Skylynx, Darksteel and Ripclaw followed their King through the green vortex, their steps filled trepidation. They had no idea what awaited them on the other side. When Predaking told them of their destination and ultimate fate, they had all been less than pleased to say the least. They were to abandon Cybertron, their home and rightful territory, for the Autobots to rule. And for what, exactly? When their leader remained unwavering in his decision and demanded their obedience, they submitted without further vocal argument, even though they each harboured their own private thoughts on the matter. The situation might not appeal to them, but Predaking had proven himself to them time and again in the few short days they'd come to be in his service. They would not disrespect him outright unless they had good cause.
Once they came out through the other side, the Space-Bridge closed behind them, and the trio felt the finality of it resonate in their sparks. That was it, they were cut off. There would be no turning back unless they wanted to ask the Autobots for help. Which they didn't. Though they wanted to return home, they did not want to do it so badly they would beg.
And then they looked around.
The ground beneath their feet wasn't constructed of metal, instead it was clumpy. Green blades sprouted from it, vivid in colour and swayed in the light breeze that tickled at the predacons plates. The hills around them were surrounded in huge brown cylinders, each with spears that shot out from their trunks, and grew oddly shaped parchments that came in a menagerie of colours. Greens, reds, browns and yellows adorned them all, and when the wind soared through them, they rustled and sang a whispered song to their neighbour. From within this bouquet of colour, a tiny creature fluttered out and looped around their heads, chirping curiously at them. The predacons were fascinated to watch its tiny wings beat so fast they were almost a blur yet the creature seemed to do this with apparently no effort. Its exterior was painted a dull blue, but in the light of the sun it seemed to catch in the most mesmerising way. Its black-beaded eyes studied them for several moments, before it flew back to its previous resting spot.
The predacons ran their optics over every inch of this world they'd stepped into, curious and mesmerised. From what their scanners could pick up, the surface of this planet had no metal. The only thing of metal around them was the concealed iron deposit in a boulder just peaking out of the ground some way off. Instead, everything was organic, everything moved and breathed and existed as one. Curious, they reached out their scanners further, attempting to find more information about this new world they'd stepped into.
Some sort of signal seemed to cover this planet, they quickly found, and intrigued, they opened their processors to it. Almost immediately the three were overwhelmed by a barrage of code and information. It made them pause for breath, optics blinking rapidly to process so much information as their internal computers had to play catch-up with this mysterious kingdom they'd stumbled onto. The realm of the Internet. It didn't take them long to process the information, and once they had, they knew enough about the basics of the planet they were on to be able to name the things in their current environment, knew of the species that the planet belonged to, and their numerous languages.
Whilst they'd been occupied, Predaking had stood in front, taking in the sensations of Earth like his fellows had. Yet, his insides felt more at peace here than they ever had on Cybertron, unlike his comrades. The huge metal plains of Cybertron could not (in his opinion) make up for the complexities and numerous differences in landscape here, each with their own unique challenges and beauties. With his slight-nostalgia done with, he focused his attention on the coordinates he'd previously been given. Even now, as undecided as he was about the situation, he couldn't help but look. And wouldn't you know it, the destination wasn't that far away, just a short flight to the south, actually.
"Subtle, Autobot," he mumbled.
Darksteel came up behind his King, mouth set in a hard line. "Predaking? What're we doing here?"
"We are on Earth," Predaking said, optics growing distant. "And I have some… unfinished matters to see to."
"So, that's it?" Darksteel growled out incredulously. "We're just exiling ourselves out here on this rock?"
"Darksteel…" murmured his brother in warning.
"We just left our home, Skylynx. We're stuck out here – for who knows how long. And for what?"
Predaking spun on his heel, and glared down at the younger mech. "You'd do well to remember who it is you speak to, Darksteel…"
"My King," interjected Ripclaw, though her demeanour was no where near as insubordinate as Darksteel's. "Darksteel speaks truly. We do not know our way here. Cybertron is our home–"
"Whilst the wounds of past sins are still fresh in the minds of our once-enemies, we shall never be welcomed on our home, Ripclaw." He told them all repentantly. For it was his fault, after all. The role he'd played in the war, the injuries he'd given the Autobots time and again, it was why not all of them would accept them. "But out here, should we so choose, we can remain undetected and undisturbed by any and all."
Skylynx, who had rather easily stepped into an instinctual role of second-in-command, came forward. "Will we ever return?"
"Perhaps one day." The alpha conceded. "But for now, this planet is our home, our protectorate, our territory, and we shall defend it from all who would seek to alter that fact."
They nodded, finally admitting to his point.
As one, the predacons all shifted to their beast-modes, and once more the newcomers to Earth had to take a moment to adjust to experiencing this brand-new environment through new skin. Predaking then led the way and leapt into the air. The others followed, and soon he was leading them up into the skies. Thankfully there was a heavy cloud cover, so whilst there was still daylight, they could hide from view of mortals down below. Breaking through the first layer of cloud-cover, the four predacons were washed in golden light that set the heavens around them on fire. They didn't have to travel too long, and soon Predaking was scanning the earth far below for the correct location the coordinates had suggested. They soared above suburbs, the identical houses all sprawled about on identical roads as cars filtered in and out for humans with identical routines. His scanners flashed when they finally spotted the correct house, and Predaking was pleased to see that a small park was right behind it, with enough tree-growth to provide a hiding spot.
Quickly, so as to minimise the chances of being spotted, Predaking led his fellow predacons down. Not far from the earth, they transformed and dropped down the rest of the way so that they might not take up so much space in the enclosed environment. Even then, they had to hunker down in order to squeeze between the trees. Predaking peaked through the autumn branches, his optics fixed on the house whose backyard-fence was right beside the tree line. Silently, he ordered his pack to remain quiet and hidden whilst they waited. They waited for darkness to fall, so that they might be allowed some shroud of partial invisibility in the night. During that time, they watched the house diligently. They saw humans come and go, watched children play in the yard and a mother and father potter about in the kitchen through the windows.
Skylynx cocked his head as his optics scrutinised the human lifeforms. "Are these the natives?"
"Puny, aren't they…" whispered Ripclaw in thinly veiled distaste.
Predaking ignored them. As the family had sat down to eat, he'd finally caught a glimpse of auburn hair and green eyes that didn't match the rest of the family whatsoever. Spark threatening to short-circuit with anxiousness, he began to move. He only had half a mind to say to his companions over his shoulder: "Wait here. Stay hidden until I return."
One hand could feel the hot soapy water turning it wrinkly. The other couldn't. Miya scrubbed at the plate that somewhere in the back of her mind she knew it was clean, going about her chores in a trance. She stared at the warped reflection of herself in the tap, unable to care that she looked a mess or that her eyes were haggard. There was no effort in her soul to bring about any kind of emotion, there was nothing but numbness. Even when Mrs Hugh came in and quietly corrected Miya's work, taking the plate out of her hand and giving her the next item to clean, Miya did nothing other than politely mumble. There was nothing else for her to do.
What was there left for her to? There was something, someone deep down inside of her, a sliver of the girl she used to be, that was screaming and clawing at her prison walls. Once upon a time, Miya would've been looking for the first opportunity to escape, to steal the essentials and run away. But she couldn't. That girl was buried underneath a mountain of shattered dreams, disappointment and misery.
After she'd been treated at the hospital, it had taken a week before the authorities caught up with her and had slapped her off to be placed in a new foster family. Apparently, with the Autobots, Decepticons and all Cybertronians gone, as the CIA agent had told her during the car ride, that meant the war was over and so her information wasn't needed. Miya had been forced to live with what everyone else would consider the perfect little family. Mr and Mrs Hugh were the ideal American couple, who valued the constitution and loyally obeying their government with over saturated sugary smiles. They went to church, refused to swear, and outwardly seemed like the most adoring husband and wife. Their eldest daughter, Libby, was always coming home with top grades, going to after school bible-club, and always coming home with stories about how she was the most popular girl in class (usually accompanied by a watered-down tale of her bullying the other girls). Then there was the youngest son, Tommy, who was seven and was always inquisitive, insensitive and incessant in his goal to get under someone's skin. Needless to say, Mr and Mrs Hugh had taken one look at the poor depressed girl with burns on one half of her body, and had taken to her like a bird that needed saving. At least they had at first. But Miya was completely unresponsive to their style over substance way of running their family, how absolutely skin deep their love was. The Hughs were more concerned with looking like they loved each other, rather than loving one another at all.
The more Miya closed herself off from them, the colder they became. Miya got average grades in school – for how could she put in any effort to life when she felt so abandoned? So, Mr Hugh made her do twice as much studying so that she wouldn't put a stain on the family reputation. Libby constantly wanted Miya to hide her burns because they were 'gross' which Miya ignored – for she wouldn't cover the battlescars that reminded her so much of her friends. To spite her, Libby made sure to point out at every opportunity how horrid Miya looked because of them. Whenever the family watched the news and reports came in of tension brewing in the Middle-East, the Hughs would all unanimously proclaim their hope that America would send in the military to "Show them who's boss!". But Miya would always whisper how she hoped that never came true – for she'd seen the ugly face of war and it still left her with nightmares. She was always sent to her room for the trouble. At every mealtime, she would quietly refuse to participate in saying grace – for how could she thank God for over-saturated junk food after she'd seen aliens battle each other to the death? In retaliation, Mrs Hugh made her wash the dishes on her own.
Any fool could see that Miya was dead to the world. Her heart was broken and beyond repair. But she couldn't grieve. Couldn't think about it. It was bad enough when she dreamed of him, of when he left her, and she screamed in her sleep until Libby threw something at her to get her to stop. Miya couldn't ever stop to think about him, not in the waking world, for if she did she knew she would never stop crying. Perhaps it had been utterly foolish of her, to trust him, to trust any of them, that they'd keep her from this fate. But the fact of the matter was that they were all gone. They'd all left her. And now she was on her own, and now proven to be an idiot.
"Hey! Missy!" said a little voice as Tommy ran up to Miya's side. The girl had to close her eyes at the horrid name. Mrs Hugh had taken an instant dislike to Miya's name and decided to call her Missy instead because it was Prettier. Miya was brought back to the present when she felt a small impact lurch her unprepared body to the side. Tommy poked a fat finger into the burns on Miya's arm with short hard blows, over and over again. He noticed her watching and grinned up at her. "Can you feel that? How about that? Or that? Or that?"
"No." Miya mumbled, trying to move away from him. It was true, she couldn't feel it. But she didn't like to watch him touch it. Tommy just grinned wider and ran back out of the room. Probably to get something else to poke her with.
It was dark outside, night had fallen, and all that illuminated the backyard were the path lights around Mrs Hugh's flowerbed. And though she wasn't looking out of the window above the sink, something still caught her eye, a small flash, a catch of the light. She looked up, and that was when she saw him.
Her blood ran cold, her heart began to pound, her mind started to question her own sanity. Could she be so miserable that she'd begun to conjure things into being that weren't really there? That was possible, or so it seemed. Yet even if it weren't true, Miya found herself bound to its spell and slowly began to wander towards the backdoor. It creaked open slowly on creaking hinges. The night air bit at her hands that still dripped suds from the sink. In a trance, Miya dragged her feet across the grass, until she was stood before the giant robot. He stared down at her, yellow optics seeming to penetrate her soul with the intensity of their stare.
Miya backed up a step, suddenly afraid. She pounded her fists against her temples, squeezing her eyes shut and hoping the dream would go away. "No… no! You're not real. You can't be."
"I am real, Miya." And there was that voice! Deep, growling in the throat and so comforting it made her heart ache.
"I can't believe it – I WON'T believe it!"
She heard metal move and her eyes shot open. He had knelt right in front of her, his optics filled with sincerity and slight apprehension as he looked at her. "Miya… It's me,"
Frozen, her breathing grew heavy. Pulse pounding in her ears, Miya began to shiver. Slowly, emotions began to flood her system and breach the walls she'd so carefully put around them. They swept through her so swiftly and violently she was almost given whiplash. And then she realised how angry she was. It was not pain that made her quake, it was deep, unbridled fury. In a second, she wanted to scream, to hit him – the only thing that stopped her was the nag in the back of her mind that her previously-broken arm was only just out of its cast. So instead, she settled for making him feel the full brunt of her anger.
"You!" she shrieked, and kicked loose earth at him. "How could you?! How dare you come back!"
"I know I have no right to–"
"You're damn right you don't you… you… you jerk!" she spat disappointedly when the right insult wouldn't come to mind. "Do you know what you did? You left me!"
He looked to the ground, his voice quiet, filled with guilt. "I know, Miya…"
"After everything we'd been through, after everything you said… I thought it was gonna be you and me, against everything. That was the deal. You made me hope, you made me believe you…" she trailed off, cutting herself short before she said such foolish things like he cared! It would only bring on the tears, and she refused to let him see her cry! Instead, she scowled up at him. "And then you left me. You threw me back in the system, which you knew I hated!"
"I know, Miya…"
"Yeah, well, shows me how much you cared. Doesn't it."
"I know I can never atone for what I have done to you, Miya." He said, optics suddenly snapping to her face. "But never believe I didn't care."
"You got a funny way of showing it!" she shouted. "I thought I was losing my mind, Predaking! Everybody's gone. You, the Autobots, everybody. And I was thrown in there and everyone acted like it didn't happen! I was so… I was so…"
"I know, Miya–"
"Stop saying that!" Why did he keep saying that? Why did he have to make it hard for her to yell at him? She wanted him to argue, to make her want to shout and scream. "Stop not arguing with me and tell me why!"
For a long moment, he didn't say anything. The girl honestly thought she wasn't going to get an answer from him, when finally he spoke, voice quiet and hurt. "I thought I lost you once, Miya. And as soon as I got you back, I nearly lost you again. And it was all because of this wretched war. I thought you would be safer; if you were away from me, away from the fight. I had to leave you. I couldn't bear the thought of losing you again – and I knew I might not be so lucky the next time. I went to Cybertron. To hunt Starscream for what he did. To avenge you… and then die myself."
Just hearing the name Starscream sent a tremor down her spine, and made the poor girl relive some of her nastier nightmares. She pushed them away. Focus, she told herself. She wanted to stay mad at him. She had half a mind to say to him that he should've given her the choice on whether she wanted to stay in the fight or not. He shouldn't have made that decision for her. But the words wouldn't come. Finally, she'd run out of things to say and only her un-relinquished emotions remained. Unbidden, tears welled up in her eyes. Anger faded as grief, sorrow and pain washed her clean. She burst into tears, hiding her face in her hands. Wet grass from sprinklers soaked the knees of her jeans as she knelt on the ground, sobbing into her hands. Why did her life have to be so wretchedly unfair? And why was it, at the thought of Predaking dying after his suicide mission, did she feel so much worse? The thought of him lying dead somewhere was honestly much more painful for her to think about.
"Miya…" came his rumbling voice all around her, soothing away the hurt in her heart. Ever-so-gently, she felt a touch on her back. Looking up, she was a little surprised to see that he'd reached out to touch her with a finger. "I never wanted to leave. No world, whether it be organic or robotic, would be worth living in if you aren't there to share it with me."
She could only stare. Though she tried to squash it, the spark of hope flared in her soul. Predaking's warm yellow optics gazed upon her, a small smile at the corners of his mouth when he touched her hair. The smile faded, and for a second, Miya could've sworn he looked like he wanted to shed tears with her too.
"I know you might not forgive me. I know I don't deserve it. But I want to at least tell you… I am sorry."
Miya watched him carefully. The long tension was pulled so tightly between them it became a physical pain to both of them. She searched his optics for sincerity, for truth. She knew she couldn't trust him again, but at the same time, she knew he spoke the truth. And she knew she wasn't happy without him too. In an instant, she was up on her feet and running to him, all care for anything else in this world gone. With practised grace, Predaking scooped her up into his hands, and pulled her into his chest. He held her close against him, and Miya pressed herself above his spark in a form of embrace. The heat of it could be felt against her face, the happy hum it sang echoed in her own heart. Finally, after weeks of loneliness and imprisonment, the girl finally felt her body relax.
"Don't ever leave me behind again," she whispered into him.
"Never." He agreed. And then, he almost sounded nervous as he said: "And if you wish it, you can be my sparkling once more…"
She pulled back and gave him an anxious look. "Just promise me that wherever you go, I go too."
"Done." He nodded and she beamed. Slowly, a somewhat excited look came across his face as Predaking glanced at the trees behind him. "And Miya? There's a few bots I want you to meet…"
Ripclaw, Skylynx and Darksteel peered through the tree branches, attempting to get the best view that they could. They'd watched the entire exchange with dumbfounded curiosity. None of them could understand why their King would allow a human adolescent to speak to him in such an insolent manner. Did he intend to crush it? Why did he even bother to converse with it? And why were they picking up strange readings from his spark-output? None of it made sense to them.
After some time, Predaking suddenly stood and walked back towards their hiding spot. The three of them immediately moved back to give him room. As he stepped into the safety of the tree's shadows, he uncurled his hand and revealed a tiny figure sat upon his palm. Ripclaw, Skylynx and Darksteel stared. It was the tiny human they'd watched shout at their King. She was absurdly small – how could any creature be so tiny, they wondered. Her eyes were a bright green, and the short fur sticking out of her head was the red-brown of bright auburn. On one side of her face and trailing down her neck were vivid pink burn-scars that marred her otherwise smooth skin. It was a point of interest for the predacons, as they were left to wonder what battle could've left such a mark – though considering how delicate these fleshy-things were, it didn't surprise them how easily they could be damaged.
The girl stared at them with wide eyes and mouth fallen open. The predacons expected fear, but instead, there was a gleam of wonder and awe in her eyes. "Predacons…" she whispered.
"These are the ones I wanted you to meet," Predaking said to the human, confusing his brethren as to why he was talking to it in such a way, let alone introducing them to it. He ignored their stares and pointed out each of them to the human. "This is Skylynx, Darksteel and Ripclaw."
The corners of the human's mouth twitched into a smile and she waved a little hand at them nervously. "Hi,"
Predaking turned his gaze onto his pack and held out the human for them to see. "Predacons, this is Miya. My daughter and sparkling."
Silence. Their processors went blank, their drives almost crashed with shock. Mouths hanging open, they struggled to even make sense of what they had just been told. He must be joking! Yet Predaking's expectant expression told them this was no jest. The trio looked among themselves. What were they to do? What could they say? Their King was obviously short of a screw if he was serious about this.
Skylynx was the first to splutter out a surprised response. "W-What?!"
"But, my lord!" protested Darksteel.
"You cannot mean you wish to align us with these fleshy things?" Ripclaw recoiled in disgust.
"This fleshy thing is part of this pack," growled out Predaking, a possessive light making his optics shine threateningly. Almost as if on instinct, his servos clutched around the girl to hold her against his chest as he snarled. "And you will treat her as such! Am I understood?!"
"You gotta be joking–!"
"It's okay, I get it," said a little voice. All optics turned towards Miya, who was pushing against Predaking's servos until he released her and allowed her to stand on his palm. Now that she had the attention of all the predacons, her nerves seemed to creepily take a-hold of her. "I gotta prove myself, right? Earn my place?"
Ripclaw cocked a brow-plate as if such a suggestion were ridiculous. "You are tiny and squishy."
"Maybe," the girl shrugged, and then seemed to pluck up her courage and boldly said: "But I learned a lot from Predaking. I know what it means to be a predacon."
"That is hardly likely," stated Skylynx. "The logistics alone of you surviving an encounter with one of us is hardly in your favour. Approximately 0.003 in a 1,000 chance."
Though his answer had meant to be discouraging, Miya actually grinned. "You sound like one of the nerds in IT class. Maybe you'd do better than me in SpaceBlaster 7,"
"What is SpaceBlaster7?"
"Oh, you'll love it. It's a realistic outer-space starship battle game – with tactics and logistics and everything."
Skylynx blinked, thinking over the suggestion. The way the child was watching him with an earnest excitement in her was rather infectious, and he found the corners of his lips twitching to smile back at her. "That… does sound rather… fun."
Darksteel, however didn't seem that impressed. "Why would you play a stupid game when you can rip stuff to shreds in real life?"
"Maybe you can show me sometime?" Said Miya and then snorted. "I know a couple of bullies who's houses need smashing."
Predaking, who had been observing her work her charms over the younger predacons, sent her a disapproving look. "Miya…"
"What?" she looked up at him innocently and then gestured back in the direction they'd come. "The house I just got out from wasn't exactly paradise."
It was rather amusing to Darksteel that something so small could have a vindictive side. He sniggered and like Skylynx found himself smiling at the girl. "You're alright, Kid…"
"How have you won over our King?" asked Ripclaw, all seriousness as she strode forward to get a better inspection of the planet-native. "I do not see the purpose in keeping you as a pet."
"I'm not a pet!" Miya snapped defensively, showing backbone that surprised and slightly impressed the predacons. The girl reigned in her temper and looked up at them with shining eyes. "Predaking's the only family I've got – and now, you guys too, right?"
They blinked at her. "Us?" It was strange to them how they were all held spellbound by the child. Starscream and Shockwave had treated the predacons as lesser beings, to torture and boss around for their own desires. Autobots and Decepticons alike had looked upon them with fear and uneasiness. In each of their short lives, they knew how alienated they were from others. Yet this girl had only known them a few minutes, yet she readily accepted them as if they truly were family. It pulled at each of their sparks and it became easier to accept the choice of their King. For this sparkling had surely proven herself in record time.
"Yeah?" Miya giggled at their expressions. "You're my brothers and sister now. Or maybe aunt and uncles? I don't know, how does this work?" she asked Predaking.
He chuckled down at her. "Does it matter? We're all together again." He held close beside his spark, and looked upon his brethren with pride and felt the loneliness that had hounded him all the days of his life finally be banished for good. "We're family."
Miya embraced him, and Predaking held her tight, unable to contain his smile. Skylynx was the first to walk up to them, and place his hand upon Predaking's shoulder. Ripclaw hesitated, before she too came and stood beside her king and bowed her head. Darksteel then came forward and offered one servo to Miya, which she took with a huge smile. They all looked to their King, in both acceptance and to silently ask where they might go to next.
Predaking could not hold back the joyful and triumphant call that burst forth from him. In an instant, he transformed, Miya suddenly placed in her spot upon his shoulders. With jaws parted wide, he shrieked out the song of happiness into the world. The others transformed with him and added their voices to the melody. Behind him, Predaking heard Miya gasp for joy when she beheld Ripclaw's now-familiar wyvern shape. The predacons then all took to the sky, beating their massive wings to climb higher and higher to become one with the stars and moonlight shining on their metal hides. Finally, all was right in the universe, Predaking thought. Because now he was no longer alone, and never would be again. He had brethren, he had a daughter, and he had a home. All this time, he'd thought commanding legions would bring him peace, that to be a conquering king with an army of his own would complete him. But now he had something far greater than an army… He had a family.
The Predacons soared through the air, the chorus echoing on the winds around them as they journeyed to new lands, for a new home to call their own. Earth had once seen predacons like them millennia ago on Megatron's orders, yet even their memories had all been left abandoned and forgotten. And now, for the first time in hundreds of years, the night came alive with the music of dragons.
Here we are. The end of the road, finally. And yes, that last sentence was a quote to George R. R. Martin's "A Game of Thrones" book. That line just struck me in the moment to perfectly close this story on such a beautiful note.
I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every person that has read/favourited/reviewed/commented/followed this story. You guys are what make my work possible. And I thank all of you sincerely for your love, support and commitment to this story. I honestly believe I wouldn't have gotten anywhere without you.
Despite the fact I know a few of you might want a sequel, I don't know if there will be one. I might post art of snippets of Miya and the Predacons' adventures, so be sure to check me out on Deviantart. And who knows? Maybe someday in the future I might return to this and try to retell Robots In Disguise but with the Predacons as our Earth-defending heroes! Wouldn't that be something ;)