Extra Small Problems

"Meatbag! Rise!" an obtrusive, gravelly voice announced, jarring Crystal from slumber.

She jerked awake, blanket still hooded over her head as she blinked at the source of the noise.

"Your recharge time is over! Get up! Now!"

It was still dark in her room. Weak morning light seeped in from between the blind slats, illuminating the gray metal of her unwanted guest in a blue hue. His red, displeased optics cut through the haze of sleep in her vision.

Crystal glanced at the clock with a moan. "It is freaking 5 AM. What do you want?"

The gray robot growled at her, gesturing with the heavy cannon attached to his arm. "You forget your place too quickly, fleshling. Megatron asks the questions, he does not answer them."

Crystal dropped her face into the pillow with a groan. How could she forget last night's events? This small, demanding robot with a proclivity for speaking in the third person certainly wasn't something that was easily forgotten. No matter how much she wanted to.

The Previous Night

Crystal stepped off the bus, bone tired as she walked toward her apartment complex. She had stayed at the gym later than she meant to and was now exhausted. The fight coming up that weekend made her nervous. She had to make some cash from that night or she would never get her car out of the mechanic's.

The gym bag at her shoulder felt twice as heavy as she trudged toward her building. No one else seemed to be around, which was typical for a weekday night. Night-shifters were already at work, while those who worked days like Crystal were prudent enough to be in bed by now.

As she neared the stairs to take her to her second floor apartment, Crystal could see nothing else before her but a hot shower and her inviting bed. She didn't notice the glowing red eyes, or the small beings pop out of the shadows. Not until that annoying, gravelly voice called out to her as her sneaker touched the first step.

"Halt, human! Surrender now!"

She paused and looked back, finding herself surrounded by a handful of small robots, barely taller than her knee. They all pointed gun-like weapons at her.

"Excuse me?" she asked, as if requesting for the whole bizarre situation to present itself again for clarification.

"How dare you speak back to our lord Megatron!" screeched a red robot with wings in a high voice. "You will show the proper respect to your betters, Earth germ!"

The gray robot pushed the red one back. "No one need speak for Megatron, Starscream!" He then looked up at Crystal. "Take us inside your dwelling or we will take your life."

Crystal glanced at the group again. Along with the gray one, there stood a dark blue robot with a white face mask; then red one with two others that looked just like him, but painted in different colors. They all looked serious. All of them were armed.

"Okay..." happened to fall out of her mouth as she took the next stair. At the back of her mind, she mildly wondered if the weapons even worked. This had to be a joke, right? This couldn't be real. Maybe this was all part of a prank. Her incredulity at the situation led her on automatic right up to her door, keys already in hand. It lingered at the lock as she looked back again. Yes, they were all still there, sternly waiting to gain access to her world.

"What exactly do you guys want? Are you robbing me?"

"Just open the door, flesh creature," said the red robot in a high voice. His little, white wings flickered as he jabbed the point of his weapon into the back of her knee.

It definitely wasn't fear, but maybe morbid curiosity as to why Crystal finally unlocked her apartment and stepped inside. After a workout like today, she was feeling pretty confident of her physical prowess. She could take out these little robots if she had to. It would be like fighting a pack of kindergartners.

The robots trooped in, weapons still out. Some were pointed at her, others had theirs drawn on the surroundings, checking out the different areas of the apartment. The purple and black one kicked her door closed behind them while the light blue one stalked down the hall, investigating her bedroom and bathroom like a cop looking for hiding criminals.

"Now, your communication device," the gray one ordered, hand opened up to her expectantly.

Crystal's first thought was her cell phone, but there was no way she was handing that over. "You need a telephone? There's one right here." She directed them to her land line phone that sat on the kitchen counter and handed the cordless receiver to the leader of the group. "Are you trying to call your … parents, maybe?"

The gray robot's response was to promptly crush the receiver in his hand, plastic and wires clattering on the kitchen floor.

"Hey!" Crystal barked. "I didn't bring you in here so you could start breaking my stuff! Get out!"

The entire group of five robots now stood before her, all weapons pointed her way.

"Take care what you say to our mighty leader, Megatron, you filth," the red bot hissed in that high voice. "We have terminated others for far less."

Crystal moved her mouth up and down, but her brain could not form any words to respond to her situation.

"And now you are not able to contact the Autobots," the one called Megatron added, "so do not think about doing anything foolish. We may even let you live if you cooperate."

"Contact the Autobots?" Crystal repeated dumbly. Her mind scrambled for a foothold on this sudden bit of information. "What do you think, all humans just have them on speed dial? Wait. Are you guys... Decepticons?"

She was ignored.

"Decepticons, secure this area," Megatron barked in answer to her question. "We will use it as our base of operations until we contact the others."

Crystal plopped herself on the couch, still feeling a bit displaced from the situation. It felt as if reality and herself had decided to part ways. She now hung in this bizarre moment in time, stuck in surreal limbo.

"Report, Soundwave," Megatron said as the two congregated in front of Crystal's couch. "Have you been able to contact the others?"

"Negative," the one called Soundwave warbled back in a voice Crystal was not prepared for. "All radio waves are being monitored."

"It's that stupid Blaster," the purple one cut in with a bite in his voice. "We try to call for backup and the Autobots will surround this place in no time."

"Curse them!" Megatron hissed.

Crystal glanced at the wall clock, noting it was after 10:30. She needed to shower soon or she wouldn't make it to bed until well after 11.

"So... do you need me to do anything or can I go? I really gotta shower and get ready for bed." She wondered if they understood what either of those things meant.

Megatron eyeballed her, sizing her up, weighing her possible motives. "You are free to wander your dwelling, but you may not leave. Thundercracker will be your guard." The light blue of the three identical winged robots stepped dutifully forward. "But beware, human, he has authorization to use deadly force if you are caught trying to flee or contact the Autobots."

"I don't know any Autobots!" Crystal huffed to herself as she got up and stalked down the hall.

As ordered, the little light blue Decepticon trailed her into the darkness. Crystal flipped on her bedroom light and dug around the bedroom for pjs and underwear, figuring it would probably be best just to remain in the locked bathroom to get dressed after her shower. She turned to find Thundercracker glancing about the bedroom curiously. He schooled his expression when he noticed the human watching him.

Crystal tossed him a slightly amused look before brushing past him across the hall and into the bathroom where she promptly closed the door in his face.

"Hey!" Thundercracker protested with the pounding of his small fist. "Open the door, human. You are to be monitored at all time."

Crystal opened the door and peered out. "I'm not showering with you in here."

"I will break your door if you don't allow me inside," the robot informed her.

She sighed and opened the door all the way. "Look, there's no windows, nowhere for me to go. I just want to shower in privacy and then I'll be back out."

The little Decepticon walked in, checking out every corner. He opened the cupboard under the sink, drew back the shower curtain, even peered into the toilet. When he was satisfied, he walked out with one last warning look in Crystal's direction and closed the door without a sound.

Once having locked herself away from prying robot optics, Crystal jumped in the shower, letting the water hammer in her current situation. What was she supposed to do about those things once she got out? Surprisingly, she found she didn't find it her utmost priority to get rid of them. Was she seriously considering allowing them to stay the night? Could she trust them in her apartment, around her stuff, without her supervision? It would just be so much easier to call the cops from her cell and have them removed.

But the underlying fact was that she was terribly curious about their presence. Even though they had threatened to harm her, they hadn't actually tried to hurt her in any way. They seemed far more concerned with having a safe place to hide than anything else. Even though they were quite rude, they were also small and in trouble, and Crystal was burning with curiosity to see what they would do next.

As such, she didn't dally long in the shower. After she turned the water off, she peered out to make sure she was still alone. The bathroom door remained locked; so far so good. She quickly dried and dressed herself, but it didn't seem to be fast enough.

Soon there was another insistent knock on the door followed by Thundercracker's voice, "Human, what are you doing in there? I heard the water turn off a while ago."

Jeeze, can't a girl get a little bathroom time? "I'm almost done," she called out. "I just have to finish getting dressed." After slipping into a pair of shorts and wrapping up her long, wet hair in a towel, she emerged in a puff of steam. "Done," she announced.

"Megatron wishes to speak to you," Thundercracker informed her.

Crystal let out a loud breath through her mouth as she trudged up the hall. Dealing with these robots was more exhausting by the minute.

"Yes, Your Highness?" she asked with slothful sarcasm.

The gray robot was currently standing before her sliding glass door, observing the city with hands on his hips, back to her. "Human, we require information as to our current location. Unfortunately, those wretched Autobots are monitoring for any attempt we make at establishing a GPS connection, so we are forced to resort to other means."

Crystal scratched at her wet scalp under the towel and let out a yawn. "Well, I'm sure they have maps of the city at the local gas station. I can pick one up for you tomorrow."

Megatron spun around, optics bright red. "You'll do it now," he threatened.

"No, I'm not. I just got out of the shower and it's the middle of the night. I'm exhausted and if these Autobots are still hunting you, you'll be better off if you lay low for tonight and I'll get you the map tomorrow."

Megatron watched her suspiciously, his arm cannon half raised. Then he lowered it completely. "I find this to be acceptable. You are relegated to your quarters until then."

"Fine by me," Crystal said with another yawn. "I will see you in the morning."

She walked back to her bedroom, pausing to notice the blue seeker still seemed to be assigned to tail her. He stood dutifully in her doorway, watching her every move. She gave him a bit of a smirk and promptly shut the door in his face.

That was far too few hours ago. Now it was barely daylight outside and this Megatron saw to it himself that her slumber be rudely interrupted. Crystal groaned and rolled over, pulling the pillow over her face to block out the noise.

"You dare ignore me!" Megatron charged his arm cannon.

Soundwave placed a prudent hand on his shoulder. "If too much damage is caused, Autobots may come."

Megatron lowered his weapon, powering it off with a frustrated growl. "Get that thing up and out of its recharge berth. We have work to do!"

With that, the Decepticon leader paraded out, leaving Soundwave alone with the snoozing human. For a moment, the dark blue bot assessed the situation and then pressed the release button on his chest compartment.

"Rumble, Frenzy: eject." The door to his chest opened and two cassette tapes flew out, transforming into even smaller robots. Standing at the height of Soundwave's knee, they were only a few inches taller than a Barbie doll. "Operation: Human Intervention."

"Huh?" Rumble asked stupidly.

"What'cha talking 'bout, Soundwave?" Frenzy demanded.

Soundwave silently pointed to the slumbering human nearly buried in her blankets.

"Aw, yeah," Rumble grinned, cracking his knuckles.

"This will be our pleasure," Frenzy added with satisfaction.

The two ran for the bed, climbing up with the human while Soundwave calmly left the room. The blue Decepticon strolled down the hall, the voice of one of his cassettes reaching his ears.

"Time to get up, meatbag."

"Huh?" the human's voice sounded. "What the-"

There was a shrill screech followed by heavy, bodily thumps before Crystal stumbled out of the bedroom with a scream, both cassettes clinging to her person. She viciously slapped the little metal creatures away like they were vile vermin. Her blind dash of fear sent her tripping over her own feet and crashing into the living room where she skidded on the carpet. The stunned forms of Rumble and Frenzy were left behind in her wake as she checked herself to make sure there were no other creatures crawling around on her.

Megatron stood before her. "Now, I trust you are ready to attend to the matters at hand."

Crystal stared at him, then at the dim light of barely-dawn outside and glowered. There would be no going back to sleep after a scare like that. She sighed as she got to her feet, inspecting the carpet burn on her knee. "Give me a few minutes to get dressed, then I'll go down to the gas station and get you a map."

"You'll go get it now, flesh creature," the Decepticon leader insisted.

"Not without a bra," Crystal shot back. "Listen, as a human, there are certain proper protocols I must do before leaving my... quarters and going out in public. Or else I will draw attention to myself. Just give me a few minutes and I'll be ready to get you whatever you want." With that, she turned and left, not waiting for Megatron's answer.

Crystal yawned heavily as she waited at an intersection for the light to change. Next to her, both Skywarp and Thundercracker had been sent to be her guards. She payed them no mind as another mighty yawn overtook her. This early, the roads weren't nearly as busy as they could be, but there were enough cars to keep the two tiny Decepticons on their toes.

"I don't like this at all," Skywarp growled as he watched the cars pass. "Any one of these things could be an Autobot and we wouldn't even see them coming."

"I could only be so lucky," Crystal murmured. The walk sign lit up, signaling for them to cross. "Come on." She stepped onto the crosswalk and the little robots hurried to keep up with her. Only a few paces in, Skywarp decided he didn't like the sound of one of the waiting cars as he walked by. He visibly prickled at it and pointed his tiny blaster. "I said come on," Crystal demanded, grabbing his hand and dragging him to the other side. "You can't just stand in the middle of the road. Those cars will run you over."

"Human machines are every bit as diabolical as Autobots," Skywarp said in awe. He watched with wide optics as the light changed again and the cars sped off with roaring engines.

"Or something like that," Crystal mumbled. She opened the heavy door to the gas station and let the two Decepticons in first. Part of her had half a mind to shut the door on them and run off, but the other Decepticons were still at her apartment. Even if she could outrun the lot of them, they all knew where she lived. In order to get rid of them for good, she would have to get them what they wanted and send them on their way.

Once inside the gas station, Crystal immediately set about getting herself some coffee.

"Human, that is not a map," Thundercracker informed her.

"This is my fuel. I need it to keep functioning. We'll get a map here, too. Don't worry."

With map and coffee in hand, the group exited the gas station and started their trek back to the apartment. Thundercracker seemed more at ease with crossing the street the second time around while Skywarp was just as high-strung and paranoid as before. When they made it to the opposite side, a car raced tight around the corner very close to them.

"Oh no! An Autobot!" Crystal cried.

Skywarp let out a scream and stumbled back, completely forgetting his weapon at the sight of the massive vehicle. Crystal chuckled at him as the car drove away, the driver completely unaware. Even Thundercracker smirked a little.

"You fraggin' meat sack!" Skywarp screamed at her. "I'll kill you for that!"

"I was just teasing you, you're not hurt."

"But you'll be." Skywarp shot her in the arm with his tiny weapon.

"Ow! You little shit!" The exposed flesh of her bare arm sizzled upon contact with a sharp burning pain.

"That's what you get for messing with a Decep-"

Crystal kicked him to the ground, yanking the weapon off Skywarp's arm as she planted a foot on his chest. "Don't think for a second that I can't take you out right now. Both of you!" she snapped at Thundercracker, who was now aiming his own weapon at her. She looked back down at Skywarp. "I could snap those little wings right off." She leaned more of her weight onto him and he felt the glass of his cockpit crack.

"But I won't," Crystal then said as she eased off of him. "Because there's something so disgusting about gleefully overpowering something so much smaller than you. Do you understand what I'm saying, Decepticon?"

Thundercracker lowered his weapon.

Skywarp's wide, red optics eventually narrowed into slits. "Yes."

"Good." Crystal let him go and continued up toward the apartment complex, leaving the two Decepticons to catch up.

Inside, the Decepticons poured over their new map while Crystal retreated to the bathroom to medicate her burn. By the time she returned, she was very over her new house guests and regretting she didn't just lock them out and call the cops the moment she met them. Currently, Starscream and Megatron were squabbling over the map, Soundwave standing with them. Skywarp was stationed at the main door, Thundercracker at the glass door leading to the balcony.

Crystal plopped down among the three in the middle of the floor, watching them interact with each other.

"Human maps are so primitive," Starscream complained. "How do they expect to find anything with a representation of their topography that's so... flat. Don't they have holo-maps here?" He jabbed a finger to a section of land outside the city. "There. That should be where the Stunticons are stationed."

Megatron frowned at it. "Soundwave?"

The dark blue Decepticon pointed at a location slightly higher than Starscream's indicated spot.

"I was close enough," Starscream insisted.

Crystal smiled in amusement. "That one doesn't say much, does he?"

"Not to you!" Starscream hissed.

Crystal grinned wider. The red was one so prickly, he was nearly comical.

"Human, you will take us to this place here." Megatron pointed to the indicated spot on the map "Fifteen klicks outside the city where we have backup troops waiting for us."

Crystal slowly sipped her coffee.


"I don't have any mode of transportation. How do you expect me to get you there?" She motioned to the three seekers. "Don't these guys turn into tiny planes? Send them out. I have to go to work."

Megatron raised his cannon to her. "You will not go anywhere if I do not say so."

For the first time, his weapon concerned her. It was much bigger than the one she was shot with earlier. This one could do serious damage to her, but she tired not to look intimidated. She needed to keep her cool.

"If I don't show up when I'm supposed to, people will get suspicious." She paused and added. "They'll tell the Autobots something's up."

Starscream's optics went wide at the mention of their enemies. Megatron seemed a bit more of a harder sell. He eyed her carefully.

That, of course, was a bold-faced lie. Crystal didn't know a single Autobot, had never met one before in her life. Most people hadn't, especially on this side of the country. But these Decepticons, who seemed overly paranoid about humans communicating with their enemies, didn't know that.

"You can't hide here forever," she pressed. "I know you guys can do it. I believe in you." She gave him her most encouraging grin.

Megatron looked even more confused and angry at the response, but found he could not argue with that logic. He lowered his cannon.

"The human is trying to trick us some how," Starscream said with a glare. "I can smell its treachery."

"And you would know what treachery smells like, Starscream."

"Shut it, Skywarp!"

Crystal tried hard to keep her expression neutral. "The red one sounds scared. He doesn't believe in you, but I do."

"WHAT?!" came the shrill response.

"Starscream is always a coward, it is to be expected."


Crystal tried harder as she took the map and looked it over. "I can get you closer to this location if you want to come with me as far as my work address. Then I can steer you in the right direction from there. That's the best I can do while still keeping you guys on the down-low."

The Decepticon leader ruminated on this idea for a moment. "Fine. I suppose it will have to be an acceptable plan."

She grinned at him. "How about a thanks for the help?"

Megatron looked at her as if what she was expecting was complete lunacy.

Speaking of lunacy, Crystal was questioning her own sanity and grasp of reality as she and a smattering of tiny Decepticons waiting at the nearest bus stop. They were quite a sight to the random passer-by. Crystal, dressed completely professional in a black pencil skirt and heels, and the gaggle of Decepticons fidgeting around her. They seemed to feel as out of place as they looked and Crystal felt the need to urge them to be cool several times.

When the bus finally appeared up the street, all Decepticons froze, optics trained on it as it rolled and rumbled their way. They tensed more and more as the massive vehicle pulled up to the curb before them and stopped with a hiss. The doors opened with a high screech of metal and several weapons were instantly out, trained on the open doorway.

Crystal did not give them any time to use them as she bodily herded them all in and up the metal stairs. The Decepticons stared in wonder at the world contained inside. They had never been inside an Earth vehicle before. Why were the seats so soft? Why did these flesh bodies need padding everywhere? Their human companion paid for passage for every one of them with a frown before guiding them to the long bench at the back of the bus.

An older man in tattered clothes was already sitting there in one corner. Crystal gave him a tight, polite smile before she sat down. The robots with her climbed into the seat, taking up the rest of the space. Thundercracker was the last one and there was no room left for him. The bus hadn't moved yet. The driver probably thought they were all children and was waiting for them to be seated. Crystal picked up the light blue seeker and placed him in her lap so the bus could continue on.

As they drove away from her neighborhood, Crystal let out a heavy sigh. So close. Once they reached their destination, she could point them in the direction they wanted to go and they would be out of her hair for good. As a bit of fatigue washed over her, she pulled the seeker in her lap closer, resting her chin on the top of his head. Thundercracker stiffened at the contact, optics darting to Skywarp for some cue on how to react. The purple seeker just shrugged at him, so Thundercracker remained still until the ride was over.

"Alright, kiddos, you're almost there," Crystal said, holding one side of the map with one hand while Megatron held the other. "So you want to take this road which is right here," she pointed to the road on the map and then the same road before them, "and then hit the freeway going East. That should put you about where your buddies are."

Megatron thoughtfully gazed in the direction she pointed while Crystal waited, foot tapping with a bit of impatience. They were actually one bus stop away from her work because there was no way in hell she was going to show up in front of the law office where she worked as a secretary with a kindergarten of small robots. Child-sized beings that could actually shoot someone with real weapons if they had a mind to. She wasn't about to put her job in jeopardy for that. But she was quickly running out of the extra time she needed to walk the few more blocks to her building.

"What if this one is lying to us?" Starscream said to his leader. "We can't trust it. We should take it as a hostage just in case."

"Just in case of what?" Crystal demanded. "Why would I want to steer you in the wrong direction? If you can't get to your friends, you'll just come back to bother me. Neither of us want that." She paused and changed gears. "I see. You're scared you can't do this on your own."

"Megatron fears nothing, human! Especially not this tattered excuse for a meatbag metropolis!"

She grinned, satisfied her plan was working. "Good. I knew you guys were better than that. I wish you good luck. Not that you'll need it." She gave them a wink and finger guns, then quickly walked away before they could say anything else to her.

It was several yards of quick walking before she dared look back. A glance behind and she caught the tail end of the Decepticons taking her advice and beginning on their own path. With a breath of relief, Crystal continued her brisk walk toward work. Her life could finally go back to normal again.

As much as she was glad the robots were out of her life, Crystal found herself thinking about them often as she tried to carry on her daily duties at work. The Decepticons were bossy and unpleasant, yes, but they were also very small in a very big city. Was she a bad person to send them off on their own? Should she have kept them at her place until she could get her car out of the shop? But they were Decepticons. People had died before because of them. She should have called them police on them when she had a chance. She supposed she still could. Although, she was quite sure no one would believe that phone call, especially when the robotic evidence had already wandered far away from here by now.

Tap. Tap.

Crystal's eyes flew open wide as she glanced toward the sound. The office was five stories up, yet there was a small form at the nearby window. A very familiar robotic form.


She quickly glanced back, trying to school her expression as one of the named partners of the firm approached her. "I have a pile of forms that need to be faxed to the courthouse before lunch."

Crystal patted her desk, both to look normal and to keep his attention on her. "Just put them here. I'll do that right now."

"Thanks. There will probably be a couple more. I'll get them to you when I can."

"No problem." She waited stiffly until he had wandered off down the hall and then turned back to the window with a wide-eyed incredulous look. Now, all three seekers were at the window, peering inside and trying to get her attention. With a quick glance around for any witnesses, Crystal scooted over and slid the window open just wide enough to communicate.

"What are you doing here?" she demanded between clenched teeth.

"There's Autobots! Everywhere!" Skywarp squawked.

"They found us while we tried to leave the city," Starscream said with a growl.

"How did you find me?" Crystal demanded.

"Soundwave put a tracer on you while you were in recharge."

"What? Where?"

"Look, it doesn't matter. The Autobots are onto us and we need a place to hide."

Skywarp tried to squeeze through the window and Crystal immediately shoved him back out. "Oh, you are not coming in here! This firm has a very non-Decepticon reputation and I need to keep this job." She glanced at her watch; still an hour before noon. "Meet me downstairs. Do NOT try to come into the lobby. If security sees you, they'll call the Autobots for sure."

"We will expect you down there immediately," Starscream threatened. "Don't make us come back for you."

Crystal fought the urge to strangle his little robot neck right then and there. Instead, she slammed the window shut and hurried off to the elevator. This was quickly turning into a nightmare. Wasn't she just wishing she had helped them more? How stupid could she be. She had a full-time job with amazing benefits and these little metal monsters could make her loose it all so fast if they wanted to. She had to figure out something that would get these guys out of her hair and let her get back to work. And she had to think of it fast.

Almost to the ground floor, the entire building shuttered and she braced herself against the wall of the elevator. Crap, that wasn't good. What was going on out there? Another boom shook the building as she arrived at the ground floor and ran across the lobby. Nearly the entire front of was made glass doors and windows. She saw the dark gray Ferrari with red windows a mere few seconds before it flew through all the glass and flimsy frames, tires hardly touching the ground.

The vehicle missed her by inches as Crystal was splattered by shattered glass. As it flew into the lobby, the car transformed into a very large robot with a hateful look on its face and the purple Decepticon insignia on its chest. Wildrider changed into root mode long enough to stop himself and reverse direction. With a vicious growl, he was back in car mode and racing out of the building. Crystal scrambled out of the way as the car aimed right for her. She ran out of the building, dodging to the side as the Decepticon nearly clipped her.

Outside, the car ran nose-first into another robot. This one was white with a blue visor instead of optics. On its chest it had a red Autobot insignia, as well as a large number four. Why did that look so familiar to her? The Autobot caught the Decepticon car, its wheels still screeching, and tossed it away, causing it to land on its hood. The Decepticon immediately transformed again and the two opened fire on each other. A stray shot hit the building and Crystal had to dodge out of the way again as loose bricks and debris fell above her.

The sound of sirens reached her ears and Crystal looked up in relief to see a police car racing toward the scene. She stepped toward it and stopped. There was no one driving that car. The police cruiser with the red Autobot symbol on the hood raced past her toward the battle.

It was then that she noticed that these weren't the only giant robots in the vicinity. There were Autobots and Decepticons everywhere; driving, fighting, shooting. Megatron was grappling with another Autobot, this one colored red and blue. Both of them were absolutely massive, much bigger than the robots Crystal had seen thus far. How did Megatron get back to full size so fast? With fists flying, the two faction leaders crashed into the building, ripping a good chuck out of the side. Crystal heard human screaming.

The seekers and Soundwave were now there, full-sized as well. All fighting with Autobots, all of them massive and destructive. They took no notice of the city or its people. They only cared about fighting each other. Crystal had never felt so helpless; never felt so small. She was like a bug to them, just a tiny insignificant thing that caused them no concern. They would crush her without a care if she didn't get out of there. In the distance, something even bigger stomped their way: a giant mechanical T-Rex breathing fire.

Crystal turned and ran. Her only hope of survival was to get out of the area and hope they didn't follow. As she turned to go, that same police car was right in front of her, charging her way. She saw her reflection in the windshield a split second before it hit.

Crystal awoke to a quick inhale, eyes popping open. It was dark in the hospital room, still night outside. For a split second, she wondered if her hospital stay was because of the collision. Then it all came flooding back to her. No, that crazy battle destroying the city was the dream. She was here because she had been helping a group of tiny Autobots get out of New York City and return to their home in Oregon.

Letting out a long breath of relief, she was also reminded that she was sick. A familiar pounding in her head returned and she groaned. The figure sitting next to her stirred and powered on his light blue optics.

"Are you alright?" Prowl asked in a quiet, calm voice. "Your heart was racing. Your temperature is still high."

Crystal calmed even more, his voice always made her feel safe. "Yeah. I just had a nightmare about Decepticons." She purposefully left out the part where the Autobots, too, made her feel like her life was in danger. She felt guilty for her subconscious dreaming that up at all.

"I do not understand dreams and nightmares, but I am sorry it caused you stress."

She let out another long sigh and remembered how large and alien they were in her dream. While small and relatable now, this wouldn't last forever. Their world was so much bigger than hers, much larger than she could ever fathom and she couldn't be a part of it. In truth, the thought of even trying to be like some of the other human friends of the Autobots terrorized her. She trembled—from fear or sickness, she wasn't sure.

"It's fine. It was just a dream. It can't hurt anybody."

When the Autobots were their full size once more, she would say good-bye to them. This strange encounter would come to an end and they would go their separate ways.

Prowl surprised her by sliding under the covers and scooting close. "Put your head right here." He indicated to his chest.

Curious, she carefully pressed her ear to the chest of the small Autobot and heard a gentle thrumming. "What is that? Is that your heart?"

"No. The Cybertronian equivalent of a heart would be our energon pumps. That is our spark. It is our... soul, put in your terms."

Crystal removed her head and then pressed it back down and listened again. "That's you? What's what you are?"

"In a way. I understand that humans can find the sound to be very comforting."

"It is kinda nice." Crystal yawned as she felt the fatigue and sickness hit her hard. Here eyelids were growing heavy and she didn't fight them.

"We find the sound of each other's sparks comforting as well," Prowl then said.

"So Autobots cuddle with each other?" Crystal found that idea to be extremely cute and amusing.

"When we meet someone we wish to be close to, yes. Showing affection for a friend or loved one. The sharing of sparks can be very intimate as well."

Crystal wondered exactly what Autobot intimacy meant to them, but she doubted Prowl wanted to go into more details and didn't have the energy to pester him about it. Maybe such a subject was better left to the imagination.

When Prowl didn't seem to mind that Crystal had curled up against him, ear to his chest, she settled in and fell into a deep, restful sleep, the spark vibrations humming pleasantly through her.

The End

Author's Notes: Well, that's the end of an old fanfic slightly updated. I hope you enjoyed it. I have had the honor of hearing from some old readers who shared their thoughts and reminisced with me about this story. Thank you all for taking the time to share with me and just for reading in the first place. I hope this was a fun stroll down memory lane for you and that you enjoyed the bonus chapters.

To those reading this for the first time, good news! This is the first of a five-book series and four of those five books are already completed, with the fifth one mostly completed. There is no waiting! If you liked this story and want more, check out my profile page for the order in which to read the books.

To everyone: now is my usual time to request reviews now that this updated version of Small Problems is finished. Are you a new or old reader? What did you guys think of the bonus chapters or just the story in general? As always, a big thank you for taking the time to read.