Title: Here We Go Now

Chapter: 10 of ?

Author: Minishini

Ratings: PG-13 for curse words.

Pairings: None.

Summary: It's been twenty-four years since the battle to save earth. Sam and Mikaela are happily married, and have their own little family to care for. Their eldest daughter, Lori, is about to depart for college when shit hits the fan.

Disclaimer: Transformers and all that jazz is not mine, I wasn't even born when it was created, and therefore I claim no rights to any of it. So don't sue me, I'm a poor college student. Lori and Jason Witwicky, and Max Lennox are mine, however. So please do not use them unless you ask and are given permission in return. I also don't own the rights to any songs I use; they belong to their respective owners.

Lori lay awake in her bed, eyes drooping sleepily as she stared at the ceiling. No matter how much her body yelled at her for rest she just couldn't simply slip into rejuvenating sleep. It felt odd being back in a comfortable bed and under the roof of the Autobots' headquarters. Only hours earlier she had been in the middle of a battle between giant, sentient robots as they blasted each other to smithereens. And now…it was quiet. Too quiet for her liking.

Ignoring the throbbing pain in her ribs as she sat up, Lori Witwicky threw back her blankets and slipped easily to the cold metal floor of her living quarters. It had been months since she inhabited the small one-person apartment, and it was still bare and unwelcoming. She felt awkward and out of place.

A gentle touch to a panel by her bed sent her room flooding with soft artificial light. Even then, she had to wince as shining metallic walls caught the light, reflecting and magnifying it through out the room. A small duffle bag broke the uniformed monotony, clothes scattered and pouring sloppily from the gaping zipper. Lori shook her head as she took it all in, and pushed the panel again.

A wall in the room slid apart to open onto an empty hall. Her feet padded quietly as she stepped into the wide expanse, her small arms wrapping around her body self-consciously. She moved without thought, not really knowing where it was she headed or what she sought. The few humans she crossed on her way through the Autobot-sized halls ignored her as they went on their own business in the dead of night. Luckily, Lori thought, no Autobots were about. They were much more curious about what a teenage girl would be doing at this time…

She came to a halt outside a hangar door and stared for a moment. Finding herself outside of Ratchet's med bay for the Autobots wasn't at all surprising, considering that her best friend was currently in critical care behind its doors. The last time Lori had seen Bumblebee he was shot up, falling apart, and deep in stasis. His limp body hadn't even twitched when Ratchet helped load him onto Hoist's flat bed and move him into the clinic. He wouldn't be awake by now, she knew, but still…she wanted to see Bee.

She pushed her way through the small human-sized door and into the relative darkness of the medical center. All the lights were out in the tall room except for a series of bright flood lights, which were currently focusing on the target of Lori's attentions: Bumblebee. Ratchet was leaning over him, apparently deep in concentration, and fiddling with what Lori guessed was a welder.

"You should be in bed, Lori Witwicky," his deep voice echoed in the quiet. "Not sneaking around in areas that are currently off limits to civilians…"

"I think you and I both know it isn't fair for all this to be off limits to me," she spoke up boldly and made her way through the lines of medical beds and stasis tables. Her eyes wandered despite her yearning to get a better look at Bee. Each table seemed to be littered with spare Autobot and car parts, some smaller robotic-looking forms, and Lori even caught sight of a dingy, beat up, and lifeless protoform. She eyed the rusted and peeling pink paint still specking the dead Autobot before, a shape she immediately recognized as the heap of metal Hoist had been bringing in on her first day in Nowhere. Her eyes darted back to Bee's form as a wave of uneasiness swept through her, and she came to a stop at Ratchet's side.

"Life is seldom fair, little one," Ratchet murmured absently before depositing his welding gun on a large medical table at his side. "It is a lesson you would do well to learn."

"How is he, Ratchet?" Lori's voice fell softly as she reached out a tentative hand to Bee's off line body. Soft fingers ran over mammoth cold metal plating, her sense of touch picking up on ever knick and scratch in Bee's surface.

Ratchet was silent for a moment as he watched the new readouts his sensors were bringing him. Lori's touch seemed to do something to Bee's consciousness that both settled the Autobot scout and comforted him. It was odd, he thought, but it was common in comatose humans, so maybe in Autobots it wasn't a bad thing. "He will be out of duty for quiet some time, I'm afraid. Optimus Prime has decided to appoint Hot Shot as your temporary guardian until I deem Bee ready for the field again."

Lori's heart fell with a million emotions, one of which leapt to the forefront of her mind. "I don't need a guardian. I'm not leaving Nowhere, we all know that."

Ratchet nodded absently before shifting his massive hand into some laser device. A small red beam shot from the end to smolder a chunk of circuitry that was out of place in Bee's chassis. "Risks will not be taken when it comes to your safety, Lori."

"Then does every god damn human here have a guardian, huh?" anger rose in Lori's voice as she turned from Bee's body. The sight of him in this condition filled her with hate for the Decepticons, anger for not being able to help him, frustration with Prime, and even self-hatred. She was the reason Bee was like this. She was the reason Ironhide was knocked out in a stasis bed on the opposite side of the room with a gaping hole in his chest. She didn't want to be the reason Hot Shot ended up in here, too. Or any one else, for that matter. "Why the hell am I so special that I get a giant fucking robot body guard?"

The laser gun died abruptly as Ratchet focused glowing blue optics on the little humanoid by his side. This girl, this youngling, for some reason was a very precious object to not only the Autobots, but to Optimus Prime himself. Bumblebee and Ironhide had already unofficially adopted her into the family; Prime was scrutinous when it came to her safety and well being; and even Ratchet found himself unconsciously scanning her body to affirm her good health. Ratchet had the vaguest ideas why, but…it was not for him to tell her. Or give her a theory that turned out to be false. "You are a precious sparkling, Lori. Is that not reason enough?"

"No, quite frankly, it's not. What kind of bullshit response is that?" the girl was mimicking the older women in her life now as she put her hands on her hips and glared up at Ratchet. He had seen that look too many times from the Lennox women and from Mikaela to misunderstand its meaning. Slag humans for passing on their body language and demeanors from one generation to the next!

"I thought it was quite appropriate. Cybertronians as well as humans are fond of the ideas of every life spark being special—"

"More bullshit," she cut in. "We both know people spew that kind of crap when they're only trying to be nice. I want straight answers, Ratchet. I know you know something!"

Ratchet let out an automated sigh. His sensors gently set Bumblebee's information to the back burner as he turned his full attention on the human youngling. "You will have to talk to Optimus Prime if you want to hear anymore, Lori."

"Then where the hell is he?" Ratchet thought she was putting up a valiant front as the girl tried to suppress the reactions her body was having to her current emotions. Her throat had grown taught as she spoke and made her voice crack and distort. Even her eyes seemed to be watery with a sorrowful anger. "I haven't seen paint job or tail light of him since we got back!"

Bring her to me. Prime's voice booming over Ratchet's personal communication lines was hardly a surprise.

Ratchet sighed, checked to make sure all of Bumblebee's life signs were at an acceptable level, and then turned to Lori. "He is in a back room to my med bay. Would you like to see him now?"

She took a step back in surprise, her small eyes looking uncertain as she looked between Ratchet and Bumblebee. "Shouldn't…shouldn't you be working on Bee versus toting me around?"

One mammoth, yellow and gray hand reached out to gently pat Lori on the head. "Bumblebee will still be here when I get back. Evidently, your questions can not wait till morning. And Prime thinks it is time for you to know."


Lori trembled slightly as Ratchet gently nudged her through a large garage door into a smaller chamber branching off from his main medical area. Her deep brown eyes were wide in fright as she watched the contents of a small, rectangular, translucent box set in the middle of the room. A tiny silver robot skittered from one corner to the other, screeching and chattering angrily as it tried in vane to break free.

"What the hell is that doing here?" she gasped quietly.

"Frenzy has every right to live, just as we do," Optimus Prime's dominating voice drew Lori's attention from the box. He was squatting down in front of a horizontal stasis bed, blue optics blazing as he stared up at the demolished Decepticon before him. "As does Barricade."

Lori pressed her small body back against Ratchet's foot as she took in the black and silver Decepticon. He was an absolute massacre. That was the only description she could think to describe him. Bumblebee had bee in bad condition. Barricade was in worse.

His sharp angled little head was completely smashed in and tilting at an unnatural angle. Optics dangled uselessly from what had been their sockets, a spark or two flickering in their depths every now and then. His entire front was a half melted mess. Guns and cannons were askew on his shoulders and arms, the barrels scorched and burned through in spots. It was almost gruesome, Lori thought. Despite what he was, she had a hard time convincing herself that he deserved this.

"Our numbers are not so grand that we can afford to lose a single spark, Lori Witwicky."

Prime's voice brought her back to the here and now. It flooded her with courage, and a deep sense of comfort. It was enough to encourage her to leave the safety of Ratchet's warm metal feet and step closer to the Autobot leader.

Blazing blue optics turned on her, and Lori saw millennia worth of sorrow and frustration in their depths. "I have never felt joy towards the death of any living being, no matter their crimes. To let another spark fall victim…I will not have it. Barricade's objective was a true and noble one at the start. Megatron…has corrupted many young sparks before."

"Why…Optimus, I don't understand," Lori rubbed at her eyes and tried to fight back the tears that threatened her. To think that a day before she had been hell bent on destroying the life of the two Decepticons in the room. And now…seeing them like this, and seeing Optimus Prime's reaction… She felt absolutely horrid. It was not her place to deem whether a being should live or die. The only reason she hated the two robots was because of what they did to Bee…

"Someday, your species will be on the brink of extinction as ours is," Prime's optics turned back to the deformities of Barricade's body. "Your species' appreciation for human life will only grow. Every birth will be a celebration worthy of a feast. Every death a cause for a year's mourning. Human kind will strive to find a way, at any means necessary, to see the continuation of their species. Do you understand that, Lori?"

Lori gathered more courage to approach the giant Autobot. He overshadowed every thing in the room, Decepticons and Ratchet alike. Even squatting as he was now, Prime was on eye level with Barricade. He was a great, dominating presence that vibrated with power and strength, no matter how gentle and cautiously Prime moved. She touched a hand to the hot metal of his feet, and felt a slight shock set through her body. "Yeah…"

"Then, you would understand why Autobots and Decepticons alike were so desperate to obtain power of the All Spark?" Prime's voice processors lowered gently until he sounded more like a friend than a leader. "There are several ways for our kind to reproduce…all of which take years upon years of preparation, and are quite difficult. It is no easy task building a new body. The only thing we can not do without risk to our own lives is produce a spark."

"You…build your bodies?" Lori took comfort in the small shock Optimus had sent her, and moved until she sat on the toe of his foot. Never had it occurred to her to ask Bee or any of the Autobots exactly how they came into being. She had just…taken them for granted.

"Yes," Ratchet broke in. His body creaked and hissed as he moved to stand beside Optimus. "A host body was constructed to fit the needs and class of a Cybertronian, then it was presented to the All Spark. It would give the body the spark of life, and in turn bless our people with a new being."

"Then…when the All Spark was destroyed…" Lori fell silent as it all finally sunk in. The Autobot's situation had always seemed simple to her before. They fought the Decepticons in the name of good. But now…it all seemed much more complicated, much more deep and meaningful than she had thought. They fought a battle for survival, not only for themselves, but for their species. They fought to for a ruined home world, for a new place to call home, for peace with their brethren so that… "Will you go extinct now?"

"Only if we do not save what lives we have," Prime's voice was relatively quiet. "Decepticon and Autobot alike. We will need every spark we can muster if we are to repopulate our race."

"Then…those spare parts out in Ratchet's med bay. Those…?"

"Will someday become Cybertronians," Ratchet nodded slowly. "The body of the Arielbot will be modified and individualized, and have a spark implanted. Hopefully, she will not be the only femme left to us. We've yet to receive word from—"

"Enough, Ratchet," Prime's short clip of an order sent the tension soaring through Lori's body. "You wanted to speak to me of something else, Lori."

Her temper flared. Lori pushed away from Optimus Prime's foot as she remembered exactly why she was here. What she wanted to know. "What the fuck is so special with me?"

Prime's face turned down to her in a sad smile. "You, Lori," he started slowly, "may hold the key to our survival."

A/N: Sorry this update was so long in coming. I've been extremely busy with real life lately. And I will be for quite some time. Don't expect the next update until at least Saturday, August 11, as I'll be out of town visiting my Mum for the week. And then I have family in town the week after that. And then I start fall semester at el collegio. I'll update as I can. ;o; Thank you for your patience and understanding!