Disclaimer: I own nothing
AN: Thank God for youtube. It's the only place I can find the RiD episodes.
"So then we got him to do a seal impression before he realized that I was just messing with his head," Sideburn snickered.
Koji let out a little chuckle himself. Sky-byte had been his friend but at times he'd been really silly.
"So that's why it took you idiots so long to reach the power plant. Sky-byte sent you to the wrong one. The fool could have at least gotten the right information if he was going to sabotage me," Scourge grumbled.
"Poor guy tried so hard, only to fail so miserably," Sideburn chuckled. He hadn't felt this at ease in years. Rather odd considering present company. Under other circumstance, he'd be the first to whip out a blaster and try to blow Scourge to pieces, but given that Scourge had passed up several opportunities to return the favor, Sideburn was willing to do the same for the moment. Besides, if Scourge was pulling another trick like that time he'd tried to convince Optimus that he and the Decepticons wanted to rejoin the Autobots, Scourge was going to be on his best behavior.
"Don't pity him so much Autobot. I never saw him imprisoned with the rest of us," Scourge pointed out.
"Yeah, now that I think about it I don't remember him ever being arrested." Sideburn thought to the days following Dr. Onishi's funeral. His memories were a little hazy from grief and despair, but he was pretty sure that Optimus had assured him at some point that the search was not completely being called off and that there was an agent who would keep following any and all leads in their absence. At the time he's thought Optimus meant one of his human contacts in law enforcement, but now…
"He's still on Earth," said Koji with a smile. "I remember seeing him a few times. I think the last time I saw him was about a month before Scourge came and got me."
"I guess he didn't see you though," Sideburn felt a pang of regret. If Sky-byte really was Optimus's contact they could have found Koji months ago.
In answer to Sideburn's question Koji shook his head. "No, I didn't recognize him back then. And he's kind of scary looking if you don't know he's nice, so I stayed away from him mostly. Besides, looking at him gave me a headache."
"Cerebros's failsafes at work," Scourge grunted.
"Will I be able to see him again?" Koji asked. "I miss him."
"Sky-byte? I don't know. Technically he's a fugitive but we've never actively pursued him. I doubt he's considered a serious threat," Sideburn explained. "You'll have to ask Optimus. I'm not sure what his plans for you are yet."
"Cerebros wants me to stay on Cybertron until I recover. I think he wants the people who kidnapped me and Dad taken care of too before I go back to Earth," said Koji.
"That is high on our priorities list, trust me on that," Sideburn assured him.
Sideburn smiled. "Thanks kid."
"We can't just hand the kid over to Scourge and be on our merry way," Ultra Magnus groused.
"I'm not expecting you to. I've only said that they need to remain together. They can remain together under Autobot supervision just as well as they could left to their own devices," Cerebros countered.
"In case you're forgetting, Scourge is a wanted criminal. He wasn't in prison for traffic violations. He's a war criminal."
"I'm aware of that. But he is reforming—"
"He killed someone during his escape. He went to Earth fully intending to kill Koji. Just reforming isn't enough. We need proof that his change of heart isn't just another trick. It wouldn't be the first time he tried something like this."
"It's not necessary that you trust him. Keep an eye on him, keep him under house arrest, hell lock him in a supply closet for all I care. But he must remain with Koji. That is my only condition for handing them over to you," said Cerebros.
"It's not that simple," Ultra Magus insisted.
"Then make it that simple. For primussake, the Autobot commander, vice-commander, and two lieutenants are in this room. Surely the four of you can work something out," Cerebros insisted.
"And if we can't?" Optimus asked.
"Then Koji and Scourge will remain here under my supervision, and you will have severely limited access to Koji. That's not my ideal solution but it will be my only option if you cannot comply with my conditions."
Optimus was silent. He looked around the room, meeting both Prowl and X-brawn's optics briefly. He turned to his brother, who held his gaze longer. After a moment of silent communication, they both turned to Cerebros.
"Scourge will be under heavy guard and held in a secure facility. Koji will be able to visit him there as much as he wants, but he will stay with the Autobot brothers during his sleep cycles," Optimus said, laying down his own conditions.
"Nine hours out of every twenty-four. That's the minimum amount of time that Koji has to spend with Scourge. Longer would be better, but not absolutely necessary," Cerebros insisted.
"His visits will be supervised by either myself or at least two other Autobots," Optimus countered.
"As long as they are only there as observers I see no problem with it," Cerebros agreed.
"Good," Optimus nodded. "Magnus, Prowl, go get the ship."
"Use docking bay twenty-six please. It's the easiest to oxygenate," Cerebros piped up. "By the way, Prime? This secure facility will be habitable for Koji, correct? I can't imagine him enjoying his visit in a spacesuit."
It was only through sheer force of will that Koji was able to refrain from trembling as they all gathered in the docking bay. He hadn't been this nervous when Scourge had first taken him into space, but then again he hadn't been in his right mind back then either. He was fairly sure that Cerebros had been influencing him to keep him calm.
Of course now that Cerebros was fully restored, Koji was on his own.
As though reading his thoughts, Cerebros sent him a cheeky grin. Koji responded with a look that clearly stated that he was not amused.
"We've made the arrangements, Optimus," Prowl announced from the top of the boarding ramp.
"Then we're ready to proceed," said Optimus.
"Very well," Cerebros acknowledged. He turned to Koji, "You will be safe with them," he assured the boy.
"I remember that much," admitted Koji. "But it's not me I'm worried about." He nodded toward Scourge, who was wearing wrist restraints.
"Scourge will not be harmed unless he attempts to escape," Optimus spoke up. Koji sent him a rather disbelieving look. "You have my word as an Autobot," Optimus promised. Koji was somewhat mollified.
"I'll be checking in on you all as often as circumstances allow," Cerebros reminded them.
"Do we really need a babysitter?" X-brawn grumbled.
"Judging by your recent actions, I'd say you do," Cerebros countered.
"It's acceptable—" Optimus began.
"And non-negotiable," interrupted Cerebros. "The boy has been my responsibility for years. I am not giving up that responsibility to you unless I am completely certain that you can properly care for him."
"We are more than capable of looking after Koji," said Prowl.
"We'll see about that," Cerebros countered. He stood and faced Koji. "Have fun," he said cheerily. Koji stared back.
The shark was ridiculously easy to track, even if it wasn't signing its theme song.
Maro watched it from a distance as it went about its daily routine. It wandered the streets doing who knows what. By midday it was as though the creature was the Pied Piper. Children recently released from school flocked to it as had the children of the legend, drawn inexplicably by its song. With faint amusement, he watched the children corner the shark, demanding autographs and bad poetry from the creature.
He'd observed it long enough. Tonight he would approach it.
Rumors spread like wildfire through his contacts. An abduction a few weeks prior, carried out by a Decepticon. A boy bearing a passing resemblance to his nephew was taken. The rumors described the boy as a transient who slept in a warehouse owned by a local crime lord. Scarred and not quite sane anymore, it could be anyone. At this point though Maro would follow any lead he could. There certainly wasn't an abundance of leads after three years, and he had the time. Even if it didn't lead him to his nephew, it was something.
AN: I'm trying to figure out how it is that I seemed to have based Cerebros off of The Doctor when I only recently got into that fandom.