08-02-10 I am gradually overhauling this story to fix errors and add a few things. From here on out, chapters I have gotten to will have UPDATED and the date at the top of the page. Some of them (like this one) might be re-updated and that's why the dates could be out of order.
Author's note: This story has an original character. Please don't let that scare you away. I try extremely hard to avoid Mary Sue-ism. Aside from that, the rest belongs to Hasbro and others. I somehow doubt that these disclaimers would be sufficient if anyone wanted to sue but I still feel obligated. Anyway, I am working from the G1 series, which I loved (right up until all that headmasters/targetmasters crap.) It has an T rating because of the swearing and violence later on. I hope you like it (the story in general, not necessarily swearing and violence.)
As he stood in the repair bay, Soundwave was absolutely beside himself with anger and worry, though you would never know it from his demeanor. It was supposed to be a routine mission but instead Laserbeak wound up getting himself blasted out of the sky. The telepath felt helpless looking at his cassette scattered on a table in pieces, still functioning, but barely, and he couldn't hold out for much longer. Starscream had attached an energon regulator to provide smooth, uninterrupted power to compensate for the robotic lifeblood that had leaked out everywhere but that was all he could do. Monitors cast a dull glow across the scene and did not help the mech's mood. As far as he could tell, they did nothing but indicate the raptor's slow, gradual decline toward deactivation. Laserbeak was among the smallest Decepticons and had suffered damage to components and circuits that were too little for any of the others to attempt to repair. The wounds were too severe for his internal systems to fix by themselves. Even if they had the proper equipment it would have been difficult. There was talk of getting Rumble or Frenzy to do it, but they both refused. All those exposed circuits and servos and relays kind of grossed them out, truth be told. Never mind that neither had any real medical training and above all, they were not exactly known for having a light touch. He would request input from another. Perhaps he was overlooking something.
"Obviously we need to find someone with the proper knowledge," said Megatron. "What about Dr. Arkeville?"
"Negative. Status: inoperable," Soundwave advised. Dr. Arkeville would have been a suitable candidate were it not for "repairs" performed on him by Starscream's Medicroids. Since the modifications that rendered him a cyborg, he had slowly gone insane. Not only that, but there wasn't time to fetch him from Cybertron anyway. Even if there was, the activation of a space bridge drew the attention of the Autobots and there definitely wasn't time for a skirmish with them.
"Of course." Nothing was ever easy. He should know that by now. "Where there is one with his abilities there are surely others." The right human would be perfect. They were small enough to easily deal with Laserbeak's parts and systems. And when the job was complete, they were easily disposed of. The difficulty would be in locating one with the proper skills. He would give that responsibility to the one behind Dr. Arkeville's decline.
"Starscream, I want you take Thundercracker and Skywarp and find a human who is appropriate to this task."
"What?" The Air Commander had been listening, but with disinterest. It was Soundwave's problem as far as he was concerned.
"I do not want to hear any of your complaints. And besides, I don't really care what you have to do to achieve your objective so that should make it more fun for you. Now get going. "
Starscream had nothing to say to that. He had to admit license to cause as much chaos and destruction as he wanted held great appeal. It was far better than having to maintain stealth the entire time.
"But where are we going to find a human like that?" Skywarp asked. Destruction was always fun, but that would be little compensation if they were unsuccessful and punished for it.
Megatron turned and fixed him with a cold stare. "I don't know, nor do I care just find one and be quick about it!" He was not raising his voice, but it had that flat, annoyed quality which was a warning sign that it would be best to get far away a.s.a.p.
The three jets streaked toward the coast as fast and low as they could without alerting the humans of their presence any sooner than they had to. It was after 8:00 at night, Earth time. Most them would have gone to their homes by now or out to a social gathering spot, Starscream mused to himself. It wasn't as though he and his comrades could go to these gathering places or door to door to find a volunteer. There was a concentration of technology facilities in northern California in an area called Silicon Valley. That seemed as good a place as any to start. Flying at a couple knots below the speed of sound, it did not take long at all to reach their destination.
"You two go start a diversion. I don't want any human authorities in my way," Starscream said, emphasizing 'authorities' with same contempt he usually reserved for mentions of Megatron. Humans wouldn't be able to stop him, but they could potentially slow him down. Further, if any Autobots happened to be about, they would be drawn to the obvious rather than snooping around here.
"My pleasure," said Thundercracker, suddenly accelerating away until windows (the ones that didn't outright shatter) for miles around rattled from the sonic boom that sounded shortly thereafter. Skywarp said nothing but instead teleported out of sight. Starscream twisted and unfolded in midair, resuming his robot form before landing gracefully on both feet then sliding to a stop. He paused to admire the deep gouges he had left in the well-tended lawn (Why would anyone put such effort into something so useless as grass?) before getting down to business. There were many structures to choose from. The easy thing would be to rip each of them apart until he found what he wanted, but that would bring far too much attention. Some of the buildings were plainly not what he needed. He scanned a sprawling collection of bunker like edifices off in the distance as an explosion on the far side of a hill lit the sky to a dull orange glow. He chuckled to himself. The other seekers were definitely causing a distraction and he was sorry to be missing it. As the glow started to fade, his sensors spotted a sign. It was partially obscured by a tree but he could easily see the promising words 'Electronic Research' on it.
"Boy, you are a mess," Erica Dawes mumbled to the machine that was strewn across her workbench. It used to be a remote controlled apparatus built for the removal of explosive devices. Unfortunately for the 'bot it had served it's purpose exactly as intended. The bomb had gone off, mangling parts of the machine but harming no people. A couple of circuit boards had gotten replaced and now she was in the process of going over the wiring. There was going to be lots of that to change out. A glance at the clock showed 8:45. Wow, she'd done it again. So much for running any errands that evening. It felt like only half an hour ago that a departing co-worker had reminded her not to stay too late on a Friday night and now it was almost 3 hours later. Oh well, she was having fun and it's not like anyone was waiting for her at home, not even a pet. Erica had spent the last several years employed by Terradyne Electronic Research and loved her work as part of a team creating robots for use by organizations ranging from law enforcement agencies to NASA. She could design but specialized in fabrication and repair.
The engineer slid off the barstool-like chair that was drawn close to the bench and stretched her arms above her head. It was time for a break. Starting toward the lunchroom she heard a something. But that wasn't exactly right as it was felt instead of actually heard. The majority of the Terradyne buildings were heavily insulated to the point of being nearly soundproof and featured state of the art security. Erica had not heard Thundercracker's sonic boom (it had registered as a low vibration that she hadn't noticed) or the following explosions or the sirens. She also did not hear the approaching footsteps outside. But she definitely heard it when part of the roof peeled away while a section of wall fell in.
Pure reflex had her fall to the floor and crunch into a ball. As the debris settled she peered up into the darkness and saw two red eyes, or who knew what, glowing softly through the haze of brick and drywall dust and down at her. Erica sat there on the floor staring for a few seconds, unable to move or scream or think or breathe. If Starscream had made his move then, it would have been a lot easier for him. But he didn't, and then his target was suddenly up and charging through the dark toward a swinging door at the back of the room.
The destruction had taken out the power leaving only the dim emergency backup lights and so Erica was tripping and stumbling over pieces of debris and overturned lab equipment as she tried for the door. She was running as fast as she could (which under the circumstances was pretty damn fast) when she reached her destination. Unfortunately, the damage to the room extended a long way from the original opening. The shifting of the roof and walls had gotten the door firmly stuck, a fact Erica became aware of when she crashed into it and then bounced off and back onto the floor. She was only down briefly as near panic kicked in again. Very soon she would be sporting mainly self-inflicted bruises that looked like the result of a severe beating. Starscream extended one huge hand into the room to try to grab the human. Though it was dark to his quarry, his sensors enabled him to see the room as though it were noon in the same way as they had let him scan the building and see her sitting there attempting repairs on the primitive earth machine. Erica was grabbing blindly for items to throw at him when he finally addressed her.
"Stop running! You cannot escape."
It wasn't a situation where you should just roll over and give up. No. Screw that, she thought, leaning back and flinging a section of sheet metal, Frisbee style, at the glowing red eyes. She was hoping to hit one of them but came far short as the projectile bounced harmlessly off an area far below that, causing no more damage than a piece of cardboard as far as she could tell. What was that thing? The Terradyne labs were a huge place and there were many areas that she didn't have access to. Was it a secret project that had gone badly awry? It spoke to her, but that didn't necessarily mean anything. It could be a standard warning it was programmed to give, even if it was a tad dramatic. And that voice! It was unexpectedly high and screechy.
"You are severely testing my patience, fleshbag."
Fleshbag? That was kind of over the top. And testing its patience? It sounded almost alive especially when it changed its inflection like that. Impressive work indeed. Maybe she could interact with it and at least get it not to kill her, or stall it long enough for someone to get control of it again.
"What do you want?" She asked.
"Why, merely your assistance." The smarmy tone suggested otherwise. No way was this thing acting on it's own. Somebody had to be speaking to her remotely. That, or they were inside it. What if it was one of the other engineers and they had gone over the edge?
"Well, why didn't you just ask?"
"I do not need to explain myself to you. If you wish to continue your puny life, you will do as I say."
He was certainly arrogant, whoever he was. Fine. There was another door to the side that went to the restroom and also a fire exit. If she could get outside, it would be harder to catch her. Maybe he would give up.
Starscream scanned the human. The readouts of its vital signs indicated it was terrified, as it should be. But he saw something else. It was beginning to turn to the side of the room and lean down and forward as though it were about to run again. He had no more tolerance for this nonsense.
Gearing up to sprint for the other door, Erica was totally unprepared for the bright, purplish beam that slashed through the darkness and into the floor near where she stood. The burst of light temporarily blinded her much like the flash from a camera. However, she distinctly saw a big crater a split second before ducking away and trying to shield herself from the heat and shrapnel created. She was mostly successful but still felt smaller bits of whatever had been hit slice into her. Okay, maybe it she should be more co-operative.
"I missed only because I am willing to give you one last chance. If you refuse I will vaporize you."
"Alright," came the small, tired reply from the darkness. And then the human was standing there with its hands up over its head as though preparing to fly.
"Stop that! I don't have all night for your foolishness. Gather what you require to perform repairs and come over here."
What she required for repairs? Repairs to what, exactly? She could stand a few of those herself, she thought, feeling a slight trickle of blood on one arm.
"What is it you want me to do? It would be helpful to know," said Erica, as she brought her hands down.
Starscream sighed with annoyance. "One of our faction is injured and you will repair him or else."
"Hey, I'm not arguing, but I need to know what to bring," Erica replied. She began to place various tools and other items into a large plastic case, which was previously lying upside down on the floor as a result of the laser blast. Faction? What in the blue hell was he talking about? Who knew? Better to humor whoever was controlling that thing. And what was that weapon? The threat of vaporization wasn't a bluff, that was for sure.
In minutes she had put together what she hoped would be the right items and enough of them. The giant robot was waiting impatiently for her to pick her way through the debris near the hole in the wall where he was waiting.
"Took you long enough," he said, gently picking up the plastic case and storing it away in a small compartment.
Erica remained silent. She was taking in the sight of the machine now that she could see it better in the glow of the lights from a nearby parking lot, and marveling at its manual dexterity as it handled the plastic case. But at the same time, there was something vaguely familiar about the bipedal form towering over her. Then she remembered. Evidently the tabloids had been on to something. For the better part of a year when standing in various check out lines, she had noticed the fuzzy front page photos and headlines proclaiming giant killer machines were on the loose. That is, when more pressing stories like the thousand pound woman marrying the Amazonian Bat-boy didn't take precedence. She was clearly in a world of hurt, a fact that was emphasized further when a hand suddenly swept around and roughly grabbed her off the ground. Her head snapped back not quite to the point of whiplash, but close, and the force of the motion made it hard to breathe. The fingers closed around until only her head was visible and then they began to squeeze in a most unpleasant way. It was a brilliant piece of work. Too bad it wanted to kill her.
"Not so brave now, are you?"
"No," she rasped, trying to make do with the tiny bits of air she was able to inhale. And then she was abruptly tossed into the air to a dizzying height. A shriek flew out of her as she shot upward, getting an excellent view of the Terradyne building where she had spent so many of her days and that wasn't all. The robot that had thrown her ran a couple of steps and then began to sort of … fold and change into something else streaking toward her now as she started to fall. Before there was a chance to understand what had happened, she slammed into the cockpit of an aircraft of some kind, knocking the wind from her body. The canopy immediately came down, trapping her again. Oh, that had hurt, but it said a lot for the coordination of her captor. And what she had just witnessed also told her something else: No way was this thing a creation of humans. And it was only the beginning.
Once she could breathe normally again, Erica tried to calm down and take in her surroundings. Somehow the walking, slightly humanoid form had become what appeared to be an ordinary jet fighter… until you checked out the instruments. Her job had brought her into contact with aircraft before, but this panel was totally incomprehensible. All the readouts and blinking lights made no sense at all. There was a small screen in one corner that resembled radar. If that's what it was, then they were about to be joined by a pair of something else really soon. The military probably wouldn't have any compunction about taking her out in the name of getting their hands on this piece of machinery. Maybe the blips represented missiles and they were about to be blown to bits. Then what were shapes on the screen came into view as more jets. She could make out the silhouettes and burn from the engines as they slid into place on either side and then dropped slightly behind the aircraft she was in. It reacted in no discernible way.
"Friends of yours?" She asked.
"You are most bothersome," Starscream grumbled.
"I don't mean to be, but…,"
"What do you want?" The mech interrupted.
"Uh…" What did you say to a machine that was possibly alien and has just kidnapped you?
"Wh..who are you? Do you have a name?" Yeah, smooth, she thought to herself with a mental roll of the eyes.
"Starscream?" That was not a name that brought to mind any warm, cuddly images.
"Lord Starscream to you, Earth vermin."
"I'm Erica." Earth vermin? Yeah, that sounded like another bit of evidence supporting the alien theory.
"I don't care."
"Where are we going?"
"I grow weary of you human, and you have a very long night ahead. Perhaps you should take a nap."
"Nap? How about I just sit here and be quiet? I'm not really feeling sleepy right now." Please. Why not ask her to sprout wings and fly? One was as likely as the other.
"It wasn't a suggestion," Starscream said, before slowly depressurizing the cockpit while beginning a series of high g-force inducing maneuvers, a combination that soon rendered his passenger unconscious.
The trio of Seekers was glad to arrive back at the undersea base. The tower had surfaced and the door was open and waiting for them. The familiarity of their home was always welcome after time spent away and out on the unfamiliar organic world.
"Skywarp, land and transform," Starscream commanded. The gray and purple mech did as he was told.
Thundercracker, still in the air, watched in disbelief as Starscream ejected the human and it limply fell toward the black depths of the ocean before Skywarp made a flashy behind the back catch.
"What is wrong with you two?" Thundercracker asked. He did not care about the human, but he did understand that they were fragile, and that he and his wingmates were responsible for bringing back a certain kind and that if this one were deactivated or incapacitated they were liable to end up the same way when Megatron found out.
"Oh lighten up," said Skywarp. "The fleshie is fine, see?" He held up a hand to optic level in front of Thundercracker, who had landed and had a worried expression. Closer inspection showed, that yes the human was breathing, but that was it. In fact it didn't look good at all and it was too late to get another one.
"STARSCREAM, YOU INCOMPETENT FOOL!" Megatron roared, then paused to compose himself before continuing. "I send you on a simple mission and this is what I get?" He was alternating his glare between the inert form he held in one hand and his nonchalant Air Commander. The human appeared to have been badly mistreated and he wasn't sure that it wasn't much closer to dead than his sensors told him.
Thundercracker and Skywarp were standing off to one side but close together as though for protection. Thundercracker shot his companion an "I told you so" glance and then waited to see if they would meet a similar fate.
"Who can tell with these bonebags?" Starscream said, casually. He was no fan of Laserbeak and wouldn't mind if he ceased to function. In fact, it might be preferable.
"Yes and I'm positive you took every precaution to ensure success."
Thundercracker decided to help. "My lord, the human was functional when we left, and …"
"SILENCE!" The pale blue seeker was suddenly profoundly grateful that Megatron was holding the human in his right hand so the gigantic cannon on that arm was not aimed at him the way it most likely would have been otherwise.
It was Skywarp who, with relief, noticed the first stirrings. "Look, it still lives."