It was incredibly aggravating to have to force himself to restrain the overwhelming urge to jump the curb and run over yet another annoying humanoid that dared to sit on his shiny yet dented hood.
That he managed to repress the tempting idea was an enormous accomplishment, the freckled teenager currently laughing with his friends would never know that just a few measly human months ago he so would have been road kill.
As it was, the pathetic peachy creature was instead startled into movement by the sudden burst of a horn and an engine roaring to life.
The rest of the human's pack laughed as the boy glanced sheepishly towards the driver, whom he could have sworn wasn't there just seconds ago, and jumped off the hood. Mirrored shades tracked the group as they walked down the sidewalk towards their own respective rolling "tin cans".
'Seriously, all that reverse technology acquired from a frozen Megatron and their cars still dent like a can of soda at the simplest collision with what was known as a "shopping cart".' Disgusted, the "driver" slumped in his seat at the thought as the sunglasses reflected a few students milling about waiting for their rides.
As he pondered, he came to the realization that it wasn't so much that he had acquired "principles" in the past few months that kept his homicide urges under-hood, but rather a healthy dose of "survival mode".
Being the last one of his fallen faction or rather the last one on Earth--no thanks to a certain slagging cowardly F-22--running over small insects that had a disturbing superiority complex was a sure way to get him recycled.
'And here I am, in plain view of anyone human or otherwise, waiting for the very insect that I tried to kill.' The car slumped on its tires in the very motion of a sigh. 'Might as well paint a giant bulls-eye on my trunk and let the cannon firing fool have at me.'
The mere thought of the oh-so despised truck had him automatically scanning the parking lot perimeter for what had to have been the thirtieth search for anything remotely suspicious. However, there wasn't a flash of yellow in sight and he wondered slightly if it would be such a death sentence to allow himself to play a few minutes of Tetris whilst waiting.
He was jarred out of saver mode, however, by the sudden piercing of a bell and optics began an immediate scan of the mass horde of, 'belch' humans… searching for the one in particular who could recognize the innocent, albeit badly damaged patrol car for what it really was.
'One could only hope that the Autobot's sense of honor will outrace the gunners trigger finger', Barricade thought as "Target Acquired" finally flashed across his view screen and the roller lights lit up once to get the pathetic attention of Ladiesman217.
Sam Witwicky inhaled a deep breath of freedom as the last bell for the day pierced the air. He allowed the mass stampede to flow past him towards the door as he collected the last of his papers and shoved them unceremoniously into his backpack. Giving a slight nod to his teacher, he eased into the heavy traffic flow and made a beeline for the senior halls.
He managed to elbow his way towards his own dented locker and sighed as he swapped out books. Slamming the ugly orange metal door shut, he searched the hallway for a familiar face.
"Hey Sam!" Miles chirped happily, obviously refreshed from his nap in physics.
"Hey," Sam replied in a bored voice.
"Why the long face?" Miles asked as he braced himself against the flowing mass of bodies that continually bumped into him. "It's the weekend! Full of sun, surf and absolutely nothing to worry about 'till Monday! Smile man." Miles gave a huge grin as the two finally maneuvered towards Mile's own piece-of-crap locker. "You and Mikaela doing anything?"
Sam shook his head at the mention of his former girlfriend and wondered again why everyone had been more surprised at their let's-be-friends breakup than the fact that Sam had arrived at school one morning with the hottest girl in school draped over his arm. "She's going upstate to see her dad," he replied as if he hadn't told Miles this just that morning. "She left at lunch."
Mile's eyes lit up momentarily before returning to their patented blank surfer stare. "Oh yeah, he gets out soon doesn't he?" Sam nodded as they finally made their way out the doors and onto the sunbathed sidewalk. "So where'd you park this time?" Miles continued as he scanned the rows of cars.
"It's not here dude," Sam told him with a barely repressed smile and grinned even more at Mile's visible slump.
"Damn, and I so love passing that prick Trent in your car," Miles lamented as it seemed that his entire body just wilted before perking back up and he bounced on the balls of his feet. "What'd you do with it?"
"Parents." the lie came easily after months of practice. "Dad had this thing and his car's got no trunk space."
Miles cringed in sympathy. "Ouch, sucks to be you man. First you win a brand new car from the government, and then your parents continually bum your ride."
Sam chuckled as he hefted his bag again in preparation for a rather long walk. 'If only you knew,' he thought with a small smile and wondered for about the hundredth time that day if 'Bee and the others were all right.
It would be so heartbreaking if the newest signal Ratchet had intercepted turned out to be yet another piece of fallen satellite instead of a lost comrade. The entire group had been in a "slump" for days after the latest false alarm.
Sam had even gotten a hysterical call from a frantic Captain Lennox in a panic that Ironhide had yet to blow up their neighbor's newest lawn feature, a windmill that the large Autobot cursed about for days after every new installment. Lennox had instantly ordering him to get in touch with the group's Medbot to do an immediate diagnostic, because obviously the large truck had caught a Net-virus of some sort because he would never simply allow the eyesore to remain unscathed otherwise.
Mile's sudden low whistle brought Sam out of his musing. "Damn, that must have been some car chase."
"What?" Sam gave him a curious glance before turning his head to see what his friend was staring at and gasped. He felt his entire body stiffen with shock at the sight before him. A rather large group of students all standing in front of a parked saleen mustang patrol car…Or rather, what should have been a parked saleen mustang patrol car. It was really hard to tell what model it should have been from underneath all the damage.
Over half the front hood had been crushed inward at an angle, and the back of the roof was smashed down into what once had been the prisoner portion of the cab. The lack of glass in both, the back and rear windows a testament of the sheer force of the blow that they had been busted out. Even the trunk displayed a similar amount of deep indentations.
Hell, even one of the rear doors hung nearly off its hinges; obviously only hanging on by a rather stubborn bolt and the prisoner lock.
Truth be told, if it wasn't for Sam's rather detailed firsthand knowledge about this particular patrol car innocently numbered 643, he would have never glanced at it twice for any reason beyond shock at its ghastly condition.
As it was, he knew that car and it was obvious that the "car" knew him when the red rollers on the indented hood flashed once before finally dying and winked off.
"Fuck," Sam muttered as the "cop" within the car turned and looked straight at him.
The thought of running immediately flashed across his mind but fleeing from a cop in front of what just had to be the entire student body, not to mention Trent and his cronies, would only send his steadily climbing social status spiraling back down into oblivion. That, plus the fact that Barricade obviously knew where he lived, kind of put a damper on the whole "running away" issue.
"I am so screwed."
"Dude?" Miles began hesitantly as he caught Sam's soft whisper. "You forget to pay a speeding ticket or something?"
"Or something," Sam muttered as he slowly started heading for the car, the death march playing a grim underscore in his mind as he passed a smirking Trent. What he wouldn't give to be able to shoot the smug quarterback in that moment.
The passenger side door of the car swung open silently and after the slightest hesitation, Sam tossed his bag onto the smashed back seat as he plopped down on the warm leather. Sam shivered as the slamming of the door behind him rang out like a death keel, sealing his fate.
The car immediately flared to life as the "cop" went through the motions of putting the car in reverse and the dented patrol car eased out of the parking lot, leaving student's scrambling to get out of its way.
A quick glance in the side mirror revealed a rather lost looking Miles, surrounded by clusters of whispering students who watched as the mustang turned the corner and headed towards the busy highway.
Sam slumped into the seat, wondering if that was going to be the last he ever saw of his childhood friend as the reflection disappeared.
His hands automatically fumbled for the seatbelt before he paused and allowed the strap of fabric fall loosely from his fingers as he suddenly realized that it probably wasn't even worth the effort if the Decepticon came out of hiding simply to kill him. With reluctant acceptance, Sam wondered just how long it would take for him to die before the 'Con was finally done with him.
"You really should buckle up," a deep voice suddenly rumbled from unseen speakers. "It's the law."
Sam stared at the "cop", the only thing he could really focus on, until the hologram fizzled out, in disbelief. Unsure if the otherworldly machine was serious or simply toying with him, his nervous fingers reached once more for the strap and he buckled it, wondering if he was in for a joy ride from hell or something of that nature if the 'Con was so insistent that he buckle up.
Passing the little towns of suburbia they continued on into the more populated section of Tranquility and the hologram activated once more as Barricade slowed for rush hour traffic.
Sam resisted the urge to fidget and forced his body to remain completely still, even thought he knew from constant exposure to his Autobot friends that the car he was currently sitting in could automatically record his rapid heart rate and even more erratic breathing patterns.
They came to a stop at a red light, and Sam absently watched as a bus with an advertisement for late night talk show rumbled past.
"You were crossed off as scrap you know," Sam finally managed to say despite his dry mouth.
There was a mechanical grind reminiscent of a chuckle as they once more eased into traffic. "Your fleshling loving friends should be a bit more paranoid and a little less confident that all is well." Sam huffed and turned to stare out the cracked windshield at the passing cars. His frustration was mounting from the rather roundabout conversation.
"Is this why you picked me up?" Sam braved once more, determined to get some form of answers before the end, "to show Optimus and the others that they should have never left me alone?"
Barricade turned down a secondary street and the hologram fizzed out once more. "In a way," he finally said after some time. Sam couldn't help but shift nervously as they pulled into a parking garage, away from the public eyes. Barricade backed into a corner spot snug against the wall and set the parking brake. "But at the moment, I am grateful for the lack of your Bumbling Protection Detail."
Sam glared at the radio at the slur against his friend. "Are you going to kill me?" He finally managed to ask. "Is this some sort of revenge for Megatron's death or-?"
The grating laughter was back, shocking Sam out of his tense anxiety.
"And what exactly will that accomplish?" Barricade sneered. "The death of one more human?" The mustang snorted. "Please; there are billions more of you. The only thing that would accomplish is simply pissing off your Autobot friends. Something I'd rather like to avoid at this moment, thank you."
"-WARNING: OPERATION CIRCUITS DOWN SEVENTY PERCENT. STASIS LOCK WILL INITIATE IN FIVE SECONDS.-"
The sudden addition of a third, more mechanical voice stopped Sam from replying as Barricade growled in aggravation and bit out the override codes before once more falling silent.
"Why?" Sam finally asked. "Why show yourself now? The Autobots thought you dead or at least in hiding. You could have easily have laid low and wait for reinforcements-"
"What reinforcements?" Barricade laughed sharply at Sam's naivety. "Do you really think any Decepticon would risk their own aft to help me or any other save themselves?"
Sam frowned, puzzled over the Mustang's words. "But isn't there another one of you here on Earth?"
"Scorponok," Barricade confirmed. "However he is a mere drone, who has currently buried himself deep within the ground awaiting retrieval in some desert half way across your mud ball planet. A retrieval, as I'm sure you will agree, that I cannot perform in my current condition."
"Still, are there more Decepticons out there though," Sam stated sourly. "Optimus said-"
"Prime is a fool," Barricade interrupted again, shocking Sam slightly with the ferocious intensity of the outburst. "Don't get me wrong, human, there may be more Decepticons out there in space, and each one meaner than the last, but that means nothing without Megatron."
Sam blinked in confusion, mulling over the new information that he was received, trying to determine if it was an elaborate ruse on Barricade's part or if the 'Con was simply stating a fact. "I don't understand."
Air rushed out of the vents in the equivalent of a sigh, bathing Sam in hot re-filtered air. "No, I suppose you wouldn't," Barricade muttered, more to himself than his rattled passenger. "Alright," he spoke up, "if you must know, all Decepticons are sneaky, maniacal Cybertronion's whose only obligation is to themselves and in part to Megatron."
Sam nodded absently. "Kind of knew that already."
"Indeed," the 'Con chuckled. "However, with him gone and acting as a glorified aquarium piece, there now will be a power struggle within 'Con ranks. One that I'm sure will end with a lot of blown up mechs. If Starscream believes himself to be the next great Decepticon Leader, he's in for a nasty shock. Even if a whole platoon of Decepticons descended, I'm quite sure that five Autobots are more than enough to stop them."
"Four," Sam corrected automatically before silently cursing at the slip and bit down on his tongue. The last thing he needed was to give valuable information about the Autobots' status to what was basically an enemy.
A long moment of silence passed before Barricade finally spoke up. "I suppose that is why the youngest one was not with you," Barricade mused quietly. "He gave his life for your people."
Sam frowned and refused to divulge any more information to the 'Con. Yet, the thought of Bumblebee hanging lifeless in Optimus' arms, optics dark and knowing that there would never be any more fun moments with his kindhearted guardian wrenched a saddened sob out of him. "It was Jazz, actually," he announced miserably and the memory of the destroyed Autobot flittered across his mind.
He really never got to know the smaller 'Bot. There had been so much happening in the race for the All Spark that aside from 'Bee and Optimus, he had only really got to know the other two 'Bots after everything had calmed down.
He had wondered at the time, when the Autobots refused to relinquished Jazz's body to the Secretary of Defense for disposal, if they had their own version of a funeral, but felt too intrusive to ask after Lennox had pulled him away from the grieving 'Bots.
"Ah," Barricade simply acknowledged, pulling Sam from his memories. "He was fine lieutenant and a good fighter. His damage rate was high… for an Autobot."
Sam wondered if it was respect that he heard in the 'Con's vocal processor and found himself wondering what the planet Cybertron had been like before Megatron blew his circuits and started the war all those centuries ago.
There was more shared silence, disrupted only by the continual warning system and Barricade muttering the override. Sam frowned again as he replayed the whole bizarre conversation through his head while they sat there, searching for some sign as to what the patrol car was planning. "Then what do you want with me?" he finally demanded.
There was a long pause and Sam wondered if he should repeat his question when the gravelly voice finally answered him with a simple word that made his entire head spin at the absurdness of it all.
Sam stared at the dashboard in complete shock. It was amazing that a Decepticon even knew the word "peace" let alone the meaning of it. To his knowledge, the idea of "peace" was a 'Con's worse nightmare.
"What?" he gaped stupidly.
"I am here, human, to ask you to relay my request for a peace treaty to the Autobot Optimus Prime," Barricade bit out. It was obvious that he hated repeating himself, "preferably outside of the Weapon's Specialist's sensory range."
"What?" he screeched again.
Barricade growled. "You are listed in the military's database as the Autobot's official human diplomat are you not?"
"For all Cybertronions actually," Sam dazedly muttered, his head spinning in confusion.
"Indeed," Barricade agreed. "And might I ask what am I?"
Sam slumped into his seat, completely deflated at the announcement, "Um… suicidal?"
"Stupid human," Barricade growled in his native language. "Think boy," he snapped as his virtually non-existent patience finally snapped. "I am the only Decepticon left on this entire planet. I am currently damaged and require repairs and as much as I loath to admit, the only ones on this entire bacteria covered, disease-ridden planet who have the knowledge and equipment to do so, are the thrice damned Autobots!"
Sam brows furrowed. "But, I thought Decepticons would rather scrap themselves than go to their enemy for help?"
Another snort of revulsion. "Unlike my fellow soldiers, I still have my logic circuit firmly in place. This is no longer about the war or who won it, but rather my basic need for survival. I would like to live for a few more revolutions, thank you very much."
Sam stared at the radio console in complete and utter amazement; this was one thing he never in a million years would have thought could happen. That a 'Con would go to him and ask him to be some sort of liaison for peace talks. Then again, he never would have imagined ever meeting alien life forms either let alone be friends with them.
He mulled over the announcement, weighing the pros and cons of what the damaged vehicle was suggesting, and trying to determine what the Autobots’ reaction would be to Barricade's request.
"And what would the Autobots get in return?" he asked slowly wondering just what the 'Con was offering.
"Assuming that they don't immediately throw me into the Brig and allow me to rust you mean?" Another rush of hot air blew across Sam. "I will completely remove myself from any future fighting. If any Decepticons are actually stupid enough to follow Starscream and attack this planet, I will offer no aid to my former comrades."
"You mean you'll actually fight alongside the Autobots?" Sam gasped in disbelief.
The laughter was back. "Don't be so obtuse boy! Why would I want to help those glorified toasters?"
Sam blinked in confused surprise. "Toasters?"
The 'Con was silent momentarily. "It was the first thing I came across on the web," Barricade finally admitted without a single note of sheepishness, though Sam knew better.
The tense silence descended again as Sam weighed his options. It really couldn't hurt to simply pass Barricade's request along, could it?
"All right," he finally agreed. "I'll tell Optimus when I see him."
The mustang slumped on his tires once more. "Don't think I'm going to thank you or anything," he grumbled as the passenger door once more swung open.
Sam actually smiled as he grabbed his bag from the back. "I wouldn't dream of it."
"-WARNING: STASIS LOCK REQUIRED IMMEDIATELY.-" the mechanical voice echoed in the parking bay.
Sam looked down at the hood, a multitude of questions nagging at him but knowing that the 'Con's patience had worn thin he settled on just one. "Just how did you get so damaged anyway? I don't remember you being in such bad shape after your fight with 'Bee."
Barricade sighed as he read the small countdown in the corner of his status screen, forgoing any more overrides lest he permanently damage his circuits. "Let's just say Starscream wasn't happy with my insubordination."
Sam's lips pursed in anger at the obvious cruelty of the jet. "Will you still be here or is there some way we could contact you again?"
"Ladiesman217," Barricade said in a rather imposing tone. "Just where am I supposed to go?"
And with that, the headlights winked off and all other lights shutdown as the mustang finally succumbed to his damage.
"Nowhere, I guess," Sam muttered to the empty parking lot and the offline Decepticon.
Hefting his bag, he headed down the ramp and back onto the street, wondering if he had enough money for a cab ride to the middle of the desert and his Autobot friends.