|From the Bottom Up
Author: LittleMewLugia PM
Starscream now owes Sam a life-debt he must repay. However, the way he sorts out some logistical issues leaves Sam with even greater problems. Sequel to “Code of Honour.”Rated: Fiction M - English - Humor - Chapters: 17 - Words: 40,988 - Reviews: 271 - Favs: 277 - Follows: 121 - Updated: 09-16-08 - Published: 04-08-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4184561
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
From The Bottom Up.
Time To Rock And Roll
A/N: Breem: A little over 8 minutes. Joor: A little more than 6.5 hours. Thanks to KD Zeal for betareading and Soundwave sspeech-correction.
Once Dr Syn had explained that Starscream had taken Bumblebee back to the Autobot base, Sam had calmed down a lot. Sure, he missed Bumblebee, but then he suspected that Bumblebee would be happy to be back in his own Base.
Sam went to see Soundwave to do his duties towards helping to get more fuel. Sam's idea had worked for the planes, and now they were
working on a way to get more fuel for those with ground-based alt forms. So far they had decided that Dead End could scan Barricade, change the number a bit, and get filled at the Police pound in the same way Barricade did. However, they were only two cars, and they could not siphon enough from the two for all of the ground-based Decepticons. Another method was needed.
The problem was, after twenty minutes of discussion, Sam was clean out of ideas.
"Sorry, Soundwave, I can't think of anything else. If I had my MP3 player here, it might have helped, background music helps me concentrate. Then again, I don't have it so I guess I'll have to deal without it.
"MUSIC-INCREASES-SWIFTSTRIKE'S-EFFICIENCY?" Soundwave asked. For a moment Sam didn't respond: he was still getting used to his new name. Then he nodded.
"Uh….yeah, I find music helps me to think." Sam said.
"SPECIFY-PREFERRED-GENRE." Soundwave stated.
"Rock and roll? Sam asked. There was a few moments of quiet, and then music began playing. Sam realised it was coming from Soundwave.
"Hey, where did you get the music from?" Sam asked.
"WORLD-WIDE-WEB." stated Soundwave.
Sam thought for a bit while the music played. Then he had an idea.
"You have ground vehicles that mass greater than Barricade and Dead End, right?" he said. Soundwave nodded.
"Well, if they scan service vehicles-like highway rescue vans, or even buses, they may have to do some work, but they can get fuel, and some of these things have pretty big tanks." He said.
Just as he finished his suggestion, the door opened to admit Starscream, who was holding a silvery mech in his hands. Starscream put the mech down: Sam noticed that this mech was similar to Frenzy in build but thicker-set. The mech stumbled a little as Starscream released his hold.
"Soundwave, I found Rumble in the energon stores sampling the high-grade. We don't have much energon of either grade. Please control your Cassetticons." Then he paused, cocking his head.
"What is that noise?"
"SWIFTSTRIKE-REQUESTED." Intoned Soundwave. "CALLED-ROCK-AND-ROLL."
"Rock and roll?" spoke up the small mech. "I can make the squishy do that!" Sam watched in fascination as it reconfigured its arms into smooth cylinders with flat ends. Before anyone could stop it, the cylinders blurred into motion, the flat ends striking the ground. Sam realised the mech had pile-driver arms, and the force of it's blows was making the ground shake, so much so that Sam could not keep his balance and fell over. He could see that Starscream and Soundwave were staying up, although with difficulty.
"RUMBLE-STOP!" Soundwave said, but the last word was almost drowned out by a squeal of buckling and tearing metal, and a loud rumbling sound. Sam looked towards the sound, as did Starscream and Soundwave: Rumble was slow to respond to Soundwave's order, or maybe he hadn't heard it, for he continued hammering at the ground.
Sam cried out and threw his arms up reflexively as he saw that Rumble's actions had destabilised the foundations and structure of the warehouse, and it was falling apart and collapsing, directly on top of them.
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The Autobots had narrowed down the possible location of the Decepticon base down to two likely locations, and were determining how to proceed when they felt the ground shake.
"Earthquake!" said Bumblebee, who was caught off balance: Optimus caught and held him, bracing himself so he could stay upright and help the little scout regain his footing.
"No!" said Mirage, running a scan - he had been trying to narrow the two possibilities down to one using the Base scanners. "The origin point is one of the locations we were investigating, and I recognise that vibration pattern. I don't know why, but this is being caused by Rumble!" He paused a moment. "Hey, the warehouses! They…They've collapsed!"
Optimus opened a channel to Ratchet and Bumblebee.
"Ratchet, a set of warehouses has collapsed from the vibrations, and we have reason to believe Sam may be there. I want you and Bumblebee to go and investigate and render help if need be." He said, nodding to Bumblebee.
"I'll need a breem or so to organise some equipment, but if Bumblebee waits for me by the gates, I'll join him there." Ratchet said. As Bumblebee nodded back and headed out, Optimus hoped that if Sam had been in one of the warehouses that Starscream had been in the same one and was able to repay his debt.
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Although he knew it was futile to try and defend himself against falling masonry, Sam threw his arms over his head and rolled onto his front, squeezing his eyes shut. It was an action that was as instinctive as it was futile. He felt something land over him, braced, waiting for the crushing force to hit him, but although he could hear Cybertronian cries and grunts, and the sound of objects hitting other objects, he felt no pain, or even pressure. Slowly he opened his eyes, thankful that Rumble had stopped. He assumed so anyway, as the ground had stopped shaking.
It was dark, and there was something metal over him, although it wasn't pressing down on him. He saw a glint of light as there was movement over by his feet, part of the surface that lay over him.
"Get in my cockpit, Swiftstrike. I can't hold myself off the floor much longer with all this on me." Starscream said, his voice loud in the enclosed area Sam was in. That was when Sam realised that the metal surface above him was Starscream's hide: the Decepticon leader had thrown himself over Sam to shelter him from the falling debris.
Sam scrambled over, clambering into the smoked glass of the canopy: as he got in, Starscream must have felt him do so, for the moment he was fully on the canopy glass, the Seeker allowed his body to drop, closing the canopy that Sam was crouched in. He heard a murmured 'Ow!' from Starscream as the canopy took part of the weight.
"Starscream, what's happening?" Sam asked.
"There is too much rubble on me for my arms to take the full weight of my body and the wreckage that is on me. I am trapped. We must wait here until Wreckage, Barricade, Dead End and Thundercracker – the only four not in the warehouse – can get to us, and help us get out. Wreckage is concentrating on getting the two doctors and Skywarp out at the moment, from the comm signals I have received. Skywarp has a tear in one of his wings, the two doctors will be needed to treat everyone else once they have repaired themselves."
Sam nodded: he'd have to deal with it.
"What about Rumble and Soundwave?" he asked. "Are they all right?"
"Soundwave is less buried than I, he is digging himself out and then will attempt to help unearth us. Rumble managed to flee into his customary place in Soundwave's chest compartment, and is probably sleeping off the energon." Starscream told Sam.
"Why did Rumble do that anyway?" Sam said. "Seems a bit stupid."
"Rumble got overenergised on the high grade energon." Starscream explained. "Being overenergised is akin to the human condition called 'drunk.'"
"Okay." Sam said, understanding. He'd seen his Dad drunk, and knew Ron could do some stupid (but harmless) things when drunk.
Sam couldn't think of anything else to say for a bit, so he sat curled up in the curve of the canopy for a bit, wondering how long it would take for someone to come and get them out. He kept hearing muttered exclamations of pain from Starscream, and was concerned for him. Cybertronians were tough, but not indestructible, and it sounded like Starscream might be hurt. Sam was surprised to realise that he was concerned about Starscream, but then, he had been living in the same building with him for some time now. Before then, Starscream had just been the Decepticon leader who would kill without a second thought, but Sam had come to see Starscream as a person, just like his Autobot friends.
He was pulled from his thoughts by scraping and banging. It seemed someone may have reached them after all. Then there was a scrabbling noise, and then Sam heard Frenzy's agitated chitter. A few minutes later, Sam heard Starscream sigh, and felt himself slide down the canopy glass as Starscream levered himself up. Light flooded in as Starscream twisted to one side, and Sam managed to get into a position so he could see out, and saw Soundwave lifting a big piece of debris off Starscream's legs.
Starscream stood: Sam was not too uncomfortable in the cockpit as he crouched in the kneehole, and Starscream and Soundwave moved away from the ruined warehouse.
Sam could see other casualties: the medic, Dr Syn was scuffed and dented, but he was tending to Skywarp: the dark Seeker had a large, deep, ragged looking gash down the underside of his wing, oozing pink energon. Dr Syn was stopping the leakage, but Sam could see the shudders running through the Seeker's frame, and hear the whimpers the flier could not hold back.
"Let me out." Sam said, gently rapping on the canopy to remind Starscream that he was there. "I can help."
"No, Sam." said Starscream. "You're too small to be of much use here, I'm afraid.
"DEBT-REPAID. SWIFTSTRIKE-RETURN-TO-AUTOBOTS." Soundwave said. "SOUNDWAVE-HELP."
"Yes, that's right." Starscream said. "My debt to you is paid. Soundwave has offered to help return you to the Autobots: you will go with him." Starscream opened his cockpit and took Sam out, handing him to Soundwave, who took him off, ignoring Sam's protests. Starscream moved over to comfort Skywarp as the doctor began trimming the edges of the wing gash.
Five minutes later, Ratchet and Bumblebee arrived. Starscream tensed and began to ready his weapons, but Ratchet gave an irritated snort.
"I come here requesting a ceasefire under Protocol Five of the Treaty of Iacon so we can aid your wounded and to ask for the return of one Sam Witwicky, also known as Swiftstrike." Ratchet said.
"Very well, we have a four-joor ceasefire. Thank you." said Starscream. As Ratchet moved towards another mech who Wreckage was bringing over, this one also leaking energon, Starscream said "As for Swiftstrike, I'm afraid you are too late."
Ratchet turned as Bumblebee said "Too late? What do you mean, 'too late'? Is he dead?"
"No, Autobot, Swiftstrike is not dead, I paid my debt to him, saving his life, but I believe Soundwave has already arranged for him to leave the Base. He should be on his way to your Base by now."
"In that case, Bumblebee, we should render aid to the injured and you can see Sam when we get back tonight. Come, assist me." Ratchet said.
As they moved to help the injured, Bumblebee could see Soundwave still clearing debris. Clearly Soundwave had not taken Sam back himself. He figured that all able hands would be needed to help with the rescuing and repair, which made Bumblebee wonder just what sort of transport Soundwave had organised to take Sam back.
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Sam clung on with his one good arm, and was thankful for the bandaging handholds Frenzy had kindly tied for him, plus the bindings Frenzy had tied to secure his injured arm and his feet to his steed, as Ravage swiftly bounded over the open ground, headed for the Autobot base.
It was scary and exhilarating and nerve-wracking all at once, and Ravage's exertions warmed his hide, offsetting the chill that the swift passage caused.
When Soundwave had first suggested Ravage, Sam had baulked a bit, but it was Frenzy who reminded him that Ravage was grateful for the earlier unkinking of his wires, and that any of the bigger Cons would be needed to help recover and repair others. It was either be carried by Ravage, or be borne by his arms in the claws of, or on the back of, Laserbeak. Frenzy explained that as Laserbeak was none too bright, had no reason to be grateful too him, and possessed a sadistic streak, Ravage was by far the best option. Sam had reluctantly accepted Frenzy's reasonings, which is how he came to be riding on the back of a huge mechanical cat. Luckily, with the bindings provided by Frenzy, he was in no immediate danger of falling off, but it was still a scary sensation.
The Autobot base hove into view, and Ravage slowed and stopped. He growled slightly, and Sam slipped his legs and arm from the ties, tucking the loose ends away so they would not impede Ravage's movements. Ravage turned to face Sam, butted him gently with the top of his head, then whisked round and was off again, back to what was left of the Decepticon base, before Sam could react.
He turned and walked over to the gates, which were already opening: Ironhide had obviously spotted him. Sam felt intently weary, but also odd, coming back after so long an absence.
"Sam." Ironhide said. "I have informed Optimus that you have returned. He'd like to see you in his office."
"Okay." Sam said. He walked down the corridor he'd last walked down a few weeks ago, although it felt like months. He got to Optimus' door: it was already open, so he called out and walked in.
Optimus came over and picked Sam up.
"Sam, you are safe. I am glad to see that your health has not suffered too much."
"Yeah, I'm kinda glad to be back, though it's odd. Strangely enough, I'm gonna miss those guys." He said. "Starscream, Soundwave, Skywarp, Frenzy, Dr Syn, Ravage, and Barricade in particular." He looked down, embarrassed. "When they're not threatening me or my friends, they're pretty decent guys after their own fashion." He shook his head violently. "Don't worry, I'm not gonna suddenly go over to their side or anything, no way, but it's a shame things have to be like this. In another reality, we could have been friends." He said.
"Who knows, Sam, what could happen, even in your short lifetime? As I once observed, your race is not so unlike ours. You have forged links, learned that you and our enemies have more in common than you realised. It is likely that some of them have discovered that there is more to you than they might ever have thought, that you and they have things in common. Who knows? This may be the beginning of a possibility to forge a fragile peace, and the process may start in your lifetime, so there is still hope that the fragile friendships you started to forge may yet have a chance to grow." Optimus placed Sam on his desk, then sat, indicating for Sam to sit on one of the human-sized chairs that were still on his desk.
"You think so?" Sam said. "I'm glad then that this whole Code thing might have started something, though I'm glad it's over. I guess I should be careful whose life I save." He said with a short laugh. He looked up when he'd finished laughing to find Optimus peering at him intently.
"Sam, these incidents have reminded me of something that slipped my processors. In Mission City, I told you to put the AllSpark in my chest, an action that would have destroyed both myself and the AllSpark. Instead, you put it in Megatron's chest."
"Yeah, well I don't think my life expectancy would have been very long with you and the AllSpark both gone. Megatron would have gotten really pissy and squished me, so I see it as self-defence." He said.
"All the same, Sam, it still means one thing to me. In doing so, in pushing it into Megatron's chest, you defeated him for me – and there was a real possibility that I would have lost in a fight against my brother - and you negated the need for my own sacrifice." He smiled sadly at Sam.
"Between setting up our own Base after Mission City, Barricade's adherence to the Code, and then Starscream's, I have not had time to reflect on it until now. However, I even said it in Mission City: I owe you my life, Sam."
A small tendril of dread curled inside Sam: he could see where this was going.
"I took the Code, Sam, I realised that I, too, have a debt to you to pay off."
"Hold it, hold it, hold it." Sam said. "When Megatron knocked me off the roof, you caught me, you saved my life, so I think that would count as payment, right?"
"Indeed, Sam, but I only saved your life once. By defeating Megatron, you likely saved me from dying at his claws, by putting the AllSpark in his chest, you negated the need for my own sacrifice. You saved my life twice, Sam, I only saved yours once. I still have a debt to pay." Optimus said.
"Can't both debts be paid by saving me when I fell from the roof?" Sam pleaded. Optimus shook his great head.
"No Sam, I'm sorry. That counts as one debt repayment, and one only. I still have another debt to pay off." He sighed. "I'm sorry, I know this must be a burden to you, but for my honour, I must do it."
"At least you're on my side." Sam said with a shrug. "I've coped with Barricade and Starscream owing me, not much could be more difficult than them."
He smiled up at Optimus.
"Don't worry, I'll deal with it."
'Somehow.' He thought but did not say.