A two-part follow-up to Trifling.
For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.
Of the Species
‘Does the weatherman even know what ‘clear skies and sunshine’ means?’ Bumblebee wonders as he stares out a window of the Ark. ‘It’s like he doesn’t want to be right. Whatever he says, I swear, the opposite happens.’
For the fifth day in a row, grey skies loom over the Ark with non-stop rain showers. For four of these days the local weather forecaster had promised an end to the storm. And for those four days he had been completely wrong. Not that Bumblebee hates rain—it’s a natural car wash minus the mud—but he has grown accustomed to the sunshine. Not to mention, sunny weather was easier to drive in. ‘The changes in weather this planet has are cool but that requires the weather to change to appreciate it…’
The most change he has seen the last few days was that sometimes the rain was accompanied by thunder and lightning storms, something the transformers did not have back on Cybertron. These of course would end up sending poor Prowl off with his blaster, believing they were under attack. It did not help that the overcast and rain left the area so dark, even in the middle of the day. Needless to say, there has been no shortage of commotion for the Ark’s inhabitants—nor shortage of cleanup jobs for Rack’n’Ruin, much to their dismay.
These storms have been far from the only new experience for the autobots. Earth has proven itself time and again to be quite different from Cybertron and Bumblebee is living for it. He’s always looking for something new, something fun, and the planet usually delivered. Rain, for one, is different here. He’s learned and observed how it contributes to the growth and survival of both the flora and fauna of this world, opposed to the rain on Cybertron which did anything but. The scout makes a face as he remembers the acid rain of his home planet. Not that there aren’t instances of acid rain on earth but it’s laughable compared to the acid rain of Cybertron.
‘One thing is for sure,’ he thinks. ‘The rainmakers have been on Earth probably as long as I have been out of stasis. And yet they haven’t been using that annoying tactic.’
Of course, there was one conversation he eavesdropped on once when scouting on Cybertron. It was between Acid Storm and Nova Storm and both had revealed their dislike of their orders as a rainmaker. Acid Storm disliked it as much as they disliked staying in one form—mech or femme—for too long. The general tone of the conversation as Bumblebee remembers it was the use of acid rain is efficient but at what cost?
‘Maybe the question is less why aren’t the rainmakers making storms but why aren’t they being given orders to do so? Slipstream is tough on them but maybe she listens to them more than Starscream? Will things change now that Starscream is here on earth?’
Sure, their home planet is one thing but not creating storms on earth? ‘Maybe they like earth a little, too?’ Bumblebee guesses. It’s a relief, if strange, to think about any decepticon liking earth in any capacity. There is one decepticon who certainly hated the planet and that was before the incident in the volcano… That thought brings Bumblebee back to his original mopiness.
‘Doesn’t help that this miserable weather makes me think of Shad—‘
Bumblebee’s thoughts are interrupted by a tug on his door which yanks him backwards and off balance into a headlock. He yelps in a manner that is just as undignified as the position he’s put into. The metal fist that noogies him between his horns belongs to Bumblebee’s usual partner-in-crime and fellow adolescent, Hot Rod. The yellow bot’s struggling and complaints are only met with chuckling at first. “Uncle!” Bee complains through his radio. He’s not entirely sure what it means but he’s seen that work in human cartoons.
There’s a chuckle of, “What?” But Hot Rod lets the smaller mech go, snickering at his uncharacteristically disgruntled expression. “Why are you all huffy, huh? Don’t tell me you’re still worrying about Shadowstriker.” When he’s answered by a guilty silence he asks in disbelief, “Are you?”
The scout starts to answer with a sound clip he saved before cutting off his radio. Right…he’s still getting used to talking now that Ratchet fixed his voice box. Again. “She lost half an arm,” comes Bumblebee’s admission.
“Well you aren’t going to find her out there,” Hot Rod says, leaning against the wall and folding his arms to get comfortable. “Not for nothing, she’s come back from way worse.”
“Yeah, I guess…” Despite his doubting tone, the young bot knows Hot Rod is right. Bumblebee knew that better than any of the autobots. ”Doesn’t mean I can’t keep worrying over her.”
“Yeah? And what’s that gonna solve?” Hot Rod challenges knowingly. “The only thing you’re gonna do it wear yourself out over someone who’d rather see you melted into a puddle or as a pile of ash.” He gives one of Bumblebee’s horns a scolding tweak which draws an annoyed noise from the smaller mech.
“Would you stop?” Bumblebee complains.
“So fussy!” Hot Rod teases but he keeps his servos to himself this time.
Bumblebee’s glare softens into a frown, “Sorry. It’s just that she was really hurt. Her arm wasn’t damaged, Hot Rod, it was destroyed. I doubt the decepticons are about to pamper one of their own when she needs it—“
“Pamper?!” Hot Rod interrupts before giving a bark of laughter. “Bee! Even if they would I don’t take Shadowstriker as the type to enjoy pampering. She’d probably beat anyone up that so much as draws her an oil bath!”
Bee grumbles in return, mostly because Hot Rod is right. “Look, what I’m saying is, they don’t care.” It didn’t bode well that she wasn’t present at the battle that shortly followed the incident in the volcano. Then again, Slipstream was missing in action for a portion of that battle as well. ‘Maybe she was licking her own wounds…but I like to think she was there for Shadowstriker. Knowing Shadowstriker, she probably had to be literally held back from battle if the pain didn’t make her pass out again…’ That thought causes the sensitive little scout’s frown to deepen and he turns back to the window to watch the rain.
Then again, she’s been able to handle herself since, well, the moment he met her.
Bumblebee shutters his optics as he looks inward, not needing a cortical psychic patch now to visit his own memories. Much of the damage to his memory chips had been repaired thanks to Ratchet’s work. It was overwhelming at first, the data dump that were his fixed memories flooding back into clarity back when they were first repaired. It certainly had been strange for the poor, young scout to hold intense histories with so many bots while hardly remembering them. Thankfully, he has been adjusting—and remembering—more each day. He’s slowly been going through everything as thoroughly as he could, at times still asking Windblade for her assistance.
Focusing his thoughts on the mean femme, dozens of files come to the forefront of his processor. ‘I guess there’s a lot more to our story than I first thought.’
After browsing through the files he chooses the oldest one he is able to recover. ‘Might as well start from the beginning.’
Darkness had long since covered Kaon, leaving the only sources of light the buzzing neon signs, dulled headlights and the lights lining the streets, of which only about half of them worked. It was down one of these poorly lit streets that Bumblebee walked, on his way home from the largest arena in all of Kaon. Well, not so much walked as he flailed in excitement. He ignored the looks he was getting as he mimicked jumps, poses, and punched the air. He even acted as his own announcer as if any of the bystanders were engaged in his little show and not just judging him. Bumblebee knew he looked like a fool but how could anyone expect him to calm down? He had just witnessed yet another victory from his greatest hero of all time! It was Megatron’s latest gladiatorial match and like always he did not fail to impress. The small yellow mech nearly strained his vocal synthesizer with all his cheering and excited hollering thought that was honestly nothing new. Ratchet would have a field day with him if he ever blew his voice box! Not that it was likely to happen despite all the ambulance’s scolding.
Forget his voice box, Ratchet would freak if he knew where Bumblebee was walking alone at night. Not that he always left the arena unaccompanied but his usual companion had ditched him. ‘For work’ Shockwave claimed. Bumblebee had only shrugged it off. What was he going to do? Force Shockwave to drive home with him? Not that he thinks Shockwave could be forced to do anything…
So there he was, jumping around like he had a screw loose in downtown Kaon without a friend around. It was then that Bumblebee happened to notice a femme with mismatch optics walking on the other side of the street. Not that mismatch optics—or even single optics—was a strange sight in places like Kaon. ‘She might be a fighter,’ Bumblebee wondered. After all, there were few other things to be in Kaon, other than a miner or other thankless, low-caste work. Getting replacement parts in Kaon wasn’t legal but it was cheaper. And cheaper seldom meant a perfect match.
As his thoughts wandered about this stranger, Bumblebee noticed that she turned down an alleyway, the light above which was not working. That in and of itself was not remarkable however shortly after she took the turn, two sketchy looking mechs followed her. ‘They don’t look like they’re just going to ask for directions,’ Bumblebee frowned. Feeling emboldened and empowered from watching Megatron fight, as well as driven by his usual sense of right and wrong, Bumblebee began to follow them as well. He wasn’t usually one to judge a datapad by its display but his instincts almost never let him down. ‘If I’m wrong I’ll just keep walking. If I’m not then she’ll have back-up,’ he reasoned with himself.
As he approached the alley way, sounds of distress and a struggle quickened his pace until he was running. ‘I knew it! Pieces of scrap, picking on a femme all by herself like that!’ Bumblebee rounded the corner only to come to a skidding halt. It was two-on-one alright…and the two should have brought more back-up.
‘Whoa! She’s kicking their afts!’
The attempted jumping of the femme turned into a disaster for the two mechs. For by the time Bee got there, one was already down and the other was in a losing fight. Bee couldn’t help but watch at first as she fought with great skill. As the second mech went down he whistled lowly in amazement…and maybe just a little bit approval? ‘Serves them right!’
That whistle gave the young bot away and no sooner had she dealt with the two thugs did her red optics turn onto Bumblebee. Before he could get out a greeting—or get away for that matter—she was stalking towards him. Gathering that he may be in trouble a few beats too late, Bumblebee turned in an attempt to run. “Oh, scrap!” He said, realizing he might pay for underestimating this femme just as much as those two thugs.
Bumblebee made the mistake of flinching when the femme emitted a wordless holler. The one moment of hesitation cost Bumblebee, feeling her digits seizing his wrist joint, and twisting it. Her yell echoed in the alley and in a single swift moment, she slammed the yellow bot up against the wall of a building. The femme tightened her dangerous hold on him, the sound of his armor creaking only covered by his loud yelping. “Come to help you pathetic little friends?” She hissed. Honestly, he’s even smaller than her and twice as pathetic as those two goons!
Bumblebee stilled at first in an attempt not to further strain his armor. “I wasn’t coming to hurt you—OW!” Bumblebee yelped out. Quickly deciding that staying still wasn’t helping, he tried once more to struggle against her grip. “Primus, why are you so strong?!”
“Tch! As if you could!” The femme mocked. “If you’re so innocent then why were you going to run, huh?”
Bumblebee turned his helm just enough to look at her as if to ask did you just say that?! As he turned, the old metal of the building scrapped at the facial plating of his cheek. That irritated him further and caused his tone to snap with annoyance, “Because you were chasing me!”
There’s a brief pause, during which Bumblebee wondered if she was reviewing her own obliviousness or if she was genuinely that insolent.
With one last rough push against the wall, the femme released the bot from where she pinned him and stepped back.
Bumblebee yelped and fell to the ground right on his aft. He grumbled before looking up at her, pushing himself to his pedes. Once on his feet, however, he did not leave. He glared and waited which apparently irritated her further.
“What are you staring at, lugnuts?” She demanded, storing a dagger that Bumblebee hadn’t even noticed she had out until just then.
“I’m waiting for an apology,” Bumblebee declared stubbornly, rotating the arm that had been roughly twisted when she grabbed him. Sure, he’s made to twist and transform but he needs a little wanting before joints are going to be yanked around like that!
“I let you go, didn’t I?” Came the dark femme’s retort, not being able to believe the audacity of this little punk. She turned to face his fully once more and bared her denta.
‘Definitely a fighter,’ Bumblebee thought as she attempted to intimidate him…and honestly it worked a little. A little more than a little. ‘No wonder she went after me, her sight’s based on movement!’
“Whatever,” the younger of the two gave in with a roll of his optics. “Look. I’m just glad you’re safe.” Which was true. He could have done without being manhandled but that was easier to live with than the guilt of not helping someone potentially in need. ‘Not that she ended up needing any help.’ He eyed the unconscious pair on the ground further down the alley. “I almost feel bad for them, actually. They really don’t know what hit them.”
She scoffed and rolled her good optic. “They better remember, if they know what’s good for them!” She snarls, her good optic cycling until it’s narrowed on the thugs. “I never forget a face and they better hope to never run into me in the future. That was their warning.” That final word comes out in a growl, one that actually makes Bumblebee scoot away from her.
After one last snorting snarl from the fighter there was quiet between the pair.
Unable to help himself, Bumblebee tried to move forward and do what he has always done best. “Um. I’m Bumblebee, by the way,” he introduced himself. After a moment of consideration he risked holding his servo out to her. ‘Hopefully she knows ‘shake’ and not just ‘attack,’ the mech thought to himself. He watched her expectantly over a drawn out and increasingly awkward pause.
She stared back but her expression was far from the hopeful one on the younger mech’s facial plating. If anything she seemed incredulous, her good optic shifting from that extended servo, to his face, back to the servo.
Bumblebee’s friendly smile slowly dropped into a gentle frown. ‘Guess I can’t win them all,’ he thought. His offered servo was pulled back and up to scratch a horn. “Uh, well. Bye, then,” he said hesitantly. As he turned to leave the femme spoke up.
Bumblebee stopped so quickly he almost tripped. “Shadowstriker?” Bumblebee repeated and he immediately turned to face her. His optics lit up a little brighter and his hopefulness returned. His growing excitement was evident though misinterpreted.
“Yeah. Got a problem with that?” She demanded defensively, clearly taking the excitement as humor. More specifically, taking it as him laughing at her, or even daring to make fun of her. She took an aggressive stomp in his direction in response.
Her tone and clenching servos prompted the mech to raise his servos in a placating gesture. “Whoa, there! I just meant it’s—I mean, come on! That’s such a cool sounding designation! Makes you sound like a super spy or something!”
Somewhat taken aback by his enthusiasm, Shadowstriker blinked an optic twice. “…what?”
Much like before their encounter, Bumblebee jumped into a number of different fighting poses. “You’re a fighter, right? So you’re strong, fast and you have that boss designation like that?! Oh man! That’s so awesome!” He flailed and bounced, even dared to grin at her like she was psyched as he was. “I bet you know all the best gladiators! Have you ever met Megatron? Like personally? Because I bet—“
His excited rambling was interrupted with a growl of, “Enough!”
It was enough to spook Bumblebee both into quiet and out of his silly flailing.
“Listen up, Bumblebee,” she spat out his name like an insult. Shadowstriker leaned forward into his space, a claw-like digit pointed at him. “Look, I know you’re a privileged little bot from the ‘nice’ part of town. Let me guess, you ventured all the way here from the bright and shiny Iacon City?” If she was truly asking she didn’t wait for an answer. “If you’re going to hang around where you don’t belong then you better figure it out fast that no bot just does anything for nothing,” she snapped. “And you sure as scrap can’t be going around getting excited over names or trying to help when you can’t even help yourself!” Shadowstriker emphasized each enunciated syllable by roughly jabbing Bumblebee’s chest plating with a sharp digit.
Each jab made Bumblebee wince and step back a little further. “Ow, ow!” He complained, rubbing his plating sourly. ‘She’s still caught up on my trying to help?’ Her outburst however was not met with the same hostility. “Uh, sure they do, at least sometimes. Friends do,” he pointed out helpfully. Wisely he didn’t comment or try to deny her point of being from the ‘nice part of town.’ It might not be glamorous where he’s from but to her it might have been. Then again, it wasn’t hard to find nicer places than Kaon…
“Tch!” Shadowstriker shot Bumblebee another look when she snapped, “There’s a flaw in that little theory of yours.”
Bumblebee’s metal brows furrowed but he didn’t back down, either. That tone, for one, could not. ‘I’m trying. Give me something to work with!’ Even still he kept his temper. “Yeah, and what’s that?” He asked, not unkindly.
“We aren’t friends.”
“You…have a point,” he conceded.
Just as she turned, sure that she had finally gotten this idiot stranger to shut it, he opened his mouth once again.
“That can change, though! Right now, if you want.” The young bot offered a dazzling smile at her when she turned slowly towards him once more. “What do you say?”
“Thanks but no thanks,” she replied not quite as rudely as she could have. Something Bumblebee surely saw as a small victory. In all honesty, it seemed anything short of being thrown into walls was a victory with her at that point.
“Suit yourself,” he chimed as she walked away. “But if you change your mind, the offer’s open!” He called cheerfully.
As the memory came to an end, the scout is distantly aware of his name being called.
“—ee? Bee? Bumblebee!”
Bumblebee snaps to attention as he realizes he’s zoned out again. “What?” He asks, sounding caught off guard which is rather unlike him. If his training as a scout has taught him anything, it’s been to be aware of his surroundings. “What is it?”
“You feeling alright there, Bee?” Windblade asks. She raises a metal brow at him when he seems surprised to see her.
“Don’t worry about him,” chimes in Hot Rod, who stuck around even after he realized he was being ignored. “Bee’s just a little preoccupied with the past.”
“Preoccupied?” Windblade asks, turning to her yellow friend once again. “Are you having issues with any memory cells?” Here, let me help,” she offers. After all, being ‘preoccupied with the past’ took a majority of their time those first few months after being reunited.
Bumblebee holds up his servos up to her and turns down the offer. “No, my memory cells are fine,” he explains.
“Someone is stressing over our last ‘guest’ aboard the Ark,” Hot Rod blows his buddy in. He happily ignores the look his fellow scout shoots him.
“Bumblebee,” Windblade says with a hint of annoyed warning in her tone.
“I know,” he huffs. “I know.”
“Do you?” She asks skeptically. Seeing the discouragement in his optics, the flyer sighs. “Look, what happened in the volcano is practically nothing compared to what she’s been through in the past. If Shadowstriker can come back from being blown to bits, I’m sure she’ll come back from this, too.”
“Not helping, Hot Rod,” Windblade warns. She softens her expression once more as she focuses on Bumblebee. “I know you’re worried about Shadowstriker but there’s nothing more you could have done for her.” Then in a soft tone Windblade almost exclusively reserved for Chromia and Bumblebee, she says, “We need you here, too, Bee.”
That gentle tone and expression must get through to Bumblebee who slumps in response, drooping doors and all. “Yeah, you’re right. I just wish she would have let me help her.”
“She did,” Windblade points out. “Maybe not the way you wanted to, but she did. She took to opportunity you gave her to escape, didn’t she?”
“….yeah,” comes his answer. She could have easily followed through with her spontaneous suicide mission but she didn’t. It’s not the cheeriest outcome he hoped for but at least she was still alive, as far as he knows anyway.
“Don’t worry, Bee! She’ll be shooting at you or chasing you with a machete in no time,” Hot Rot speaks up. “In the meantime,” he says while giving an exaggerated stretch, “maybe you can try something you’ve never been good at.”
Bumblebee, recognizing that slag-eating grin on his friend’s face plating, eyes his fellow racer. “Oh yeah?” He asks suspicious and slow. “And what would that be?”
Hot Rod’s expression breaks with a chuckle. “Worrying about yourself first before someone else!” He breaks into laughter which must be infectious because Bumblebee lets himself have a good chuckle, too.
Trying to relax, he agrees, “Okay, okay. I’ll try—“
“Hey, look!” Hot Rod interrupts, leaving Bumblebee to blink in confusion.
“What is it?” Windblade asks, looking out the window the mech is pointing to. “Oh, the rain as finally stopped,” she hums.
“Exactly!” He exclaims. “It’s about time. I’ve been itching to go for a drive for days!”
The flyer snickers, “What? Letting a little bit of mud stop you? Don’t want to get dirty?”
“Laugh all you want,” Hot Rod says, crossing his arms. “I don’t want all that ick to cover my paint job. It’d be a crime to cover all this up.” Hot Rod jumps into a pose, flexing his armor, which causes the femme to laugh outright.
Their conversation isn’t heard by Bumblebee, who is too busy staring out the window. “Whoa,” he quietly breathes as he stares at the rainbow. He’s seen a couple since arriving on earth but they still managed to amaze him, much like most of the rest of the planet and its inhabitants. He leans in closer to get a better look. Water drips from rocks and plants outside so gently compared to the constant, harsh rainfall that they’ve been having. The warm sunshine outside makes it all glisten as if it hadn’t just been dark and grey for five consecutive cycles.
‘Huh,’ he thinks as he takes in the scene before him. ‘That weatherman was stubborn enough to stick by his gut and I guess it paid off.’ A silly grin pulls at his metal lips and the bot decides to go on his way. Walking down the hall towards the Ark’s main, and only exposed exit hatch, he notices his friends have taken their playful teasing with them as they follow. It only adds to his returning good mood.
‘It did stop raining eventually.’