Author's note: Yes, I know Allspark-Sam is way overdone, but the idea fascinates me. Therefore, this shall be yet another attempt. There are so many versions that I'm sure there will be similarities, so rest assured I did all I could to try and make this as unique as I could, and did not attempt to borrow anyone else's ideas. There will be severe surprises late in the story, that's all I will say. The story will not entirely focus on Allspark-Sam, though that is a major centric part of the story, this is more a rambling sequel, though it DOES have an ending, I'm just in no rush to get there just yet . For those that read How it Was, this is a sequel of sorts, but you don't have to read either to understand the other.
How it Is
Chapter One: Changes
Disclaimer: Obviously Transformers is not my own, and is property of Hasbro. Be gentle.
The first time he really noticed something was wrong, was about a month after it had happened.
The bruises were almost all healed up, though several dark purple and green colors dotted his sides and arms, something he was very careful of not to let his parents see. How would you explain being caught by some gigantic alien robot in a war zone? They would have him committed. They already believed the whole Mission City war was something to do with UFOs, and in a way they weren't far off from the truth. Actually, they were almost spot on the money. But if Sam told them he'd been there, been involved, they would have definitely blown a gasket, as a certain medic would say. But his dad… well he wondered just how much he knew. After all, Ron Witwicky had been there with him when he'd told the cops his car just 'stood up'. But he probably just brushed it off as teenage weirdness.
Nonetheless, THIS was beginning to worry him.
Sam flexed his arm, having just gotten out of the shower. He could seen fine gray lines running up and down his arm, right along where the veins would be. At first, he just thought it had been a result of the adrenaline he'd felt during the war, after all he'd never been in ANYTHING like that. They called it a skirmish, he called it a war. They blew up friggin' buildings for crying out loud. That was bound to leave a mark. He'd inhaled more debris than he knew had to be healthy. He'd already had nightmares every single night about the event. But the bruises were fading, while this was growing stronger. He wasn't sure what to make of it, and was reluctant to mention anything to anyone smaller and dumber than Mojo.
He glanced down at the dog, sitting watching him from the door of the bathroom. The mutt's cast was off by now, but that hadn't stopped him from begging for pampering. And considering he was the only friend Sam had right now, he was of course the one pampering him. With a sigh, he bent down and scooped the little Chihuahua up in his arms, and stared back at his image in the mirror. He looked older. He'd aged several years in the last few weeks, it seemed. He wasn't sure what it was about battle that made you re-evaluate your life, but he was almost 18, and felt like he was going on 20. He'd been shoved out of his teenage years, and into responsibility when the unthinkable had happened. Now, even his parents had noticed his change in behavior. He was more calm, more together, less spastic. He was responsible, and took those responsibilities seriously. He did well in school, and didn't mess around like he had before. He'd grown up fast.
Sam's eyes slid out to the driveway as he pulled his shirt on. He half expected to see something other than what was there, his dad's fancy car. But there was nothing else parked in the driveway, there hadn't been for a month now. He sighed, and stared blankly at the empty space, feeling the familiar feeling of loneliness set in. He couldn't even share his feelings, his memories, his fears with someone who'd understand them. It was highly frustrating. He jogged downstairs and poured himself a bowl of cereal. He'd been getting up early as of late, and rather liked it when no one else was up. He kept hoping if he got up early enough he might catch sight of what he was looking for, but so far he'd had no luck… that and he hadn't been able to sleep well lately. Kinda tough to sleep when the moment you closed your eyes you saw exploding buildings and cars. Yeah, Sam had been enjoying energy drinks to stay alive.
A sudden soft knock at the door surprised him. He got up and walked over, glancing up the stairs. His parents hadn't woken yet, so he supposed it was up to him. Probably a delivery man. He was right of course. When he opened the door, a man in brown was standing with a small envelope in hand. "Hey there, sign for this please?" He held the slip out, and Sam jotted down his signature. "Thanks." The delivery man handed him the envelope, and Sam glanced down at it. Probably for his dad. He was surprised therefore, to see his name printed on the label. Odd… he hadn't ordered anything. He pulled the flap open and shook, and a small metal box slid out, along with a slip of paper. He took the box and opened it, curious. Inside, was a tiny device that looked as if it were designed to hook over the ear, and resembled a cell phone wireless receiver. He blinked, and fingered the device, then lifted it up. It definitely was designed to go in the ear…. And there was a small microphone. It looked super high-tech. He shifted his gaze to the paper, and picked it up, unfolding it. It was written on Department of National Security paper, with an official seal.
It took us some time to finally finish this prototype, but you know how particular on details a certain weapons specialist is. He insisted we send it to you as soon as he'd finished it. Hope it's of some use.
Sam smiled. The first time he thought he'd smiled in a long time, actually. Lately he hadn't a lot to smile about, but this one glimpse of the amazing things he'd been involved in a month ago brought it all back. He didn't hesitate in finding the small 'on' switch and sliding it onto his ear. "Hello?" He asked. But there was no reply. "Figures." He muttered, but didn't remove it. He had no idea who'd be contacting him, but it was nice to know someone still thought of him. He made sure he brought his tousled dark hair down in front to hide it from view. If anyone asked, he could just pass it off as a cell phone accessory. Good enough.
He completely had forgotten about it by the time he'd reached school, locking his new bike up with the rest of them lining the racks. He'd gotten it after the 'incident'. His parents had been FURIOUS that he'd 'lost' his new piece of crap car. He'd told them that it'd gotten blown up in Mission City, and that helped ease their anger, but his dad had told him he wasn't buying another one, so Sam had resigned himself to a bicycle. It wasn't bad, got him out, but every time he saw a yellow car driving down the highway, he jumped and stared after it, half hoping. But no luck today. Class droned on as usual, and Sam only half paid attention to it. He'd done well in school lately, but today his heart wasn't into it, being brought back to reality by the letter and device that accompanied it. And it was halfway through History that he nearly fell out of his desk when suddenly a quiet voice sounded in his ear.
Sam, can you hear me? Come in Sam.
It took him a moment to recognize the voice. He'd only heard it once before. It was a soft English accented voice far too formal for normal people. But once he did realize who it belonged to, a surge of excitement flew through him as the instructor continued to lecture on the physics of the cold war. He looked around, and slunk back down in his seat, glad that he was in the back of the class, but still not daring to speak out loud. He whispered it, barely a breath. "Bumblebee?" Did he dare to hope?
Yes Sam. Came a rather enthusiastic reply in his ear. I am glad to hear your voice. I take it from your low vocalization that you are not in a position to freely speak? Tap the microphone once for yes, twice for no. Glad for the scout's intelligence at analyzing the situation, Sam tapped the side of his head idly, with a pencil in hand, hitting the microphone under his hair gently twice. Very well. The voice of his friend sounded. I apologize for our long absence, but I will explain it to you after school. Meet me in the parking lot. Sam tried his hardest not to break into a wide grin, and tapped the microphone once. Communications terminated. See you then. And with that the voice was silent once more. But it didn't matter much to Sam, as the rest of the day flew by now that finally he had something to look forward to. His mind didn't focus on his studies, but when the buzzer sounded indicating the end of classes, he practically bolted out the door, and down the steps to the school.
Sure enough, parked at the curb, was a bright shiny new yellow concept Camero with black stripes running down it's center. Everyone was staring at it, wondering who on earth could own such a flashy ride. Sam's face split into a wide grin, and he bolted for the car, nearly falling face first on the cement when he missed a step. He wrenched the door open and threw himself inside the empty cab ignoring the stares from all around, slamming the door behind him before he burst into a small explosion. "Dude, Bumblebee… where the heck have you been? I've been going nuts." The other students outside all were staring in at him, clearly thinking that he'd lost a few brain cells to be talking to his car like this. Too bad they didn't know the truth.
"My apologies." The voice came from the speaker system, slightly mechanical and buzzing, as if it were being transmitted through a broken amplifier. "We had things to take care of. However, you will soon see for yourself." The Camero's engine revved, and Sam only had a brief second to scramble into the driver's seat so others wouldn't freak out, before the car took off on it's own, speeding down the street.
"Great." Sam muttered. "You're gone for a whole damn month, and all you got for me is riddles? You're not gonna even tell me what you guys have been up to, where you've gone?"
"Sorry." The voice apologized, sounding amused. "You will understand soon, Sam. Do not worry."
"Yeah right." Sam sighed leaning back in the car, watching the wheel turn on it's own. Any other person might have flipped out, but he was used to it by now. It was like a warm breath of air being in the familiar situation of letting the car take over. He sure missed it.
As if responding to his unspoken thoughts, Bumblebee spoke up. "I missed you too, Sam."
"You reading my mind now?" Sam grinned jokingly.
"Not likely, Sam. However you may have come one step closer to achieving that level yourself." The car responded calmly.
"The processor you were given."
"Oh this?" Sam put a hand to his ear, taking the device he'd gotten earlier and turning it over in his hands. "How you contacted me earlier?"
"It is wired into all of our internal comm. systems." Bumblebee explained. "When we send internal memos to that device, you can receive it from farther distances than your cell phone can receive calls."
"Cool!" Sam grinned, putting it back in. "So it's like, a long-distance communication to the Autobots?"
"Wicked." He grinned quite pleased at the development. "Now I can find out where you guys are when you're late."
"Optimus asked that you only use it in emergencies." Bumblebee pointed out. "Otherwise it can clutter up the frequencies, and distract us if we are engaged in delicate operations."
"Oh…right." Sam scowled a bit. Figures. He sulked the entire way out of the city, as Bumblebee put on the speed and shot down the highway. Oddly, the car never got caught by the cops, since scans did wonders to weed out any radars pointed his way. There was just one exception, and unfortunately as they were tearing up the dirt road heading out into the desert to who knows where, Sam noticed something out of the ordinary peeling up the road behind them. "Um… Bee?"
"We're being followed… and you're not going to like it." He squinted out the window, feeling panic beginning to rise in his throat. "It's…that freakin…cop thing."
There was silence, and Sam had the feeling that Bumblebee was busy scanning behind him, or something. So when he spoke, Sam was a little startled to hear him audibly angry. "Barricade is not to be harmed." He said tersely.
Sam had never heard Bee become angry before, well not speaking angrily anyway, and blinked in surprise at the dash. He recalled the 'death match' that the two mechs had the first time he'd found out about Bumblebee's 'other' form. He had very dark memories of the thing his friend had fought. "You're kidding me. Not to be harmed?"
"Optimus' orders. Do not ask me why."
"Ok…" Sam said, glancing back at the Decepticon. "I thought you wasted him though."
"I apparently did not do a good enough job, it appears. I recall seeing him after that incident on the freeway shortly after we departed the Hoover Dam."
"Oh… right." Sam blinked. He'd been a bit distracted at the time.
Sam decided it was best to remain silent, and so they did as they sped up the road, the empty desert open before them. It wasn't until they crested the rise, that Sam saw the first glimpse of where the Autobot was taking him. And it was enough to stun him into a longer silence. The entire valley floor used to be flat empty salt plains… however, now a sloping rise covered the entire thing, like a buried dome. There were no entrances, no obvious signs of what it was, and if Sam hadn't known better, he'd have guessed it was natural. However, the empty salt beds were cracked with lack of water… the rising dome was not. Bumblebee sped down the incline heading towards the dome, and as they drew nearer, Sam watched in amazement as a hidden door in the sand opened not but a few hundred yards in front of them, and the speeding Camaro and following police car zipped down a ramp, into the dark earth below. It was a short trip through the darkness only illuminated by headlights, and then they were out into the open once more… or something like it.
Sam gasped audibly at the sight. Spread out before him, buried well beneath the surface with what appeared to be some kind of force-field dome shimmering above them holding the dirt back with open blue sky in the center, was a massive city sprawling out. It looked half-finished, and of course WAY too huge for his size. He knew immediately what it was. "Bee… you guys built your own city?"
"It is not complete. We are still working on it. But yes. We built it. Your military provided the abandoned base, we merely adapted around it." The pride was evident in the Autobot's voice, and Sam grinned back.
"It's wicked cool."
"Thank you, Sam." His rapid pace slowed as they neared an arch built over the entrance to the city, where waiting for them were the three Autobots that Sam had come to know well in the past months. It still felt empty, however, noting they were one short. Bumblebee stopped before them, and opened his door. Sam took the hint, and slid out. He glanced nervously over his shoulder at the parked police car behind him, then back to the other three. For anyone else, it would have been a bizarre scene out of a science fiction flick to see three massive metal robots standing calmly before him. But for Sam, he just grinned, happy to see them again. Ironhide was looking grim, his arms folded over his plates, staring directly at the cop car. Ratchet looked ready to blow a gasket. Optimus Prime was calm and unperturbed, and as Bumblebee shifted forms, standing up to stand next to Sam, his body faced more towards Barricade than his companions. "So. Nice place you guys got here. Mind telling me what…" he thumbed at the cop car. "…HE'S doing here?"
"I would like to know that as well." Ratchet growled angrily. "Optimus, what in Primus' name are you thinking allowing him here?"
"Calm down you two." Optimus' stern voice was firm and defined. Sam glanced up at him, still incredulous, but so far the Autobot leader knew what he was doing…an explanation was at least expected before he hid behind Bumblebee when Ironhide powered his cannons up. Yeah, he didn't want to be anywhere near THAT. Optimus was speaking again, and so Sam tore his gaze from Barricade, back to the leader. "He is here at my invitation." There was a consensus of grumbles from everyone. Ironhide just remained uncharacteristically silent, still staring intently at the Decepticon. "The war is over." Optimus stated firmly. "Megatron is dead. The remaining Decepticons have fled, or been disposed of."
"There will be more, and cowardly Starscream will be back." Ironhide scowled. "He always causes trouble."
There was a snort from Barricade, who still hadn't changed his shape, perhaps afraid of antagonizing the others. "On that, we agree." His low gruff voice spat.
Optimus cleared his throat. "Our race is split thin enough as it is. If we are to continue our existence, we need co-operation even from those we considered enemies."
"Will all due respect, sir…." Ratchet said in a dark voice. "This is… as the humans would say… bovine fecal matter."
"Bullshit." Sam offered helpfully. "The term is bullshit, Ratchet."
"That's what I said." The medic replied darkly, glaring at Barricade.
"Hey, I don't like this idea any more than you, Wrench."
"Ratchet!" Ironhide had grasped a hold of the medic's arm and was holding him back from lifting a laser scalpel to the Decepticon.
"What is YOUR take on this?" the medic demanded, incredulous that the weapons specialist was not as furious as the two yellow bots and the human were.
"Optimus already discussed the matter with me." Ironhide said firmly. Ratchet stared at him in shock, and Bumblebee made a surprised squeal, too surprised to vocalize his thoughts. "He has some rules in mind, of which I have agreed are viable. You will assist, if Barricade is willing to co-operate. He already agreed to Optimus' terms or he wouldn't be here."
The Decepticon growled, his wheels rolling back a little, but he said nothing. Ratchet glowered at him, but turned to Optimus. "This is true?"
"Yes." The leader said patiently. "Barricade contacted me on his own, we discussed his options, and he agreed to my terms. He will not be able to inform anyone of this location, and will abide by the rules I have set out for him."
"He is to assist us, not harm the humans, remain in sight of one of us at all times, and his processors will be encoded to prevent him transmitting the location, or any information to his former companions. If he manages to find a way through Ratchets alterations of his comm. system, he knows that we shall not withhold action against him. However, I believe in second chances. And if Barricade is willing to work with us, a second chance he shall get. After all, there is so few of us left, any more pointless deaths will only extend our fate."
The Autobots all glared at the Decepticon, who remained sitting in car form, not backing away any longer, but seeming to try and stand his ground. Ratchet flexed his fingers, glaring. "Alterations, hmmm?"
"You will not perform anything I do not approve of, Ratchet." Optimus said firmly. "I will stand watch while you do the work if I must."
"No… I'll do it." The medic said grudgingly. "But I'm not going to be gentle about it."
"Like the Pit you will…!" Barricade snarled, his lights flickering in anger. "I don't have to put up with…"
"I will ensure that it is done properly." Optimus insisted, a flare of his brilliant blue optics staring down the medic, who backed off, cowed by his leader's fury. "Or I will personally offline you myself."
"Yes sir." Ratchet growled grudgingly, but shot another snarl at the Decepticon, before crossing his arms again.
Optimus sighed, and turned, kneeling down to address Sam once more. "My apologies, Sam. Our squabbling should not be done before guests."
"'sokay." Sam said uncomfortably. To be honest, he wished he could have joined in on the 'con bashing. But he also didn't want to be 'accidentally' squished later. "I'm just glad to see you all again."
"Hmm." Optimus mused, his bright blue optics blinking down at the boy. "I apologize for not informing you of our proceedings, however I was involved in negotiations with your government, and was explicitly asked to refrain from contacting you until we finished our discussions."
"And?" Sam asked, wondering what KIND of proceedings. "They're letting you stay, right?"
"Yes." Optimus said, glancing upwards at the massive underground structure they were in. "They have agreed to keep our presence secret from the general population, in return for occasional assistance in certain situations. In turn, they will co-ordinate with us with regards to Decepticon activities. We are allies."
Sam let out a relieved breath. He'd assumed that would be the case, since the bots had worked so well with the branches of military during the Mission City incident. Secretary of Defense Keller had been impressed with them and also was on their side, which likely helped. But still, there were enough loonies in the government to make him worry that they'd truss them all up on tables like they had with Bumblebee. "I'm glad that's over with." He said, leaning against Bumblebee's foot. "So things are back to… er… well.. normal for now."
Optimus frowned slightly, turning his optics back down towards Sam. "For now, yes."
"So what happens next?"
"Now, we wait." Optimus said simply. "More will come."
"More from both sides." Muttered Ratchet.
"Another reason why Barricade's assistance will be crucial. He has knowledge of the Decepticons, how they work, and what they will do when they arrive. We also may be able to use him to our advantage."
"What, like a double agent?" Sam asked. "Is that safe?"
"It has been done before." Ratchet said stiffly. "With devastating consequences when we were betrayed."
Barricade snarled at him. "Do not blame me for that, Wrench."
Ironhide still had a firm hold on the medic, as he twitched, infuriated by the nickname. "I would advise you to refrain from taunting him, Barricade. My joints are getting stiff. He might slip out of my grasp next time." No one believed that Ironhide would slip up like that, however it had the desired effect as the Decepticon fell silent.
Optimus sighed, clearly frustrated with his team. "For now, Sam I wish to speak with you. Ratchet and Barricade will proceed to the medical ward for evaluation. Ironhide, go with them to ensure Ratchet does not cut the wrong line. Bumblebee, I would like you to question Barricade about Decepticon codes while he is undergoing the procedure."
Everyone saluted, and grudgingly Barricade wheeled after the two Autobots, followed by Bumblebee, leaving Sam and Optimus alone. The large mech sighed, and gazed down at Sam before offering a hand down. "We have much to talk about."
Sam gulped, still not used to climbing into a huge robot's extended hand. However, he climbed in, holding onto a finger as he was lifted onto Optimus' shoulder. He sat firmly between a crease, his arms around an exhaust stack, and made himself comfortable as the large mech slowly strode through the half-completed town, taking them for a walk. "Sam… there is another reason that I did not contact you this last month." The mech finally said after several long paces away from the entrance. Sam had been busying himself with staring at the large buildings around him, impressed at their height and architecture. It looked like this had been an abandoned warehouse or base, and the Autobots had simply altered the buildings to suit them. Sam remained silent, as he let Optimus continue, since he really wasn't sure what to say in this situation anyway. "How are your injuries healing?"
The question threw him for a second. "Oh, fine." Sam said, feeling a heavy weight of guilt flood through him. "The bruises are mostly gone, and I'm not TOO sore anymore. Luckily my folks didn't find out… they'd freak if they knew. Not like I can explain giant robot finger marks around my ribs."
Optimus voiced a soft sigh of response. "True. Fortunately your physical injuries were not substantial enough to warrant a visit to one of your hospitals."
"Yeah." Sam agreed. "That would have been trouble. Nah. I'm good."
There was a long pause before Optimus spoke again. "You are certain you are in full health? Nothing to report?"
Sam felt the guilt rise in his chest, as he suddenly realized that he had a sneaking suspicion Optimus knew more than he was telling. But he wasn't about to admit it yet. "No, nothing. I'm good. It's all good."
Optimus was silent, but after a moment sighed. "Very well. However if you notice anything concerning to you, I would like to know about it. I have nothing but your safety in mind."
"Yeah, yeah." Sam sighed. "What about that cop thing though?"
"You refer to Barricade?" Optimus said, a frustrated sigh escaping his processors. "He will be a challenge for us all, however I would like you to assist us in his behavioral training."
"Me? What can I do to train some ten foot tall weapons packing destructo-con?"
"He will be learning mannerisms and … regulations…. From Bumblebee and myself. But his lessons in human fragilities should come from you. If he gathers knowledge on how your race operates your processors, he may adjust better."
"Right.. so long as he doesn't squish me."
"He will not do so, Sam. Bumblebee will see to your safety."
"Great." Sam muttered, but sighed in resignation as Optimus began to move through the retrofitted buildings towards the buildings where the others had gone. "Can I ask the real reason he's here? It's not that bunch of bull about uniting everyone, really?"
"Sam." Optimus' voice was clearly no-nonsense. "Do not inquire further."