Ariel Pax

Exposed

Ariel Pax sat down on her recharge berth with a cup of energon; just having finally convinced Prime that Hotshot had exaggerated. She sipped it idly, lost in her own thoughts. She laid down, stretching out a bit.

"Don't be so lax, and stop delaying your up-grade." A voice from an unseen entity snapped.

"Whatever Destiny; you know full well why I don't want to up-grade… you."

"But don't you feel the least bit guilty lying to Prime? And Elita?"

Ariel frowned, and then sat up, "Of course I do but I mean… what am I suppose to say? "Sorry I'm not really your little sparkling?" Yeah, like that'd go over well; especially with Optimus. He'd probably just think I bonked my head a few to many times."

The voice was silent for a long time; then whispered, "Not if you show me to them."

"No. I can't even listen to you without being repulsed. I'm not going to submit them to that kind of torture. Besides; RedAlert would just try to find a way to prove the impossibility of your existence." She took another drink of energon.

"You've taken quite a liking to him haven't you?" The voice sounded quite smug.

Ariel barely resisted spitting out the drink, "What! That's ridiculous! He's become like a… well, a brother."

"Right…" the voice sounded skeptical.

"That's it! Why did I even try to talk to you?" She headed for the door.

"Have fun on the trip."

"Oh; like you'll let me be alone the entire time." She mumbled before opening the door.

———

Exciting the warp-gate, Ariel couldn't help but smile at the lush-looking place. She glanced behind her at the tied-up RedAlert; even his mouth was covered by the bars. The Kids each had a large bag with gear of all sorts on it and in it.

"Well now boys and girls, this is the spot!" Billy chirped, pulling out his wrinkled tent.

Alexis smiled, "Yep; a large amount of space hidden under a canopy of tall trees; it's perfect!" The boys all began to pull out their packed tents and set them up whereas Alexis was picking out a spot for the fire-pit.

Carlos groaned, "Uh! This is the only part about camping I hate; setting up the te-ent!" He dropped the stick he was using to hold his up and it all fell on top of him. He finally crawled out of the mess, "Alexis? Why aren't you making your tent yet?"

"Because un-like you guys; I came prepared."

"What are you a master tent-maker?" Rad joked.

"No Rad; but you're right. I ought to set up my tent." She pulled a folded-up tent out of her bag and flipped it; making it set itself up.

"Cheater!" the boys said in unison.

"What? It isn't cheating to use a pop-up tent."

"Grr…." The boys were all a little embarrassed.

"Mhm-mh-mh!" They hadn't taken the energon bars off of RedAlert yet.

"Maybe we should un-bind him now…" Ariel suggested; he looked like he was in a rather uncomfortable position.

"Hum… I don't know Ariel; I kinda like him better this way…" Hotshot chuckled.

"Muhrr…" Red growled through the bars.

"Okay, okay! We'll let'ch out… so long as you promise not to go back unless there is an absolute medical emergency back at base. Alright?" Hotshot smirked; knowing Red had to give into his demand. At the slightest nod he un-did the locks, jeering triumphantly, "Ha-ha, you have to relax…"

RedAlert merely stood up, glaring angrily at the amateur warrior; dusting off his arm. Lightning couldn't help but laugh outright at the doctor-bot's expression; causing Red alert to become even more angry.

"Chill out guys…" Rad said uneasily.

"How about we all do a little swimming before we make the fire! You guys can come in too!" Carlos suggested.

"That sound's like a good idea Carlos; cool those guises circuits down, and everyone have some fun!"

"Uh…"

"What's 'a matter Ariel?" Hotshot chirped.

"Um… I don't really 'do' water; I prefer to stay away from it."

Lightning grinned, "Common… river water wouldn't come up past your knees; just because you don't know how to swim…"

"I can too swim! I just don't like to… water ruins my paint job… and…" She was clearly thinking up as many random excuses as possible to stay away from the water.

"Fine-fine; stay here like a bump then." Hotshot murmured, "Common guys, girl, and whatever Smokescreen is, let's go swimming!"

"Hum…" RedAlert was curious as per the real reason Ariel didn't want to come.

"Yo Alert, ya coming?" Hotshot pestered.

"In a moment Hotshot. Ariel? Are you alright?" He whispered to her.

"Me? Oh-uh… I-I'm fine. I just don't like water-"

"Or is it your reflection you don't like?"

"HUH!" She sounded half-panicked.

"I saw you avoid your reflection in med-bay; why? Don't you like the way you look or something?"

"No-no! It's nothing like that at all! It's just… kinda creepy to me. It's like someone's always staring at me; and I hate to be stared at."

"Oh… Alright then… I guess; but you realize you reflection cannot harm you?" He said as he began to walk away, not believing a word of her excuse.

"That's what you think." She murmured to low for his audio to pick up.

———

That night the kids were sitting around the camp-fire they made telling the bots and each other ghost stories. Some they had heard from friends or family, others they made up on the spot; usually bad ones.

Carlos was finally finishing his worst yet, "…And they never saw the evil butterfly coming… until it was too late! Muhahahahaha!"

Alexis rolled her eyes, "Oh please Carlos; I've seen kittens scarier than that!"

He flicked off the flashlight he'd been using for dramatic effect, "Well if you think you can do any better…"

"Shouldn't you kid's be thinking about getting to bed anyway?" RedAlert inquired.

"Why? It's only 11:59, and we could sleep as late as we want in the morning!" Billy plead.

"Tell that to your stomachs; I think Red's right guys. Bedtime!" Alexis announced dazedly.

"Party pooper." Rad Growled.

Ariel winced for no apparent reason and stood up, making RedAlert arch an optic-ridge, "Are you alright Ariel?"

"Uh… Yeah! Fine! I'm just gonna go for a little walk before recharge; that's all."

Lightning shook his head; he knew the real reason she was going for a walk, but knew better than to say it.

As soon as Ariel approached the water and was confident she was alone she pulled a small knife out of her subspace pocket and took off a small portion of the armor on her fore-arm. On her bare metal were multiple slash marks, all but one completely healed, and held up the knife, slashing a large cut across it.

She winced at the sight of her mech-fluid dripping down her arm, "It might hurt…" she murmured, "…But it'll keep my body from upgrading."

She reattached the armor and put the weapon away. She sat down at the edge of the water, talking into it. And Destiny talked back. She had to've been there for half an hour, when the moon was covered by a cloud and her reflection disappeared. She stood up, looking down at the empty water and, in a form of speaking, drinking in the beauty of it.

"There you are!" She turned around abruptly, Alexis walking toward her, "We were wondering where you went, we were getting worried!"

"Oh-um… no need Alexis-"

"I thought you didn't like water…"

"I-I…" she tried to stay between Alexis and the water's edge.

"What are you hiding?"

She thought for a long moment, finally deciding it was time someone besides Lightning was told. Sighing she asked, "Will you promise not to tell?"

"Cross my heart and hope to die-" At seeing the look on Ariel's face she said, "It's a human saying. So what's wrong Ariel?"

"Well… alright then… I-I… I'm not really Ariel Pax." As if on que the moon came back out and her white reflection again showed, "…And I'd like you to meet Destiny, or… me…"

End… until next story anyway!

Muhahahahaha! Cliff hanger! Will continue in the sequel where you find out who she really is, what Sideways' plan is, who she falls for (here's a clue; it isn't Lightning or Megatron) and what the reflection thing's about… Other stuff too. Till next time!