Disclaimer: I don't own the Transformers, and I don't own Dana Scully, which is the precise reason why I'm not making money with this.

A/N: I have no idea where this came from, but it more or less wrote itself, so I won't complain. I can't tell whether it's good or bad since it's very far removed from my usual. You're allowed to tell me if it the latter is the case.

This is a Transformers 2007 movieverse/X-Files crossover. It's definitely AU, which means all bets are off. I've never quite gotten over the last couple seasons of X-Files, so I'm ignoring them mostly.

A small part of this is ryagelle's fault, equal credit goes to kaydee blu, karategal and lady tecuma.

A list of altmodes can be found at the end of the story.

Usual Caveats: I'm German. If I'm making mistakes, please let me know so I can correct it.

Edited as of 11/12/07, thanks to staringsideways.


Interviewer Bias

Interviewer bias: a term used to describe some faults in clinical trials. Put simply, it means that both the interviewer's expectation and their way of phrasing a question can influence the outcome of a trial.

„Special Agent Scully? You may come in now."

Scully rose from the plastic chair and followed the white-gloved soldier into the conference room deep in the bowels of the White House. She suppressed another fidget – she'd only been here (or rather, in the upper levels) once before, and as a tourist.

Down here, everything reminded her of Tom Clancy-movie adaptations, all sterile high-tech and serious faces, as if a war might break out any minute. Even though she was a military brat, she found the atmosphere somewhat unsettling and had picked at the seam of her skirt for the past minutes.

True to cliché, there was a big table, but unlike the movies, it wasn't packed with the upper echelons. There were only four.

She raised her eyebrow at the fact that Skinner was there, but her stomach quieted down somewhat at his presence. He introduced her to the President, the SecDef and a mustachioed guy called Banachek. The latter one's purpose remained a mystery.

"Special Agent Scully." The President smiled at her. "Have a seat."

"Thank you, sir." She took one across the table from them. All in all, the set-up reminded her more of an exam or a job interview than anything else.

"I have asked you here because I require a person who is familiar with the unusual", the President continued, "someone who will neither panic nor get carried away by it. The same person should be able to look at any given situation from a rational, scientific point of view. Assistant Director Skinner suggested you when I asked him for advice."

Skinner sent her a tight smile at this.

"Thank you", she repeated. It was nice that her talents were appreciated for once. "I hope I'll live up to the expectations."

That earned her another smile from the President and a smirk from the Banachek guy.

"I'm sure you will. Now, I believe Mr. Banachek can explain this much better."

With another smirk, Banachek pushed a heavy folder towards her. "I believe you have heard about the so-called Mission City incident."

She nodded. Mulder and the Lone Gunmen were obsessed with it. Now, nearly three months in, their zest had diminished somewhat, since they were hitting dead ends left and right, but it didn't stop them from believing it to be the biggest cover up of the century.

"Contrary to the official version, there were aliens involved. You may open the folder now."

Doing as told, she found a number of grainy images. It took her a while to decipher them – tanks and jets and very, very big robots with equally oversized guns. She raised an eyebrow. These pictures might have been taken from confiscated cell phones, or maybe someone had tried their hand at infantile CGI.

"Sir…", she protested. They couldn't expect her to actually swallow this without protest. On the other hand, this was much too elaborate for a practical joke.

"It is hard to believe, we know", Banachek said. "Especially since these robots are what we call NBE's. Non-biological extraterrestrials. In other words, they are the sentient species. There are no organic operators whatsoever."

"Hmm." That was even more ridiculous, like something out of the Matrix.

Banachek then launched into a very clinical account of what had caused the incident in the first place – she listened to the bad sci-fi of warring robots and a mysterious live-giving cube together with the obligatory heroics, but found herself unable to suspend her disbelief.

"The US have offered refuge to the Autobots, especially since the scattered Decepticon forces may regroup and decide that this planet is easy prey", Banachek finished eventually. "In that case, we can count on their military help. I also understand that their bodies are powered by fusion reactors and that they are willing to help us develop the technology."

Scully made a non-committal sound. "That is all very well, gentlemen. But what exactly do you require me to do?"

The President smiled another of his smiles, and she fought the urge to roll her eyes. He probably had no idea how patronizing he was.

"That is quite simple. While they have a few humans as their contacts, I require an outside look, especially since they have nearly tripled in number since the arrangement was made. That is to say, nine additional NBE's have arrived in the last month. They have a lot of fire power on their hands, and I need to have someone look at them and tell me how they tick. Other accounts I have seem to be biased."

Keller, Secretary of the Defense, shifted in his chair, but kept quiet, like before.

"I realize that a common strong experience – like a battle – will forge bonds, John", the President said. "You consider them friends of yours, which is all well and good, but it doesn't help me. Agent Scully, since I lack the time to stay at their hiding place for an extended period, I require you to go to Nevada for two weeks and act as my eyes and ears."

Oh. But what about Mulder and Billy? They'd wreak havoc on the apartment if she was gone for two weeks, not to mention school would start soon. But here were the first actual, tangible aliens, something she'd never had in all her time in the basement of Hoover Building, so…

"When would I leave, sir?", she asked.

"We understand you have a family. Is the day after tomorrow acceptable?"

Wednesday? She'd be back before September 1st, then. "Yes, sir."

"Very well." Another folder was pushed over the table. "Here is all necessary information on the NBE's and their contacts. We trust you with it." In other words, don't tell your husband.

"Of course, sir."

"We will contact you with the travel information this afternoon."

xxx

Mulder and Billy both did some whining that they weren't allowed to come and that she wouldn't tell them what her trip was about. Mulder made the connection to Mission City almost immediately and left her really glad that she'd locked everything into her office. Sometimes, she wished he'd find a decent job instead of becoming the fourth editor of the Lone Gunman.

"Please", he said that evening when they'd crawled into bed. "I wouldn't tell anyone. You can trust me on this."

"It's just a case with some unusual evidence", she lied.

"Scully…", and he didn't believe her.

She ignored the undertone, turned her back to him and pretended to fall asleep.

Needless to say, he didn't talk to her much on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, he went off somewhere with Billy (who'd sided with his dad, as always) instead of driving her to the airport like he usually did.

In the end, she sank into her first class seat feeling drained and relieved she was out and vaguely guilty about it.

The flight wasn't full, so she had two seats to herself and was able to dig out the folder again. It contained head shots of thirteen of the fourteen robots, NBE's, whatever, and she was struck again with how alien they were. Not Mulder's little gray men, but something that wasn't even humanoid. Sure, they had a head and four extremities, but their faces weren't human, more insect- or catlike, sometimes missing a visible mouth altogether. With all that armor and sometimes guns (one had two rocket launchers or so on his shoulders) it was hard to believe they were anything but remotely controlled war machines. Especially since they were able to look like perfectly innocent cars and trucks. There was a list with only eleven vehicles (just the types, not the colors) to the fourteen robots. Scully raised her eyebrows. She'd thought the government to have better research.

She tried to memorize the cute designations that came along with the NBE-numbers. Optimus Prime (why twice nearly the same word here?), Ratchet, Bumblebee (huh?), Jazz and Ironhide, to name the original arrivals. Then Prowl, Wheeljack, Sideswipe (of all things), Sunstreaker and Bluestreak (were they related?), and two that were blatantly female, Elita and Chromia. How did that work with robots? The info left a lot to be desired.

After the 'girl' names, there were a Dodge and a Raindance listed, the latter the one missing a portrait, and Scully was ready to strangle that Banachek person. Were these two also female? And how were the inner workings of the group?

Optimus Prime was the supreme commander or so, and after that, if the file was to be trusted, ranked Prowl and Elita, Ironhide, Chromia, Jazz and Ratchet, though the latter was Chief Medical Officer, which would put him outside the usual chain of command. How a place warranted so many officers, Scully wasn't sure, but she'd find out sooner or later.

The contacts were slightly easier to understand. There was a Captain Lennox and one Tech Sergeant Epps, remainders of the battle in Mission City. They lived in Tranquility, near the Air Force base that had been turned NBE-headquarters. The same went for two twenty-something computer geeks, Ms. Madsen and Mr. Whitman, as well as a couple of high school seniors who had gotten involved via some ancient glasses, Sam Witwicky and Mikaela Banes.

A motley group and, there she agreed with the President, probably not much help when it came to useful information.

Eventually, she put the file away and tried to get some sleep. After a short layover in Vegas, she arrived in Tranquility to burning afternoon heat, scorching her like a dragon's breath.

She went through the thankfully air-conditioned formality of baggage claim and eventually found someone holding a sign reading 'Dr. Scully". Since she had no idea whether this was some intended misinformation or an attempt at defusing curiosity from passers-by, she decided to be a PhD for the time being.

The welcome comittee turned out to be the two kids, Witwicky and Banes. Banes was downright stunning, all well toned curves and seamlessly tanned skin. Witwicky was rather slender and had some kind of air that screamed 'awkward' to her. How he'd managed to acquire a girlfriend like Banes was beyond Scully. Girls that age weren't mature enough to want boys like Witwicky.

"Hello", she said as she approached them. "I'm Dana Scully."

"Oh", Witwicky looked down at her and blinked. Obviously, he'd been expecting someone taller. "Hi! We're Sam and Mikaela, but you probably know that already."

She nodded. "Nice to meet you in person."

They shook hands, and Banes had a surprisingly strong grip. "You, too. All we got was a name and rumors."

"Bee and Hide wanted to hack the FBI computer", Witwicky offered. "To see who you were. But Optimus put his foot down."

Interesting. It seemed all Scully had to do was keep Witwicky talking, once she figured out the descriptors he used for the robots.

"Look, I can take your suitcase", he continued. "Bee's waiting right outside. We'll take you straight to Autobot Base, and you can relax a little before meeting the crew."

She handed over her suitcase and followed them to the exit. "Who is 'Bee'?", she asked.

"Bumblebee", Banes said.

"AKA Satan's Camaro", Witwicky added.

Scully stopped short. They wanted her to ride in one of these things?

Banes turned to look at her. "It's just a joke. Bee'd like nothing more than to be a bad ass, but he just doesn't manage."

"Yeah", Witwicky said. "The most evil thing he might do is playing N'Sync the whole way if we let him wait any longer."

"Now, if that isn't a threat to take seriously." Scully raised an eyebrow. Teenagers were so… predictable.

"Uh." He shrugged and ducked his head. "Let's go."

So she trailed them to the back of the parking lot, where a lone yellow sports car sat. It had black stripes, so apparently that odd moniker came from the robot's looks. Witwicky stopped and waited for her to catch up.

"Bee, this is Dr. Scully. Dr. Scully, this is Bumblebee."

"Hello", she said in direction of the car's windshield and felt incredibly stupid.

There was a small click as the trunk popped open, and Witwicky proceeded to place her suitcase into it. She followed with her laptop bag and purse. Then, she waited as Banes climbed into the backseat and Witwicky held the door for her.

He himself plopped down into the driver's seat, and the door shut automatically.

"Hello, Dr. Scully", came a disembodied voice. It sounded young, male and rather scratchy.

Scully started. Right. She was presumably sitting in the innards of… someone. "Hello", she repeated. "Are you sure you don't mind?"

"Not at all. It's a rather interesting sensation, but not-" There was a strange electronic gurgle.

"Bee, Ratch said not to strain you vocal processor", Witwicky said, sounding worried. "I really don't want to have to rat you out."

In response, the radio sprang on and launched into "Don't worry, be happy".

"Okay, okay. You want me to drive?"

Amy Winehouse protested "no, no, no". Then, the engine roared to life, and off they were to Tranquility. All the while the radio kept blaring halfway decent music, most to do with roads and cars and summer.

It effectively prevented a conversation, but Scully somehow didn't mind. The windows were down, wind ruffling her hair, and it was rather pleasant, too, if also quite hot. In the end, she decided to follow Sheryl's advice to "lean back, enjoy the show" and ignore the film of sweat that cumulated under too many layers of formal clothing.

The ride took nearly an hour, while they crossed the city and sped out into the desert. The base was a few hangars and some pale buildings nestled between a few sad palm trees. There was also a sizeable hill behind it.

As they came up to the solid looking gate, it opened automatically, and they stopped at one of the white houses that looked like an officer's home.

The doors popped open, and Scully climbed out. "Thank you for the ride", she said, and the car did something like a shrug, which made Banes squeal in protest.

Witwicky got her luggage out and carried it toward the porch. "Sarah and Maggie and we cleaned the place up for you. It's still a bit dusty, but everything's functioning. 'kaela and I will be one house over till Saturday, to get you settled in, and Will 'n everyone will come out here for the weekend. It's Maggie's birthday on Friday, and Jazz promised a party."

They went through a door from which the paint was flaking into a rather bare living room. However, it was far more than the cramped motels she was used to. "This looks nice. Thank you, and give my regards to the rest of the cleaning crew."

"Welcome", Banes said. "If you want to take a shower and maybe change… you really don't have to wear a suit, they tend not to be impressed by that kind of stuff."

Scully nodded. "Is there some kind of plan? When do they expect me?"

Witwicky scrunched up his face and looked at his watch. "It's five. I'd say we come get you in two hours for some food and then you can meet everyone."

Two hours were acceptable. Scully showered, dug out a linen suit and went through the file once more. Then, she called Mulder and Billy to say she was okay. Billy did take the receiver, but he didn't even say hello. He was shaping up to be even worse than Mulder.

Frustrated, she started a diary.

She'd sat inside a talking car that chose the music. It had some kind of problem with a vocal processor, and the Witwicky kid was concerned about this. She was sure he hadn't been acting, which meant that the car was probably sentient.

The reality of possible aliens slowly sunk in. Aliens that turned into completely unremarkable pieces of human technology. They were extremely dangerous, and yet, there was a number of people who seemed to be friends with them.

It was all rather mind-boggling.

At seven, there was a knock on the door, and Banes and Witwicky led her to a cafeteria. The AC was running, fighting valiantly against the large windows; there was wonderfully cool water in the fridge and they set out to make some sandwiches. Everything seemed peaceful, and even Witwicky was the comfortable kind of quiet. Also, the food was surprisingly good quality.

"We can take you out shopping tomorrow", Banes offered between bites. "Or you give me a list and I'll get it for you."

Scully nodded.

Eventually, they had cleaned up and were off to the biggest hangar available. Its gate was wide open, and there was yellow light spilling from it into the shade the building cast.

"It's, like, their rec. room", Witwicky offered. "There's not enough space on their ships to house fourteen 'bots, so they moved their stuff in here."

Ships. "Ships?" The file hadn't mentioned that.

Witwicky made a wild gesture at the mound right behind the hangar. "There. They're using a hologram as disguise."

Ah. Scully made a note to have a look at these ships, if they were there.

Eventually, they were approaching the door. It was eerily silent.

"Prepare for the shock of your lifetime", Banes said. "I nearly peed myself when I first met one of them."

Scully nodded, but shrugged mentally. She'd had enough excitement in her life to date, and, for once, she knew what she was dealing with. Giant sentient robots. It was better than strange black fluids that took over peoples' minds or getting taken away by little gray men.

Once in, there was an array of vehicles awaiting them in a large half circle.

Scully didn't have much of a grasp on cars, but even she could see that the collection would, were it real, be rather expensive. She'd seen the list on paper, but getting the life image was just more impressive. There were two Lamborghinis, the yellow Camaro from before, two BMW's, a highway patrol, and the most evil looking black truck ever. The list hadn't said anything about a motorcycle… so this was one of the missing 'alternate modes'.

Right in the middle sat a big blue truck with a rather tacky flame decal.

"So…", Witwicky said. "Guys. Ladies. This is Dr. Scully." He turned to meet her eyes. "Ready?"

She raised an eyebrow in response. "Go ahead."

A ripple of movement ran through the cars, there was the unmistakable rasp of metal sliding on metal, of hydraulics and gears turning, and these cars unfolded like a reverse waterfall. It was all around her, and eventually, Scully felt a little vertigo at all that random movement.

Then it stopped, and she allowed herself to look up.

They loomed. Scully felt the need to duck despite being so short compared to them, since they were so overbearing in the way they all watched her for a reaction through burning blue eyes, as if she were a mouse and they expected her to squeak and scuttle for a hiding place.

Scully squared her shoulders and stared back. Incredibly enough, they did have facial expressions, ranging from fascinated to expectant to bored to downright hostile, in case of the mean black truck robot and the yellow Lamborghini. Even more surprising, there were three of them that did look vaguely female – shoulders less wide, more hip and even something that could be considered a bust line.

Taking a deep breath, Scully forced herself to adopt a professional air. "Good evening", she said. "My name is Dana Scully. I'm a medical examiner for the FBI." She looked up at the biggest one, the blue-truck-robot, who probably was the leader. He towered at around thirty feet, and on such a regal thing, the flame decal didn't look quite so ridiculous anymore.

"Good evening, Dr. Scully." He wasn't disappointing. And oh, he had a nice voice, even if the metallic reverbs would need some getting used to. "I am Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots." He pointed at the highway patrol car robot to his left. "My second in command and military strategist, Prowl. Special Operations officer Jazz." That one was silver and much shorter, maybe eighteen foot. The introduction garnered nods and a playful salute from the one called Jazz.

"Chief Medical Officer Ratchet, (the search-and-rescue-vehicle), our inventor Wheeljack (a white SUV, and maybe the most alien looking one), Sideswipe and his twin Sunstreaker, warriors."

Despite their flashy Lamborghini car-forms, they surely looked like they could take a good amount of damage. The yellow one, Sunstreaker, didn't bother to acknowledge her. Prime gave him a look that said there was a dressing down waiting to happen, but he ignored it.

A small click from the robot standing on Prime's right side broke the spell. "Ah, yes. My bonded Elita, femme commander." And also magenta. "Weapons specialist and tactical advisor Ironhide, his bonded Chromia, Elita's second in command." That was the mean black truck and the other was a dark gray, only marginally less mean looking SUV.

Prime paused according to the rather big space left between Chromia and Scully's taxi. Amazingly enough, the relatively short black and yellow robot was looking at the floor, as if embarrassed.

"Bumblebee, our scout", Prime said, and the robot looked up, probably puzzled or some such, and Prime looked back with an indecipherable face before turning to Scully again.

"Bluestreak, gunner", Prime indicated the one with the cannons on his shoulders, "his bonded Dodge, a sniper", small (that was, maybe half Prime's size) and purple, "and their sparkling Raindance." The sky blue bike, and about nine foot high. Currently, it was half hiding behind the one called Dodge, clinging to her (?) much like a toddler would at meeting strangers.

"Hello", Scully repeated. They were all easily distinguished, so much was clear, unlike little gray men. "I'm looking forward to getting to know you." And she was. What did 'bonded' and 'sparkling' mean, exactly? What were they doing in their free time? What kind of language did they speak? What about culture, social norms in a society that held two genders but no clothes? How came robotic twins about?

"Ah, yes", Prime said. "Do you have any instructions as to what you are to investigate here?"

"No", she said honestly. "This is not an investigation. I was told to find out 'what makes you tick', to quote the President."

"I wasn't aware we were ticking", the biggest yellow one – Ratchet – said.

"Ah, you know, bombs tick, at least the ones they show in movies here", the red twin supplied with a much too straight face.

"It's a figure of speech, Ratch", the silver one, Jazz, said. "I figure all they have is either Sector Seven's stuff, and whatever the kids are telling them, so they brought someone who knows how to do research properly. No biggie."

"Thank you", Prime said heavily, even as Witwicky voiced his protest.

Scully got the definite feeling that he regretted bringing everyone into the first meeting.

"Now, if I remember correctly, someone should still be on monitoring duty…", in response, the Lamborghinis folded back to be cars and were off, tires squealing. He looked after them with a long-suffering face. "Is there anything you would like to see this evening, Dr. Scully?"

"Oh, a tour would be nice." She wanted to see what they wouldn't be showing her.

"A tour it is, then." He bent down and held out his hand, palm flat. "If I may?"

She looked at that big, silvery platform and blinked. "You want to carry me?"

"Yes. Walking would be uncomfortable, given our respective sizes. Unless you prefer to be driven around?"

Huh. No. She took a deep breath and stepped onto the metal.

"You may hold on", Prime said.

She carefully reached out for his thumb, and found it rather warm. She blinked. For some stupid reason she'd expected it to be cool, like metal usually was, even though she knew he had a reactor somewhere inside him.

"Ready?"

"Yes." As ready as she was going to get, at least.

The world fell away from under her and her stomach dropped, hoping to stay close to the ground, where it belonged. Still, Prime was probably slower than most elevators.

Eventually, the hand stilled at what was approximately Prime's waist, so she was actually able to look the smaller ones in the eye.

Bumblebee waved at her and smiled. Or maybe not. He was difficult to read with his lack of a mouth. Anyway, he suddenly struck her as being quite young. The others just stared at her. It made her feel like she was a new pet being presented. She decided to ignore them and leaned a bit forward to find the kids looking up at her.

"See you later", Sam called and waved.

"Well", Prime said. "This would be our common room. It's not much to look at yet."

There was robot sized furniture: chairs and tables and something more like sofas crowded around a white screen, probably for a projector of sorts. Indiscernible technical… stuff had been piled along DVD's and what she supposed to be video games. In the back, someone had started to put some insulation on the wall and ceiling. It made sense, she supposed, since it was as hot and stuffy in here as it was outside.

"Whenever you're looking for someone, this is the first place to go", Prime said. "The Play Station is hogged at all times."

There was a small noise of protest (it sounded like 'get your own, then').

He turned and began to walk. Scully gripped at his thumb, unbalanced by the sheer speed of the movement.

The next hangar over was smaller, and Prime only opened the door to let her look into its gloomy emptiness. "This would be Sunstreaker's and Bluestreak's atelier."

"They paint?"

"Actually, Sunstreaker is teaching Bluestreak. You'd have to ask them to go in there. I'd suggest approaching Bluestreak."

She nodded, and he turned again, this time for the outmost hangar. Even in the twilight she could tell that it looked somewhat blackened, and that the door was a patch job.

"Wheeljack's laboratory. He continues to blow up his experiments. Currently we are waiting for Tom Banachek to find a scientist who can keep up with him. I assume you were told about the fusion reactor they're trying to build."

"Yes. It would be a great help", considering the climate.

"Wheeljack will be glad to show you around."

"Hmm." He was so accommodating, he really had to be hiding something.

Prime turned and walked back, heading towards the base's hill. "We're currently not using this hangar", he pointed at one to the right.

He didn't acknowledge another building, which looked like a storage shed or garage of some sort. It would be big enough to house a few of them, though. "What about this one?"

He stopped and looked at it. Then he looked at her. "Ratchet and the twins live there", he said, in an extremely neutral tone.

Well, it wasn't that uncommon for soldiers to share quarters, but that couldn't be it. Ratchet was an officer, after all. If, however, Prime had meant that Ratchet lived there with the twins… then she had a robotic ménage à trois at hand. How did that work, and wasn't that incest, in some way?

"Ah", she said, to communicate she'd gotten his meaning. "May I ask how that works? Or, let me rephrase, how does this 'being bonded' work at all?"

He made a small clicking noise. "Ratchet and the twins are not bonded, and I doubt they will ever be. They currently have… an agreement, though I wouldn't dare to ask for the reasoning behind it. I hope for Ratchet's sake that it is more than a passing fancy."

"Hmm." So Prime liked Ratchet better than the twins. "I dare guess that being bonded is not reserved for couples in the usual human sense? And please do stop me when my questions become too personal."

He made a noise that sounded like a hum. "I understand your curiosity. After all, we have almost all information about you in the form of the internet, and you have no information about us." He paused to look out into the desert. "We don't come with a program that predestines us to 'prefer' femmes or mechs, like you do. So any given couple could be bonded, if they wanted to make that particular commitment."

"It's not so different from the human approach, then."

He harrumphed. "Bonding is an irreversible process. It opens a quasi-telepathic link, and there is a good chance that, as soon as one partner perishes, the other will follow suit."

"Oh."

There was another click. "Yes. In a war, it's as dangerous as it is reassuring." He started to walk again, and she knew that the twenty questions was over for now, even though it still eluded her why he would refer to a triangle as a couple.

They reached the foot of the hill, and Prime stopped again. "What you see here is a rather elaborate hologram. Please don't be startled." True to his word, he waded into the hill somehow, and there was a slight distortion of the image where it hit his frame. Eventually she, too, passed it, but didn't feel anything, and then she saw what had been hidden.

It did look like two spaceships, alright, lit by a somewhat ethereal light. They sat there, two stranded battleships out of Star Wars, but were obviously streamlined to be maneuverable in an atmosphere. They also seemed to have taken a good amount of damage, judging by the scorch marks. And they were orange, of all things.

The hologram itself was the same from the inside as it was from the outside, so there was the effect of everything taking place in a large cavern.

"The bigger one is the Ark, my command ship", Prime explained. "It houses the medbay, our main communications board and a few living quarters." He walked around it until they came to a lowered ramp. He climbed it and went to show her the bridge with that super-computer of theirs. Prowl and Jazz were there, playing a robot sized board game.

"Sir. Dr. Scully", Prowl acknowledged them.

Jazz grinned at her. "You haven't come here to make monitor duty less boring, I guess."

"Not tonight, Jazz", Prime said.

"Just my luck." He heaved a dramatic, electronic sigh. "See you, then."

Next, Prime showed her the abandoned and thus sad looking rec. room, their wash racks which stunk like industrial strength detergents and the medbay. It looked more like a very advanced technological lab, but there were a few things that made it recognizable, like two operating tables and the fact that it was extremely tidy. It even smelled somewhat of disinfectant.

After a long while they emerged again, and Scully was kind of glad she'd escaped those orange hallways. It was big, yes, but she found it somewhat depressing in its impersonal emptiness, too. She'd probably get cabin fever after a few days cooped up in there.

Prime made a small noise that sounded like a very electronic clearing of a throat. "Serenity is mostly a smaller version of the Ark. It's currently only used as living quarters, so I doubt it holds anything of interest for you."

Unless, of course, you counted the quarters. She would have liked to see them, but then, Prime obviously considered them off limits. Having strangers inspecting your bedroom wouldn't sit well with most humans, either, so Scully didn't say anything. She'd just have to hope one of them let her peek. "Some other day, perhaps."

"As you wish. I'm afraid this is the extent of what we have here. Is -"

There was a loud agonized wail somewhere in the distance, and he stopped and tilted his head. However, he didn't seem too alarmed, so Scully made herself breathe slowly.

"Ah", he said. "We will want to stay here until the fighting is done."

Scully raised her eyebrow and kept quiet while the wailing grew constantly louder. After a few minutes a pair of feet entered the holographic hill, and eventually the one called Dodge strode towards the smaller ship. She (?) was carrying the little one, Raindance, and it was that one who made the unholy noise.

At seeing them, she stopped, and the little one was startled out of whatever had it in a fit.

"Optimus, sir", Dodge said, in a decidedly female voice. "Sorry for the noise. You know how she gets." It was female, and it did have an Irish lilt, for some odd reason.

"No need to apologize", he said.

The little one peered at Scully for a moment, and then the wailing started again, this time accompanied by some truly desperate struggling. Didn't Scully know about that particular trick…

Dodge adjusted her grip and grinned. "Nice try. You're going to bed anyway." She walked on. The wailing stopped.

"But mo-o-om", a young voice protested instead. "I'm not tired yet! And Sideswipe said he has a really cool new movie!"

"I won't let you watch anything Sideswipe considers cool", Dodge said.

Scully grinned. So they did have familial structures, however that worked.

Eventually, their arguing became less loud as they made their way into the spaceship.

"I'm afraid Raindance isn't adjusting well to Earth days", Prime rumbled.

"My son isn't much better", Scully said. "And he's had six years to adjust."

"You have a son?" Prime looked down at her and seemed intrigued.

"Oh, yes. He's called William and he's six, as I said. He's going to be in second grade come September."

"Where is he now?"

"At home, with my husband. Mulder is working from home, so it's not a problem."

"That is an unusual arrangement for humans", Prime said.

"I know. It's not easy, living against the stereotypes", she added on impulse.

Prime made another of his clicks. "If you wouldn't mind terribly, I'd like to see what Sideswipe dug out", he then changed the subject. "Would you prefer to go back to the common room or can I take you somewhere?"

"The rec. room is fine."

Outside the hologram, a spectacular sunset was underway, painting both sky and desert with warm flame color. She was left to admire it while he carried her into the still stifling hangar.

A small group occupied the couches now… was that the twins, Jazz, Bumblebee, Ironhide and Chromia? Banes and Witwicky perched on a backrest, a bowl with snacks between them and nursing a soda each. The one called Bluestreak sat on the floor. As Scully was watching, a purple car came roaring in, transformed into Dodge and sat down next to Bluestreak, all in one fluid move.

Scully doubted she'd ever get used to the sight. It was so neat and amazing and yes, damn, it was also humbling. These were aliens, hiding in plain sight despite their superior technology and obvious power, and a good deal of their opinion on humanity would depend on how Scully acted. She pushed that particular responsibility from her mind to examine it later.

There was a small exchange of clicks and chirps and electronic warbles, like someone abusing a synthesizer, and then Dodge leaned onto Bluestreak's shoulder.

Scully sighed, wishing Mulder were here, and turned her attention to the movie they had playing on the large screen. She had no idea what it was called, but it looked like there were going to be numerous explosions later.

Prime carefully lowered Scully to the ground. "I take neither you nor I are very interested in action movies", he said.

"No. I think I'm going to be sensible and turn in."

"Of course. What are your plans for tomorrow?"

"I'll need to buy some more food and a few other items. And then I'd like to see that studio."

"Very well. I will arrange suitable transportation for you."

"Thank you", she said. She'd have to ride around in one of them again. Oh, well.

Witwicky leaned over to look at her. "You're not staying?"

"No, thanks. Good night."

"Night", the teens chorused.

"Good night, Dr. Scully", Prime said.

He transformed into that blue truck and drove out, into the darkening desert.

Slowly, she headed back to her temporary home. There, she continued her diary and filed all information into different categories. They'd expect the most detailed and thorough report of her life; it was the President, after all.

xxx

She awoke early the next morning and went to the cafeteria for some breakfast. Witwicky and Banes stumbled in as she was cleaning up.

"Morning", they mumbled and went straight for the espresso machine.

"Good morning", she said. "I'll be doing some shopping today. Is there anything I can get for you?"

Witwicky just blinked, while Banes seemed to be thinking about the request. "More granola and yogurt. And fruit, please", she eventually decided.

"Of course. I'll go see about my transport now."

Purse at the ready and in a costume, she entered the rec. room. A few of them… well. She couldn't always think of them as 'them', she supposed. So. A few of the Autobots were working on the insulation she'd seen yesterday, and Prime and the magenta one, Elita, were sitting at one of the tables.

There was a background noise of the same clicking and chirping she'd heard yesterday. Supposedly, it was their language.

Prime stood at her approach. "Good morning, Dr. Scully."

"Good morning, sir, ma'am."

The so addressed ma'am grinned. "Good morning." She had a pleasant, deep voice that oozed Ivy League.

"Elita has agreed to take you to Tranquility", Prime said.

Oh. Well. "Thank you."

"Would you like to leave now?", Elita asked.

"If you're not otherwise occupied…"

There was a musical noise from Elita that Scully supposed was a laugh. "Not at all."

Scully nodded as Elita stood up and folded into a very big sedan. In fact, had it not been magenta, Scully would have said it was the kind of car that required a chauffeur.

The drivers door clicked open and Scully climbed in after bidding Prime a nice day.

Inside, there was nearly space enough for a family to live in. She listened as the engine purred to life and they drove out to the gate. "That's a nice car you chose", she said.

"Oh, yes. I first considered a truck, but they don't go so well with my color."

"It's not nearly menacing enough for a truck, you're right. What kind of car is this, anyway?" It hadn't been on her list, that was for sure.

"It's called a Maybach."

Oh, god. Scully had suspected it was well out of her financial league, but this was a car that could buy not only a house, but an entire street.

"Are you unwell?"

"No." She'd groaned, hadn't she? "You're just impersonating a very, very expensive car."

There were a few moments of silence. "Is it very out of place?"

She was having girl talk with a giant alien robot. Scully grinned and shook her head. "No." The color did a lot to alleviate potential thieves and other shady entities. She doubted that there was an actual magenta Maybach anywhere. People would just assume there was a rich, crazy lady somewhere.

"Good." They came up to the gate. "You will want to hold on to the steering wheel", Elita said as they turned onto the road.

"Oh, yes." Scully tentatively did so. Sometimes Elita would make minor course adjustments and the wheel would turn under Scully's hands. It was extremely odd. "This feels strange. Are you sure this isn't hurting you?"

Again there was the laugh. "Absolutely. You're much too small to make me uncomfortable."

"So you can feel me sitting here."

"Yes, of course. But my tactile sensors aren't nearly as good as yours. I'm not able to differentiate between small textures, like between your skin and the clothes you're wearing."

That made sense. Scully searched for a new innocent question, because clothes or the lack thereof were better left for later.

Elita beat her to it. "Optimus said you have a son", she said.

"What? Oh, yes. He's called William."

"Optimus told me about him. He said you left him with your husband. He's the boy's father?"

"Yes, of course."

"I realized there isn't that much 'of course' for you humans as one should assume."

"You're right." Scully smiled. "Given the divorce rate, it's not quite logical."

There were a few moments of quiet. "I have a son, too", Elita said suddenly.

"Oh. Prime didn't say anything about that." And it had to be his son, too, given his talk about bonds.

"He wouldn't. He's very private and it's… it's difficult." There was another pause. "He's not talking to us at the moment."

Uh-oh. Scully had been chosen as confidante. Whether it was Prime's idea that Elita could use one or whether Elita had volunteered because of it, Scully wouldn't ask. The fact remained, and she'd better do her best now. At least she was a psychologically trained agent instead of an actual scientist. That same fact also allowed her to guess at the identity of Elita's unnamed son. "I'm sorry. I guess he's grown up, then." She'd have pegged Bumblebbe as younger than that.

"Almost. Not quite, but he's been treated as an adult for so long… he thinks that he is." Ah. Well, her conclusion wasn't that far off, then.

"So he's harboring a grudge because of it?"

"No. It was a war. Maybe it still is one. He grew up on military bases, he had to learn how to defend himself. He understands that, even if he perhaps wished it had been different."

"Hmm." It was even messier than that? "What happened?"

"You have to understand that Optimus is Prime." So it wasn't a surname, after all. "He ruled our people together with Lord Protector Megatron until Megatron became too power hungry. Optimus is… extremely important to my people in several ways. Had anyone found out about our son, he would have become a target even more than he was." She hesitated. "Once the war started, no one dared to have sparklings anymore, and, sometime in, things were looking rather bleak. Many had been killed or were missing… it looked like there was no future to fight for anymore. The troops needed hope, and my son was that hope…so I pretended that I'd found him in a recently destroyed city. We had to split up shortly afterwards, and Optimus and Ironhide raised him."

Good God. What a bad reason to have a child, and how cruel a way to treat him. "And you never told him about his origins?"

"Not until I arrived here a week ago. The Decepticons had a mind reader. It would have been too dangerous."

"And now he's, excuse the language, pissed off." Scully was actually surprised that he'd stayed on base at all.

"Yes. He has every right to be, of course…"

"He'll need some time to get over this."

"I know, Dr. Scully", Elita snapped. " But I miss him. I've missed him for longer than your entire civilization exists."

"Just Dana, please." First things first, after all, and being judgmental wouldn't help. "I understand."

Elita remained silent.

"You know that I couldn't tell anyone about what I'm doing here", Scully began. "My husband has a suspicion; he hunts aliens for a magazine and is angry that I won't tell him anything. My son is currently siding with him and won't talk to me, either."

There was a now-familiar click. "I will talk to Optimus about this. We were only asked to accommodate a visitor for a few days. We never thought they would be so ill-chosen."

Scull yraised an eyebrow. "I'm perfectly able to do the job."

"Of course. But you got separated from your family because of it."

It had to have been Prime who set this up. "I don't know whether I'm glad or sad that you Autobots have dysfunctional families, too."

"It just is. You'll find very few of us that don't carry around their amount of scars."

Just then, they reached the outskirts of Tranquility and Scully directed Elita to a WalMart. They garnered a few appreciative looks. Scully got out, collected a cart and went to find food as well as some more appropriate clothes and shoes.

Eventually she made it back to Elita who let her pack everything into the trunk without complaint. A few minutes later they were on the road again.

"About your son", Scully said. "Have you apologized?"

"Several times."

"I know I would get my son a present, but that's probably the wrong thing to do in every case. It might look like you tried to buy his affection."

"I don't know him well enough to know what to get him, anyway." It sounded like it was accompanied by a very sad smile.

"Don't give up on him. Show him that you love him anyway." Scully frowned. "Have you ever told him that you love him?"

"I… no. We never got that far when we tried to explain. He fritzed out on us and then he ran off for a day." There was an electronic sigh.

Bingo. "You should tell him." It was probably the one thing an obvious non-lovechild needed to hear.

"Yes… you're right. I guess I'll just have to make him listen long enough…"

"Hmm", Scully agreed. "May I ask who we're talking about?" Just to be sure.

"You'd be the first human to find out."

"You don't have to tell me."

"No. No, it's not that. It's… the only one who might have been able to give sensible advice is Mrs. Lennox, and she really doesn't like us. She had to move here from California, you see, and she's afraid for her husband and her little daughter."

While it was honoring to have your advice held in such high esteem… "Chromia and Dodge weren't able to help?"

"Chromia is… busy. And I am Dodge's commanding officer."

Scully hmm-ed. That made sense.

"It's Bumblebee."

"I thought so."

Elita was quiet for a whole minute. "No wonder you are with the FBI."

"Thanks. Well, I do hope Bee will come around." The simple fact that Elita was talking to a lowly human about this was sign enough that the situation really tore at her.

They didn't talk for the rest of the way.

At the base, Scully packed away the food, changed, had lunch with Banes and Witwicky, and then walked to the hangar that was the atelier.

The door was ajar, so she stepped in. Inside, she found Sunstreaker, Dodge and Bluestreak. They were talking in that language of theirs, all the while filling the back wall with Asian-looking signs and small sketches. There were two robot sized tables and a desk with a giant computer in the middle of the room.

Scully stopped and listened to their odd cadences. It sounded nothing like any human language, and surely was nothing any human could hope to produce, but still, after a few minutes, she could tell their voices apart. Sunstreaker sounded as curt as she thought he'd be, Bluestreak had an upbeat tone, and Dodge had a rather low, musical voice. Scully also had a feeling that they were arguing about something.

Eventually, she knocked and called, "excuse me?"

They stopped their discussion and turned to look at her.

"Hello, Dr. Scully", Bluestreak said brightly. "Can we help you?"

"I was told this was a studio. I'd like to see some of your creations, but it doesn't have to be now."

There was a flurry of more clicks and warbles.

"Come in then", Bluestreak said. "We drove the plot into a corner anyway. It will have to wait until we get some new inspiration." He ambled towards her, and beckoned her to come closer.

"You're writing a story?"

"Oh, yes. For a series of graphic novels, actually. It was Sideswipe's idea. Sam brought some comics, you see, and since Sunstreaker and I know how to paint and Dodge is the best storyteller around, we thought we could do something like that. And then Sideswipe said, why not tell our own story, so that people can get used to it."

Scully nodded. The reasoning did make sense, in a way.

"We're just halfway into the storyline of our first project", Dodge cut in. "So there isn't that much to show for, yet. I'll lift you if you'd like to."

She bent down and offered her palm for Scully to climb on. This time, with flats and more traction, it was easier, but since Dodge was so small, hanging on was more difficult. Eventually Scully just sat down before she got swooped up to the first table.

"This is Blue's workplace", Dodge said.

It was a rather colorful mess, too. Bluestreak stepped up and rummaged with a pile of rather big sheets.

"This is mostly concept art", Bluestreak said. "Our perception differs a lot from yours, so I was trying to make scans and such visible." The first one did look like a radar, in fact. There were more of the same, along with thermo scans and what might have been UV. Then more regular sci-fi came up, something that was, maybe, a city. "This is Iacon, our capital, as I remember it. It's probably pretty bad, because I only ever was there once before it was destroyed. I was there on business, too, so I didn't have that much time to see all the sights." There was an aura of somber majesty to everything, anyway. "This is a planet we landed on for repairs." It was very green and vibrant. They went on to several portraits, most of them admittedly "not so good", even though each Autobot was perfectly recognizable.

"They look pretty decent to me", Scully said.

"Eh", he said, and ducked his head. "I'm still working on it."

She knew what he meant when Dodge carried her to the other table. There was a brief sketch on a smaller sheet – probably Raindance, squatting down to inspect a small dog that seemed equally curious. It looked like Raindance would reach out any minute and the dog would dart away, even though it was less detailed than Bluestreak's work. It was alive.

Dodge reached out with her free hand to uncover something else… apparently he had caught Prime and Elita in a somewhat private moment, sitting at a table, just looking at each other, and he was holding her hands. It was easy to tell that they were dejected about something.

"That's really good", Scully said to Sunstreaker, who was lurking behind Bluestreak.

He nodded in acknowledgement.

"Did you ever make a living with this?"

"No", he answered curtly, turned and walked off.

She raised an eyebrow. "Did I say something wrong?"

"Not really", Bluestreak said. "It's just, he and Sides were created as warriors, and I think they earned their credits as gladiators, back before the war. His creator thought he was glitching, because he wasn't supposed to be creative. Sides said so, anyway."

"Ah." Given the environment of 'gladiators', Scully was sure that someone had tried to remove that 'glitch'. No wonder the guy was so terse.

Just then Elita stuck her head in and said, "Dodge, can I talk to you for a minute?"

Scully had a moment of nausea as Dodge turned. "Sure. Blue, can you go rescue Prowl from Raindance? And I'm afraid I'll have to put you back on the ground, Dr. Scully."

"Of course."

Dodge bent down to let Scully climb off her hand.

"Is there anywhere I can take you?", Bluestreak asked.

"I'm just going to head over to the lab, thanks."

He grinned at her, gave Dodge's shoulder a light caress and was off. Scully followed him at a more sedate tempo, smiling at Elita as she passed her.

So for the rest of the afternoon, Scully let herself be shown various incomprehensible experiments by Wheeljack. Ninety percent of them seemed to do with explosives, or at least with things that would explode if handled wrongly.

She returned to her lodgings with her head spinning, took a shower and then called Mulder.

"How is your case coming along?", he asked.

"So-so", she said.

"Really."

"Yes, really. And there's no little gray men anywhere in sight."

"Hmm." He'd probably noticed she hadn't said 'aliens' and sounded rather pleased with it.

"How is Billy?"

They talked a little more, apparently the 'back 2 skool' shopping was done for the year, and a new kid had moved in two houses down the street.

Scully sighed. "I miss you", she said in a bout of sentimentality.

"We miss you, too", Mulder said.

They just listened to each other's breathing for a while after that.

Thanks to an unspoken agreement, Scully met Banes and Witwicky for dinner at seven and learned that Witwicky was a better cook than Banes.

They ambled over to the rec. room afterwards, because most of the Autobots seemed to gravitate there in the evenings. Since the twins were out somewhere, things were quiet, and Scully found herself roped into a game of UNO cards with the kids, Bumblebee and Raindance. The young one kept beating them time and again, giggling at her luck.

And then, Elita walked in. "Bumblebee", she said. "A word, if you please."

The room went deathly silent.

He blinked at her and cocked his head defiantly.

"Don't make me order you", she said.

With a grunt, he stood up, handed his cards to Bluestreak and trudged off after Elita.

"Huh", Witwicky said as the two bots were out of earshot. "I never got why he doesn't like her."

"Maybe he's jealous. You know how much Optimus was fussing about him before she arrived", Banes put in. "Do you know what's going on, Bluestreak?"

"It's a private matter", he said as he settled down in their circle.

Scully blinked, having expected at least a four sentence rant. She had a pretty good idea why Banes had asked Bluestreak and knew by Banes' expression that she was disappointed.

Raindance reached out and patted his knee as if approving. Obviously she knew what was going on – by now Scully was sure that the little one might have the size of a four year old, compared to her parents, but was on an intellectual level of maybe nine.

Neither Prime nor Elita nor Bumblebee turned up again that evening.

Scully fell asleep working on her report.

xxx

The next morning, she had a lone breakfast and then went in search of Ratchet's medbay. She found it after only one wrong turn – those damn orange corridors all looked the same, somehow.

He was deeply engrossed with something lying on an operating table, so she knocked on the doorframe.

After a few moments, she began to suspect he hadn't heard her, but then he shut off whatever device he was using and looked down at her.

"Yes?"

Not one for pleasantries, it appeared. "Good morning, Ratchet. I hope I'm not interrupting anything important?"

He just narrowed his eyes at her. "That would depend entirely on why you're here."

"I was just hoping to talk to you for a while. Since I am an MD, also."

He tilted his head. "By all means. I'll come get you."

He didn't bother to offer his hand, but picked her up before she could protest and deposited her on the operating table next to a big heap of cables. Scully very carefully straightened her clothes and sat down to stop herself from trembling. If he were smaller, she'd have his head for this. "You should issue a warning before you do this again."

He tilted his head. "I did warn you."

"A more specific warning, then."

Making a noise that spoke of amusement, he drew up a stool and sat down. "What is it that you want to know?" Now he sounded a little more agreeable, and Scully decided to forget about the incident for the time being.

"What are you working on?"

"I'm constructing a protoform." He must have read her look correctly, because he continued. "A body that doesn't have an altmode yet. That is, they will have to scan a disguise before they are able to transform."

She nodded. "You're making a new Autobot?"

"Not quite. I'm merely providing the body and basic programming." He looked down at her. "Chromia requested it."

"So it would be Ironhide and Chromia that make it come to life?"

He grunted. "They'll hopefully be able to create a new spark, yes."

"A spark? That's what you call a soul, isn't it?"

"It's more tangible than what you call souls, but essentially, you're right."

Scully turned and looked at the cables. There wasn't any distinctive form yet. "May I ask how you go about creating new sparks?"

For a while, he didn't say anything, then, "There were two methods. You have to understand that femmes are a rare commodity. Therefore, the usual method was requesting a spark with certain characteristics from the All Spark. Now that it is destroyed, we do not have that opportunity anymore." He blinked.

"I'm sorry."

"Megatron is dead. It was a reasonable price to pay."

"Still." Scully had no idea how many of them here owed their life to the All Spark, but it had to hurt. She couldn't imagine for her life that it didn't.

He shook his head. "The other method requires a femme and a mech. They will go through a process that merges their sparks and will thus create a new one. I understand it's taxing and rather difficult."

"Unlike ours."

"I wouldn't say that. And yours is certainly more… messy."

"That it is." Scully grinned. She had the distinct feeling that his first thought on it had been a variation of 'yuck'. "Did you ever come across organic life-forms on your journeys?"

"Not of the sentient variety." He seemed surprised at her question.

"No little green or gray men?"

"Most certainly not. And I doubt such a species should be called 'men'."

Mulder would be so disappointed if he were here. "Is that why you say 'mechs' and 'femmes'?"

"Indeed. I might be the non-life-giving-variety of my species, but I'm most certainly not male, even though your language refers to me as such. Neither is any of the femmes a female in your sense. So, while our emotional range can be compared to that of a human, the fact remains that we are Autobots."

"We're as alien to you as you are to us", she translated.

"Exactly. Our societies function in totally different ways and will continue to do so. I'm not sure we will be able to make this planet more than a temporary home."

Scully nodded. Given humanity's track record, he was right. "I'll hope for the best", she told him. "Meeting your people has certainly made my life richer."

"Hrrm. Now I have questions for you. I've researched it on the internet, but the answer is unsatisfactory. Why do your people marry? Considering the divorce rate, it seems like it's a completely superfluous act. And why do you react so strangely to what you call homosexuals?"

Scully tried to explain best as she could, and then said, "I know you're with the twins. Is that why you asked?"

"No. Jazz and Prowl are bonded. They can't be ordered to quit just because it was making some of yours uncomfortable."

That made her blink. "We aren't that bad", she protested. "Most couldn't care less. And I doubt Prime would do such a thing."

"You don't know our Prime as well as I do. Now, if you would excuse me."

"Of course." So he was worried. "If it's any consolation, he told me that he hopes your… relationship will work out."

He harrumphed. "Maybe. I still have work to do."

"Will you help me down?"

"Yes. Prepare to be manhandled." Despite his words, he picked her up rather gently and set her down on the floor.

"Thanks. See you", she said.

Outside, she realized it was nearing noon. She took her laptop to the cafeteria and worked on the report for a while. Then she ambled over to the rec. room in hopes of meeting someone she hadn't talked to yet.

Indeed, there were Sideswipe, Jazz, Prowl and Bumblebee working on the insulation. It was yielding first results – the insulated part wasn't nearly as hot as the rest of the building.

Bumblebee waved at her, obviously whatever had happened yesterday night had him in a rather good mood, and Jazz lured her into some small talk.

It was easy, talking to him. He and Prowl both showed interest in her job, since they could relate somewhat.

An hour in, Bumblebee excused himself to go shopping for the promised party with Witwicky and Banes.

Around four, they called it quits for the day and Jazz went to set up a stereo with enormous speakers.

"Glen and Sideswipe got them for us", he explained. It sounded vaguely as if they'd fallen from the back of a truck, so she didn't ask further.

She watched (and listened) as he fiddled with the controls and the speakers' position until he was satisfied with the near Dolby-Surround sound he'd created.

Witwicky and a heretofore unnamed friend of his, a Miles, turned up sometime before six and commandeered her as kitchen aid. She let them, since the tacos Witwicky was making would be sensational, and listened to his whining. Apparently his parents, as opposed to Banes' and Miles', had a pretty good idea what he was doing out here, and weren't quite as enamored with it as he wanted them to be. "I mean, they won't even come out and meet the 'bots, even though Keller said they could. Optimus even called them and invited them, but my mom yelled at him."

Scully made non-committal noises at appropriate places.

Eventually, they had a table in the rec. room set, and they settled down to wait. First in was Sergeant Epps who launched himself at Jazz immediately after introductions. Captain Lennox and his family were next, and his wife, Sarah, seemed glad to have another sane adult there. She and Scully ended up cooing at her baby daughter, Annabelle, and talking diapers. Scully barely registered the arrival of the hyperactive fat hacker, and only stopped her conversation long enough to offer some congratulations to Ms. Madsen.

They feasted on the tacos and cake and then the group dispersed in the room to find various Autobots to talk to.

Scully stayed with Sarah, because it was evident that she wouldn't talk to any of the 'bots on her own.

Yet, eventually, Elita ambled over to their table and squatted down in front of them.

"Hello, Dana. Mrs. Lennox."

"Hi", Sarah said and gave Scully a look that said she didn't approve her being on first name basis with a 'bot.

"Hello, Elita. How are you doing?"

"Good. Better. You give good advice."

"That's nice to hear. I take it you worked things out?"

"Yes. I can't begin to tell you how relieved I am. How are you?"

"Mulder's come around, too. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and all that."

Elita smiled at her brightly. "And how are you doing, Mrs. Lennox? Will said you had some trouble with your new house."

Sarah scowled at Scully, but did answer dutifully. The small talk ended there, because Sarah should have asked an equally inane question, but didn't.

Fortunately, Bumblebee chose that exact moment to approach them. "Elita?" He sounded and looked rather apprehensive, but at least he was talking to her.

Elita turned to smile at him. "Yes?"

"Sam's been pestering me about yesterday evening for hours. Would you…?"

It was time for a re-introduction, it seemed.

"Always", she said. "If you would excuse me, ladies?"

"Sure. See you later", Scully promised and gave her a mental thumbs up.

Sarah just hmm-ed and turned to Scully when the bots were off. "How do you do it?"

"How do I do what?"

"You're so accepting of them. As if it was normal!"

Scully raised an eyebrow. Time for more psychology. "I've seen stranger things and I've met a number of humans that were a lot scarier than any of the 'bots here. I know they're big, and they carry weapons and that most of them are soldiers in a way…"

"They brought their war here."

"Not intentionally." Scully looked at the mass of brightly colored bodies. "What I wanted to say is, they weren't always soldiers. They have hopes and dreams just like we do. It's easy to get past their appearance once you realize that." She was becoming philosophical in her old age. But Sarah was good enough an exercise as most humans were going to be, so she'd better convince her.

Sarah sniffed. "I'll take your word for it."

Sighing, Scully returned to their baby talk from earlier, but it just wasn't so easy anymore.

The party deteriorated to dancing around eleven, and Scully stayed to watch while Sarah excused herself and Annabelle.

The 'bots hovered around the dance floor, and even though both Jazz and Dodge looked like they wanted to join in, they didn't.

Scully walked over to Elita, who ducked down to her again. "Why aren't any of you dancing?"

"The music is much too fast", Elita said and flashed her another of her smiles. "Or, rather, we're too big for this music."

"Oh, right. Sorry." She should have thought of that herself.

"No trouble."

Just then, people remembered that she was there, also, so Scully let herself be talked into some salsa with Sergeant Epps, and then decided to turn in.

She hadn't made it halfway across the place to the cafeteria when she heard some Cybertronian behind her.

She turned to watch as first Dodge ducked out of the hangar, carrying a clicking Raindance, followed by Prime, who was also carrying something. In the light that spilled into the night, the something flashed yellow. The two adults were talking quietly.

Scully grinned. It was good to see that everything was right in the world. She also made a mental note to ask Ratchet why the bots needed to sleep when they had a reactor.

xxx

Ten days later, Scully stood in that corridor under the White House and waited to hand over her report. It seemed to take an eternity until the same white-gloved soldier called her in.

This time, it was only the President and the SecDef. They shook hands, and Keller complimented her on her tan.

She then presented the President with the report. "Everything I found out is in here, sir."

He weighed the folder. It was one hundred and twenty pages of big and small facts.

"I know it's a lot, sir. They were very forthcoming, probably more than most humans would have been, and I think we should honor that."

The President nodded. "Very well. Thank you. I'm sure it will make an interesting read. Tell me, what is your personal opinion of these aliens?"

"Sir… I know you did ask for an unbiased report, and I tried to be as objective as possible. But, personally, sir, I did meet a rather nice bunch of individuals and even made some friends. And, Secretary Keller, sir, Optimus sends his regards."

Keller smiled at her.

The President sighed. "It seems they are able to charm everyone they meet. Very well, then, Special Agent Scully. Thank you for your time."

"You're quite welcome, sir."

They shook hands again, she was escorted out and a nondescript guy with a nondescript sedan drove her and her luggage home.

Mulder and Billy were waiting for her with pizza, and here, too, all was right in the world.

They wrestled Billy into bed at quarter past eight and retreated to the living room.

"I've brought something for you", Scully said and went to fetch a roll of paper.

Mulder unrolled it carefully and just stared. "What is that?"

"A rather good sketch, I would say." It had taken her the better part of a day to weasel it off Blue, too.

Mulder set it down on the table and placed a book at every corner. "Care to elaborate? Why would anyone sketch you playing cards with two kids and two robots? And call themselves Bluestreak?"

Scully just raised her eyebrow. "If you can't guess, I won't tell you. Though I would appreciate it if you didn't show this to anyone."

Mulder shook his head at her idiosyncrasy. "It's pretty good, though. They look really lifelike."

"He's outdone himself, you're right." She smiled and leaned in to kiss her poor, clueless husband.

Fin (for now)


A comprehensive list of altmodes for the newcomers

Elita – magenta Maybach 57s

Chromia – dark gray Volkswagen Touareg

Prowl – 'highway patrol' Dodge Charger

Wheeljack – white Nissan XTerra

Sideswipe and Sunstreaker – red and yellow Lamborghini Gallardo, respectively

Bluestreak – silvery blue BMW 1 coupé

Dodge – plum BMW Z4 Roadster

Raindance – sky blue BMW F 800