘Bee did kill Blitz, Drop, and Shatter in the movie but my personal headcanon for why he did is because he had no other way to apprehend them (as the Autobots clearly do in this story) and he had no other option but to destroy them. The Autobots are supposed to be the good guys in this and Steeljaw and his pack need to face justice, once the war is over, of course. I hope you all are fine with how I handled them in this and how their alternate forms look. I personally believe Thunderhoof’s true form is a moose from Brooklyn, I don’t care what anyone else says.
I’m sorry that Mirage is not alive in this story, but the reason I took him out is solely on his invisibility powers. I think that his camouflage abilities in the G1 cartoon were a power that I felt if used a lot more (i.e. intelligently) the war would’ve ended sooner. So, once again I didn’t get rid of Mirage because I don’t like him (really, I don’t hate the guy) but only because of his power.
Most of Optimus’ lectures/speeches are paraphrased from Transformers: Prime. (OP from TFP is Best Dad, hands down. Fight me.)
*Lio Prime is based on Lio Convoy/Leo Prime from Beast Wars II: Super Lifeform Transformers. (Sorry for those of you who like Onyx Prime, but I do not think I am capable of including his “backstory” into this fanfic coherently so I just went and created an OC that’s technically not made up, kinda?)
**The first line Optimus said to Steeljaw is based on the one he said to Sector 7 when they kidnapped Sam and (the real protagonist) Mikaela in the ’07 Transformers movie. (One of the few moments in the film that I unironically like).
Chatper title: Hungry Like The Wolf by Duran Duran (Could’ve I picked a more obvious song in a chapter that stared Steeljaw as the main antagonist? XD. I love the 80s and its music, have I not said that enough yet?)
Keep On Writin’ and Rockin’
Chapter 6: Magic
It’s The Riding A Sunset Drinking Game! Take a shot every time the word friend/friendship/friends or another abbreviation of the word shows up in this chapter.
Q-A: I promise this story isn’t turning into a fantasy because of the title of this chapter (yet?). Anyway I need to tell you guys that in a few weeks I’ll be flying up to Baltimore to celebrate my aunt’s birthday. It’ll be over the weekend of March 22nd-25thI’m sorry if this is sudden for any of you but I wanted to let you know once I knew for sure when the date was. I’ll be uploading/updating chapters normally until then.
Warnings for this chapter are:
swearing, mentions of war, death, torture, and OOC moments ahead.
“Through every turn I'll be near you
I'll come anytime you call
I'll catch you when you fall
I'll be guiding you”
- “Magic” by Oliva Newton-John
Location: Junkyard, 30 miles north of Brighton Falls, CA. Date: June 6, 1988
“Has there been any signs of furtherance, Jazz?” Optimus Prime questioned his Spec Ops after he emerged from the cell.
The Porsche shook his helm. “The wolf-boss says he ain’t willing ta comply unless you talk to ‘im.”
“I suppose givin’ them a taste of their own medicine didn’t help,” Ironhide scrutinized. He stared at the cell with a great level of disgust.
Once more Jazz responded with a no. “I ain’t done nothin’ to them. They’re just a buncha confused, misguided punks that feel lost in the world. Same old, same old.”
“If you call glory-seekin’ psychos who snatch little gals fer a tacky badge ‘misguided punks’ then sure, why not?” Ironhide muttered sardonically.
Optimus entered the makeshift jail cell constructed out of old car frames. Within, Ultra Magnus guarded the beastformer Steeljaw. His two accomplices had been detained in stasis pods by that point in time. Magnus formally saluted the Prime when he passed through the threshold. The Autobots’ leader exchanged a stare with the SIC and prisoner before he said to Magnus, “Leave us.”
“Sir,” Magnus became at ease and exited the open-roofed chamber. Optimus drew a large waste receptacle brimful of metal and trash. He sat on it and gazed at the wolf-mech.
After a klik Optimus asked, “Shall I go first or would you prefer to speak your processor before I do?”
“Cut the complacencies, Prime and tell me, wha-what are you doing?” Steeljaw’s optics widened with fear as he saw Optimus move his arm behind his red and blue frame.
Optimus revealed a small cube filled with blue liquid. He brought the fuel forward until it was close to Steeljaw’s helm.
“What is that?” the robotic wolf demanded.
“Energon,” Optimus answered.
“What’s in it?” From his tone, Optimus speculated that Steeljaw would’ve jumped back if he was not cuffed.
Optimus tilted his helm. “The blood of Primus.”
Steeljaw stared skeptically at the offered drink.
The Prime ex-vented. “It was a obstinate challenge to ensure it was transported safely all the way from Cybertron.” At least that is what Ratchet complained to him a Stellar-cycle ago.
“I’m not thirsty.” Steeljaw claimed.
“Well, you still need to be on a full tank before you are placed in a stasis pod,” Optimus clarified.
“And what? Shoot my pack and I out into space for you and your fellow radicals to use as target practice?”
Optimus’ optical ridges rose in surprise. “Whatever gave you an implication that we would carry such an action towards you?”
“That’s the common courtesy all of you Functionist-loving mecha have bestowed upon my people, long before you dragged us all into your war,” Steeljaw spat out.
Optimus had been reading Steeljaw’s sparkpulse long before the integration had commenced. He was shocked to find how angry the young-mech was but that he sincerely believed the words he spoke against the Autobots were absolutely true. The Freightliner knew the Decepticons had been using propaganda to sway the Cybertronian populace but he never imagined it was this serious.
“I promise you that no single Autobot practices a caste segregation of any kind,” Optimus said, his voice sober. “We believe that freedom is the right of all sentient beings.”
“Then where’re the Eukarians in your rebellion?” Steeljaw accused.
Optimus ex-vented, this time wearily before he revealed, “The reason no Eukarians refugees and their descendants are comprised within the Autobot Resistance is because I did not want them to suffer more in a war that was our own doing and not theirs.”
“We were involved in your war the minute your missiles strayed and destroyed our homes in Valvolux,” Steeljaw countered, he glowered angrily at the Prime.
“We weren’t aware that the city’s inhabitants hadn’t been completely evacuated at that time. Before the first cannon fired,” Optimus admitted.
“You expect me to believe that?” Steeljaw scoffed. “Why should I listen to single thing you’re prattling to me right now?
“You vehemently insist that the Decepticons will make you one of them in spite of the heavy evidence suggesting against the notion.”
Optimus could tell from the wolf-mech’s optics that he was starting to become dubious. It would take a long time to change Steeljaw’s outlook, if there was still a chance to do so. “At least they’re fighting for a free Cybertron long before you supposedly were.”
Perhaps Optimus was too optimistic for his own good. He tried a different approach,
“It is not about who began this war, all that matters is why it is continuing and what each side is fighting for. They also bombed your home and if I’m not mistaken, they intended to eradicate all of the Eukarians residing.”
Steeljaw emitted a dismissive snort.
“You must understand that if you somehow found a way off this planet you would be returning to a world where a majority of the populace is led by a mech who desires to see your people wiped out.”
The wolf-mech was not half-listening anymore as he was clearly processing what Optimus was telling him.
“Think not of yourself but of your team. Do you truly wish for their demise or prefer to stay as our prisoners here where we shall guarantee your safety.”
The Prime saw that Steeljaw was no longer self-assured as before. Optimus could vaguely feel the wolf-mech’s field release the feelings of confusion/uncertainty/FEAR! The Eukarian was frightened most of all, whether for himself or for his two associates, Optimus chose not to venture in guessing.
“You expect something in return though.” Steeljaw rationalized a klik later. “An exchange?”
Optimus leaned forward until he and Steeljaw were staring optic-to-optic to each other. “Name of the Decepticon who hired you to hunt my scout and do they know of the Autobots’ current whereabouts?”
Charlie could hardly remember the last time she slept unpleasantly. She has had trouble sleeping in the past whether because of a late night working on the Corvette or nightmares involving her father’s death. This time though it was a physical issue because she felt a stick of some kind pressed against her left hip. She attempted to move away from the stick but ended up hitting her head against a door. Wearily, she opened her eyes by a crack and she saw light hitting through the car door window by her feet. When she lifted her head the sounds of music began to play from the radio.
“Here comes the sun (doo doo doo doo), here comes the sun and I say it’s all right.”
Charlie was more awake now as she smiled and shook her head once in amusement. “I’m half convinced that Ron was right to call you a Beatles fan.”
“It was the only song I could find at the moment,” Bumblebee denied.
The mechanic rolled her eyes, not believing a word. “Yeah sure.”
“No, it’s true. I even tried to look for The Smiths but settled to find anything more appropriate to wake you up.”
Charlie breathed out a sigh and she pushed herself up. “Yeah, well after last night I don’t think loud music in the morning is a good idea…. oh, no last night!"
‘Bee made a buzzing noise of worry. “Charlie?”
“We promised my mom that I’d be gone for a day. I’m pretty sure we broke curfew.”
“I couldn’t drive you home with you recharging at the wheel,” ‘Bee said and added, “And you were so tired I didn’t want to disturb you anyway.”
Charlie patted ‘Bee’s steering wheel. “I’m not mad at you ‘Bee. I’m just worried what my mom is going to think when we get back home.” She looked into the rearview mirror and groaned at the scratches on her arms and face. The mechanic tried to slump but recoiled after she felt a wave of pain from her right arm.
“Charlie, are you okay?”
“It’s my arm,” Charlie tentatively poked it with a finger and winced from the pain. “I can’t tell if it’s a bruise or something else. I seriously hope it’s not something else.” She opened the driver’s side door and her face scrunched up as she discovered how sore her entire body was feeling.
Bumblebee immediately transformed out of his alt-mode and hovered by Charlie. “Steady, we’ll get you back to base and have Ratchet look at you.”
“There’s no need.” Ratchet’s voice was heard in the distance, “I’m already here.”
Ratchet and Brawn drove through the junkyard in their ambulance and Land Rover forms respectfully until they reached the center where Charlie, ‘Bee, Arcee, and Wheeljack were located. The two newcomers shifted into their robot bodies after the parked. Ultra Magnus was the first to great them. By greeting, that meant criticize them for breaking protocol. “Ratchet, Brawn. Optimus Prime instructed you two to remain at base,” he reprimanded.
Ratchet rubbed his forehead and replied, “We did at first but we noticed some humans were a short distance where our base was. Brawn and I spent the last three breems packing everything up and get the pit out of there before we were spotted.”
Brawn supported the medic’s statement. “What Ratch (“My slaggin’ name isn’t Ratch, damn it.”) said is true. A couple of human law enforcers exclusive to the park area were getting to close for comfort at the base.”
“You couldn’t have carried all of the supplies by yourselves,” Arcee observed, her tone laced with worry.
“We did trips,” Ratchet explained.
“Ratchet did trips but I didn’t have to,” Brawn added rather smugly. The medic whacked him with a wrench in retaliation. Charlie hid a laugh while ‘Bee shook his head in glee.
“And where’s the rest of the stuff at?” Wheeljack asked. “You couldn’t possibly have carried it all in your Subspaces.”
Ratchet created a holographic map. “There were these rectangular signs made of wood nearby that we concealed the remaining supplies behind them.”
“A billboard?” Charlie suggested.
“Is that what they’re called?” Brawn cocked his head. Charlie nodded.
Ratchet seemed to decide that his and Brawn’s grilling was over and he approached the human girl. He kneeled and opened his palm to the ground. “I’ll need you close to me as possible to do an accurate examination of your body and functions. I promise it will be quick and not too painless if you cooperate.”
Charlie glanced over at ‘Bee to see if she should trust the medic.
‘Bee nodded. “It’s okay,” he said reassuringly.
Charlie slowly came near Ratchet’s hand and sat on it. Carefully, the medic lifted her up with both hands as be commenced a thorough scan of her.
Hope it’s nothing too serious, Charlie thought as she waiting for the final verdict.
“So, yer jus’ takin’ the word from that two-faceplated crook?” Ironhide asked his old friend. Optimus had recently exited the cell after they both assisted Magnus with locking up Steeljaw inside a pod. The SIC then updated them on the current whereabouts of Ratchet and Brawn. He also told them how the other two ‘bots had to vacate the Temp-base after some humans started moseying around. Good riddance, Ironhide thought later. He was getting tired of picking sap off of his seams.
“The Eukarian had no reason to fabricate what he told me,” Optimus reasoned, unknowingly pushing Ironhide away from his prior processing.
Ironhide was unconvinced. “He’s a razor snake in the grass if ya ask me. That so-called plan just sounds like scrap. Who’d come up with somethin’ so stupid?”
“The plan was Starscream’s,” Optimus revealed, his tone drier than the Rust Sea. Ironhide held a look of surprise before he said, “Well, why didn’t ya say so in the first place? Any plan by Screamer always fails. The mech is such a failure that if he planned ta fall straight to the ground he’d still miss.”
He and Optimus shared a laugh but were then interrupted when Ratchet appeared.
“Optimus, there’s something I need to speak with you, privately.” The medic glanced over at Ironhide’s direction. The Weapons Specialist felt put off at first but a weighty look from Prime persuaded him otherwise.
Ironhide only heard Optimus say, “What appears to be the issue, Ratchet?” before he left.
“So, did Ratchet give you a clean bill of health?” Bumblebee asked Charlie after the medic in question left. The two of them walked through the junkyard after Jazz gave them the okay. Neither of them had any real idea of where they wanted to go; they just wanted to get away from the adults and their nosy tendencies. Charlie knew they meant well but she had not spent much time alone with her friend since they reunited.
“Yeah,” Charlie straightened her clothes and continued, “My right arm just has a bruise. The pain will wear off in a few days, Ratchet said I should compress it with something cold when I get home.” She shook her head in amusement. “Like I didn’t already know that from my mom.”
“And the cuts?” ‘Bee gazed worriedly at the small scratches on her face.
“They’re shallow. I won’t get an infection from them,” Charlie guaranteed.
Bumblebee sighed in relief. “I’d hate for you to catch a virus of some kind… is something wrong, Charlie?” he raised an eyebrow after he noticed the mechanic was looking at him.
Charlie apologized, “Sorry, I was just thinking about your new voice.”
“Yeah, we already addressed that I got my voice fixed,” ‘Bee pointed out.
“We were busy driving for our lives to really talk about it,” Charlie countered back.
He chuckled in embarrassment. “Right,” the yellow Camaro’s antennae droop, as he appeared thoughtful about something. “Does it sound strange to you?”
Charlie quickly responded, “No. I like it.”
“It doesn’t sound weird?” ‘Bee's voice was unsure.
“Seriously, it’s sick. You sound like you’d be my age, which I think is pretty great.”
Bumblebee seemed to be chewing over what Charlie said his eyes were not as dimmed as before. “So, getting sick isn’t the same on your planet like it is on mine?”
Charlie tried not to laugh but couldn’t help it. “No, sorry. It’s another way of saying ‘that’s cool’ or ‘totally rad.’”
The yellow scout was silent for a moment before he sighed. “I don’t think I completely understand but I’ll take it as a compliment.”
Charlie gave her friend a sympathetic look. “You’ll get the hang of it.” She smiled when an idea came to her. “I can give you lessons on how teens talk later.”
“When would that be? The Autobots and I are supposed to go look for a permanent base soon.”
“Yeah, but when you do you can drive back to my home and tell me where you all are. Once I finally fix up my Corvette again I can visit you any time,” Charlie said, already in love with the concept. Suddenly the Camaro placed a hand on her left shoulder.
“’Bee? What’s up?”
Bumblebee sighed and stared seriously at the girl. “Charlie, we need to talk.”
Optimus stood in shock as he let the information Ratchet divulge wash over his cerebral processor. “This is unexpected.”
Ratchet nodded stiffly. “That’s one way of putting it. I can also say that it puts a metaphorical wrench in our plans.”
“We are now accountable for a human’s life,” Optimus’ vocalizer rumbled with worry. “Charlie Watson must know about this sooner rather than later.”
“I couldn’t agree more. I also suspect that Bumblebee will need to hear about all of this.”
Optimus scanned the surroundings. “Do you know where they have wandered off to?”
Ratchet opened his intake to answer when-
“I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU!”
The medic pointed towards the south side of the scrap yard. “Found them.”
Optimus moved forward and Ratchet followed. They arrived at the aforementioned location and found the youngest Autobot and their human ally in a heated quarrel.
Ms. Watson crossed her arms and paced, giving her friend an angry look. “After everything we’ve been through-”
“No, Charlie it’s not what you think-” Bumblebee attempted to say but the human cut him off.
“Oh, really? So you’re not telling me you want to ditch me the first chance you get?”
“That’s not at all what I said. You’re putting words into my intake valve.”
Ms. Watson ceased pacing and glowered at Bumblebee. “Then change your mind,” she demanded.
Bumblebee shook his helm. “I won’t.”
Optimus was at a loss on how to best handle the situation before it could escalate to disaster. He needed to know when would be proper to chime in.
::Think carefully over the glyphs you chose to say:: Ratchet warned the Autobots’ leader.
Optimus opted to reset his vocalizer and almost immediately the scout and human were silenced. “You two appear to be in disarray.”
Ratchet slapped his helm. ::That’s not what I meant by being careful::
“Please do tell what you are arguing over.”
Both Bumblebee and Ms. Watson exchanged disgruntled looks at each other.
::Oh, now you’re only making it worse!::
“You see she was-”
“’Bee started crazy talkin’ when he said-”
“-I want to protect her and-”
Ratchet turned on his ambulance siren on the highest volume. The other three winced from the noise. The medic shut it off a nano-klik later.
“Optimus was asking you a question. If you two wish to bicker, do it on your own time and not waste the Prime’s.” When neither of them altered their postures Ratchet then threatened, “If you two start arguing again I’ll put both of you on oil bucket detailing duty for a whole Earth-month.”
“Is that bad?” the human femme asked.
Optimus saw the gleam in his friend’s optic. “Oh~ yes it is. ‘Very messy and hard to wash off.” A part of him knew Ratchet was exaggerating but he did enjoy watching the ostentatious fashion he was exhibiting. “Promise you’ll both behave? ”
That scared them straight as both Bumblebee and Charlie nodded hastily. The FL86 Freightliner reset his vocalizer, that time to hide a chortle. “You may explain yourselves,” Optimus announced.
“Okay,” Ms. Watson began. “’Bee was saying that after you all find your hidden base that he and I shouldn’t see each other anymore. It’s like after everything we’ve been through means nothing to him.
“But you-” Bumblebee started to say until a strict stare from Ratchet quieted him.
“Continue,” Optimus told the human.
“I want to help you guys,” Ms. Watson further explained. “But ‘Bee says he doesn’t want me to get hurt, which yeah I get but you don’t have anyone else here that’s human to help understand Earth better. I don’t know everything about it but I still don’t want to sit around when I know… my calling is with you,” she finished breathlessly as though she came to a realization.
“Bumblebee,” Optimus addressed the yellow scout. “Your turn.”
“Charlie has no idea of the danger that we face,” Bumblebee said forthrightly. “Steeljaw and his pack are pains in the afts compared to real Decepticons. Shatter and Dropkick nearly killed her when I was fighting them. I know I promised to keep you safe, Charlie, but the only way I can succeed in that is staying far away from you. You even told me to leave the last time we said goodbye.”
“I didn’t realize how much I’d miss you,” Ms. Watson lamented bitterly. “I want us to be a team from now on.”
“You’re so stubborn,” Bumblebee ex-vented in frustration.
“Well, you’re being unreasonable,” the human, retorted.
“Ms. Watson-” Optimus started.
“You can just call me Charlie, it’s fine,” the mechanic interjected, her tone flat.
“Charlie,” Optimus corrected himself. “What Bumblebee says is true. We may not always act like it but we are soldiers. We have been trained to fight and kill when absolutely necessary. We try to avoid getting civilians caught in the crossfire of our battles against the Decepticons. Civilians like you.”
Charlie bit her lip as she stared at the ground.
“Bumblebee,” Optimus reached out directly to the Camaro. “You should not decide for Charlie what is best for her. She has the right to make her own choices. Going against her consent isn’t fair for both of you.” He frowned when a memory file popped up in his processor. “I too had a meaningful friendship once.
“We had disagreements over many issues and instead of making amends we let the grudge between us fester until all we felt was hate between us. Please learn from the mistakes you made instead of running away from them like I have done. You need to decide if your mistakes are more important than the camaraderie you have between yourselves.”
Ratchet then added, “Don’t simply yell at each other if you have a disagreement. Communication is important in every relationship. Both platonic and romantic ones.”
“Charlie,” Bumblebee crouched until he was optic-level with the human. “I wasn’t trying to undermine you before. I just want to protect you.”
The side of Charlie’s mouth tugged as a small smile began to form. “’Bee, I’m never going to be safe. The world outside of your war is still dangerous. The only way I could genuinely be safe if I was locked away in a bunker for the rest of my life. Which, I don’t want to happen to me because I would die of boredom or go mad, whatever comes first.”
“That does sound like an awful way to go,” Bumblebee lightly jested.
“I’m being serious here,” Charlie insisted though that did not prevent a small giggle. Her mien became calm again. “I understand why you’re worried but don’t be. I’ll stay clear of when you guys have to fight but I want to be there anyway to help if you need it. Plus, I’m the only human you and the Autobots know so you need all the help you can get.”
“You’re right,” Bumblebee admitted. “I’m sorry for not hearing you out earlier.”
“And I’m sorry too,” Charlie said. “I don’t want to get involved with the fights you’ll end up in but that doesn’t mean I want to stop being friends with you over that.”
Bumblebee shook his helm. “I don’t want to end our friendship. It’s hard though, for me because I keep worrying that something bad will happen and I’ll lose one of the few friends I have on this planet.”
"You've got me," Charlie whispered. Her hands were placed firmly on both sides of the yellow 'bot's helm. Her brown eyes firmly locked onto his blue optics. "And I'm not going anywhere."
“Neither am I,” Bumblebee answered slowly but sincerely. “I will never leave you again.”
“Charlie,” Optimus came near the human and smaller robot. “Bumblebee, I am proud of you both for making amends. You both have come a long way since your reunion. I must be honest with you, Bumblebee. Even if you did forbid Charlie from remaining in contact with us I would have discouraged your decision. It is imperative that we are near her.”
Bumblebee and Charlie traded looks with one another before they said bluntly, “What?”
“Look,” Ratchet stood beside Optimus, his tone blunt. “We’re not doing this because we are charmed by your admittedly adorable friendship. It’s a much more serious matter I’m afraid.”
“Then what is it?” Charlie asked.
“It’s something we’ll need to speak with the rest of the Autobots together,” Optimus answered. “They need to hear about what Ratchet has discovered. Rest assured, it is nothing fatal.”
“Well, doesn’t that sound ominous,” Bumblebee commented.
“Just get a move on already.” Ratchet commanded. “Optimus will send a message to the others to meet up at the central hub of this area. Everything will be explained once everyone has gathered.
Charlie and Bumblebee head back to the heart of the junkyard. Ratchet started to follow them but Optimus stopped him.
“‘Admittedly adorable friendship?’” He quoted with enjoyment laced in his tone.
Ratchet appeared flustered before saying indignantly, “I was simply rephrasing what several of the others already have said.”
Optimus' laughter was warm and light. “Whatever you say, Ratchet.”
Charlie stood between Bumblebee and Jazz as the others slowly assemble into the outdoor ring.
The Spec Ops leaned in until he was within earshot of Charlie and ‘Bee. “So Lil’ Lady, ‘Bee, ya’ll have any idea why were all out here?”
“Optimus and Ratchet have something they want to tell us,” ‘Bee echoed.
“And it might have something to do with me,” Charlie crossed her arms and she looked to the ground with worry.
‘Bee gently patted her back in comfort. “They said it’s nothing fatal.”
“That’s still not keeping me chilled, funny enough.”
Jazz frowned at Charlie’s statement. “But it ain’t that cool out.”
“Chilled is Earth lingo for remaining calm,” Bumblebee elaborated. “Charlie’s just started teaching me,” he further added.
“Ah.” Jazz bobbed his head in understanding.
Optimus Prime and Ratchet eventually arrived at the scene. When they showed up the ongoing chitchat silenced.
Ratchet cleared his throat. “Now, that your all here I have something that needs to be discussed. It concerns our new friend and more importantly tell you all why the Eukarian beastformers found her instead of us.”
Charlie noticed the Autobots muttered quietly at the news before Optimus motioned them to remain quiet.
“While I was running a diagnostic on Charlie, I noticed a particular reading on her that concerned me because it was something that is normally found on Cybertronians.” Out his Subspace, Ratchet held out the rectangular device with a metal receiver at the top.
“That’s the same gadget Steeljaw used on me,” Charlie whispered to ‘Bee.
“This device was confiscated by Wheeljack and Jazz," Ratchet explained. "It uses a frequency to detect any trace of Energon Radiation within a twenty meter distance.”
The Autobots started to mutter amongst themselves again, sounding more anxious than before. Charlie was unsure how she felt about seeing their usually confident attitudes doing a one-eighty. She also had trouble grasping what Ratchet had just said.
Charlie raised her hand and waved it to get the medic’s attention. “What’s Energon Radiation?” She heard the words before (and used to describe different objects) but never associated one another.
“You understand how a human’s digestive system works, is that correct?” Ratchet asked.
“I do,” Charlie took two years of Health and lived with a nurse. She was well aware of how a human body functioned.
“For those of us who might need a remembrance humans expel the excess waste from their bodies after they consume the nutrients they need to survive.”
“We know,” Ironhide shuddered. “Ya don’t need ta remind us.”
“We all know, please for the love of Primus, don’t mention it again,” Wheejack pleaded. The rest of the Autobots looked just as uncomfortable as the inventor. Even Optimus Prime.
Charlie rolled her eyes at how buggin’ everyone was acting. I bet a robot’s anatomy has some weird quirks about it too.
Ratchet chose to ignore everyone’s complaining and continued, “To answer your question Charlie, a Cybertronian’s system breaks down the Energon we consume as it flows around the body to power and sustain us. Our bodies emit the castoff Energon through our plating in a form of radiation. Just like all forms of radioactive material it can spread around until it gets absorbed. Charlie, ever since you have been in contact with Bumblebee your body has been absorbing Energon Radiation.”
Charlie thought her heart had stopped. “Is it harmful to humans? Am I going to get sick?”
Ratchet shook his head rapidly. “No. No! Energon Radiation or En-Radiation is benign to organic life. In all honesty En-Radiation is more deadly to our kind than yours. Too much of it can cause our circuits to overload and shut down into Stasis Lock.”
“How much of the En-Rad is on her, Ratchet?” Bumblebee asked.
“From what I’ve read, enough for her to be mistaken for a Cybertronian,” Ratchet answered, gravely.
The heavy chatter commenced once more.
Charlie slumped slightly against ‘Bee’s leg. “That’s how Steeljaw and his gang discovered me. They thought I was one of you.”
“Everybot please settle down,” Optimus appealed. “This new information is daunting to say the least. While we cannot deny nor confirm just how far the Decepticons have advanced this new technology there is the serious matter of how the Engergon Radiation has turned humans into targets. It stands to reason that our next move is to protect the humans that have been exposed to the radiation.”
“Can’t we just leave Earth?” Brawn suggested. “The radiation should go away if we stayed away, wouldn’t it?”
Charlie and ‘Bee both shared worried expressions.
“Yes,” Ratchet spoke carefully, “But I’m afraid the radiation on Charlie is high enough that it would take an extremely long time for it to completely disappear.”
“How long is that?” Charlie glanced at her body.
Ratchet sighed. “About five vorns.”
Brawn shrugged. “That’s not that long.”
“A vorn equals to eighty-three Earth years.”
Brawn’s shoulders slumped. “Oh.”
Four hundred and fifteen years? Charlie did the math in her head, beyond astonished.
Charlie gasped. “So I’ll be long dead before this stuff on me is gone? What about my family? My mom has driven in ‘Bee.” Her eyes widened in shock after she realized, “My friend Memo. He was with ‘Bee almost as long as me.”
“It’s just as Prime says,” Jazz soothed. “We’ll be here ta protect y’all from any Decepticons that come here.”
“That means we’ll need to set a base near Charlie’s city,” Arcee commented.
Ultra Magnus responded with apprehension, “Does that seem like a wise choice? We cannot let the humans know we are here.”
“There’s not really any big enough hiding spots in Brighton for us,” Bumblebee admitted sadly.
“Unless,” Jazz placed a hand under his chin in thought, “there is somewhere we can go. A place that is isolated, far enough from pryin’ eyes and human activity is a definite no.”
“Jazz, what do you have in mind?” Optimus asked. All eyes were then laid on the Porsche.
The Spec Ops cleared his throat before he talked. “Okay, so back when Lil ‘Bee was goin’ to get Charlie I noticed somethin’ through my field. It felt big and metallic. Bigger than a ‘bot but smaller than a cyberformed city. I wished I could describe it better, if only I had some pics,” Jazz sighed dramatically. “Oh wait, I do!” He projected a large image over a hologram, which revealed large cemented ground with small poles sticking out. In the background stood a rectangular wall almost as large and wide as the area itself.
“I think I know that place,” Charlie said as the memories came to her. “It’s an old drive-in movie theater. It’s been closed down since my parents were in high school.”
Optimus placed his hands behind his back and announced, “It appears that some reconnaissance is in order. Autobots, we must gather up our supplies and prepare to roll out.”
The Autobots followed orders and readied themselves to leave.
“Bumblebee,” Optimus stopped the yellow ‘bot. “While Jazz leads the remainder of us to this, drive-in,” he spelt out the word slowly, possibly because it was the first time he ever said it, “you will escort Charlie back to her home. Bring her and her clan to our location. The other Watsons will need to be addressed of the situation promptly.”
After Optimus left to give aid to the others Charlie breathed out a puff of air. “My mom is not gonna be thrilled when she hears all of this. I know said I wanted to spend more time with you guys but this isn’t what I had in mind.”
Charlie felt a warm metallic hand rest on her shoulders. She turned her head to look at ‘Bee. The black and yellow robot looked at her with his blue fluorescent eyes, his grilled mouth molded into a smile.
“I’ll be there when you need to tell your family about the En-Radiation,” he vowed. “You’ve got me and I’ve got you, just like you said. Neither of us are going anywhere without the other.”
“Even if I need to shower or use the bathroom?” The mechanic said jokingly.
“Eh, except for that,” Bumblebee muttered.
Charlie laughed, the figurative weight uplifted from her shoulders. “Promise?” She held her hand out.
Bumblebee grasped it, his eyes shinning brighter than before. “I promise.” He placed his free hand over the middle of his chest and gestured, “Cross my Spark and hope to offline.”
“Your spark?” Charlie tested the word. “What’s that?”
‘Bee narrowed his eyes, appearing to be in deep thought. “A Spark is like a human heart combined with a soul. It’s a Cybertronian’s life force. Without it you aren’t alive.”
Charlie was intrigued. “What does it look like?”
“It’s a little difficult to explain that.” ‘Bee scratched the back of his head.
“Can you show me?”
‘Bee’s eyes rotated until they were rounder and he stilled.
“Is it impossible to show it?”
“No,” he said evenly. “I can but it’s-”
Charlie frowned, guilt swelling. “If you don’t want to I understand.”
‘Bee took a step away from her and then she heard a series of clunking noises until the components of his chest opened. Inside the center of the machinery a panel slid down revealing a radiant blue light incased in a glass ball. A faint humming sound came from within the sphere as small floating wavy lines formed around it. Whenever the small surges inched away from the edge they faded into small specks until there was nothing left. Everything about it was so alien to Charlie and yet she was drawn towards the Spark.
“Is it safe to touch?” Charlie held out a hand but did not move a muscle.
‘Bee shifted his eyes and for one reason or another responded in a uncomfortable tone, “I, uh, it’s better that you don’t.”
The mechanic pulled her hand back. “Sorry.”
A minute of silence drifted between the two.
“You know,” Bumblebee shifted to a different topic. “Optimus once told me that what makes our kind different from other non-sentient robots is that the Spark doesn’t just power our bodies, it’s also us. The legs, servos, and helm they’re all part of a shell. They can be used for good or evil, it’s all up to us to decide what we chose to be.”
“And who do you chose to be?” A question Charlie has heard countless others ask her before in the past.
“A warrior who fights for those who can’t,” the Autobot scout answered without hesitation. Then he gestured Charlie to move back and his chest plates moved and clicked themselves back together again.
“Wow,” Charlie sighed in awe. “That was beautiful. Thanks for sharing that with me, ‘Bee.”
“You’re welcome, Charlie.” ‘Bee said softly.
Charlie coughed after she became aware that the others were probably still waiting for them outside of the junkyard. “We should head back home now, huh?”
Bumblebee nodded and transformed. The Camaro door opened for Charlie and she slid in. The car’s engine purred as Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car played on the radio.
“Hey, ‘Bee.” Charlie put her seatbelt on and placed her hands on the wheel. “I don’t know what I want to be yet but I’ll make sure you’re the first to know. For now, I just want to help you and your friends as much as I can.”
“I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone.”
Charlie raised an eyebrow. “I thought you didn’t need to speak with the radio anymore.”
“Old habits die hard,” ‘Bee joked.
With a foot off the break and another on the accelerator the two of them drove into the late morning.
End of The Road Trip Arc
Q-A: You know I keep telling myself to NOT write over 5000 words but my OCD brain never listens. Not that I’m getting any complaints from my lovely readers about it yet so that’s good. So, one story arc is done and next we move onto the one called “Base Sweet Base”. Take a guess what that’ll be about. Next chapter will be about Charlie and ‘Bee having to tell her family what she has learned about the En-Radiation and possibly get other people involved. I won’t say whom but be on your guards everyone. Now for those of you who are worried that ‘Bee will magically stop using his voice like he did in Revenge of the Fallen, that is definitely not gonna happen here. He’ll just use his radio every once in a while first out of habit but continues it because he likes letting the music get his point across. Now we know what Jazz was interested in all the way back in chapter 2 and you’re probably thinking that a new base at a drive-in sounds silly but I can’t think of a time the Autobots doing that before and I think it can lead to a lot of cool/funny scenarios.
Just in case someone didn’t ready my top author’s note, in a few weeks I’ll be flying up to Baltimore to celebrate my aunt’s birthday. It’ll be over the weekend of March 22nd-25th
I’ll be uploading chapters normally until that weekend occurs. I hope you all won’t be too upset about it. I only get to see my aunt twice a year so this will be a rare chance to see her before the winter holidays.
“You’ve got me…” <-- One of my biggest pet peeves in film trailers is when there is a line that I like but it’s never used in the movie proper. This line is from the second Bumblebee trailer at (2:05). And you might recognize it from my story summary as well.
Chapter title: Magic by Olivia Newton-John
Here Comes The Sun by The Beatles
Fast Car by Tracy Chapman
Keep on Writin’ and Rockin’
Chapter 7: Under The Milky Way
It's time for our heroes to face the music.
Q-A: * Feigning a hangover * Gah, I’ll never play another drinking game as long as I live. * Proceeds to make up a list of other “games” for future chapters * I’m kidding though, I don’t even drink. XD So, here is chapter “6” of Riding A Sunset! I’m excited, are you all excited? Well, a lot will happen in this chapter but I can’t say more because then there would be no point for me to write the story after the song quote. XD
And as a reminder I’ll be flying up to Baltimore to celebrate my aunt’s birthday. It’ll be over the weekend of March 22nd-25th. I’ll not be uploading anything during that time but I’ll hopefully have something up the next Sunday after that weekend but I can’t make any promises.
Warnings for this chapter are:
swearing, mentions of war, death, and slight xenophobia
“And it's something quite peculiar
Something shimmering and white
Leads you here despite your destination
Under the Milky Way tonight”
- “Under The Milky Way” by The Church
Location: Brighton Falls, CA. Date: June 6, 1988
A long caravan of nine brightly colored vehicles drove southbound led by Bumblebee. If any humans saw the sight they could be forgiven if they thought there was a parade going on. The tall pine trees dissolved into the scenery and were soon replaced with buildings.
Charlie drove ‘Bee through the interstate, going the speed limit this time. The Autobots had returned into their original colorings instead of the rusted appearances they had back at the junkyard. They also had tinted windows that conveniently concealed the fact they had no drivers. One thing bothered the mechanic, though.
The yellow scout quit fiddling with the radio long enough to respond, “Yes?”
“Optimus Prime is the leader of the Autobots. Why isn’t he up in front with us?” Instead the red and blue Freightliner was behind the trail of cars. Particularly he was back of Ultra Magnus who moved leisurely due to pulling an auto transport trailer that carried the three beast-bots in their pods disguised as clunkers.
“Optimus never takes point. He’s always the rearguard in order to make sure the rest of us are safe. We’ve tried to convince him his existence is more important than ours but he insists that no rank should determine the value of a ‘bot’s life. He always has our back plates.”
Charlie opened her mouth in an ‘o’ in surprise. “A real father to his men, huh? Or mecha in your case.”
“I never thought of it that way,” Bumblebee regarded thoughtfully, “but I guess you’re right.”
For the last few hours Charlie had been teaching ‘Bee human vocabulary while he in turn explained to her a few Cybertronian words. She had an easier time understanding his lingo unlike him. Bumblebee could not tell the difference between a bomb and the phrase ‘the bomb’. Heaven help her if he asked if fat and phat held the same meaning.
In little over an hour the diminutive skyline of Brighton rolled into view. Charlie’s heart was flooded with an array of emotions as she breathed out, “Almost home, ‘Bee.”
The line of cars and trucks quickly arrived at the city limits. Despite the lack of other humans nearby none of the Autobots transformed into their robot-modes.
“Jazz,” Optimus Prime declared, “Lead us to the drive-in while Bumblebee shall take Charlie to her housing unit.”
“Gatcha,” Jazz replied. He pulled in reverse and headed down a cracked pavement. The others followed suit, leaving ‘Bee and Charlie by themselves.
“I’m having trouble deciding if I’m relieved to see my family soon or terrified how my mom’s going to react,” Charlie admitted as they cruised through the streets.
“I’ll be with you the whole time,” Bumblebee said reassuringly. “Besides, I need to take responsibility for what happened to you.”
Charlie sighed. “’Bee, for the hundredth time, it’s not your fault I got kidnapped. You were literarily in the middle of a surgical procedure when it happened.”
“Fine, but you better promise to stop thinking that it was your fault too,” ‘Bee countered.
“Deal,” Charlie agreed, albeit reluctantly. Right after she said that they arrived in the cul-de-sac where the Watsons lived. However, the duo then noticed a khaki colored military standard Jeep with a familiar logo on the side parked by the driveway.
Sector 7, Charlie thought with building dread. The yellow Camaro’s engines revved and the needle on the speedometer moved erratically.
“Stay cool, ‘Bee,” the eighteen-year-old instructed.
“The last time we dealt with Sector 7 it didn’t end well for us,” ‘Bee reminded her, urgently. “Not only did they team up with the Decepticons, tortured me, but the one with the scar pushed you,” he hissed the last one as though it was harsher than all the other things that were inflicted upon him. “I didn’t like that at all,” he said with sarcastic modesty. In any other situation Charlie would have been touched at how much ‘Bee cared but this was not one of those times.
“They’re not taking you away from me. And I’m pretty sure Optimus and the others won’t let that happen either,” Charlie rationalized. She directed ‘Bee to park by the other car but as soon as he did Sally opened the front door and ran down the lawn.
“Charlie!” the older Watson shouted.
The mechanic in question got out of the yellow Camaro and was immediately embraced by her mother. “Mom!” she was stunned by the hug momentarily before she wrapped her arms around the smaller woman.
“You are never leaving the house again, you hear me?” Sally whispered protectively.
Charlie gently pushed her mom off her and looked straight in the eye. “We need to talk,” she started but Sally ignored her and marched right at Bumblebee.
“And you,” the elder Watson waged a finger at the yellow car. “You said you were going to keep Charlie safe. Does that look safe to you?” She gestured to her daughter. “It’s been over a day you promised to come back and why is she covered in bandages?”
Charlie tried to break in, “Mom, I’m fine. It’s just a bruise on my arm and a couple scratches-”
“You had one job, pal and you screwed it up,” Sally seethed at the car.
“MOM!” Charlie shouted, finally gaining her mother’s attention. That wasn’t the only person whose attention she piqued. Otis exited the front door and rushed over to Charlie and ‘Bee.
“Excellent, the car-bot is back,” he gushed as he gawked at Bumblebee.
“Yeah, I’m fine, Otis, thanks for asking,” Charlie rolled her eyes before she placed her attention on Sally. “Mom, why is there a car from Sector 7 here?”
“Charlie,” Ron greeted as he stood awkwardly by the door. He smiled nervously at his wife. “Sally, the uh, agents here still wish to speak and-” Charlie’s stepfather was interrupted by another person, a tall blond man with a scar on the right side of his face.
Charlie became stiff as a board and her wary expression became stern. “Agent Burns,” she greeted the man impassively.
“Charlie Watson,” Agent Burns responded and then addressed Bumblebee, “Soldier.”
The yellow Camaro remained silent. After noticing everyone’s confused looks Charlie sighed and said, “’Bee won’t talk while we’re all outside.” She gestured to the neighbors’ houses, who thankfully were not paying any attention their way. Charlie turned towards her brother. “Otis, go on and open the garage door for ‘Bee. I’ll drive him in.”
Her little brother did what she told him to do and the remaining Watsons and Burns entered the house. Once the garage door was sealed and Charlie got out ‘Bee reverted into his robot form and crouched into his usual position. His blue optics were glued on the kitchen door as the other people walked inside. Charlie noticed that his shoulder pads tensed and followed his train of sight. Instead of four people entering the garage, there were five. The last one to waltz in was a tall African-American man with a buzz haircut similar to Burns’ but his hair wasn’t thinning. He wore the same uniform as Burns with a nametag that read FOWLER on the right breast pocket.
Charlie could not decide whether to stand with her family or with ‘Bee but chose to step in front of him, blocking the ‘bot from the soldiers’ path.
“Charlie,” Sally scolded. “Be polite. I called them here.”
“Why would you do that?” the girl demanded.
“Well, who else was I going to call?” Sally waved her arm. “There was no way the police would believe me if I told them a car kidnapped my daughter.”
“’Bee didn’t kidnap me,” Charlie insisted. She glanced away before she ‘fessed up, “Another robot did but it was an evil one and his gang of-”
“Were they Decepticons?” Burns interrupted.
Charlie shook her head. “No. Sorta, it’s complicated.”
The black man purposely coughed. “I didn’t know when would be a good time to introduce myself properly.” He stepped forward until he stood a few feet from Charlie and ‘Bee. “The name’s William Fowler: Airborne Ranger*. I was piloting the helicopter you saved from crashing.”
“I thought you looked familiar,” Bumblebee stated with widened optics.
“I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for you,” Fowler declared before he held out his hand. ‘Bee glanced at Charlie who smiled at him and nodded. She stepped aside, allowing the yellow Camaro and Ranger to properly shake hand and servo in respect. “My name is Bumblebee: Calvary Scout, Autobot Resistance, Unit Prime.”
“You know, I also dragged your sorry butt out of the burning chopper,” Burns said towards Fowler in a way that sounded a tiny bit crunchy**.
Fowler rolled his eyes. “Who’s idea was it to chase the evil robots that night?”
Burns muttered, “Mine.”
“It was mine!” Burns shouted. “Happy?”
Fowler smiled smugly. “As a clam.”
“Charlie,” Bumblebee chimed. “We need to get back to the main topic. Your family needs to know.”
“Right,” Charlie nodded slowly.
“Know what?” Sally placed her hands on her hips.
Charlie took a deep breath. “Okay it all started-”
Bumblebee helped Charlie fill in any blanks in the briefing from how the Autobots located the Eukarians and her whereabouts to the reveal of the Energon Radiation. There were plenty of nano-kliks where Sally or one of the agents broke in, leaving Charlie or ‘Bee to elaborate on a term or name they were not familiar with.
Ron was the first to speak up, though he clearly had trouble forming the words. “So, this Energon Radiation, it’s inside us?”
Charlie nodded. “Basically, yeah.”
“And it won’t turn us into superheroes?” Otis asked.
“No,” the mechanic groaned. “Otis, this isn’t like a comic book or cartoon. We’re in serious danger.”
“Of course we are,” Sally clamored fervently. “My baby girl was kidnapped by robotic animals and now this dictator from another planet might come after us just because you drove a beetle bug a couple of times.”
“That sounds ridiculous when you say it like that,” Charlie sighed. “Mom, you gotta calm down okay? ‘Bee and the other Autobots will help us.”
“Just how many of them are here?” Burns leaned in quizzically.
“What’s it to you?” Charlie frowned. “So you and your friends at Area 51 can monitor them?”
Burns, to his credit, tried not to look affronted. “It’s the government’s right to know what their purpose on our planet is and why they’re here.”
“And you speak on behalf of the rest of your friends? Do they also believe that ‘Bee and his people just want a safe place to hide?” Charlie challenged. When the government agent did not reply quickly enough she repeated, “Do they?”
‘Bee observed that the hesitation from Agent Burns gave Charlie the answer she was looking for. “I thought so.”
“They might not want to listen now but Burns and I are tryin’ to,” Fowler said honestly. “The robot here saved our lives. The least we can do is help him and his kind out. And the government just wants to know if they’re a threat or not. The last time we came in contact with people of their species it didn’t exactly end well.”
“Well, you thought the robots that called themselves Decepti-cons were good and partnered up with them,” ‘Bee groused.
“I didn’t,” Burns insisted. “I thought they were the bad guys and nobody listened to me.”
“You also thought I was bad,” ‘Bee retaliated, bluntly.
Burns was at a loss of words and stammered for a nano-klik. Bumblebee rolled his optics and scoffed at the man.
“The point is,” Fowler said further, “It’s going to take sometime for our superiors to trust the Autobots unless they speak with them now.”
“They’re willing to hear Optimus out?” ‘Bee asked dubiously.
“They would very much rather negotiate instead of dealing with the firepower your people have,” Fowler responded, succinctly.
Bumblebee almost spoke again until he sensed a comm. ping from his processor.
“‘Bee?” Charlie peered at him.
“Jazz found the base,” ‘Bee announced to the humans. “He says that Optimus says he wants everyone to come.”
“Everyone?” Sally echoed.
‘Bee nodded. “Everyone.” He glanced at Burns and Fowler, slightly perturbed. “I guess that includes you two.”
“If your leader will be comfortable with that,” Fowler spoke for him and Burns.
“Optimus will want to speak with you,” Bumblebee disclosed. “He wants to be on good terms with the humans like the rest of the Autobots do.”
“Radical,” Otis exclaimed. “We get to meet the giant robots.” Sally and Ron had very uneasy expressions and Charlie attempted to comfort them.
Both agents appeared to be relieved from the news however. A nano-klik later the garage door opened. ‘Bee went into his alt-mode, hoping that the newcomer did not see him in his bi-pedal form. Aside from Charlie none of others reacted negatively at the arriving human. Except for Agent Burns that is.
“Simmons, I told you to stay in the jeep,” Agent Burns chastised.
“Sir,” the shorter man with curly black hair saluted and then dropped the gesture. “You got a call from the General.”
Burns cursed under his breath. “Fine.” He stalked away from the group to go outside while Simmons stood at his spot.
Fowler sighed while rolling his eyes. “Get in here.”
Simmons proceeded with caution as he inched in the garage. He wearily eyed the yellow/black car. “Is that the uh, Non-biological?”
“He prefers being call a Cybertronian,” Charlie corrected while crossing her arms.
Simmons glanced at the female mechanic. “Does it talk?”
Bumblebee shifted out of his Camaro disguise and leaned to Simmons, causing him to jump.
“When he likes to,” ‘Bee answered in mild amusement at the skinny human’s reaction.
The man was close to fainting and Charlie laughed.
“What does Agent Burns need to talk with the general about?” Sally asked Fowler.
Fowler smirked. “Well, it might have to do with that fact that he didn’t necessarily say where we were going and who we were going to talk to.”
“Your superiors don’t know that I’m here?” ‘Bee and Charlie exchanged looks of surprise.
“Jack and I didn’t want to make a scene by bringing a whole squad here. We had to drag Simmons along because he overheard the phone call between Mrs. Watson and Jack. But it appears General Whalen found out anyway. So much for stealth,” Fowler sighed.
“How do you know your general called you guys?” Otis asked.
Fowler answered, “Our jeep has a car phone attached to it.”
“A car with a phone?” Otis said excitedly. “That’s the bomb!”
“Bomb?!” Bumblebee sprung into action. His cannons activated while his HUD and mask went online.
“’Bee! It was a figure of speech! Remember?” Charlie yelled in alarm while the other humans began panicking. “Stop trying to break down the garage door!”
When Jazz said he found a new sanctuary for the Autobots he may have exaggerated just a tad. The trek through the sparse woods was brisk in their alt-modes and took less than a breem when they arrived to their destination. The open field they got in was fifty Earth-meters in width and almost 110 Earth-meters in length. In five rows, there were poles that stuck up from the ground with speakers that had rusted over. Trash and other debris littered the concert surface. Small triangular roofed buildings were scattered at the back of the lot. At the opposite end of the field a grand rectangular wall that was sixteen by twenty-two Earth-meters in height and width. What was probably once a clean pristine white sheet was currently faded yellow and covered with holes.
“This is it.” Jazz announced with wide-open doors. “Well? What do ya think?”
Ratchet had a few choice glyphs to say, “I think this place is a-”
“PERFECT!” Wheeljack squealed, his headlights brightening. “Just look at all this space!” He began to drive wildly at random spots. “We could builda couple barracks there, turn that spot over there into a chamber for this Energon reconfiguring-generator I’ve been designin’ oh, and that building in there is where Charlie says the humans keep their old projector. I bet if I fine-tune that sparkling out we’ll watch all sortsa movies and old holovids from home.”
“Easy, Wheeljack.” Optimus moderated.
“Sorry,” the scientist replied. “Gotta bit carried away.”
Ratchet ex-vented. “That’s an understatement if I ever heard one.”
“Autobots, time to initiate a sweep of the area. Scan for any human activity.” Optimus proclaimed. After a few kliks the eight cars and trucks ceased their operation once they determined that they were alone. Straightaway they transformed out of their alt-modes. Jazz started to play Earth music through his radio as he crooned to the lyrics. Ultra Magnus emitted an occasional ‘tsk’ as he beheld the desolated environment. Wheeljack dragged Arcee to a building unit where the supposed projector was located while Ironhide and Brawn remained vigilant. Ratchet stayed close to Optimus.
“Listen, I need a klik with you,” the medic whispered.
“What seems to be the trouble Ratchet?” Optimus inquired as he watch Ratchet stare at the distracted ‘bots. The Autobot leader was not concerned with his medic’s behavior but he was still curious.
“What makes you think I’m troubled with anything?”
“Ratchet you always have something on your processor,” Optimus pointed out. “We’ve been friends for millions of years. I know you.”
Ratchet ex-vented, “Fine. It’s time to address the electraphant*** in the room. Why did you pick this planet, Prime?”
He’s referring me as Prime. That can’t be good. Optimus thought. “Ratchet-”
“Oh, don’t use that tone on me. I’m not one of those starry-optic recruits that get immediately swayed by your speeches. Give it to me straight, why did you tell us all to come here? Now, if it was somebot else I could understand if it was mistake and they had no idea that the dominant race on this planet was as advance enough to have their own society and communication. But you aren’t that kind of mech, Optimus. You don’t make errors as big as this.”
Optimus nodded once. “You are correct Ratchet.”
The medic arched an optical ridge. “Well~? Do you have an explanation for coming here or do I need to force it out of you?”
“Prime!” Jazz jogged over, unintentionally breaking the discussion, much to the Freightliner’s solace. “Lil ‘Bee just sent a reply to my comm. message from earlier. He’s bringin’ Charlie with her family over here like ya ordered.”
“Very good,” Optimus nodded with approval.
“But he’s also leadin’ some Earth government agents here too,” Jazz added in a tenor that was not as laidback as the previous statement.
Optimus straightened. “I see. We shall see to their arrival then.” He reissued his orders to the others through the commlink. As everybot made preparations Ratchet grabbed red and blue Freightliner by the arm.
“This conversation isn’t over,” Ratchet warned with a pointed digit.
The Autobots’ leader ex-vented as he watched his friend walk away. He did not enjoy withholding information from Ratchet but the time was not right yet. Soon, he told himself. The six Autobots stood beside Brawn and Ironhide while the later loaded up his laser cannon rifle.
“Is that really needed, Ironhide?” Arcee asked exasperatedly. “I only sense three land vehicles approaching us. ‘Bee’s alt-mode included.”
“It never hurts ta be prepared,” Ironhide reasoned.
“Arcee raises a fair point,” Optimus opposed evenly. “We do wish to make a good first impression with the new humans.”
“How is this ain’t a good first impression?” Ironhide asked genuinely while he gestured to his cannon.
Optimus gazed catatonically at the Weapons Specialist. “Put the gun back into your Subspace ‘Hide.”
Ironhide grumbled out a few swear glyphs but did as he was told. A few kliks passed until they saw headlights in the distance. Optimus ordered the Autobots to hide in their alt-modes as an extra precaution. The six cars and two trucks remained still as the three non-sentient cars roll in. The first was Bumblebee in his Camaro form, Charlie behind his steering wheel, next was a green and brown car that carried a trio of humans and a light tan colored automobile with three more humans dressed in thick black clothes. Once the humans parked and Charlie emerged out of Bumblebee, the yellow scout changed out of his alt-mode.
“Are you certain that you weren’t followed?” Optimus besieged the human and young ‘bot.
Bumblebee and Charlie nodded. “We’re sure,” they said in unison.
Optimus commanded, “Autobots, transform!”
I wonder if he ever gets tired of saying that? Charlie thought lightly as she watched the other humans’ reactions to the Autobots’ transformations.
“Hoover Dam,” Fowler spoke with awe.
“Oh my god,” Sally said as she and Ron gaped and propped themselves on the station wagon for support.
“Sweeeeeet,” Otis could barely contain his excitement.
Burns appeared resigned but his bulging eyes betrayed him. Simmons was the most spooked as he accidently dropped his gun and it shot out into the afternoon. Charlie’s family ducked out of instinct while ‘Bee covered her with his body for protection.
“Simmons!” Burns barked.
“S-Sorry sir,” the young man stuttered. “I forgot to put the safety on.”
“They are children here,” Fowler hammered in. “What is wrong with you?”
Wheeljack approached the fallen weapon and scanned it. “Wow, whatta antique,” the inventor said with interest. “This thing still uses metallic bullets. Ain’t that somethin’?”
“Wheeljack,” Ratchet grunted in disproval.
“Huh?” The Lancia Stratos remembered where he was. “Oh, sorry. I meant ta say very advance weaponry here for your kind,” he stated in a louder tone. “Yep, that’s what I meant ta say.”
He handed the gun back to Simmons.
“We are autonomous robotic organisms, members of the Autobot Resistance from Cybertron,” Optimus addressed to the agents and the Watsons. “A planet far from Earth.”
“This is so radical,” Otis whispered. Sally shushed him.
“An antique?” Simmons stared at his gun while Agent Burns and Fowler introduced themselves. “We’re part of Sector 7, a secret-”
“Government organization that monitors alien activity on and off your planet,” Arcee completed effortlessly.
“You know who we are already?” Fowler questioned in surprise.
Ironhide guffawed. “We know who you are. Bumblebee told us all about you.”
“And everything you did to him,” Brawn added in an acrid tone.
“Everything?” Burns asked with a slight hint of worry in his voice.
“Including the part where you spared him and Charlie after the battle between them and Shatter and Dropkick… However,” Optimus Prime divulged. He then narrowed his optics and sat down until his helm was leveled with Burns’ head. “One act of kindness does not undo a chain of atrocious actions. My fellow Autobots and I are willing to put the past behind us if you agree to let us stay in this location for the unforeseeable future. I believe that Bumblebee and Charlie have elaborated to you why we need to be here.”
“Are you really sure this is the place for you guys?” Burns glanced around the site. Charlie thought that Burns was probably thinking the old place looked butt ugly. “There is an airbase downtown in Brighton. It’s more secured and… sanitary.”
“The McKinnon Airbase, yes we are aware of that place,” Optimus Prime nodded. “We are also aware that it is proximately close by the human settlement. We would be forced to stay in vehicle mode at all times if we made our base there.”
“It would cause serious damage to the spinal struts and neck cables on all the Autobots,” Ratchet concurred.
“And on a personal note,” Bumblebee raised a servo. “I would like to not stay at the place where I was almost offlined. Twice.”
“He said the same thing about the mine we went to get his vocalizer back,” Brawn added.
“We’ll see what we can do,” Fowler said. “In the meantime you all will need to stay put until we can have this settled.”
“A reasonable request,” Optimus agreed initially but said, “If I may slightly differ it with another requisition. We wish to leave one of our own with the Watsons at all times for their protection. My Calvary scout has volunteered to become their guardian.”
“Not like that would be a big sacrifice on his part,” Jazz dipped**** to Wheeljack who then chuckled. Charlie frowned at the German and Italian sports cars.
“Is that really a good idea?” Fowler asked skeptically. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but wouldn’t make sense to have one of your larger soldiers act as a bodyguard for the Watsons instead of your smallest one. Or have some our own take care of them?”
“We are the only ones who can stop the Decepticons with our weaponry and competency,” Optimus asserted firmly. “And I would trust my Calvary Scout with my Spark.”
“Life,” Ratchet corrected halfheartedly.
“Remember, Bill, that little guy over there saved our asses,” Agent Burns half-whispered to Fowler while he pointed at Bumblebee. "I'm sure he can handle a babysitting job."
“Plus,” Charlie added. “My family would have an easier time explaining how I got a yellow Camaro instead of some fancy pink Toyota, or a red/green Stratos, or an eighteen wheeler.” She gave the Autobots sympathetic looks. “No offense but all of you stand out a lot. How did you find your alternate modes anyway?”
“There was a’ international automobile show up in the city of Sacramento,” Jazz answered.
“Oh yeah. I remember that,” Charlie recalled. “It was last September. I wanted to go but I was working that weekend so I couldn’t,” she sighed with disappointment.
“You didn’t miss much, ‘Bee shrugged. “The only foreign cars they had where from Italy, Germany, and Japan.”
“I could’ve seen you there, though.”
“Oh,” ‘Bee looked to the ground, his faceplate turned a tint darker. Was he blushing? “Yeah, well there’s that.”
“So, let’s go over this again,” Fowler counted with his fingers. “You’re here to hide from your Decepticon enemies, the Watsons have a type of radiation on them that can only go away after hundreds of years, you want to stay at this rundown drive-in because its close by, and you want us to somehow convince our general to let you do all this while also letting one of your own with the Watsons at all times? Is that all you Autobots want?”
“Well,” Optimus considered. “We also want assistance in finding our comrades when they arrive here on Earth. Along with possibly assisting Wheeljack in safely harnessing resources to make Energon for us.”
“Wait, more of you are coming here?” Burns appeared to be on the verge of freaking out.
Optimus chuckled. Charlie wasn’t sure if he was smiling either because of the mask. Again. “Of course. You didn’t expect our resistance to only have nine members, did you?”
“Hopefully there’s still more than nine,” Ratchet sullenly ex-vented.
“Looks like we got our work cut out for us,” Fowler patted Burns on the shoulder before he spoke directly to Optimus. “We need to speak with our superiors before anything can be finalized.”
Optimus nodded. “Understood.”
“How long do you think this will take?” ‘Bee asked Charlie.
Charlie crossed her arms and thought deeply. “I dunno. But I think it should all work out. That’s the best we can hope for.”
As the human adults continued to converse, Bumblebee offered to take Charlie and her brother out for a ride after he saw how tired they were. Sally agreed only if she or Ron followed them in the station wagon. Both Charlie and Otis tried to protest at how un-cool that was but Optimus told them they should respect their carrier’s wishes. They begrudgingly caved in and allowed Ron to drive behind ‘Bee while they drove around town. When the sun began to set Charlie directed ‘Bee to a cliff side that had the best view to watch the crepuscule. As dusk gave way to the stars the humans showed ‘Bee all the constellations that they knew. ‘Bee, in turn, told them everything he remembered about Cybertron. With no other humans around, the yellow Autobot no longer needed to be in his alt-mode, which allowed Charlie and Otis to sit by his legs and Ron rested on a blanket.
“Is the whole planet really made out of metal?” Charlie asked in wide-eye interest after ‘Bee described the planet’s metallic structure.
“Yes.” ‘Bee nodded his helm. He gestured as he eagerly described Cybertron’s infrastructure. “And there’s a light from the planet’s core powered by a super computer called Vector Sigma that illuminates every crack and crevice on the whole world. It’s really beautiful.”
Charlie breathed out in awe. “I would love to see that.”
“Are there race tracks everywhere to drive on?” Otis questioned with captivation.
“There are a few good tracks but not as great as Velocitron’s. Or so I’ve heard,” ‘Bee answered honestly. “At least that’s what Jazz said when he and another Autobot named Prowl visited it once.”
“And there’s no plant life on that world too?” Ron leaned forward, giving ‘Bee his undivided attention.
“There is some on Eukaris at least I’ve been told from stories about it.”
Charlie titled her head. “You’ve never been to any of the colonies?”
‘Bee vented sadly before he answered, “Nobot has since the Comsic Rust plague hit most of the colonies eleven million years ago. Veleocitron was one of the first to go. Then Carcer, Gorlam Prime, and Paradron. Cybertron was spared because the Prime before Optimus, Sentinel Prime, sealed the Primary Spacebridge to prevent the Rust from reaching our world.”
“By keeping all the infected planets out you mean?” Charlie specified and then frowned. “But what about the worlds that didn’t caught the plague? What about them?”
‘Bee placed a servo over his faceplate and vented heavily. “I don’t know a lot of the politics that went on during that time,” he snapped unintentionally. When he saw the humans shaken up reactions he said, “I’m sorry. Optimus would be better at explaining all of this than me.”
“It’s okay,” Charlie rubbed his arm for comfort. “I shouldn’t have jumped at you like that. I just don’t like hearing stories where people don’t help others when they get sick.”
A memory file pinged inside ‘Bee’s processor. It was from when Charlie confided with him over the loss of her creator. He offlined or died from a sickness related to his heart, a human organ that was similar to a Fuel Pump within a Cybertronian. ‘Bee was sad to hear about that account then and still now.
“I’m sorry about your father, Charlie, Otis,” ‘Bee placed a servo on Charlie’s back in solace.
“It still hurts sometimes but I’m dealing with it a lot better,” Charlie replied.
“Me too,” Otis added softly. Charlie hugged her brother with one arm.
“Your mom told me he was a great guy,” Ron furthered, empathically. “That he always had a good joke and encouraged you two to follow your dreams.”
“You’ve been doing that too, Ron.” Otis gratified.
Charlie nodded. “You have.”
Ron grinned, elated at the news. “Thanks.”
Charlie wiped the moisture on her human optics and digressed, “This conversation is getting too heavy. Why don’t we talk more about Cybertron?”
‘Bee bobbed his helm. “That sounds good.”
Otis inched closer to the ‘bot. “Where do you think Cybertron is?” He then looked up to the sky and stared aimlessly at the Milky Way.
‘Bee laughed. “You can’t see it here on Earth. It’s very far away. Over four light-years from your planet.”
“And that’s far?”
“Very,” Ron answered and then went to on another explanation as Otis pressed his stepfather for more answers.
“Hey ‘Bee,” Charlie tapped Bumblebee’s arm. The yellow Camaro whipped his head until his optics found on her eyes. “This is going to sound like a-no-is a dumb question but do you miss Cybertron?” she kept her voice at a whisper to not draw attention from the male humans.
“Yes,” he answered without a beat. “I can’t wait until the day the Autobots and I can return and liberate it from the Decepticons but Optimus thinks that won’t happen for a very long time until we’re all together again.”
“How long do you think that will take?”
‘Bee shifted his shoulder pads. “It depends on how far all the other Autobots are. Optimus believes they’re all scattered across the galaxy. We still haven’t heard anything from the others yet. Not even Cliffjumper is here. He and I became friends when I joined Optimus’ unit,” he added after he noticed the confused expression from Charlie. “It’s strange, he should’ve arrived the same time as the rest.” ‘Bee processed the information with uneasiness.
Charlie curled a hand over his digit. “Hey, nothing good comes outta worrying so much. I’m sure your friend is okay. He’s a soldier like you, right?”
“Yeah,” ‘Bee ex-vented. “Sorry, I’m making the conversation... Harvey?”
Charlie shook her head. “’Heavy’ ‘Bee. And stop apologizing. Let’s quit having negative thoughts for a while,” she said encouragingly. “You’ll see Cliffjumper again and you’re going to see a free Cybertron. You and the rest of the Autobots will be home again, someday. I just hope that Brighton Falls can be a decent substitute for a while. If the talks with Optimus and Sector 7 go right that is.”
“It’s no Cybertron,” Bumblebee acknowledged before he added sincerely, “But Brighton Falls is beginning to grow on me.”
Charlie smiled warmly.
Beginning of The Base Sweet Base Arc
Q-A: Oh the irony! The sad, tragic irony! I did not mean for the end there to get so emotional like that but~ I like torturing these guys before I make things uplifting. I’m either a sadist or a writer. Or maybe both…. Wait.
I'm beginning to think Wheeljack is my new spirit animal because we both people that like creating things but have no time to do it. XD Also on an unrelated note, I had a lot of fun writing 'Bee for this chapter. Deadpan snarking brings me joy.
I know I sound like I’m coming off like a broken record but just a reminder I’ll be flying up to Baltimore to celebrate my aunt’s birthday. It’ll be over the weekend of March 22nd-25th. I’ll not be uploading anything during that time but I’ll hopefully have something up the next Sunday after that weekend. I will be writing a new chapter before I leave though I can’t confirm if it will be ready in time before I’ll be leaving.
The next chapter will be a breather in case you’re wondering. It won’t be filler though since some plot stuff does happen in it but it will be a nice fun break from all the serious stuff we’ve been going through.
* William Fowler is the second Best-est character introduced from Transformers Prime (the first Best-est being Knock Out X3). So, I have no idea if the helicopter pilot from the movie did survive or not but it's a nice thought to think that 'Bee saved more than Burns' life that night and if it was Fowler it would be a cool way to explain why he trusts the Autobots. Also Fowler here is a bit different than his cartoon version because he is a lot younger and less jaded but he will still have his colorful choice of words and other -isms. Don't worry. ^-^
** 80’s slang for jealous. I swear I’m not making that up. Here’s a website link to old 80s slang. http://www.inthe80s.com/glossary.shtml
*** I have no idea if there is a Cybertronian equivalent to an elephant so I just made one up. I know there are Transformers who turn into them like Shuffler but that’s just about it.
**** Dipped or Dip means to eavesdrop on another’s conversation and interject inappropriately. Another fun term pulled out from the 80s.
All the colonies mentioned are ‘real’ worlds in the TF universe (Sorry for those of you who are sad if any of the planets mentioned in this chapter are ones you liked).
Chapter title: Under The Milky Way by The Church. (It may not make a lot of sense in this chapter but the name of the drive-in movie theater I made up is called Under The Milky Way Drive-In. More of the history will be revealed in a later chapter, I swear.)
Keep on Writin’ and Rockin’
Chapter 8: Nothin' But A Good Time Part 1
In an effort to ease Charlie before the big talk with Sector 7, Bumblebee sneakily takes her out on a drive. Hilarity and stupidity ensues.
Q-A: This chapter was super hard to write. Honestly, I could’ve finished this a lot sooner but I kept goofing off but now it’s done. But I’m glad with the rest of it and I hope you all will like it too.
Warnings for this chapter are:
swearing, slight Xenophobia (again), and bullying
“I'm always workin' slavin' every day
Gotta get away from that same old same old
I need a chance just to get away
If you could hear me think this is what I'd say
- “Nothin’ But A Good Time” by Poison
Location: Brighton Falls, CA. Date: June 13, 1988
“When was the last time you were washed?” Bumblebee heard Charlie ask him.
The two of them were in the Watsons’ garage while working on the Corvette. Correction, Charlie was the one fixing the red and white sports car while ‘Bee observed the procedure. A week had passed since the Autobot Calvary Scout officially moved-in, as the human saying went. ‘Bee settled back into his old spot without a hitch but with a few modifications. Ever since the Watsons found out the truth ‘Bee didn’t have to remain in his Camaro form for the duration of each day until he and Charlie were alone. Some mornings Ron and Otis would greet the robot besides Charlie after they finished consuming nutrients. Sally was still slightly hesitant to speak with Bumblebee alone however. ‘Bee accidently overheard Charlie and her carrier argue over that matter in the kitchen once but he constrained himself from bringing up the subject up to his friend. He would much rather spend time re-watching The Breakfast Club with her during their movie nights. She also introduced him to some other Earth films such as The Karate Kid, Footloose, Raiders Of The Lost Arc, and The Goonies. Breakfast Club was still his all time favorite though. There was just something about the character that actor, Judd Nelson, played* (maybe it was the fist pump or the witty comebacks that reminded him of someone he knew).
The yellow ‘bot tapped his helm while he mulled over Charlie’s question “Uh, is it the same like a Paint N’ Polish?” The last time he went to one of those was about two Stellar-cycles ago.
Charlie sighed, “Nevermind.” The mechanic grumbled again before she chucked her wrench to the ground. “It’s no use. I just don’t have the right parts to fix her up,” Charlie said tiredly.
“It’s too bad that the Corvette isn’t running,” ‘Bee ex-vented while he helped Charlie pick up her discarded tools. “I would’ve loved to race you against it.”
“I’m pretty sure you’d leave me in the dust with the horsepower you have,” Charlie’s mouth almost twitched into a smile before her frown returned. “It did run after you left. But then a few months ago it just stopped working.”
Bumblebee furrowed his optical ridges. “Isn’t there someone who could offer you some help?”
“I am trying to raise some cash to go see a mechanic, emphasis on try,” she responded dejectedly.
“What about your job? …Did I say something wrong?” he then asked after Charlie’s face contorted into a sour expression.
“I-I lost my job ‘Bee,” Charlie said regretfully.
‘Bee’s optics widened in shock, “How? Is it because I came to you a week ago and-”
“It has nothing to do with you,” Charlie assured. “The food stand I was employed at couldn’t afford to stay open because not enough people wanted to buy hotdogs on a stick. Which, I can’t seriously blame them, we didn’t even use real meat most of the time,” the eighteen-year-old blanched.
“That blows,” ‘Bee hoped he used the correct Earth term.
Charlie nodded. “What sucks even more is that on the same day I got laid off was when all these colleges I applied for sent back letters saying ‘thanks for asking to come to our school but the answer is no’,” she bellowed a grunt of frustration as she slumped over the little red sports car.
“Oh,” Charlie blushed. “You don’t know what that is. Sorry, it’s a school-a place of learning-to get an education so that when you leave you have a degree, which helps getting a job a lot easier…. I’m really bad at explaining this.”
‘Bee shook his helm. “I think I got it. It sounds similar to basic training back on Cybertron. I had to go there in order to join the Autobots later.”
“Eh, close enough.” Charlie shrugged with a crooked smile.
“Why weren’t you accepted in college, if you don’t mind me asking,” ‘Bee approached Charlie.
Charlie looked at the Camaro and said, “The first application asked me to tell them what was the biggest thing to happen to me. I couldn’t tell them about you so I just wrote my very exciting life of working at a broadwalk and salvaging at Uncle Hank’s shipyard. Second one that asked me if I had lost someone how did I learn to get over the loss. I tried to write about my dad but then I remembered you helped me with the grieving process so I couldn’t write that either. I left out everything that involved you but that made the story dry. For the last letter it asked me the same question as the first one and I just repeated what I wrote in that.”
‘Bee let out a despondent buzz. “That’s awful. I never meant to keep you from something important as your directive.”
“’Bee it wasn’t your fault. None of it is.” Charlie said soothingly. “I should’ve just came up with better answers. There are more schools out there than just the three I got rejected from, but.”
“But?” ‘Bee titled his helm.
“A lot of them are expensive. The ones I applied to where the closest and cheapest that my family could afford. But since they said no to me and I’m unemployed… you can fill in the blanks.”
Bumblebee pulled his grill into a frown as he stared at the downhearted girl. “Why didn’t you tell me any of this sooner?”
Charlie was smiling but ‘Bee could see that it didn’t reach her eyes. “I wasn’t going to dump all this stuff on you when you have a million problems of your own. I mean, c’mon ‘Bee you and your friends are trying to hide from the enemies of your planet, protect me and my family while you’re at it and we’re waiting to hear back from Sector 7 if you can even stay near Brighton at all.”
“Charlie,” Bumblebee gently placed a servo on her shoulder. “Breathe,” he directed the obviously overwhelmed human. As she took steady breaths ‘Bee continued, “It’s going to be okay. It’s just like you said, we just gotta hope that everything will work out. Even if it doesn’t, I’m sure Optimus and the other Autobots will figure something out. We’re not alone in this anymore, Charlie.”
“Optimus Prime always has a plan, huh?” Charlie replied after she calmed down.
“’Trust the Prime’ is a saying that Jazz made up and he’s 100% right,” ‘Bee said.
Both of them laughed briefly until the yellow scout heard a familiar ping.
“Must be from base,” ‘Bee ex-vented and then answered it.
::’Bee:: Arcee spoke.
::What is it? Did Wheeljack’s scanners pick up any new arrivals?::
::If he did Optimus would be speaking with you instead of me::
‘Bee’s shoulder pads slumped. ::Right::
::You’re needed back at the base. Both you and Charlie::
::You’ll both be debriefed once you get here::
::Alright. I’ll just tell Charlie and we’ll be on our way::
::Excellent. Captain Arcee out::
::Calvary Scout Bumblebee out::
Now to tell Charlie, ‘Bee thought before he recapped to her what the pink Integra said to him.
Location: Under The Milky Way Drive-In, CA. Date: June 13, 1988
Under The Milky Way Drive-In was the dream of an eccentric millionaire before Charlie was even a gleam in her carrier’s optic. The man’s ambition was to build the biggest outdoor theater, including the largest screen ever (“He even called it a i-mac, Imake, or something,” Charlie tried to explain to ‘Bee as they drove to the base**). The idea was too ambitious though since the owner erroneously thought Brighton Falls would become a fast-growing city during the Sixties, which clearly did not happen. So, after fives years of operating the drive-in was forced to close down. According to Charlie on the last day it was opened Charlie’s father took Sally there as their first date and the rest was history.
“My parents would tell me that story and how much fun they had there. The Milky Way was the only other place besides the Boardwalk that teenagers got to hang out,” Charlie revealed. “I kinda wished to have seen what it was like during its heyday,” she sighed wistfully as they pulled under the old Milky Way sign. “Wow, I see the Autobots have been busy.”
Bumblebee silently agreed with Charlie. The two of them almost couldn’t recognize the place. The theater screen and small buildings were still intact but there were foundations for some housing units that were not built yet. At the corner of one end ‘Bee noticed Wheeljack. He appeared to working on something ‘Bee’s scanners deciphered as reflective panels.
“’Wonder what he’s up to,” Charlie observed.
‘Bee ex-vented. “I don’t know but it must be part of some wacky invention of his.”
“Is it a good or bad thing?” Charlie exited the Camaro and ‘Bee transformed into his standard mode.
“It depends on how big the explosion will be.”
“You’re kidding right?” ‘Bee gave Charlie a look mixed between concern and ‘how naive could you possibly be?’ When they arrived the scientist waved them in greeting.
“Hiya. Are you guys here ta help me set up these solar panels onto the footed mounts I made?”
“What are they for exactly?” Charlie asked while she investigated the panels.
“For convertin’ Energon of course,” Wheeljack answered as though it were the most obvious thing in the world to him. “With the electricity gathered from da power it’ll generate we can turn it in’ta Energon.”
“Is it safe?” Charlie peered nervously at the wires that stuck out of one of the mounts.
“Sure… in theory,” Wheeljack reluctantly added the last part. “It won’t blow up this time I swear.” ‘Bee and Charlie gave him uncertain looks.
“The last time you said that about your last new gizmo it spontaneously combusted and set Brawn on fire,” Bumblebee noted.
“Yeah, and I have the scorch marks to prove it,” Brawn complained nearby as he rubbed his back plates.
“And besides isn’t this kind of like the opposite of what Optimus told us not to be doing?” Bumblebee gestured to the incomplete device and then the unfinished buildings. When Wheeljack did not seem to get the picture ‘Bee ex-vented and finished, “We’re not supposed to be turning this place into a base camp until we know for sure that we can stay here.”
“That’s practically in the bag,” Wheeljack waved off ‘Bee’s apprehensions. “I mean what could we possibly do ta make the humans not like us?” Immediately after he said that the solar panels caught on fire and were ablaze. “HOLY PRIMUS! Somebot call the Rescue Bots!”
Ironhide let out a galaxy-weary vent. “Easy, you lugnut, I got it,” he raised his right arm. Attached to his arm was a nozzle that shot out fire-retardant foam. In a matter of Earth-seconds the fire dissipated and left only smoke and burnt wiring.
“Phew, that wazza close one,” Wheeljack wiped the coolant from his forehelm. Ironhide then slapped the other end of Wheeljack’s helm.
“What the Pit is wrong with you?” the Security Lieutenant called out. “You can’t jus’ build somethin’ out in the open like this. What if that fire got outta control and humans spotted it?”
“I was just tryin’ to make our lives easier,” Wheeljack responded apologetically. “We’re runnin’ low on Energon and barely have enough for a Stellar-cycle.”
“That still gives us enough long after Optimus speaks with the humans’ government.”
“It’s already been a week and still no news,” Wheeljack countered back. “We can’t just sit around here twiddlin’ our digits while we wait for our Energon supplies to drain.”
“You do not need to wait any longer, Wheeljack.” Optimus Prime approached the three Autobots and human alongside Ultra Magnus and Arcee. The other Autobots soon joined in the impromptu meeting.
“What’s this about, Optimus?” Wheeljack asked.
“The agents Burns and Fowler have consulted with us that their superiors shall incline to begin negotiations,” Optimus announced.
“Glad to hear that,” Jazz grinned.
Ironhide crossed his arms. “When’s it gonna happen?”
“In three Earth-days time, United States Government officials will arrive at the McKinnon Air Force where Optimus will speak our terms of agreement,” Ultra Magnus explained.
“Ultra Magnus will be join me during the congregation.” Optimus furthered. “Jazz,” he spoke directly to the Porsche. “You will be in charge while Ultra Magnus and I are absent.”
Jazz thrust a clenched servo in the air, the new Autobot salute.*** “You can count on me, Prime.”
“Charlie,” Optimus turned towards the human. “I have a favor to ask of you.”
“What is it?” Charlie stared attentively at the Autobots’ leader.
Optimus kneeled until he was with eye-to-optic with Charlie. “You may decline if you see yourself unwilling to do so but it would mean much to me if you were to accompany us as an interpreter to the briefing with the government officials.”
Charlie gaped in shock. “Me? But wouldn’t it make more sense to have Fowler or, even Burns be there for you instead of me?”
“Agents Burns and Fowler will be present at the meeting with their superiors,” Ultra Magnus answered. “Optimus Prime wishes for you to be there on our behalf.”
“Charlie,” Optimus rumbled, gaining the mechanic’s attention once more. “While you were not the first to make contact with Bumblebee you are the first to befriend him and later the rest of us. There is still much that we do not understand about this planet and yet you have been patient enough to explain to us what you know. We are also not familiar with the politicians of your country and what their ambitions are, your insight on the matter can be helpful for us.”
‘Bee was unable to read Charlie’s internal feelings but he could see from her face that she was concerned with what Optimus told her.
“Can I have some time to think it over?” she asked after an Earth-minute.
Ultra Magus appeared chagrined by the question. Bumblebee knew the SIC never liked vague answers as he preferred straight ones. Optimus disregarded the FLC122 glyph-less refusal and nodded to Charlie. “You have until the day after tomorrow to make a final decision.”
Charlie sighed. Bumblebee could tell that she was not satisfied with the offer but chose not to say anything. The two of them were given permission to return to Brighton where they returned home to an irritated Sally for leaving the home with her or Ron.
Inside the kitchen area both Watson women were having an argument.
“Why didn’t you wait until Ron or me was home to go with you?” Sally asked the moment she got back from work and hung up her nurse’s uniform.
Charlie sighed. “’Bee said, that Arcee said that Optimus Prime wanted to see us ASAP. We couldn’t just wait until Ron’s shift ended two hours from then or the random hours you have.”
“A phone call wouldn’t have been too much to ask,” Sally responded as she pulled out the dried dishes from the dishwasher.
“Okay,” Charlie agreed. “I should’ve tried calling you.”
“Remember that for next time,” Sally demanded.
“Can I just call you for now on when I need to leave the house?” Charlie leaned against the sink.
“No. Ron or me have to be with you when you drive.”
Charlie stared at her mother as though she had grown a second head. “Mom, you’ve never made me do this before and now you are all of a sudden.” She narrowed her brown eyes as she thought of something else. “You’re not doing this because you now know my car is a robot?”
Sally appeared to be offended. “I want you to be careful and driving around in a car that turns into a robot that shots lasers is the opposite of being safe.”
“I can’t believe you. Are you seriously judging ‘Bee because he was built to fight,” Charlie voice lowered in shock. “‘Bee protects me.”
Sally rung a wet washcloth and threw it into a dirty pot. “You’ve gotten hurt.”
“’Bee hasn’t hurt me,” Charlie didn’t know how many more times she had to say it until her mother was convinced. “He and the rest of the Autobots have done everything they could to help me and they’re doing the same for us. You could at least try to sound grateful.”
“Grateful?” Sally repeated. “Charlie, our family has some kind of radiation on us that apparently attracts giant robots and we now have to live the rest of our lives watching our backs in case the bad robots show up.”
“We’ll be safe, Mom. We have ‘Bee staying with us. You don’t see another Autobot around to supervise him. I know he’ll protect us.”
“How can you be so sure about that?” Sally grunted as she struggled to pull a large pot from the dishwasher.
The mechanic sighed before she decided to help her mom and carry the cylinder to the counter. “Optimus Prime believes in ‘Bee and so do I,” Charlie said. “I trust both of them and you should too, Mom.”
“On that note why does the Autobots’ leader think you should go speak with the military?” Sally asked. “What’s what all about?”
Charlie frowned as she tried to turn away from her mother. “They-they want my help.”
“Why you? Can’t they get someone else to-”
“I’m the only human they know they can trust, Mom,” Charlie snapped. “I’m the first human that met them, supported them, treated them like people. Obviously I have to be the one to help them because I just know so much about giant robots from space,” her tone bordered on exhaustion.
“Just tell them no since its clearly stressing you out,” Sally reasoned.
Charlie shook her head. “I have a responsibility.”
“You’re eighteen. You should be responsible for applying to college and looking for a new job. None of ….this. Whatever this mess is.” The older Watson woman gestured with her arms spread out.
Charlie sighed. “I’m pretty sure we’re passed that point, Mom. Look, I don’t really know if the stuff with the military will happen or not. I just need some time to think.”
“Well, maybe while you’re at it you could go look for a job?”
“Mom,” Charlie began to say but Sally raised her hand to shush her.
“I didn’t want to say something sooner but the money from your job was a big help around here. I didn’t want to put pressure on you but… I felt that you need to know it now.”
Charlie felt so many thoughts swarm around her head at that moment. All of them were fighting inside her mind and she couldn’t decide which one was more important to think over. Instead she chose to shut them out.
“I have to go.” Charlie abruptly stood up and headed for the door to the garage.
“I just need to think this over,” the mechanic insisted as she entered the chamber and then collided with Bumblebee.
Charlie shouted in surprise and ‘Bee almost knocked himself over but rested his servo on the wall to steady himself.
“Sorry,” the Camaro quickly apologized. “I was just wanting to make sure you were okay.”
Charlie closed the door behind her and walked in. “We were pretty loud in there, huh?”
“A little bit.” ‘Bee shrugged his shoulders and twisted his servo back and forth.
“How much did you hear?”
‘Bee gazed sympathetically at Charlie. “I heard enough.”
Charlie frowned as she sat on the bench. Her hands held her head in place.
“If you don’t want to help Optimus you can tell him.” Bumblebee crouched down and leaned near his friend. He spoke gently, “You can decline his offer if you want to.”
“You heard what I said to my mom, didn’t you? I can’t,” Charlie breathed. “I’m the only human that’s legitimately on your side. I don’t want to let you down.”
“You wouldn’t be letting anyone down, Charlie. Optimus could just figure something else out. He always finds a way,” Bumblebee vowed.
“Unless there’s some other human he knows about I’d say we’re out of luck,” Charlie groaned and then slumped on the wooden plank until she was staring straight at the ceiling. Her mind went back to what her mother said to her before.
“What am I even doing with my life? Normal 18-year-olds go off on road trips and hang out with friends before they go to college. They don’t need to decide if they should help with negotiations related to immigration for alien life forms.” She pressed her hands into her face again and sighed for what was probably the millionth time that afternoon.
“We should go out.”
Charlie was momentarily surprised by Bumblebee’s unexpected offer. “Go out?”
“For a drive,” ‘Bee elaborated further, sounding very amped. “Just like we used to do back before… before Sector 7 and the Decepticons showed up.” His optics dimmed while his antennae drooped. Charlie placed a hand over his arm. She smiled slightly at ‘Bee.
“My mom won’t let me.”
“Didn’t she ask you to start applying for new jobs?” Bumblebee titled his helm. “Just tell her you’re doing that while we’re driving out.”
“Wouldn’t that be lying?” Charlie crossed her arms though her lips curled up in amusement.
“It only is if you’re not actually going to do it,” ‘Bee pointed out. “C’mon, Charlie you need sometime to cool off from all the stress you’re getting. I’d always go out driving back on Cybertron whenever I need to run my pistons for a while.”
Charlie sat up and considered Bumblebee’s offer. “It… would be nice to get out of the house for a while.”
‘Bee buzzed curiously.
Charlie smiled genuinely this time. “I bet Mom won’t be too mad if I go to get some job applications, of course.”
The Camaro revved his engines and threw a fist in the air. “Sweet!”
Bumblebee heard Charlie groan as she exited the building. The structure in question was called KO Burgers, an establishment humans went to for consuming nutrients away from their homes. Charlie also said it was a place where beef died along with hopes and dreams. Whatever that meant.
“They weren’t offering any new positions,” Charlie said through gritted human denta- teeth.
‘Bee’s radio flickered, “But the sign on the window says ‘Help Wanted’.” He made sure that his vocalilzer was on a low enough setting so that only Charlie could hear him.
“Apparently one of the employees forgot to take that down,” Charlie answered.
“That stinks,” ‘Bee ex-vented.
“Let’s just drive.” The Camaro drove out of the parallel parking spot and moved through the street. That was the end of a small list of potential stores and shops Charlie attempted to apply. The one before the restaurant was a store owned by a female named Mrs. Calloway. She politely told Charlie that she wasn’t hiring anyone but she did ask the mechanic to tell Otis to stop coming over to try and ask for free Fro-yo.
Whatever that is, ‘Bee thought through his processor.
“I guess I have no choice but to drag my butt over to a McDonald’s a beg for a job there.”
“But you said that only people with dead-end lives with no hope of escaping their pitiful existence would ever work there.”
“I am a person with a dead-end life with no hope of escaping my pitiful existence.”
“Char-lie,” ‘Bee stressed. “Don’t be so negative on yourself. You promised you’d be thinking more positively, right?”
The mechanic smiled before she stared at the dashboard. “What would I do without you, ‘Bee?”
“Be looking for a new job by yourself?” ‘Bee joked. His Spark brightened when he heard her laugh.
For a few kliks Charlie drove ‘Bee in comfortable silence. The yellow Autobot leafed through radio stations. The Rolling Stone’s single, One Hit (To The Body) played through the speakers.
“Hey ‘Bee,” Charlie called out after the song ended.
“Hey yourself,” the radio replied back.
“Do you remember when I asked earlier if you’ve been to a carwash?” Charlie recalled as she steered ‘Bee to change lanes.
“Yes,” ‘Bee answered. His sensors followed Charlie’s train of sight and became aware of a yellow sign with flickering lights on it.
“I think you’re about due for one. As thanks for… everything.”
“This won’t hurt, will it?”
“No,” Charlie claimed before adding, “Though it might tickle a bit.”
Bumblebee couldn’t help the worried buzz he made until the eighteen-year-old patted the wheel.
“It’ll be okay, pal.”
Witwicky’s Wash**** was a three generations family owned carwash. Just like Uncle Hanks’ Marine Repair and Parts it was a place that Charlie used to frequent with her father. Only difference was that she had a real reason to visit Uncle Hank’s and had no excuse to go back to Witwicky’s until she had a working car.
And now she did.
Bee’s vehicle mode looked even better than before. The dust on Bumblebee’s metal plating was gone and instead it shined brightly thanks to soap and water. The mud caked on the wheels and rear bumper had been washed away. The dead bugs on the windshield, grill, and headlights were wiped clean off. And a thorough vacuuming of the interior got rid of more dust and dirt. A couple of fluffy rags were used to wipe ‘Bee until he was completely dry.
“He looks amazing,” Charlie said to employee before she caught herself. “The car I mean.”
The older man laughed. “Well, I hope you did. Otherwise I wouldn’t be doing my job right if the car looked bad. I gotta say, Charlie this car is a real beaut’. Where did ya say you got it from?”
Charlie inwardly sighed and remembered the made-up story she and her family agreed on. “It was a late graduation present,” she lied.
The brown haired man raised a brow. “Really?” he asked in mild disbelief. “No offense, but I didn’t think your family had enough cash to get another car.”
“They saved up a lot of money,” Charlie insisted.
“Okay, sorry,” the man raised his hands in surrender. “No need to get defensive.”
“It’s alright, Sparkplug.” Charlie said as the man, nicknamed Sparkplug, put his small vacuum away and rummaged through a box.
“Buster!” Sparkplug shouted. A young man with blond hair came running out of the main office a few minutes later. “What took ya?”
“Sorry, Dad. I just had a couple pages left on this chapter and-”
Sparkplug rolled his eyes. “Yeah, yeah save it for later. I’m outta air fresheners. Do we have anymore left in storage?”
Buster scratched the back of his head. “Yeah, but there the ones with the bee on them.”*****
Sparkplug sighed. “Nevermind,” he waved his son away. “You can go back to reading, sport.”
Buster nodded and left. Charlie shrugged her shoulders, “It’s fine. The car smells clean enough as it is.”
“Aright then,” Sparkplug smiled. “Don’t be a stranger. I’d like to see more of one of my old favorite customers again.”
“Keep your prices low and I’ll keep coming back,” Charlie commented. Sparkplug chuckled boisterously and walked away.
Charlie turned her attention back to ‘Bee. “So? How do you feel?” She walked around the Camaro, pretending that she was inspecting the car while she listened to ‘Bee’s response.
“Really nice,” Bumblebee answered quietly. “I almost feel like I’ve recharged, in a way.”
Charlie smiled. “That’s good to hear.” She stepped back to the passenger door and leaned in until her body was halfway in the window. The mechanic pulled herself out a moment later along with a bag that she brought with her before they left home. “Now that you’re all clean I have something else,” Charlie said as she dug out one item that the mechanic had been holding onto for months.
“Another surprise?” ‘Bee’s engine rumbled with excitement.
“Not another carwash if that’s what you’re thinking,” Charlie replied in amusement. Out of the bag was what appeared to be a stylized drawing of a bumblebee over a white sheet of paper.******
“Wow… what is it?”
Charlie tried to hold back a chuckle with mixed results. “It’s called a car decal. People put these on the back windshields or rear bumpers as a decoration. This one has an artist’s interpretation of what a bee looks like. I found this while I was shopping for Christmas gifts for the rest of my family at a thrift store.” She lowered her head down and smiled bashfully. “It reminded me of you and it was mostly a last minute purchase but I thought if I ever saw you again that maybe I could ask if you wanted to wear it. But if you don’t that’s totally fine.”
“I like it,” ‘Bee chimed.
“Really really. I would love to wear the gift you got for me.”
Charlie felt a warm feeling gush through her and smiled.
“Hey, kid.” Sparkplug’s voice drew Charlie out of her thoughts.
“Are you okay? You’ve been staring at your car for about five minutes.”
The mechanic’s cheeks reddened from embarrassment. “Oh, I was just… figuring out a good spot to place a sticker on the car. That’s all.”
“Alright,” Sparkplug bought Charlie’s fib and went back to helping a new customer.
“I better actually put this on you now before we draw worse attention,” Charlie joked somewhat. She placed the sticker over the rear windshield. Then she did all the steps to ensure the decal stuck to the glass without any air pockets or wrinkles present. It took all of ten minutes until the decal was perfectly placed by Charlie’s standards. The angry bumblebee lay firmly at the center of the rear glass.
“Looks wicked,” Charlie grinned. She rubbed her hand over the decal. “What do you think, ‘Bee?”
Whatever ‘Bee was going to say next was horned in by a literal car horn from another Chevy Camaro. The difference between Bumblebee’s vehicle mode and the non-sentient car was that it was red instead of yellow and black. There were also two passengers and one driver inside the muscle car. One of the passengers got out and slapped his palm against the driver’s.
“Thanks again for the lift, Tripp,” praised a young man who looked like an older version of Buster but with brown hair.
Tripp lazily grinned back. “No problem, Spike.”
Spike then noticed Charlie and his jaw dropped slightly.
“Wow, Charlie is that you?” Spike asked, surprised. “Haven’t seen you here in a while.” When he approached the mechanic, Spike was a head taller than her and he could easily lift her up with one arm.
Charlie shrugged awkwardly. “Didn’t have enough cash on me to come back here until now.” She was not at all intimidated by Spike. He and his father were old friends of her dad so she felt bad for lying.
“I’m glad you did, that’s a really nice car you got there,” Spike motioned to ‘Bee. “When did you get it?”
“A while ago,” Charlie bluffed. “It’s a late graduation gift from my family,” she recited.
The driver’s door opened and Tripp came out and approached the two. “Hey, Diver Girl, right?” He winked at Charlie.
Charlie frowned. “I’m sorry that I booked it when you asked me to dive back at the cliffs,” she excused.
“Ah, no sweat. Jumping off a cliff isn’t the same as a pool right?” Tripp asked rhetorically. “Anyway I just wanted to come out and ask about your new ride.”
“Graduation present,” Charlie answered, readily. “I came here to get the car washed from Spike’s dad.”
“No better place if you ask me,” Spike bragged with a hint of pride. Tripp rolled his eyes and playfully nudged the older teen. The two of them laughed with Charlie eventually joining in. Their good moment was ruined by an obnoxious car horn.
“Tripp,” a whiny voice dragged out. “You promised you’d take me to the mall.”
Aw, crap. Charlie inwardly winced the moment she laid her eyes on who was the second passenger in the red Camaro. Tina Freakin’ Lark. And just when this afternoon started to look up.
The moment Charlie and Tina’s eyes met, the blonde shot the brunette a disgusted look before pretending to look happy when Tripp glanced at her.
Don’t make a scene, Charlie. Don’t make a scene, the mechanic chanted inside her head.
“-bet you’re wondering who’s is faster.” Spike elbowed Charlie’s arm.
“Sorry, what was that?” Charlie pushed her thoughts away.
“I was just saying to Tripp here that it’s a pretty weird coincidence you both have the same car type. He then asked if that means both of your cars have the same horsepower and I said, ‘I bet you’re wondering who’s is faster.’”
“Are you saying that like a hypothetical deal or something else.”
“I think it means he wants to see us race,” Tripp grinned. Spike mirrored his own at the girl.
Charlie felt her heartbeat increase as she tried to swallow an imaginary lump down her throat. She placed her hand on ‘Bee’s hood for comfort. “Sorry, but I’m not into illegal street racing,” Charlie found her confidence returning when she felt the warm metal against her skin. “I don’t want to get into trouble.”
“You’re only in trouble if you get caught,” Tripp teased.
“Okay, let’s not talk about this kind of stuff while my dad’s nearby,” Spike warned. “I was talking about a friendly race, guys.”
“Sorry,” both Charlie and Tripp apologized. “I, uh, need to get going,” Charlie said lamely. “Got places to be and all that.”
She headed straight for the yellow and black Camaro, deliberately ignoring the confused stares from the guys. “Let’s go, ‘Bee,” she whispered to her friend and they started to drive off when-
“Giving up on being cool again, huh Watson?” Tina mocked.
“Go get bent, Lark,” Charlie grumbled under her breath. She needed to stay cool. Charlie wasn’t going to let the airhead get to her.
“I bet you’re wussing out is because you know my boyfriend’s car is better than your tacky paint job knock off.”
Charlie pounded her foot against the breaks. “What!?” She removed her seatbelt and marched over to where Tina was and growled through seethed teeth. “My car can go up to sixty in less than nine seconds. The horsepower on that baby is 185 miles. Per. Hour.” She thumbed at ‘Bee behind her back while she continued to give the blonde a verbal beat-down. “This Camaro can out drive anything.” Including a giant metal bulldog, but Charlie chose to keep that part to herself for obvious reasons.
“My Camaro could drive circles around any car,” Charlie stated proudly.
“Prove it,” Tripp dared.
“Wha…?” Charlie uttered dumbly.
“Tonight. 9 o’clock at the town outskirts. Finish line will be Pico Tunnel. You better not chicken out this time, Diver Girl.” Tripp winked one last time before he headed to his car and sped out of Witwicky’s Wash.
“Well, that escalated quickly,” Spike said simply. He laughed once and patted Charlie on the back. “I wish ya the best of luck. I have a night shift later so I can’t play hooky to watch the race.” He waved and bid Charlie a goodbye before he left her too. She numbly walked into the yellow Camaro and sat inside the driver's seat.
“Charlie, do you know what you just did?” Bumblebee whispered.
“I screwed up,” Charlie hit her head against the steering wheel.
“I should back down.”
“You’re right, we should.”
“After we smoke Tripp and rub it all over Tina’s face,” Bumblebee’s engine growled.
“’Bee?” The mechanic gaped at the dashboard.
“The revenge we gave Tina wasn’t enough to break her down a peg. Let’s show her what a mechanic and a knock off with a tacky paint job can really do.”
End Of Chapter 7 (Part 1)
Q-A: Whoops, this turned into a two-parter. Am I really sorry though? Not sure, but I do know that this chapter was going on a lot longer than planned so I decided to just chop it in half. So yeah, the next chapter will be about the illegal race and why Charlie should never make decisions when she’s mad. At least she was trying to defend ‘Bee’s honor. I personally don’t think it’s too OOC for ‘Bee to get angry at what Tina said but it’s clear he and Charlie aren’t thinking too straight. This decision might bite them in the afts later.
*Judd Nelson is/was the voice for Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime in Transformers The Movie. He also reprised his role as a cameo in Transformers Animated in the episode Transwarped Part 1.
**An obvious reference to IMAX, which existed back in the 60s but I’m wildly guessing they weren’t as widespread back in the 1980s as they are now.
***That is a reference to the film where ‘Bee gave Agents Burns the fist pump from The Breakfast Club instead of a salute. I’m aware that Ultra Magus saluted Charlie back in Mr. Roboto but let’s pretend that was a special Autobot salute (not related to the 'updated' version) and not an American military one. XD
****There’s the reference to the original comic/cartoon family that befriended the Autobots. Move along, move along. ;)
*****I was tempted to also give ‘Bee the “Bee-ouch” air freshener like he had in the ’07 Bayformers film but I decided against it.
****** The official Bumblebee logo that was never used in the movie except for a very brief appearance at the beginning of the credits. Here’s a link to what it looks like for those who don’t know: https://news.tfw2005.com/2017/05/14/transformers-bumblebee-movie-logo-revealed-338913
Chapter title: Nothin' But A Good Time by Poison. <-- I feel this song matches Charlie and Bumblebee's mood perfectly for this chapter and the next one, at least the first part of the next chapter.
Keep on Writin' and Rockin'
Chapter 9: Nothin' But A Good Time Part 2
Further teenage and young robot stupidity ensues in this chapter.
Q-A: I didn’t mention this in the last chapter but I went and I finally saw Captain Marvel two weeks ago. I kinda saw the plot twist coming but I still enjoyed myself and found 90s!Fury intentionally hilarious. And yeah, that de-aging software they used on Samuel L. Jackson is incredible. :O Whatever studio is behind that technology really outdone themselves. So, back to this fanfic, a lot of you are pretty shocked about what went down at the end of the last chapter. Well, here we’ll be seeing the consequences of Charlie and ‘Bee’s actions. Obviously I won’t say more since I don’t want to spoil anything.
Warnings for this chapter are:
swearing and possible OOC moments ahead.
Don't need nothin' but a good time
How can I resist
Ain't lookin' for nothin' but a good time
And it don't get better than this”
- “Nothing But A Good Time” by Poison
Location: Brighton Falls [Outside City Limits], CA. Date: June 13, 1988
The current time was 9:55 PM, a group of a dozen or so graduates fresh out of Brighton Falls High stood by waiting. They hung around for Tripp Summers’ challenger to arrive as their watches kept ticking by. A lot of them had heard the rumors that it was the weird gloomy gearhead who threw the gauntlet. “Cheeuh-yah right,” others said. They remembered how last year that same loser was too chicken to jump down a cliff for no reason. Like she had the guts to actually go through with racing against Tripp. Everybody and their dog knew Tripp was easily the fastest driver. Still, there was nothing else better to do on a Monday night than watch a drag race.
Unless the other racer doesn’t show up, that is.
One of Tripp’s friends glanced at the road. “I think the grease monkey girl is a no-show.”
“This is bogus,” someone else complained. “Let’s blow this popsicle stand before the cops show up.”
“Hey, I said the race was at ten. It won’t be ten for another three minutes,” Tripp reasoned casually.
A few other people grumbled but showed no signs of booking it.
Nearby a quintet of young women sat by a brand new baby blue BMW* belonging to Tina. Her two friends Meg and Wynonna sat the closest to her while the other two girls sat by them on the ground. Their names were Brenda and Liz.**
“God, it’s so hot out here,” Meg whined. “My hair’s getting all frizzy.”
Wynonna rolled her eyes. “You shoulda tied your hair up in a pony tail or put a hat on like I did.”
“Yeah, but I don’t have a hat that’s cute enough to go with my top.”
“It’s nighttime,” Wynonna said exasperatedly. “No one will notice how your hair looks, Meg.”
“Hey,” Tina leaned forward until she could stare at the other two girls properly. She attempted to hold back a grimace at how their outfits screamed total wannabes. “You two used to hang out with Watson. Right?”
Liz and Brenda exchanged nervous glances. “Yeah, but not anymore,” one of them vowed.
The other nodded her head rapidly. “Yeah, she like became a total buzzkill last year and we stopped being friends with her. You’re not gonna stop being friends with us because of that are you?”
Tina inwardly sighed. “I just wanna know if you knew why she started acting so weird lately.”
Liz or Brenda responded, “Um, she got moody when her dad-”
“I meant after that. Ever since September she’s become something different.”
The two still acted very clueless.
Tina let out a sigh that time. “Ever since last year Watson’s been acting weirder than normal. She still dresses all emo and junk but now she willingly talks to people and talks back.” To people like her, which Tina didn’t like one bit.
“We don’t know,” Liz or Brenda responded helplessly. “We haven’t spent time with her in months.”
“She’s also been like way more possessive of cars more than usual,” Meg noted while she tried to straighten her hair with her nails.
“You know Jessica said she saw Watson drive up from town a couple times at the other end. She even saw a Porsche drive behind the weirdo once or twice,” Wynonna mentioned.
The trio did not get a chance to think over those developments when someone shouted, “I see a car!”
All heads turned to look down the road. There they saw a yellow Camaro with two black stripes over the hood and back end of the car.
The challenger had arrived.
Charlie wanted to sink into the deepest hole she could find and burry herself.
“This is probably the worst idea I’ve done so far. And I’ve made some pretty bad decisions before this one,” the mechanic whispered. “Why did you convince me to sneak out again to come to this stupid race?”
“It’s time you show everyone that you’re way better than Tina is,” Bumblebee announced as Queen played on the radio.
“We will we will rock you!” The music was loud enough to drown out their conversation from everybody else outside of the car.
“How exactly would me beating Tripp in a race convince everyone I’m better than Tina?” Charlie deadpanned.
“If you do this they’ll like you and want to be friends with you instead of Tina. You miss Memo right? You need to hang out with other humans instead of some crusty old ‘bots.”
Charlie would’ve laughed at ‘Bee’s crazy logic if things were different. “You and the Autobots aren’t crusty,” she reasoned before adding teasingly, “Old, yes, but not crusty.”
“I’m not sure I can beat Tripp though,” Charlie’s tone was on edge. “According to the rumor mill, he’s been in a ton of street races and won them all.”
“Well, ‘bet he’s never raced against a Cybertronian,” Bumblebee boasted. “He wouldn’t last five astro-seconds against a real racer like Blurr.”
Somehow I can’t help but think this is going to quickly turn into a major downward spiral, Charlie thought, troubled. ‘Bee parked at the side of the road where Tripp and his car were. When Tripp approached them Charlie pressed the window button down and the glass sunk into the door.
“’bout time you showed up,” Tripp wisecracked in a friendly manner.
“My folks took a while to got to sleep,” Charlie lied. She had tried in vain for the last three hours to change ‘Bee’s mind on why going out was a terrible idea. The mechanic’s words, of course, fell on deaf audials on the robot.
“Glad you’re here. A lot of people here didn’t think you were brave enough,” Tripp turned his attention away from Charlie and to the crowd. “But she came! You’re all gonna get a real show tonight everybody.”
The crowd cheered in response. Charlie smiled weakly at the noisy applause.
“She won’t do it,” Tina’s voice rang out. All voices became silent. “Just looked at her,” the blonde pointed at Charlie. “Her shoulders are shaking. She’ll puss out like at the diving cliff.”
“Yeah, she’ll never be as awesome as Tripp,” Tina’s lackey Meg agreed.
Tina stared directly at Charlie with a deep glare. “She’ll never be cool like the rest of us.”
Charlie suddenly forgot why the race was such a bad idea as her face heated up from anger. ‘Bee’s engine revved up as a new appropriate song blared from his stereo:
“We’re not gonna take it! No, we ain't gonna take it. Oh we're not gonna take it anymore!”
Charlie honked her horn to get Tripp’s attention. “You said we’re racing at 10. My car’s clock says it’s 10:01. Well? Are you gonna keep standing there all night or are you going to put your foot where your car’s gas pedal is?”
A collection of ‘ooohs’ echoed against the night and even Tripp looked impressed.
“Alright.” He nodded to a friend. “Dex, tell everyone what the rules are.”
“The rules for tonight’s race are simple,” a young man with red hair explained while Tripp entered his car. “The starting line is at the city limits here,” Dex pointed at an imaginary line between the Brighton Falls’ welcome sign and a tree at the other end of the road. “And the finish line is Pico Tunnel ten miles north from here. Whoever enters the tunnel first is the winner.”
“I’ve got twenty on Tripp!” a random person said in the crowd.
“I’m riding twenty-five on the mechanic,” said another guy. Soon everyone was placing bets over who would win. A majority of them gambling that Tripp would beat Charlie.
They’re going to regret making that bet, Charlie thought dangerously as ‘Bee aligned himself at the ‘starting line’ with Tripp. Soon both of their engines started to rev up and the two racers exchanged competitive glances at each other.
In front of the two cars a girl pulled out a white handkerchief. She lifted it up above her head and kept it there for a ten seconds before she lowered her arm and the rest of her body to the ground, signaling the start of the race. Both cars roared their engines and sped down the road, leaving a trail of red lights and dust in their wake.
Tina, Meg, and Wynonna cough in an attempt to clear the dust that obscured their breathing.
“Come on!” someone shouted. “We gotta see who’s the winner.” Everybody who came with a car scrambled to start their vehicles up and head to the direction the two racers went.
Tina turned the ignition on in hers and started to go in reverse when the two wannabes clamored towards her car.
“Don’t forget us,” Liz or Brenda said.
“We want a ride too,” the other one added.
“Yeah,” Tina pretended to consider their request but then disclosed, “Maybe if the corn dogs you gave my girlfriends and I weren’t so soggy I’d reconsider.”
“And you stopped giving us free ones anyway,” Meg lamented.
“We lost our jobs at the food stand,” whoever defended with both hands, pressed on a door.
Tina scowled and pushed the girl away from her car. “Get your sweaty hands off my car’s paintjob. You being too poor to buy us food is not my problem,” Tina stated sharply and then drove forward until the two losers were specks in the mirror.
The trio laughed obnoxiously as they followed the other cars.
Tripp originally started off in the lead for a few minutes. Charlie questioned ‘Bee why they weren’t ahead of him yet and the yellow Autobot commented, “We need to lull him into a false sense of security. Then we strike.”
“What does that-Whoa!” The back of Charlie’s head was pressed against the seat from the whiplash due to the sudden change in speed. ‘Bee had shifted the gears right then and accelerated until he and Charlie were neck and neck against Tripp. At least for about five seconds, before they sped ahead of him.
“Wha~?” the dumbfounded look on Tripp was funny enough for Charlie to laugh.
“’Bee I’m ready to take over,” Charlie declared with both hands firmly on the wheel.
“I’ll be the Mach 5 to your Speed Racer,” ‘Bee said seriously.
Charlie sighed. “I’m never letting you watch cartoons with Otis again.”
“Aw, no fair,” ‘Bee fussed.
“Talking in that baby voice won’t change my mind ‘Bee.”
“Not even a wittle bit?”
Charlie feigned a thoughtful look before she sighed overdramatically. “Fine, but you have to do all your chores on time, mister.” she conceded while doing the lousiest impression of her mom’s voice.
They both had a laugh until the sound of a car horn interrupted them.
“Oh, forgot him for a nano-klik,” ‘Bee remembered.
Tripp sped up until he was beside them and shouted. “We’re almost at the halfway point. I hope you aren’t getting too comfortable because you’re about to see my taillights.”
“He really sounds like Blurr, only talks a lot slower,” the yellow Autobot remarked.
“Let’s give him a run for his money,” Charlie stated as she pulled the gearstick to change shifts as they approached a curve. Tripp was on the right side of the road while they were one the left. He suddenly started to ram his Camaro to ‘Bee’s side, which forced Charlie to drive dangerously close to the road’s railing before he cut them off.
“Okay, maybe he isn’t just full of hot air,” Bumblebee admitted.
“We still have a chance here,” Charlie checked her rearview mirror. “I have one trick up my sleeve.”
“It must be high up in there since your shirt’s sleeves are so short.”
“Human figure of speech,” the mechanic said neutrally as she commenced her driving move. Charlie placed her foot on the breaks, momentarily distracting Tripp with the sudden change and she accelerated to her right. She skidded sideways while getting in front of the red muscle car blocking him again as she made her exit out of the turn.
Charlie felt adrenalin pump throughout her body. “Whoa, I always wanted to pull off a drift.”
Bumblebee hummed with interest. “You call that drifting on your planet too?”
They remained in the lead while occasionally changing lanes to drive around late night motorists. Eventually Tripp caught up with them. He was not appearing as easy going as before. For the first time that Charlie could remember Tripp had a very serious look on his face. In a matter of seconds the Pico tunnel was in both drivers’ line of vision. The two cars were neck and neck once more until suddenly Tripp began to attempt to ram the side of his Camaro against ‘Bee.
Charlie reacted swiftly and jerked Bumblebee to the side to avoid a collision. “Jeez! He’s not fooling around. What’s up with him?”
“Remember the rules of the race Charlie,” ‘Bee reminded her. While the tunnel had two lanes the rules of the race clearly said whoever made it in first would win. Tripp must’ve thought playing dirty was the only way to victory. Fine, three can play at that game.
Charlie turned her wheel going to the right and making ‘Bee’s side front bumper kiss Tripp’s front fender. Tripp jerked his Camaro away at the last minute.
Satisfaction swelled through Charlie until she paid closer attention to Tripp’s car. Sparks flew on the other side of his red Camaro as it scrapped against a rail guard. He struggled to drive his car back in place. Charlie saw panic in his eyes when he and she noticed his car was a hundred meters away from the right vertical support of the tunnel’s archway.
Charlie started feeling less amped as memories coursed through her mind. What am I doing? Charlie thought rationally. Immediately she pressed her foot on the break and lagged until ‘Bee was immobile. Tripp was able to get out of the way in time and pick up speed while he headed for the tunnel.
“Okay I get that we needed to back off or else he’d crash but why are we stopping?” Bumblebee exclaimed. “We were still in the lead.” Or they used to be and Tripp had just entered the tubular passage.
“It wouldn’t change anything,” Charlie breathed out.
“All of those people’s opinions of you would be different,” ‘Bee pointed out in a rather bitter tone.
“What just happened?” Meg stared blankly at the seemingly stalled car that belonged to Watson.
“Her car broke down before she made it to the finish line,” Wynonna answered in mild disbelief. “I’d feel sorry for her if she wasn’t such a loser.”
“She stopped on purpose,” Tina stated. “There’s nothing wrong with her car.” She shut off the break in her car and drove forward.
“Okay,” Bumblebee ex-vented after Charlie explained why she stopped before. “I guess you have a point, but I’m still a bit bummed out we couldn’t wipe the smirk off of Tripp’s face.”
“I was more interested in getting rid of Tina’s smug grin for what she said to you to be honest,” Charlie said.
A car honk and a pair of headlights approached them from the rear, reaching them halfway through the tunnel.
“Looks like you might have a chance.” ‘Bee observed. He recognized the vehicle belonged to Tina Lark. He felt Charlie’s hold on his steering wheel tighten slightly when the other human females exited their car. Charlie then emerged from the Camaro and leaned her back against his side.
“Wow,” Tina dragged out the phrase. “Once again you screwed up your chance to be cool. What’s the matter, sweetie, got stage fright at the last second?”
“It’s none of your business, Tina.” Charlie clarified evenly.
“You could’ve had normal people like you again, you know, before you became a basket case,” Tina said in a faux sympathetic tone.
“Face it, the only people she wants to be friends with are older than dirt or geeks,” the dark haired female snidely commented.
“I bet she would be friends with cars if they could talk,” Tina stated callously.
“Bet she thinks she’s BFF’s with that one,” the other fair-haired girl said while she mockingly pointed at Bumblebee.
“Bet she’s dating one. Not like she’d get a real man to like her after how she handled Tripp during the race.”
‘Bee was not sure why that last insult made his Spark leap but he never felt more tempted than that moment to reveal himself and tell those girls that they were wrong. Any person would be lucky to have a friend like Charlie. At least that’s what he assumed they meant. Charlie however, beat him to it.
A small surge of anger flowed through her briefly. Even her right fist was clenched. But as quickly as the emotion arrived it soon went away and Charlie then felt waves of understanding engulf her. She breathed out and stared straight at Tina. Not with a look of contempt but instead with determination.
“You know what Tina? You’re not worth it,” Charlie declared as she crossed her arms and her eyebrows slightly slanted. “All you ever do is make fun of people just for having a different back ground than you. What’s your damage? You live in a two-story house in the heights, have two parents, including a dad that’s still alive, and three cars, but you still don’t feel satisfied until you belittle someone once a day? What the hell did I even do to you make you treat me the way you do? Just because I have to work to earn a living that means I deserve to be trash talked? That’s just sad.” Charlie shook her head in shame. “I can’t believe I used to be afraid of jerks like you.”
Charlie did not turn around to look back at Tina or her mean girlfriends as she entered inside Bumblebee and drove away once the break was turned off.
“That was amazing.” Bumblebee said in admiration.
Charlie smiled. “I’ve been wanting to say that to her for over a year but was too scared until now.”
“I was so tempted to get out of my alt-form and scare them off but you held your ground,” he further praised.
“Thanks. And I’m flattered you’d do that but I don’t think the rest of the Autobots will appreciate it as much as me,” Charlie said as they finally reached the opening of the tunnel.
“Oh mech,” ‘Bee groaned. “Did you have to remind me? I wasn’t processing straight earlier. If the others find out, and more importantly if Optimus finds out, what we did tonight I won’t hear the end of it.”
Charlie tried to comfort her friend the best way she knew how until she was startled by a group of cars driving past her and then blocking the road.
“Great what do these guys want?” Bumblebee huffed impatiently.
Charlie cursed under her breath. “I think they’re the people who bet that I would win the race.”
“They don’t look too happy that you lost.” ‘Bee and Charlie noticed the posse of young adults appeared very pissed off. They must’ve gambled a lot more money than Charlie realized.
“Want me to turn back?” Bumblebee asked.
Charlie shook her head. “They’ll just follow us.”
“I can outrun them,” ‘Bee crowed confidently.
“They still know who I am. I don’t want them to follow me home,” Charlie expressed.
The two of them were starting to run out of ideas when a siren ended the party.
EEE-WOO! EEE-WOO! EEE-WOO! EEE-WOO!
“Book it!” “Scram!” “Bounce! It’s gotta be Sherif Lock.” A collection of voices called out and people began to hurry back into their cars.
“Aww, crap,” Charlie swore. She tried to escape but the other people’s cars rushed around her, temporarily trapping her and ‘Bee.
“This is Law Enforcement. Come out with your servos up!”
“Wait a sec,” ‘Bee recommended. “I know that voice.”
Moments later a familiar black and white Porsche drove down the hill next to the road and transformed into Jazz in his robot form.
“Never mind,” Bumblebee muttered
The Porsche pressed a button above his front bumper, which turned off the siren and the voice recording.
“Jazz, hey,” ‘Bee greeted the older ‘bot nervously. “How are you? You look great, did you get a hot wax earlier? ‘Cause you have this shiny glow that’s really…. Bright.”
Jazz said nothing and crossed his arms.
“You saw us race, didn’t you?” Charlie deadpanned as she stuck her head out of the car’s window.
“Mmm-hmm.” Jazz nodded solemnly. “I was on patrol when I heard an engine roar sounding like yours and I decided to head out and roll.”
Charlie and Bumblebee both winced.
“Bumblebee, Charlie, let’s go for a drive.” Jazz returned to his vehicle mode. He and ‘Bee drove side by side and with no sign of other cars for miles the Porsche spoke, “Listen let me tell y’all a tale. Millions of years back I was once a street racer.”
“You were?” Bumblebee sounded surprised.
“What? Where else did ya think I got my savvy learnin’s from? Spec Ops training? Naw, I was a wild little younglin’ back in the day, treading up pavement havin’ myself a real good time.”
“If you liked racing so much why didn’t you do it professionally?” Charlie asked.
“Unless you had connections or were built with a racer frame nobot could make it to the big leagues on Cybertron,” Jazz responded. “Back then everybot was forced into a system that was based on your function and what alt-mode ya had. The rest of us who weren’t as strong or fast or smart were gutter trash like me.”
“I never heard that happened to you personally,” Bumblebee gasped.
“Times were tough even before the war,” Jazz stated.
“How did you get from that to being with the Autobots?” Charlie tilted her head curiously.
“I gave up racing when a Law Enforcer finally caught up with me,” the Spec Ops revealed. “He was one of the few that asked questions first and shoot later. I guessed it helped that he also had been trying ta catch me for a long time before then. Anyway he was actually sent by Optimus Prime himself requesting I joined his little fledging resistance because he saw how fast and silent my engine was. He felt I could use my skills as a scout for his spec ops. And the cop that found me said he’d clear my charges if I joined them. So, it was a no-cerebral processor because it was either that or spendin’ the rest of my existence in a cell.
“So, the whole point of that long-aft story was that I kept on joy ridin’ until the law finally caught up with me. I was a lucky mech since the right people found me but that was still a once in a lifetime type deal. I can’t say the same for you two. I am impressed that you chose not to continue the race. If I was still a delinquent I wouldn’t have swallowed my pride like ya’ll did.”
The three of them cruised down the road in silence for a few minutes until Jazz asked, “So, y’all thought of having a little street race ta’night. Wanted ta look cool or somethin’. Or win a few bets and make some dough as the humans say right?”
“That’s not exactly why we did it,” Bumblebee answered sheepishly.
“Well then why did ya?”
Charlie glanced at the road signs as she recalled the race and what she had been thinking at that moment.
“My mind went back to all the times my family and the Autobots told me how proud you were of me. This race, it went against everything everyone said about me. I’m not gonna throw all of that away because I was being selfish. Just like I told Bumblebee earlier, the only thing I’d win in the race was all of those people’s attention. People I don’t even know or care. If I want them to like me it should be about who I am not what I do.”
“Mmm-hmm,” Jazz hummed in agreement. “You took the glyphs right outta my intake valve, Lil’ Lady.”
“She also stood up to the girl that always used to bully her,” ‘Bee added, sounding very proud. “The look on the other girl’s face was priceless.”
“Battles come in all shapes and sizes. They all come with their own surprises,” Jazz said.
“So, are we going back to base?” ‘Bee questioned.
“Yep,” Jazz responded.
“Are you going to tell Optimus what happened tonight?” ‘Bee’s tone was filled with worry.
“No, of course not.”
Charlie heard ‘Bee sigh in relief.
“You’re going to tell him.”
Charlie could practically hear ‘Bee wincing. “I drove right into that one.”
“Ya’ll know that the rest of the team needs ta be told of what happened. Ya can’t keep secrets from your own teammates. Is that understood Lil ‘Bee?”
‘Bee sighed and said reluctantly, “It is.”
It took them a half hour before they arrived at the drive-in. Already the others were in their robot forms when Jazz, ‘Bee and Charlie showed up.
“Bumblebee is there a reason why you and Charlie are out this late?” Optimus Prime approached the young scout after the mechanic got out of him and he reverted to his bi-pedal mode.
‘Bee crossed his servos behind his back and told the Autobots all the events of that night. To their credit, no one interrupted the Camaro as he spoke. They did have very displeased expressions at the end of it though.
Ironhide was the most letdown.
“Bumblebee, yer a member of Unit Prime,” the Weapons Specialist said. “We’re not just a team servo-picked by Optimus because of how strong and fast we are, we’re meant ta set an example to the rest of the resistance. Yer behavior tonight was inexcusable. You broke the big rule of never abusin’ yer power fer personal gain. That includes horsepower,” Ironhide pointed directly to where ‘Bee’s engine was located.
‘Bee’s antennae drooped in shame. He stared imploringly at the Autobots’ leader. “Are you mad at me too?”
Optimus Prime shook his helm. “I am not mad at you Bumblebee. But I am disappointed with you.”
Bumblebee shrunk at the word disappointed. His crumpled up form reminded Charlie of the few times she scolded him in the past. She was feeling incredibly guilty.
Charlie approached the taller robot. “Please, don’t put all the blame on Bumblebee. Most of it was my fault,” she insisted while pointing to herself. “If I had just kept my mouth shut after Tina insulted ‘Bee he and I wouldn’t have raced Tripp. Please don’t remove ‘Bee from your squad because of what happened tonight.”
Charlie felt everyone staring at her. She wondered if they were thinking she was a bad influence on their scout.
Optimus Prime’s optics were calm and he said placidly, “Bumblebee will not be discharged from what occurred this evening, Charlie. One mistake doesn’t erase the good he has done for your race and ours. We will not ignore it however. Bumblebee,” he looked directly at the scout. “You will be punished for disregarding my rule and nearly putting your charge in danger tonight. For the remainder of the Earth month you shall hereby be parked.”***
“Parked?” Bumblebee gasped. “But what about-”
“You will continue to look after Charlie and the Watson clan but you can no longer go on outings without permission from us, namely myself, Ironhide and Jazz. When you aren’t with Charlie you will be here to aid anybot with duties that we shall produce for you. Is that made clear?”
‘Bee nodded slowly. “Understood, sir.”
Charlie was glad to hear ‘Bee wasn’t going to lose his position with Unit Prime but she then remembered that she had to go back to her family after all of this. “I guess you’ll tell my mom about what happened tonight too?” She was so not looking forward to having another heated argument with her mother again.
Optimus Prime kneeled until he was eye-level with Charlie. “Since no human law enforcement was involved tonight I will not alert your creator. I believe that you have learned your lesson and have no further need of scolding. Heed this as a warning though for the next time this possibly happens I will inform your parental units.”
“That’s fair,” Charlie agreed with a half-hearted shrug.
“Furthermore, I demand that you will assist Bumblebee in his chores through the duration of his punishment.” Optimus Prime declared. “Within reason of course.” He turned his attention to the rest of the Autobots. “I believe now is a good time to as any to recharge. Today was a long day… for all of us.” He specifically glanced at Charlie and ‘Bee when he said the last part.
Charlie sighed and thought, It sure was. Once ‘Bee was in his vehicle mode again she entered him and they drove home a little older and wiser.
End of Chapter 7 (Part 2)
Q-A: Well, that ending was a bit anti-climatic but I couldn’t think of anything more to add. Get ready for next chapter because Fowler and Burns will be back. I know a lot of you were happy to see Fowler in this. But there will be a lot of talking in the next chapter. Just to warn you. But if you like seeing Sector 7 fumbling around Optimus and his public speaking skills in action then the next chapter is everything you want and more! But please don’t abandon my story if you don’t like that. I promise the next next chapter won’t be boring. I try not to make any of my chapters boring.
*A BMW 3 Series 325i. The reason I didn’t bring it up is because in Charlie and the Autobots’ p.o.v’s they would know the specific types of the cars because of her love of cars and the robots know since they learn of each vehicle they’ve scan and learn of new ones for further research. Tina and her friends don't care about cars only if they drive fast and look cool.
** Liz and Brenda aren’t characters I made up. They are Charlie’s ex-friends from the official Junior Novel of BumbleBee. I’m pretty sure the book was written before the final edits of the film were made since there are scenes in it that were deleted such as the scene where Charlie drives her brother in town, the ‘Go-bot’ conversation Charlie has with Memo, and the infamous unfinished scene with Charlie and Memo battling the sentient electrical devices in her house that ‘Bee created. XP Personally, I am very glad that last one was cut. It felt like something from Bayformers but not the good part.
*** Parked is the Cybertronian equivalent of getting grounded. XD
Chapter title: Nothin’ But A Good Time by Poison.
We Will Rock You by Queen.
We’re Not Gonna Take It by Twisted Sister.
Keep on Writin’ and Rockin’
Chapter 10: One Vision
Welcome to Chapter 8. Moral of the chapter is to always listen to Optimus Prime. Even humans.
Q-A: Here we are chapter 8! So last week I finally got Bumblebee on Blu-ray. I didn’t buy the digital copy because I’m one of those people that prefer a physical one. I’m weird like that. But I loved seeing Bumblebee again. ^-^
Warnings for this chapter are:
Injuries being treated, swearing, Xenophobia, and mild Sexism ahead.
No wrong no right,
I'm gonna tell you there's no black and no white,
No blood no stain,
All we need is one world wide vision
- “One Vision” by Queen
Location: Under The Milky Way Drive-In, CA Date: June 15, 1988
“A little more to your right,” Wheeljack instructed.
Bumblebee was helping Wheeljack move his equipment around the base. One of his devices just happened to be a large generator that powered his gear, which the scout had to push.
“How’s this?” ‘Bee asked after he shoved the large square shaped machine down a couple meters.
The inventor shook his helm. “No, I shoulda meant my right. Go put it further up over there,” he pointed to a corner of the base.
‘Bee gathered up some energy for the herculean task while he ex-vented. “Okay.” He put both servos on one end and thrust it with great strain. A few nano-kliks later, ‘Bee moved the cube where Wheeljack told him to place it. “Is this good?”
Wheeljack narrowed his blue optics and harrumphed. “No, now it’s right in the corner.”
“That’s where you were pointing,” Bumblebee defended.
“No, I specifically pointed there,” Wheeljack rested his digit at a new location even further than where he primarily directed.
The yellow scout complained, “Really?”
“Remember what Optimus said,” Wheeljack warned in a singsong tone.
“Yeah, I know, ‘When you aren’t with Charlie you will be here to aid anybot with duties that we shall produce for you,’” Optimus’ voice recording came from ‘Bee’s memory file.
“Just keep shifting the generator until I tell ya to stop,” Wheeljack commanded. “Move it back down again. Keep going. Almost there, almost-Wait! Stop push it back a bit and-Perfect!”
Bumblebee was to tired to call out how he had just moved the generator to the exact same spot it was originally located before Wheeljack asked him to move it. Unknown to him the mad inventor was secretly chuckling. Arcee was nearby and noticed what Wheeljack did and gave him a withering stare, which quieted the Lancia Stratos.
“Wheeljack, just because ‘Bee’s new assignment is to help us when we see fit doesn’t mean you have to boss him around like that,” Arcee reasoned.
Bumblebee overheard the Communications’ Specialist and glared at Wheeljack.
“What? I really do need his help with movin’ my tools around. I’m just giving his some busy work ta do. By the way the spot where you originally had it before was good,” he said directly to ‘Bee.
The yellow scout sighed at the inventor’s antics but he started to shove the generator again without complaint.
“What you need is to get your helm checked,” the pink Integra said dryly. She went over to Bumblebee and offer to assist with moving the generator, much to the younger Autobot’s relief.
As Bumblebee and Arcee move the device forward he asked Wheeljack, “By the way where’s Charlie?”
“I had her go get some wrenches from Ratchet for me,” Wheeljack replied.
“He’s busy checking up on Brawn’s shoulder pad. He won’t like the interruption,” Arcee said with concern.
Wheeljack waved off her worry. “Ratchet may not be all talk but he’s a big softie under all that heavy plating. I’d know since I’ve worked with him almost as long as I did with Percy.”
“He must have a funny way of showing he cares with all the times he’s thrown a wrench at you,” Bumblebee said snarkily, which garnered him a laugh from Arcee.
Wheeljack’s mouthplates bent into a frown. “You’re such a comedian.”
“But seriously, though Charlie will be okay right?”
“I’m sure she’s fine ‘Bee,” Wheeljack tried to reassure the younger 'bot.
At the other end of the parking lot Ratchet had a makeshift medbay set up. A berth was at the center while a table stood nearby for all most of the necessities the medic needed for operations. Above the furniture were two large outdoor canopy tents that the agents Fowler and Burns brought for Ratchet when he request them. Tents were elevated with several cinder blocks on each foot so that the Autobots won’t hit their helms when they entered inside. Charlie arrived at the location a few minutes ago but stayed to watch Ratchet in fascination. Ever since she met the Autobots’ Medical Officer she wanted to see him in action and wondered if it was any similar to what she did.
She was wrong.
The way Ratchet examined Brawn was nothing like how she inspected ‘Bee when he got hurt. The Ambulance knew exactly where to go and which tool he needed for the complex wiring, cogs, and lights. What surprised her the most were his hands. Whenever Ratchet put his fingers near an opening smaller than his fist tiny needle-like tongs sprouted from his digits and maneuvered around miniscule wires with ease. Eventually he removed his fingers and let out a sigh. “Sorry Brawn, my fingers aren’t long enough to reach the rest of the shrapnel, even with the added help,” he wiggled his little needle probes.
“I need a drone or a Mini-con with smaller servos to handle your framework.”
Brawn looked over Ratchet’s shoulder and stared at Charlie. “Why not her?”
Ratchet followed Brawn’s line of sight and noticed the human.
“Oh, no.” Ratchet shook his helm rapidly. “There is no way I’ll involve a human in a delicate project like this where the sharp metal fragments alone can slice an arm off.”
“So, what am I trying to look for again?” Charlie as she gazed at Brawn’s exposed shoulder.
The mechanic heard Ratchet sigh. She couldn’t tell if he was annoyed with her or with himself. Or maybe Brawn. “There’s a shrapnel located up where his shoulder meets the neck cables. It’s been giving me grief for the last Solar-cycle.”
“It’s been only givin’ you grief?” Brawn asked incredulously.
“Fine, him too I suppose.”
Charlie stood atop the table near the berth after Ratchet had given her a boost earlier. She carried a pair of pliers and a small wrench from her toolkit she took from home. Charlie began to wonder is she should’ve also brought a roll of insulating tape. Then flashes of electricity spooked Charlie when one bolt zapped her. She yelped in alarm and Ratchet steadied her.
“I knew this was a bad idea,” the medic grumbled.
“But I think I saw the piece,” Charlie said. “It’s located right where you said and-”
“Brawn’s electrical wiring is acting out too much for it to be safe. Even for a Cybertronian,” Ratchet interrupted. “We’ll have to wait it out until it stops short circuiting.”
“But what if it’s too late and hurts him even more?” Charlie questioned. Before Ratchet could answer Brawn keeled over to the side of his exposed shoulder in pain. A warning ringed out from the Demolition Expert’s mainframe.
“Slag,” Ratchet cursed. He rushed over to where his crate of equipment lied and scanned around for the tools he might need. “I didn’t think it was going to get this serious,” he murmured to himself. “There must be something in here that I could-” the ringing suddenly ended. Ratchet turned around fast and saw Charlie holding a jagged metal held from her pliers while wearing yellow gloves over her hands. She had a pleased smile on her face.
“I brought some rubber dishwasher gloves from home just in case Wheeljack need help with something so I wouldn’t get electrocuted. Then I used some lubricant from the table here to shimmy the scrap metal out of Brawn with my pliers.” She motioned to the uncapped bottle of see-through gel with her left foot.
Ratchet raised a brow in what appeared to be mild interest before he approached the berth to examine Brawn further. “Huh.” He spared Charlie a half-hearted glance. “Just needs a steel wool patch and the nanites in Brawn will do the rest of the work. Not a bad fix, kid.” He pulled out a metallic patch from his Subspace and securely placed it over Brawn’s wound before installing the plating back on. Ratchet then told Brawn that he’s good to go and the medic unceremoniously left the medbay.
Charlie watched Ratchet leave, her expression blank.
“Don’t mind the Hatchet,” Brawn said as he stretched his shoulder. “That’s just his way of sayin’ he’s impressed without actually saying it. Thanks by the way, that piece of literal scrap made liftin’ my servos all the way a real pain.”
“It’s fine. He reminds me a lot of my Uncle Hank,” Charlie recalled with genuine fondness. “I think I can handle Ratchet.”
“Just like how you would handle those Earth government types… uh, that is if you want to or not.” Brawn added hastily.
“I haven’t thought too much about it not since well yesterday,” Charlie admitted truthfully. That whole conversation she had with Optimus Prime blown over her mind after she accidently challenged Tripp to a race.
Brawn got off the berth and offered his servos to Charlie. He lowered her down and said, “I ain’t sure if Prime would be keen on your help after that stunt you pulled anyway. Eh, no offense.”
Charlie sighed. “No, I deserved that. I acted like a real airhead yesterday afternoon. I’m pretty sure Optimus Prime probably thinks I’m some immature human that can’t be trusted with anything anymore.”
“Well, you won’t know for sure unless you ask him,” Brawn responded. “Prime’s the type of bot that doesn’t hold a grudge especially if you’re really sorry about what happened.”
“I think I’ve made up my mind on his request of needing my help but I don’t know if he’ll want to hear it.”
“He’s not mad at ya,” Brawn insisted. “I don’t think it’s in his programming to get upset unless you count the time with the Eukarians. He was pretty mad that they threatened you and ‘Bee.”
Charlie put her tools away into her backpack. “I guess I’ll take your word for it.”
Brawn kneeled towards Charlie. “Hey, I know he looks intimidating but Optimus is mech you can trust with bein’ compassionate.”
“Thanks, Brawn.” Charlie waved.
“I wonder when I’m getting that wrench?” Wheeljack asked aloud. Nano-kliks later a large projectile hit him in the back of his helm. “Ow!”
“Charlie said you needed that,” Ratchet called out a distance away.
Bumblebee picked up the fallen wrench from the ground while Wheeljack rubbed his newly dented helm.
“Heh, I guess Ratchet didn’t like being disturbed after all,” the Calvary Scout noted humorously.
Wheeljack grumbled, “I hate retribution.”
“I understand that if your opinion of me has changed I will accept that and somehow find a way to earn your trust again,” Charlie said formally to the tall red and dark blue FL86 Freightliner. She had approached the Autobots’ leader while he was extracting supplies from his silver trailer. Apparently Optimus Prime usually kept his trailer inside his Subspace when not in use hence the reason Charlie rarely saw it until that moment.
Optimus Prime raised an optical ridge. “Why do you feel obligated to reclaim what was not taken away from you to begin with?”
Charlie frowned in confusion. “Because I am partially responsible for racing with ‘Bee the other night? And I assumed that you’d not want my help anymore with the government tomorrow.”
“Charlie, you made a mistake and you have been assisting Bumblebee with his tasks. You have no reason to remain guilty over what transpired the previous evening. What’s done is done. There is no reason for us to bring up your previous error.”
“Thanks,” the mechanic felt a huge weight lift from her shoulders.
“And as for being mine and Ultra Magnus’ interpreter tomorrow, the offer still stands if you have made your decision.” Optimus Prime’s tone was neutral, which was probably intentional so Charlie would not feel pressured with making her choice.
“I have.” Charlie nodded.
“What do you wish to do?"
Location: Brighton Falls, CA Date: June 16, 1988
“Okay, maybe another brush should do it or,” Sally trailed off as she continued to fuss over her daughter’s hair.
“Mom,” Charlie gently pushed her parent’s hand away. “We’ve brushed it like fifteen times. I’m pretty sure I look okay.” Her hair was straightened with no knots or frizz in sight. She was also coerced into wearing the same formal sundress from their family photo. It felt weird not having pants on her. At least she had on her mascara since that counted as makeup.
“It’s not everyday you’re going to speak with some of the most powerful men in our country’s government,” Sally said worriedly.
“Not all of them,” Charlie tried to calm down her mom with unsuccessful results. “And Optimus Prime and Ultra Magnus are gonna be the ones doing all the talking anyway.”
“Even if that is what happens I want you to at least try to remember to be polite,” Sally reminded her.
“And not speak when I’m spoken to. I got it. Really,” Charlie promised as she held both of her mother’s hands. “It’ll be fine, Mom. I’ll be back in time for dinner.”
“Somehow I don’t think one afternoon will be enough,” Sally sighed just as a knock came from the front door. Ron answered it and at the threshold was Agent William Fowler.
“Are you ready to go Miss Watson?”
“Ready as I’ll ever be,” Charlie answered the man. She gave her mom and quick kiss on the cheek, hugged her brother, and patted Ron’s shoulder before she left the house. “I’ll see you all later.”
“Hey Charlie if there is a chance you could look at the stationwagon later I’d appreciate that,” Ron requested.
“I’ll check it out later,” the mechanic waved before Ron closed the door.
“Nice dress, are you going to church later?”
Charlie gave Fowler a nonplussed stare.
Fowler chuckled awkwardly. “Sorry, trying to lighten the mood.” He opened his car door for her.
The mechanic’s frown curled slightly. “I never wore this for church actually. My family isn’t religious enough to go there regularly. We mostly just celebrate Christmas and Easter.”
“I had a neighbor’s granny who organize these potlucks every first and last Sunday back when I was a kid. Back when we had to carry gramophones around instead of Walkmans.”
Charlie couldn’t stop herself from laughing. “Are there any current songs that you like?”
Being the brilliant DJ that she was Charlie did find a few stations that one in particular that played classic Rock n’ Roll and some Country. Apparently Fowler liked Chuck Berry and Nashville sounds. Behind the jeep two familiar semi-trucks rolled behind them once they got closer to the air base.
“I’m betting those two are Optimus Prime and his SIC?” Fowler observed through his rearview mirror.
Charlie turned around to see the trucks. The taller truck honked at them when she waved. “Yep, it’s them.”
The three vehicles soon arrived at their destination: McKinnon Air Base. Two soldiers stood at opposite sides of the main entrance. Fowler pulled over to the one on his left.
“Name and registration,” the armed guard requested.
“Agent Fowler, Army Ranger on special assignment for Sector 7,” he handed his ID tag over to the other man.
The solider examined the badge to check for authenticity and handed it back to Fowler. “And the girl?”
Charlie wasn’t sure how she felt about being scrutinized.
“Charlie Watson. She’s with me,” Fowler answered for Charlie.
“And the two… vehicles?” The guard’s stoic appearance faltered when he glanced towards Ultra Magnus and Optimus Prime.
“They’re here for our little get together,” Fowler responded smoothly.
“I’ll radio in for clearance.”
Charlie inwardly sighed at how long this was taking and tried hard to hold back from groaning. This whole situation started to feel ridiculous and they hadn’t even entered the damn air base yet.
The guard spoke quietly through his radio for a few minutes and gestured to allow Fowler and the Autobots to enter. “You’re clear.”
“Thank you,” Fowler said politely before driving in. He then sighed once the guards were out of earshot. “I must admit that took longer than I thought it would.”
“That makes two of us,” Charlie muttered. She rubbed her pointer and index finger against her right temple. Fowler drove them along a few rows of barracks and other buildings Charlie recognized vaguely from when she busted ‘Bee out ten months ago.
“I wish I can say the meeting won’t be as tedious but I’d be calling myself a liar.” Fowler then parked the jeep near a hanger, the largest one in the whole base.
Charlie and Fowler got out of the car and were greeted by Agent Burns and Simmons. Burns was in a formal uniform with medals and the works. Simmons just wore a cleaner version of his Sector 7 outfit.
“Agent Fowler,” Burns addressed the pilot. “Miss Watson,” he directed to Charlie.
“Charlie’s fine,” the mechanic replied.
“Uh, it’s proper protocol to call you by your surname,” Simmons clarified nervously.
“It would be disgraceful to break protocol,” Ultra Magnus concurred.
Simmons yelped in shock from the talking FLC112.
“At ease, Simmons that’s just an Autobot,” Agent Burns ordered.
“Yes sir,” the dark haired man nearly squeaked.
“I still agree with the jumpy one,” Magnus continued.
“It would be best to remain formal for the occasion, Miss Watson,” Optimus Prime added.
“Not you too,” Charlie sighed at the taller truck.
“Agent Burns,” another soldier approached the four humans and vehicles. “Everything is set inside.”
“Including our guests?” Burns jerked his head towards Optimus Prime and Magnus.
The solider nodded. “Them too.” He then nodded at two other men who stood near the hangar. One of them bobbed his head back and pressed a button. Moments later the two doors slid open. Burns motioned for Charlie and the ‘bots to follow him, Fowler, and Simmons. Inside the hangar less than a dozen older men in various uniform chatted collegially but then quieted when one by one they noticed the arrivals.
“Agent Burns and Agent Fowler,” an African-American with a badge that read Whalenregarded. On the side of his uniform he had four stars stitched on.
Both agents saluted the superior officer. “General Whalen, sir.”
The general kept his hands behind his back and glanced at the trucks. “Where are these two aliens?”
Optimus Prime and Ultra Magnus morphed out of their alt-modes and had to partially incline their helms. Magnus had a bit more difficulty as his tall shoulder pads kept knocking against the lights. When he tried to move away from one the tall antennae from his helm broke one light bulb by accident.
“Oh,” Ultra Magnus uttered. “I do apologize.”
“Try kneeling a bit more,” Optimus Prime instructed his subordinate.
The two robots crouched down as they tried not to galumph through the hangar.
“I’m to venture a guess that those two semis are the two non-biologicals,” the five-stared general asked. His nametag had the surname Bryce*.
“They prefer being called Autobots, sir.” Fowler corrected his direct commanding officer. General Whalen narrowed his eyes at Fowler. “That is the name of their organization, sirs,” Fowler explained readily.
“We are autonomous robotic organisms from the planet Cybertron,” the red and blue mech announced after he and Ultra Magnus kneeled to the large table set up for the assembly. “My designation is Optimus Prime. The other Autobot beside me is my Second-in-Command, Ultra Magnus. We’re part of the Autbot Resistance.”
“We are honored to be here,” Magnus inclined his helm.
“And the young woman?” a man with platinum blond hair motioned to Charlie. “She’s not one of you in disguise?”
Charlie opened her mouth but quickly closed it to prevent herself from impulsively saying something she would later regret.
“She is human like the rest of you in this edifice,” Optimus Prime responded. “She is here as our ally and interpreter.”
“I don’t understand why you have a need for an interpreter since you’re clearly speaking English perfectly fine,” General Whalen questioned. “How are you able to speak our language, if you don’t mind me asking.”
“We speak your language thanks to universal translators built in our internal computers. They allow us to understand virtually over billions of languages,” Optimus Prime answered. “It also allows to us to sound as though we are speaking your dialect. It’s a very useful tool.”
“Then there’s no reason for the young woman to be here,” the same man that noticed Charlie called out.
Charlie bit the inside of her cheek to keep herself from shouting every curse known to man. Including some only known to giant space alien robots.
“Charlie Watson has been a great aid in educating my fellow Autobots and I with your planet’s customs and social terminology that even our translators cannot fully comprehend,” Optimus Prime said firmly. “We need her with us in case an instance falls upon us again today.”
“She is also a person of interest,” Burns added. “Miss Watson is the only human who has been in direct contact with the Autobots frequently these past few weeks.”
“If there’s nothing else left to add we should let the meeting commence,” General Whalen announced though he remained staring at the Autobots and Charlie.
Charlie continued keeping her poker face on as she was given a chair and sat next to the kneeling robots. The rest of the government officials took their seats in the substitute war room.
“Now let’s get down to business and explain why we’re all here to begin with,” General of the Army, Bryce said. A few officers voiced similar words in agreement. He turned his attention to the Autobots. “Why are you here on this planet?”
“Our topmost priority is to establish a base after evacuating from our planet after it fell to the hands of the Decepticons,” Optimus Prime explained. “We wish to remain hidden here in peace under your consent, of course.”
A few of the government officials appeared relieved to hear that the giant robot was interested in amity though Whalen didn’t look convinced. “And you claim you come in peace in spite of a incident that happened at this very base? An incident that involved on of your… people?”
Optimus Prime and Ultra Magnus exchanged concerned looks. “If a Cybertronian attacked you in anyway perhaps it might have been a Decepticon,” Magnus suggested.
“We have security footage showing a twelve foot tall robot with the same emblem as yours shooting jeeps and men with what appears to be killing intent.” Whalen nodded to a solider whom brought over a television on a wheeled stand. The soldier pressed a button on the TV set. Horizontal lines appeared as the box booted up then they disappeared as an image appeared on the screen. The grainy footage showed exactly what Whalen described, a tall yellow robot with red optics shooting at fleeing soldiers with a seven-barreled cannon from the tip of his arm.
Charlie felt her blood run cold. She remembered that night. With the bombing, all the shooting, and anger so much anger on both sides. The mechanic brushed those memories away and focused on the present. Beside her, Optimus clenched his servos and his optics were narrowed. Charlie could tell straight away that the tape was upsetting him. She gently patted Optimus Prime’s arm to get his attention.
“This was back when Sector 7 made the mistake to trust the Decepticons, Shatter and Dropkick,” Charlie got across to the leader as best as she could. “They lied about being law enforcement sent out to hunt their fugitive when in reality they were planning to interrogate him and later kill him for information of the whereabouts of where you were and where you base was going to be.”
The red semi ex-vented. “My scout would never attack unless provoked,” Optimus Prime stated evenly to the other humans.
“He was,” Burns admitted with a somewhat guilty expression. All of the humans’ eyes were on him
“How?” Whalen asked skeptically.
“Sir, when Sector 7 had apprehended the scout and brought him to McKinnon, Miss Watson here infiltrated the base to rescue the Autobot. A unit and me attempted to reclamation him and we had assumed that we’d be able to hold him down but we were mistaken. Very mistaken. We were no match against his strength and firepower, because up to that point he never actually fought back.”
“And how was the scout provoked into doing so?” an officer asked.
Burns’ eyes were glued to the table. “I… had pushed Miss Watson to the ground when she resisted to stand down. He got mad and that's when he attacked the soldiers and me.”
Whalen blinked once and stared in disbelief. “You mean to tell me the reason we lost over a million dollars worth of equipment and several men getting severely injured was because of what we can boil down to as school yard bullying?”
“Excuse me,” Charlie raised her hand, gaining all of the government officials’ attention. “If I may speak because I have some things I would like to say on Bumblebee’s behalf.”
The generals muttered to one another in mild confusion.
“Bumblebee is the designation of my Calvary scout,” Optimus Prime answered.
“Bumblebee or ‘Bee as I like to call him most of the time isn’t just a soldier or a liability you might think he is but he’s my friend. Ever since the first night we met he’s been protecting me just as much as I’ve done so for him. He and the rest of his friends may not look like us but they still care and feel like every human I know. Bumblebee wouldn’t hurt anyone unless they’ve done something bad. I promise that no one else would be better at the job of protecting us than them,” she gestured with her hand towards Optimus Prime and Ultra Magnus.
“Um, that’s all I had to say, thank you.” Charlie quickly sat back down and stared at the table. At the corner of her eye she noticed Optimus Prime as staring at her. His blue optics narrowed warmly and Charlie also felt that he was smiling at her in approval.
For the next hour Optimus Prime and Magnus took turns to explain the details as to why they chose Earth and what the nine Autobots have been doing since Bumblebee’s arrival to rescuing Charlie from the Eukarians. The mechanic and Burns occasionally told their own recollections of what happened. Burns had given out stapled pages of his accounts. Fowler spoke what he barely remembered during the battle between ‘Bee and the Triple-Changers and made sure to mention heavily that it was an Autobot that saved his life.
“I think now would be a good time for a brief interval is in order,” General Bryce offered to the rest of the visiting officers. Charlie glanced to a wall and saw a clock read that it was noon. She hadn’t noticed her stomach was growling until then. As the men began to adjourn Charlie accepted Fowler’s offer to go and grab a sandwich for her from the mess hall.
“Ask them if they strawberry jelly and use it instead of grape,” she called out to him. Once he left Charlie got out of her chair and sighed while stretching herself. She looked at the two trucks worriedly. “Do you guys need anything? Any Energon?”
“We’re fine, Charlie.” Optimus assured. “We made sure to refuel before coming to the air base. We shouldn’t need another cube until nightfall.”
“This is taking a lot longer than I thought it would go,” Charlie bemoaned. “But I’m impressed that you and Ultra Magnus have been able to keep your cool.”
Optimus leaned over and whispered to Charlie’s ear. “The reason I brought Ultra Magnus with me is because he is the least likely to act passive aggressive around the humans.”
“Gee, I can’t imagine why the others would act that way,” Charlie muttered dryly as she glanced warily at the soldiers that remained in the hangar. They all kept their gazes on the robots.
“Have you always carried such a low view on humanity?” Optimus whispered again to Charlie.
“Only around bullies and the government,” was Charlie’s immediate reply.
Optimus Prime hummed in acknowledgment. The mechanic wasn’t entirely sure if he was agreeing or disagreeing but it was better than nothing. Ten minutes later Fowler arrived with a PB&J sandwich and a Dixie cup of water for Charlie. She thanked him before she scarfed her meal down.
“Careful, unless you wanna choke yourself.” Fowler warned.
Charlie swallowed the sandwich pieces she chewed and took a sip of water. “Sorry, it’s been a very long morning.”
“It might be a long afternoon as well.”
The mechanic’s eyes widened an inch more.
Fowler chuckled. “I did say it might be a long meeting earlier, didn’t I?”
I won’t complain, I won’t complain, I won’t complain, Charlie mentally chanted out her endless mantra.
Location: McKinnon Airbase, CA.
Down a hallway within the same building as the hangar Burns was in a terse but tense conversation with his superior.
“With all do respect sir, that tape stunt you pulled back at the meeting was very inappropriate.”
Whalen arched an eyebrow. “That’s with all do respect?”
“Sir, we need the Autobots as allies and while they may still be on board with it our side might not be after what they saw. I can’t stress enough how beneficial it would be to have them on our team.”
“Agent Burns,” Whalen called to his subordinate. “Almost a year ago you were against aligning ourselves with these visitors and now you support it?”
“The yellow robot called Bumblebee saved mine and Agent Fowler’s life the night he fought Shatter and Dropkick. I was wrong to judge them all in the same light.”
“Saved your lives? What could’ve motivated him to do that?”
“Honestly, after the way I treated him I was surprised as you are.”
“And didn’t you report back to us that the yellow robot escaped,” Whalen recalled as a new thought came to him. “You weren’t withholding any other information that night were you?”
“Sirs,” Simmons interrupted. “The meeting is about to start up again.”
Whalen gave Burns the classic ‘this isn’t over’ stare before the two of them headed back. At that point, though, Burns didn’t give a damn if he would be court martial at the end of the day.
Forty-five minutes passed until the rest of the generals and other government bigwigs returned, according to Charlie’s wristwatch. The second half of the meeting resumed without further interruptions.
“Now you were going to explain to us why you request to have your hidden base to be set at an abandoned movie theater?” a government official named Walter Barnett** asked Optimus Prime.
“A drive-in technically,” Ultra Magnus said precisely.
Optimus Prime reset his vocalizer. “The head of our Spec Ops, Jazz found it while on reconnaissance. We request that be our base because it is the nearest man-made structure to Brighton Falls so that we may be a close enough distance from the Watsons who we have become our protectorate.”
“And why is it so important that a civilian family needs protecting from Autobots exactly?”
“The answer to that sir is in my report under page 37 paragraph C,” Burns revealed.
Barnett flipped through the laminated booklet and skimmed through the page he found. He nodded once in understanding after he read it. The other men at the table promptly read the page as well in order to be up to date.
“Wait, this radiation on the Watsons isn’t harmful but it’ll attract other space robots to them?” one officer called out.
“We believe that the Decepticons have developed technology that allows them to locate large traces of Energon radiation,” Optimus Prime responded. “Fortunately the scanners are limited to needing to be on the exact planet where the source of En-radiation is.”
“At least that is what our scientist Wheeljack has theorized,” Magnus added.
Charlie held back a groan. She really wished that the Freightliner FLC112 had kept that part to himself.
“Are you implying that there’s a chance that these Decepticons might come to this planet again?” Bryce rapped his knuckles.
“If there is any chance the Decepticons threaten your planet, my fellow Autobots and I will defend it until the last mech or femm stands,” Optimus Prime declared.
“And how do we know you won’t try to trick us like the other Cybertronians did?”
“We would like for the exact opposite to happen, General Whalen,” Optimus Prime affirmed from what felt like the hundredth time that day to Charlie. “What we want is for both of our species coexist on your planet. Ultra Magnus’ people and mine have been scattered from our home with little resources. We came to this world with the hope that we may regroup, rebuild and take our true home back from the Decepticons. In return we will protect all living beings of Earth with great resolve.”
When the generals and military officials still appeared uneasy Optimus Prime stared at Magnus who briskly nodded in agreement.
“We are also willing to share minimal access with what little technology we have brought with us if that may appease you in some way,” Optimus Prime furthered.
“And this technology you’re planning to share with us would any of it happen to be weapons of some caliber?” All eyes and optics landed on the Caucasian man with blond hair. Charlie remembered that he was the man that kept calling to question why she was at the meeting.
“Forgive me but I am having trouble remembering your desig-” Optimus Prime caught himself. “Your name, sir?”
“Bishop. Colonel Leland Bishop***,” the man called Bishop responded.
“Charlie has informed me that your country is in the middle of a arms race against another country called the U.S.S.R if I’m correct, Col. Bishop.”
“Yes,” Bishop answered with mild reluctance.
“As a result we don’t want to directly interfere with your planet’s political affairs. That includes our weaponry.”
Bishop didn’t seem happy with that answer. He got up from his seat and then demanded, “How are we supposed to defend ourselves from our enemies and these Decepticons?”
“The Autobots are our best and only defense against the Decepticons,” Burns affirmed. “I’ve seen those robots in action and we don’t stand a chance to fight them with our own firepower but the Autobots can.”
“I fear that any military involvement may result in disastrous consequences,” Optimus reasoned. “Perhaps you can warrant human casualties, Col. Bishop, but I don’t.”
Not since the beginning of the meeting was the hangar completely silent.
“This is outrageous,” Bishop challenged.
“Stand down Colonel,” Bryce ordered the lower ranking officer.
“Stand. Down,” Bryce emphasized.
Bishop appeared very ticked off but did sit back down. Charlie did not miss the glare directed to her that disappeared quickly as it had appeared.
Bryce cleared his throat to gain everyone’s attention. “I say we shall vote whether or not we are interested in allying our country with these Autobots.”
The men at the table murmured to one another before they agreed to the idea.
Charlie felt her heart thump with worry but was calmed when Optimus placed a servo over her shoulder.
“All in favor of allowing the Autobots asylum in America and all that it entails…” Bryce waited until a moment before he raised his hand after everyone made their decision so not to sway the voters’ opinion over his choice.
“And all who appose.”
Whalen, another man, and (no surprise) Bishop were the only three who voted against. It was seven verses three.
Charlie and Ultra Magnus both let out sighs of relief. Optimus Prime straightened himself when Bryce approached the three of them.
“I… really hope I’m doing the right thing by putting my trust in you.” Bryce offered his hand to the Autobots’ leader.
Optimus Prime glanced at Charlie who nodded encouragingly. The FL86 accepted the hand. “We’ll make sure not to break an already fragile trust and earn your respect.”
As Optimus Prime and Ultra Magnus gave formal parting words to the higher-ups, Burns stood by to wait for their departure. Charlie Watson took a step next to him.
“There are going to be more meetings after this one,” she said as a statement and not a question. A couple of more decisions were made after the vote. From the Autobots needing to report with the U.S. government on a bi-weekly basis on their progress with securing resources for Energon and to formally partnering with Sector 7, to monitor alien activity that may arrive on their planet both malevolent and benevolent. Many additional edicts will be processed in the near future. Many, many more.
“’Fraid so, kid,” Burns replied. “But I don’t think you need to be at all of them. You helped the Autobots go over a big hurdle today, them being allowed to stay in this country maters the most.”
Charlie shrugged. “I still spoke out of turn though.” She seemed to be ashamed by her previous action.
“Personally, I thought the looks on their faces was priceless,” he admitted, in order to add levity to the situation. “It was about time someone stood up to most of them.”
“And I guess you couldn’t do it or else you’d get fired?”
“That and maybe court martial-ed,” Burns half-joked.
“You’re kidding right?” Miss Watson appeared concern.
“Charlie,” Optimus Prime called out. He waved over to her. “It’s time to depart.”
“I gotta go,” the eighteen-year-old said. “Thanks… for your help.”
“See you around, kid.” Burns offered an open hand and she slowly accepted it with a firm shake.
After she left Burns noticed Fowler was talking to General Whalen nearby. He couldn’t help but overhear their conversation.
“Burns had no choice to let the Autobot scout and his human ally go in order to ensure that I hadn’t succumbed to my wounds after we crashed,” Fowler answered smoothly.
“Is that what happened, Agent Burns?” Whalen asked.
Burns nearly hesitated but answered half-truthfully, “Fowler’s life was at risk from a fire within the chopper too. He would’ve died if I hadn’t got to him first, sir.”
“You did what needed to be done,” Whalen said after a minute. He dismissed the two agents before leaving the room with Bryce and Bishop close behind. Once they were alone, Burns gave Fowler an intrigued look.
“How did you know about my argument with the general?”
Fowler inclined his head towards the door where the Autobots and Charlie left. “Those two Autobots’ super hearing can come pretty handy.”
“That’s the second time one of them saved my ass,” Burns sighed. “I’m not sure how I can repay them now.”
“I would suggest a gift basket filled with petroleum,” Fowler teased.
Burns frowned at the former Army Ranger. “You think you’re so funny. Don't you Bill?”
“I’m hilarious. You should hear the rest of my material.”
Burns waved him off. “Think I’ll pass.”
Bumblebee paced back and forth, his optics never quite leaving the drive-in’s main entrance.
“I can’t believe we ran out of things to keep ‘Bee busy.” Brawn ex-vented. “Twice now we had to convince the kid not to sneak out.”
“Well, I thought him helping me with some experiments but you all said no~,” Wheeljack noted.
“Because the last time you dragged one of us to help you Energon got splattered everywhere,” Arcee recalled with a slight shudder through her frame.
“It wasn’t like it was anybot’s innermost Energon,” Wheeljack reasoned.
“It was still disgusting,” Jazz pointed out. The optics behind his visor then widened. “I just got a buzz from Prime. He and Mags and the Lil’ Lady are coming back.”
‘Bee immediately stopped moving. “For real?”
Jazz chuckled at the scout’s excited demeanor. “Sure as a Seeker who loves to fly.”
“There they are,” Ironhide announced while pointing towards the front gates. All seven Autobots gathered nearby as two trucks drove in. Optimus’ horn honked enthusiastically for some reason until the resistance members realized that Charlie was behind their leader’s wheel and must’ve turned his air horn on purpose. When Optimus and Magnus stopped Charlie got out and ran straight to the others before the trucks even transformed out of their alt-modes.
“You guys get to stay!” The human cheered enthusiastically. All at once the rest of the Autobots rejoiced. Ratchet was quiet however. He preferred to make merry on the inside.
“Great, ‘cause I already unpacked all my stuff.” Wheeljack gestured to his almost completed laboratory.
“In spite of me telling you why you should’ve waited,” Ratchet said.
Wheeljack grinned. “But it’s good that I didn’t.”
“There was still a possibility that it wouldn’t happen.”
“But it did.”
“You didn’t know yet.”
The two of them continued to argue while the rest left to their own devices. Bumblebee went up to Charlie quickly looked over to see if she was okay.
“So, now what are going to do?” Charlie glanced at her robotic friend.
“Tomorrow I think you should bring your boombox and all of your cassettes.”
Bumblebee’s optics lit up. “Because we’re gonna need a soundtrack while we build.”
“You might need a few extra hands then.” Charlie grinned knowingly.
End of Chapter 8
Q-A: Man, this chapter was hard to write. I hope I didn’t bore anyone to death with this one. It’s a bit similar to the scene from the movie with all the military men but I changed some things here namely having Autobots involved with the proceedings and have their side of the story told. And of course Burns now being Pro-Autobot. That’s a major difference but there are now new people who are against them. I can’t make it easy for our heroes after all. Next chapter will be more of a breather than this one. Just a fun little building montage with lots of cute and funny moments among the Autobots and their new human allies.
* General Bryce is from TFP. I made him the General Of The Army so there would be at least one person ranked higher than Whalen who’d be willing to hear out Optimus.
**Walter Barnett is from the Marvel comics. He’s a Government official there too who becomes a friend to the Autobots after he saw them choose not to fight humans that were attacking them. He’s also well known for “saving” the Throttlebots by putting their brains into toy cars. I personally think there are some ethical questions based on that but that’s just me.
***If anyone can remember Bishop without looking him up I’ll give you a shout-out in the next chapter. I’ll just have to take your word for it if you claim you didn’t. XD
Chapter title: One Vision by Queen <-- I felt it set up the themes for the chapter rather well about how everyone needs to work together to get things done, both in the medbay scene and at the meeting with the military.
Keep on Writin’ and Rockin’