Thinking 'Bout The Future

By Epona Harper

Disclaimer: I don't own them, Spielberg, Bay, IDW and Hasboro do.

"No! Absolutely not! Absolutely no way in hell!"

The quarrelsome voice echoed through the hangar which had been hastily cleared for this meeting. Banachek stifled a sigh as he watched his colleague rant and pace and rant. It had been a Sector Seven joke that Simmons held a black belt in frothing-at-the-mouth snit fits…and that joke was now coming back to bite them in the ass. Damn it all, he agreed with the guy, but his attitude was NOT helping their case. One simply did not mouth off to the Secretary of Defense.

In contrast to Simmons, Keller was the picture of calm. He simply smiled at the agent as he sat calmly in the folding chair he'd found in a corner. Banachek prayed Simmons would catch the "you're on rapidly thinning ice, son" gleam in the official's eyes. "I fail to see the problem, gentlemen. Insisting that the Autobots sequester themselves on some secret base is out of the question, and, if they are going to be out in the community, they will need to blend in as seamlessly as possible in order for us to avoid a general panic. They will require on-site, human assistance for this."

"Okay, ignoring the problems with having giant, alien robots at large in the community, your idea of qualified assistance is Witwicky?!" Simmons demanded, eliciting a wince from his partner. Nope, Simmons had missed the gleam…and that gleam was becoming sharper.

"Of course. Sam is already 'in the know' about the Autobots. He's shown he can work with them and can keep his head in a crisis…"

"He's a damn juvenile delinquent," Simmons broke in. "And you want let that Camaro move in with him and just trust that he won't let anything slip?"

The Secretary quirked an eyebrow. "Considering the circumstances of his act of 'delinquency', yes."

That cut the agent off cold…but the rising color in his face told Banachek it was a matter of seconds before his temper blew its cork (again). He stepped forward and placed a hand on Simmons shoulder, giving him a warning squeeze. It was becoming rather apparent that Keller wasn't exactly happy with what he'd learned of Sector Seven's activities. Time for some damage control.

"With all due respect, Mr. Secretary," he said in the most consciliatory tone possible, "I am sure Sam Witwicky is quite capable, but he is still just a boy who didn't even know the NBE's existed until last week. Shouldn't we have someone who is...somewhat more trained to act as liason?"

"Oh, do you have a training program for agents to help alien refugees remain incognito in normal human society?" Keller asked with a hint of sarcasm. Then he raised his hands in mock resignation. "Now, I can understand where you're coming from, gentlemen. I can see your reasoning even if I don't particularly agree with it, but, even if I did, this issue is totally out of my hands. I don't have the authority to order Bumblebee to do anything." He turned slightly and looked up at the fourth member of this conference. "Isn't that right, Optimus?"

A low rumble came from the gigantic creature…perhaps the Autobot equivalent of a darkly amused chuckle. "Indeed it is, Secretary Keller," he agreed. "And I see no reason to alter the assignment I have given him."

That was too much for Simmons. He jerked out of Banachek's tightening grip. "Oh for the love of...just what brand of logic are you using here, big guy? Don't you care anything about security here? There's reasons we've got protocols for this."

"And those reasons are not necessarily our reasons," Prime responded coolly. "Security is important…but so is trust." He leaned forward slightly, looming over the two agents. "The actions of your agency have not inspired a great deal of that."

Simmons growled under his breath. "Just what the hell were we supposed to do? We…" He was cut off by Banachek grabbing his shoulder again.

"Would you shut up before you dig our grave any deeper?" he hissed in the man's ear. Simmons glared at him, but subsided…grudgingly. The alien had a point, after all.

We lost any right to dictate to them the moment we strapped their friend to that slab, Banachek thought darkly as he released his partner. "We do apologize for that," he said aloud. "It was a heinous error in judgment on our part, and I hope we can make it up to you."

"You can start by allowing us to work with those we feel comfortable with," Prime replied in a tone that brooked no debate. "Ironhide has expressed an interest in accompanying Captain Lennox if he is agreeable."

"Oh, great!" Banachek and Keller both winced at this new outburst from the tactical specialist. "The trigger-happy G. I. Joe and the even more trigger-happy NBE! A match made in heaven. At least he's military. Hey, if you like Lennox, why don't you send the yellow-guy with someone from his squad? You'd probably find one of them trustworthy." He all but spat the last word.

Optimus' optics brightened in annoyance, then, suddenly, he knelt down and leaned forward until he was practically nose-to-nose with Simmons. To his credit, the agent didn't flinch…much.

"Because Bumblebee asked for this assignment."

It took a moment for Simmons to rally enough nerve to respond. "And so you'll just give it to him."

There was another rumble from the Autobot - this one slightly threatening. "My troops do not follow me out of expectation of rewards. They follow me out of hope that we can create a better future and ask for nothing else. Therefore, if I have an opportunity to repay them in some small measure for their loyalty and sacrifice, by Primus, I will do so!"

"Some reward," Simmons sneered. "Babysitting some snot-nosed brat…"

A mechanical growl was the only warning they had before Optimus' hand shot out to grab the agent. Simmons yelped in fear and shock as he found himself hoisted into the air. Banachek instinctively lunged for the alarm, but was stopped short by Keller grabbing his arm and fixing him with a "don't even think about it" look.

The Autobot commander hauled the now ghost-pale Simmons up to eye-level. "That 'brat' is the only reason your world is not now a cooling cinder. I would thank you to remember that."

This time, Simmons did gulp nervously. "Ummm…sure…I'll keep that in mind." Optimus glared at him for a second more before nodding with satisfaction and lowering him gently to the ground. "If you will excuse me, gentlemen," he said as he rose once again to his feet. "Ratchet's last report indicated that he was finished with Bumblebee's repairs and will be bringing him back online soon. I should be there."

Keller relaxed his grip on the other S7 agent and smiled. "Of course, Optimus. If you need anything else, just let me know."

Prime nodded. "I certainly will." With that, he turned, pushed open the hangar doors and ducked out of the building. Keller then turned his attention back to Banachek and Simmons. The former was breathing a sigh of wary relief while the latter was still struggling to regain his composure. "Goddamn, overgrown erector set," he muttered. "And I thought Witwicky and his little girlfriend were bad."

"I think he deserves a little leeway, all things considered," Keller said smoothly. "Now…I believe we have a few things more things to discuss."

Something in the Secretary of Defense's tone told Banachek that maybe relaxing was a little premature. "Such as?"

Keller kept the friendly smile in place. "You know the trouble with organizations that don't exist? Accountability. It's next to impossible." He turned slightly to give Simmons a pointed look. "If there's no accountability, it's very easy to begin to think you can get away with anything. It's time we discussed the future of this agency…"