Disclaimer: I do not own Transformers. Only the plot and OCs are mine.

And so it begins again. Part Four of The Guardian's Guild! I'll take a moment to say now to any new readers, if you haven't read the first three parts of this series this part of the story isn't going to make a lick of sense to you. So you might want to go back and see the others before you start this one. To all of the rest of you, welcome back! Glad to see you!

Enjoy the ride.

Also, Prime Mover and Lock and Key by Rush could kind of be called something of theme songs for Part Four. Kinda. At least in my mind it makes sense. If any of you were interested.


Chapter 1

In his defense, this wasn't how it was suppose to pan out. Really, this had all worked out a whole pit of a lot better in this head. Because in his head, he won.

Now don't get it wrong, Bumblebee wasn't stupid. He knew his limitations—he was reminded of them constantly, how could he forget—he knew what he was and wasn't capable of. This time though he had been sure he had it. This time he was going to do it. He had it all planed out, and wasn't planning how it was done?

If one asked Prowl it certainly was.

And this time he had actually had a plan. For two whole orns he'd been planning. It was a brilliant plan, if he did say so himself. So how was it he was currently running for his life through digital walls with no ammo left and a rather nasty gash running down his side?

Seriously.

Where the frag did he go wrong this time?

Another twist around a corner, pausing before a junction, a glance back over his shoulder, and a deep breath to try to calm his vents. It was hardly working though. He couldn't get his breaths under control. No matter how bad he was cursing mentally. A fact that probably wasn't helping much in the whole calm down line of thinking, but damn it this test always put him on edge.

He didn't like the dark.

But even more then that he didn't like to lose, and losing was all he'd ever did on this stupid program. Over, and over, and over again.

What was this, the fortieth time he'd taken this test? He honestly couldn't remember. Though no matter, he didn't have any doubt Prowl was going to remind him here in a few klicks when he ultimately failed, again.

Sucking in a breath and holding onto it he flattened his doorwings to his back, tightened his thin armor, and glanced this way and that through the darkness. He knew they were both out there, but he had no idea where. No matter how hard he pushed out with his spark and looked there was simply no way to get a grip on where they were.

Spark Dampeners.

Bumblebee fraggin' hated Spark Dampeners.

However, his opinion was of little consequence after Prowl said he was cheating using his spark to find them through their link. Bee guessed he did sort of have a point. There was no way to know if out in the field—if he ever got there—he'd be able to pick up on the bad mechs like he picked up on his family. No matter that he was positive he could. The fact was he had no hard evidence and without proof Prowl certainly wasn't going to listen to him.

So his ability was taken out of play and he was left running blind through the darkness, trying and failing to catch the twins before they caught him. Considering he had about as much chance of doing that without his spark as he did flying, it was all pretty hopeless.

Stepping forward, empty blaster clutched to his chest, he searched the darkness. Listening with every extra burst his doorwings and antennas could give him. Waiting for them to maybe slip up. Step too heavy. Breathe too loud.

It never came.

It never did.

The twins didn't make mistakes. Not even for him.

Not for something as important as this.

Oh no.

There was no going easy on him here. If anything, they were making it as difficult as possible. Because no matter how much they loved him, and looked after him, and told him he could do whatever he set his processor to they didn't want him to pass anymore than any other bot did.

They didn't want him in the field. They didn't want him where they couldn't keep an optic on him.

Walking forward, glancing down each turn he passed in this endless path of corners and dead ends he dialed up his audios as high as he could. Praying to any higher power that would listen to not let him screw this one up.

Please, please, please don't let him mess this one up.

He could do it, he really could. He just needed the chance to prove it. He wasn't going to get many more chances. He had to get this one right!

It seemed though that this orn—once again—it was not meant to be. He didn't make it another five steps before a shadow gained a life of its own. A presence he noticed two nanos too late. A flash, and the broad side of a dueling blade swung for his throat.

To his credit, Bee twisted just in time. Throwing his weight sideways and back. Watching through the inky blackness as that dangerous blade glittered while it slide past. He spun again. Sucking in the next yelp as the shadow behind him moved so that at least when he crashed backward to land with a heavy thud he didn't sound like the sparkling he couldn't get bots to stop looking at him like.

The crash to the floor sent a painful jar through the damage he'd already taken to his side as well as the painful bend it put on his shocked doorwings and winglets. However, that was nothing compared to the eerily cold point of the sword pressed into the hollow of his throat.

He didn't dare breathe.

Not even when the massive shadow over him undimmed his optics and Bumblebee found himself staring up into Sideswipe's dark gaze and sleek faceplate. For a nano they looked at each other, the youngling flat on his back while Sideswipe's massive frame stood over him with a lifted optic ridge.

Pulling up a tentative smile Bumblebee tried to laugh, but he wasn't sure it was really all that believable. His spark was too dim in his chest with failure for that. "Hey ya, Sides, fancy seeing you here."

Sideswipe just snorted at him when the darkness around them suddenly flashed bright as the program faded away. A low whirl echoing through the room, the expanse around them flashing in digital pixels before it all fell away to the dull grey box of the vid projector-training booth. Bumblebee didn't even bother with watching the program flicker away taking his hopes of passing this time with it. He only lay there on his back looking up at the massive crimson warrior whose blade was still pressed to his neck.

In a low rumble, the younger twin sighed. "That's you dead, Half Pint."

With that, he pulled away. The dangerous dueling blade tucked back into its lock as he straightened before he offered the foundling that had become their little brother a tug up off the floor. Unsurprisingly, Bee didn't take it. Instead, he shoved his own weight off the floor. Head bowed and optics low as he refused to meet either of the twins' gazes.

Sunstreaker had stepped forward as the program ended to stand at his brother's side. The two huge frontliners allowing their gazes to linger over the scuffed up youngling. Only to stall at the relatively thick gash torn into his side.

They both flinched.

They hadn't known they clipped him a few klicks back.

Suppressing a hiss Sideswipe reached forward in an effort to get a better look at the damage they had done. Bumblebee flinched back from the touch though. Doorwings hanging in a low tilt behind his back while his winglets stayed plastered down. Antennas tucked deep into their grooves he looked half the size he really was. Turning the about hip high youngling back into the sparkling he tried so hard to get them not to see.

The twins sighed.

It wasn't like they didn't understand. They did, they really did, but it didn't change anything.

Too small, too slow, too naïve.

Too young.

He wasn't ready.

But maybe more so then that fact was this, none of them were ready for him to be ready yet. Fifty-five vorns . . . the twins had been in many a fight by then. Had killed many a mech. So had Jazz. So had Ironhide. So had many on this ship, but not Bee.

Because he wasn't ready, because they weren't ready, because they wouldn't let him out of their sight, and because they wouldn't let him try.

Because he was too bright.

Turning away from the twins and their reaching Bumblebee swallowed down the lump in this throat as he faced the sliding door across the room. One-way mirror or not Bee had known all too well Prowl was watching. He knew all too well he had failed. Again. He didn't need to see the look on the black and white Praxian's faceplate as the door slid away and he walked out. Prowl was relatively good at blocking what he didn't want Bee to know in both his spark and his faceplate, but there was no hiding this.

It was but a few short steps and while Bumblebee kept his chin high he could not hide the reaction of his wings. Trembling ever so slightly with repressed emotion. Prowl never had been able to teach him how to control the damn things either. Not even Blue or Flare could.

He wasn't Praxian and apparently his sensory appendages had a mind of their own. Just like all the rest of him.

He couldn't quite do it.

He wasn't quite good enough.

When Prowl came to a stop in front of him Bee already had the speech he would hear memorized by spark. He had no need or wish to hear it again. So he pulled up the brightest smile he could fake at that moment and shrugged as if he didn't care. As if his spark wasn't twisting into a quivering ball in his chest. Because he'd done it again.

"Well guess that means I lost again, huh?"

Prowl did not believe the act. He never did. Hardly any of them ever really did. There were times he could fool bots like Hound, or Blurr; but Prowl, or Hide, or Optimus, or the twins. They never took the bait. They knew him far too well. After all, they were the ones he ran to. They knew when he was upset.

Which was why Prowl didn't start the speech of points, misses, hits, and such as he normally did. He simply sighed and shook his helm.

"They caught you."

"They always catch me." Bee shrugged again, them motioned back at the pair of mirror mechs. "They're them."

"Not even a hit, Bumblebee."

Yeah.

Yeah he knew.

Forty shots.

Forty misses.

Two for them, one of them being a kill, and they didn't even lift their fake blasters.

Lowering his optics he sighed. "At least it took me longer to die this time, right? That's something."

"Bumblebee—"

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know." Cutting Prowl off with a huff he twisted on his feet and headed toward the door. He didn't want to have this argument again. Especially since it couldn't even really be called an argument. It was mainly just him standing there while Prowl listed out his failures.

Again.

As if he didn't already know what they were.

"I'm too slow, I can't get a hit, I'm too small, I never even get to the end, and I'm not good enough. I know . . . ." By that time he reached the door, whispering as it shut behind him. "I'm never good enough, but you won't give me a real chance."


Trudging down the hall with a hand pressed hard to his leaking cut Bumblebee tried to stick to the lesser used junctions and paths. That was a little hard to pull off though considering he was headed to the medical bay. Every hall in the ship connected back to the medical bay in one way or another, but eventually one would always end up in the main hall of the battleship's base level. There was just no way around it.

It wasn't so much that he didn't want to see anybot. That wasn't it at all, he just wasn't quite ready to face up to the fact that he'd failed once again. That and bots weren't going to be happy when they saw the twins actually hurt him.

The young yellow and highlighted black mechling could already hear Ratchet yelling. However, not going to the medical bay would mean suffering an even worst fate so he sucked it up and trudged along knowing there was no way around it. Considering how Red Alert had this place wired it was highly likely that Ratchet already knew he was coming.

Bee couldn't sneak around halls unseen quite as well as he did forty something vorns ago. Considering he was no longer the size of the air vents that wasn't that hard to figure though. He could still get around unnoticed if he really wanted to put effort into it, but honestly, he didn't want to put effort into much of anything right now.

The last seven decacycles had sort of sucked, and that was putting it lightly.

Hitting fifty-five vorns was a milestone he'd been waiting for. The official, more or less, half grown mark. Just into third frame phase with his last bit of growing to do. However, he had kind of hoped by now he'd be bigger by now. Not that that he had much chance of that, not now at least.

Third frame phase meant he had maybe twenty more vorns of growing to do. Tops.

And he still was looking up at Chromia.

It all made the mechling somewhat down. However, he had always figured he'd be small. He had come to accept that. His size was just the way he was. He was okay with that. What he wasn't okay with was this sudden campaign around here to never let him outside again.

Bumblebee was not a fool. He paid attention. He knew something bad was going on out there. He helped in the medical bay, he helped file reports, he could feel the anger and pain around him when bots didn't come back. He had grown up in this war.

He knew.

That was why he wanted to help.

But ever since the moment he was technically old enough to be in battle training it was like the whole world caved in around here. It wasn't like they hadn't all known this orn was coming sooner or later. It wasn't like he hadn't spent his entire life trailing after massive bots with big guns and swords. It wasn't like they hadn't all known his nature his entire life and that he wanted nothing more than to help them all.

This was his family.

This was his home.

He wanted to be able to fight for it just like they did. They all got to defend each other. They all got to defend him. Why wouldn't they let him fight for them?

He knew he wasn't big, or powerful, but he could fight. He'd been watching them his whole life. They'd been training him his whole life. It was only when he was actually old enough to start real battle training that things started getting complicated.

It was like the moment he reached third frame they realized their tiny mechling wasn't so tiny anymore. That he technically could start being more than just a smile when bots got back from missions. That he could go with them now. That he could help.

That is he could do it if only they would give him the chance.

The problem was, they didn't want to.

"Half Pint!"

His antennas twitched in their grooves, the sound of Sideswipe's call drawing him to a halt. Glancing back over his shoulder and waiting as the two big mechs closed the distance between them. He found himself tilting his head back and offering as much of a smile as he could.

The dim glow of their optics showed just how much they weren't buying it. So instead he just let it drop. Sighing as he looked up at the pair.

"We'll go to the bay with you." Sunstreaker said, those dark optics of his focused on the blue seeping through Bee's fingers.

"I'm fine."

"Take that up with Hatchet." Sides didn't break stride as he hooked his hand around Bee's bent arm and went on toward the medical bay hauling him along. Sunstreaker took up pace on his other side. Bee couldn't help the small grin that curled up his lips at the annoyance in their fields as they walked. It picked up his mood quickly.

"Shouldn't you mechs be the ones taking it up with Ratchet?"

At the pickup of his smile those dark optics brighten slightly when they glanced down at him. When they settled on the cut though they dimmed and the twins focused back on their path.

"We didn't mean to hurt you, Half Pint." Sideswipe quietly told him.

"I know that." He nodded. "It doesn't really hurt."

That didn't make them feel any better.

"We're sorry you didn't pass, Bee." Sunstreaker softly said.

Just like that the smile fell away from his lips. His steps faltering slightly before he tried for a shrug.

"It's okay," He said. "I can always try again. I passed the first section test; the second one isn't all that different. I'll figure out how to beat ya. You just watch me."

That brought a grin to both frontliners. Chuckling with a shake of their heads the brothers let out a shared snort.

"Try, mechling."

He would.

Of that they were all absolutely positive.


When the bay doors slid away the lightness in the twins' steps had faltered slightly. Because no matter how much they hadn't meant to, how much it had been a training test, and they were Ratchet's adopted sons the energon leaking down Bumblebee's side was not going to go over well. Which was why two of the most powerful mechs that wore an Autobot badge hovered in the door way getting laughed at by the young yellow mech that pranced further into the bay to find the mated pair in the back stocking shelves.

They had obviously heard the doors chime as a signal that somebot had come in, but they were busy and no bot was shouting for help so they probably figured it was just the twins dropping by. It sort of was, but at the same time wasn't.

"Hey, uh, Ratchet?"

Freezing with boxes of wire patches stacked in one arm and a clipboard balanced on the shelf the tall, bulky, yellow and red mech tensed up. Bumblebee didn't need his heighten spark senses to tell the medic's field ripped with at first shock and then growing suspicion before those dark blue optics cut over to find the young mech standing at the end of the row of shelves holding a hand to his side. There was no hiding the sticky substance leaking out against his bright plating. Bee didn't even try. Instead, he offered the mech a tentative, more than a little guilty, smile and shrugged.

"I could sorta use a patch."

A low annoyed rumbled echoed out of the large medic but he shook his head all the same. Strolling down the gaps between the shelves to take hold of the young mechling to look him over. Arcee was not but a pace behind him. Her pale optics flickering over the gash before lifting to find the twins hovering in the doorway already looking like scolded puppies.

She sighed. "Let me guess, Prowl picked you two to take the training session against him?"

They nodded together but it was Sideswipe that quietly said. "We didn't even know we hit him until it was over."

"Yeah, well, you did." Ratchet grumbled, taking Bee by the upper arm and leading him over to a medical berth. The youngling went without fuss. Hoisting himself up onto the surface that not all that long ago he couldn't even climb on his own. He had done quite a lot of growing over the last thirty vorns, but he knew very well when Arcee and Ratchet looked down at him on that medical berth they still saw the mechling that could fit in their palms.

Just like everybot else around him.

He was still their tiny mechling.

No matter that technically he was almost halfway to fully grown.

The truth was that fact was not something that Bumblebee mined. Not really. He loved his family. All of them. They were there best thing in the entire universe. That had not changed, but it was so hard to get them to look at him and not see a helpless sparkling they would protect at all cost. It was getting harder.

Even if a few vorns ago he hadn't believed that possible. It was. When he passed his first battle test he had almost felt the switch flip in the minds around here. The notion that he was old enough now to do what he'd wanted to for so long, help, had struck a match of fear he could still feel burning around him.

It wasn't a notion any of them had taken a shine too quite like he had.

"Beat you again did they?" Ratchet questioned, as he pulled out a scanner. Bee lifted his arm away from his side without having to be prompted. He knew the routine. He should, he spent a whole pit of a lot of time in the medical bay.

Instead of a real answer, though he just gave a slight nod. Keeping his optics low and allowing the medics to stop him leaking.

It wasn't that he didn't like medical stuff. Well, okay, so he didn't like it. He was pretty sure no bot actually liked it. That is, unless they were a medic. What bothered him was how much time he found himself under one of these stupid tingly things. Granted, a lot of it was his fault by thinking he could do a whole lot more then he actually could, but not all of it was.

Most of it was Ratchet's and Arcee's never ending stream of cheek ups.

They were sort of annoying.

What was more annoying though was how Ratchet would not tell him why. No matter how many times he asked, no matter how much he claimed he felt fine, it was the same old same old. For a while he thought maybe it was just the usual worries of upgrades phasing correctly as protoform and plating stretched, cracked, and thickened. It wasn't that growth was dangerous—though at times it was downright painful—it was simply that it needed to be monitored. Specific vitamins and supplements were needed as well as a strong reserve of energy.

Growing took a lot out of younglings. Which was what Bumblebee blamed his lack of noticing how odd and extensive his frequent check ups were. It actually wasn't until about a vorn ago when his third growth cycle came around and then slowed down that he began to notice he didn't really need all the monitoring all the medics around here were doing.

However, when he asked why it was happening he was told a simple they were just making sure he was healthy. Which sure, okay, he understood . . . but why?

Why was the best medic in the whole universe worried about a frame and spark he'd been making sure had the best care since he laid hands on it?

What was it Ratchet was worried about?

What was it they weren't telling him this time?

He didn't know, but he was planning on finding out. In the mitts of trying to pass his battle training tests, and convincing his family he was not absolutely helpless, and that locking him up in his room for the remainder of the war was not a smart plan.

It was sorta of a long to do list, but he was making it work.

"Well, if you are through rushing into test before your ready, Ironhide has need of you." Ratchet told him as he finished up grafting the mesh patch into the still thickening, growing, yellow armor of his right side.

Perking up at the mention of his sire the young mechling felt his antennas flicker upright and wiggle as he all but chirped.

"You mean he's done with weapons testing?"

"As of about two breems ago, yes." Arcee answered with a slight laugh at his antics. "You were taking the test and since we all know the first place you have to come after that damn test he commed us and said send you his way when you were done."

"Cool! Thanks!" Leaping up he swung his arms around Ratchet's neck. Giving the mech a tight, squeezing hug before he dropped down, spun around, pushed himself up onto his tip toes, gave Arcee a hard kiss to the cheek and then darted off out the doorway pass the twins yelling 'later' over his shoulder.

Leaving the pair of huge frontliners standing there watching down the hall as he went off in search of his sire and most likely his carrier. Turning their optics back to their own adopted creators they expected the dressing down that always came when training got a little too rough with the delicate mechling. Instead they found both the Chief Medical Officer and his mate standing there in the middle of the bay sighing under their breath.

"Ratchet?" Sideswipe asked carefully, mindful of the fact that the yellow medic might decide any time is a good time to smack them both for making Bumblebee leak again.

"You alright?" Sunstreaker finished.

"How did he do this time?" Ratchet looked up at them with a dimness in his gaze that neither frontliner liked. "And don't give me that slag that is in Prowl's report version that says he's not ready because he can't beat you."

At that both mechs paused. Processors and split spark at war with each other in a short cluster of nanos before they lowered their gazes.

"Good." Sides admitted carefully. "He's sneaky, and he's faster than any of us want to admit. Above all that though, he's clever and he is stubborn. He's only loosing because we're not playing fair. We all know if he can sense us he can sense others. He's done it before."

"Prowl saying its cheating is a load of slag." Sunstreaker grumbled, hating it but at the same time hating that he wanted to agree with it. "If we didn't have the Dampeners on he'd be able to find us. He knows how to shoot, he knows how to hide, and he's been listening to everything we've taught him for vorns."

"He's only not passing because we've decided we don't want him to." Sideswipe finished quietly. "I never figured I'd be lying to him like this."

None of them did, but fear . . . fear was a powerful thing.


Busting through the doors of the main shooting range Bumblebee's voice rang out over the wide open room.

"Hide!"

Pausing mid-sentence the massive ebony mech turned from what he was doing just in time to get a half grown mechling plastered into his side. A heavy grunt left the huge mech, the weight of his adopted son not enough to throw him off balance, but enough to knock the air out a few of his vents leaving him snorting as he looked down at the beaming smile glittering up at him.

"Hi Hide!" Bee chirped, thin but strong arms latched as far around the larger mech's chest as he could get as well as his legs making him a brightly colored cling on burrowed into the harder, thicker black armor.

Ironhide didn't mind in the slightest.

"Hey mechling," He chuckled softly down at his charge. "What's got you in such a fine mood?"

He was slightly afraid to ask, he knew better then anybot what Bumblebee's schedule was booked with this morning. And while the mechling was never really all that down about much of anything he was never this cheery after he lost anything. Especially that second test.

"On nothing." Bee shrugged, finally letting go of his tight hold to his sire. Dropping back down to the floor with a plop. It was then that the dark mech's gaze noticed the fresh patch on his side. Those deep blue optics narrowed at the sight of it.

"What's that?"

Bee glanced down, following the look and just like that some of the up fled his field and his frame as he shrugged once again. This time with a little less of what made him, him.

"Oh . . . you know, I lost again." He sighed. "It's not bad though. They just clipped me on accident. I already went to Ratchet. He said you were done with the weapons test. Does that mean we get to have practice now!?"

With those words the youngling picked up a little bit again. Grin falling back into place as he gazed expectantly up at his massive sire with those impossibly big, bright, baby blue optics. Swimming pools of blue filled with light and excitement. That viewed this big, dark, dangerous world like none of them ever could again.

Bumblebee found joy in ways none of them did anymore, and somehow brought it back to them in ways they had never expected as he had grown. That smile of his was often the only thing around here that kept a good portion of them sane. If it was possible that any of them really had a grip on sanity anymore. He was something anybot around here would give their very lives to protect.

He was their hope.

At his words Ironhide sighed. Knowing full well that his failure had a whole lot more to do with them then it did with him, and while that made his spark squeeze angrily at itself in his chest he said nothing. Just reached out to pull the little mechling close to his side again and hug him tightly.

Bumblebee knew he was loved more than even he was aware, but sometimes Ironhide wondered if he knew just how much his accident-prone little spark terrified them all.

"Yeah, mechling." He said, deep voice rumbling deep in his chest. "If you want to get out shot then why not?"

That earned him a playful shove that did little more than shift his armor. Though it did start up a flare of laughter from the three leaning a few steps away against the table littered with their stripped down weapons. The sound made Bee give a curious chirp, leaning around Ironhide's bulk only for that grin of his to light back up at the sight of the three mechs smirking back at him.

One a bright shine of white striped in red and blue with a shimmering red chevron, bright blue optics, and elegantly crafted doorwings. Smokescreen, with that perfected half smile that now lacked the glow of a grey cy-gar. To the Praxian's right leaned the big red and black, almost spitting image of Hide, ex-bounty hunter by the name of Outrider with his bright cobalt colored optics. To Rider's right stood the equally as big dark blue mech highlighted here and there in black. His dark blue optics sparkling with good nature humor as he looked down at Bee's much smaller frame. Hammerdown, the transfer from Hot Rod's ship that had fallen back into place among those that had made up his family as a youngling.

Ironhide's main strike team.

Three of the biggest bad afts around this place.

Bee loved every single one of them. Technically they were kind of his uncles—being Ironhide's adopted son and all—but considering they were about as bad at disciplining him as he was with his hounds it was with them that he could pretty much get away with anything.

The trio had absolutely no idea how to tell him no and no matter if that might make him slightly devious he used it to his advantage every chance he got. They were a whole lot of fun, especially when explosives and live ammunition were involved. On top of all that though, the three of them were always coming and going. They were never home for long. Always vanishing off in that ship of theirs to some place or another. Chasing leads for Optimus. Gathering information.

Scouts of the coolest level.

They were everything Bumblebee wanted to be and be able to do.

Blasting off to explore the stars beyond this dying planet. They came home with something new for him every time. Souvenirs, stories, pictures, and videos. They knew how bad he ached to know what was out there on the other side of his window. How bad he wanted to climb on board with them and jet off to see the universe.

To see what else was out there.

To leave this dying, grey world and this horrible war behind him. Only there was this cold place inside of Bee's spark that never wanted to come back. The place in him that hated this war and what it had done to his family. To him.

The part of him that he tired to ignore when it told him he was being lied to.

"Hey!" He chirped happily. Pulling away from Ironhide and rushing over to bounce up and down in a hug against Rider's side. The trio of mechs chuckled at his antics. Outrider hugging him back lightly in his strong grip while Hammerdown knuckled him between his flicking his antennas and Smokescreen flicked a doorwing at him in greeting. One of the few motions that Bumblebee actually had perfected over the vorns. Even if half the time he did it without knowing it.

"How you been, Pip Squeak?" Outrider asked around his laughter. "Been a while."

"I'm okay." Pulling back, but leaning heavily into the larger mech's side he grinned up at him. "I didn't even notice you all were back."

The tri colored Praxian tapped lightly at his chest. "We're not staying long, didn't bother taking out the Dampeners."

Oh.

Yeah.

Spark Dampeners.

Sometimes they were gone so long Bee actually forgot they wore them to help make sure they couldn't be tracked as they frequently left and reentered the guarded atmosphere.

At the words of the smallest scout Bee's happy bouncing slowed to a stop as his doorwings dropped slightly behind him. Bright optics dimming, glancing between the large mechs. "Really? How long until you leave again?"

At the dip in his demeanor Outrider pulled him a little closer and knuckled him between his doorwings. "Tonight."

Those flashy doorwings, marked in the first shade of paint Bee had ever added to his nanites. The deep ebony that his sire wore. The same black Rider and Hammer wore as well. Striped up the middle of the broadening appendages like the way Smokescreen wore them but Bee's striped his chest as well.

Outrider knew it was Sunstreaker who painted the mechling when he asked for his first foreign paint nanites after he hit second frame. The big red mech also knew that knowing Sunstreaker he'd found the best paint he could get a hold of when he sat the mechling down in front of him and helped him with it.

The sensitive appendages lifted slightly at the touch but Bee still sagged at the answer. "Oh."

"Aw come on, Pip Squeak." Smokescreen gently chided pushing away from the table to pull up one of the blasters laying before him and cycle the chamber. "Don't be like that. We'll be back soon, but in the mean time. Why don't we see if you can finally out shot us?"

At the challenge Bee's optics lit up and he grinned. "Careful, Smokey, the Weapons Specialist is my sire, remember? If there is one thing I can do its shoot."

Ironhide threw his head back laughing at that along with Outrider and Hammerdown while Smokescreen just charged his blaster with a low snort and grinned.

"Bring it on, Pip Squeak."


In the end Bee didn't manage to out shoot Hide or Rider, but he did hit the digital targets more than Smokey or Hammer did. Which of course ensued the unavoidable laughing and taunting, and then the wrestling match. Which then lead to the trio of scouts rolling around on the training room floor trying to beat each other up without actually hurting each other while Bumblebee just sat on the table next to his sire laughing at them. Leaning against Ironhide's thick shoulder the young mechling let himself get lost in the feeling of the playfulness and joy filling the air around him. In the warmth and ease that had come to life in his normally stressed sire's field.

This last few vorns had taken a toll on all of them. It made Bee's spark lighter to feel the actual lighter air around him.

"So where are they going this time?" Bumblebee asked, turning to look into the darker orbs of his sire.

Ironhide snorted, watching as Outrider got a good hold on Smokescreen and swung the lighter mech around while he laughed only for Hammerdown to tackle them both back down to the floor and for it all to start again. At the sound of his son's voice Hide tore his attention away to find those bright orbs he loved so much staring up at him.

He was in no way the palm-sized youngling he once was. He had come a long way by the fifty-fifth vorn mark, but he was still Ironhide's mechling. That would never change. No matter how old he got. He would always be that tiny sparkling Ironhide pulled out of the ruble what seemed like a lifetime ago.

Looking over his bright yellow finish striped with the color Hide wore and those wonderful bright optics the old tribal mech said. "I'm not sure. Somewhere out in the Raid Sector. At least I think that's where it is. I'm not a navigator Bee, I don't read the stars."

Bee smirked at that, bumping against Hide's side again before he let his optics focus over on the antics going on across the room. Grin spreading up his lips he allowed himself to push those nagging bits of cold lingering in his spark away.

Everything was okay. It would be okay.

He'd get what he wanted eventually, and this was his family after all. No bot was lying to him. Keeping things from him maybe, but he'd figure out what it was and he'd face that when he did. For now, he was going to pick his little self up and haul his little aft over there to join that wrestling match while he could. Before the scouts left again.

Which was just what he did.

In a streak of yellow and giggling laughter followed by a rather loud yelp from Outrider when he landed on the bigger mech's back.


Standing in his office over the ships' bridge watching as the massive ship sliced through the dark of Cybertron's night Optimus Prime did his best to retain his growing anger. He wasn't having much luck though which was why he kept his back from the computer monitor behind him and the three bots that stood next to it. In his silence he could hear the shifting of the younger mech on the other side of that vid call waiting for his response.

He just didn't want to give it.

Fists clenching and unclenching as he stared out at the dark night before him wondering how much it would shatter what little order they had left in this universe if he just started screaming at the top of his vocal processor and never stopped.

"Repeat your casualty report." He growled out, deep baritone shaking the pain of glass he was staring out of. He didn't need to look back to see that Roddy ducked under the tone. The already defeated look in the red, yellow, and orange commander's optics deepening.

However, the young commander sucked up his growing sense of exhaustion and defeat to repeat what he had already said.

"My battleship is gone, it's not salvageable. Hardly anything inside is. Sixty dead, twenty unaccountable, though the odds of finding them now aren't good. We never saw him coming, Optimus. Had Magnus' ship not been in the sector I wouldn't be talking to you know. They weren't out to take prisoners."

Grounding his teeth together Optimus pushed the painful flare in his chest to the side, took a breath, and tried to keep his voice level.

"And this new gun?"

"He only fired twice, if that sums it up for you." Hot Rod said quietly. "I've never seen a weapons system like that. Has Ironhide looked at those specs yet?"

"No." Optimus shook his head, but did not turn around. "He will soon though. Prowl is going over them now."

That was just what the second in command was doing. Standing there next to the monitor scrolling through what little information Hot Rod had to offer about this new toy Megatron had strapped to the Nemesis's bow and just tired to wipe Hot Rod's crew off the face of the planet with. A gun they knew nothing about. On a ship they thought they had downed vorns ago. The Nemesis was supposed to be in a smoldering hole outside the ruble of Kaon. Where it died along with the city it was forged in.

Apparently they had been very wrong in that assumption though. Because now Roddy had lost over half his crew and was currently sitting in front of Magnus' computer leaking.

"Optimus," Roddy said softly, the tone of his voice scrapping against the Prime's spark making him want nothing more than to turn around and comfort his younger half-brother. He couldn't though. "I'm sorry . . . ."

"It's not your fault, Roddy." Elita's voice drifted to the Prime's audios from behind him. The tall, elegant, beautiful, dawn colored femme standing before the monitor. Looking between the screen, her mate's back, then Jazz and Prowl who stood on the other side of the desk looking over what little info they had.

"This is not nearly enough to work with." Prowl's low tone spoke, his dark blue optics lifting to the monitor. "Not even Ironhide will be able to tell what we're dealing with. Not with this. It's not enough data."

"Gee, I'm sorry, Prowl." Hot Rod finally snapped. Those bright optics narrowing and cutting to the Praxian in a burning glare. "I'm sorry I was too busy trying to save my crew from being slaughtered to get a better look at the thing that was trying to kill us all!"

"You are a commander, Hot Rod." Prowl snapped right back at him. "You should have—"

"What!?" Roddy cut him off. "Done better?! I tried! They're all dead, Prowl! Dead! That's on me, mech! Don't you think I know I didn't do enough!? I was trying!"

"Enough." Optimus bark cut them all off as he turned from the window to glare down at them all. "We will not do this. It is just what he would want. Do you understand me? I will not give him the satisfaction."

Both Roddy and Prowl lowered their gazes but it was Elita that reached out to lay a hand on Optimus' upper arm. Sending a smooth, calm pulse through their bond. For now he could only accept the feeling, and try to return it as he looked around at half his command staff and his younger brother in the wake of what his fallen older brother had done to them all this time.

There was no verbal way to fix this. There was no real way to fix this. None of it.

"There is nothing we can do about what has been done but ready ourselves for what undoubtedly is coming next. Whatever he is up to has to do with what you were looking in to. Finish your reports, care for your crew, stay with Magnus and the lot of you get your afts back here. If Megatron does have a new toy he wants to show off I have no doubt he'll come looking for me next. Now get to work. All of you."

"Yes, Prime." The echo came not only from the monitor screen, but from Jazz and Prowl as well. Optimus didn't wait for further. He simply turned on his heels and headed out of the office with Elita following at his side. He needed out of this stuffy office before he did something stupid like start screaming and never stop.

He needed some time with his vibrant little one.


Finding Bumblebee was no real chore. One usually just had to look where the largest group of laughter had gathered and Bumblebee was without a doubt smack dab in the middle of it. This evening was no different. One of the lower level rec rooms had become a sort of playground tonight with Bumblebee, his hounds, and an assortment of others.

Optimus strolling into the room with Elita did very little to impact the fun that was the mechling's favorite game of twister that had taken over the middle of the room with the twins, Swoop, Bluestreak, Drift, the hounds, Mirage, Smokescreen, Quickfire, and Flare Up. The sheer amount of doorwings being tested in that tangle of limbs and laughter made Optimus' low spark pick up slightly. It was always entertaining to see the owners of those sensitive appendages get snipping and snappy when somebot got too close to them. The fact that they were the ones that threw themselves into that game was of very little argument when Quickfire or Flare Up started punching mechs for landing on their doorwings.

Strangely enough, it was quite entertaining.

Which was why the towering commander and his mate placed themselves at one of the back tables that Ironhide, Chromia, Ratchet, and Arcee had taken up. Lifted optic ridges greeted them and over the laughter and bickering going on across the room Ironhide spoke.

"I thought you had reports to go over all evening with Jazz and Prowl before you sent Rider, Smokey, and Hammer off again."

For a moment Optimus just sat there. Staring across the room at the sight that was Bumblebee slipping along bigger, stronger frames to find the red dot he was looking for. As odd as it was, this was one of his favorite games that had gotten harder as he got bigger. He could no longer just run around between the twisting maze of limbs and frames to stand on the latest dot that was called out. He actually had to bend and twist like the rest of them. The problem was though he was bigger he wasn't quite big enough to stretch the distances some of the rest of them could.

Bumblebee didn't win twister quite as much as he use too. However, that did nothing to dampen his love of his game. If anything, Optimus was pretty sure the youngling liked it more now that it was something he could test himself with.

Because that was Bumblebee.

Always pushing.

Always testing.

Always with something to prove.

And the high commander of the Autobots wasn't sure how to make him stop. How to make him see that they didn't expect him to try and prove himself in anything. That in all honesty they didn't want him to.

They didn't want him to be a soldier.

They didn't want him to dim like all of them had.

That brilliantly bright, happy, young spark. The notion of tainting it in the ways all of them were now . . . it made Optimus' spark quiver in its chamber. What made it all the more worse though, was that the Prime knew they had no choice.

Prowl would bend the rules of the training test all he wanted for as long as he wanted—none around here would stop him—but eventually Bumblebee would pass. They all knew he would. He was too stubborn and too clever not too. He'd get around it and he'd get what he wanted. Of that they were all perfectly clear on. And then Optimus would have no choice. He'd have no excuse.

Bumblebee was young but he would be old enough very soon. He was old enough now if any of them wanted to admit it. More than that though; he was capable.

He was quick both in frame and processor. Clever, stubborn, and resourceful. He'd spent his whole life watching this collection of talents do what they did best. He'd picked up things along the way.

No, Optimus wasn't foolish enough to think that Bumblebee couldn't do it. He was smart enough to know that he wouldn't. Bumblebee wasn't like them. He wasn't a soldier. He wasn't a killer.

He wasn't mean enough.

He wasn't cruel enough.

When the moment came—and it would—that Bumblebee either had to kill or be killed there was this very large part in all their sparks that quivered at the notion that he wouldn't have it in him. That he wouldn't do it.

And they would lose him.

"Optimus," Arcee's soft voice prompted. "What's wrong?"

Realizing he'd been staring over at the goofing off youngling far too long with far too dark of a look on his faceplate the Prime turned away to catch his oldest friends' optics again.

"Megatron has a new toy."

The air around them all thickened. Seeming to cool several degrees as struts straightened and armor tightened.

"What happened?" Ratchet pressed.

"He blew up Roddy's ship." Elita answer quietly. "Half the crew is gone. They'd all be gone if Magnus hadn't been close."

"We never received a distress call." Chromia threw in, optics wide and dark. She'd spent the whole orn on a shift on the bridge with Preceptor and Inferno. She knew for fact there had been no call for help.

"That's the problem." Optimus sighed. "Apparently the weapon somehow blocks all radio signals. Roddy never saw them coming, and he had no way to call for help. Magnus only came because they were close enough together to feel when Hot Rod panicked. He's too far away for even me to feel, but he and Magnus have a strong link. He felt him."

"What kind of gun kills radio ways?" Ironhide snapped. "What specs did he manage to get."

"Not many." Optimus conceded, reaching into subspace and pulling out a copy of what Hot Rod had managed to see. Handing it over to his Weapons Specialist, hoping that the expect would see something in the thrown together description that the rest of them hadn't. However, as the nanos clicked by and Hide's optics darkened Optimus felt that tiny sliver of hope fall from his chest.

Shaking his head Ironhide growled. "I don't know . . . . This isn't enough. Some kind of fusion plasma, maybe. Only that stuff burns hot enough to tear up a ship that fast, but that doesn't affect radio waves. If anything it can speed them up. The stuff burns like a solar flare. It's pure hot energy."

Optimus sighed. "Whatever it is it cost us over sixty mechs and a battleship. Once again we're two steps behind him and paying the price."

"So what's to be done about it?" Chromia asked. "That kind of weapon could wipe us all out if he used it right. And the Nemesis, I thought we ended that ship."

"We all did." Elita said. "Apparently we were wrong."

"It was nothing more than a show against Hot Rod." Ratchet's voice drew all their attention to him. "That's the only explanation. This is Autobot space, but he could find us if he wanted too. Just like we can find him. He went after Hot Rod first on purpose. Roddy is a talented commander, but he's not the strategist Magnus is and he's not the leader you are. We all know Megatron, Optimus. He might not know who Roddy really is, but he never liked him, and he knows how protective you are of him. This was a statement. He might not have killed Roddy—maybe that was the plan—he just wanted to make a point out of him. He wanted you to see what he has now. See it and fear it."

Optimus nodded as Ratchet spoke, because yes, that had been what he thought it had been about.

"I know." He replied softly. "I figured as much. That's why I called Magnus back in. Nemesis vanished as quickly as she came about and once again he's lying in weight. For all we know he'd coming for this ship next."

"Then why aren't we on alert?" Ironhide snapped, optic drifting over to his son playing in the floor with his hounds. He had long since lost to Drift's flexibility and Sideswipe's cheating so he was currently getting mauled with licks on the floor next to the mat by Scout and Echo as the two huge, fully grown, black static-hounds jumped all over the mechling they still out sized.

"Red Alert and Prowl are. There is a reason half the staff isn't here. We're in the dead center of Autobot territory. There are two hundred drone sensors in every direction for fifty miles. He won't be able to sneak up on us here. He got the drop on Roddy because he was out in the desert chasing that lead. Megatron will not be so luck here."

"You hope." Jazz's voice appeared before he did, and despite how long they had all lived with and known the mech they all still jumped a little at the shadow of the Autobots appearing out of seemingly nowhere. His low, smooth voice pitched into an angry rumble. Appearing from seemingly nowhere as well as Mirage could ever do. And Jazz didn't have the vanishing drives.

He was simply that good.

Turning his attention to his left Optimus found the sleek, silver mech leaning against the table as if he'd been there all along. Holding a cube of what looked suspiciously like highgrade wearing his visor darker than normal.

Jazz was not happy.

That was painfully clear.

"I know you have never been a fan of the sit and wait game, Jazz, but this is not your call."

"Oh I know, my Prime." The saboteur drawled taking a long swig of his drink. "And I'm not questioning your decision. I'm just pissed and I want to kill something. Unfortunately, your bastard of a big brother went off and hid again so I can't tear out his throat as much as I'd like too. That is, unless you'd let me borrow the scout's ship and go looking fo—"

"No." Optimus cut him off with a low growl. "We've been over this."

"But he's hiding something out there." Jazz snapped back at him. "Or at least he's looking for something. And you believe it! If you didn't you wouldn't have sent Roddy out there."

"Roddy had a whole battle cruiser and crew, Jazz." Optimus felt a headache coming on. They'd been having this argument for over a vorn now, and it seemed no matter how many times Optimus told him no, the third in command refused to take that for an answer. He was now using this latest disaster as fuel for the fire of his argument even if in Optimus' optics it was doing nothing to help his case. "And they were slaughtered."

"They were big and obvious." Jazz shot back. "Mega-idiot would never even know I was there! This is what I do, boss bot, if you'd let me do my job—"

"I said no!" It came out far louder than the Prime meant it to. Drawing the sounds and motions of the rec room to a jarring halt. Every optic in the room snapping around to find the table at the back that held over half of the command staff. Optimus froze along with Jazz, looking back at the assortment of his soldiers and family before he lifted his chin, cleared his throat, and effectively dismissed them all to go back to what they were doing. It took a few nanos longer, but eventually the room fell back into motion.

Apart from Bumblebee.

Jazz, who was now glaring down at the table in stewing anger quietly growled out. "Yes, Prime."

Optimus sighed at the reaction. Reaching out and cupping his friend on the shoulder.

"Jazz," He said quietly.

When the silver mech didn't pull away it was a good sign, but when he sighed himself and nodded it was even better.

"I know. I'm sorry. I'm just . . . well . . . ya know."

"Yes." Optimus nodded, dropping his hand. "We all are."

It was true.

"Hey, bots?" The tentative, question of a greeting drew all their all optics to the side to find Bumblebee standing there with one of his smaller but just as bright smiles as he looked around the table. The huge forms of his grown hounds, who both stood able to look dead center of his chest now, were milling about him as they usually were. Scout's deep, dark black optics as cutting and intelligence as ever while Echo's glowed with a brightness that didn't seem possible in those deep black depths. "What's wrong?"

Jazz reached back in a blur of movement and pulled the youngling to his side. The smaller frame fitting in as tightly as he ever did. Snuggling in and looking up at Jazz with expectant kind of optics, but no more questions were asked when the spy lay his chin atop his head and held him there.

When the quiet murmur of nothing came Bee knew it wasn't true, but he decided not to press. Instead he just settled in there where Jazz had pulled him. Content to be pulled up and held in the saboteur's lap even if technically he wasn't young enough to be carried around like a sparkling anymore. No matter how much Ironhide said that as long as he could still be picked up he was still young enough to be carried around like a sparkling.

Right now Bee didn't mind.

It didn't take his spark to know something was going on. Something was wrong, and they didn't want to tell him yet. That much was obvious, but instead of pushing like a large part of him wanted to do he just settled in there against Jazz's warm frame and grinned across the table at Hide and Mia who looked at him with those fond looks they so often wore when they thought he wasn't paying attention.

He sat there for a few klicks. Content in this warm place in his might as well be big brother's arms while his hounds curled up on the floor around the chair they were in.

He actually felt them in spark before he sensed their fields, but the last thing he expected was when Sides did fill his field of vision would be him twirling a finally crafted blade between his fingers.

When the big mechs joined the table, Bee's bright optics focused on that glittering black blade with the swirling silver handle. He knew Sides and Sunny made their own weapons most of the time, but he'd never seen that knife before. Perking up at the sight of them he dislodged Jazz's chin from his head making the larger mech pull back with laugh. Bee tilted his head and grinned at them.

"What's that?" He chirped, earning a snort from the crimson and the golden mechs before with a flick of his wrist and a jar of movement Sides closed the distance between them and Bee found the cold point of the blade pressing into this throat.

His field flared in shock, but he didn't dare yelp.

Then Ironhide's and Jazz's low, warning, snarls echoed, but Bee found himself looking up in the teasing optics of the younger twin. A part of the young mech wondered if this was some kind of a prank, but there was something deeper in the playful look the red frontliner was giving him as he tapped the blade against his neck a few more times before pulling it away, twirling it around, and handing him the hilt.

"Don't you know a knife when you see one, Bee?"

At the teasing snide Bee laughed back at him snatching the knife away. Sending a pulse to Scout and Echo to keep the glaring hounds under the table from doing something like jumping up and snipping for some of the more sensitive parts of Sides' lower anatomy. Quickly distracted by the dangerously pretty weapon he leaned forward on the table to look over the blade.

Sides leaned down on the table next to him while Sunstreaker leaned pretty much against his brother's hip to hold himself up. Well that is until Ratchet smacked the younger twin hard over his black audio horns earning a yelp and a jerk away followed by a glare at the big medic.

"Hey!" The red twin snapped.

"That wasn't funny, Sideswipe." Ratchet huffed back at him.

"What?" The frontliner shrugged, ignoring the glaring Hide and Jazz were still doing at him. He was smarter than to ignore Chromia though and sent the blue femme a small smile before she huffed and rolled her optics at him. "Oh come on, the mechling has to learn to expect the unexpected."

"Yes, because he needs to anticipate you pulling a knife on him." Ratchet grumbled back at him. "Don't be a glitch, Sideswipe."

"That is probably one of those crazy unexpected things to prepare for though." Bee muttered, off hand as he twisted the knife back and forth watching it catch and throw the light.

Sideswipe straightened up at that, turning to stare down at the little yellow mech with amused optics as he snorted. "I don't know if I should be insulted by that or not."

The table laughed at that as Bee looked back up at him and grinned.

"Both."

Sides snorted down at him again, knuckling him between his antennas earning himself that bubbly laughter as the mechling pulled away to hide away in Jazz's hold. Jazz tightened his grip on him with one last glare at Sideswipe and his cheeky smirk back before he too had to shrug and admit the big mech did have a point. Though he could have gone about it a lot better. Still, any chance for a lesson that Prowl wasn't rigging for failure Jazz would take.

He feared Bumblebee out there where he couldn't watch him as much as all the rest of them, but Jazz was not going to stop teaching him because of it.

Lowly he muttered. "Why did he go for that spot, Lil' Bee?"

At the question Bee sat up again. Twisting in his lap to gaze up into the saboteur's bright visor. Lifting a hand he pointed to the section of his neck Sides had pressed the knife. "Here?"

Jazz nodded.

Bee's optics unfocused for a moment in thought before the answer flashed through his processor, pressing his finger into the softer cabling and wiring that bunched together at the top of his neck and the underside of his chin. Technically it was his throat but the highest point of that was a very vulnerable place on every single Cybertronians alive. It was the point where three major inner parts connected together in one tight little jumble.

"First strut cord, top of the jugular vein, and vocal processor cluster. It's all bunched together right there."

Jazz nodded, again. "What else?"

"Sever that then it's pretty much over without immediate medical treatment."

"Why?"

"First strut cord is what protects the neural cords that allow us to use our inner comms. If you bust it no calls can go out or in. The jugular is the quickest way to leak out. And the vocal processor keeps them from making any real noise."

"That's right." Jazz nodded stiffly, spark both proud and sad that Bumblebee knew one of the quickest and easiest ways to kill a bot.

"Yep." The youngling said, throwing his gaze over to Ratchet's dim ones. "See, I pay attention when you teach me how frames work."

"I know." Ratchet responded quietly. Just as he knew Bee paid attention to every other lesson he'd ever had. Including that one.

"Yeah." Sideswipe nodded a feeling similar to the one in Jazz's chest in both him and his twins'. "That's about right."

"So," Bee drawled, attention falling back down to the knife he was twisting around in his fingers. "You mechs made this one?"

"Yes." Sunstreaker answered.

"It's pretty." Bee commented, watching the dark blade throw light across the table.

"It's yours." Sunstreaker said.

Bumblebee yanked his gaze up, shock ripping through his field again as his optics widened. "What? Really?"

"Yep." Sides popped the 'p', giving Ironhide a glance before looking back at the young mech. "If Hide doesn't kill us for giving you dangerous toys to play with. You're old enough to have one. You still can't make plasma on your own for blasters and your too little to hold up a real cannon yet, but that you can handle. You know how. Besides, we can give you some more lessons."

"Really?" He bounced a bit in Jazz's lap before throwing his gaze over to Hide. "Can I keep it!?"

Ironhide looked long and hard at the grin and the glitter in his optics. He knew what was really going on here. This was the twins feeling bad about being a part of the tests. Of keeping things from Bee and so much more. And technically there right. It was about time he had something to carry around with him. His subspace pockets were developing and while they were right about him being too young for his frame to make enough extra plasma to power a blaster or too hold up a cannon that knife he could handle well.

He knew how.

Besides, as much as he hated the notion of the mechling needed a weapon it was time he had something on him to fight with at all times. He didn't have claws or size to use. So with a slow nod Hide consented and Bee chirped happily. Jumping up to hug the twins his laughter picked up all their sparks a least a little bit.

For a little while.


Ironhide and Chromia's room that they use to share with their still portable sized mechling had long since been expanded to hold another little room off to the side. The room that Bee called his own. It wasn't much. Just a square off to the side with a door that opened back up into the main room that Hide and Mia shared, just across from the door to the washracks. But he had a big window and a nice sized berth big enough for his growing frame and his hounds. Even if some nights still found Bee curled up with his creators most nights he recharged on his own.

Tonight was no different.

After the yawning started the bots broke apart and Bumblebee found himself tucked into his own sheets with his many pillows and his hounds purring happily at the end of his berth. A kiss pressed to his forehead by Mia and Hide both followed by a soft stroke to his antennas before they left him to his dreams and headed to their own berth. Like any other night.

Only this night, was not going to be quite like the other nights.

Bumblebee wasn't sure what it was.

He'd been on cloud nine for most of the evening with his gift from the twins—the present he had tucked away into subspace, the slight weight he could feel from where it was comforting in a way he wasn't sure how to explain—and the evening of games. He had picked himself up from his down about failing. He felt better, and he would face it again with another plan as soon as he got Prowl to let him take the test again.

It was only when the ship grew quiet and he found himself laying there in the darkness staring at the pillow in front of his face that something wrong started to settle in his chest. This dark feeling. This dread.

It had been quite a long time since a feeling like this had come over him, and unsure what to do with it at first he shoved it aside and told his worrisome spark to hush. He was tired, he wanted recharge. Drifting off brought him no relief though.


A bright flash, and a drop straight down into brightness Bumblebee slammed into something hard and solid enough to be ground . . . only it wasn't. Because ground didn't glow white. Startled, the young mech shoved himself up. Optics and doorwings flaring wide as he rapidly scrambled for his feet. Glancing around in every direction of this strange, bright, white world.

"What the slag . . . ?" He muttered to himself, spinning and staring. Trying to figure out where the frag he was and what was going on. Then, some kind of familiar tug yanked on his spark leaving him to pause then slowly twist to the side and find himself staring down at what looked to be a robo-cat.

Only it was black and gold with optics that glowed as golden as little suns.

Umm . . . .

The thought earned him an amused tilt of lips from the feline mech before it opened its mouth and spoke. "You are the one making me look like this, Young Spark, or have you really forgotten?"

Then, suddenly, with a flash Bee understood. He remembered.

"Star?" He asked, stepping closer and kneeling down.

An amused purr. "That's correct. I was beginning to think you had forgotten me."

Bee shook his head quickly. Remembering all those dreams and times this familiar voice had drifted through his spark. Had told him something. Had lead him somewhere. "No. No, I didn't forget. It's just . . . been a long time since I heard you."

And it had . . . in fact, the last time Bee could remember hearing this voice or seeing this strange cat like mech had been over forty vorns ago when Smokey and Rider had first come home.

"Yes."

His friend, the one he had heard and seen through his dreams and spark since the time he was a sparkling.

Now maybe, on some level, it did accrue to Bee that even if he was dreaming that maybe this should be a considered to be weird, but honestly, Bee did a lot of weird things. Remembering the voice in his spark that he had talked to a long time ago and once or twice saw in his dreams wasn't what he would consider all that strange. At least not for him. There were a lot of things about him and that he could do that weren't . . . normal.

He knew that.

Even in a dream land he knew that.

But, he was this way. He didn't know how to be anything or any way else. He didn't want to be.

Even if he wasn't sure how to really explain some of things he did to his family. Which was why he never told them a whole lot of it.

"Yes, it has been quite a while. However, you have not forgotten, but even more so you don't seem so concerned about me or this place."

Bumblebee shrugged. "I think we both know I do a lot of . . . strange things."

This seemed to amuse Star because he gave another purr of amusement. "That I do."

Bee grinned back at him, plopping down to his aft on in this strange white world giving a look around.

"Where are we?"

Star snorted. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you, Young Spark."

Bee lifted an optic ridge. "Hey, this is my dream, I think I deserve to know where I am."

"I won't even ask you to analyses the strangeness of that statement." Star lifted an optic ridge of his own. An odd look considering he was a robo-cat.

Bee leaned forward, elbows on his knees looking his friend over. "What are you?"

"A friend."

It was the same answer he'd given vorns ago, but now Bee was old enough to know that wasn't answer enough. "You look like a cat I use to have. Well, apart from the colors."

"You gave me this form." Star shrugged at him.

"I gave it to you?" He repeated, wondering. "Does that mean you're a figment of my imagination?"

"In a manner of speaking yes, but at the same time no."

"Well that's not much of an answer." Bee huffed back at him.

"You're not yet asking the right questions." Star replied.

"The right questions?" Bee tilted his head. "I don't understand."

"No, I don't imagine you would. No yet at least. That however, is not the point, my Young Spark. I have stayed silent as long as I could, but unfortunately that is no longer an option."

"Why?"

"Because of this."

Then in a flash Bee was tumbling through darkness. Flares of light filing his vision with half pictures and loud echoes filling his audios with half sounds.

Burning red optics, sharp fangs, swirling red sand, darkness, so much darkness, brown armor, gold armor, red armor, black armor, burning flames, echoing explosions, and voices. So many voices.

Whispers and breaths tickling at the edges of his mind. Calling in words that didn't make sense.

His spark squeezed in his chest and he cried out in pain.

Then, over it all, came Star's voice.

"You must go find it, Young Spark. You must stop it. Only you can. Go! Go find it. But first, you must fight."

Then it all slammed to a sudden, crashing stop and Bumblebee found himself staring up through the darkness of Cybertron's night, through the thick vapor clouds that blocked out the stars. That was when he saw it. Cutting through the night like a blade through bare protoform. The massive, sharp bow of a ship. Black as death with a symbol he knew all too well painted in glowing purple paint along the side of it.

The Nemesis.

But . . . but that ship was gone. Wasn't it?

Staring up above him with widening optics, something tugged his conscious and he found himself looking down only to see the bright, glittering hull of the Eternity. His home.

A sick feeling knotted in the bottom of his tanks and suddenly he knew what had been wrong at the table this evening.


Bolting upright with a shout, dripping in coolant, and quivering all over Bumblebee threw his gaze around his room with wide optics. Only half aware of Scout and Echo standing over him on the berth, whimpering and licking, calling through their pack bond trying to get him to answer. Trying to get him to explain.

He didn't have time.

With a gasp he curled inward, grasping at his chest as his spark gave a hard, hot, twist. Sending spikes of pain through every vein in him. Gritting his teeth to the pain he drew in a gasp. Focusing inward and trying to figure out what this malicious feeling was. In that nano the dream caught back up with his waking processor and his optics blew wide.

"Oh no." He whispered.

Throwing himself out of his berth in a tangle of sheets, blankets, pillows, and hounds Bee fell twice before he managed to slam the open button of his door and burst into Hide and Mia's room.

"Hide!" He cried out, voice breaking and spark screaming. Unaware that his panic as much as his voice was what shot the massive mech upright in her berth followed by the smaller, thinner form of his mate. He was already at their berth though by the time their gazes swung to him.

"Bumblebee?" Chromia was quickly up on her knees in the berth trying to get a hold of the scrambling, trembling, sweat covered mechling. Taking in his terrified wide optics and quivering doorwings. Then he was latching hold of Ironhide's huge frame shaking his sire as he glanced about the room.

"Hide, they're here!" He shouted, voice shaking along with his frame as he tired to get a hold of his angry spark that wouldn't let go of that hot, eerie darkness that seemed to be seeping in from every angle around him.

He knew this darkness.

He had felt it before.

"What are you talking about!?" Ironhide finally got a good hold of him and pulled him close. Trying to get a better grip on the quivering youngling, trying to understand what the pit was wrong with him.

"MEGATRON!" Bee shouted, and then the world exploded into fire and chaos.


*devious laughter*

I'll just saying it now, you'll might want to buckle up now because part four is going to be one pit of a ride.

So, there you have it. The beginning of Part Four. I hope you all liked it, can't wait to see what you all have to say. The next chapter will hopefully be up soon because this semester is over tomorrow. However, I'm going to have surgery Wednesday so depending how all that goes I might be slowed down a bit.

Thanks for reading!

-Jaycee