Chapter 1: Chapter One
Dana wasn’t sure what had happened. She bet nobody involved or who investigated after the fact would ever know, or at least come to a remotely accurate conclusion. What Dana did know was that Voldemort had thrown what seemed to be a random spell or charm he’d gotten out of a spellbook or had heard vague rumors of at the same time that she’d attempted a spell that Hermione was inventing. Priori Incantatem almost formed, but either the nature of the spells, the instability of the spellwork, or the side effects of messing up a spell interfered.
Various factors mixed, and Dana was caught in an explosion. She was engulfed in an explosion of blue, green, purple and yellow light that gave off a deafening roar. At the same time magic combined with some kind of energy or force interacted with her. It changed her on a level she knew instinctually went beyond atomic- it seemed to reach soul deep. Dana didn’t mind dying, but this seemed to be something else and she was terrified despite herself. Then before she could fall into a panic she heard a voice.
“Be calm little one, I promise no harm will come to you. I am Primus, and I’m here to help.” they rumbled, “I have seen your struggles and your plight. You are changing, becoming one of my children. This is being done to save you. However, you have a choice.”
“What kind of choice?” Dana asked.
“Free will is both a gift and a burden, and combined with the machinations of followers of my brother set into play eons ago the planet my physical form became slowly fell further and further into corruption until war and ruin was wrought.” Primus explained, “Your choice is this. You can enter the dimension I feel best suits you fully grown, and likely end up either helping the Autobots end the Decepticons’ path of destruction and heal the hurts the war has wrought or remain neutral and struggle to play peace maker when able. Neither would be required of you but I have seen the depth of your compassion and I suspect in such a scenario those would be your most likely fates. Or your second option- you can have your memories suppressed and become a sparkling, the Cybertronian term for their young and have no role in the war save perhaps as a starting point for the warring factions to learn to truly coexist.”
Dana considered the two options but in the end her answer was a no-brainer. “I’ll go with the second option. If I’m getting a second chance I might as well go all the way with it.”
Unseen by the girl before them Primus smiled. “Very well. I wish you the best of luck, Dana.”
Dana felt odd, as if everything was shifting and shedding. Then there was more light, and it was like she was falling asleep surrounded by enough pillows and blankets to muffle her senses. True to Primus’ words and her choice, when Dana would next wake she only had the awareness of an infant and her memories of her life as a human were buried deep in her subconscious, able to influence her emotions and reactions but otherwise having little influence beyond shaping who she was as a person.
In the dimension Primus chose for Dana’s new life, a young Cybertronian mech with yellow and black armor named Bumblebee was scouting for energon in an isolated forested area deep in the mountains. Then suddenly, some sort of interference messed with the readings on the scanner he was carrying. Upon looking around for any sign of a possible cause, a lightshow caught his attention. It was like spotting a space bridge or a ground bridge from a distance, only more colorful. Frowning, Bumblebee readied one of his blasters and carefully made his way to investigate.
Quicker than expected, Bumblebee reached the sight of the oddity. At first there seemed to be nothing. But then he heard a whimper, and a chirpy sound of distress that seemed oddly familiar. Bumblebee looked down… and if he’d had a mouth in the sense that humans and the rest of the team did, it would have dropped open in shock. Lying on the ground unattended was a sight he hadn’t seen since he was a youngling- a sparkling. It was a miracle- sparklings had become so rare because of the war he’d been under the impression the last ones to be born were all around his age. Bumblebee was quick to hurry to their side and check them over. The sparkling was a femme only just bigger than his forearm, her sparkling grade armor black with green accents. And amazingly enough she didn’t seem hurt; her distress only seemed to be from fright or having been startled.
Scooping the sparkling up gently Bumblebee cradled her the way he’d seen humans hold their infants. Though his memory was fuzzy with how long it had been and how young he’d been at the time he was reasonably sure it worked the same way for Cybertronians. She didn’t get more upset, so the young mech counted that as a win. Hoping to calm her Bumblebee beeped at her soothingly and nuzzled her. To his delight it worked, prompting a chirp of delight that made the sparkling giggle. Energon scouting forgotten he commed Ratchet for a ground bridge.
“Ratchet, I need a ground bridge. I found something.” Bumblebee said.
“What did you find?” Ratchet asked.
“You’ll need to see it to believe it, Ratchet. I almost don’t believe it.” Bumblebee replied.
Bumblebee could hear the medic huff in exasperation. “Fine. Opening the ground bridge now.”
The swirling blue, green and purple portal was open within moments. The sight made the sparkling coo in wonder. Moments after the pair were safely inside the base and the ground bridge closed behind them Ratchet was practically marching towards Bumblebee.
“What did you find, Bumblebee?” Ratchet asked, only to stop short and stare in shock and awe; “By the Allspark! Where-? How- I’d begun to think…”
“I don’t really know, but there was something like a space bridge or a ground bridge. It was so intense it messed with the scanner. She’s all I found” Bumblebee explained.
Ratchet frowned sadly, a form of pity few bots had had directed at them openly clear in the older mech’s optics. “I see. If I may?”
Bumblebee obligingly handed the sparkling to Ratchet; she cooed, clearly curious about the new face and the medic’s expression melted into one so gentle the younger mech hadn’t thought he was capable of making such a face anymore. “Hello, little one. Welcome to the world.”
Ratchet decided that the first order of business giving the little femme a full checkup. At first the medic kept Bumblebee around to keep her distracted and ensure she didn’t fall off the examination platform. But it was surprisingly simple to get the sparkling to stay mostly still- though that may have been partly because she was barely old enough to move that much on her own- and though she fussed, she gave Ratchet little trouble. By the time he was done and returning to the command center with the sparkling cradled in his arms the others had returned.
“Where is Ratchet, Bumblebee?” Optimus asked.
“I’m right here, Optimus. You’re not going to believe what Bumblebee found today. Or rather, who he found.” Ratchet interrupted, approaching the others.
Optimus turned to face his long time friend. “‘Who’? Has another comrade- Ratchet… is that what I think it is?”
The others’ eyes were immediately drawn to the sparkling.
“Well this is a surprise.” Arcee noted.
“Well I’ll be… a sparkling. A little miracle like this must be a good sign.” Cliffjumper said in awe, moving closer for a better look.
Bulkhead also moved closer, unsure of himself but just as awed as Cliffjumper.
“Where’d this little cutie come from? Bots trying to leave the war behind to start a family isn’t completely unheard of but the last time I heard of that working out was back when everyone thought Cybertron could still be saved.” Bulkhead asked.
Bumblebee and Ratchet exchanged a glance before the former spoke up. “I found her while I was scouting for energon. One minute my scanner isn’t working right the next I found her where something like a space bridge or a ground bridge appeared.”
Optimus leaned in for a better look, smiling briefly at the sight of the adorable little femme. He gently took her from Ratchet, careful to keep her supported. Now that she was closer she reached up to feel his face, cooing. His spark melted, and for the first time in a long time he felt the weight of the war and his burden as a leader momentarily melt away. And then the turn his thoughts were taking turned his expression and his mood somber.
“It would stand to reason that something happened to her creators and they either attempted to flee when something went wrong or were forced to send her away for her own safety.” Optimus mused.
Ratchet inhaled sharply and let out a sigh. “That… makes more sense than you know. But I am unsure of how likely that is.”
“What do you mean Ratchet? Is something wrong with her?” Bulkhead asked worriedly.
Ratchet shook his head. “Physically, she isn’t injured or ill, the only anomalies come from sporadic nourishment. However… scans show she may have a strange form of immunity to toxins that typically only comes from exposure or lingering traces of antitoxins and I had to upload an entirely new firewall of a strength sparklings shouldn’t need.”
Bumblebee gave a wordless beep of distress. Optimus and Arcee frowned. Bulkhead and Cliffjumper growled.
“A… firewall? Does she have mental damage?” Arcee asked incredulously.
“Luckily enough, no.” Ratchet assured, “No… it’s only that the ones she already had were so shredded as to be virtually nonexistent. It was almost worse than the damage I encountered when the cortical psychic patch was still being developed.”
“Are there any clues at all as to how such a young sparkling could have been through so much?” Optimus asked.
Ratchet hesitated for a moment, the sudden appearance of a sparkling was such a rarity as to be cause for celebration yet he had one last piece of bad news, his spark clenched painfully at how something that should’ve been happy was tinged with tragedy.
“Not exactly… but there is one last thing.” Ratchet admitted, “She doesn’t have a parental bond. And I don’t mean it has been damaged or severed- she never had one in the first place. Even if we had the technology and resources to look she doesn’t have anywhere or anyone to be returned to.”
“Well we have to do something about her.” Arcee said, “This is an outpost not a daycare center and we barely have the resources to take care of ourselves.”
“Come on Arcee, have a heart. We can’t just send her away and hope for the best, there’s no telling what would happen to her. Besides even Megatron himself wouldn’t hurt a sparkling or condone others hurting one, especially with how rare they’ve become.” Cliffjumper retorted, “Besides a good chunk of the Decepticons are seekers, and everyone knows that seekers’ guardian protocols are so strong that it’s practically programmed into their very sparks to protect sparklings.”
Arcee sighed. “Look, all I’m saying is we’re in the middle of a war and on a organic foreign planet. And all of us are constantly busy. What kind of life could we give her?”
Optimus and Ratchet gave me the best life possible stuck orphaned in the middle of a war.” Bumblebee protested, “I’m sure we could make her happy.”
Bulkhead hadn’t once looked away from the sparkling and barely took notice of the conversation around him, and when the sparkling looked away from Optimus their optics met. “I’ll take care of her.”
“You mean like adoption?” Arcee asked.
“Sure, why not. The little one needs somebody, and I’m more than willing to give it my best shot.” Bulkhead answered.
Ratchet looked at Bulkhead consideringly. “Are you certain, Bulkhead? Sparklings are a handful at the best of times.”
By this point Optimus had handled the sparkling to Bulkhead, who cradled her in one and stroked a finger along her cheek with the other, when she grasped his finger in both hands and grinned at him Bulkhead smiled. “I honestly don’t think I’ve been more sure of anything in my entire life.”
Cliffjumper slapped Bulkhead on the back. “Congratulations, Bulk. Looks like you’re a sire now. Any idea what you’re going to name her?”
Seeing the sparkling yawn Bulkhead situated his free arm so he could rock her to sleep. “Stormburst. Her name is Stormburst.”
Chapter 2: Chapter Two
Time passed as peacefully and happy as was possible beings in Team Prime’s situation. Stormburst had a surprisingly large role in this. Even Arcee admitted that despite all concerns, the team was better off for having the adorable little one in their lives. Surprisingly, a few Earth years passed without Fowler finding out about her. (During which one battle ended on such a note that Megatron left Earth in a fit of rage. Arcee, Cliffjumper and Bulkhead took it as a good sign or at least a chance for a break, but Ratchet and Optimus didn’t doubt for a moment that he’d return. If Bumblebee had an opinion one way or the other, he didn’t voice it.) While initially angry that not one of the bots had deemed the presence of a sparkling- or baby, in human terms- Fowler had been surprisingly understanding and sympathetic. Eventually, all too quickly for the older bots of the team, Stormburst reached the age where she was starting to learn to walk and talk.
One day, Cliffjumper was taking Stormburst for a drive to give Ratchet a break from playing primary babysitter when he got a signal unexpectedly. To pass the time he was talking to Arcee over the comlink, reciting a story of one of the times he pulled a fast one on some human cops.
“-that’s when I kick of my shiny new shoe and bang!” Cliffjumper said.
=New York’s finest soil themselves.= Arcee guesses dryly.
“You know me Arcee.” Cliffjumper boasted. “You mess with Cliffjumper-”
=And you get the horns.= Arcee finished, knowing Cliffjumper’s catchphrase by heart after hearing it so often over the years; then when Cliffjumper broke into laughter she continued. =Not sure how that complies with Autobot rule number one- keep a low profile.=
“What can I say? Patrolling for energon out here in Energon gets lonesome when I don’t have my favorite traveling buddy around. Almost makes me miss the Decepticons if not for ole’ Storm here.”
=Like Jasper, Nevada’s a party? We’re alone wherever we travel on this rock Cliff. And aren’t you supposed to be a good influence when you’re in charge of her?=
Just then one of Cliffjumper’s monitors beeped. “I’m getting a signal.”
“Do I ever need backup?” Cliffjumper slowed to a stop at the top of an enclosed ravine that held a rather sizeable deposit for an area so close to where humans dwelt. “I just found a whole lot of energon.”
=Remember to be careful.=
“Come on, Arcee. I’d never put Storm at risk.” Just then Cliffjumper spotted the Nemesis, the Decepticons’ warship. “Decepticons. Arcee forget backup- I need a ground bridge to get Stormburst out of here pronto!”
Cliffjumper transformed just in time to avoid a shot from the Nemesis hitting Stormburst.
“Arcee, about that backup…” Without awaiting a response Cliffjumper addressed the Vehicons and Eradicons as he transformed his hand on the arm not cradling Stormburst into a blaster. “Fair warning- hurt my precious cargo and you’ll have more than dents to worry about.”
Without a commander to keep them on task the grunt class Decepticons were so taken aback they faltered long enough for Cliffjumper’s backup to arrive. Faced with an entire team of Autobots who were each skilled and well armed enough to take out at least three to five of them on their own and a lack of a directly present officer to order otherwise, the Decepticons retreated.
“An untapped energon deposit.” Optimus noted.
“Guess Cliffjumper interrupted the operation before they could begin excavation.” Bulkhead noted, taking a happily babbling Stormburst from said mech.
“First Decepticon activity in three years.” Ratchet pointed.
“That we know of.” Optimus countered, disengaging his battle mask. “If they’re scouting for energon they may be preparing for his return.”
Arcee made her way into the ravine to examine the energon deposit. Bumblebee made to follow, but paused long enough to ask a question.
-Why didn’t the Vehicons attack you? They could’ve easily taken you by surprise or blown up the deposit to even the odds.-
Cliffjumper frowned, puzzled and worried. “I don’t know. One minute I’m threatening them to leave Storm alone, the next… wait a minute!”
“They saw her?!” Ratchet exclaimed in alarm.
“Was kinda hard to keep out of sight, Doc.” Cliffjumper defended. “Actually I think the only reason you had time to arrive on time is how shocked they were at the sight of her.”
Bulkhead growled at the implication and clutched Stormburst even closer to him. Nobody blamed him. Seeker programming may be at least partially founded in truth, but not all Decepticons were seekers and there was no knowing what would be done to Stormburst if they got their hands on her. Oblivious to what the serious talk meant- and more specifically, the potential implications for her Stormburst gave a concerned chirp and patted her father’s face consolingly.
Bulkhead took a deep breath. “Thanks, Storm. I’m okay, promise.”
“We will have to cross that bridge when we come to it. For now what matters is Stormburst is safe and assuring she continues to be safe.” Optimus cut in. “Ratchet, can you track their ship?”
“I’m afraid not. They’ve brought their cloaking technology back online.” Ratchet replied, double checking the readout on the monitor on his arm.
When they were back at the base, Optimus addressed the others. “We must not let the close call cloud our judgement. As of today, the Decepticons now know of Stormburt’s presence. From now on, we must be more vigilant than ever to ensure she is safe when away from the base. We owe it to not just her, but ourselves as well and the memory of Cybertron. And to ensure that mankind doesn’t endure a similar to our people.”
Arcee had been in a dark mood ever since it sunk in she might’ve lost Cliffjumper if Stormburst hadn’t been there to influence his decisions. “You alright there, Arcee?”
“If you don’t mind I’d like to get back to ensuring Stormburst and mankind’s safety.”
With that she transformed and drove off back to Jasper.
Cliffjumper sighed. “Every time you think she’s making progress her tough front rises with a vengeance.”
“Healing takes time, Cliffjumper. Your friendship and Stormburst’s presence is helping her. These things simply require more time for some than for others.”
Ratchet was in the middle of giving Cliffjumper and Stormburt a checkup to ensure neither had been injured in their brief encounter with the Vehicons when a couple of Decepticon symbols appeared close to where Arcee was patrolling. Instead of successfully avoiding them or leading them to an area safe to engage them away from prying eyes they got a call for backup before someone could offer or Optimus could decide to give the order for someone to back her up.
Cliffjumper started to stand up. “Well then let’s-”
Ratchet put his hands on Cliffjumper’s shoulders and pushed him back into a sitting position. “Bah ah ah! You’ve got processor damage if you think you’re going anywhere before I’ve cleared you as still fit for duty. Especially on the same day you and Stormburst could’ve been captured- or worse. Have you ever seen what feeling a spark bond break or what losing the bot responsible for starting the healing process from trauma on Arcee’s level can do to a bot’s psyche?”
Cliffjumper flinched, but didn’t fuss. “I know better than to defy you, Doc. But you know I’d never put Storm in danger on purpose, right? If I’d had even an inkling I’d stumbled across an active Decepticon mine I’d have dropped her off before checking things out.”
“That’s no excuse for almost-”
Optimus put a hand on Ratchet’s shoulder and he calmed instantly. “That’s enough, Ratchet. You’ve made your point clear. None of us could’ve predicted encountering the Decepticons so abruptly after they’d been under the radar so long.”
Ratchet huffed, his anger abated. Cliffjumper hid a smile at the medic’s soft spot for their leader. By the time Ratchet was satisfied both Autobot and sparkling alike had left the encounter completely unharmed the others were calling for a ground bridge back.
“-and the Cons would’ve been scrap metal if I hadn’t been distracted by the human.” Arcee claimed as she gave her report.
Though he didn’t show it, Optimus was vaguely alarmed. “Human?”
-Two, both boys.- Bumblebee elaborated.
“I guess a second one caught us in action? I don’t know! Was a little busy at the time.” Arcee seemed defensive, even indignant even though there was little she could’ve done to keep both of them out of the danger.
“If the Decepticons are targeting us anyone perceived as our ally will be grave risk.” Optimus pointed out, giving voice to his biggest concern.
The break of their cover was one thing. Already targeted before coming across the older human, there was little Arcee could possibly have done to keep him out of the conflict completely once he’d taken notice of her alt mode. But being actively noticed and fired upon by the Decepticons meant both human children were part of the conflict now. Unwilling to leave their safety to the slight chance the Decepticons wouldn’t assume the pair were actively involved with the Autobots, he gave Arcee and Bumblebee the order to retrieve them after school after they’d used the humans’ internet to figure out their identities.
When they arrived on base with the pair in tow, Arcee had not just Jack, the older human boy but a girl as well. All three humans seemed in awe. Bulkhead, Cliffjumper, Optimus and sometimes Arcee and Ratchet could relate- Earth was very beautiful and serene, as inhabited organic planet went.
Ratchet was the first to question the unexpected addition. “I thought there were two.”
“Haven’t you heard? Humans multiply.” Arcee replied dryly.
The younger boy and the girl were quick to introduce themselves.
Miko rushed right up to Bulkhead, apparently impressed by the biggest bot in the room. “I’m Miko. Who are you?”
Bulkhead was taken aback by how bold Miko was, but decided to run with it. “Bulkhead.”
“Are you a car? I bet you turn into a truck- a monster truck! Do you like heavy metal? How much do you weigh? Ever use a wrecking ball for a punching bag?”
“So if you guys are robots, who made you?” Raf asked, making it clear Bumblebee and Arcee hadn’t explained much if anything.
“Ufh. Puh-lease.” Ratchet scoffed.
Just then Optimus entered the room from the tunnel behind the children. “We are autonomous robotic organisms from the planet Cybertron. Also known as Autobots.”
Why are you here?” Jack asked.
“To protect your planet from the Decepticons.”
“The jokers who tried to bump us off last night.” Arcee elaborated.
“Okay. Why are they here?”
Optimus knelt so he was closer to their eye level. “A fair question Jack. In part they are here because our planet is uninhabitable, ravaged by centuries of civil war.”
In response to Raf’s question about the war itself, Optimus explained the cause of the war and his former connection to Megatron, the leader of the Decepticons. He was just clearing up Jack’s confusion about what any of it had to do with the trio of young humans when a black and green blur crashed into Optimus’ leg.
“Oppy! Up.” Stormburst requested.
As if a switch had been flipped Optimus’ expression softened. “Hello, Stormburst. I thought you were in recharge.”
Stormburst simply put up her arms in the universal gesture signifying a child wanted to be held. “Up p’ease.”
Smiling fondly the large mech complied, for Optimus had always been soft at spark with a not-quite weakness for young ones of any species and romance. “Of course little one.”
Stormburst giggled and cuddled closer to the mech everyone knew was her favorite uncle, despite Cliffjumper’s claims and attempts.
Bulkhead walked up to the pair. “Storm, is everything okay? I thought you were taking a nap.”
“Papa!” Stormburst squealed, removing her arms from around Optimus’ neck to reach out to her father. “Stormy good, pwomise.”
Bulkhead simply shook his head and chuckled as he took Stormburst from Optimus and nuzzled her head when she tried to reach his head to kiss his cheek. “What am I gonna do with you, huh?”
“Awe, is that your daughter? Raf asked.
Jack’s jaw was slack in shock, he seemed to be having trouble processing the concept of a baby version of the metallic titans whose war he had stumbled into. “You guys… have kids?”
Miko’s reaction was the total opposite of Jack’s, she rushed up to Bulkhead to get a better look. The gentle giant obligingly knelt on one knee so she could actually see Stormburst’s face. He couldn’t help but smile at the awe on Miko’s face. Normally, not that anyone present was close enough to her to be aware, she was pretty apathetic in regards to children. But when her eyes met Stormburst’s it was as if something clicked.
“She’s adorable!” she breathed in awe. “What’s her name? How old is she? What can she turn into? I bet she’s a hover board or a moped. Where’s her mom?”
Stormburst seemed equally in awe of Miko. “Pwetty! Pwetty hummin want p’ay?”
“Transform, humph. As if. It will be some time before her kibble has developed enough to allow her to transform into anything capable of proper movement, let along something properly identifiable.”
“Develop? So she really is a baby?”
“Indeed, Rafael. Sparklings are much like human young in many respects.”
“Uh, as interesting as this lesson on robot biology is, the more pressing question is- what does any of this have to do with why we’re here?” Jack cut in.
“Since you now know of our existence, I fear the Decepticons now know of yours.” Optimus answered.
“Got it. Spot any strange vehicles call 911. Can we go now?”
“Are you insane?! I’m living a dream here in Botswana. And I won’t let you or anyone else shatter it.”
“It’s best if you three remain under our watch, at least until we can determine our enemies’ intentions.”
Ratchet, noticing an easily overlooked issue, disagreed. “Optimus, with all due respect the human children are in as much danger here as anywhere.”
“Children?!” Jack protested.
“They’re much smaller than even Storm and have no protective shell. If they get underfoot, they’ll go squish.” Ratchet continued, ignoring Jack’s interruption.
“Then for the time being Ratchet, we must watch where we step.” Optimus said, knowing Ratchet had a point but having no better options. (And that though the medic wasn’t very fond of humans, he would likely warm up to them. He’d protested Cliffjumper’s presence once, too.)
“Then for the time being Ratchet, we must watch where we step. We acclimated to Stormburst’s presence easily enough, I’m sure we will get along with the humans just fine.”
Then the proximity sensor sounded. Jack was startled because it sounded like an alarm, but Bee explained what it actually was and Raf translated the explanation. Ratchet was quick to check the security footage and as expected it wasn’t a cause for alarm, just Agent Fowler.
“Fow’r?” Stormburst asked, having never heard the proximity sensor sound without Fowler’s presence accompanying it.
“Does she want flowers?” Miko guessed.
“No, she’s correctly guessing that it’s Agent Fowler.” Ratchet elaborated, translating Stormburst’s sometimes not quite decipherable baby talk.
“I thought we were the only humans that knew about you guys.” Jack said.
Cliffjumper looked at him incredulously; he’d seen enough human television and movies to know few places that looked like this weren’t military bases. “Seriously? How-”
“Not the time Cliff.” Arcee interrupted.
Ignoring the aside, Optimus explained Fowler’s role as liaison without explaining the inaccuracy of Jack’s assumption. He then encouraged the three humans to hide. Since Fowler rarely came in person for reasons besides trouble and scolding the bots for their occasional trouble keeping a low profile he figured the man should be introduced to the human children and brought in on their predicament later. Just as they got out of side Fowler exited the elevator complaining about the mess on the freeway that resulted from the Vehicons’ attempt to kill Arcee.
“We have the situation under control Agent Fowler.” Optimus assured.
“They’re back, aren’t they?” Fowler guessed.
“If you are referring to the Decepticons, I have doubts they ever left. Your planet is much too valuable.”
“Then it’s time to wake up the Pentagon.”
“Hear me Agent Fowler. We are your best, possibly your only defense against the Decepticon threat.”
“Hey Fleshie.” Bulkhead intervened, moving to hold Stormburst with one arm, “Did anyone get splattered on that highway? Team Prime knows when to use force and how much to use.”
To demonstrate his point he ripped off part of a machine and squeezed it.
“Bulkhead I needed that!” Ratchet yelled.
“Enough! Military involvement will only result in catastrophe. Perhaps you can condone widespread human casualties Agent Fowler, I however cannot.”
“Then do the both of us a favor and handle this, Prime. Under the radar. Or I will.”
With that Fowler left.
“Got a lot of guts and nerve, for a human.” Bulkhead noted.
“Agent Fowler is concerned for his world Bulkhead, as he should be.” Optimus pointed out, attempting to sooth the big mech’s temper.
Miko and Raf are teaching Stormburst human games for little ones such as ‘peek-a-boo’ and ‘patty cake’ when a beeping noise emits from the console Ratchet is checking. It’s the signal of an Autobot rumored to have been captured or killed some time before Team Prime first came to Earth.
“Is that possible?” Optimus asked.
“It isn’t- or shouldn’t be if the rumors are true. Must be another bug.” Ratchet replied. “The system’s chalk full of them.”
“If there’s any chance they’re actually alive…” Arcee trailed off.
It was hard to remember there was an entire army’s worth scattered amongst the stars when the extreme isolation made it feel like the six of them -seven including Stormburst- were the only non Decepticon bots left. And while vehicons and eradicons weren’t really a match for any of them they were in desperate need of help. Especially if things were picking up again.
And Optimus was never one to leave a bot behind. “Ratchet, prepare sickbay. We may need it.”
“Hey! What can we do?” Miko asked.
Optimus considered her for a moment, but there was never a doubt for him- he could never risk endangering someone so young. “Stay with Ratchet.”
Miko and Ratchet both groaned.
With no more instructions or preparation necessary, the five bots were off.
“Bye bye!” Stormburst waved.
The three humans were in awe at the ground bridge. Ratchet, however, forgetting humanity’s level of technology and isolation from other sentient lifeforms was frustrated at having to explain something he saw as obvious. Plus it just rubbed in the fact that they lacked the space bridge tech or space ship they would require to leave Earth.
“-since we don’t currently possess the means or energon required for intergalactic travel…”
“-You’re stuck here. On Earth.” Jack realized, feeling some sympathy for the Autobots’ plight.
“With the likes of you, yes. I constructed the ground bridge to enable travel from here to anywhere on your planet.” Ratchet distractedly scooped up Stormburst, who was making a break for the ground bridge for the tenth time that week alone. “Now now, missy. You know you’re not allowed on missions.”
“But Ratche’, p’etty!”
“Whoa. Does it work for humans?” Raf asked in awe.
“You mean I could just shoot on over and visit my parents in Tokyo?”
“Within moments. In fact let me send you there immediately all three of you.” Ratchet offered, leaving closer to their eye level and smirking.
“Watch it Ratchet.”
Ratchet worked on as Jack and Miko explored the command center and Raf played with Stormburst. Or, he attempted to. Working the systems they needed on Primitive tech was difficult enough, but on equipment that was outdated even by the standards of the primitive species in question… Making modifications and repairs was difficult when Fowler wouldn’t give the Autobots the resources Ratchet needed to actually keep the base running to acceptable standards.
“How come you guys are using human computers?” Raf asked, knowing by the format of the popup and the general look of the consoles that despite how high tech the screens made the setup look it was still probably far below the standards of and advanced alien species.
“It certainly wasn’t by choice. It was left by the previous tenants when we inherited this former missile silo. I make modifications as I see fit.” Ratchet typed a prompt to try to get the systems running again and groaned when the popup error message merely multiplied.
“I think I can fix that.” Raf offered, grabbing his laptop.
“Really? You know this is complex technology don’t you? I mean it isn’t a child’s toy.” Ratchet laughed, back on Cybertron bots who learned about programming were barely getting started around their equivalent of Miko and Jack’s age- how did a human child thing he could do something even Ratchet was having difficulty with?
Raf didn’t respond, just continued typing. “Now try it.”
The popups changed and cleared away without Ratchet having to do anything, displaying the readouts they had been blocking. Ratchet looked at Raf in amazement. Perhaps Raf wasn’t so incompetent after all. He went back to work, only pausing when he noticed Miko trying to close out of something important on the computer on the platform the three humans were on.
“I said not to touch anything!” Ratchet practically shouted.
“Geez, I was only trying to see if this thing had any games.”
“Ratche’, p’ay ni’?” Stormburst asked, copying what Bulkhead did when she was being rough naughty when playing with Bumblebee or Cliffjumper.
Ratchet scoffed and booped where her nose would be if Cybertronians had them. “Oh you’ll know it if I’m being mean, Storm.”
Shortly later the rest of Team Prime ground bridged back, barely escaping an explosion. Impressed, Miko immediately asked a bunch of questions. Which irked Arcee, who started to scold her before Jack jumped in to try and distract Miko. On the bots’ side of things, Cliffjumper put a lightly restraining hand on Arcee’s shoulders.
“She doesn’t mean any harm, Arcee. This is probably more excitement than she’s seen in the rest of her life put together.”
“Arcee, what did you see?” Optimus asked.
“Not who we were looking for- at least, not anymore. They were mutated, butchered- like something out of those ‘Con experiments during the war-” Arcee swayed, and nearly fell.
She tried to wave off Bumblebee’s concern and protested she could stand on her own when Cliffjumper didn’t accept her attempt to wave off whatever was wrong and helped her stand. Overlooking the scene, the humans were surprised by the proof that the Cybertronians were sentient living things despite being robotic. Stormburst tried to check on Arcee, but Bulkhead scooped her up before she could get in the way of Ratchet’s scan.
“She’ll be okay, Storm. Promise.”
“What is this?” Ratchet asked, finding a smoking purple substance as the source.
“Don’t know. They were covered in it- leaking it.”
Ratchet scraped some off as a sample and ordered Arcee into a decontamination bath. Bumblebee helped her along, since she could hardly stand let alone walk.
In the meantime, the humans had finally noticed that it was passed curfew. Jack inquired about the lack of a signal, prompting Optimus’ revelation of the security measure designed to prevent calls and texting. When Jack and Raf revealed that they’d be in trouble for breaking curfew, Optimus remembered he hadn’t considered Earth customs and quickly thought of how to best protect them without raising concern or limiting their freedom.
“Still, the question of your safety remains. Bulkhead, accompany Miko home. And maintain covert surveillance in vehicle mode.”
Miko promptly showed excitement, but it was squashed by the idea of essentially having a babysitter.
“Curbside duty. Got it.”
“Bumblebee, you’ll watch over Raf.” Neither spoke, but both seemed pleased. “Ratchet-”
“Arcee, you’ll accompany Jack.”
“Ugh, still dizzy.” Arcee faked, trying to get out of it. (Jack simply seemed unsure.)
“You’re fine, says your physician.” Ratchet waved off.
“Well, what about Cliff?”
“Awe, come on Arcee, lighten up. I think this’ll be good for ya.”
“I agree with Cliffjumper, Arcee. There is much you could learn from the experience. My decision is final.”
Shortly after everyone was on their way.
“Come on Storm, wanna go for a ride?” Bulkhead prompted once he was transformed, back door open invitingly for his daughter.
At first all was silent- which Miko did not like or approve of. “So… where’s Stormburst’s mom? Or Dad, or whatever.”
Bulkhead chuckled. “… Stormburst doesn’t have a second parent. We never found out what happened to her creators, but Bumblebee found her alone when she wasn’t even a couple orns old. We didn’t have the tech required to get her somewhere safer and abandoning her was out of the question, so I adopted her. She’s been the best thing on base ever since.”
“…Oh. Well, she seems pretty luck then.” And Miko proceeded to ask a dozen more questions, some about Stormburst and some about Bulkhead.