Disclaimer: I do not own Transformers. All recognizable characters are the property of HasTak. All unrecognizable ones are the intellectual property of yours truly; their theft is punishable by severe voodoo-induced pain in any and all sensitive organs of the body, followed by eternal damnation.
Because, you know, stealing is wrong. (Which is funny because I totally ganked this disclaimer from Vaeru, with her permission of course.)
Rated: T. For mild cursing, violence, and other adult themes that will probably ensue.
Author Notes: Holy shit, an update!? Before you guys begin reading, I'd like to stop you for a moment to say something: You guys are really awesome. Within the last few months I've been receiving a lot of messages from numerous people saying very kind things about Contra and asking me not give up on it. And believe me, I would have had it not been for those messages. I had pretty much just given up on the story already but because of those really nice, really freaking awesome people, I am going to finish this. So for all of you who asked for it, this is for you. (And of course people like Vaeru and my other friends who pestered me for a long time. Love youuu!)
"Life is like an incessant series of problems, all difficult, with brutal choices, and a time limit. The worst thing you can do is to make no choice, waiting for the ideal conclusion to present itself."
"We've just received orders from the top. We're being instructed to leave."
"Like I said, orders from the top."
"We can't leave now! We've put too much time and energy into this dirtball."
"They say they've intercepted a report from the 'Bots. They know about this place now, and they're heading this way. Including the Prime. We don't have any support here anymore; we need to regroup."
"His ship just moved out."
"Hmph. And Prime is coming?"
"They should be here in about a deca-cycle. We should scat before then; it sounds like the whole faction is dropping trou here."
"We'll leave before then. But I want that traitor's head on a pike greeting them when they get here."
Despite winter's unwavering grasp over Oasis, there seemed to be a change in the air. The people were talking now, where before they only drudged through the gray cold days. They whispered to themselves, to their children, and to anyone else who would listen. They gossiped and debated over the Autobots occupying the warehouses in the mountain above them, like some bewildering Dracula locked away in his castle yet ever watching the town below. But the mechs' presence also sparked a renewal of hope and memory. Parents once again regaled children with tales of life before the invasion, and adults reminisced about their past lives as they staggered through the snow. In the course of human existence, fifteen years is not a long time. But it sure felt like it had been centuries since anyone in the settlement had experienced any creature comforts that were so common in the days before the world went to hell.
But the greatest surge of optimism came when Devin presented to Elliott a handful of prototypes modeled after Trailbreaker's shield generator and Mirage's cloaking device. Both were small enough to be held in one hand or strapped to a belt and performed the same abilities of their originals. Elliott hurriedly requested that more shield generators be made than cloaking devices and then sped off to play with his new toys. Word spread quickly, and soon Devin had more than a dozen volunteers offering their services towards the creation of more gadgets.
Within this newer and lighter atmosphere, however, there still lurked doubt. Irma had brought back her report to Oasis's council after her long painful chat with Jetfire, and while she admitted she did not like the Autobots very much, she affirmed to the others that they were not imposters.
"They consider Decepticons enemies. I hate to quote such an overused phrase, but any enemy of my enemy is my friend," she offered plainly to the rest of the council, which consisted of about two-dozen members.
"I don't exactly disagree with you, Irma," a member to her right started. "It's just that I would like to know more about their agenda. Are they going to leave after the Decepticons are forced out, or are they going to stay? What if we just go from one genocidal group of aliens to another?"
"Do we have a choice?" countered another member from the back of the room. "Our options are pretty limited at the moment."
"Could we even force the Autobots out at this point? We have them outnumbered, but they still have us out powered. We may very well be at their mercy."
Silence feel across the room as paranoia began to set into the room. There was no electricity in the small building the council held their meetings in, and the only light came from the small windows glassless near the entrance. Blue-gray beams of light filtered into the room, making the faces of the members appear sickly. It was cold, too; clouds of warm breath danced and swirled in the small space.
Irma sat on a low stool, her features shadowed by the standing figures standing around her. "There is nothing we can do right now. We cannot risk all the lives here. We must play along for now," she declared. A wave of discontented murmurs and shuffles sifted through the small crowd. "But it would be foolish to just blindly accept them as some of us have. We must learn what we can from them and prepare ourselves for if they turn against us."
Another wave of murmurs rippled through the room but this time of approval.
Giant feathery snowflakes wafted down from the sky, lazily spiraling to the ground to coat the settlement below in flawless white. The snow covered the mud and grime, making Oasis look almost clean. David paused in his work to look at the sky – another colorless day. He began to wonder if the scenery ever changed with the seasons. Was there ever anything green here? Or was it all just perpetually brown, white, and gray? Then again the summers back home were always so intense they burned the life out of the vegetation, leaving only endless fields of dead grass.
Several humans were working around him, digging and hauling heaps of dirt and mud out of the earth. New shelters were being built while at the same time older ones were being repaired. The entire town was working vigorously in response to Jetfire's announcement the day before: after being attacked outside of Oasis by the Stunticons on their way in several days before, David and the Autobots had alerted them to the settlement's approximate location, and it would not be long until they would act. The Decepticons had never known Oasis's exact location since they never followed humans far into the mountains and because each settlement had an armada of scramblers set up around their perimeters. Jetfire also divulged that he was surprised they had not been attacked already and pressed that preparations be made as swift and efficient as possible.
The Autobots couldn't fight the Decepticons out in the forest again, as it was likely Motormaster was going to bring a few hundred drones to lend a helping hand. It was reluctantly decided that the most strategic position was Oasis itself; however, there were several problems with the location. It was positioned in the middle of a large valley on the edge of a mountain slope. The uneven ground might be an advantage, but it was very open. The Autobots would be forced to attack from its center for fear of Stunticons circling around and coming in through the sides of the mountain. But the mechs had the humans' cooperation now – which they would certainly need if backup didn't arrive before the Stunticons did - and they both worked day and night for weeks as they tried to make their position as advantageous as possible. Every day was nerve-racking, for every moment both Autobot and human expected the full fury of the Stunticons to burst from the forest and rain down upon them.
David and Hound helped prepare shelters deep underground, while Devin and Mirage constructed large shield generators that were to be placed strategically around the edges of the settlement. They would not form a complete bubble but it would be enough to shield both mechs and humans from excessive gunfire. EMP bombs were dug into the snow in the valley; far enough to slow down attackers but far enough to not hinder defenders.
Elliott oversaw the construction and distribution of human weaponry since there had been a surprising flood of volunteers to aid in the oncoming fight. So many people were burning to take any potshots they could at the Stunticons, but Elliott had to turn away numerous people who were either too young or too old. Magnesium blades, EMP grenades, and guns strong enough to pierce Decepticon armor were passed around to as many able open hands as possible. Materials and metal for weapons and armor were stripped from structures and homes as the young, the old, and the sick began to move underground into the new shelters. Those who did not want to stick around to see the outcome of the showdown gathered in groups and left to seek haven in the next nearest settlement or beyond. At the same time there was an influx of people from those settlements bringing supplies and offering their services.
The Autobots helped with whatever they could, but as the days dragged on, David began to notice a slack in their enthusiasm. They were becoming sluggish, and David wasn't sure if his eyes were playing tricks on him, but the color of their paint seemed to be fading too.
Finally he confronted Jetfire on the issue.
"We are all suffering from energon deprivation. We haven't had any since we first landed on Earth," the jet explained, his vocalizer crackling softly as he spoke. The large mech was sitting on the ground near the warehouse and his body language was eerily similar to someone dealing with an extremely bad hangover.
"'Energon deprivation'?" David asked bemusedly, "That burning pink stuff? You guys eat that?" The human failed in trying to keep the sound of horrified awe out of his voice.
"I wouldn't say we 'eat' it, but yes," Jetfire answered heavily, "Energon was a natural resource on our planet. When it was all consumed, we had to learn how to make it ourselves and to conserve it. Our bodies are built to endure long periods of time without it but we have our limits. I have a small emergency supply with us, but I do not think it will help at this point. I should have figured we would be here longer than just a few days like we originally planned."
David frowned. "You've gone an entire month without any sort of nourishment? I was thinking that, I dunno, maybe you guys were solar powered or something."
"That is why the Decepticons invaded your planet," explained the jet, "Even though the natural energon on our planet disappeared, we found ways to convert various forms of energy to make more energon. Most other planets we've encountered can only yield one source of energy or are too hostile to be useful."
The scientist pointed to the sky, "Take your sun for example. A small sample of its plasma could probably provide enough converted energon to sustain half a faction for at least deca-cycle."
"I don't know how long that is," David said sounding like Jetfire was trying to explain a very complex math equation to him. Judging by the way the Autobot emphasized the word "deca-cycle" it must have been a decent amount of time.
"But we can't make use of the plasma since our technology can't stand up to the intense heat," Jetfire continued, ignoring the human's interjection, "What we've been able to glean from Decepticon reports is that Earth just seems to be endless in ways to make energon: Wave energy, solar and wind energy, geothermic energy. The list is quite extensive. And not only that, but each medium yields an unusual abundance of energon."
That must've been why Houston of all places was one of the first to be hit by the Stunticons in the beginning, thought David. He knew that all the oil refineries that were already there had been altered by the Decepticons to make energon but they probably were only put in use during the hurricane season. The city had unknowingly provided them with a great convenience.
"So you and the others can't function at all without energon? We could be attacked at any minute and we'll need you to be alert and ready!" David exclaimed.
"Unless there is energon here or a means to make it…"
"Wait here," David said and took off down the mountain path at a run. He weaved in and out through the crowd below, too focused to feel any anxiety from them as he searched frantically for Elliott's face. He passed some of the other Autobots in his search, all of which showed fatigue similar to Jetfire. Even Bluestreak was silent.
He found the older man standing under a tarp next to a small group of people with a small firearm in his hand. Elliott was in the middle of a weapon demonstration when David clapped him on the shoulder.
"Hey there!" chirped Elliott merrily.
"We have a problem," David started, but paused to catch his breath. Cold air burned his lungs as he wheezed, "Jetfire and the others, they're all fatigued. He says they need energon"
"And what is that?" the other man asked sparing a glance to the small crowd in front of him.
"Maybe you've seen it before; it's that bright pink fluid that burns like hells if you touch it. You probably don't have any but if you have anything else that could—"
"Is that what that stuff is called? Well, aren't you in luck!" Elliott laughed. "I bet if you had gone to any other settlement you'd have been SOL."
David cocked an eyebrow at the other man. He didn't expect to actually get any energon, he was just hoping for some kind of extremely potent gasoline or find some strange half-concocted gadget that could create energon. Elliott directed the people around him towards various tasks then put down his firearm. He looked over his shoulder and motioned David to follow him. They walked away from the tarp and through the crowded streets back towards the warehouses. They crossed paths with Sunstreaker on their way and Elliott hailed to him,
"Hey big guy, can you tell the other bots to meet us at the warehouse?" The warrior did not respond to the man, but he and David walked on assuming that the message had been passed on. The two continued up the dirt path and found Jetfire still sitting by the entrance and stood to his side.
"See that big pile of crap?" Elliott said, pointing to all the crates and all the other various things pushed against the far wall. "We've got several barrels underneath all that scrap chock full of energon."
In his exhaustion, Jetfire still managed to look surprised. "How did you get it?"
"A couple of refugees brought it in with them several years ago," explained Elliott. "Said they ambushed some droids and found it. They figured we might be able to use it in some way against the 'Cons. We tried for a long time to do something useful with it, but after years of just constantly burning ourselves, we just stuck it in here n' left it."
The other Autobots arrived just then, and Trailbreaker helped steady Jetfire as he wobbled to his feet. The scientist lurched forward and navigated his way to the back of the warehouse, sidestepping around David's little "habitat" as Sunstreaker liked to call it.
Jetfire kneeled at the edge of the massive heap at the end of the room and began to gently push items aside. Hound soon joined him, and it was not long until they found six big black drums neatly packed into a square near the wall.
The jet reached out and gingerly picked one up. He rocked it back and forth, and while there came no sounds of liquid sloshing back and forth, he still smiled. "It is energon." Almost immediately the other Autobots swarmed around him, thrilled to hear even the word.
"I don't believe it! They have some here of all places!"
"I didn't want to say anything, but I thought we were going to die before the Stunts even showed up."
"These monkeys are good for something!"
"Dammit! Why does it have to be this cold?"
Hound and Mirage looked towards the strange sight of their human friend on the floor, wrapped in a thick cocoon of several blankets and curled into a shivering ball.
"You're not used to it? You haven't adapted to your own planet's climate?" asked Mirage as he tinkered with some of his handgun, scraping out bits of dirt and wiping away smudges.
David fumed from under his insulated shell, "The climate isn't the same everywhere. I've adapted to live in heat, not in cold!"
"It doesn't really heat my oil either," Hound admitted. "Course I didn't enjoy bein' cooked in the open air back where we found you either."
The human nodded at this. "Sometimes it's a bit much. But I'd take it over snow any day." He curled into himself tighter and sighed, trying to lull himself to sleep as the two mechs sitting near him busied themselves even on their downtime. They had all been working almost nonstop, and David had not slept in almost two days. The Autobots took turns in everything: while one patrolled, another helped carry supplies to and fro, two helped with building, and two rested. Their shifts lasted a little over twenty-four hours, and during their free time they were free to do as they liked, but they usually continued to work if they could. David began to feel that this was probably how they would be acting if they were in their element, whether that was in a bunker on some far away planet or drifting through empty space on a ship.
He began to speculate what other Autobots were like, though the thought had really been on his mind ever since Jetfire informed him that more would be arriving soon (David had yet to tell Irma or anyone else of this news). Judging from the Autobots he did know, whose personalities were all so different from each other, he came to the conclusion that the arriving mechs would be just as diverse. He prayed to not encounter another moody warrior such as the one he was familiar with.
What are they going to do when they get here? The question sparked to life and began to burn in the man's mind like a hot iron. David understood why Jetfire was calling reinforcements but were they just going to pack up everything and leave? What would he do if they did? Surely he could not go with them…
His mind halted as a sinking dread bled through his thoughts – oh God, he would miss them. David flipped himself around on the floor, tossing onto his stomach and burying his head in the blankets. (The Autobots in front of him ignored the display, as they had grown used to his restless sleeping habits.) How could he possibly feel that way? There was no way he could have grown that used to the mechs' presence during their short time together, and yet there was the evidence tapping on the walls of his conscience.
The human abruptly flopped himself onto his back and sprang up from the floor, tearing the blankets away from his body in a far too aggressive fashion. This time Hound and Mirage did stare at the man. David snapped his head in their direction and awkwardness fell between them while he continued to wrestle with his internal conflictions and the two mechs waited for some sort of explanation.
"I'm going for a walk!" David said a little too loudly.
"Are you alright?" queried the racecar.
"Your opti—er, eyes are, uh, lookin' a little funny," said Hound.
"I'm fine! I just need a walk!" exclaimed the man. He made to step over towards the warehouse exit but only managed to trip over a tangled blanket, barely catch himself, then briskly walked out into the cold night air.
David figured the best way to cure his newly discovered affection would be to reacquaint himself with humanity, and he set off down the dark mountain path with just that in mind. From the side of the mountain he could see numerous lights in the valley below as people continued to dig, work, and prepare. Biting back the cold, he wandered out into the corridors and walkways of Oasis and tried to calm his racing mind. It proved to be rather pointless as his anxiety began to rise the more crowded the streets became.
There was a small glint of familiarity in the darkened sea of faces, and David felt relieved at the sight of Elliott standing in front of the entrance to an underground shelter in the process of being built. David pushed his way forward and for once was going to greet to other man in a jovial manner…but didn't.
Elliott stood motionless, watching as men and women shoveled pile after pile of dirt and snow out of the shelter. Tossed slush splayed across the ground in all directions, soaking into shoes and pant legs. Elliott had a dire look on his face; his eyes were focused, and a fine crease sat across his brow as he stared forward lost in thought. He didn't even seem to notice David walking up and standing next to his side. The two stood together in silence for a while, and just when David was deciding that maybe the Autobots were better company, Elliott spoke,
"We can't keep people here."
David looked out onto the massive dirt pile in front of him. "We'll just start a new—"
"No," interjected Elliott. "We can't keep them here, in this settlement. All the people we've been sending underground need to be moved to Endicott, tonight."
David blinked. "Why?"
"We've stripped all the buildings and the shelters of metal to make armor and guns. There's nothing left to reinforce the underground walls; it'll only take one well-aimed blast to cave it all in," Elliott hissed, keeping his voice low to avoid the attention of the workers. "Hell, it might even fall through if one of the 'Bots take a tumble on it."
A familiar sinking feeling began to grow in David's stomach. "But we can't send a bunch of old and sick people off by themselves, and we can't spare anyone here to guide them. They should have left with the others. Why didn't you say something sooner?" he scolded.
"I didn't know everything was being built half-assed!"
"Well, no wonder this place became a total shithole!" David yelled in mixture of aggravation and frustration. Nothing ever seemed to go smoothly in this place. Oasis was goddamed unsmoothable.
"I know," Elliott admitted painfully and hung his head in his hand. "We're all tired and cold and hungry. God knows it's been like this for years now, and I should have foreseen this, but I didn't really think your friends would choose this spot of all places to have a slugfest."
The younger man unconsciously tugged at his hair. "'My' friends…" he murmured. It was the best they could do to fight in Oasis. There was fear that since the Stunticons knew the settlement's whereabouts they would attack without mercy if the Autobots went elsewhere.
If I had just gone and taken back Jeb's scanners… The thought raked across David's mind over and over again like nails on a chalkboard. Hundreds, if not thousands, might die now because of his neglect. There had to be a way to make the situation right; there had to be more he could do to protect these people he could barely even stand.
The man's head suddenly sprang up, eyes wide as an idea sparked to life. He leaned to look around Elliott, who still held his hand to his forehead. He narrowed his eyes in the dark, trying to make out the details of the tree line in the distance.
"Can you use the trees to reinforce the walls in the shelters?"
Elliott popped his head up. "…I am such an idiot." He swiveled around to follow David's gaze. "I can't believe I didn't think of that! And people entrust their lives to me!"
"Go find Hound or Trailbreaker or whoever! We'll be able to chop down twice as many trees than we would by ourselves," Elliott said excitedly as hope flooded back into his dirt-covered face. "They might not hold up to a direct blast, but at least they won't cave in at the first sign of trouble."
He reached out to his left and began to draw away men and women from their work. He beckoned them to follow then turned to see David still standing in the same spot.
"Hurry up!" Elliott urged, jolting the other man into action.
David barreled over huge piles of dirt and narrowly missed colliding into a woman with a wheelbarrow. His fatigue faded as he ran and headed for the woods on the other side of the settlement. Trailbreaker would be most useful for the job, and tonight it was his turn to scout out in the forest.
Incoming transmission. Sender: Autobot, Jetfire.
"Hey, haven't heard from yer lot for a while. Smokescreen's got a pool goin' on whether or not you've all been slagged."
"What's your ETA?"
"Judgin' from the planet's specs you sent, in a solar cycle or two. Won't be long now."
"Good. I'm going to need help breaking the news."
"Fun times all around, my friend. Sounds like a real party buildin'."
"Party, yea. We had to share some of our technology with them, just in case the Stunticons wage an attack before your arrival. Jazz, this will not be easy."
"You'll need to download the language files for English before landing…probably Spanish, too. Trust me."
Incoming direct link from Autobot, Jetfire.
Author's Notes Continued: There is some discrepancy over how much a deca-cycle actually is. According to Transformers Wiki, it's either a year or three weeks. I'm going to go ahead and say it's three weeks for Contra.