"Does it count as alien abduction," Sam wondered aloud as Bumblebee drove out into the California desert and the projected landing area of the incoming protoform, "when it's the same alien who takes you to school every morning?" Mikaela laughed and just smacked him lightly on the arm, smile wide and eyes bright with anticipation. Bumblebee, though, switched stations abruptly, the radio cutting out.

"You humans have aliens abducting you?" he asked, voice radiating surprise.

The two teenagers exchanged a glance. "Maybe?" Mikaela asked. "It's mostly an urban legend, but some people believe it."

Cow Tipping
by K. Stonham
released 10th February 2008

The country road was dark and quiet as the black truck drove slowly homeward. A county-western song crooned mindlessly from its radio, quiet and low and drifting across the cricketing fields in a strange kind of harmony. Inside the dusty vehicle were a young married couple, a soldier husband on leave from his unit and his pretty blonde wife. They had a baby at home with a babysitter and were just returning from an evening movie. There was no reason to rush; the sky was fair, the weather was pleasant, and the talk good.

"You are such a liar, Will Lennox," Sarah chided.

"I am not!" her husband defended himself. "Ironhide, back me up here."

"I will not," the not-really-a-truck responded. "Primus created me with more sense than to attempt to earn a femme's wrath."

"Can't believe you're scared of someone a fraction your size," the Captain grumbled.

"And I can't believe you're arguing with your wife," Ironhide replied.

Sarah laughed and patted Ironhide's dash. "A wise mech knows how to pick his battles," she agreed. She turned her brown gaze back on her husband. "You and Epps did not take on a platoon single-handedly," she declared.

"Well, maybe there were a few other guys present," he admitted, grinning.

"Ha! I knew it," Sarah declared, just as the radio signal dissolved mid-verse into a burst of static. "Ironhide?" she asked.

No reply.

"Ironhide?" Will demanded, hitting the brakes when the Autobot didn't respond. The truck slowed rapidly then halted. "What's wrong?" he demanded, addressing the dash.

Sarah looked up from the dashboard, out the front window, and blinked. "Will," she said uncertainly.

"What is it, honey?" he asked, automatically looking up at her. Seeing her wide-eyed gaze and open mouth, he followed her line of sight. His own eyes flashed wide. "Shit!"

When Will Lennox regained consciousness, he sat up, shaking Sarah slightly. "Sarah! Are you okay?" She blinked a few times then woke, her eyes focusing on his.

"Will?" she asked.

He breathed a sigh of relief, then looked outside the truck's cabin.

They were in a round white room that was very definitely not the fields they'd been driving through before. He took a calm, measured breath and pulled his cellphone out of his pocket. "No reception," he muttered.

There was a hissing sound and he looked back outside the cab. The featureless walls of the room had altered, a door appearing like something out of a science fiction movie and sliding up, opening.

Hell, he thought abruptly, his life was a science fiction movie. So, really, the child-sized gray-skinned aliens with the spindly limbs that silently trooped in through the doors should not have come as a surprise.

"Hon?" Sarah quietly asked.

"Shit," Will cursed quietly. He had no weapons, not even a shotgun or tire iron. It wasn't like Ironhide made either of them necessary. "Guess we have to hope that they're friendly."

"Ironhide?" Sarah tried one more time, not even looking at the dash as she stared at the expressionless aliens regarding them.

"Get out of the cab," the Autobot said quietly to them, and the door locks popped open. Sarah and Will exchanged a glance and a touch of hands, then did as instructed, sliding out of opposite sides of the black vehicle. The aliens waited for a minute as the humans closed either door, then moved forward toward the two humans.

Then Ironhide transformed to his full twenty-two feet of plasma-cannon-toting bad-assery, and the Gray Aliens froze, their dark eyes even bigger than before (if that was possible) as he aimed said cannons at them, and spoke in a warbling chitter that they seemed to comprehend.

The country road was silent and dark again as the alien spaceship fled off into the distance. Will and Sarah were silent for a minute until Will finally asked, "So, you going to tell us what that was all about?"

Ironhide snorted and his engine rumbled back to life as he pulled back onto the road. "I believe you would refer to them as 'intoxicated juveniles'."

There was silence in the Autobot's cab for a few seconds before Sarah demanded, "Wait, you're telling us that alien abductions are done by drunk alien teenagers?"

The Autobot rumbled with what had to be amusement. "More or less, apparently. We didn't know anyone else visited Earth until Sam and Mikaela mentioned it to Bumblebee."

"So, what, this was a setup?" Will asked. "You could have warned us!"

"Not a setup," Ironhide refuted. "Call it 'taking advantage of an encounter.' That lot, at least, should stick to crop circles on backwoods planets from now on."

"Are you calling Earth a backwoods planet?" Sarah demanded.

"It is," he mildly refuted.

Will, meanwhile, was blinking, head cocked to one side in contemplation as the steering wheel turned under his hands. Finally he spoke again. "Okay, tell me if I've got this wrong, but it sounds like what you're implying is that coming to Earth and kidnapping its citizens is pretty much the intergalactic version of cow tipping?"

There was a second's silence as the weapons expert consulted the World Wide Web for information. "Yes," Ironhide said eventually.

"Well, shit." Will glanced at Sarah. "I'm not going to be the one telling the SecDef that."

Ironhide rumbled again, a chuckle. "Let's just say we're planning to make it known to certain entities that Earth's off-limits from now on."