Disclaimer: I don't own the 'bots (with the exception of Dodge and Raindance, if anyone hasn't noticed yet), Mulder, Scully or the Lone Gunmen.

Usual caveats: I'm German. If you find any mistakes, please bother to correct me.

This one, too, is to be blamed on ThetaLambda.

The truth is out there

From: Elita

To: Dana Scully

Re: sorry and 'bots online

Hello Dana,

I'm sorry I took so much time responding, but we did have a little excitement here. A Decepticon named Barricade approached us yesterday, claiming a wish to defect. We took him into custody for the time being, and we're still trying to figure out his motives.

He says his cause died with Megatron, but it's more likely that his bad health is reason for his docile behavior. Ratchet has patched him up despite everyone's protests, and we're now trying to decide what to do with him.

There are some good news, however. The new protoform is coming along nicely, we have word from another small shuttle that will arrive shortly after Christmas, and our artists' work is bearing some fruit.

You may want to visit for a display of their combined work. Jazz calls it guerilla tactics, which I find a little dramatic, but overall, I think it rather ingenuous, myself.

I (and everyone else) would love to hear your opinion on it.




Scully smiled. She'd gotten a little worried when there hadn't been an e-mail yesterday – Elita was usually quite meticulous about writing one every Saturday, just like Scully would send her answer on Tuesdays.

It had quickly become routine after August, and so she'd been a little unsettled when there hadn't been news by yesterday evening. Scully was sure Mulder had realized something was up.

And now, finally, she knew what was going on. Hopefully, the trouble with Barricade would be resolved quickly. She mentally crossed her fingers and went to check on the website.

Just then, Mulder cleared his throat. "Scully…"

"Yes?" She looked up to see him frowning at her from across the desks they had pushed together.

"Langly sent me a really interesting link. About the Mission City incident. And guess who's involved?"

Scully raised her eyebrow.

"Someone called Bluestreak."

Ah. "It's called autobotbase?"

His frown deepened. "Yes. How do you know about it?"

"I'm still in touch with some people from August." Elita, mostly, but sometimes Ratchet would ask questions and rant about the twins and pretend he didn't love them.

Mulder nodded, obviously miffed she hadn't told him. "Have you seen it?"

"The site? No. It's apparently pretty new."

"Come over here for a second."

She did as told, hands on his desk chair's backrest and observing the picture the screen presented.

It obviously was the entry page – there was the site's name and a pretty good portrait of the 'bots. It was organized like some yearbook photograph, Prime and Elita in the back row, looking dignified, Bee grinning like an idiot, Sides making ears on Sunny, Ratchet making ears on Sides, Jazz groping Prowl almost discreetly, Wheeljack looking at some butterfly instead of the 'camera', Ironhide and Chromia presenting their guns, and Raindance was hiding behind Bluestreak, who in turn had an arm around Dodge's waist.

Of course, there was Sunny's signature in the lower left corner.

"That's really good artwork", Scully conceded. "As I was warned beforehand."

"By that mysterious acquaintance? It's interesting that there's apparently two people willing to draw giant robots."

"I was told they were collaborating on a graphic novel."

"Hmm." He clicked the image, came to some introductory page that had a lot of writing, and scrolled down absently. "I just find it strange, you know, first, there's uproar in Mission City, Colorado. Two nights before that, some meteors go down in Nevada. In August, you're traveling to Nevada on some sort of case that requires you to keep absolute mum. And now there are some people on the net who claim to be alien, sorry, autonomous, robotic life forms who were involved in Mission City and promise a series of graphic novels as explanation. Either there are some marketing geniuses at work, or they really are what they claim."

This really wasn't how she had wanted this conversation to go. She'd complained to Elita about the continuous lying she was doing to her husband, that she was getting an increasingly bad conscience about, and asked whether Elita could bring it up with Optimus. It wasn't like Mulder was a blabbermouth.

But Elita had other worries at the moment.

"I can't tell you anything about this, yet", she said carefully. "I was trying to clear it with my friend, but she said she got sidetracked by some urgent matter."

He hummed in understanding.

She kissed the top of his head. "I'm sorry."


Mulder waited as Scully returned to her own workplace and tried not to sigh.

This whole situation was so …unsatisfactory. Robots. Big fucking robots. There was no doubt the story was true, it all fit together too perfectly. The news reports, Scully's absence, the painting she'd brought and even that stupid prank someone had played on the Gunmen. Also, if the artwork was halfway reliable, giant alien robots such as these did have enough fire power to wreak havoc on Mission City. Or the whole planet, for that matter.

"We know you think we're just a bunch of students with too much time on their hands, and that's exactly what we want you to believe", the one called Dodge had written. "It's a free country, as a human acquaintance has put it once."

For some stupid reason Mulder wished it was just a clever marketing ploy for the series of graphic novels these people were planning. It was just… they were poking fun at human culture.

"Greetings, earthlings, (to use a cliché), welcome to Autobot Base, the site of the only REAL resident aliens…"

They were poking fun at their superiors.

"We are Autobots – autonomous robotic lifeforms. (Thank Jazz for this one.) We hail from a planet, that, for lack of a better word, shall be known as Cybertron. (Don't thank Ironhide or Ratchet.)"

They knew about self-irony.

"If you wish to see this beautiful colored picture of Ratchet and the twins, get your sunglasses."

One of them wrote cheesy poetry in English "because I liked the rhythm".

They had kids. They had sex, though they never specified the details. They had geeks. They were homesick. They were vaguely to fiercely hopeful that they'd find peace on this dust ball. And…

"… that happy sad warm melting feeling inside? When you feel the highest elation and the deepest terror at the same time? Yes, of course we know what love is."

There weren't any promises that they would end war, solve the climate issue or offer insights on the nature of God.

It was easy to believe they were just a bunch of immigrants living next door. That they actually wanted to be considered a bunch of immigrants living next door. Resident aliens, indeed.

It was all terribly mundane.

Mulder sighed. This wasn't what he had imagined. There weren't any secrets to be discovered, save their existence, and Scully had as good as admitted to it. None of them would know what had happened to Samantha, much less have been involved in it.

"Hey", Scully said from over the desks.

He looked at her, and she looked back, seemingly thoughtful.

"I know they're not little gray men", she said eventually.

Mulder nodded.

"And Ratchet said he's never come across any, either."

Of course not. Mulder closed his eyes. It was all true, and yet…

"But, Mulder. Of all the hundreds of planets they have catalogued, they chose to settle on this one. Because we are here. Because they've decided to like humanity." She gave a little grin. "We're not alone. Try and appreciate the wonder of that."

He sighed again. "I try." It was stupid really, to have prejudices about alien encounters. Yet no one had ever imagined robots, actual sentient robots with varying senses of humor to land here and decide to stay, so his mind was stuck on flying saucers and big black eyes in flat faces.

"If anything, the 'bots would be willing to kick any gray men's asses", Scully said, apropos of nothing.

Now that was a mental image.


Scully watched Mulder grin and start looking at the site anew, and with more… zeal. Good. He was over his funk.

True, it must have been slightly disappointing that no galaxy-wide conspiracy was going to be revealed, but then… maybe there was no such conspiracy. And while Scully had come to terms with that notion quite some time ago, Mulder had yet to even consider it.

A small part of her suspected that Mulder liked the kind of crusade that never yielded enough results to be done with it. Perhaps, meeting the miracle that was the 'bots would make it easier for him to take up a new, more real quest.

One could only hope. Or maybe ask Ratchet to talk some sense into him.