Disclaimer: I do not own "Transformers" in any way, shape, or form. They are the property of Hasbro, Michael Bay, and all the other masters of the craft. I am just a humble college student and make no money from this.
The Moonlessnight: What am I doing? I just finished work, dragged myself home to eat, am so tired I can hardly see straight…and I'm sitting in front of my computer typing. Let me just apologize now for whatever hits the page, especially since this should be some self-defining moment as the first multi-chaptered fan fiction I have ever completed. I feel like I should be dancing the jig or something instead of feeling so worn out. Well…. Here we go….
Warm light filtered through sliding blinds to catch and refract from a glass left standing on a hotel nightstand. Thus diverted, the shaft of sunlight found its way to its true target, the sleeping face of the room's occupant, one Samuel James Witwicky. Growling in the distinct way that teenage boy's do, he drew a thick beige blanket over his head and burrowed into the bed. His first night of sleep away from the forest clearing Ratchet had so kindly made him stay in for the last two days would not be ended so easily. Not when he had begged so piteously for a bed and a decent meal. No. He refused to wake…not because of a stray shaft of light anyway. His cell phone ringing brusquely into the morning silence was another matter entirely.
Bereft of a power source for his charger and unwilling to beg the use of the Transformers for such a mundane task, Sam had gone through the trip without the use of his cell phone, a personal record. Now, curled comfortably in a Nevada hotel room listening to the phone ring, he wished he had left it that way. Dark eyes opened and then narrowed at the now unfamiliar sound as Sam awoke, hands scrambling clumsily for the source of noise somewhere to his right. In his haste, the empty glass that perpetrated the sun's magical feat of blinding him ended up tumbling from its perch to roll across the carpet. Growling again in an even lower pitch as he realized where the sound imitated from, Sam plucked his phone from its charger and answered, "H-hello?"
"There you are, Sam," his mother's voice sang from the handset, "Do you have any idea how long I've been trying to call you? You don't call. You don't write. You have your poor mother worried out of her mind! What have you been up to?"
"What have I been up to?" Sam parroted, his free hand rising to rake through his unruly hair. His mind reeled as he tried to remember the excuse Optimus had given his mother over a week ago. So many things had happened since then that his sleep fogged mind drew a blank. So, he turned the question back on her, "What do you think I've been up to, mom?"
His mother, Judy, barked a derisive laugh that made the boy cringe, "Learning to sleep even later than usual, apparently. Don't your police friends keep regular hours? They aren't keeping you up too late, are they?"
The word "police" jarred Sam's memories into place and he fell back onto the bed with a faint smile tugging the corners of his mouth. "No they aren't, mom. They usually send me to bed pretty early." Earlier than you do actually, thanks to mother-hen-Ratchet. "Just last night was a special occasion. One of their friends from another prescient called in, an old friend no one here had heard from in a long time. We'll be meeting up with him when we get back to Tranquility in a few days."
"Meet up with him when you get back to Tranquility? Sammy, honey, where are you exactly?"
Sam grimaced, a deep sigh escaping him before he could restrain himself. Aw, frag! Back to Tranquility…I am such an idiot. "Um… I'm in a prescient in Fresno?" Sam's hand slid down his face, a finger lodging itself in his mouth as he bit his own knuckle in frustration. I just lied to mom. Frag, frag, frag, frag, frag. Slag it all to scrap!
"You're in Fresno?"
His hand left his mouth, slamming into a jean pocket instead while Sam stood and paced. "Yeah, I'm in Fresno. Tranquility is just too…tranquil, you know? Prime wanted to show me what life is like outside of my hometown."
Slag! Just dig yourself deeper and deeper into the hole, Sammy. "Yeah, mom. Prime is what we call the captain here. Since he's like, you know the 'prime' example of what a good guy should be?" She'll never buy it. Not in a million years will she buy it.
"Oh, Sam," Judy practically crowed, "Sounds like you have made a new friend. I'm so happy for you! You hear that, Ron? Sammy's made a new friend."
His dad's voice dragged over the line in a bored mono-tone, "That's nice dear. Have you seen my garden trowel? This path won't fix itself you know?"
Judy sighed, "In the pantry, dear. You left it there when you fixed that sandwich for yourself yesterday."
Sam sighed, more from relief than anything else. "All right then, mom. I'll let you guys get back to your path repair. I've got to go get ready for the next patrol with Captain Prime."
"You do that then, honey," Judy paused for a moment and Sam prepared for the usual 'remember to' tirade that accompanied every phone conversation with his mother while he was away from home. The tirade did not come, replaced instead by a surprise. "Oh! I almost forgot, Sammy dear, your friend Miles came over yesterday. I told him you were away on a special ride-along, of which I am very proud by the way. He said 'cool' like you teenagers do, and then he asked to use your computer for his school paper. You remembered to do your paper, right Sam? Of course you did.
"Well, I said to go right ahead since you two are friends. He spent hours up there working on that assignment. I hope you don't mind, honey?" Sam's jaw dropped as images of the last time Miles had done an 'assignment' on his computer playing before his eyes. It had taken weeks to clean the resulting viruses from the system. Judy rushed on, "He left in a bit of a hurry, but he remembered to say thank you. Such a nice boy, that Miles, and such a good friend you are for letting him use your computer for his homework. Well, I better let you get ready for your 'patrol'.
"I love you, Sammy!"
"Yeah, love you too mom. See you soon." Sam answered, the words forming on automatic as his mind reeled. The line clicked as his mom hung up and Sam plopped onto the ground with a soft thud.
Staring at the glass where it had rolled near the patio window, he watched the light refracted there become smoke in his mind's eye. Smoke from the smoldering remains of his precious computer, where so many hopes and dreams lay hidden. If Miles deleted his secret stash of girl themed photographs, he did not know what he might do.
Stretching with several pleasant pops, Sam yawned one last time before plopping into the driver's seat with a sigh. Running his hands lightly over the steering wheel, he placed the key in
the ignition of the Camero and smiled as the engine rumbled in greeting before the key fully turned. "Good morning to you, too Bee," the teen laughed, "You have a good night's rest?" The engine revved again in response, rumbling like a deep-throated cat purring its contentment. "I'll take that as a yes. So, where are we heading next?"
Speakers crackled briefly as the tuner settled on a voice tinted with a distinctly county twang. "Country roads, take me home / To the place, I belong." (1)
"We're heading home?" Sam muttered with a tilt of his head. "I thought there was one last place to visit?" The song continued uninterrupted, Bee revving quietly as though chuckling at a hidden joke. Sam harrumphed and crossed his arms. "Well, home is good. I've got to get home soon anyways so I can kill Miles."
The song ripped to static, snapping into silence a few seconds later when Bumblebee spoke, "He say something in the communication you received earlier to upset you?" Sam shook his head, brows furling briefly as he wondered how Bee had known about the phone call. Bee answered the thought. "I monitor radio frequencies, Sam. It's a spy thing. I didn't listen in though, so tell me what he said."
"He didn't say anything. Mom's the one who called." Leaning back into the seat and closing his eyes, the boy sighed. "It's just that…well… Mom let Miles use my computer yesterday and let's just say the guy has a knack for downloading every virus on the net. I'll be surprise if my desktop isn't a smoking heap by the time we get home."
"Your computer has a virus?" Bumblebee's voice carried a strange lilt, the sound of his customary mirth slipping beneath a thin veneer of seriousness. "If that's what has your chips in a snarl, then relax. If your computer really is ill, Ratchet can fix it up in half a breem."
Sam balked, his jaw going slack and an eyebrow inching ever closer to his hairline. Unable to suppress the image of his desktop sporting an ice bag on its monitor and a worried Ratchet leaning over it, the young teen soon found himself doubled up in laughter. "You just made my day, Bee. Just, wow."
"I was being serious, Sam." The indignation in Bumblebee's voice served only to bring on another onslaught of laughter from the teen.
"I know, Bee. I know, but I just… you don't want to know what went through my mind just now. Ratchet and my computer! This is just priceless, Bee."
In his alt-mode, unable to quirk an optical ridge at his charge's behavior, Bumblebee settled for a vehicular sigh. The search and rescue hummer parked to his left tilted slightly on its wheels, like a man shifting impatiently on his feet. After a few minutes of listening to the commotion in the yellow Camero's interior, Ratchet sighed, "Bumblebee, what malfunction did you cause in the human this time?"
Meanwhile, back in Tranquility –
A white utility truck rolled serenely up the street, past the town lake and out into fields beyond. Soon it rolled to a stop in front of a familiar field, standing stones on one end and the forest edge at the other. Relaying a quick query to a cohort in Nevada, an eerie blue light emitted from the truck and swept the surrounding area. When the query came back affirmative, the blue light faded and the truck turned into the field and that is when things got really weird.
The truck shifted shapes, metal sliding against metal until a tall being stood in its place. The bucket that once graced the back of the truck now curved in sleek lines to nestle at the joint of an enormous elbow, a protective padding meant shield delicate innards as the scientist leaned low to work. Silver storage bins ringed arms of white like the reflective tape of a hazmat's jacket, leading to hands tipped in the same silver tones. These hands reached to brush lightly against the polished surface of a panel that could only be described as an ear, sliding a dark mask into place over the mech's thin featured face.
Kneeling once to retrieve an oddly shaped bar from a bin near its ankle the mech approached the standing rocks with an almost boyish skip in its step. It disappeared behind the rocks. Blue light arced into the sky. Rocks grated. The ground shook. Then, silence fell over the field.
"Tranquility City Limits," Sam read the sign with a quiet intonation, sighing as he did. "Well, we're home Bee. Where's this final destination?"
Bee did not answer. Sam did not expect him to. The game had started several miles back with a snicker from Bumblebee and a knowing bob of Ratchet's chassis. Ironhide actually chortled and Optimus Prime swayed slightly in a happy shrug of his "shoulders". Having spent several days watching the Autobots on the road, Sam had become rather skilled at spotting such signals between the alt-form mechs. Where ever they were going, they intended to keep it a surprise.
Settling in for the ride, Sam watched as the forest thinned outside the window giving way to more urban areas. Houses appeared between the trees. Businesses soon followed with neighborhoods close behind. Shortly the motley convoy entered familiar territory and Sam straightened in his seat. His neighborhood came and went, and then his school, and then…then a familiar field came into view. The field where this entire trip had started with his unceremonious "tossing of his chips" that night nearly two weeks back. Only now, the field practically crawled with life in the form of many official looking people and one tall mech.
Optimus blasted his horn, people turned, and the mech waved in a cheery hello. Bumblebee rolled to a stop, popping the door open just in time for Sam to hear the new-comer speak. "Optimus Prime, it has been a long time, old friend. I haven't seen you since before the loss of the All Spark, if I'm not correct."
Shifting as he spoke, Optimus beamed. "It has been longer than that, Wheeljack. Welcome to Earth." Metal clanged and clinked as the two shook hands, a gesture Sam found very human after all he had learned of them over the last few weeks. Then, Prime shifted his stance and looked down at all the humans gathered at his feet. Sam looked too, recognizing the uniforms of military and politician alike. Prime chuckled, "I trust you have kept our human companions entertained, Wheeljack?"
Wheeljack rubbed in an almost playful manner at the mask covering his features and fobbed a shrug, yet another gesture learned from his short time with the humans. "What can I say? This lot is easily entertained. They showed up a joor after the foundation was laid and haven't left since."
"Who could blame them?" A familiar voice called over the den of chattering military scientists. Stepping from Bee's cabin to peer through the crowd, Sam caught sight of Will Lennox standing nonchalantly at their center. "You guys are really amazing, Optimus. What you've done here in such a short time is astounding, and that's not just some dumb soldier talking either. Any of these eggheads would agree with me if they weren't so busy tossing theories around." Seeing Sam standing next to the Camero, Will smiled. "Hey kid, how are you doing? Enjoy your little trip?"
Blinking in confusion, Sam took his eyes from the gargantuan new mech just in time to see Will's arm slip over his shoulders. Just how the man had maneuvered through the crowd so quickly, the teen did now know. Still looking around in an attempt to piece together the conversation, Sam nodded. "Yeah I did, once Ratchet finished babysitting me, anyway. Now, what are you guys talking about? You said something about foundations and amazing stuff? Where? All I see is the same field we left two weeks back."
Wheeljack laughed. "A bit slow, isn't he?" At Bumblebee's objections, 'Jack held up his hands in mock defeat. "No offence meant, Bumblebee or…Sam was it?"
"Ah, yes. Introductions are in order. I apologize." Optimus said, smiling in his way. "Samuel James Witwicky, this is Wheeljack. He is the best scientist Cybertron has to offer."
"Pleased to meet you," Wheeljack said with a slight tilt of his head.
Sam only shook his head again. "I know that. I was expecting him. We covered that. Now, where is this stuff Captain Lennox was talking about? Who are all these people?"
The last of Sam's words came out a little loud, bringing an uneasy silence in their wake. The boy shifted uneasily, glancing around nervously. Optimus only smiled. "Wheeljack, do you care to show the boy around or shall I?"
"I would be honored."
Ratchet transformed and rolled his optics in annoyance. Stepping up to stand beside Wheeljack, the medic nodded in Sam's direction. "I'll be tagging along if you don't mind. I'll not have you overloading Sam's circuits or, worse, showing him any of your experiments."
As they walked together into the ordinary looking stand of rocks, Sam vaguely heard Ironhide laughing in the distance. "Hatchet has a new pet."
Over an hour and a half later, Sam sat dumbfounded in an empty hanger larger than two football fields in length and nearly fifty feet high. Light filtered down from off glowing filaments in the ceiling, a living metal Wheeljack dubbed "luma-steel". In truth, everything in the place was alive according to 'Jack, from the floor to the ceiling and back again. Composed of the self-same nanites that covered the shell of every Transformer, the walls themselves breathed. They lived off the energy of the local environs, or something like that. Sam did not know for sure anymore. His head swam with the size of the place, let alone the details of how it came into being half a mile below the field in the space of a few short days.
"The base is far from done," Wheeljack was saying, "There's still the installation of Teletran One to see to, the med lab for Ratchet, and the arrangement of quarters for starters. In a few weeks, I'll have this place up to operational standards. What do you think, Sam?"
Somehow managing to move despite the overwhelming feeling of awe, the teenager nodded. Wheeljack and Optimus smiled, Ironhide rumbled a deep chuckle, Bumblebee laughed, and Ratchet sighed.
"Welcome to the A.R.C." Ratchet muttered, kneeling to scoop the boy into his massive hands.
"Indeed," Optimus chortled. "Welcome home, everyone."
(1) "Country Roads" by John Denver.
The Moonlessnight: Ah! A good night's (--cough-- morning's) sleep so I could re-read this with a fresh mind before posting it and I feel much better.
The beginning of this chapter was inspired by a comment left on Vaeru's "Juxtaposition". Something along the lines of, "I hope your computer gets well soon." Leave it to a TF fan to hope a computer 'gets well' soon. –grins—
I hope this ending works for now. I might write an epilogue of some kind later, but for now that strikes me as good a place as any to end this story. I want to offer a very big thank you to all of you who have stuck with me to the end and an extra big thank you to all of you who reviewed.
You have made this story the single most outstanding accomplishment to date for me here on this site. Here's to hoping my future endeavors fair as well. Heck. I hope my personal stories fair at least half as well.
Thank you all. You have made this a wonderful experience for me, for which I am grateful. Until the next story!