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The End Is just The Beginning

Sam reached the air base, a little later than scheduled, without further incident. It seemed that Ratchet had radioed ahead that he'd been delayed. He was met by five soldiers, plus Epps, who waved: he had obviously been appraised of the situation.

"Stand down, men, despite appearances, he's one of the friendlies." he said. Then he looked up at Sam, and smiled.

"Hey, Sam, you've changed from the last time I saw you." he called up to him. Sam smiled back.

"That's gotta be the understatement of the millennium, sir." he said. Epps dismissed the five soldiers, and indicated for Sam to follow him as he walked away.

"Come this way, Sam, we've been given your rough volume and mass, and arranged any appropriately massed vehicles for you to choose from. Most of them are jets of one type or another, and although an F-22 is within the range you'd need, and has been included in the selection, my personal advice would be to choose something different. We now have intelligence that indicates that there are now three Decepticons on the planet with that particular disguise, and unless you can think of a good way to differentiate yourself from them, things could get very confusing-and potentially dangerous for you if you become a victim of mistaken identity by members of the American armed forces."

Sam shuddered. "I have had enough mistaken identity issues today to last several lifetimes." he said. "Don't worry, I won't be taking F-22 form. I've been mistaken for Megatron several times too often, I don't particularly relish the idea of being mistaken for Starscream, or any of his brothers!"

Epps led Sam over to a succession of hangars.

"I probably don't really need to explain this to you, but it's my job, so I've gotta do it." Epps said. "What you are about to see is absolutely top secret, and some of these vehicles are classified above and beyond that. Sam, you are being divulged a glimpse of some of our military capability that some generals are not even cleared to know. Beyond the vehicular form you choose, you are not to mention the other vehicles you will see today to anyone. There will be certain secrets with even whatever you choose, that I shall have to instruct you not to speak of to anyone about."

"Sure, that's cool." Sam replied.

Half an hour later, Sam, in the guise of a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, took off from the air base. Although the B-2 was now slightly dated, Sam had loved its sleek lines, and its spreading wings left plenty of room for his huge arms and legs. Anyway, it was mainly a disguise, for Sam knew he could hit and hold speeds that would have ripped a real B-2 apart.

It was subtly different from the original that he had scanned: to avoid ident problems, he had changed the number to one that had not existed until a quarter of an hour ago: Epps had promised to have a bogus file for 'his' Spirit entered into the military computer, requiring a high clearance code to access. Even those not in the know with the password would not know his real identity: the file contained only a notation that 'his' Spirit was on a covert mission, and not able to be requisitioned for any other purpose. For those in the know, the name 'The Spirit of Cybertron' - the name Sam had given his new form, that was painted on its side - would be enough to tell them that it was him. Currently, there were less than nine people in the military hierarchy and Government who knew, and until and unless it became necessary to tell him, the President was not one of them.

Sam got back to the Autobot base and landed, transforming to robot form for the second time after scanning the Spirit.

Bumblebee and Ratchet were waiting outside for him. The unasked question-had his new Earthly alt-form done enough to change the way he looked? - was answered as Bumblebee relaxed and walked over to Sam.

"Sam, you look great!" he said.

Sam stepped forwards, hands out, picking the little Autobot scout up and clasping him to his chest in an embrace.

"Thanks, 'Bee." Sam said. Bumblebee did at first stiffen, but quickly relaxed as he felt Sam's arms move to comfortably support his form, and he hugged Sam back, spreading his arms across Sam's wide chest as much as he could.

Ratchet stepped forwards, and Sam turned to face him, still clasping his Autobot friend to him.

"Ratch, is there any chance you could alter or change the vocal processor I have so I have a voice that's all mine as well, rather than so like Megatron's?" he asked.

"Yes, Sam, but that'll have to come later, as we now have a new problem that will require your input to solve. At least I hope it can be solved fairly easily." Ratchet said.

"What's that?" Sam asked, stooping and carefully putting Bumblebee back on his feet. Ratchet sighed.

"An added complication that we should have seen coming, but did not, Sam." Ratchet said. "You know that you've been here for about two weeks since you began your abrupt change of form?"

"Well, no, I didn't, not till now." Sam said. Ratchet shook his head and sighed again.

"With everything that happened after you woke, I guess we didn't get around to telling you that." Ratchet said. "Well, it has been two weeks, Sam, and we now need you to come in and show yourself to, and explain to your parents what has happened to you, please."

"Oh no!" whispered Sam.

Just when he'd thought that all of his problems were over…..